It was actually a local merchant that circulated a petition with hundreds of signatures trying to save those wonderful trees on Second and Fourth streets. The city, however, is ignoring this effort and listening only to those few merchants who’ve complained about the trees – do they have special status in this town? Perhaps City Hall should listen instead to those shop owners that want the trees saved! Both Fifth Street and Main Street have the same trees – are they in City Hall’s crosshairs too?
We need more shade trees in town, not fewer. We need more dense foliage to help absorb environmental poisons, not less. We need more stately promenades of mature trees, not the mere few we have now. These trees are a real and living community asset, not a plaything of the Bayside District Corporation, to move or destroy as it sees fit.
If these beautiful, dense, shade-making trees on Second and Fourth streets are obliterated, the human pedestrian experience in the downtown area will be devastated, and the present City Council will be known forever as the tree-killing council that chopped down the urban forest in Santa Monica. No matter what else they may accomplish in the city, this will be their true lasting public legacy. For shame.
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As a strong believer in participatory government, I have had a professional and personal interest in Board of Education meetings and the District’s budgetary process for over 30 years. Since my retirement from the District in 2003, I have attended just about every Financial Oversight Committee meeting held in the last four years. With regard to the continuing flap over school finances, I strongly believe the early settlement and departure of ex-CFO Winston Braham last November has triggered the most transparent budget development process in recent history! Wisely, the Board of Education quickly approved the superintendent’s recommendations to bring in FCMAT – the state budget police – and to hire interim CFO Stephen Hodgson. After receiving the FCMAT recommendations on ways to improve fiscal procedures and meet state accountability standards, the Board approved measures to correct the numerous errors and miscalculations in Mr. Braham’s initial Multiyear Financial Projections last October. These actions have greatly improved the District’s current financial solvency next year and in the out years. And, for the first time in five years, the Board, FOC and the public have been able to review the complete budget process in a timely manner.
Even the recent dialogue between the City Council and the Board bringing into question the use of confidential settlement agreements between the District and some parents has been a positive move toward a better understanding of the complicated issues surrounding Special Education. The City Council and the community should accept as “good faith” the Board’s commitment to bring in an outside third party (as they successfully did with FCMAT) to evaluate and review all aspects of that department.
It’s time to close the books on Winston Braham and put the John Deasy era of secrecy, subterfuge and suspicion to rest. Since her arrival less than a year ago, Superintendent Dianne Talarico has been picking up the pieces – often under duress – in an attempt to put the District’s house in order and build relationships. We should all remember that she inherited 98 administrative changes in just four years – leaving little continuity of leadership, and a dysfunctional organizational structure with antiquated communication systems – all resulting in rampant employee and community distrust. In order to move on together, it seems appropriate for the School Board and the community to renew their support for Superintendent Talarico through the tough times as well as the good ones to come. If that means evaluating every department and every school for areas of improvement as well as excellence, then we should applaud her efforts to get the job done.
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Here’s yet another reason to eat veggie burgers instead of hamburgers: United Food Group has just expanded a beef recall to include 5.7 million pounds of potentially E. coli-contaminated beef that was sent to stores in 11 states, including California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
You can protect yourself and your loved ones from E. coli and other bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts and feces of animals by eating a vegan diet. Most farmed animals are crammed into filthy sheds and slaughtered on killing floors that are contaminated with feces, vomit and other bodily fluids. These unsanitary conditions have led to a rise in food-borne bacteria.
Plant-based foods, on the other hand, don’t normally harbor E. coli or other fecal bacteria. In fact, according to the USDA, 70 percent of food poisoning is caused by contaminated animal flesh. When fruits or vegetables do become contaminated with E. coli, it is because animal manure was used to fertilize crops or leaked into waterways. Cross-contamination can also occur when fruits and vegetables are placed on the same surface as meat.
According to the Associated Press, “The affected grocery stores included Albertson’s…Smart and Final….”
As more and more people adopt a vegan diet, our dependence on cows and other farmed animals will diminish, therefore lessening the threat of E. coli contamination – and saving human and animal lives. For more information, veggie burger recommendations and vegan recipes, see goveg.com.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals