In support of Cindy Sheehan
To the editor:
I would like to add my voice of support for Cindy Sheehan, who is demanding that President Bush explain his reasons for sending our troops to war with Iraq. One by one the reasons for rushing to war have been debunked, refuted or proven to be false. Yet, each day more and more people are dying in Iraq.
When young men and women join the armed forces, they promise to put their lives on the line to defend our country. We, in turn, have an obligation to be sure that when we put our troops in harm’s way, the threat is real. No more lives should be given to the Iraq war.
Not only that, but armed services recruiters are lying to our children about what to expect, and offering various incentives just to meet their monthly quotas.
Marilyn Lane, Culver City
Sent from The American Friends Service Committee Action Center
Whose vision is it anyway?
To the editor:
With the planned long-awaited reopening of Virginia Avenue Park scheduled for November or December of this year, it occurs to me that you might want to revisit the “process”that city staff uses to develop these scarce community resources, and what “audience do they play to” while making key decisions that will affect residents for years to come (at a cost of millions of dollars of public funds).
You once ran a editorial called “Whose Vision is it Anyway”. So, just for fun, I included a copy of the program from the opening of the park that lists some of the broad cross-section of persons that made up the parks founding mothers and fathers. It would be interesting to see what they recollect about the public process then, and if they that are still with us, feel is being done (or not done) now? In addition, although I have been asked to participate in a “steering committee” for the park opening, I have had several community members express dismay and confusion about certain decisions that have apparently been made about key aspects of the future park. As an example:
• Who and what “programs” and staff get precious public space at the park, and how those decisions were made.
• What park buildings were named or renamed due to this expansion, and for what local VAP or community contributors?
• How the staff report issued as the basis for “increasing citizen participation in the administration of Virginia Avenue Park recreation facility”was used and referred to during this phase of “park expansion”.
• What role, if any, the local active Pico Neighborhood Association played in any key decisions included in the newly redesigned park?
• What role, again, if any, the so-called Virginia Avenue Park Advisory Board (VAPAB) played in the redesign?
• How does the selection of which architect gets used and which contractors get hired affect the local Santa Monica based economy and workers? Neighbors? Traffic?
• What input was used from the countless “dog and pony show” undertaken by city staff during the twenty -two years of public meetings and from the “Virginia Avenue Park Master Plan”actually made it to fruition?
• Why would a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization (PAL)be granted exclusive use of space in city parks and what was the transparent city process that was followed?
• What ever happened to the Takata Associates recommendations from June 1998 and the hard work of the deposed “clique” of Sunset Park resident George Hickey, and Pico Neighborhood residents Art Casillas, Andrew Macias, Matt Millen, Rik Ricard, Peter Tigler, and Clyde Smith?
• What community input and transparent community process will be followed to select a appropriate park director?
• How has the Recreation and Parks commission followed the recommendations and values of the resident community in the area around the park and the VAPAB in their findings and recommendations?
• What input to VAP programs and space recommendations did Pico’s Mothers for Justice, Samohi’s African-American Parent Student Staff Support group, or the Pico Youth and Family Center have?
Some of these issues are symptomatic of the kind of arrogance and Brown Act violations that permeate the unique Santa Monica city “process” and that are treated with a sneer and a wink by certain city staff.
It is so easy to underrate the potential power of one word spoken at the critical moment. We sometimes say to ourselves that because we are not famous or learned or rich or powerful or gifted, our word means nothing in the presence of a great injustice. Who would pay attention to us? Many good causes are hindered, often nameless persons are brought to an untimely end, because “those whom it behooves to speak remain silent”; and because they do not speak, we do not speak. It is important to remember that there is no limit to the power of any single voice when it is the only outlet, the only channel, for justice or righteousness in a given situation. Maybe it is time for one community issue to mandate that just one word be spoken. Call it “truth serum” or “tonic for the soul”. I would rather we just call it progress. Or whose vision is it anyway???
To the editor:
A Ventura City Council member addressing the Planning Commission encouraged more development in Santa Monica by expounding a profoundly bleak picture of our future. No matter what Santa Monica does, he said, “traffic is the least congested now till the end of time… and density is the lowest that it will ever be again.”
Should our city leaders make planning decisions based on this sad assessment? Are we really as incapable of improving our future as this suggests?
What if, not feeling well, you went to a doctor who gave you the same sorry assessment? What if that doctor said, “You are as healthy now as you will ever be. You will never feel better than you do now, and you will never look better, either.” Would you quietly accept that, or perhaps, change doctors?
Would we accept advice from a police chief who told us that crime rates would never go down? Or from an environmental official who said that our air would never be cleaner, or an educator who said that our kids would never do better in school?
Then why should we accept the same from someone speaking about development?
Politics is about hope. We all hope for a better future and expect in our leaders the same quality. Someone who offers a bleak future shouldn’t be in public service and certainly shouldn’t be paraded in front of our planning commission to give us advice on development.
Victor Fresco, Santa Monica
Where did the money go?
To the editor:
Your column of comments on Santa Monica (’Reflections & Observations, Aug 3’) was a welcome read. At times in Santa Monica one feels like waking up in some colony of the totally deaf — and the deafest certainly the members of the City Council, starting with a Mayor who simply doesn’t bother to answer mail.Your comments about the new library struck a chord. Commissioned without competition, with the air overall of Chicago student work of the ’eighties, the facade to Sixth Street would not be out of place on a nurses’ home in Bengladesh. One hears that — after $72 million spent — Santa Monica now has precisely five percent more shelf space than before. But perhaps books have little value to a community so open to whim and whimsy (that mall! those bus shelters leaking over elephant turd chairs!) where rest and recreation areas for librarians take priority over all else.
Hopefully, you’ll review the new structure at length so that we’ll know where the money went.
Roland StarkeSanta Monica