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Going Straight to a Source

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2007, at 10:14AM
Lance Ed Fuentes

Controversial cross testimony between a homeless activist group and a developer has been a big topic of talk around the Historic Core, with the conversation including accusations of verbal intimidation by those who consider themselves the torch bearers of professional advocacy.

The easy angle here is to find a slumlord and support the storyline. Yet in this case, residents have begun to speak up on behalf of building management when they saw they were being represented by former dwellers who may not have been the best choices. As one who wished to remain anonymous said, "No one really asked those who pay the rent on time."

At 69 years old, Alexandria Hotel resident Lance McKay is someone who prefers to keep to himself as he lives on Social Security while caring for his wife of 30 years, who is now bedridden.

Still, when The Alexandria was accused of mismanagement and discrimination by those organizing former residents, it reminded him of what he saw in his younger days in Berkeley. He remembers students being heavily recruited to get behind causes by organizations in a manner, as he says, "you get put off by."

While McKay has lived at his current 5th and Spring residence for 4 years, he hasn't ventured too far and last week was his first trip to City Hall. "I was little nervous," he admits, "but I enjoyed it." Asked if any intimidation was pointed at him, he admits none directly, except for some mumbling about race that he heard as he was going to the podium.

He must have a good ear.

In fact, he does. McKay's former profession was selecting music for film travelogues and slide shows that highlighted major cities, and he did the same for a company that produced training films for security guards. "I used to hate Los Angeles," he said "Now I love it. And the changes are making L.A. a better place."

McKay goes on to emphasize that things have been better in the past year, thanking those who run The Alex. He recalls how his wife was carefully and temporarily moved to another room while their current apartment was being renovated. "That's good people," he says while looking straight in your eye as if you are questioning his resolve. "Once the ownership changed, the troublemakers came out of the woodwork."

I double checked and asked him whether he minded if I wrote about his story, or if he wanted to be off the record. Again, McKay's eyes showed resolve, and with a slight bent he leaned forward and stated how he felt this was something he had to stand up for. Then slowly he got out of his chair to see to his wife.

Photo: "Lance at 'The Alex'" by EF

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Topic:
Witnesses of LA

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