Vera Davis Center: The Plot Thickens

By Jim Smith

When is a Community Center not a Community Center? Venice may soon find out if the Vera Davis-McClendon Youth and Family Center is absorbed by the city’s Cultural Affairs Dept., which only recognizes and funds art and culture.

In two separate meetings last month, Oakwood and Venice residents expressed in no uncertain terms that they will fight to keep the Vera Davis Community Center open and assisting low-income Venetians.

A meeting of the Venice Town Council was held, April 21, at the Vera Davis Center to plan support for the community center. In addition to a full house of local residents, two city officials, Cliff Weiss and Sheldon Cruz, turned up to give the city’s side of the story. After hearing from the officials, the Town Council unanimously passed several motions which insist on keeping the building functioning as a community center, mobilizing other organizations, soliciting support from local political officials and collecting petitions.

A few days later, at a meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) a number of people spoke out in favor of the Community Center. They included Lydia Poncé, Steve Clare, Stan Muhammad, Jataun Valentine, Kendra Moore, Jim Smith, Ivonne Guzman, Lisa Green, and Ian Dean. The city was represented by Weiss, Cruz plus Arturo Pena, representing Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and Saul Romo from the Cultural Affairs Dept. The VNC meeting was for information only. It did not take a position on the issue. It was unclear if and when the VNC would take a position to maintain the Community Center services.

Rosendahl’s aide, Pena, claimed that as of June 30, its Community Development Department will no longer have funds to continue operating the Community Center, and it would close. Rosendahl apparently brokered a deal to have it taken over by the city’s Cultural Affairs Dept. There was no community input nor announcement but news of the change gradually filtered out (see last month’s Beachhead).

Romo, of Cultural Affairs, said a Request for Proposals (RFP) would be issued, probably in May, in which interested organizations could apply to run the Center. However, it could be a number of months before the RFP process runs its course and an operator is picked. Meanwhile, who would run the center after the CDD leaves?

Since the Cultural Affairs Dept. is obligated to fund programs only relating to arts and culture, it is unclear how it would fund the multitude of social service programs at the Center. Since Cultural Affairs would have no money for programs for the poor as they are outside its mission, Venetians want to know how it would be able to keep the Community Center functioning any longer than would the Community Development Department. The answer that emerged from the VNC meeting was that there was funding for arts and culture but not for the current programs which include twelve-step programs, gang intervention, regular food distributions, free computer access and food stamp applications. In addition, the Tech Team, which provides computer training to low-income students, was recently reinstated after having been booted out last year. At that time, its office space was turned over to Venice Arts, which is run by Jim Hubbard.

A number of supporters of the Community Center told the Beachhead that they feared an agreement had been made between Rosendahl’s office and Hubbard to turn the building over to his organization. This concern was also brought up in both meetings.

Hubbard, who was the losing candidate for Neighborhood Council President last year, and was defeated, has been under fire from a number of community members for his hostile attitude toward homeless people and RV dwellers. He has promoted his views under the name, Jimmydale, on a local blogsite, YoVenice.

At this point, the city’s financial woes and mismanagement seem to be taken out on low-income people in Venice. The nearest similar Youth and Family Center, between LaBrea and Fairfax on Pico Blvd, is an impossible distance for many homeless or low-income Venetians to travel on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the Dept. of Cultural Affairs is having its own troubles. On March 18, the City Administrative Officer recommended abolishing the department, thereby saving the city $10 million per year. It’s functions would be merged into the Public Works Department. Perhaps the Vera Davis Center should stay put until L.A. stops the musical chairs routine. As Don Geagan put it at the Town Council meeting, they owe us for all the oil revenue L.A. took out of Venice in past decades.


How You Can Make 

Your Voice Heard

Speak up for keeping needed services in our Community Center:

Call: Councilmember Bill Rosendahl: 213-473-7011, and/or his aide, Arturo Pena: 310-473-7016; Saul Romo, Cutural Affairs: 213-202-5533


Download and circulate the petition:


Blogger Jimmydale – Jim Hubbard’s Alter Ego Sounds Off

Jan. 21, 2011, 9:54pm

… It has become obvious that LL (Linda Lucks-ed.) should not be representing our community, or any other, in any way, shape or form. Based on solid insider information from Heidi, and many others, including my own experiences with her, she needs to do us a favor, remove herself from VNC, and resume the role of merely a citizen with access to free speech. She has done enough damage and many Venetians believe she is actually a snake dressed in granny clothing.

9:30 am January 22, 2011

… Being able to respond to these clowns with that thing called free speech on this site is great fun. Peter, the lawyer, cracks me up bragging about the weight of his credentials. Then, someone posts his credentials (if this is the same atty) and we learn he is just another run of the mill shoplifter, kleptomaniac. What fun YoVenice provides and all using free speech.

This political amateur hour VNC crew is pathetic, albeit entertaining, in a dark sort of way. Only problem is, and I have said so since the formation of neighborhood councils, the real, elected and paid city officials/politicians, mayor, council, sit high and dry while we are focused on the amateur, ineffective, neighborhood councils when our

attention should be focused on the real power players, who are shielded by NC’s. Their performance or lack there of should always be examined and when they are ineffective and not adequately representing their constituency, more often than not. They need to feel the public’s wrath and we should be in their faces and posting about their incompetence on blogs rather than wasting our time on the meaningless, in our case, VNC.

5:28 pm January 22, 2011

… Oh yes. If these three VNC reps continue on any course to shut down the blog(a news and information site) and usurp free speech then there are many who will move in many directions to prevent this insane possibility. Of course a complaint to the Bar would be first. They, the three named VNC’ers, have apparently had secret VNC meetings, perhaps with other board members, about YoVenice and in defiance of the Brown Act, and pursuing an action to close down a free speech blog thousands in Venice read and use both for information (journalism) and op ed essays(journalism). We will fight for our free press and free speech and defy these totalitarianist whatever they are.

January 14, 2011; 4:03 pm

I find it out of the realm of possibility, even reality, for LAPD to be singling out the Guzman woman when in fact we have proof from the video posted today on Yo that the LAPD prefers to single out the other and more interestingly whacked out LL, Lindsay Lohan, not whacked out Lucks, as proven when viewing five or six LAPD escorting Lohan out the back of Hal’s and onto Abbot Kinney Blvd. The ranks of crazy women in Venice keep swelling.

January 14, 2011; 4:13 pm

I’m glad Guzman wrote her complaint to the mayor as he can put it on the pile of other complaints, the one with the Bickhart complaints. If it goes on that pile, called the To Be Ignored pile, Guzman can get in the line with the rest of us for a response that will never come. I do love the part where she actually believes she is a civil servant, whatever that is.

12:24 pm January 24, 2011 … I listened to Lucks on the radio. She is starting to show her true nasty colors, although I believe she is an idiot with possible dementia, which could explain her mind set, as she does not recall the most infamous past of Venice.

6:52 pm January 13, 2011 Does anyone have another photo of this person Yvonne Boozeman as the photo posted mostly obscures the identity due to the emphasis on the overdeveloped area from the neck down to midsection. If it is true she hates the cops it is important that we know who she is so she doesn’t do any unnecessary damage to the community she and others have already done.

7:42 pm December 6, 2010

Big surprise. We knew this RV lifestyle in Venice was the perfect cover for a pedophile (criminal) and I just saw several RV’s parked next to Broadway Elementary. A person would have to be out of their mind to deprive the taxpaying citizens of Venice knowledge of who is living in a sh–box on front of our homes. An outrage and now we have ample reason to have any RV dweller living on the streets illegally in Venice to be forced to produce their identification so as to run criminal background checks.

6:44 pm January 18, 2011 I agree with tired of disrespect and urge Tony to video tonite’s VNC spectacle for our viewing pleasure. Please Tony, show us everything, Yvonne’s injuries, and all the verbal tantrums that may erupt.