A little more information

The two main activities in my life: Helping the hungry in the late hours of the night and helping guitar players sound better one amp at a time.

I always try to remember that in order to do good one has to take action and actually do something.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have watched the city and Southern California change for well over half a century.

I can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/mylesr or on twitter at www.twitter.com/myles111us

As of late 2019 the music related links and prints noted on this page which had their links to by GAB (Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting) website are no longer accessible. I grew weary of updating my GAB website and let it go away. You can contact me on Facebook. Saunders Stewart Models continues full operation but we are not accepting new clients without a referral.

Los Angeles Architectural History

Los Angeles Architectural History
1935 Art Deco at some of its finest: No. 168 - Griffith Observatory- (click on the photo for information)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Busy July for the LAPD - a lot of tension out there.

My condolences to the families and friends of the people below.

I am not asking to open any sort of debate here.  Some people may say that some of these folks were doing the wrong thing, involved in criminal activity or talk about their idea of justice.  Some may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.  There are many reasons why these things happen.

Sometimes we need to look past the obvious and look at the survivors of some of these people.  The family members left behind as just one thought.  Some of these cases are revenge.  Some are individuals defending themselves on their own property.  Some of these deaths will go down in the books as legal actions and others will not be determined as legal. 

There may be thoughts of the right to bear arms, self defense, the pro and cons of gun ownership.  I am not looking to go down that path with this entry.  I am just trying to say that it is unfortunate that the people below are now dead and I feel pretty sure that their loss is painful to some people who are good people.  My condolences are to those good people and I wish them comfort.  I am not here to judge the reasons these things happen. 

July in review.  There is a lot of tension out there which is being made worse by current economic problems including the end of unemployment benefits for many people.   Be careful out there folks.

Gary Lacey II 19 7/31/10 Inglewood Gunshot
Martin Garcia 43 7/30/10 Palms Blunt force
Andre Mcpherson Jr. 20 7/29/10 Vermont-Slauson Gunshot
Cristina Williams 27 7/29/10 Leimert Park Gunshot
Mary Sternal 90 7/29/10 Marina del Rey Gunshot
Ladona Kelly 41 7/29/10 Vermont Vista Gunshot
Kurt Deutsch Jr. 30 7/28/10 East Los Angeles Gunshot
Shaquana Watson 23 7/27/10 South Park Gunshot
John Lavine 62 7/27/10 Westchester Gunshot
Byron Wilson Sr. 55 7/26/10 Long Beach Stabbing
Sergio Gamboa Padilla 24 7/23/10 Harbor City Gunshot
Julian Romero 25 7/23/10 Historic South-Central Gunshot
Esmeralda Guzman 1 7/22/10 Van Nuys Unspecified
Pedro Santa Cruz 40 7/21/10 Wilmington Gunshot
Trent Kelley 21 7/21/10 Downey Stabbing
Luis De Paz 20 7/20/10 Hyde Park Blunt force
Katsutoshi Takazato 21 7/20/10 Beverly Hills Stabbing
Rudolph Galaz II 42 7/19/10 Commerce Gunshot
Jody Heard 35 7/19/10 Downtown Gunshot
Jorge Villatoro 19 7/19/10 Pico-Union Gunshot
Marc Bayar 50 7/19/10 East Hollywood Gunshot
Gabriel Camaro 43 7/19/10 West Hollywood Gunshot
Roosevelt Brock 25 7/19/10 Long Beach Gunshot
Carl Washington 44 7/18/10 Carson Gunshot
Javier Sanchez 15 7/18/10 Inglewood Gunshot
Hong Nguyen 34 7/17/10 South El Monte Gunshot
Katwonne Stewart 19 7/17/10 Broadway-Manchester Gunshot
Luciano Reyes 35 7/16/10 Pacoima Gunshot
Vicente Chavez 46 7/15/10 Historic South-Central Gunshot
Steve Kelly 42 7/10/10 Watts Gunshot
Javier Rueda 28 7/10/10 Sun Valley Gunshot
Quesi Chavez 10 7/9/10 San Pedro Stabbing
Enjae Rugley 2 7/9/10 Northridge Gunshot
Elden Mignault 19 7/7/10 Watts Gunshot
Samuel James III 28 7/6/10 Vermont Knolls Gunshot
Chad Andrew 22 7/5/10 Vermont Square Gunshot
Raymond Benford 33 7/5/10 Compton Gunshot
Rayvonne Akers 17 7/5/10 Watts Gunshot
William Knight 33 7/5/10 Harbor Gateway Gunshot
Daisy Garcia 14 7/4/10 Pico-Union Gunshot
Henry Sanchez 22 7/4/10 Pacoima Gunshot
Darren Dunning 22 7/3/10 Chesterfield Square Gunshot
Aldwin Ezell 24 7/3/10 Lancaster Gunshot
Dwayne Nichols 37 7/1/10 Willowbrook Gunshot

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why Are The American People Mad?

Maybe It Is Because Millions Of Their Jobs Have Been Lost To Outsourcing And They Aren’t Coming Back.

Above:  Here we go again?  The past.

Above:  Today

As you read this, there are tens of millions of people in China, India and dozens of third world nations who would love to do your job for one-tenth the pay. They are willing to work 12 hours a day. They don't expect a benefits plan or a pension package. They aren't going to waste countless hours chatting on their cell phones or updating their Facebook profiles. All they want is a chance. And increasingly, the big global corporations that dominate the world economy are giving it to them. It is called outsourcing, and if you don't believe that it can happen to your job, you might want to think again. It is not just Americans who are chasing after the American Dream these days. We now live in a global economy with a global workforce and the rules of the game have fundamentally changed.

It doesn't matter if you don't like it.

The truth is that the big global predator corporations that dominate the global landscape don't care about you.

  • They don't exist to give you a good job.
  • They don't exist to enable you to pay your mortgage.
  • They don't exist to put your kids through college.
  • They don't exist to provide you with a big, cushy pension in your old age.
They exist to make money.

So why should they hire you, when they can hire someone else on the other side of the world for one-tenth the pay?

Why should they hire you, when countries on the other side of the globe will allow them to hire workers in an environment of extremely low taxes and almost no regulations?

Why should they hire you, when a worker in a third world nation is not going to require health insurance, employer contributions to Social Security and unemployment, a benefits package or a pension plan?

The truth is that it is very complicated and it is very expensive to hire an American worker.

Millions upon millions of jobs have already been offshored and outsourced, and tens of millions more are about to be sent out of America. In fact, Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder estimates that 22% to 29% of all current U.S. jobs will be offshorable within two decades.

All of our technological advances have made the world a very small place. In this new global economy, you had better get to know your competition.

So just who are you competing against? Well, in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

Are you willing to work for 86 cents an hour?  No?  You had better start getting used to the idea.

For decades, the American people voted for politicians from both parties who promised us that "free trade" and "the global economy" would be so good for us.  But what they didn't tell us is that our standard of living would inevitably be forced down to the level of all the other workers around the world as labor became a global commodity.  So now we reap the bitter harvest of our poor decisions.

For example, Detroit was once the 4th largest city in the United States, and it was a shining example of how U.S. heavy industry was providing millions of jobs for middle class Americans.  See Detroit today in one of the above videos.

The millions of jobs that have been offshored and outsourced simply are not ever coming back.

During the really bad 2001 recession, the U.S. economy lost 2% of its jobs and it took four years to get them all back. But this time, the U.S. economy has lost more than 5% of its jobs and there is no sign that the bleeding of jobs is going to stop any time soon.

Yet the top politicians in both parties continue to insist that our trade policies are fine. They have no problem with the fact that we ship millions of jobs overseas and that the lopsided tariff and trade agreements the U.S. government has entered into have caused our trade deficit to balloon to ridiculous proportions.

The truth is that people need to start talking about the high cost of "free" trade. The other video posted above starts a little slowly, but by the end it will have your jaw hitting the floor.

But nobody takes all of this seriously enough. The once great American economic machine is being dismantled in slow motion, and nobody seems to really care. Now NBC is even promoting a new television show called "Outsourced" which makes a big joke out of it.

But the tens of millions of Americans who are currently out of work probably are not going to think it is too funny.

In fact, an increasing number of American people are getting really mad.  Why?  Well, because they are finding it really difficult to provide for their families.

According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.  But an increasing number of Americans are not even doing that well and have gone flat broke. More than 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which was a 32 percent increase over 2008.

The truth is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at an alarming rate.

The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

1 percent of the pie for 40 percent of the population?  How long do you think that is going to last before people start getting really pissed off?

The American people don't need more handouts though - what they need are good jobs.  But oops - we shipped all their good jobs to China and India.

The truth is that it doesn't take a genius to figure out why the average time needed to find a job in America has risen to a record 35.2 weeks and continues to rise.

Today there was a story by Stephen Bernard, AP Business Writer, On Thursday July 29, 2010, 5:38 pm EDT.  Stocks fall amid uncertainty over the economy was the title.  One paragraph stated:  There was little to help traders get that clarity Thursday. The Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped by a modest 11,000 to 457,000 last week. That's slightly better than the 459,000 forecast by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, but investors were disappointed because the drop was so small.

In the paragraph in the original story - The Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped by a modest 11,000 to 457,000 last week.... My response is .... DUH .... that does not even begin to count those folks who fell off the list of the unemployed whose benefits ran out in July. July 2010 is the first wave of expired benefits since the accelerated downturn of the the economy in mid 2008.  How can I put this in a classy manner... that still makes the point? To our Labor Department ... Fuck You.

There simply are not nearly enough jobs in 2010.  Big corporations don't want to hire American workers anymore.  In the new globalist system, there are far too many much less expensive options.  The new playing field is governed by organizations with initials such as NAFTA, GATT and WTO and in this new game American workers are the big losers.  Why in the world should big global corporations hire American workers when they are allowed to hire good workers on the other side of the world for one-tenth the pay and they don't have to give them benefits or a pension either?

I cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel for middle class American workers right now.  Each month I see the population on skid row in Los Angeles rise as more families are displaced as they lose their homes.

The video below is the end of July update from Andy Bales, the CEO of Union Rescue Mission.  July was a very busy month and a lot of good things were accomplished.  If you read between some of the lines in this video you will hear how things are not getting easier in regard to the level of effort and expense needed by URM to continue to provide services.  More people than ever before are in trouble and the numbers are increasing.

If you wish to see the original article that is a part of this blog entry and leave a comment as well for the author on those parts of this blog entry the link is:  http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/why-are-the-american-people-mad-maybe-it-is-because-millions-of-their-jobs-have-been-lost-to-outsourcing-and-they-arent-coming-back

You may also leave comments for me if you wish as well, on this blog.

Update:  Story sent to me by a friend on 8/5/10:

40 million people on foodstamps now ... another record (for the 18 month in a row) .. now 1/8 of the population ...


hey Myles, if the economy's improving, how come foodstamp recepients are setting new records for usage.. every month, it's a new record, and it's been doing that for 18 months now. (I do not have an answer for my friend that wrote the commentary)

It's very weird that 1/8 of our country has to rely on foodstamps.. There is something not right about that.

And next month, it'll be worse..

very weird.

As a side note on food stamps, here is a story from 8/10/10 posted in The Los Angeles Times

USDA urges California to reverse food stamp policy, even though some could lose benefits

August 10, 2010 2:38 pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is encouraging California to consider reversing a policy that prevents some of the state’s poorest and most vulnerable residents from applying for food stamps, even though it could cost some current recipients their benefits.

The suggestion, contained in a letter to the California Department of Social Services, has raised concern among some advocates for the poor who were hoping federal authorities would allow the state to open the food stamp program only to those recipients of cash assistance for impoverished elderly and disabled people who would not be adversely affected.

"We really do want to make sure that we protect those households with disabled children and low-income seniors that benefit from the current policy," said George Manalo-LeClair, senior director of legislation for California Food Policy Advocates.

The letter received Friday from the Department of Agriculture said federal law prohibits California from changing the rules for some and not all recipients of Supplemental Security Income.

California is the only state that does not allow its 1.2 million Supplemental Security Income recipients to apply for federal food stamps. When the federal cash assistance program was created in 1974, the state decided to increase its matching grant -- known as the State Supplementary Payment -- by $10 a month in place of administering food stamps for them.

Note from Myles in regard to the above paragraph - California, one more step ahead of the nation :-)
Thankfully there are places such as Union Rescue Mission, The Midnight Mission and the other missions downtown.   Perhaps California will lead the nation in the first state to have people starve to death if the people that cannot feed themselves and their family are too far from skid row.At the time, many Supplemental Security Income recipients qualified only for the minimum food stamp allotment, then $10. Augmenting cash payments by that amount helped the state reduce its administration costs and relieved elderly and disabled people from having to apply for food stamps.

However, a recent increase in food stamp benefits along with cuts to California’s cash assistance grants have raised concern that some Supplemental Security Income recipients are being short-changed by the policy.

According to state officials, Supplemental Security Income recipients who live alone or with another recipient would now be eligible for more benefits if allowed to apply for food stamps. But officials caution there would also be losers if the state reverses the policy, known as the food stamp cash-out.

Currently, households that include members who are not receiving Supplemental Security Income may apply for food stamps without the aid recipient's income counting against the rest of the family's eligibility or benefit levels. If California allows Supplemental Security Income recipients to apply for food stamps, it could reduce or eliminate their household benefits.

John Wagner, director of the California Department of Social Services, wrote to the Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service in April to ask whether the federal government would allow California to open the food stamp program only to households that depend solely on Supplemental Security Income.

"While FNS is unable to grant your request to partially end cash-out, I encourage you to consider the idea of ending cash-out completely" USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon responded last week.

Citing a February study by the independent Mathematica Policy Research organization, Concannon said opening the food stamp program to all Supplemental Security Income recipients "would have a lesser impact on mixed households than in prior years."

When Mathematica estimated the effects in 2002, it found that changing the policy would add more than 52,000 households to California's food stamp rolls but reduce the total amount of benefits received by 12%. Under current circumstances, an estimated 54,000 households would be added to the rolls and benefits would drop 1%. Participation in the program would be higher if newly eligible households were automatically enrolled, the studies noted.

Jean Daniel, a USDA spokeswoman, said it was up to California to decide how it wants to proceed.

Lizelda Lopez, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Social Services, said state officials remain concerned about the 99,000 households they estimate would lose some or all of their benefits and would have to consider the options.

-- Alexandra Zavis

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it

Posted Jul 15, 2010 02:25pm EDT by Michael Snyder in Recession

The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.

Here are the statistics to prove it:

• 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.

• 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

• 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

• A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

• 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.

• Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

• For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

• As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

• Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

• In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.

• The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

• More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

• or the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

• This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

• Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

• The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

Giant Sucking Sound

The reality is that no matter how smart, how strong, how educated or how hard working American workers are, they just cannot compete with people who are desperate to put in 10 to 12 hour days at less than a dollar an hour on the other side of the world. After all, what corporation in their right mind is going to pay an American worker 10 times more (plus benefits) to do the same job? The world is fundamentally changing. Wealth and power are rapidly becoming concentrated at the top and the big global corporations are making massive amounts of money. Meanwhile, the American middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence as U.S. workers are slowly being merged into the new "global" labor pool.

What do most Americans have to offer in the marketplace other than their labor? Not much. The truth is that most Americans are absolutely dependent on someone else giving them a job. But today, U.S. workers are "less attractive" than ever. Compared to the rest of the world, American workers are extremely expensive, and the government keeps passing more rules and regulations seemingly on a monthly basis that makes it even more difficult to conduct business in the United States.

So corporations are moving operations out of the U.S. at breathtaking speed. Since the U.S. government does not penalize them for doing so, there really is no incentive for them to stay.

What has developed is a situation where the people at the top are doing quite well, while most Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to make it. There are now about six unemployed Americans for every new job opening in the United States, and the number of "chronically unemployed" is absolutely soaring. There simply are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.

Many of those who are able to get jobs are finding that they are making less money than they used to. In fact, an increasingly large percentage of Americans are working at low wage retail and service jobs.

But you can't raise a family on what you make flipping burgers at McDonald's or on what you bring in from greeting customers down at the local Wal-Mart.

The truth is that the middle class in America is dying -- and once it is gone it will be incredibly difficult to rebuild.

There are some people that think the current economic picture is even more severe - http://thetruthwins.com/archives/40-bizarre-statistics-that-reveal-the-horrifying-truth-about-the-collapse-of-the-u-s-economy

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do the math and make a difference. YES .... I mean you.

I spent my morning at Union Rescue Mission hanging a bit with Alexander Cornejo and some of his staff.  Alex is the manager the volunteer program.  Great guy. 

Each time I walk into URM I find that my surprise at how much they do and what goes on every day is something I seem not to get used to and the impression does not diminish with time.

I have written about some of the things they do.  I cannot begin to cover it all.  If you click on the title of this post you will be directed to the URM website where there is a lot of great information.

I digress.  Back to the point here.

In late May of 2010 it looked as if Hope Gardens was going to be shut down.  Many people stepped up and helped.  There were a number of tools put into place so people could help this critical effort.  One of these tools was a text number where each text would generate $10.  I am trying to see if this number is still in place.  If it is that is great.  If it is not there are other ways to help.  There is a page on the URM website where one can donate at https://secure3.convio.net/urm/site/Donation2?df_id=1300&1300.donation=form1

You can also donate by phone or mail:
Donate by Phone:

(from land lines): 1-888-77-THE-WAY-HOME (toll free) or 213-673-4876
(from cell phones): 888-778-4392 or 213-673-4876

Donate by mail:
Union Rescue Mission
Internet Donations
545 S San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

I started thinking about the $10 text donation application that was active during the Hope Gardens crisis.  I thought to myself that many folks might have no concept of what $10 can do in the hands of the folks at URM.  I will supply a few pieces of information.

Over the course of one year Union Rescue Mission provides a million meals to people.

UPDATE as of 7/27/10:  URM gave me some updated figures that take into account all the expenses associated with serving a meal rather than just the food cost.  The current cost per meal is $1.84. 

The meals are healthy, multi course, balanced meals.  It is pretty darn good stuff.  I have eaten a number of meals there myself and I will refrain from too much commentary in regard to eating better at Union Rescue Mission than I ate in most of my marriages.

The staff, including the executive URM staff eat the same food as served to the folks who come to the mission.

Meals served 365 days per week, three meals per day.

The cost of the food is offset by donations of food items in many cases.  Buying in bulk reduces cost as well and terrific fund management makes a huge difference as well. 

Fund management?  Recently the news has been reporting that the earthquake victims in Haiti have seen nothing change.  Their lives are in shambles.  The money is not getting to the people.  The government reports that they do not want to supply food because the vendors that sell food will have no business.  Those vendors are also out of work because the starving people have no money to spend on food.  Corrupt mismanagement of funds.  Big organizations like the Red Cross are powerless to make much of a difference.

Back to URM.  They stetch a dollar farther than one can comprehend.  Their doors are open to the public and they are more than happy to take folks around the facility.  No hidden places, no hidden doors, no hidden agenda.  You can watch where the money is going at any given moment.

If you want to help in moments with no complications consider this:

To donate $10 to Union Rescue Mission, text the letters URM to 85944. You will receive a confirmation text message. Reply with the word YES to complete the transaction.

I guess I could talk about things like the water walks where the URM folks take to the street when it is over 85 degrees and pass out water bottles.  Medical, dental, legal services.  Educational services.  Life transformation services.  Hope Gardens, winter shelters and the list goes on and on.

You can make a difference.

Andy Bales on the roof of Union Rescue Mission.  No ... it is not steak all the time but this might show that there is diversity in the meals.  Andy is also known for his killer chili as a sidenote.  Thank you Don Garza for this photo and others below.

Thanks again Don Garza for the photo.

Don Garza does more than just take photos.  Here he is in the center of the folks in the photo on the BBQ as Andy takes a break.

Andy Bales getting ready to head out on water walk. 

Your contributions and donations will always help in many ways.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today in the New York Times - After Job Training, Still Scrambling for a Job

The original story can be seen by clicking on the title of this post.  I may highlight on some items in the story I copied below.

After Job Training, Still Scrambling for a Job

In what was beginning to feel like a previous life, Israel Valle had earned $18 an hour as an executive assistant to a designer at a prominent fashion label. Now, he was jobless and struggling to find work. He decided to invest in upgrading his skills.

It was February 2009, and the city work force center in Downtown Brooklyn was jammed with hundreds of people hungry for paychecks. His caseworker urged him to take advantage of classes financed by the federal government, which had increased money for job training. Upgrade your skills, she counseled. Then she could arrange job interviews.

For six weeks, Mr. Valle, 49, absorbed instruction in spreadsheets and word processing. He tinkered with his résumé. But the interviews his caseworker eventually arranged were for low-wage jobs, and they were mobbed by desperate applicants. More than a year later, Mr. Valle remains among the record 6.8 million Americans who have been officially jobless for six months or longer. He recently applied for welfare benefits.

“Training was fruitless,” he said. “I’m not seeing the benefits. Training for what? No one’s hiring.”

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have enrolled in federally financed training programs in recent years, only to remain out of work. That has intensified skepticism about training as a cure for unemployment.

Even before the recession created the bleakest job market in more than a quarter-century, job training was already producing disappointing results. A study conducted for the Labor Department tracking the experience of 160,000 laid-off workers in 12 states from mid-2003 to mid-2005 — a time of economic expansion — found that those who went through training wound up earning little more than those who did not, even three and four years later. “Over all, it appears possible that ultimate gains from participation are small or nonexistent,” the study concluded.

In the last 18 months, the Obama administration has embraced more promising approaches to training focused on faster-growing areas like renewable energy and health care. But most money has been directed at the same sorts of programs that in past years have largely failed to steer laid-off workers toward new careers, say experts, and now the number of job openings is vastly outnumbered by people out of work.

“It’s such an ugly situation that job training can’t solve it,” said Ross Eisenbrey, a job training expert at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research institution in Washington, and a former commissioner of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. “When you have five people unemployed for every vacancy, you can train all the people you want and unfortunately only one-fifth of the people will get hired. Training doesn’t create jobs.”

Labor economists and work force development experts say the frustration that frequently results from job training reflects the dubious quality of many programs. Most last only a few months, providing general skills without conferring useful credentials in specialized fields. Programs rarely involve potential employers and are typically too modest to enable cast-off workers to begin new careers.

Most job training is financed through the federal Workforce Investment Act, which was written in 1998 — a time when hiring was extraordinarily robust. Then, simply teaching jobless people how to use computers and write résumés put them on a path to paychecks. Today, even highly skilled people with job experience of two decades or more languish among the unemployed. Whole industries are being scaled down by automation, the shifting of work overseas and the recession.

“A lot of the training programs that we have in this country were designed for a kind of quick turnaround economy, as opposed to the entrenched structural challenges of today,” said Carl E. Van Horn, a labor economist and director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. “It’s like attacking a mountain with a toothpick. You take a policy that was designed for the best economy that we had since World War II and you lay it up against the economy that is the worst since World War II. It can’t work.”

Claiming Successes

The Obama administration argues that expanded job training has already delivered success. As part of the nearly $800 billion stimulus package begun last year, the administration increased grants sent to states for training programs devoted to laid-off workers by $1.4 billion for 2009 and 2010. Those funds came on top of $2.9 billion allocated through normal budget channels for grants in those two years.

Last year, the number of laid-off workers in job training reached 241,000, up from about 124,000 the year before, according to the Labor Department.

“These programs are really working,” said the assistant secretary of labor, Jane Oates. “These are folks who clearly want to go back to work and we’re able to help them get back to work. The investment in job training is one that’s not only going to pay off in the short term, it’s going to help us be more competitive in the long term.”

According to the Labor Department, 85 percent of laid-off workers who received training in 2007 and 2008 gained jobs within a year of completion. But the department does not track what percentage of them gained jobs in their fields of study and so far lacks any data for 2009, the first year of the Obama administration’s expansion.

Experts harbor doubts about the reliability of Labor Department numbers, which are derived from reports by state agencies that collect data from community colleges and employment offices whose training funds are dependent upon reaching benchmarks. Twice the Labor Department had to correct the data it supplied for this article.

“The states play all sorts of games,” said Mr. Eisenbrey, from the Economic Policy Institute.

Signs of Progress

But those who oversee job training say results have improved significantly in recent years.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Robert W. Walsh, commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services, which oversees the Workforce1 career centers, including the Brooklyn office where Mr. Valle enrolled. “We’re now focused on where the jobs are and the track records of the providers.”

Those factors are crucial, say advocates for expanded training, who point out that even with near double-digit unemployment, some jobs lie vacant, awaiting workers with adequate skills.

“There’s plenty of jobs in health care, in technology,” said Fred Dedrick, executive director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, which advocates for increased and improved job training. “Once people move up, that creates opportunities for other workers.”

There is some evidence that this approach works. Two years after completing programs tied directly to the needs of local industries suffering shortages of skilled workers in the South Bronx, Boston and Milwaukee, graduates were earning 29 percent more than similar workers who did not receive training, according to a new survey from Public/Private Ventures, a nonprofit group that advocates for expanded job training.

A widely admired program begun in Michigan in 2007, No Worker Left Behind, provides up to $10,000 over two years for laid-off and underemployed workers who pursue certificates and degrees in areas of significant growth. The program has trained technicians to work on major energy storage projects and aircraft mechanics to service engines at commercial operations that have taken over former Air Force bases.

“We need to know that we’re training people in an in-demand growth area today,” said Andrew S. Levin, who oversees the Michigan program.

But forecasting where jobs will be can be tricky. Among those completing training by the end of 2009, 41 percent were still looking for work as of June, according to Michigan data.

Nationally, prospective trainees are often steered into programs by counselors at community colleges and employment centers who lack awareness about which industries are hiring.

In the suburbs of Philadelphia, Eric Nelson left a job at a credit union call center in late 2004 to enroll at a state college. There, the career services department helped him choose a course of study by consulting job growth projections. The result led to geographic information systems — the mapping of data by place.

“It seemed like the thing to do,” Mr. Nelson recalled, adding that he was assured he would easily land an entry-level job paying $35,000 a year.

But when Mr. Nelson, 42, graduated with his bachelor’s degree in May 2008, facing nearly $50,000 in student loan debt, he was horrified to discover that graduates greatly outnumbered jobs. Only people with six or seven years’ experience were getting hired, he said.

“I’ve had no offers at all,” he said.

He is now living off his wife’s wages as a librarian and contributions from his parents. Even programs with successful track records tend to be focused on people who are easier to employ — those with substantial skills and experience.

In late 2007, in the Minneapolis suburbs, Hennepin Technical College joined with local employers to help workers laid off from area factories secure new jobs.

More Skills, Better Luck

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area exemplifies how unemployment reflects not only a shortage of jobs but also a mismatch between jobs and skills. A half-century ago, mainframe computers were assembled in the area, before the business shifted to Silicon Valley. But large-scale manufacturing remains, particularly in one fast-growing industry whose jobs seem unlikely to be shifted overseas: medical devices.

“Nobody wants a pacemaker stamped, ‘Made in China,’ ” said Richard P. Kelly, who oversees Hennepin Tech’s manufacturing quality training programs.

The new program, WorkFast, aimed to quickly prepare laid-off workers for new jobs in medical devices and other growing areas of manufacturing, via intense training units lasting eight to 15 weeks. Many focus on so-called Swiss machining, which uses computerized equipment to slice metal into highly precise parts for the aerospace and medical device industries.

Since the program began, some 80 percent of its roughly 250 graduates have secured jobs, according to Hennepin Tech — among them David Gustafson, a wiry man of 49 who started working for his father’s asphalt business as a teenager.

In 1994, he got a job at a plant that made parts for medical device companies, running an early version of Swiss machining. He worked his way up to $18 an hour. In 2000, he and his wife at the time bought a home on an acre of land for their two boys.

But in the summer of 2008, Mr. Gustafson was laid off. A year later, his search for work had yielded little besides a lesson in the deficiencies of his résumé: He could not program the computers that govern Swiss machines, a deal-breaker for potential employers.

Living on a $299-a-week unemployment check in place of his $697 paycheck, he ran up credit card balances exceeding $13,000. He sold his great-grandfather’s carpentry tools and his grandfather’s wedding band. Bickering consumed his marriage, which soon broke.

“I was totally depressed,” he said. “I looked at every penny, and my wife was feeling really fed up with it. She’d say, ‘Every once in a while, let’s just go to the movies and forget about life for a while.’ And I’d say, ‘No, because the cost of that movie could feed us for three days.’ I said no to everything. I’m screaming ‘Turn the lights off,’ and ‘The heat doesn’t need to be that high.’ ”

Mr. Gustafson registered for the WorkFast program and added the mere fact of his enrollment to his résumé. In February, just as he was drawing his final unemployment check, he got a job from a Swiss machine shop for $19 an hour, with one requirement: He had to complete his training.

Through the spring, he worked at the plant from 5 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon. Two nights a week, he attended class at Hennepin Tech.

“Just as soon as I could say, ‘Yes, I can program,’ I got a job,” Mr. Gustafson said. “I feel real secure.”

Mr. Gustafson had more than a decade of experience on the same machines he then trained to master. How easily can that success be replicated for lesser-skilled people?

The literature is not encouraging.

A 2006 study prepared for the Labor Department found virtually no benefit for 8,000 randomly selected recipients who entered federally financed training programs in 2001 and 2002.

In the year before their training, these people earned about $20,000 a year on average, according to the study. During the 15 months after their training, roughly 80 percent of these people were employed at some point, but their earnings in that period averaged about $16,000.

The 2008 study found that women were far more likely to benefit from training than men — cold comfort given that this recession has hit male-dominated industries like construction particularly hard.

Among those unemployed for six months or longer at the end of May, nearly 60 percent were men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly 39 percent were in their mid-40s or older — another challenge to training programs whose results have generally been better among younger people. Nearly three of four had no degree beyond high school.

Bernard Pelzer, 56, has been jobless since the summer of 2009, when he was laid off from his position as a maintenance worker at a Manhattan office building. Since then, he has subsisted on a $260-a-week unemployment check.

Chasing Elusive Work

An African-American man who never completed high school, Mr. Pelzer has suffered a steady erosion of working opportunities. Through the 1970s and 1980s, he earned as much as $12 an hour as a handyman and security guard, enough to rent spacious apartments.

“You could pay your rent and take care of your family,” he said.

But in recent years, he has earned less than he did a quarter-century ago, even as the cost of living has climbed.

Now, with no paycheck, the bills are beyond him — even in a cramped apartment in East New York. He and his wife recently canceled cable television, their lone source of entertainment.

Last fall, Mr. Pelzer enrolled in a federally financed training course to become a certified building technician, following the guidance of a caseworker at a city-run work force center.

“I thought, ‘This is great,’ ” he recalled. “There are certain things you intend to achieve, but you run into blockages. Now, the blockages were going to be removed.”

But as Mr. Pelzer slogged through the muggy streets of Brooklyn last week in a brown dress shirt, carrying his résumé in a laminated sleeve, his training was beginning to feel irrelevant. Despite applying for more than a dozen jobs over the last month, he had yet to gain an interview.

“It’s very bad,” he said. “I haven’t gotten any response.”

Among those who have this year completed training arranged by New York City’s Workforce1 centers, half have found employment, according to the city.

But not Mr. Valle. As his 50th birthday approaches, he is living with his parents, unable to pay rent on an unemployment check.

Warm and effusive, Mr. Valle grew up in East Harlem, the son of Puerto Rican parents whose trajectory testifies to the potential of job training: His father sold hot dogs before parlaying classes in air conditioning and electrical repair into a career as a maintenance worker. By the 1980s, he was earning $45,000 a year.

Mr. Valle’s modern-day training has produced only frustration.

After he completed classes, the first interview his caseworker arranged was at a Family Dollar store in Brooklyn. It paid $11 an hour. Still, he figured he was in no position to be choosy, so he went, assuming he was the only one being dispatched to the interview. When he got there, nearly 50 people were waiting in a stifling warehouse. Some had been there for more than two hours. Some wore pinstripe suits, relics of short-circuited jobs at banks and insurance offices.

He waited an hour, standing because the crowd vastly exceeded the available chairs; because the applicants vastly exceeded the lone job being offered — an equation not altered by his upgraded proficiency in Microsoft Word.

“It was crazy,” he said. “I got so fed up that I walked out.”

The New Poor: Articles in this series are examining the struggle to recover from the widespread strains of the Great Recession.

The above photo is a shot from the great depression of the 1930s.  The photo was used in a story at http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/republicans-to-unemployed-why-wont-you-all-just-get-some-jobs-already.php?ref=fpblg

The shot above I took in 2010 outside of The Midnight Mission in Downtown Los Angeles where people were waiting in line for lunch.  The line wrapped around the building and down the next street.  I don't see much difference between then and now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Update on the Gateway Program at Union Rescue Mission

Below is the original writeup from Union Rescue Mission along with the update from today on the progress of the program.  This is from Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission.

A few weeks ago on this blog I explored the options of having people experiencing homelessness pay part of their own way when they come into a Mission or agency for assistance.

I am going to reprint the former blog, share the comments, and after that, I am going to share how you all helped us arrive at what I believe and hope is an excellent path! Thank you!

There has been some controversy over guests paying a fee for services, both nearby on Skid Row and in New York City. The controversy arose when a local group in LA bought a building, and after a few months began offering a cot and a place to sleep for $125.00 per month. Some advocates for people experiencing homelessness cried out about the fee, but also in regards to the fact that only the cot and case management was offered, and that there were no shower services or regular food program to go along with the cot.

In New York City a bigger storm arose over the City of New York carrying out a Client Contribution Program, a pilot program to charge guests with an adequate income a gradually growing fee to both sustain the shelter program and to develop responsible choices among the guests. I have posted the link below:


“Dusting off an idea dating back to the Giuliani era, the Bloomberg administration has quietly started charging rent to homeless people who stay in emergency city shelters, theVoice has learned.

With no fanfare, Bloomberg officials in June began charging residents of at least four Brooklyn shelters up to 30 percent of their income, records obtained by theVoice show. People who don’t pay could be kicked out of the shelter, the documents show.

Eric Deutsch, a spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services, tells theVoice that the so-called Client Contribution Program is a “very small” pilot program for people with a significant amount of income in the shelter. “We’re trying a variety of new strategies to help families and individuals move towards permanency and into their own homes,” he said.

According to Deutsch, the first month at the shelter is free, with fees rising from 10 percent in the second month to 30 percent in the fourth month. Deutsch said the money goes into a pool that “clients” can draw from when they leave the shelter. But shelter residents say a number of people have already refused to pay the rent fee because they can’t afford it, and because the city hasn’t offered any additional rights or benefits in return.”

At the Rescue Mission I ran from 1986 to 1990 in Des Moines, Iowa, we had a similar practice. The Door of Faith Mission was established by George Holloway, a man who had a 3rd grade education, spent 37 years on the road without a home, going from shelter to shelter, until he had his life transformed right here at Union Rescue Mission, I believe. He returned to Des Moines, Iowa, with a philosophy of running mission’s differently:

■He made it welcoming for the entire day, instead of making people line up at night to come in for a meal and a bed

■He fed the men well so they could feel good, go out and work, and get help avoiding the temptations of drugs and alcohol

■He required sobriety from those who lived at the Mission because it is difficult to stay sober when surrounded by the site and smell of alcohol

■He required the men to work and pay their own way, because people feel better about themselves when they work, and pay their own way. It affirms their dignity, teaches responsibility, prepares them for paying rent when they move, and it provided 1/3 of the needed income for operating the shelter. The rest of the income came from churches and individuals. The first 3 days were free of charge or paid by the County, subsequently the next 30 day fee was $6.00 per day, then $7.00 per day, and finally $8.00 per day to prepare the men to pay rent.

In effect, I learned everything I know about properly running a Rescue Mission not from my more than 15 years in colleges, universities and seminaries, but almost entirely from a man with a 3rdgrade education.

I came to Union Rescue Mission with this philosophy intact, but I have not implemented all of the components of this philosophy as of yet. I was reminded of George Holloway’s teachings the other day, when a front line staff mention that some guests residing free at Union Rescue Mission have an income of $1,000 and some an income of $2,000 and that it is difficult to watch someone stay free, eat free, and irresponsibly fritter away huge sums of money in the first few days only to be completely broke the rest of the month, while our worker has suffered 2 pay decreases and responsibly struggles to make ends meet.

I’d like to start a dialogue and get your thoughts on this dilemma. What do you think? Should Mission guests pay a fee to learn responsibility, prepare for paying rent, and help sustain the Mission’s operating costs during such a challenging time? Thanks for weighing in!

There were many responses to the initial announcement.  Rather than post all of the great responses I will let those who are interested head to the URM site where the full content post can be seen:



First, let me say a huge “Thank You!” to all who read this blog and had the courage and took the time to weigh in! You really helped us. Everyone’s opinions helped shape a new policy for us, especially former guests’ opinions. We met with Myles, General Jeff, and Don Garza as well, and that was an amazing and enlightening meeting. We also spoke to our guests here.

I have to admit that one of the comments above that really spoke to my heart was Mary’s, “Hi Rev Andy. Perhaps the naming of the program is critical as it should reflect a covenant perspective rather than ‘taking from’?”

This, as well as the meeting with General Jeff, Don Garza, Myles Rose, and my past experience at the Door of Faith in Des Moines, Iowa, and our staffs and guests’ collective wisdom and experience, helped us develop a new program, all voluntary rather than mandated, called Gateway Transitional Program.

Initially limited to 25 men and 25 women, our Gateway Transitional Program is designed to bridge the gap between our Emergency Guest Program and our 12-18 month Life Transformation Programs. Features and benefits include:

■A 6-month covenant relationship with a commitment to sobriety.

■Attendance of classes in money management, job interviewing and job preparation, conflict resolution, assertiveness and time management.

■Group activities and motivational rallies specifically for Gateway Program participants.

■A dedicated bed in our men’s or women’s dorm complete with a footlocker for valuables.

■Hours/curfew will be tailored to the specific needs of each participant, and their bunk area will be considered their space and they will be allowed to rest or study as they can.

■Participants will contribute $210 per month to Union Rescue Mission. $60.00 of this contribution will be placed in their own personal savings account. The remaining $150 fee will be used to offset the cost of the Gateway Transitional Program.

Our guests are excited about this new opportunity to move out of the cycle of homelessness, and we are launching this month! Thanks for taking time to consider, for weighing in, and for truly helping us shape a program that really is a mutual covenant to help our guests and our Mission. Bless you! Andy B.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chicken or Fish? Just an observation on quitters in relationships.

In the last few weeks I have had a number of friends approach me on this same subject.  Is the divorce rate higher than ever?  Is it the stress of the economy?  Do people think that things will be less stressful if they change some aspect of their life such as get rid of somebody in their life?  Is it a sense of entitlement that tells somebody it is acceptable to leave somebody that is a part of their life because their own happiness is what is truly important even over the hurt of others?  I don't know but I do ask myself questions and make my own observations.

Feel free to copy and paste this and send it along to quitters and folks you probably know that this may be a perfect fit for this topic. Lord knows there are a lot of them out there that fit this quite well.

Maybe it is because I have gone though a few divorces and some folks feel that I can help them make sense of things? People come to me for advice or to just unload on me. I am happy to try to help but hell ... I don't have the answers either.

Today I was talking to somebody who was leaving their partner for another. They were trying to explain to me why their new partner was just right for them. Maybe they wanted me to give them some sort of OK? I have no idea but this did touch a nerve ... actually a lot of them.

Chicken or Fish ?

I suppose that the downside of having a workable level of intelligence with an engineering mindset may cause one to have a proclivity toward over analyzing things. Add the trait of being observant and the downside is magnified.

I have many friends that have left their partner or who have been left by their partner. Many of you are in my friends on facebook. I have had long phone conversations with many of you as well when you were trying to make sense of it all.  Bottom line ... don't try to make sense as it makes no sense, follows no logic and generally one of the people in the couple who are having the problems is close minded, insane, blind to logic and reason because they have a number of problems and I will try to point out just one of them now.

In almost every case of one person leaving another, the one who had left found some sort of perfect being walking the planet. This person can do no wrong. They are everything their past partner was not. In some cases the companion WAS the reason one person left the other. The new person does not have the faults or bad traits of the prior partner. What a load of crap. They say marriage and relationships are work. I realize that in many cases the work is not worth the effort for many folks.   Being one of two people in a part time relationship is not much work.  It is easy.  There is little confrontation.

Perhaps I am just observant and perhaps I question things such as what one of my friends once said as he was leaving his wife .... "she does not climb mountains with me". Uhhh ... maybe because you were working 75 hours a week building a business and the rest of your free time you were off bicycle racing? When you did come home and she asked you to do something you felt she was nagging you or she did not understand you. You fucking jerk.

I know more than a few more folks who found this wonderful person out there...  the person who was all that their partner never was. Well people ... think about this....

It is really quite easy to be charming when there is nothing on the line as far as confrontational or difficult decisions. Hang out with your sweetheart and try to really see what is actually going on:

"I cannot decide whether to have the chicken or fish. It both looks so good" says Mary. Ed replies; "why don't we get both and share?" "Oh Ed, you are so wonderful". Fuck you Ed. Fuck you Mary. I hope you both choke on fish bones.

Only in a dream or drug induced haze.  Perhaps vast quantities of alcohol?

Ed is playing the game here and not showing his true colors. He may have wanted ribs but he was just walking that safe path in hope of getting to the next question later in the evening .... Ed to Mary; "do you want to be on top"? Mary in her own mind ... "I love how caring and sensitive Ed when it comes to my feelings". To both of you dumb asses ... there is NO wrong answer here.  Ed will always shine in Mary's eyes. 

Paul asks Rhonda; "Which of those two movies do you want to see? It seems they are both playing at the same theater at the same time" Ronda; "Oh Paul, you always know the best places to go to make me happy".

Dianne and Jay just had a wonderful week touring the wine country. The vacation was shear perfection. .... Because .... they were both interested in the wine country, they both wanted to go there and they only see each other on occasion. They do not live together or solve problems ... real problems together.

Matt and Carol are a real couple. They make choices like what should they do now that one of them has lost their job? How do they come up with money for property tax? How do we pay the electric bill? Susie has to go to the doctor but we no longer have insurance. What should we cut out when we go to the market next week? Not a life of glamour. Not a life even worthy of a bad reality TV series.

The weak crack. The self absorbed crack. The selfish crack. They all run. They all quit. They come up with reasons why they left which when examined, even at a distance are flawed. Their reason for their current bliss is rooted in how another understands them so much better than their partner. More bullshit.

Try doing something such as the following with that wonderful person that understands you, that person that is such a great fit.  Each day for a few months ask them to do something for you.  Pick up dry cleaning.  Pick up something at the market.  Go to work and bring home money to pay bills.  Ask them to pick them up from some location and when you arrive it helps if you show up thirty minutes after they arrive.  If they get upset they must be at fault because somebody so perfect would just let it slide.  No?  Try this for about three months and see if that person is still perfect.  Perhaps she or he is but I think that you would either have had some differences or one of the two of you has honed their ability of apathy to a fine new level.   Stop comparing somebody you left to somebody you spend the good times of your life with but never the hard times or the times that are part of everyday real life.

It is hard for me to comprehend how easily people can accept this self generated narrow vision and buy into this nonsense. I suppose that there are a lot of people out there who do not have simple powers of the most basic observation. These people let their internal protective mechanisms lead their lives, make their decisions and use these things to justify hurting others who were once so important in their lives.

Feel free to pass this along to somebody you know. I would bet that you all know at least one person that is may fit.  I bet many of you have a specific face come to mind?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Intense June 2010 but perhaps my best birthday ever.

I will say that my 21st birthday was spent in London England and was one of my best birthdays but this last one pretty darn terrific in a very special way.   June 25th ... Custer's Last Stand, the start of the Korean War, the death of Michael Jackson.  All tragic events associated with death even if you are an American Indian and liked the Custer event people still lost their lives.  This June 25th was great though as the money goal needed to keep Hope Gardens open was reached.

My last update to the blog was June 6th, almost a month ago.  The month has been very busy and I continually posted a lot on facebook; links, writing, photos, videos.  I will now hit some of the highpoints here.

In late May it looked as if Hope Gardens would be closing.  Unless they could raise $2.8 million dollars by June 30 the women and children would be relocated back to Skid Row.

The below was taken off one of the pages at http://www.urm.org/ the page of Union Rescue Mission.

June 25, 2010

2:40 pm

Officials at Union Rescue Mission said Friday that they had raised sufficient funds to keep open Hope Gardens, a transitional housing center for women and children in the foothills of the San Fernando Valley.

“I’m feeling great relief,” said Andy Bales, chief executive of Union Rescue Mission. “We’re planning a celebration next month at Hope Gardens.”

Like many nonprofits, Union Rescue Mission has been hard-hit by the recession. Demand for the organization’s services, which include a downtown shelter, has increased 45% in the last two years, Bales said. But by late May, donations were down 21% from last year.

Unless the organization could raise $2.8 million by June 30, the end of the fiscal year, officials feared they would have to close Hope Gardens, which offers homeless women and children a tranquil atmosphere in which to rebuild their lives.

On May 24, Bales issued an emergency appeal for donations through his blog, Twitter, Facebook, text messages and snail mail.

He said key support came from individuals such as Scott Minerd, a managing partner at Guggenheim Partners, who provided $1 million in matching contributions.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and he’s really stepped up,” Bales said. “But it’s not just been the big gifts. It’s been other people stepping forward with what they can that has helped get the matching funds.”

The target was reached Friday morning with a $250,000 gift from the Louis & Gladyce Foster Family Foundation, he said.

Bales sent out a celebratory Tweet: “Thanks 2 you http://urm.org has received $2.9 Million towards $2.8 Million goal 2 Save Hope Gardens!”

The next step is to develop a plan to ensure the center remains financially viable, Bales said. All employees have already accepted two 5% pay cuts, and eight people were laid off, Bales said. The organization is also appealing for long-term support from Los Angeles County, which pays for security, counseling and other services at the site.

– Alexandra Zavis

This was the news story last week as you, our donors put us over the top in our fundraising efforts to save Hope Gardens Family Center and keep precious moms and children from returning to the mean streets of Skid Row. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!!

31 days ago I feared for the worst as I drove home late one night after a Board of Directors meeting at Union Rescue Mission downtown. I contemplated the fate of not finishing well, retiring in disappointment and disgrace, believing that I might be viewed as a fellow who tried hard, but failed. It was not a new feeling to me. 6 years after I handed off the reins of Good Samaritan Urban Ministries in Des Moines, Iowa to a capable new leader and committed Board of Directors, this coalition of 120 churches that I had helped form from ground up and nourished for 10 years closed the ministry and sold the property that we had not only renovated for over 140 previously homeless families, but also battled gangs and crime to provide a peaceful helpful setting for those families. When I left, I underestimated the continued need for building relationships and the heavy weight of debt that eventually did the ministry in. That decision that was made to close haunts me to this day, and during our battle to win Hope Gardens, opponents of Hope Gardens brought it up and stuck it in my face and it felt like a knife in the back.

So here I was again. Our services at URM were up 45% over the last 2 years, and giving had fallen off by over 21%. We were looking at a $4.4 Million shortfall for the budget year that ends June 30th, and there was talk of selling this beautiful place that we had fought so hard for in a 21 month, $1.9 Million dollar legal battle, including 34 neighborhood meetings (beatings), that culminated in a remarkable 6 hour Planning and Zoning Hearing victory!

The worst part of all, I knew that if we closed Hope Gardens, before I could retire in disgrace I would have to have to be the one to tell the moms and children now living in peace and safety, that they would have to find other housing or return to URM surrounded by Skid Row and some of the meanest streets in our country. I was not sure my heart could take it, but I knew that I would have to carry it out.

We reached out to the County Board of Supervisors for help and shared that without their help, not only would we be unable to move 24 more single moms and their children to Hope Gardens, but we would indeed have to vacate the 34 families now residing at Hope Gardens. We are still waiting and hoping for continued support.

I wrote a plea letter that I promised would be a once in a lifetime request, and based on my health, I truly meant that. We sent the letter to our donors, posted it on my blog and shared our need through texts, emails, twitter and Facebook.

A kind donor and KKLA Radio Hosts Frank Pastore and Reba Toney provided a powerful radio thon that helped us passionately get out the word and we raised close to $70,000.

I drove to Santa Monica on May 24th a tired, broken, fearful yet hopeful man and met with our friend Scott Minerd. He had called and asked me what we needed to save Hope Gardens, and I shocked him by saying that we needed $2.8 Million by June 30th to have any hope of saving Hope Gardens. He told me a sweet story of how he wanted to bring his friends dog for a walk around Hope Gardens, but the dog had died of cancer. Tears welled up in his eyes as he told me that his friend had gone to the pound to find another dog, but the dog he picked out was mean, and he left the dog at the pound. Later that day the pound called his friend and said that the mean dog would be disposed of in a few hours since he was not adopted. Before he finished I knew what this huge hearted man was going to tell me. Scott was now owner of that once hurt and aggressive dog, and he had named her grace, because she was saved by grace!

I asked Scott, no I begged Scott to allow us to honor him as our 2010 Hero 4 Hope. He was not keen on the idea, but said he would consider being the Hero 4 Hope if it would help. Before I left, this giant of a man with an even bigger heart told me that he would provide a gift of $250,000 that would be a challenge gift asking for others to match. He gave me a hug, and assured me that we had to do everything possible because, “we cannot let Hope Gardens close!” I began to feel hopeful that a miracle was coming!

When we honored Scott as the Hero 4 Hope, we surprised him by having a partner of his who had flown in from Chicago say a few words. Scott was surprised, but he had a bigger surprise for me. He said, “I had a dream last night. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and in the dream I matched up to $500,000 of whatever was given at this event today!” I was amazed, but Scott was not done. “Beyond that, I dreamed I would match any single gift of $250,000!” I really began to have hope! When that gift was matched by wonderful friends of the Mission, Scott said, “I did not tell you the rest of the dream. I dreamed the 1st $250,000 was matched and I offered a second match of $250,000.” Not only did my faith grow at that moment, but I knew that indeed we were experiencing a miracle of love and that there was great hope for the moms and kids at Hope Gardens Family Center.

Like Scott, thousands have responded in their own special way. A formerly homeless friend named Don who now has a home and has completely rebuilt his life became a monthly donor; a colorful builder of amps and guitars for premiere artists around the country, Myles, reached out to his network of friends, and you all gave what you could. Pastor Steve Faubion of Calvary Church Pacific Palisades presented us with a check for $25,000 from the church and shared that when the mission was hurting, they were hurting. In addition the children at Calvary Christian school raised over $5000 when they were told they could wear jeans to school for a $10 donation! Early last week we were getting close when Pauley Perette, star of the top show on TV, NCIS, and a volunteer at Hope Gardens contacted me and said she wanted to help save Hope Gardens! She joined twitter, something she had opposed for a long time, and with the help of a friend she posted a Youtube video asking her friends to join her in saving the most beautiful place on earth, a place where previously homeless moms and kids live a life of peace and hope. We gained a huge amount of momentum from Pauley. It was remarkable. Friday morning, June 25th, just 31 days after launching what seemed like an impossible attempt to raise $2.8 Million, a check for $250,000 came in from the Louis and Gladyce Foster Foundation, 1 week after the Foster family lost their wonderful matriarch, Gladyce at the age of 90. She and her husband had given the cornerstone gift for our URM downtown building, the largest Mission in the US. Amidst their sorrow, they took the time and shared what they had putting us over the top, to $2.9 plus and counting!

Instead of having the dreadful task of relocating families, we are planning a celebration in the near future to praise God and thank each and every one of you who took part in this miracle!

I am trying, but I can not possibly put into words how thankful I am for this miracle that has transpired through you and friends like Scott who had faith, and more than that, had love for precious moms and kids. I broke into tears as I shared my joy with the Chairman of our Board of Directors that I don’t have to finish my career of ministry as a failure, and much more than that, hopeful moms like Angel, one of my Facebook friends, and her children do not have to leave the peace, safety and hope of Hope Gardens Family Center. Here’s what she wrote to me last night on Facebook:

“Thank you guys and thank our Heavenly Father – i will be giving prayers of thanks until the day i have to leave hope gardens! God bless and keep you all that created, support, and run these programs for us and our kids!”


I felt pretty terrific that the goal was reached on my birthday and it was terrific that Andy Bales and his staff thanked my friends and I directly and indirectly.

There was a little bit of dialogue on the page:

Myles Rose says:

June 26, 2010 at 4:26 pm
Andy & URM staff … I am ready for the next challenge. The effort and energy was more than worth the end result. One of the most worthwhile actions in over a half a century walking this earth. My deepest regards and respect to all of you who work each day at URM and those who helped keep Hope Gardens open.

Andy Bales says:
June 26, 2010 at 5:03 pm
Thank you, Myles, for having a big part in this! Bless you!

The original page can be seen at http://www.urmblog.org/2010/06/26/saved-by-grace/

The Los Angeles Times ran a story on this event as well - http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/06/union-rescue-mission-reaches-fundraising-goal-to-keep-transitional-housing-center-hope-gardens-open.html

The folks from NCIS were also part of the battle.

In the end the battle was won.

Back at Union Rescue Misson other activities continue.  Thursday nights are now the six nights of Starwars.  On the roof of Union Rescue Mission children who have very little in life are given a few hours of fun and diverson from their difficult life.

On the roof at Union Rescue Mission. Just one of a million activities, services, meals and things they provide 24x7 365 days a week. Can't beat this view while watching "Starwars"

A great street level perspective was written up on the URM website at http://www.urmblog.org/2010/06/24/the-mission-june-2010/  I will also copy and paste the piece below

My Terrifying Night on the Streets of Skid Row

I thought I knew how bad Skid Row was. It took a sleepless night on the sidewalk to experience the terrifying reality.

When I recently had the chance to spend a single night outside in front of Union Rescue Mission, I thought I knew how bad it would be. But I didn’t. It was the most terrifying night of my life.

I had planned to spend the night sleeping in an EDAR, a kind of folding tent on wheels. But the smell of trash and human waste, the constant yelling, fighting, and drug use, and the squeaking of giant rats the size of cats – which I saw crawling over people all night – kept me awake.

The sidewalk in front of URM was crowded with dozens of people: an old man sleeping in a wheelchair, a frightened middle-aged man and woman huddled in a dark corner, an elderly man suffering from Alzheimer’s wandering lost, a wheelchair-bound prostitute plying her trade in the pay toilet across the street.

Then there were the drug-crazed predators; the man who attacked a woman across the street, another man who attacked a woman in a nearby alley, the thug who assaulted everyone who crossed his path, and who even threatened me. Risking my own life, I broke up at least five or six fights that night.

That’s how it was all night long. There was never any let up in the noise, fear, screaming, fighting, drug use, prostitution, and rats. It was just relentless.

I spent just one night on those streets. That night scarred me. If I had to spend one more night out there, I’m not sure I would have recovered. But what happens to the hearts and souls of the thousands of precious people who have spent weeks, months, or years on Skid Row? Men and women who’ve given up on life and hit bottom here?

That’s a thought I can’t tolerate. No one – not one single human being – should ever be left on the street and forced to live in terror.

Today I’m more grateful than ever for all our generous donors. We’re able to serve almost 5,000 precious souls a day. Every night more than 1,000 men and women sleep in a safe bed. And best of all, more than 600 people have decided to give life another try and escape these streets for good.

This was BBQ Friday lunch on the roof of Union Rescue Mission on July 2.  I wrote a bit about this on facebook as some of the dialogue at lunch was on the same subject as the above street view perspective.

BBQ Friday lunch is just about over but I had lunch here with a few of the URM staff folks. BBQ burgers, hot dogs, beans, chips, drinks.

As a side note ... during lunch part of the conversation was my six paramedic release tags after being injured. One of the URM folks was a bit taken aback that I "had been to the hospital" six times since December. To correct things ... only one visit to the hospital was necessary, the rest of the times it was paramedics who later released me and in most of those cases the paramedics were there for other people also involved.

To also set the proper picture ... It is not a given that when walking down the street in skid row you will get attacked.  Likely at times?  Perhaps.  In my case it was generally my fault as I tend to step in the middle of altercations between others and stop them.  This can happen maybe a half a dozen times per night. In six or seven months I have only been injured about six times or a bit more when medical attention was not required, it looks like my percentage of win versus loss is quite high :-)

I was talking about a story that Andy Bales of Union Rescue Mission posted at


with a friend who was more taken aback by Andy's mention of rats than some of the other material. I explained there is a lot of trash and filth on the street. Today as I was walking (7/2/10) to URM down 5th I took a shot of some of the trash as this was a very clean day on the street compared to most days.

I posted many stories on the economy on facebook.  Bottom line ... things are not getting better and I see the number of residents on the street increase each week.  Unemployment benefits have run out for the first wave of folks and the future does not look bright ... or even dimly lit at this point.  I seem to have a pretty good track record in speaking my viewpoint on the state of the economy.

The bottom line here ....  Please think a bit about trying to help.  Look at the website at http://www.urm.org/ and send the link to your friends.  Ask them to help.  The battle is ongoing and Los Angeles has the highest homeless population in the USA.  The homeless population in Los Angeles is higher than the population of Santa Barbara.  If you don't think you can make a difference you are mistaken ... you can.  I spent five weeks posting on facebook, twitter, emailing my friends and associates in the music industry asking them to help and they did.  My deepest thank you to all of my friends that stepped up and helped in many ways - donations and spreading the word themselves.

URM provides thousands of meals a day.  365 days a year.  They provide shelter, medical, dental, legal, educational services and more.  This is an ongoing expense so please consider helping and passing on the word and website link.

To my country music folks that are looking to get into the running for the Home Depot Humanitarian Award ... just do something for URM.  Nobody could beat that as they are the largest mission, the oldest and Los Angeles has the largest homeless population.  Pretty hard to top helping Union Rescue Mission.  Lots of you thank God when you accept your rewards from the ACM,  CMA, CMT, Grammy etc.  Well, I think that Pastor Andy Bales who heads URM might have some great thoughts about any of you that help and heck, that can't hurt. 

I am also trying to organize a summer concert series.  Not anything huge or complex.  Maybe 250 folks on the roof of Union Rescue Mission for a fun concert.  The ticket proceeds would go to URM.  If some of you folks are in town to do a gig for the late night TV shows like The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel, or day shows like Ellen and want to make a difference, a big difference and perhaps end up in the L.A. Times and other publications as well as on the news drop me a note about spending a few hours playing (acoustic or electric is fine) and I will put you in direct contact with the right folks.  Keep in mind that you can probably write all this off anyway as URM contributions are a tax writeoff.  So what are you waiting for :)

In closing, thank you to all my friends that stepped up to the plate and helped keep Hope Gardens open.  Thank you to the staff at Untion Rescue Mission for all your hard work, long hours and support.  Thank you URM for your continued encouragement and a heartfelt thank you for being there for me above and beyond to Alex, Jacqui, Ginger and Andy Bales.  You are all an inspiration to me every day.

Myles S. Rose