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Publisher’s Notebook:

The Sport of Politics

Politics is a lot like sports. Consider the trade Angelenos just made, moving Hahn and Miscikowski to the minor leagues and bringing up Antonio Villaraigoisa and Bill Rosendahl. I like that move and, for Westsiders, service is bound to improve.

At Bill Rosendahl’s public swearing in ceremony in Venice last weekend, the enthusiastic and supportive crowd was clearly hoping for a lot from their new Los Angeles City Councilman. Rosendahl now represents nearly 250,000 residents and he has a lot of work to do to satisfy their varying wants and desires.

Venice Beat poet Philomene Long opened the program with another of her rousing poetry performances, and has been asked to open the new L.A. City Council session.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigoisa spent his first day as Mayor coming out in support of Rosendahl, quite a signal for Venetians who felt put off by their former representatives. Villaraigoisa spoke of the need for “regional” transportation solutions, and, in particular, of expanding service at Ontario and Palmdale airports rather than funneling more traffic into LAX. Sounds good to me and certainly better than what Hahn and Miscikowski had in mind.

Other political celebrities in attendance included former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Marvin Braude — the best Councilman the Westside has ever had — and several Santa Monica councilpersons including Bob Holbrook, Mayor Pam O’Connor and Kevin McKeown. McKeown, in fact, likes to take credit for the expression Rosendahl uses in describing how Los Angles surrounds Santa Monica. Now the term is “embrace,” a better choice of words and a better sentiment to express.

There was quite a turnout of Westside community resident activists, which bodes well for future cooperative endeavors. In particular Santa Monica and Los Angeles have a little tussle going on with the Santa Monica airport, and the flight path that goes directly over Mar Vista, plus the approval on Playa Vista phase 2, the Exposition rail line and the extension of the Red Line to the ocean. In Venice Rosendahl has pledged to do whatever possible to help the tenants at Lincoln Place and to work to prevent gentrification throughout Venice. In Pacific Palisades, several major projects are proposed in the Sunset/PCH area that could prove to be a nightmare for residents, and an increased LAPD presence is being requested. With Rosendahl’s connections, it may finally be possible to do something practical and reasonable with the VA property.

Actually, I think on a local level we have a lot to be proud of in our local representation. Certainly, Sheila Kuehl and Fran Pavley have core values that represent progressive values in the State legislature. The addition of Bobby Shriver to the Santa Monica City Council is a good omen, and now State Senator Deborah Bowen is running for California Secretary of State. She is an awesome legislator and one who deserves our support. I remember running in to Bowen when she was a neighborhood watch person and you could tell there was something special about her then. Plus she liked to frequent Maxwell’s café on Washington, so you knew she was not pretentious.

Now if we can just trade in Arnold Schwarzenegger for Phil Angelides (or Steve Westly) we may be able to put this state back on track.

On the Road

I just returned from two weeks on the road, traveling through Northern California and along the Oregon Coast. Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall has made a virtual national park out of the Oregon Coast. During his terms as Governor, parklands were established at an unprecedented rate and the coastline in particular was made accessible – in perpetuity. Tourism on the coast is a mainstay industry, but is not overdone — except in a few areas where commercial and residential development is allowed. They have done a sane job of preserving their environment and, shall I say it, making it a “sustainable” ecosystem.

Portland is a well thought out and generally well-managed city. There is a rail system servicing the urban core, with coverage constantly expanding outward to help alleviate congestion in suburban zones. Portland was one of the first cities to prevent “leapfrog” development by creating an urban boundary, which helps to maintain a healthy greenbelt around the city and prevents costly new infrastructure. It is truly one of the country’s most livable cities.One of their more advanced cultural additions is the concept of brewpub theaters. Basically, they take old community theaters, replace some seating with tables and serve micro-brewed beers, pizza and other food items. Some chairs are replaced with couches and the whole place is transformed into a comfortable living room arrangement — albeit with a much larger crowd and far larger screen. Now that is what I call civilized.

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