I had dinner the other night with a couple that had just returned from Israel. They spoke of nearly a million Israelis having lived in bunkers for the past several weeks. I am glad the heavy fighting has ceased in Lebanon and hope the international force will keep the peace. What actually happened in this latest war is Hezbollah had attempted a coup against its own country and declared war unilaterally. It lost badly and may actually have paved the road for a long-term peace in Lebanon, as people can now see who the aggressors are. Jerry Quigley, on KPFK, was pressing a listener as to why it is okay for Israel to have weapons and not Hezbollah, neglecting the simple logic that the reason Israel has weapons is because of people like Hezbollah, who constantly threaten its existence. Israel is not looking to conquer Lebanon; it simply wants people to stop shooting at it. And to stop blowing up its civilians. The true aim of Hezbollah’s 15,000 Iranian-supplied rockets was not for defensive means, but to make northern Israel uninhabitable, which they temporarily succeeded in doing.
The same couple asked me to imagine if the U.S. had been declared a Christian Republic and the Ku Klux Klan wing of the Christians had just taken over. Ponder that for a moment. That is what Iran and Hezbollah are like. The couple’s friends recently returned from a visit to Iran where large posters are suggesting that killing Jews is a Muslim duty. Hitler said something similar, and people wrote him off -claimed he was just another nut. They did not take him seriously.
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Here is a shocker for you…the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Mayor Robert Holbrook and Environment Now Director Terry O’Day for two of the three City Council seats up for grabs in this fall’s election. I say shocker insomuch as no one should be surprised by this development. Other than Councilman Herb Katz, there is no surer vote for Chamber positions then Holbrook. And O’Day, a member of the Santa Monica Planning Commission, chose not to officially seek a SMRR endorsement, knowing he would not receive it. Perhaps he was counting on the Chamber’s support. O’Day, a long shot in his first run for office, has said he is also counting on the “environmental community” to support his candidacy. Whatever that means. I doubt that Heal the Bay or NRDC is going to officially endorse his candidacy and alienate others. O’Day, as he has been doing, needs to stay close to Holbrook and hope his name recognition rubs off on him.
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The Chamber has recently cooled its jets politically by turning off its Political Action Committee. Word is new City Manager P. Lamont Ewell paid a call to the chamber and convinced them having a PAC was unwise in this city. Good move. The Chamber had been unnecessarily harming itself politically by alienating members of the City Council. The Chamber has a tough enough time selling their positions to residents. Truth is, the Chamber should be a best friend with the SMRR-dominated City Council. Just look around. Santa Monica is booming. SMRR has created a tourist Mecca, a housing boom and a commercial district that has attracted the likes of Yahoo, HBO and Universal. Our Business Improvement Districts – such as Montana, Main Street and the Bayside – are models for cities throughout the state. I would like to see more policies that keep locally serving businesses alive and that give small business a boost over big corporate chains.
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Ed Muzika has been working diligently to protect our squirrel population in Palisades Park. The county has declared them a health risk and ordered many put to death. Muzika has asked the City Council to find other ways of dealing with the problem, like relocating them. Muzika asked the current Santa Monica Mayor Robert Holbrook to look into the matter. Holbrook deferred to the county and in an email exchange told Muzika, “The squirrel population explosion is largely due to the homeless feeding the squirrels in the park. If we could get people to stop feeding them, then the population would be a normal size.” I found this humorous and ironic because that is precisely what people are saying about the homeless. Stop feeding them and they will go away. One senseless jokester went further by claiming a solution to two problems would be solved if we “fed the squirrels to the homeless.” Oy.
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Once again residents in the district will be asked to fund an educational bond measure. On the top of the wish list for improvements are the bathrooms. Virtually every school in the district lists this as their #1 facility shortfall. Let’s show some respect and give our students some clean restrooms. I am generally in favor of more funding to our schools. California still rests very low on the list of per pupil spending nationally and that is not a good thing. Though our teachers union has good political muscle, the profession is still understaffed and underpaid. I am in favor of reduced classroom sizes, which unfortunately this measure will do little to solve. Still, first class facilities are an area the district can deal with on its own so they should. Considering we have a large senior citizen population and a large single population, neither of which have kids in school, the residents in Santa Monica have been generous indeed. One nagging thought for me is why the district is so dependent on students from outside the area to fill our classroom space.