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Publisher’s Notebook:

It is interesting that the Big Blue Bus has delayed some of its construction plans. The politicians who keep insisting this project, deep in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica, is too far along in the planning stages now have a chance to rethink it. The bus maintenance yards need to be moved near the airport, and the existing space converted to affordable housing, mixed-use commercial-residential and other residential needs. There is plenty of room to do all this, but very little political will. Where is the leadership? This City Council is going to put residential units in the civic center, perhaps to assuage their guilt for the apartment units lost to the Loews Hotel, or perhaps because they are lacking imagination. Sorry, but the civic center is no place for residential units, next to City Hall, the police station, Rand, the Viceroy, the county courthouse, the Maguire building and Santa Monica Civic.  Slapping some apartments in there is ridiculous. Especially with a better alternative at hand.

It will be interesting to see how the Democrats do in charge of Congress. I like the idea of significantly raising the minimum wage and rolling back tax breaks for the top five percent of wealthy Americans. Fairness is one of my key rules. We need to find ways to strengthen the middle class and help our lower income producers. Also key is putting this country on a real shift to alternative fuels, rather then the vacuous policies of the Bush Administration, with its focus on drilling in the Arctic. Had we spent the $400 billion spent in Iraq on alternative energy research and development we could leave the Middle East to their own conundrums.

I am not in favor of more troops going into Iraq. I like what Representative Jack Murtha says: pull our troops over the horizon and get them out of harm’s way. Keep them close to the action while we see how the situation unfolds. Since we toppled their government (good riddance, Saddam Hussein), we have an obligation to stay involved, but it does not mean having U.S. troops patrol the streets. It means offering reconstruction funds and any peaceful help we can muster. An interesting fact should be noted. When the U.S. took control of Japan after WWII and helped with reconstruction, not a single American company was rewarded with construction contracts. That money went to the Japanese. As should have been in this case with the Iraqis. It will be interesting to see what Representative Howard Waxman comes up with as he begins a series of investigations into Iraq boondoggles.

In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed health insurance for all children in the state. Including undocumented kids. Plus a health plan that attempts to cover everyone. Thank goodness our better selves are coming out on this one. I have not examined the particulars of his proposal so there may be some flawed details, but the message is a good one and I am happy California is acting so cool.

While our esteemed City Manager P. Lamont Ewell is touring the City for budget meetings with residents, let’s hope he notices a couple of key items. Is City Hall overstaffed? Can the City lower utility taxes finally? Utility taxes hurt our senior citizens, so let’s at least give them a break. I recognize this is an ambitious City with lots of plans, but since the town has not grown its population base why has its City Hall staff ballooned in the last decade or so? Okay, some of that is more police to handle tourism, but a cursory exam of other cities in Southern California with a similar population shows Santa Monica’s government is rather large for its size.

Why in the heck does the City pick up residential trash on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica at 9 a.m. Tuesday mornings? Right in the middle of rush hour traffic they tie things up. How about a 6 a.m. shift or a 10 a.m. shift? But nooooooo, they have to choose the one hour in the morning that will most affect traffic.

Will the City Council ever take up and approve a “last hour free” for beach parking? Come on, give us the sunset, will ya? Do you have to squeeze every possible dime out of us?

I wonder when the Camera Obscura will get its reconstruction money? The senior citizen center it is housed in is looking a tad dilapidated, and few, if any, can find the archaic room the camera lives in. Spruce it up.

They best not be monkeying with expanding Olympic Park where the old Fisher Lumber was located. I have not yet seen a firm word that the park will get that space. Some are advocating mixed-use. I say PARK.

Well, the Lakers just won a great game over the Mavericks, so I am going to bed before I get more worked up.

Michael Rosenthal

Publisher

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