It’s Memorial Day at 8:45pm and there has been a police helicopter circling my neighborhood (north of Wilshire) for 20 minutes. Usually when you hear or see a police helicopter circling low (less than 500 feet) in an area for such a long time, it typically means there are bad things going on in the neighborhood. So I called the Santa Monica Police to find out what was going on. Usually police helicopter activity in a certain area means they are looking for someone. I was told by the police officer answering the call (Johnson) “that nothing was going on.” She then said,” I have another call” and hung up. Five minutes later the helicopters moved up another 500 feet.
I felt like I was living in Watts where the helicopters are a nightly occurrence. I hope that Santa Monica is not following this precedent.
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I was reading with interest the 2006-2007 proposed budget for the Santa Monica Rent Control Board. Their budget is funded by the fees they assess the owners of rental property. It is currently $11 per unit per month with a request to increase this to $13 per unit per month. The increase for additional funds to go mainly for increased salaries and benefits for the rent control board staff. The owners are allowed to pass this surcharge on to the tenants. It is also proposed by the board staff that starting September 1, 2006 property owners not be allowed to pass this fee on to any tenant who rents after September 1, 2006.
In light of what most people earn per year, the proposed rent control budget shows the following for its employees: 27.80 permanent employees with a total for salaries and wages of 2.75 million dollars. This averages out to around $99,000 per employee. Add to this an additional per year $11,302 for health, dental, and vision and $15,915 for each employee for a retirement contribution. A further breakdown shows the three administration positions earning an average yearly salary of $116,720, the four legal positions earning an average yearly salary of $121,727, the 14.30 public information employees (the ones who talk to the public when they call in) each earn an average salary of $84,063. There are also 6.5 positions for hearings which are paid $109,420 a year each.
How about your paper doing a simple public auditing? First, are such salaries justified by the work that is performed? What are the activities performed by the staff and how often? The rent control board promotes itself as a “public service organization.” This seems to promote an altruistic theme for their existence indicating they serve the poor and needy but in reality is it at their expense? The employees get great salaries, great benefits, great vacation and holidays off, plus the office is closed every other Friday. Also, how many times does the elected board not pass a recommendation submitted by the rent control staff, like this budget? It seems the staff can ask for a salary and benefit increase whenever they want and when the board passes this request it becomes law with no public recourse if it is opposed by the public. Also, how much legal work is really done by the four legal employees? Do these lawyers only take cases for the rent control board? Do they do any legal work on the side? In short, has there ever been an independent audit done on the workings of the board?
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Los Angeles County’s spay/neuter ordinance is a precedent setting, lifesaving victory for both the county’s animal and human residents.
Not only will the measure prevent thousands of dogs from being born only to be euthanized in shelters, (one female dog can lead to 67,000 puppies being born within six years), it will help prevent deadly dog attacks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-neutered dogs are 2.6 times more likely to attack humans than dogs who have been sterilized.
Let’s hope that other counties soon follow Los Angeles County’s progressive example. For more information on spaying and neutering, visit www.HelpingAnimals.com.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
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I just want to take a moment and applaud Ms. Stone’s article on Taylor Hicks. She captured my sentiments exactly. Well Done!
I too will not be embarrassed to buy and play Taylor’s album. I actually look forward to it.
San Clemente, CA
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“After all, I spotted him first.” You and countless others, Ms. Stone, so realize that you may wish to take credit for seeing a good thing, but, you were not alone. Glad you are so enthusiastic about Taylor’s win, as I am, but, you did not get him there alone. It was millions of voters who all believed in Taylor. So, please, stop taking credit for what millions of people realized immediately – that he is an extremely wonderful talent and many, many people were affected by it as well as you.
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Great Article by Sasha Stone. But tell her that I saw him first. Way before he auditioned for American Idol and no she can not have him.
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Thanks for your great article, wish you now can make people buy, buy buy his CD’s. After the vote, vote, vote this would make him the great grey one of soul.
I loved too how he performed with feelings and knowing his themes of the songs he sang. He also showed he was versatile in styles. Never over using his voice, and had a command over the audience even when he sang ever so softly.
I was glued to each performance and had laughs, etc, when he really got dancing. I did so enjoy Carrie Underwood songs on her CD after I was able to finally find one, all the stores were sold out. Hoping the stores will be well stocked and many sales for Taylor’s CD.
Hope you can find him and give him a big hug for those who can’t, we can have him and so you can too.
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Thank you for the great article on My Favorite Idol!!! Taylor is winning the world one soul at a time. The return of the Red Blooded American Male…who is not afraid to show his true self. That is why we love him…he is Elvis, Jimmy Stewart, Tom Selleck…all that we have missed in this land for a very long time!
Soul Patrol-South Florida!!!!