The “surge” is keeping people’s focus on the war in Iraq. Note the constant sign-carrying protestors around town – many of them older folk. There is no immediate chance of a pullout so the quagmire persists. I like Representative Murtha’s idea of a “redeployment over the horizon.” Sounds perfect in removing our troops from harm’s way, but close enough to possible terrorist training camps to keep an eye on them. Senator Clinton was ostracized by the Pentagon for asking about their plans for withdrawal. As expected, they had none and called her out as a collaborator for even suggesting it. Under this president, they know there is no pulling back. According to a new American Research Group poll, just 25% of Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling his job as president and 71% disapprove. These are record lows for the survey. When it comes to Bush’s handling of the economy, 23% approve and 73% disapprove. This guy still has 18 months to serve as the cacophony for impeachment widens.
Summertime is bringing added tourists to Santa Monica. With the dollar vs. the British pound being perverted, the Brits get a pretty cheap deal here. Surveys say there is a 30% increase in their visits this year to the U.S. I am sure Santa Monica will get its fair share, provided there is room at the inn, as our major luxury hotels are fairly well booked and are charging the highest rates in years. For regular folks, the beach is swamped, and a gang fight erupted in a shooting death. Nothing unusual really, as our city is the western terminus of the freeway and bus lines and the major cooling-off point for millions of Angelinos. Some of their trouble finds its way here. I find it interesting that people argue tourism is not a factor in our traffic congestion because out-of-towner’s who frequent our luxury hotels use cabs. What about the huge mass of Southern Californians who come here on the weekends? That is where our real tourism bulk comes from, including the huge crowds on the Pier and Promenade. It would be a good idea if the city traffic engineers did something about the ridiculous entry off PCH into the first beach parking lot out of the tunnel, where cars pile up by the dozens. Perhaps some signage on the freeway guiding people to the new lot on 4th Street might help weekend Pier-goers.
The City of Santa Monica is giving its Los Angeles neighbors a hard time about construction schedules for the rebuilding of the California Incline, in particular Santa Monica Canyon where much of the diverted traffic seems destined to go. Appears City Manager P. Lamont Ewell is unsympathetic and is being reported as unwilling to meet with interested parties outside our city. Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office has suggested a meeting to no avail. That is really not a good attitude on Ewell’s part. I believe it is important to be a good neighbor. Yes, perhaps it will slow the construction start date down a bit, but being as he has had no prior experience with the nightmares this city has caused previously – anyone recall the $9 million nine-month sewer upgrade project? That one went to $27 million and took three years of a constant traffic jam on PCH. This one is sounding similar. I would imagine the neighbors on the coast would want the project completed in a timely fashion, thus the 24-hour work schedule can help. But nope, the 12-15 beach homeowners don’t seem to be in favor of that, saying the noise will be disruptive. Thus tens of thousands of people will have to be inconvenienced instead. This project is already starting out bad. Wait until they find unstable soil.
The stock market is booming which means we may be coming close to a peak, but most economic indicators and analysis say there is still room to grow. In fact, global markets are all up, and the global economy seems to be on an up tick. It must be as a result of President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy! Amazing how war can be good for an economy; just wait until the bill has to be paid after he is out of office.
The presidential debates are in full swing with the two parties fairly well distinguished from one another on most issues. Hillary Clinton appeared strong in the CNN-YouTube debates. Looks like she may be the D winner. Her experience shows as does her poise and intelligence. I used to like Bill Richardson, but he is not showing so well. Joe Biden looked good, but he really has me pissed because, as the Senator from Delaware, you can thank HIM for the way the banking community has found new ways to rip us off with late charges, super high interest rates and a shield from bankruptcy laws. He should be ashamed of himself. Obama has the poise to make the race competitive, however he does not have the real world extensive experience Hillary does. And it shows.
Santa Monica-UCLA Hospital is finally finishing some of its upgrade work, and the new Nethercutt Emergency Center is now open. The overall SM-UCLA construction project has been plagued by financial obstacles, but at least the UCLA campus is now done so money appears to be flowing again. Be great when the scaffolding finally comes down and a new park emerges on Wilshire Boulevard in front of the hospital.
Outside of our borders, the Westwood Chamber of Commerce had a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new herbal farmacy that counts medical marijuana as part of its repertoire. VERY civilized of the Chamber to welcome a law-abiding business into its fold. So now Santa Monica residents can go to Westwood, Venice, West Hollywood and hopefully one day soon in our town as well for their lovely buds. The ever-pesky DEA just sent out over 100 letters to landlords of farmacies saying they may have their property confiscated if they continue to rent to these statewide legally sanctioned businesses. These guys just don’t quit. It won’t amount to much because there have been no local prosecutions of legitimate state-approved MMJ farmacies (clubs).
I noticed that the 415 PCH beach club is under construction, however I must admit to being a little disappointed in how little of the original building remains.
On a different note, I recently toured Northern California and Oregon and found it to be as full of beautiful rivers, lakes, waterfalls and mountain peaks as ever. Agritourism is the new buzzword in Oregon, with farms now being the center of community activity on many levels, including berry picking, wedding venues, musical concerts, food growing, specialty meals, fishing holes, hayrides and much more. Kruger’s Farm Market on Sauvie Island outside of Portland allows visitors to meander throughout their fields, and whenever the blueberries are in season I find picking and devouring on the spot a very healthful endeavor. It helps of course if the proprietor is a 35-year best friend from college, as he knows the fields that have just ripened. Tell him I sent you and he will show you the strawberry patch in the back, with the ever-bearing variety called Seascape. Stick around for the Thursday night concerts and come back in the fall for the hoedowns.