THE SOULVINE
By BETTY PLEASANT
Contributing Editor of the Los Angeles Wave

WHO’S GETTING PAID? — The television in my office is a large screen older model in perfect working order. It has rabbit ears on top of it, and everybody in the country is telling me that my TV will cease working in February unless I buy some kind of gadget for it so it can receive a digital signal. It seems that somebody somewhere has proclaimed that only digital TVs will function in America and owners of analog TVs, like the one in my office, are out of luck.

My question is this: Who’s getting paid? In whose financial interest is it for the entire nation to convert to digital — and only digital television? They tell us digital would be good for us; that we’d receive better pictures, improved sound and more channels. Oh, please! Since when have we ever been “given” anything good — for nothing? If they want to give us something, then give us jobs.

I’m told that my other TVs will continue to operate because they are hooked up to that satellite thing on my roof, but I would need to buy something to make my perfectly good analog office TV work next year. Fortunes are about to be made, as when Southern California mothballed its highly successful and perfectly functioning street car and fixed rail red car transportation system in favor of automobiles and propelled the auto industry into the financial stratosphere, where it has remained until today.

And then, recorded music was universally available on 78 rpm records until RCA Victor introduced the 45 rpm disc and put a big hole in the middle so it could play only on the company’s Victrola. The 45s became the only source of single recordings and RCA and other companies that produced the new record players got well. People with older record players were out luck. Somebody is set to rake in more money than God over this universal digital TV business because that’s always the case whenever we are forced to drop something and use something else, en masse. I’m not mad about it. I just want to know who it is.

AT PLAY ON THE FIELD OF POLITICS — Assemblyman Curren Price sealed his frontrunner status in his bid for the 26th state Senate District seat by securing three important endorsements this week: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas endorsed Price to succeed him in the post he vacated on Dec. 1, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor endorsed Price, as did the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). … Curren’s main challenger for the Senate, Assemblyman Mike Davis, was honored by the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO) with their “Legislator of the Year” Award during the group’s annual winter conference at which it singled out Mike for his legislative work toward fostering uniformity of practices and procedures in the state’s elections.

State Sen. Rod Wright was officially sworn into office in Sacramento on Dec. 1 and again on Dec. 7 in a community ceremony at the First Church of God, Center of Hope in Inglewood. After which, he was promptly appointed to chair the powerful Governmental Organization Committee. … Fresh from his Dec. 1 swearing-in, Sacramento’s first black mayor, Kevin Johnson, brought together 13 area mayors to begin developing regional strategies to tackle the challenges facing Sacramento area communities.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass appointed the following assemblymembers to leadership posts for the 2009-10 regular legislative session: Lori Salda, San Diego, speaker pro tempore; Alberto Torrico, Fremont, majority floor leader; Paul Krekorian, Burbank, assistant majority floor leader; Fiona Ma, San Francisco, majority whip; Isadore Hall, Compton, assistant majority whip; John Perez, Los Angeles, Democratic Caucus chair; and Ted Lieu, Torrance, Rules Committee chair. … The speaker also appointed Westside Assemblyman Mike Feuer to the bi-partisan 2009-10 Extraordinary Session Budget Committee charged with putting the state on sound fiscal footing.

CHANGE IS COMIN’ — Not only is President-elect Barack Obama bringing change to the nation, the City Council and the CRA have set the wheels in motion to bring change to Watts and to Mid-City. The CRA/LA Board of Commissioners approved the comprehensive Mid-City Crenshaw Vision and Implementation Plan to revitalize the commercial corridors in the Mid-City Crenshaw neighborhoods between the Santa Monica Freeway and MLK Boulevard. The plan is part of the city’s South Los Angeles Initiative and resulted from input received during nine months of community meetings. The CRA anted up $500,000 for the plan last month and, with the City Council’s approval, another $1 million will be added to the pot to start work on the revitalization project, which is expected to cost $8 million.

Meanwhile in Watts, Councilwoman Janice Hahn has pressed the CRA into expanding the Watts CRA Project Area to include not just the Jordan Downs Housing Project, but the area’s other public housing projects as well. Expanded redevelopment plans include the construction of replacement homes for Jordan Downs residents after the old complex is razed, mixed income housing throughout the area, and community and retail facilities. “This is what we’ve been waiting for. This is exactly what Watts needs,” Hahn said. The expanded redevelopment activity is under way as we speak and is expected to be completed in 18 months.

THIS AND THAT — The Compton-based National Association for Equal Justice in America (NAEJA) is spreading its wings and forming the Orange County Community Liaison Committee to deal with the growing problem of racist policing and criminal justice policies in that county. NAEJA will hold the first in a series of monthly meetings Saturday with Orange County residents about how African-Americans are treated there. Topics for discussion will include crime, police brutality, jails, courts and the jury system. The meeting will be held in the Community Center, 475 E. Center St. in Anaheim beginning at 3 p.m.

The woe-be-gone employees of the city of Inglewood, who appear to have been victims of unimaginable workforce abuse, were scheduled to actually vote on a contract Tuesday to bring their working conditions into at least the 20th century. Nobody got back to me, so I don’t know how things went. Alas, Inglewood.

AND FINALLY — Heard from Najee Ali this week. He says he’s been well received by all his fellow Tehachapi inmates, is in good spirits, is writing a book and has received a lot of support from the community for his daughter’s plight and for himself. Since Najee reads the Soulvine every week, I have a message for him: Najee, since you’ve been away 18-year-old Malik Guiden was shot to death walking along Arlington, William Chapman was shot to death on Rodeo Road, Carrington Henderson was shot to death on West 48th Street, Johnny Donnell was shot to death and his friend, 18-year-old Timothy Jones was wounded on Muirfield Road, Darren Turner was shot to death when he answered a knock at his front door on Western Avenue, Jon Adams was shot to death in a parking lot on Adams Boulevard, Raymond Davis was shot to death in front of a bar on Vermont and Dontaze Storey was shot to death by LAPD police and nobody seems to be aware of this carnage but me. There have been no press conferences and only one candlelight vigil held since you left. You need to hurry up and get back here and handle this.