There was nothing lovely about the old brick building at 3520 Fifth Ave. The roof leaked. The second-floor gym reeked of sweat and leather. But for years, the place was a magic castle.
Young people climbed the stairs and left the streets behind. They pounded the heavy bag, skipped rope, shadow boxed and learned to properly throw and take punches.
The Oak Park building was home to the Police Athletic League boxing program, the city’s premier recreational safe ground for underserved young people, ages 7 to 17. As Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the City Council ponder why today’s teens become tomorrow’s gangsters, the answer is found among the ghosts of 3520 Fifth Ave.
Never underestimate the arrogance of politicians, even at the local level. They know better than you and me. And they won’t take no for an answer.
This summer, the City Council considered a November ballot initiative to steal about $10 million annually from cannabis taxes. The money would flow to private organizations. In theory, they will spend it on kids. Or so they say.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Voters rejected two similar schemes, Measure Y in 2016 and Measure G in 2020.
A parade of big rigs hauling dirt through the neighborhood has a nasty effect on people. Patience runs out. Residents want their streets back.
Yes, heroic efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the Sacramento River levee in Pocket, Greenhaven and Little Pocket have taken a toll. The public was warned the Big Fix would be large, loud, long and dirty.