To the editor:
I write this letter in support of the City Councilmembers who believe that the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District should conduct its business with transparency and accountability and who have called for the lifting of a gag order that was imposed on the district’s former Chief Financial Officer, Winston Braham.
As a longtime supporter of schools and an active member of the school community, the aspect of this issue that concerns me most is the increased use of gag orders as an acceptable way of conducting district business.
And this use of gag orders is not just limited to the Winston Braham situation. Parents are being required to sign gag orders in order to secure services for their children with special needs. These gag orders preclude them from revealing or discussing the particulars and the cost of services provided. As a result, parents not only live in fear of losing services for their children through an inadvertent slip of the tongue, but we as a community also have no access to the financial records and no idea how many dollars are being spent as a result of these agreements.
Last year, the Special Education District Advisory Committee asked the Board to investigate this practice. While the Board offered no response, a staff report appeared designed to cow the committee by referring to their reasonable request for public information as “derogatory and inflammatory.” The message seems to be “Concerned citizens go away. We don’t want your input or oversight.”
In light of this move toward insularity and secrecy, it is entirely appropriate for City Councilmembers to be concerned about the district’s financial practices and to require open access to what should be public information as a condition for increased city funding.
I very much want the district to receive this additional funding, and it is my sincere hope that they will do everything they possibly can to create a more open and transparent environment and thereby earn the ongoing support and confidence of the Council and the community at large.
Former chair, Special Education District Advisory Committee
Co-founder, Save Our Playgrounds
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I took part in the Santa Monica Airport demonstration on April 21. Councilman Rosendahl’s behavior towards me was very rude as he said “thank you,” but refused to accept my information packet on air quality and health issues I was going to give him as he walked away.
In a public forum Councilman Rosendahl will be courteous to individuals, as he wants to make a good impression on other people. But in this situation, he failed to treat me with the same dignity and respect that I gave him.
I am a constituent in Rosendahl’s district. But since I’ve been ignored by the councilman, who do I turn to when there is a problem in the neighborhood that needs to be addressed by my local representative?
Thank you and sincerely yours,
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Re: Airport Park Opens Amid Controversy, May 3-9
Los Angeles residents, desiring access to the new Airport Park off-leash dog areas, may want to ask the City of Santa Monica what they were thinking when they decided to build this park next to an airport that spews aircraft emissions carried by prevailing winds to adjacent areas. In October of 2001, the Santa Monica Task Force on the Environment expressed concern about constructing a park with playing fields adjacent to the airport because of elevated levels of air pollutants. In February 2003, a Task Force member noted that no risk assessment of potential health risks to users of the park was completed as part of the EIR, noting no air sampling was conducted at Santa Monica Airport.
After more than 10 years of residential complaints about jet emissions and safety concerns, culminating in a community protest at the airport a week before the gala opening of the park, Santa Monica has yet to address health risks that their airport imposes on families, including pets, in the adjacent communities and parks.
Until such a health study is completed, with the results showing that there is no risk, I would advise both Los Angeles and Santa Monica park users to exercise caution when taking children and dogs to the new Airport Park.
Director, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution
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The Problem with the Airport Dog Park is that it was a totally misguided idea in the first place. The park is closer and more easily accessible to residents of West L.A. and Mar Vista than any in Santa Monica. It makes sense that residents who live nearest the Dog Park would be frequent visitors of the park. I am not happy that precious park funds, which are generated by the higher taxes that Santa Monicans pay, will ultimately benefit Angelenos more than Santa Monicans, but if the park were built in a better place that may not be the case. As written in this paper a few years ago, this site should have been swapped for the land where the new Blue Bus terminal is being constructed. The terminal could have been built in the airport area, and the park could have been built on Colorado Avenue. This would have made way more sense, as the airport area is already transportation driven, and the area where the new bus terminal is being built is densely populated and open space is sorely needed, especially for dogs. We can’t cry over spilled milk, so we should suck it up and let Angelenos use the park. We can, however, demand more from our elected leaders and vote for, candidates who are responsive to residents and business owners’ ideas. Who builds a park in an airport, anyway?
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I couldn’t agree more with Sonja Wittich [Santa Monica Mirror, April 26-May3] who suggested that we should all be concerned about the quality of life and the safety of children and others throughout our diverse neighborhoods. As I mentioned in my original letter [Santa Monica Mirror, April 19-25], I am in favor of locating a project which truly serves the public interest in my neighborhood so long as it is well-planned in regard to safety, traffic and parking issues. And I agree that the residents of the Sunset Park and Pico neighborhoods deserve the same respect and consideration.