Thursday, November 13, 2003
LeVonne Stone, the outspoken founder of the Fort Ord Environmental Justice Network (FOEJN) received an eviction notice last week at her office, located in a corner of Fort Ord near the 12th Street exit off Highway 1. A few weeks prior, she arrived at the office and found a notice from the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) demanding back-rent payment of $480 a month, totaling $2,880. She''s also been given a summons, and on Oct. 24 was sued by FORA demanding payment of the $2,880 as well as at least $1,500 in attorney''s fees.
Bending down to examine the front door of her office in the old army building on Fort Ord, Stone puts her fingers on the handle. "It was rolled up and stuck in here," she says. "That''s why it''s bent like this. It was rolled up and stuck in here, just like that."
Stone stands, apparently flummoxed. A regular fixture at area city council meetings, Stone has advocated for the disadvantaged in the re-use of Fort Ord. She worked there as a civilian and her husband Don was stationed there in the Army. Since the base closed she has stood up for the "disenfranchised communities," but now she unsure of what to do.
In April of 2002, she says, she signed a lease for the office space with the assurance of officials from the Fort Ord Reuse Authority that she didn''t have to pay rent. The lease says monthly rent is $1,920, but that the FOEJN would be given credit for making the old army building usable, knocking the rent down to $480 a month. Stone says she didn''t think she had to pay the rent because they''d fixed up the building and no one had been using it anyway.
"They said, ''Don''t worry about it. We''ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We can always change the lease, but we have to do this paperwork if you''re going to go into the building''," she says the FORA officials told her.
Now Stone has a date in court in the lawsuit brought by her landlords at FORA. She plans to speak up at the FORA board meeting on Friday afternoon, Nov. 14.
The order to leave, and the lawsuit, come at a bad time for FOEJN. In September, Stone''s group received a $50,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to aid in the interpretation of technical and environmental manuals relating to the Fort Ord cleanup.
FORA officials were not available for comment at press time. [AS]