Update from Abby 6/18/08

What a week! Be sure to read all the way to the end!

On June 11, the No Home Depot Campaign initiated a major email and telephone call-in campaign to the LAUSD to voice our outrage about the Home Depot Open House scheduled for June 24 at Mt. Gleason Middle School. Today, June 18, the Home Depot has canceled their event.

The Home Depot, intending to promote their store, sent out fancy brochures to the community inviting everyone to an Open House. This didn’t go over too well with the neighborhood. Complaints poured in because public schools are supposed to be used for community groups or non-profits and not corporations trying to pitch their business to a neighborhood who doesn’t want or need them.

The short version of the week’s events.

We thought it would be good to know exactly what the school districts rules were for allowing the use of a public school. We learned about the State Civic Center Act, which is very clear about what type of groups are allowed to use public schools for specific types of activities. And we also researched LAUSD district policy. We found that LAUSD had (yes, that’s right, had) a policy in place which stated schools were for use by non-profit groups only. You’ll notice earlier, I said LAUSD had a policy in place, that’s because on June 12, they changed their policy! The LAUSD website was literally changed right before everyone’s eyes to omit the non-profit only clause, and instead, rewrite the text to state “not for profit” events, meaning no admission fees are allowed to be charged. Sorta different, but not different enough. Especially when you consider that LAUSD officials told us they wanted the process to be “fair, neutral, and transparent.” Well, they were transparent by changing the rules to accommodate Home Depot, but that didn’t seem very neutral to us. We continued the email and call-in campaign, and also Joe spoke with the district officials on a daily basis, or corresponded by email.

Ron Kaye, former editor at the Daily News, found the story interesting enough, and posted some great pieces on his blog – ronkayela.com. Check it out for more perspective and a good “diary” of the past week.

But I digress.

The Home Depot is a for profit Corporation, and their only intention was to promote their profit making business. Allowing a Corporation the use of a school for the sole purpose of making money, whether they charged admission or not, appeared to violate the policy and set a bad precedent for future use of the school. And besides, after we looked at Home Depot’s permit application, we found that they said their event would be a public meeting. Huh? Public meetings, in our opinion, are way different than an Open House to promote a profit making business. And besides that, there were no City staff, public agencies, or City anything involved with this event. So, we continued to let the LAUSD know this was a hot potato and in our opinion, the permit should be revoked and the event canceled.

Here’s the end of the story –

At 1:00 pm today, Ron Kaye posted LAUSD’s response to his questions about the controversial permit. The LAUSD would not revoke the permit, and the Home Depot would be allowed to hold their event. Then, about 4 hours later, Julie Korenstein, LAUSD Board Member, District 6, called Joe to say that Home Depot would be canceling their event.

We don’t have a formal statement from either Home Depot or the School District, but we hope to have some details later. Stay tuned! There may be another chapter!

And now something fun!

Please join us for a Dinner and Line Dancing Party at the Elks Club on Saturday night! Line Dancing instruction begins at 6 and The Bluegrass Billionaires will play from 7-9. Grab your dancing shoes and support the STA and the ST Chamber of Commerce by helping to elect Joe as Honorary Sheriff of S-T. Each raffle ticket, only $1 each, is a vote for Joe!

We have some terriffic raffle gifts lined up to give away Saturday night ~ a Backyard BBQ Basket, a Family Picnic Basket. We also have gift certificates from the Do It Center, Old Towne Cafe, Sunland Chiropractic, and a Swarovski Crystal collectible!

You won’t want to miss this fund raiser before the Honorary Sheriff ticket sales close on June 26!

Saturday, June 21, 2008 ~ 10137 Commerce Ave. ~ Roast Beef and BBQ Turkey, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw and Cookies ~ No Host Bar

6 – 9 pm ~ Chamber of Commerce raffle tickets are included ~ $15.00/adults ~ $7.00/children 12yr and younger ~ kids under 4 are FREE!

See you Saturday night!

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