December 1, 2018
again, we must call upon you to join us in support of the Watts Towers Arts
Center and its staff.
You may already
know that the Civil Service Commission has revoked WTAC Campus Director Rosie
Lee Hooks’ suspension on charges that were proven false. However, as you will
learn in the letter to Mayor Garcetti (below), the Department of Cultural
Affairs has refused to apologize for the suspension, leaving in authority over
the Campus the official who knowingly presented false testimony under oath!
providing world-class services to the community and all the visitors to the
Watts Towers, Ms. Hooks and her staff remain working for a department that
appears intent to remove its director for her advocacy for Watts, instead of
giving the site the greater resources it needs and deserves.
PLEASE JOIN US NOW TO DEMAND JUSTICE FROM THE CITY OF LOS
ANGELES FOR MS. HOOKS AND WATTS!
your name to the letter below (under “signed”)
whatever changes in the letter you feel will best reflect your perspective.
and paste in the Subject line: “Mr. Mayor, Concern about honesty in your
and paste the Mayor’s email address in the TO line.
and paste all the other email addresses in the CC line
Please help us protect the Watts
Towers Arts Center Campus, its director and its staff so they can continue to
work for the people of Watts, for the City of Los Angeles and for the true
spirit of art embodied in Rodia’s Towers.
Thank you for your support!
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Subject: Mr. Mayor, Concern about honesty in your
Dear Mayor Garcetti,
A few months ago, those who support the Watts Towers Arts
Center (WTAC) Campus wrote you to ask if you cared about Watts. Now I write
because, at the October 16 meeting of the Mayor’s Office Watts Towers Arts
Center Interdepartmental Task Force, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA)
openly rejected honest engagement with Campus staff and community support
The WTAC Campus and its staff provides exemplary and
irreplaceable arts education and exhibitions to the Watts community and to
visitors and scholars from all over the world who come to the Watts Towers, the
only tourist site in Watts – Sabato Rodia’s “Nuestro Pueblo” – the unique
masterwork of architectural sculpture standing as a beacon of freedom and
initiative for all of us, no matter what our origin.
Instead of helping to provide the site with much-needed
resources, the DCA under General Manager Danielle Brazell has put the Campus
staff under unnecessary duress in a three-year effort to bring repeated charges
of wrongdoing against Campus Director Rosie Lee Hooks, an internationally
renowned and beloved arts educator and administrator. In defending Ms. Hooks
against these attempts to diminish her professional and personal reputation,
her union – the Engineers and Architects Association (EAA) – has succeeded in
overturning all charges in three successful arbitrations, as well
as in a recent decision made by the Civil Service Commission.
In response to this decision, Watts community support groups
asked Ms. Brazell to apologize for suspending Ms. Hooks in April, 2018, for not
following appropriate procedures in having a mural painted of Charles Mingus in
2017 on a Campus building named for the jazz giant. In July, 2018, DCA Director
of Community Arts Leslie Thomas knowingly testified falsely at Ms. Hooks’
appeals hearing that she had been informed of public art procedures at a May 5,
2016, meeting. On September 13, 2018, the Civil Service Commission revoked Ms.
Hooks’ three-week suspension after being presented with irrefutable
documentation that she was in transit to South Africa at the time of that
meeting. Further repudiating Mr. Thomas’ trumped up basis for DCA’s case, it
was shown that Ms. Hooks had never received formal notice about the new
procedures. One commissioner called the entire case “ridiculous and a waste of
time” and the EAA has issued a formal complaint to Ms. Brazell.
On October 16, at the Mayor’s Office WTAC Interdepartmental
Task Force meeting – before a City Commissioner, representatives of your
office, other city departments and community groups – MS. BRAZELL REFUSED TO
APOLOGIZE FOR MS. HOOKS’ SUSPENSION OR TO REMOVE MR. THOMAS FROM HIS
SUPERVISORY DUTIES OVER THE WTAC CAMPUS… “IN ACCORDANCE,” she said, “WITH MY
OATH TO UPHOLD THE LOS ANGELES CITY CHARTER.” With disrespect to Watts,
dismissing community concerns and belying her own understanding of the City
Charter, Ms. Brazell refused to even acknowledge the official findings of the
Civil Service Commission or the ethical questions DCA’s actions have raised.
This is entirely unacceptable.
I stand with the Friends of the WTAC, the Watts Towers
Community Action Council, the Parents of the WTAC Campus, the Watts/Century
Latino Organization, the Watts Towers Common Ground Initiative and the Watts
Neighborhood Council in demanding that Ms. Brazell recognize her responsibility in suspending Ms. Hooks on the basis of a
falsehood, no matter whether through intention, ignorance or incompetence. She
must also begin to relieve the undue stress upon WTAC staff by removing Mr.
Thomas from all authority over the site.
Mr. Mayor, please ensure your entire constituency that the
actions and decisions made by the officials of your administration are
performed in accord with the ethical principles of responsible governmental
leadership. Dishonesty and disrespect have no place in public policy.