Reconnecting Buutuo

first_imgWho can ever forget Buutuo? It is the Nimba town on the border with the Ivory Coast which Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) entered on December 24, 1989 to fire the first shots of their invasion that ignited the 14-year Liberian civil war.That invasion led to the overthrow and execution of President Samuel K. Doe and scores of his closest associates, mostly from his Krahn ethnic group. Buutuo is also remembered because in 2011 the brave and daring President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, against the advice of her own personal security, waded through water to enter with her official vehicle. It was in fulfillment of her promise to the people ofBuutuo that she would visit them before the end of her first term.The grateful Buutuo people did not forget that first visit by a sitting Liberian President to their town. They and the Nimba people, just as they had done in 2006, gave the first term candidate Sirleaf their resounding endorsement for a second term.But what did they get in return? Is there anything tangible in their town, one of Nimba’s most remote, that they can point to in terms of development—a tangible reward for their historic endorsement of her to win two presidential terms?Our former Nimba Correspondent, now Assistant Editor C.Y. Kwanue, himself a native of Buutuo, confessed that no, there is not much to show.Not even the road leading into the town, which is now riddled with even bigger puddles of water than Ellen braved to enter Buutuo on September 26, 2011.In his story on Tuesday, Editor Kwanue quoted many, including Old Lady Annie Quelleh, who said that GOL had “totally neglected Buutuo.” We all can imagine and know the great hardship any town, in this case Buutuo, suffers when deep puddles prohibit anything or anyone from entering or leaving there. No way to take pregnant women or other patients to the nearest clinic, which is so many miles away; no way for either trucks or pick-ups (taxis are completely out of the question) to take Buutuo’s farm produce to the market. The Buutuo people live on their cocoa production. Without roads, they sell nothing, compounding the hardship. There is also no way to bring in urgently needed food items, nor medicines to the lone clinic in the town of 40,000 people; no way for textbooks and other school materials from the Education Ministry to reach Buutuo’s schools; no way for businesspeople to travel to or from Buutuo to do business.We are not talking of people like C.Y. Kwanue, who lives and works in greater Monrovia and has to travel to Buutuo to see his aging relatives there. We are talking about issues that are much more serious than vacationing or visitations—although these, too, could be critical for aging or sick relations. What kind of life is that, to exist in a place that is impossible to reach? When we talk about abject poverty and deprivation, that is it right there.We know of five persons who can make an immediate difference in Buutuo right now to bring urgently needed relief to its people. The first is President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She can order the second person, Public Works Minister Gyude Moore to deploy his engineers and yellow machines to go fix the road leading into Buutuo.The third person needed to rescue Buutuo is the politically powerful Nimba Senator Prince Y. Johnson. Everyone, including Ellen, knows that when Prince Johnson speaks, Nimba speaks! We know of no Liberian politician that can afford to ignore a call from Senator Prince Johnson.The fourth person relevant to this Buutuo conundrum (challenge, problem) is Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, himself with Nimba roots—his mom, Naankouh, is from Buutuo, and he speaks the languages, too, in addition to his paternal Kissi. Minister Samukai could easily engage his Engineering Battalion to go to Buutuo and help fix that road.The fifth person that can help toward making Buutuo accessible is Finance Minister Boima Kamara, who must come up with the money needed to empower Public Works and the Defense Engineering Battalion to come forward and fix the Buutuo road.Yes, Christmas and New Year are over, but the people of Buutuo remain critically trapped. All of us, but most especially the government, must come forward and DO something to bring speedy and urgent relief to Buutuo and our people who live there. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Leaders, rider advocates work for transit funds

first_imgRaymond added that the MTA is looking at an operating deficit of $108 million this year, and a total of $1.8 billion over the next 10 years. The Legislature held its first budget subcommittee hearing on the public transit budget Wednesday. More than a dozen advocates of public transit and representatives of local agencies such as the MTA urged the committee to restore funding that Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting. While the committee did not take any votes, several members said they were concerned about the cuts and would consider restoring at least some of the money. In his 2007-08 budget plan, Schwarzenegger has proposed redirecting to other state programs about $1.1 billion in funds that would normally be slated for public transit. Those include $627 million redirected to school busing; $340 million for debt service on earlier transportation bonds; and $144 million for a program to transport recipients of social service programs. Those programs, while transportation-related, were previously funded from other state agencies’ budgets, such as schools and health services, not from transportation. SACRAMENTO – Los Angeles officials and transit advocates fought Wednesday to restore more than $1 billion in cuts to public transportation in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget for 2007-08. The governor, they said, is shortchanging public transit at a time when it is desperately needed in California amid rising gas prices and growing environmental concerns. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for example, is considering fare hikes next year in part because it would lose at least $260 million in state funding under the governor’s plan. “Under the proposed state budget, Los Angeles County’s public transit system would be severely and negatively impacted,” MTA spokesman Matthew Raymond told legislators. Much of the revenue that is being redirected is coming from excess gasoline tax revenues, known in budget parlance as “spillover,” that are a result of higher gas prices. Schwarzenegger made a similar proposal last year to shift the spillover, but the Legislature restored the money to transit. Schwarzenegger’s Department of Finance argues that the spillover fluctuates wildly every year, based on gas prices, and should not be counted upon as a stable source of transit funding. The administration is looking to make the shift of spillover permanent. Also, finance officials say, the amount of spillover was over-estimated last year, and this year’s figure reflects a compensation for overspending. Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer noted that the governor is increasing the budget for transit capital projects – even though he is decreasing funds for the operating budgets of local transit agencies. Schwarzenegger also helped pass Proposition 1B last year, which in coming years will provide more than $4 billion in bond financing for public transportation projects. “The governor spearheaded Proposition 1B, which provides a significant amount of additional dollars for transit,” Palmer said in a telephone interview. “The fact is, under this governor’s budget, transit projects in California will have a stable and growing source of revenue.” harrison.sheppard@ dailynews.com (916) 446-6723 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Panel: Let nonprofit devise anti-gang plan

first_imgA nonprofit agency run by prominent civil-rights lawyer Connie Rice should receive a $465,000 city contract to develop a comprehensive anti-gang strategy, a council panel said Friday. The contract – which requires approval from the full council – could provide the foundation for a new city agency headed by a “gang czar” and devoted to keeping young people away from violence. “They call us the gang capital of the country,” said Councilman Tony Cardenas, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence & Youth Development. “What we are the capital of is not taking advantage of the resources and opportunities that have been lying before us. “We haven’t really harnessed them and put a comprehensive road map together.” “You can’t arrest your way out of this and you can’t incarcerate your way out of this,” she said. “We’re trying to give you the other lenses to see this issue.” The Advancement Project’s proposal says the group will work with academic, law enforcement and youth policy experts to craft a “public health model of violence prevention” similar to plans in Alameda County and Philadelphia. Partners in the project will include anti-gang figure Bill Martinez, public health expert Billie Weiss, Homeboy Industries director the Rev. Gregory Boyle and former sheriff’s Sgt. Wesley McBride. Dan Laidman, (213) 978-0390 dan.laidman@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card City analysts picked the Advancement Project, a nonprofit policy and legal advocacy group, to put together such a road map. Some experts contend that the $26 million the city spends each year on gang prevention and intervention goes to some overlapping programs without adequate performance measures. Former Councilman Martin Ludlow had proposed a new city department to handle all non-law enforcement aspects of gang prevention, but the plan languished when he left to head the County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Cardenas brought the plan back last year. He said Friday that he still thinks an anti-gang chief is a good idea, but is waiting to see recommendations of the contractor study. Rice, co-director of the Advancement Project, told the panel that this week’s gang-related jail riots show how the “region could end up engulfed in this violence” if officials do not act. last_img read more

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