Applauding Bobby Shriver
To the editor:
I applaud the efforts of Santa Monica first-term Councilman Bobby Shriver to assist in the plight of the homeless veterans. Some Santa Monicans recognize that of every homeless man or woman we see on our streets, a portion are veterans. The US Department of Veterans’ Affairs has yet to decide what to do with acres of land dedicated to serving veterans, and was considering developing office space, when the County of Los Angeles ruled Tuesday to have their lawyers block any development that would violate county planning rules. With ample land and existing model programs at the VA now, like “The Haven” run by the Salvation Army, we could go a long way toward helping these men and women off the streets.
As a Marine Corps veteran who spent 11 months and twenty-three days in the Republic of South Vietnam in 1965, I recognize that the true cost of war is not visible on the surface. Of the billions of dollars we now spend in war efforts around this globe, trillions might be needed in the future to heal the physical and mental wounds of combat placed on our young men and women. The sign at the entrance to the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles reads in part:” This is the true cost of war.”
Veterans salute you, Councilman Shriver, for highlighting these problems and posing some workable and immediate solutions. Semper Fi!
The fabulous 5 vs. the rest of us
To the editor:
Throw the bums out! And I’m not talking about the vagrants in the parks; I’m talking about the fabulous 5 City Council Members who are responsible for pandering to the exploding epidemic of homelessness, vagrancy and gang activity in Santa Monica by ignoring the pleas of the community to help them to keep their neighborhoods safe. When Euclid street residents expressed their concerns about vagrants and crime being attracted to the proposed Euclid Park, one of the fabulous 5 suggested that it was the “resident’s responsibility” to call the police to report such problems “should they arise.” It’s the residents’ responsibility to deal with vagrants defecating and camping in their neighborhood. Let me remind you, it’s also the residents who must bear the burden of Council’s unwillingness, or inability, to address issues of common safety with regard to the Euclid Street park.
The residents asked for a curfew, a fence, or a garden; what we are really going to get is the job that council doesn’t want to deal with, dealing with vagrancy and gangs. What we are going to get is the responsibility of policing our own neighborhood, putting ourselves at risk by trying to keep vagrants and malcontents from harassing our friends and families, trying to keep gang members off of our streets.
I find it interesting that when Councilman Herb Katz’s RTK & Associates was building the Hacienda del Mar at 1525 Euclid street, they hired a 24 hour security guard to protect their building materials, the materials sitting in the lot of the proposed Euclid Park. I guess it’s okay to protect commercial interests, just not the community. But, then again Mr. Katz is one of the fabulous 5, and what he wants he apparently gets; so much so that he need not recuse himself from the dais when confronted with various conflicts of interest…..but I digress.
Thanks to the fabulous 5, the burden that the Euclid street residents face will be all the more difficult to deal with if the Euclid Park issue is not revisited, reevaluated, and reconsidered by Council Members. Like the rest of the community, we residents are laboring under the impossible demands imposed upon us by officials who will not, or simply can not, fulfill their obligation to take responsibility for the problems that they have helped to perpetuate.
My hopes are riding on the only two council members left with a conscience, Bobby Shriver and Bob Holbrook. If they can’t manage to pull it off, it’s time for me to get out of Santa Monica.
Ms. Justin Lee Gagnon
Euclid Street Oversight Committee
Questions street cleaning policies
To Assistant City Manager, City of Santa Monica:
This letter is to formally contest the current street cleaning schedule and policy of citation.
I was recently forced to park on the street while my apartment building was undergoing renovations, and was surprised to receive a $47 citation for parking during weekly street cleaning. This amount of money is more than what many people earn, after taxes, working a full day at minimum wage. Most people living and working in metropolitan Los Angeles are forced to drive a car, and many cannot even afford housing with parking included. Therefore I strongly feel that the amount of such citations unfairly targets those who can least afford it, and the fine feels like extortion. I strongly advocate a review of the citation policy.
Clearly, storm drains need to be free of leaves and trash. But I feel the schedule of street maintenance is vastly overcompensating for any real issue with detritus on our streets. Weekly cleaning seems completely unnecessary, and I would appreciate a review or clarification of this scheduling policy. As a resident, I feel the city should consider seasonal schedules or devising solutions for cleaning on an “as-needed” basis.
In my opinion, the status quo for street cleaning in Santa Monica is unacceptable. Based on my own observations, the street cleaning vehicles are inefficient and leave much trash in the gutter after they pass. These vehicles are also noisy, polluting, and congest traffic. I live on the corner of 3rd Street and Pacific where, during the course of one week, my wife and I noted that these vehicles pass by our intersection multiple times in a single morning, multiple times a week. It seems our intersection must act as some kind of turnaround hub for these vehicles to reverse direction. This is an annoyance, and I would appreciate information regarding the routes and schedules of these vehicles, and how to lodge a formal complaint regarding their operation.
Thank you for your attention.
End this war
To the editor:
President Bush’s nationally televised pep talk from a military fortress, insulated from the less and less admiring public, is the flagging chief executive’s latest attempt to spin support for the war in Iraq. The day before, a national poll revealed 57% of Americans believed Bush misled the public in his rush to war. How absurd are these times we live in? Not only does this emperor have no clothes, but his socks are missing, too.
To date, 1,743 US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men have died as a result of a war based on Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld lies. Since the so-called “transfer of power” one year ago, 884 US troops have been killed in Iraq. That’s more than 50% of the troop deaths since the war began in March, 2003. Is this progress, Mr. President?
Many parents, spouses and relatives of troops who are serving, have served or died in Iraq, as well as combat troops themselves, are now speaking out about the travesty of Bush’s war of vengeance. These families and troops know the real deal and have more concern or knowledge about what is going on the ground than any former or current Halliburton executive, or chicken hawk in the Administration. The war in Iraq is a disaster for humanity, paid for with US tax dollars.
Enough already! The President’s blathering speech was a flimsy attempt to rationalize an illegal war based on lies that has wasted the lives of many to further the agenda of a cowardly and greedy few. Bush’s war: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Bring the troops home NOW and heal them, their families, and our democracy in the process.
Dr. John Mark Kowalski
Canaan, New York
Eliminate Dogtown Divide
To the editor:
While I join in celebrating the opening of the new skate park, I am astonished at the $80 annual fees for young people to use this new community resource.
PAL, the Police Athletic League, is located right next door to the skate park and has helped bridge the digital divide by providing access to computers for disadvantaged young people. I hope they (or the Recreation and Parks Department) will do something about a looming “Dogtown Divide” by offering skate scholarships or “work-skate” volunteer opportunities to kids whose family resources can’t afford this new luxury item.
Actually, these volunteer to skate opportunities should be offered to all teens who would like to donate their time and services to the community in exchange for using a really cool park. Promoting citizenship and skateboarding together will do a lot to re-define some community members’ perception of boarders as “slackers.”
Skateboarding is “not a crime,” but denying our park resources to the many young people who can’t afford to use them is.
To the editor:
Is it not passing strange that overseer of Santa Monica’s homeless services, Julie Rusk, is taking a year sabbatical just as a new “Homeless Czar” is to appear… just as her knowledge of the service community is most needed? In the Machiavellian world that is now City Hall, the social service industry and its supporters are just as keen on keeping their edge on the system as they are in helping their “clients.” The new czar has the potential to radically rearrange the furniture and that will no doubt tweak a few noses.
Best this new czar find their own compass.
Many might remember Ms Rusk’s sudden “vacation” two summers ago when it was exposed she was personally “shepherding” OPCC’s quest to establish a new homeless facility at 1751 Cloverfield. There are no coincidences. Ms Rusk’s penchant for disappearing when the status quo is about to be questioned should make Santa Monicans question just what the hell is going on.
Nancy Cook Smith
Call them beach residents
To the editor:
Recently (June 28th-July 5th), I visited your fair city on vacation. I read in your paper where LA County is increasing the budget for “Homeless ” persons by some $23 million. I also read where the city intends to employ a “Staff coordinator for the homeless” at an expense of $200,000.
May I suggest that, in the future, all references to those who eat and sleep on the beach be referred to as “Beach Residents.” This would be a first step in restoring dignity and self -respect to those citizens who happen to find themselves at the lower end of the economic scale.
This appellation is also consistent with other positive labels applied to other groups of citizens in the community; i.e. homeowners, renters, condo owners, business owners, community leaders, etc.
We have seen many people endeavor to live up to their new titles. For example, in California alone, at least two movie actors have endeavored to perform up to the responsibilities as Governor of the state.
Two other salutary effects would be, first, the lessening of resistance to the location of the new proposed “Beach Residents Inn” which has been consistently opposed by various “Contiguous Beach Residents,” and, secondly, at the same time in one stroke of the editorial pen, eliminating “Homelessness” in Santa Monica!
To encourage all citizens to be responsible, it is important to first address them in a manner in which they can take pride, not in a pejorative, derisive title.
I shall look forward to yours and the comments of your readers on this proposal.
R. KentCreve Coeur, Missouri