We had a really really good time at our Spring Forward LA 2021 event last Thursday night honoring the "Transit Transformers" who have played a crucial role in in pushing forward LA County's expanding transit system and transit-oriented housing as well.
Click the graphic above to get a better view of these transit superheroes (L to R): Former Metro Boardmember/former Duarte Mayor John Fasana, LA Business Council President Mary Leslie, Laborers Local 300 Business Manager Sergio Rascon, Metro CEO Phil Washington, Skanska Executive Vice President Mike Aparicio, LA BizFed CEO Tracy Hernandez and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.
2020 was a challenging year, but spring is here—and pretty soon everyone can get vaccinated—bringing hope for the future of LA County, California, and the rest of the world. We took this opportunity to honor the above leaders—in business, organized labor, government and nonprofit organizations—who have worked with us on so many issues since 2008!
But we have much more work to do.Read more
Mike Aparicio has just been named Executive Vice President at Skanska, a Swedish firm that is one of world’s oldest and biggest construction and development companies—one that has signed the Paris Agreement, been named to Forbes list of Best Employers for Diversity several times, and to Fortune’s “Change the World” list of companies pursuing socially or environmentally sustainable practices.
Mike, a third-generation California contractor, began working in his family's road-building business after college, then got work on the Red Line subway in the 1990s, and soon became project manager on what was then called the Blue Line to Pasadena (then the Gold Line and now the L Line)—a construction joint venture project that helped make his career take off.
Perhaps this is partly because of his perspective on construction work: "While most people think it's all about digging and welding and pouring concrete, in fact it has a very human side. Construction is also a people business. One of our biggest calling cards for Skanska is that we try to nurture relationships—with the neighbors, the people who run the agencies, with city council members—because this is also where we live and work.Read more
The Los Angeles Business Council has been, under the leadership of President Mary Leslie, one of Move LA’s important allies: A progressive business group with a keen interest in transit development in LA County—not only in transit but housing as well.
Even more importantly, LABC advocates for both market-rate and affordable housing near transit, especially in transit-oriented housing or TOD, with the goal of creating affordable, livable communities that connect Angelenos to jobs, reduce congestion, and clean the air.
This is where Mary’s interests align most closely with Metro CEO Phil Washington’s: a shared interest in affordable housing near transit.
Washington had championed the idea of constructing housing near the new transit system he was building as General Manager and CEO of the Denver Regional Transit District after the successful passage of a ballot measure there, not unlike the two ballot measures—R and M—LA County voters supported here.Read more
Sergio Rascon became a construction worker like his father when he was 17, tagging along with him to Laborers Local 300 meetings and begging his father to get him into the union, even though he knew the answer was absolutely not—because his father thought Sergio should go to college.
That was in 1971, shortly after the earthquake in Sylmar, and there was a lot of repair work to be done, and Sergio was so determined to work that his father finally gave in. Sergio started out making the union-scale wage of $3.85 an hour—and he loved the work because he was "young, healthy and strong."
His family had come to the U.S. when Sergio was only 10, and he and his brothers worked picking oranges, lemons and grapefruit in Fillmore and Santa Paula on weekends. There was something special about Sergio that people responded to—he was earnest, honest, unafraid, and respected. And it was a very different time—when immigrants could get a green card in less than a month, whereas now Sergio knows people who have been waiting for 8-10 years.Read more
The Los Angeles County Business Federation or BizFed, is a different kind of business organization—a network of existing business networks, a “federation” that dared support a sales tax increase in 2008 and again in 2016 (Measures R and M) even though businesses typically do not support tax increases (bad for business, the thinking goes).Read more
Mayor Robert Garcia has been a real asset to Long Beach—young, ambitious, articulate, openly gay and progressive. He won re-election to a second term with 80% of the vote, became a national figure while working with the Biden campaign, and earned recognition as a statewide leader in the fight against COVID-19 after establishing testing capacity for more than 1,900 people a day—twice the state’s requirement.Read more
John Fasana was elected to serve on the Metro Board in 1993, when Metro was a brand new agency—having replaced both the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Agency and the Rapid Transit District (RTD). When he retired last December Fasana had served on the board for 27 years, longer than any other boardmember.Read more
We consider Metro CEO Phil Washington a real hero for what he has done during his 7-year tenure at LA Metro, because he has used the funding voters provided with Measures R (2008) and M (2016) to turn the agency into one that is, as he told us on a Zoom call last August, “not just about mobility anymore, and not simply a big transit construction program.Read more
While one can easily get buried in LA Metro reports, plans, and proposals for public transit, the most important document every year is the budget, even though it is the hardest to understand. While certain expenditures were required by statute after voters passed Measures R and M, budgetary items like debt service on obligations, subsidy funding programs, overhead, revenue service hours, FTEs, carryover, and transportation infrastructure development are all quite opaque.Read more