As recipients stood proudly on the steps of City Hall Tuesday afternoon, the Pasadena-based Law Office of Gronemeier & Hickambottom awarded unrestricted grants for $3,000 to 11 Pasadena area organizations for their contributions to the community.
According to partner Elbie J. “Skip” Hickambottom, the funds were awarded as part of the law firm’s practice of sharing large attorney fees recoveries from its work in the areas of affordable housing and tenants’ rights.
Before awarding the grants, Hickambottom said “Barack Obama said, ‘The best education I ever received was working with people in the community on a grassroots basis because what it taught me was that ordinary people, when they are working together, can do extraordinary things.’”
Among the groups awarded were The National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), a coalition of day labor centers with national headquarters in Pasadena.
“Lasting and meaningful change comes from the bottom up, and it was demonstrated in the fight for the $15 minimum wage, and it’s been demonstrated in the process of reforming the police department,” NDLON Director Pablo Alvarado said. He also thanked the law firm for its work in the community.
Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!), a multi-issue progressive organization that was formerly Pasadenans for a Livable Wage. POP!, was also honored.
POP! Organizer Ed Washatka, who also represents ACT, a progressive political group formed in 1973, told the audience, “When I first came to work for ACT, this area right here was completely red (Republican), and through our hard work, we’ve been make this area and this city, blue, and we hope to continue this work.”
Making Housing and Community Happen, a faith-based nonprofit organization which has been organizing on affordable housing issues in Pasadena for years was also awarded a grant, along with LWV-PA, the local chapter of the national League of Women Voters which works for election integrity, transparent government, and educating voters.
The Pasadena Branch of the NAACP, the local branch of the century-old national organization fighting for the rights of people of color, received a grant as well.
Hickambottom is a member of the NAACP Branch executive board, and Gronemeier represented the Branch as a pro bono attorney in the 1979-1982 challenge to Pasadena’s at-large election system, and in a more recent case relating to police reform.
Other grant recipients were:
Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition (PAHC), a Coalition of Pasadena organizations (including MHCH, POP, LWV-PA, NAACP, NDLON among others) organizing the community to advocate for the inclusion of affordable housing solutions in the City’s 2021 Housing Element policies.
ACT, a grass-roots Pasadena-area organization with approximately 300 members which endorses and supports candidates for State and local public offices based on progressive criteria. ACT was formed in the 1970’s when Pasadena was represented primarily by conservative Republican officeholders. ACT has been instrumental in turning Pasadena blue.
Planned Parenthood Advocates, the Pasadena branch of the national Planned Parenthood political action not-for-profit fighting to protect a woman’s right to choose abortion.
Flintridge Center, a Pasadena-based not-for-profit that works to reintegrate formerly incarcerated into the community.
Pasadenans Empowering Parental Participation in Educational Governance (PEPPEG), a grassroots group organizing a campaign to allow all parents of Pasadena Unified School District students to vote in PUSD Board elections irrespective of citizenship status. Mr. Gronemeier was one of its founding members.
Gronemeier’s firm has generated funds for progressive organizations and causes since 1982 when Gronemeier was the lead counsel for the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the challenge to Pasadena’s at-large elections system;
While $300,000 was awarded by the Court in attorneys’ fees, $150,000 of that went to the ACLU and to attorneys for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and the Pasadena-based El Centro de Accion Social.
In 1989, the firm was awarded more than $400,000 for its pro bono work successfully invalidating the Plaza Pasadena’s time, place, and manner rules for expressive activity in 1989.
As a result, KPAS received a $20,000 grant to expand local news coverage, and $20,000 was devoted to voter registration in Pasadena’s Council District 1, which helped lead to the election of its first African-American City Council member.