“I had half of mine broken and spent half the day … trying to put them back together,” Graham said, adding that some of his neighbors don’t have that option. “There’s a lady who lives a couple-three doors down who’s a widow who doesn’t get around very well,” he said. “I think it puts a terrible imposition on someone.” Dennis Weber, the Bureau of Street Services general superintendent, understands residents’ frustrations. But with a list of 340 locations that need sprinkler repairs, there’s only so much five plumbers can do. “There are many, many sprinklers that are broken,” he said. “If we had more plumbers we could probably do a quicker job.” But that doesn’t look likely any time soon. While sidewalk repairs are a property owner’s responsibility, city crews are responsible for fixing pathways damaged by city-owned trees. From 1978 to 2000, the city did not have a sidewalk-repair program. But in 2000, the mayor and City Council created one and budgeted $9million to repair 46miles of the most damaged sidewalks. The money available for sidewalk repairs has fluctuated annually since then, with $5.1million budgeted this year to repair 39miles of sidewalk. Much of that money is dedicated to a 50-50 program in which residents chip in with half the cost of sidewalk repair. But a tightening citywide budget means the Bureau of Street Services has to make do with the plumbers it has to fix the sprinklers that inevitably get broken by backhoes and root-trimming equipment during sidewalk repairs. City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who represents Graham’s area, said the sprinkler-repair wait is yet another frustration with the city’s massive backlog of sidewalk and infrastructure repairs. “It’s always a victory when a neighborhood sees a new sidewalk,” Cardenas said. “But the delays are frustrating enough without having to wait even longer for a sprinkler to be fixed.” email@example.com (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! With the city facing an 80-year backlog, most homeowners would be happy to finally have their cracked and uneven sidewalks replaced. But some residents are grumbling because their lawn sprinklers get broken during the sidewalk project – and there’s an eight-week backlog for getting them fixed because the city has only five plumbers to do the work. Gary Graham learned about the sprinkler-repair backlog the hard way, when he returned last month to his Van Nuys home and found the moderately cracked sidewalk on Petit Street being repaired – and his lawn-irrigation system broken. Graham called about it, and he was told he could wait two months for a repair crew or fix the sprinklers himself.
Rev. Jamal Bryant addresses a panel at a domestic violence summit at Empowerment Temple on Sept. 30. (Photo by Roberto Alejandro)Eight panelists addressed the problem of domestic violence at a recent forum on the topic facilitated by the Rev. Jamal Bryant at his Empowerment Temple in West Baltimore. The group included representatives of the law enforcement, social work, spiritual, and mental health arenas, as well as male and female survivors and professed former abusers.Bryant spoke of the “woefully under-discussed . . . crime of domestic violence” early on, calling it an issue that was “very vital and very critical and very crucial for our community.”“So many times we can get riled up about a police officer, or someone of another ethnicity, but we become ‘Silence of the Lambs’ when it affects our own house,” he said. “But we’ve come to the place where we can no longer sweep it under the carpet, because now there’s a lump in the living room.”Bryant said he wanted the church to be at the forefront of the discussion on domestic violence in the Black community, and acknowledged that the church has been complicit in the problem, often advising survivors who stepped forward to simply “stay and pray through it.”The discussion ranged beyond intimate partner violence to address the broader problem of violence in the home.QueenAfi Gaston, a former abuser of male partners, spoke about the number of teenage girls living in homes where anger and verbal abuse are a norm. “We’ve also got teenage girls that are in households that are abusive, and they’re learning. In my household, my mother [and] my grandmother were strong, aggressive women, so I learned some behaviors there, verbal abuse…being No. 1…. We have to continue to work and identify all of the types of domestic violence,” said Gaston, who noted the connection between verbal and physical forms of violence.The focus of the event, however, remained on intimate partner violence, and local activist Mothyna James-Brightful spoke to everyone’s responsibility when it comes to instances of domestic violence, after being asked by Bryant what the responsibility of the church is when it becomes aware of such an instance.“Your responsibility is to act on what you’ve heard and what you know. Once you know it, you cannot un-know it,” said James-Brightful, who called on all parishioners to demand that domestic violence be a regular topic of discussion in their congregation, because the church acknowledges that this is a problem that almost certainly affects someone among firstname.lastname@example.org