Nelles Correctional Facility – City of Whittier
In the summer of 2006 legislation was introduced in the State Assembly that would have reopened the Fred C. Nelles Correctional Facility for use by the State prison system. This action would create a functioning prison facility directly adjacent to homes, a hospital, schools, and businesses. The City of Whittier hired Englander & Associates to quickly coordinate public pressure against the reactivation of the Nelles site, and use that pressure to drive lobbying efforts in Sacramento.
Harvey Englander, Matthew Knabe, and Ruben Gonzalez had less then a month before the end of the legislative session to stop the Assembly Bill. They knew that in short order they would need to pull together Whittier community stakeholders and drive media interest in this issue. The Englander & Associates team engaged the elected leadership of Whitter, as well as leaders of the business, education, and religious community.
Through this “grasstops” outreach effort Englander & Associates was able to create a wave of emails, letters, and phone calls to targeted officials in Sacramento. Moreover, the firm was able to create a media spectacle with press conferences in front of the Nelles facility itself with community leaders standing strong and speaking out against a prison in the heart of their city. Coverage from network television, radio, and print reporters followed, along with editorials opposing the assembly bill.
This effort was coordinated with Tony Rice in Sacramento. Tony used the public and media attention to gain the bi-partisan support of critical legislative leaders as well as officials in the executive branch.
Englander & Associates was able to create enough pressure to not only stop the Assembly Bill, but was able to force the author to agree to strip the language regarding Nelles from his own bill. Further, the state agreed to enter into negotiations to sell part or all of the 73 acres for redevelopment.