Forum 1964 Civil Rights Act Title VI “Poverty & Race”; Lisa Garcia US EPA “Real Community Lawyering and and Inspiration” The City Project

July 27th, 2014

prrac

On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we are taking a forward look at Title VI of the Act, which prohibits discrimination by recipients of federal funds, and which also created its own administrative enforcement infrastructure in each federal agency’s “Office of Civil Rights.” As the articles below discuss, despite some serious setbacks, Title VI is adapting in new and important ways to the shifting landscape of civil rights in the 21st Century. – the editors. [The City Project prepared the following summaries.]

Walk a Mile in My Shoes: Los Angeles Celebrates Anniversaries of the Civil Rights Movement
Robert García

Title VI is helping transform L.A. in and out of court. Healthy green land use, equitable development, and planning by and for the community have led to transportation justice, great new urban parks, the greening of the L.A. River, and a proposed national recreation area in the San Gabriels under Title VI and the President’s Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice and health. Physical education and school construction are civil rights victories for quality education. Public works projects in parks and schools create meaningful work for diverse workers and businesses. As communities become greener and more desirable, it is also necessary to guard against displacement of low-income homes and businesses. Historically and today, the Civil Rights Movement has included attorneys working in and out of court, ground-breaking judicial decisions, grassroots organizing, legislation, action by the President, implementation by agencies, and people providing a civil rights mandate through the right to vote. . . .

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act at 50: An Unfulfilled Promise at EPA
Marianne Engelman Lado

Reflecting on the sweeping promise of Title VI, inequalities continue in exposure to health hazards. Every day, agencies approve permits for toxic facilities, and private actors — owners and operators of incinerators, refineries, scrap metal recycling sites, landfills — make decisions about siting and safety precautions. School districts decide whether to locate a new school on a contaminated site and, if so, how far they’ll go to clean up the grounds, and municipalities reopen brownfields for development. Advocates are working with EPA to ensure compliance among recipients of EPA funds under Title VI and Executive Order 12898.  While robust administrative enforcement of Title VI is critical, Congress should also restore a right of action for private parties to bring Title VI disparate impact claims in the courts. . . .

A Title VI Diversity Assessment at the Department of Education?
Philip Tegeler

In the last decade, several federal agencies have taken a more proactive approach and have required state and local governments to assess the racial impacts of their policies in advance, and evaluate less discriminatory alternatives. Title VI regulations and guidance at the Federal Transit Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture exemplify this new approach. These “equality directives” expand non-traditional advocacy in civil rights enforcement. A Title VI “school diversity assessment” could require prospective assessments of school construction spending decisions, school siting plans, and school districting and boundary proposals. . . .

Reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Derek Black

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has had the largest impact on racial equality of any legislation. Although the Supreme Court declared school segregation unconstitutional a decade earlier in Brown v. Board of Education, no significant school desegregation occurred prior to the Act. With the Act, things changed quickly. School desegregation began occurring at a rapid pace, and those parts of the Act aimed at employment and public accommodations began to fundamentally change opportunity for people of color across the country. The strategy under Title VI was simple: The further the federal government spread its money, the greater its leverage to address racial equity and discrimination in areas such as transportation, health, and the environment. In 2001, the Supreme Court in Alexander v. Sandoval reversed course. It brought an end to private individuals’ ability to use litigation to challenge racial inequality, unless they could demonstrate intentional discrimination. Three major responses are possible: administrative action, litigation to evolve new doctrine, and legislative reform. Civil rights advocates must continue to press on all three fronts for Title VI to regain its glory. . . .

Click here for the complete issue of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Lisa García, U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Head, on The City Project “Real Community Lawyering and an Inspiration”

We were going around the country with some of the cabinet members doing listening sessions on America’s Great Outdoors. And how we have to connect certain communities to parks, how we have to improve our open space in, certainly in cities, and connect kids in rural areas to large national parks.

So someone told me that I had to meet a great city parks advocate, Robert García, who was working on national parks issues. And we worked together on this national park issue in California. And I have to say it was really the work of The City Project that got it all solved, it wasn’t the federal government.

The City Project gets that communities need access to all those different amenities, that they need to work together to build up healthy sustainable communities. The City Project gets that they need access to jobs, to housing, to health, to parks, to clean drinking water, access to food, access to safe streets. And so I would say that The City Project really has become this jack of all trades, when we talk about equitable development. The City Project really embodies that and understands that we have to work, when we come to look at a community, holistically. We have to bring all these many tools and all the people together to be able to do it.

So The City Project is truly an inspiration on a community lawyer level.

Lisa García
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Associate Assistant Administrator for Environmental Justice 2010-14
Introducing Robert García as the Keynote Speaker at the US EPA New Partners for Smart Growth Conference Workshop in Denver, CO, February 13, 2014
Click here for the video and the unedited transcipt

National Park Service Transit to Trails takes inner city youth and their families and friends on fun mountain, beach, and river trips

July 24th, 2014

t2t nps

Here are just a few stories to inspire park staff and partners. Share them with colleagues . . .

National Park Service, Healthy Parks, Healthy People Community Engagement eGuide

Click on the image for more up information about Transit to Trails

National Park Service Healthy Parks, Healthy People The Values at Stake

July 22nd, 2014

nps eguide

The Values at Stake in Engaging Communities to
Build Healthy Parks and Healthy People Programs
Robert García, The City Project

Robert Garcia, a national leader in the movement to bring healthy spaces to everybody—especially communities of color in urban settings—shares here the values at stake in creating healthy parks and healthy people. These values can be tapped to foster effective partnerships and community engagement to bring more healthy experiences to everyone and grow the next generation of park stewards in the process

It is important to carefully articulate the values of what parks offer people in order to build common ground. Consider the needs and values of those you want to partner with—what they are excited or concerned about. In Robert’s work to bring more equitable recreational space to communities in Southern California and beyond, the following values have helped bring communities together. These values can be used like a toolkit–taking into consideration the approaches and angles that resonate best with the target audience being engaged.

1. The Value of Fun and Human Development. “Nobody takes fun seriously,” says Robert. His colleague said, “I can’t advocate for having fun. People will laugh at me.” Yet, the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child says children have the right to play and recreation, and to be happy. In the United States, it wasn’t until advocates started articulating parks as a health issue that parks became a priority issue. To make the case for fun, it is about positioning your goals in a way that lines up with the goals of those you are trying to engage. For example: talking about recreation for kids in terms of “health and human development” means making the case that children who participate in physical education do better academically and graduate more frequently. In another example, people will join together to support a park if it creates community or drives out vandalism and crime.

2. Conservation Values. We can rally around the overwhelming data that show the need to conserve our natural resources, including clean air, water, and land, complete green streets with transit, biking, hiking, and safe routes to schools, saving habitat, and climate justice

3. Economic Values. The case can be made for careers in green jobs, in the parks, and in recreation. There is an opportunity to reinvent the idea of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the New Deal Era with Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s efforts to actualize a 21stCentury Conservation Service Corps. Various factors play into the economic argument for parks and public lands—some positive, some negative—all are important to talk about with potential partners. Issues include: jobs and apprenticeships for youth, diversification of government contracts to involve local workforce, the ramifications of gentrification and potential displacement of lower income residents as greening improves their communities, and increasing home ownership and support for small business, among others. There are opportunities to realize the positive economic values and mitigate the negative ones in the park and public space planning process by working together with a wide range of stakeholders. Healthy and vital communities can be the outcome.

4. Art, Culture and Spiritual Values. Touting the role of art and parks in the life of a community can be a powerful convening idea. Parks can help people connect with or even create art. At monuments like those to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez, and in commemorations and celebrations of communities of color like Manzanar, and Mesa Verde, people are apt to connect to these places on a cultural level and the health and well-being message can be included.

5. Values of Equal Justice, Democracy and Healthy Living for All. Ultimately, we can appeal to the values that we strive to achieve as a community and democracy and emphasize the inherent democratic nature of public spaces.

This is just one of a few stories to inspire park staff and partners. Share them with colleagues . . .

National Park Service, Healthy Parks, Healthy People Community Engagement eGuide

San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy Field Trip

July 21st, 2014

The San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy visited the Hilda L. Solis River Outlook, the East Fork of the San Gabriels, and Rio Vista Park for orientation on Saturday, July 19, 2014.
photo

The Leadership Academy is a six-month volunteer training program on civic engagement, community organizing, and project management supporting San Gabriel Mountains Forever in diverse communities across the San Gabriel Valley and the greater Los Angeles region through self-designed local community projects. This class has twelve participants from diverse backgrounds and ages.

San Gabriel Mountains Forever and The City Project work with diverse allies on permanent protection and local control to diversify access to and support for the San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed.

Photo Dayana Molina

NCLR Health Summit The Built Environment: Planning for Health in Our Communities The City Project’s Dayana Molina, Ariel Collins, Robert García

July 18th, 2014

nclr health

The City Project’s Dayana Molina, Ariel Collins, Robert García will do presentations at the NCLR Health Summit on July 23 on public health, civil rights, and environmental justice:

The Built Environment: Planning for Health in Our Communities

The proposed National Recreation Area in the San Gabriel Mountains

Greening the Los Angeles River

Physical Education in Public Schools

Transit to Trails

* * *

The Built Environment: Planning for Health in Our Communities
JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live Date/Time: July 23, 2014, 1:30-2:20 pm Location: Diamond Salon 1-2

Beyond the doctor’s office, the surrounding environments in which we live, work, and play have great potential to either hinder or encourage our efforts at healthy living. Learn about the impact of the built environment on lifestyle, and hear about initiatives being undertaken in L.A. to change the built environment to more successfully encourage healthy eating and physical activity.

Robert Garcia, Founding Director and Counsel, The City Project;
Community Faculty, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
James Rojas, Founder, Latino Urban Forum?Dr. James Sallis, Distinguished Professor, Family and Preventive Medicine, UC San Diego
Moderator
Elizabeth Carrillo, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

Closing Reception and Poster Board Viewing 
JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live Date/Time: July 23, 2014, 5:30-7:00 pm Location: Diamond Foyer

Poster Presentations by Dayana Molina and Ariel Collins on:

The proposed National Recreation Area in the San Gabriel Mountains

Greening the Los Angeles River

Physical Education in Public Schools

Transit to Trails

Click here for more information on NCLR Health Summit 2014.

The Death Penalty System Is Unconstitutional in California Rules Federal Court

July 17th, 2014

A federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush ruled Wednesday that California’s death penalty system is so arbitrary and plagued with delay that it is unconstitutional, a decision that is expected to inspire similar arguments in death penalty appeals around the country.

The state has placed hundreds of people on death row, but has not executed a prisoner since 2006. The result, wrote Judge Cormac J. Carney of United States District Court, is a sentence that “no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death.” That “violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.” The death penalty system in California “serves no penological purpose,” the Court concluded in a 29 page opinion.

California voters came close to abolishing the death penalty in 2012, with 48 percent of voters favoring replacing it with life in prison without parole.

In 2008, Ronald M. George, then the chief justice of California, called the system for handling appeals in capital cases “dysfunctional.” A state-appointed commission reached a similar conclusion that year, stating the system was “plagued with excessive delay” in appointing lawyers and in reviews of appeals and petitions before the California Supreme Court.

Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., who wrote the 5-4 majority opinion upholding the death penalty for the United States Supreme Court in McCleskey v. Kemp in 1987 , was asked after he retired in 1991 whether there was any vote he would have changed. “Yes,” he said, “McCleskey v. Kemp.” “I have come to think that capital punishment should be abolished.”

The City Project supports the abolition of the death penalty, and ballot measures to replace it with life without parole.

I am a former federal prosecutor, having served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York under John Martin and Rudy Giuliani, prosecuting public corruption, organized crime, white collar, narcotics conspiracies, and other complex criminal cases. I have also defended two innocent men who served years in prison for murders they did not commit before their convictions were reversed by the courts. If the death penalty had been imposed, the state would have killed each man before he could prove his conviction and sentence were miscarriages of justice. See Replace the Death Penalty with Life without Parole.

Robert García

Geronimo Pratt Free at Last after 27 years for a crime he did not commit, June 10, 1997

Former Black Panther leader Geronimo Pratt his first day free after 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Children who are of color or low income are less likely to have safe, healthy, and sustainable places to play and be active

July 16th, 2014

safe active places info

Children who are of color or low income disproportionately live neighborhoods with high rates of poverty, crime, and unemployment and are less likely to have access to safe, healthy, and sustainable places to play and be active in parks, schools, and safe streets, according to Community Commons.

The City Project uses civil rights and environmental justice tools to improve health outcomes and alleviate disparities based on race, color, national origin, and income.

A Green New Deal Tom Hayden

July 11th, 2014

We are entering another historic moment of potential market adjustment born out of necessity. Progressives can play a vital role in the unpredictable transition ahead. They can help broker a Green New Deal.

First, they can force another market adjustment, one toward environmental justice. California leaders such as state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Strategy Session radio host Antonio Gonzalez and City Project Executive Director Robert Garcia already are bending the arc of California’s environmental laws to include tangible benefits for communities of color.

Second, public mandates by elected governmental bodies are essential to bending the arc of market forces as well.

Third, there is a moral issue that progressives will raise: . . . we already are transitioning to a new ethics beyond the sole criteria of profits.

A global Green New Deal might be a consensus solution.

Read the complete story by Tom Hayden in SFGate . . . .

NCLR Health Summit The Built Environment: Planning for Health in Our Communities The City Project

July 9th, 2014

nclr health

The Built Environment: Planning for Health in Our Communities

JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live Date/Time: July 23, 2014, 1:30-2:20pm Location: TBD

Beyond the doctor’s office, the surrounding environments in which we live, work, and play have great potential to either hinder or encourage our efforts at healthy living. Learn about the impact of the built environment on lifestyle, and hear about initiatives being undertaken in L.A. to change the built environment to more successfully encourage healthy eating and physical activity.

Robert Garcia, Founding Director and Counsel, The City Project;
Community Faculty, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
James Rojas, Founder, Latino Urban Forum?Dr. James Sallis, Distinguished Professor, Family and Preventive Medicine, UC San Diego
Moderator
Elizabeth Carrillo, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

Click here for more information on NCLR Health Summit 2014.

Panelist Bios

Robert Garcia, Founding Director and Counsel, The City Project
Community Faculty, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

Robert García, is Founding Director and Counsel of The City Project, a nonprofit legal and policy team based in Los Angeles, that works on issues of public health and equal justice. Mr. García is also on the Community Faculty at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science. One of The City Project’s main goals is to educate lawyers, government agencies, health professionals, social science experts, community advocates, and foundations that civil rights tools, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 12898, the Affordable Care Act, and parallel state laws, can be used to address health disparities based on race, color, or national origin. Mr. García’s work in the past decade has focused on equal access to park, school, and health resources throughout Los Angeles and California. Mr. García graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School, where he served on the Board of Editors of the Stanford Law Review.

James Rojas, Founder, Latino Urban Forum

James Rojas is an urban planner, community activist, and artist who has developed a unique method of community engagement targeted toward Latinos. During his workshops, participants use their bodies, senses, and imagination to explore their physical, mental, and spiritual connection to the built and natural environments. This highly successful and replicated methodology for transforming the health of communities begins by raising awareness of the importance of place as a major component of community health. Mr. Rojas has facilitated over 400 interactive workshops and created over 50 interactive urban dioramas across the country. He has collaborated with municipalities, nonprofits, health and educational institutions, museums, and galleries to engage, educate, and empower the public around urban planning. He holds a Master of City Planning and a Master of Science of Architecture Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. James Sallis, Distinguished Professor, Family and Preventive Medicine, UC San Diego

Dr. James Sallis’s primary research interests are promoting physical activity and understanding policy and environmental influences on physical activity, nutrition, and obesity. His health improvement programs have been studied and used in health care settings, schools, universities, and companies. He has authored over 550 scientific publications, sits on the editorial boards of several journals, and is one of the world’s most cited authors in the social sciences. His current focus is on using research to inform policy and environmental changes that will increase physical activity and reduce childhood obesity. Time magazine identified him as an “obesity warrior.” Dr. Sallis holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Memphis State University.

 

Lisa García, U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Head, on The City Project “Real Community Lawyering and an Inspiration”

July 8th, 2014

We were going around the country with some of the cabinet members doing listening sessions on America’s Great Outdoors. And how we have to connect certain communities to parks, how we have to improve our open space in, certainly in cities, and connect kids in rural areas to large national parks.

So someone told me that I had to meet a great city parks advocate, Robert García, who was working on national parks issues. And we worked together on this national park issue in California. And I have to say it was really the work of The City Project that got it all solved, it wasn’t the federal government.

The City Project gets that communities need access to all those different amenities, that they need to work together to build up healthy sustainable communities. The City Project gets that they need access to jobs, to housing, to health, to parks, to clean drinking water, access to food, access to safe streets. And so I would say that The City Project really has become this jack of all trades, when we talk about equitable development. The City Project really embodies that and understands that we have to work, when we come to look at a community, holistically. We have to bring all these many tools and all the people together to be able to do it.

So The City Project is truly an inspiration on a community lawyer level.

Lisa García
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Associate Assistant Administrator for Environmental Justice 2010-14
Introducing Robert García as the Keynote Speaker at the US EPA New Partners for Smart Growth Conference Workshop in Denver, CO, 2014
Click above for the video and here for the unedited transcipt

Note: Lisa García refers in the second paragraph above to the work of The City Project and diverse allies with the US Department of Interior, EPA, and Department of Justice to keep California’s state parks open for all through meetings and an administrative complaint.