Joyce Dillard may never get her day in court to fight against the injustices and corruption she sees but she got two hours last night in formal mediation with AEG and the City of Los Angeles to make her case that the Farmers Field/Convention Center deal is a threat to the public health and safety.
For years now, Joyce has spent endless hours day after day going through ancient city archives to dig out vital information about how we have gotten to where we are and attending meetings of agencies that affect the health of our city and county that few go to. She is a researching dynamo.
She filed a protest comment challenging the 10,000-page environmental impact report that AEG spent millions of dollars on and millions more buying the state legislature to cripple the environmental review and legal processes through SB 292.
And then Joyce Dillard did what no other ordinary citizen among the four million residents of Los Angeles did: She demanded formal mediation under the CEQA-weakening SB 292.
Unlike the various non-profits with their hands out or the Dodgers new ownership looking for its own advantages, Joyce Dillard wanted nothing more than to see all laws upheld and the public protected.
Her hand was not out seeking something for herself any more than it has been in the hundreds, thousands, of protests she has filed demanding that city and county follow the law and put the public safety first ahead of all other considerations.
As a friend I went with her to a pre-interview with the professional mediators Denise Madigan and Peter Robinson who drew out and organized Joyce’s concerns from the impact on the fragile watershed, to the project’s cumulative impact on dwindling water and energy resources, deteriorating waste management systems, methane and earthquake dangers and ultimately serious questions about ownership of the property involved and the city’s right to serve as the legal agent to authorize and oversee this mammoth project.
It was a helpful and positive session that led to her getting a two-hour mediation session last week with representatives of the city and AEG.
But then Joyce submitted the list of people who would be joining her, ordinary citizens like her who are very smart and very concerned about the environment and the direction the city is heading. I was on her list as well.
AEG said, “No! No, because you were the only one who signed your protest comment and the law SB 292 only allows the person who signed the comment to participate in mediation.”
In plain language, the only citizen to protest was going to be denied her basic right to be heard while the Dodgers were allowed to change their lobbyist from Allen Madkins to Latham Watkins and the poverty and environmental non-profits could bring anyone they wanted to the table. But not citizen Joyce Dillard.
All I did was to tell people who mattered, people who I respected as people despite what some of the things they did for a living. that what they were party to was wrong.
“No Way to Treat a Lady” – that was my headline, that was the story I was ready to tell.
Much as I wanted to wash my hands of this and write a brutal indictment of this process and the contempt AEG – and the city – were showing a honorable and decent private person, I reached out to the only person I thought might help, Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Usher, who is working from dawn until late at night to humanely disinfect Skid Row of its rats, hypodermic needles and filth and to Bill Delvac, the lobbyist for AEG’s outrageous Farmers Field stadium deal.
Somehow they came together and overcame all the obstacles to give Joyce Dillard her chance to make her case, her chance to be heard.
I can’t talk about what was said last night because it was a confidential mediation seeking to find solutions in a free and open discussion. But I can tell you that Joyce Dillard did a remarkable presentation of what is wrong with this deal, what is wrong with every deal the cynical politicians and gutless politicians cut with developers, unions and all the other greedy interests that are the cancer of our collective lives.
I’m not sure anything that matters came out of our session other than Joyce Dillard got two hours to present her research and that AEG’s representative Bill Delvac took her seriously and left the door open for Joyce and her activist cohorts to present concrete solutions to the issues that concern them.
Joyce Dillard for this moment was the voice of the people of Los Angeles and that Delvac and Assistant City Attorney Tim McWilliams took seriously what she had to say and respected her as we all deserve to be respected.
For me, Joyce Dillard is a citizen hero. She works hard day after day, digging into records and attending meetings, and providing hard facts to help us make sense of the failure of our officials to serve us – we ought to build a statue to her on the new front lawn of City Hall, or better come in the thousands and occupy that space until we bring our officials to their knees.
If more of us had the courage and tenacity of Joyce Dillard and the hundreds of others citizen activists in all parts of the city to stand up for what we believe in, to come to a meeting room at City Hall late at night on a Tuesday in late June to make them listen to us, we would have a better city..
It doesn’t take a village. It takes a revolution to save the village.