As part of a string of summer actions to demonstrate that taxpayer dollars belong in our communities instead of banks’ pockets, the Coalition of LA City Unions and their partners in the Fix LA coalition sponsored a “Kids Swim Free” event at Exposition Park–nearly 100 kids arriving between 1 pm and 2 pm got free access to the pool paid for by donations from City workers and clergy.
Fix LA’s message to Mayor Garcetti and the City Council: Children shouldn’t pay the price for Wall Street greed.
Clergy members handed $1 bills to kids to pay for pool entrance while an “evil banker” (in costume) tried to steal dollars from them. In 2014, the City of Los Angeles began charging a $1 entrance fee to kids and seniors at public pools as part of austerity measures stemming from the Great Recession–while at the same time paying nearly $300 million a year in taxpayer money to Wall Street banks, City taxpayers also pick up the tab for an additional $200 million annually to service bank-owned foreclosed properties. The Fix LA coalition is advocating for the City to recoup this moneys a means of restoring vital City services.
“It pains me that children are suffering as a result of budget cuts while the City pours hundreds of millions of dollars a year into Wall Street coffers. What does it say about LA’s priorities when we are more willing to pay banks than we are to pay for programs to help our kids?”-Reverend William Smart, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Fix LA coalition member
Parents and community members discussed the impact of budget cuts that not only have limited the number of days they can afford to bring kids to the pool but have also led to slashed summer recreation programs–cutting off access to safe and healthy recreation opportunities for the City’s most vulnerable children during the hottest days of summer.
“The neighborhood public pool meant so much to me and my siblings and our friends. It meant we were staying out of trouble and having fun doing something safe. I want to see Mayor Garcetti and the City Council stand up to the big banks so we can keep money in South LA neighborhoods like mine.”-David Gutierrez, 18, member of the community empowerment group Inner City Struggle.
The Fix LA coalition is presenting proposals that would restore the quality of life for residents who have suffered under austerity measures as banks that do business with the City continue to reap record profits. Noting the essential role parks and recreational programs play in community and child health and well-being, one such proposal calls for the City to double its per capita spending on park maintenance and services within five years and triple it within 10.
A motion backed by Fix LA to renegotiate or terminate a toxic deal with NY Mellon Bank that costs taxpayers $5 million a year goes before City Council next Wednesday, August 13. Joint contract negotiations, which include a proposal for the City to double its per capita spending on park maintenance and recreational services within five years and triple it within ten, are scheduled to resume the same day.