Open Letter to East L.A. Residents

By Benjamin Cardenas

Related Op-Ed: Open Letter to Ben Cardenas and the Unincorporated East Los Angeles Community

The East L.A. dream of self and local governance goes beyond the actual incorporation of a city. As we reflect upon the past four and half years of hard work and unwavering determination of Cityhood supporters, we have come to realize that we’ve accomplished many of the goals we set out to achieve from the beginning.

East L.A. has experienced 40 years of neglect; lack of meaningful economic investment and less than full time accountability that has financially handicapped a community that should otherwise be one of the top 10 cities in L.A. County.

Consequently, the result of these less than ideal conditions that our beloved East L.A. has experienced over the past 4 decades was used against our fight for change and the right to choose our future.

Although LAFCO’s decision to disapprove our Cityhood application and not grant us an extension for further examination of the finances was beyond disappointing, all is not lost. As a matter of fact, much was gained from our efforts:

—Through the Cityhood movement we, the residents of East L.A., paid to bring the so rightfully deserved and long overdue (38 years) economic data and budget to our community— information that residents in all our neighboring cities enjoy on an annual basis at no cost. Let us all be proud that We did it!

—Through the Cityhood movement our community now enjoys a level of accountability non-existent before we shed light on the exorbitant and out of sight costs for services that we currently pay for, but without direct oversight through the lens of taxpayer equity and community development.
We, the residents, were not afraid to question the status quo in pursuit of accountability.

—Through the Cityhood movement we served as a catalyst for community investment that goes beyond just replacing new street signs, but rather resulted in more capital improvement projects.

May I remind us all that many of the current infrastructure projects you see today coincidentally began after our Cityhood movement started.

—Through the Cityhood movement many residents have come to realize that true civic engagement goes beyond merely busing a susceptible minority to meetings for the sole purpose of representing a deceiving “opposition” and to stand against a righteous cause.

Cityhood has civically engaged thousands of past and present East L.A. residents to courageously dream of a brighter future and created a platform for ALL to exercise their free will and truly discover what it means to stand For something.

Before Cityhood, very few dared to see past our community’s current state of financial dependency.

While the entrenched status quo argued that we cannot self govern; East L.A. residents have proven through their efforts that we have begun to SELF-GOVERN!

While it was argued that we don’t have the means for self-sufficiency; East L.A. residents have proven through their efforts to be SELF-SUFFICIENT!

Cityhood created a safe PLATFORM for ALL voices to be heard; and challenged all to live beyond the past and bravely envision the march into the future.

Thus, as we all reflect on our accomplishments, it is evident that Cityhood is far from over… I venture to say WE are barely getting started!

Let us all come together to build upon our achievements and continue to foster the level of free thinking that inspires our children and future generations to boldly live the present where the power of self-sufficiency and self-governance become the reward of a brighter future…

Let us get started … Together in Progress!

Benjamin Cárdenas
ELARA President & Proud East L.A. Resident

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March 22, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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