Martinez, Wesson Launch Local Initiative Calling for Major Jobs Plan Titled ‘People’s Bailout LA’ to Get Angelenos Back to Work In Response to COVID-19 Economic Crisis

Martinez, Wesson Launch Local Initiative Calling for Major Jobs Plan Titled ‘People’s Bailout LA’ to Get Angelenos Back to Work In Response to COVID-19 Economic Crisis

LOS ANGELES – Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmember Herb Wesson are calling for the creation of a major job creation program across Los Angeles – titled the People’s Bailout Los Angeles – designed to offer quality, sustainable employment once the immediate threat of COVID-19 has decreased, and undertake much-needed infrastructure projects to bring long-overdue economic and environmental justice to historically-disadvantaged communities across the region. The local initiative mirrors a national campaign launched in the last several weeks sponsored by the Center for Popular Democracy, Climate Justice Alliance, Greenpeace, Indigenous Environmental Network, Indivisible, It Takes Roots, MoveOn, People’s Action, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, US Climate Action Network, Working Families Party and supported by hundreds of other grassroots groups.

“The whole world has been rattled by this pandemic, and it’s put many hard-working Angelenos out of a job,” said Wesson. “Many of these jobs simply won’t be there when this crisis is over. It’s the responsibility of governments to make sure those who are willing and able have a quality job that allows them to take care of themselves and their families. On top of that, it’s an opportunity to undertake much-needed infrastructure and greening projects in communities that have for too long been the victims of economic and environmental injustices.”

“In times of pandemics, it is always the poorest among us who suffer the most,” said Martinez. “Any federal stimulus recovery effort must start in communities of color and put the working poor, mostly black and brown people, back to work. The least among us need the most that we can give them and that’s what Herb Wesson and I are focused on.”

According to Wesson, the program would create jobs for unemployed individuals in the neighborhoods where they live and fill unmet needs in those communities. Some of these needs would involve the delivery of services to program participants themselves — such as the provision of child care. Wesson envisions services like these most likely comprising the program’s first projects. As far as other short-term, immediate projects to get Angelenos back to work, the City could invest in efforts to deliver food to seniors and other at-risk populations including those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. There could also be an effort to establish a network of individuals tasked with making daily phone calls to constituents to make sure their needs are being met.

The core emphasis of the program would be economic and environmental justice through community needs projects like construction work (e.g. the rehabilitation of abandoned or substandard housing), greening measures (e.g. weatherization and solar installations in private dwellings), the construction of new affordable housing units, the improvement of existing public parks, the construction of new parks, and the beautification and maintenance of indoor and outdoor public spaces. In the medium to long-term, the City could instruct the Economic and Workforce Development Department to issue Requests for Proposals calling for employment initiatives to be submitted by the public (community groups, nonprofits, and individuals) for green projects that serve a public purpose, such as those referenced above.

The program also could expand and improve the quality of public services in areas such as health care, child care, education, recreation, elder care, and cultural enrichment. Special projects could be undertaken in each of these areas, and existing levels of service delivery could be enhanced. Instead of being forced to cut public services during a recession, government agencies could offer better services than in non-recessionary periods, Wesson believes.

The principle objectives and priorities of the program should be as follows, according to Wesson, matching the five priorities of the national People’s Bailout campaign:

1. Health is priority number one, for all people, with no exceptions.

2. Provide economic relief directly to the people.

3. Rescue workers and communities, not corporate executives.

4. Make a down payment on a regenerative economy, while preventing future crises.

5. Protect our democratic process while protecting each other.

To move forward, the City would need significant financial assistance from the federal and state governments. In the meantime, Martinez and Wesson’s motion will allocate discretionary funds toward assembling community-level task forces to determine what kind of projects are needed in each neighborhood and instruct various City of Los Angeles departments to undertake feasibility studies of the projects based on the task force recommendations.