To the editor:
After reading Sections 5 and 7 from the contract for the new Assistant Superintendent of Special Education posted in the Board Agenda for last week’s meeting, the Superintendent has managed to find a new way to disrespect every hard-working employee in the District. Up until this announcement, there had been an unwritten code of ethics about maintaining equitable medical and dental offerings to all employees. including employer/employee costs.
It is the height of arrogance during a time of budgetary crisis to
grant Mr. Walker paid benefits worth $2000 more than every other
employee — along with an open-ended “stipend for out of pocket
medical expenses.” Just two weeks ago, this unique “package” — along
with a $500 per month transportation allowance — was discussed in
closed session with the Board just before the Superintendent announced
in open session that it was necessary to “implement an immediate
freeze on expenditures.” Mixed messages for sure.
Adding insult to injury, District employee groups just agreed to a
major change in the BlueCross PERSCare medical plan that will reduce
District costs by at least $500,000 a year!
In light of the above, I believe SMMCTA and SEIU should join together
and challenge the pending approval of this benefit package. For
starters, if this benefit package was discussed in CLOSED session –
and I believe it was – that is a violation of the Brown Act. Quoting
from the California First Amendment Coalition handbook on the Brown
Act, it reads as follows:
“In the past, local legislative bodies may have used closed sessions
on appointment or employment of public employees to fix or increase
pay and benefits for the new appointee or employee. “The Brown Act, in
Section 54957 (which authorizes closed sessions related to
appointment, employment, or performance evaluations), states: “Closed
sessions held pursuant to this section shall not include discussions
or action on proposed compensation except for a reduction of
compensation that results from the imposition of discipline.”
Clearly, unless it is a consequence of discipline, discussions of pay
and benefits must be kept out of closed “personnel” sessions.
The addition of this new position will bring the total of individual
management contracts in the District to NINE! So much for the
Management Team concept. In the absence of a rebuttal, Superintendent
Deasy got away with making the following recent comment, “We have
fewer administrator positions per pupil than most districts.
That is so we can spend more money on teachers” (11-22-04 SMDP). That
statement has no factual basis. Isn’t it time for the employee
organizations to stand together with fair-minded community members and
stop Deasy’s corporate elitism and his manipulation of the information
the Board and the public receive?
Conflict of Interest?
To the editor:
If any resident doubts the corruption of “our” Santa Monica City
Council, they need only take a glance at the agenda for the council
meeting of January 11, 2005. On that agenda, Mayor Pro Tem Herb Katz
asks his colleagues to quickly adopt new laws for the benefit of the
Automobile Dealers of Santa Monica.
It is well-known that Katz’s wife is the General Manager of one of the
largest dealerships in Santa Monica, and that dealership owns at least
one other dealership in town. It is also well-known that Katz is the
architect for most of the automobile dealerships in Santa Monica. In
case, it’s not clear, Katz is asking for laws to make it easier for
his architectural clients (and the company his wife manages) to
redevelop their properties.
Why aren’t the mayor and the other City Councilmen speaking out on
this obvious conflict of interest? Or, will they get something out of
Maxine Pratt Sandusky
Ed. Note: At the Council meeting, Katz and the City Attorney both
addressed the conflict of interest question. He reported that he had
consulted the attorney and she had advised him that, under the law, he
didn’t have a conflict of interest. She confirmed that, with the
proviso that she couldn’t read minds. Katz also said that his firm did
little work for auto dealers.
To the editor:
It would be wonderful if viewpoints in opposition to Bush could be
explored through your medium. We can’t all drink the kool-aid without
having a debate. The media is responsible for exposing all points of
Some of the points in question would include:
For all of President Bush’s talk about a so-called “ownership
society,” it’s ironic that he’s not focused on the things that would
genuinely boost ownership among ordinary Americans: good jobs, fair
wages and a reduction in wealth disparity.
If President Bush was truly interested in promoting ownership in
America, he would stop pursuing economic policies that reward the few
while the many lose ground.
For starters, he would: start fixing a broken healthcare system that’s
straining families and small businesses, drop his opposition to a
living wage, reverse his plans to cut back Pell grants that make
college affordable to working and middle class kids, reverse his plans
to cut back Pell grants that make college affordable to working and
middle class kids, craft trade and tax policies that clamp down on the
flight of jobs abroad, abandon his plans to extend the tax cuts for
the wealthiest 1% — those who make $1 million or more (they already
received $148 billion in cuts last year), ditch his risky Social
Security privatization scheme that would require benefit cuts and
jeopardize millions of men and women who live a few steps away from
To the editor:
For a paper that spends a good portion of its opinion section, week
after week, criticizing city government (criticisms with which I
almost always agree, by the way), I found disappointing Hannah
Heineman’s pro forma summary [Mirror, 1/26-2/1] of the 22 January
workshop regarding a vision for Santa Monica’s future.
It was a chance for the Mirror to tie its ideas for what this city can
be to discussions made at a citizens’ forum. Instead, it read like a
press release. This gathering, regardless of what might come out of
it, was an attempt by Santa Monica to listen to the citizens. Its
rareness should not cloud its importance. I thought it went very well
and deserved a more analytical article, one which only the Mirror
usually seems prepared and qualified to provide. Maybe that will come
in the future. For now, let me add this about the get together at John
Adams Middle School: three of the City’s council members were there:
O’Connor, Katz, McKeown. I can only assume that the four who were not
already know how the citizens of the city feel about. . . everything.
And “everything” was on the table. I especially missed the Council’s
newest member who might have benefited most from the experience. By
the way, a Bicycle Workshop is being held on February 5 at 10 a.m. at
the Edwards Center (Transportation.Management@smgov.net). Those of you
who make biking in Santa Monica a dangerous experience know who you
are. If you attend, we can talk about it together. That’s what a
community ought to be about.
Ed. Note: We try to confine our analysis to the editorial page and, in
fact, this week’s editorial focuses, in part, on the workshop. And it
should be noted that the City Attorney has said that if more than
three Council members were to attend the workshop, it would be a
violation of the Brown Act.
To the editor:
I expected “A Tale of Two Continents” to juxtapose TWO continents when
in fact Iraq and South Asia are both located on the continent of Asia.
I’m surprised this simple geographical fact would elude you.
Ed. Note: Not as surprised as we were.