Open letter to the residents of Santa Monica and Malibu:
Yesterday, like many thousands of parents in Santa Monica and Malibu, I was busy at my children’s schools, helping them settle in for their new year and making sure I had done my job to ensure that all the details were in place to ensure a smooth start for all.
As I walked through the schools, reconnecting with old friends and watching my sons navigate between nervousness and excitement, I was once again overwhelmed by what has now become an annual revelation – that of gratitude and respect for the army of PTA volunteers who contribute not only to opening day at our schools, but to every day. PTAs’ contribution cannot be underestimated and makes the difference between adequacy and excellence for our schools, our parents and students, our teachers and staff, and indeed for our communities. From the extraordinary leadership generated by our PTA Unit Presidents, to the support and guidance coming from Executive Board members and committee chairs both at PTA Council and at units, to the thousands of PTA volunteers who perform innumerable tasks to help provide resources and assistance for our parents, teachers and administration – our Santa Monica Malibu Council of PTAs, each and every one of us joined together this opening day to provide World Class Support to our World Class Schools.
Superintendent Dianne Talarico has asked for 2007-2008 to be the year of teamwork. On this opening day I was startled and impressed by the level of genuine cooperation between PTAs, principals, teachers and staff that I saw at the schools I visited. It was more than just a word. Teamwork was living and breathing in our schools in a way that comforted parents, eased transitions for students, and ultimately provided a calm and productive work environment for teachers and staff. PTA is committed to keeping this teamwork going throughout the year to help ensure that closing day is as calm and productive as this opening day.
PTA, and indeed everyone in the education community, has a big year ahead, and I call upon all of our PTA leaders and members to focus our year on cooperation and communication.
From our end, cooperation between parents, administrators, teachers and staff is a welcome and necessary beginning. But we must also continue to strive to cooperate between schools. In addition, our schools and our PTA Council will be striving for opportunities for cooperation and collaboration with our communities as well as community leaders and organizations. We know how much our schools contribute to our communities, and we know and appreciate how much our communities contribute to our schools. We hope this year, and for many years to come, to find ways to bring our communities into our schools and our schools into our communities.
Communication will also be an important focus for us this year. When I speak to our PTA leaders at each of our school sites, I am constantly astonished by something wonderful going on at that site that I had never heard about before. These little gems (and often not so little) shouldn’t be secrets! We all need to know about them – and we need to tell our communities.
When I was young, the beginning of school was always my very favorite time of year, filled with promise, excitement and challenges just waiting to be conquered. Yesterday, on my first “First day of school” as Santa Monica Malibu PTA Council President, I had that feeling again. We have accomplished so much, and have so much ahead of us.
My fourth-grader burst out of school at the end of his first day, beaming, and announced that this was going to be “the best year ever!” I knew that was true – and I also knew that was thanks to the combined effort of our whole team!
Rebecca Soladay Kennerly, President
Santa Monica Malibu Council of PTAs
Advocating for the Health, Education and Welfare of All Children
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Dear Senator Kuehl:
Dear Senator Oropeza:
I would like to express my disappointment, anger and concern with the demise of AB 700 and would like to ask you some questions:
Since you sit on the Appropriations Committee of the Senate, I would like to know why AB 700, introduced by CA Assemblyman Ted Lieu and co-authored by CA Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, disappeared at your Senate Appropriations Committee. If senators have no voice or influence on the Committee about important local issues that affect their constituents, why are they there? We have great difficulty in swallowing such a governmental-process pill which does not allow for local input. It appears much more likely that AB 700 was not fought for or even killed behind closed doors. Isn’t this quite possible as there is no accountability at this point of the legislative process?
Since your districts surround Santa Monica Airport, and you both have come out strongly with health concerns on other issues, and even a health bill, how do you feel about prioritizing a serious health study, task force, etc. to analyze how the jet fuel emissions are being spewed into your constituents’ homes and into their bodies from this airport?
We feel that the City of Santa Monica has not made any real effort to address air pollution from the airport that they own and operate. They continue to point the finger at the FAA and thus dismiss their responsibility. We have heard from the SCAQMD that their own study is not going to address the concerns of the community, which are health risks and odors. Those breathing the raw jet kerosene odors are well aware of the potential harm it is doing to their bodies. We want the City of Santa Monica and our local, State and Federal representatives to speak up and be proactive about addressing our concerns. Surely it is not asking too much of our representatives to look at the video on jetairpollution.com that shows irrefutable evidence of an environmental injustice of the first degree.
How would you suggest that this issue be resolved and what are you prepared to offer to help in addressing this critical issue?
Do you know that many of your constituents have become sick; many have been diagnosed with cancer, serious lung ailments, heart problems, etc. and they are questioning their proximity to SMO and the toxicity of the jet fuel coming out of the planes sitting on the runway idling for well over one-half hour at a time? These reports have been coming in to the group Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, as they are an umbrella group for residents living all around the airport.
Do you believe that the City of Santa Monica has no responsibility, either financially or morally, to fully investigate this jet fuel emissions problem?
There have been two community demonstrations in the City of Santa Monica since April of this year, each very well attended by your constituents. There also has been significant media coverage, with print, television and radio coverage. The issue of pollution from Santa Monica Airport is very much out there. It is not going away as long as the toxic emissions keep spewing into our communities. We are not going away. Will you pledge to help?
We would appreciate your response.
Martin Rubin, Director of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, and the thousands of residents who are sick and tired of being forced to breathe these odiferous, noxious jet fumes.
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Why did AB 700 Fail?
Was it because of printing, copying and staffing costs for the City of Santa Monica or an onslaught of aviation lobbyists against what they characterize as “crippling” restrictions for their users, or was it powerful celebrities like David Geffen who suggested neighbors close their windows or move?
It’s the second time legislation on behalf of Santa Monica neighbors has been stymied in the CA legislature. If you look at national concerns, i.e. passenger bill of rights and community rights, they hold little sway with elected representatives who kowtow to industry lobbyists and business interests.
The irony is the FAA’s own administrator nailed it when she referred to “parochial politics that inhibit efficiencies.” She recommended an independent commission to assess unneeded facilities, closure of air traffic control centers and charges to small aircraft, like ones that use SMO, because they account for 16% use of the system and only pay 3% for it.
While the industry talks about double growth for general aviation and a 36% increase in commercial flight by 2015, the discussion focuses on more runways, less degrees of separation in the air, and a Next Generation air-traffic control system to replace the current antiquated ATC, not environmental pollution.
The problem: who’s going to pay for it all; who’s going to eat fumes? Why we are: commercial passengers who pay 7.5% ticket taxes for a sub-par flying experience.
According to a September issue of Business Week the problem is nobody is in charge of the disparate array of special interest groups, who obviously have little tolerance for community safety, from “commercial airlines, small aircraft owners, labor unions, politicians, airplane manufacturers, executives with their corporate jets, all locked in permanent warfare as they fight to protect their own interests.”
Victoria Pellar Price
Co-director Talktrans/Zero Expansion Research Group
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
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It’s astounding the amount of money AARP is spending on fake grassroots efforts like “Sick of Blue Cross” and “It’s OUR Healthcare.” And their websites and videos are so slickly done that it’s easy to see why one would believe they supported real reform. But, voters beware. The sole purpose of their efforts is not to help you. It’s to protect their health insurance business and those handsome profits.
AARP and other insurance companies are pushing Nunez’s AB 8 under the guise of “we need reform now,” when in fact it will only serve to kill the real reform (Kuehl’s SB 840) which puts them out of business – and that’s the rub.
SB 840 passed both houses of the state legislature last year but was vetoed by Governor Arnold. Polls show that over 60% of the people want a single payer system like that embodied in SB 840, and as more people are given all the information and facts, the support for the bill continues to grow. Hence, the big rush to pass fake reform before voters figure out they have been duped like seniors were when AARP pushed through Medicare Part D.
The CA Nurses have come out in strong opposition to AB 8 and they are correct to say no reform is better than bad reform. AB 8 is a bad bill that will not control costs, will not cover everyone and leaves the greedy middlemen in control of our healthcare so they can continue business as usual. Phewy, that stinks and no thanks.
Seriously, since when should we trust insurance companies to care about making real change? If this were the case, we wouldn’t be in this mess. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and work to pass SB 840 which will provide universal insurance to all of California for life and for less and say good-bye to the for profit insurance companies forever.
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Dear Santa Monica Political Leaders:
I recently read that the city is finally realizing that they spent a fortune to build a huge parking lot under the downtown library that gets virtually no use. I also read that city staff now wants to intentionally allow new apartment buildings to be built with inadequate parking, suggesting that residents should use a parking structure that could be up to four to five blocks from their homes. It seems hard to believe that the city would be blind and deaf to the constant barrage of complaints that have resulted in the city being forced to create preferential parking on all the curbs of every multi-family district, which creates huge problems for small businesses, and is still woefully inadequate to meet residents’ needs.
I would like to suggest the following alternative. Change the after 6 p.m. rate, in the library lot, to a $1 fixed fee. This would give downtown visitors an incentive to walk the two extra blocks, providing badly needed relief, to Ocean Avenue and Fourth Street traffic congestion and parking space shortages.