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Publisher’s Notebook:

This whole California Incline construction project has me nervous. With the city’s top engineer claiming the project is just 30 percent designed, how could they give a realistic construction budget and timetable? Once again, we are undertaking a major endeavor unprepared. I am hard-pressed to believe the entire endeavor can be redone in a nine-month window. I have not heard the incline is unsafe or that a new roadway must be constructed for safety reasons. I am hearing the same thing I have heard before with the City of Santa Monica: “We have the money, so let’s do it.” Messing with those cliffs is going to be a harrying experience; let’s just hope the city has brought in enough of those out-of-town experts they love so much to review the situation carefully. If and when they choose to move forward, the city needs a well-designed traffic plan to deal with the overload on city streets, particularly Santa Monica Canyon, which can get gummed up on a good day.

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Congratulations to Kristina Andresen for being awarded the prestigious Naylor Award at the recent Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce installation dinner. We are blessed in this community with many people that value service as a major value. For kindness, generosity of spirit and selflessness, Ms. Andresen ranks at the top of the list. It is good to see the community remember a person like Mr. Naylor and doubly good to see an award in his name go to someone so very special.

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I enjoyed the ending to The Sopranos. The show ended at a regular moment in time, signaling certain continuity. It felt normal to see the family sit down for dinner, and in fact it was quite heartwarming to see them all together. I was particularly touched by the way Tony touched his son’s hand at the dinner table. The music (Journey) chosen was perfect, and the family-style eatery was appropriate. I am glad the show is over, however, as the darkness was beginning to bother me.

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These presidential debates are quite the spectacle. I admit to being engrossed by the Republican discussions around such issues as God, war, immigration, abortion and health care. One thing can be said of these men; they appear sure of themselves and are honing their political debate skills to a fine art. The problem for me is they differ rather dramatically from some of my own viewpoints. Take immigration. This is really not one of my hot button issues (Health Care and War are No. 1 and No. 2), and I am rather positive toward the contributions of immigrants to this country. My own grandparents arrived from Russia around 1905, and without that move I might now be living somewhere near Kiev.

I think a simple immigration policy is best. They claim we have between 12 and 15 million undocumented men, women and children in this country. Why not let them come forward and acquire work visas? Keep the price reasonable, say $25 a year, give out five-year visas and get everyone signed in. Just as every American adult who drives needs a driver’s license, every immigrant who works would need a work permit.

Furthermore, I would allow everyone to apply for citizenship, both those already here and those requesting to come legally. Forget the “go home for a year rule.” If you seriously believe 12-15 million people are going to pay $5,000 and move back to China or El Salvador or Mexico for a year, I need to know what you are smoking. It will never happen, and who wants the father of a family to be separated from his wife and kids for a year?

I liked what Mayor Giuliani said in the Republican debates: “Will this Washington compromise pass the first litmus test? Does it make sense?” His attitude was: get everyone signed up so we know who is here. Money sent home to Latin America and Mexico from working immigrants in this country is some of those countries’ largest source of foreign capital. We have a symbiotic relationship with our neighbors, so let’s recognize it instead of continuing to terrorize those who want to come here and force thousands to die crossing our borders. For me, this is a human rights issue. If immigrants are working in this country’ then they need to pay the standard deductions we all endure: workers’ compensation, state disability, unemployment insurance, Medicare, even social security. If the need arises, then they have paid into these insurance policies and are covered. The employers must collect and contribute as well. If those with work visas stick around long enough, then they are entitled to social security benefits and perhaps health benefits from employers. All people in this state pay sales tax, so every day immigrants are contributing to the general fund.

The jingoism, nationalism and even racism exhibited in the language debate are disconcerting. I suppose one day we are going to have to learn the difference between a “national” language and an “official” language. According to Hillary Clinton, one constricts our ability to use official forms in different languages, or even interpreters. I say forget all that hokey talk about how Spanish or Tagalog or a strong Irish accent is dividing our country. I love the sound of other tongues and feel the cultural identity it helps to foster makes us that much greater as a country. Who in their right mind would ask the Chinese of Monterey Park to take down their beautiful signs or the Hispanics of East LA to not enrich us with the sound of Spanish or the Vietnamese of Garden Grove to stop eating their traditional food? I say keep them all, honor their diversity and ask them to share in our country’s goodness. I welcome them.

I understand the Sierra Club saying immigration is a drain on our national resources and that we should be working to reduce population. I would prefer a national goal of negative population growth. The carrying capacity of the United States, or even the “cramming” capacity, has already been achieved. In order to have true population stability there are two things that work – higher education and greater income. Let’s work on achieving success in those two areas and you will see a stable and even reduced population. One other problem, however, that “giant sucking sound” Ross Perot warned about, is the movement of people into the U.S. from devastated economies south of the border caused by the inequities of NAFTA. It needs reform.

Michael Rosenthal

Publisher

in Uncategorized
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