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Publisher’s Notebook:

There are many kind people in this community. When I face certain health challenges, these people are often there with a voice of support and good wishes. As a community we often share with those less fortunate than ourselves, and that includes people with sickness or disabilities. The care and concern we show is important to our general makeup. If you act kind, you are kind; if you act nice, you are nice. If you think you are compassionate, but show no compassion…well you get the point. Santa Monica City Councilmember Herb Katz is struggling with his health, and I thought it a good time to express the hope that he can persevere. Katz has built some of the more interesting and striking buildings in town, including the remake of the fire-damaged W.I. Simonson building. I think the powers that be over there twisted his arm a bit, because the next time I saw him he was driving a spiffy new Mercedes sedan. Later he went so far as to marry the Simonson General Manager, so I guess the job went pretty well. Katz and I are both in the contracting field, so many of our brief discussions revolved around architecture and building. It must have been 10 years ago when Herb told me they “ought to blow the top off Santa Monica Place and make it an open air mall.” I always loved that idea, and sure enough it looks like it may just be coming to pass. You can also thank Katz for the YMCA building across from the Main Library, and the Ilona building on Wilshire that was named for his late first wife.

Katz has known tragedy in his life with the early deaths of his two sons from rare disease. I believe it made him a more compassionate man, but it also gave him the liberty to speak his mind as he saw fit. Katz has been our mayor, and my hope is that he can recover his health and his position upon the council with force and vigor.

There are, of course, other civic leaders that face their own health challenges. I have been known to disagree with one or two of them, but in the end it is just that – a disagreement; it has nothing to do with my respect for their contribution or their value as a person. I often consider their health concerns and I always wish them the best. I see the families they have raised, the businesses they have run, and the City functions they manage. All of them play an integral role in making this a wonderful city. I give them my prayers and know that many of you will too.

My mother once won a poetry essay award with a piece she wrote about my grandfather telling my grandmother on her death bed how much he loved her. “Yes, but why do you love me so much now?” I will never forget the message in that poem. My grandfather, who I adored, was a little late coming around on the love note and my mother noticed it in her poem. We need to show and express our love while people are still here with us.

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I am always disappointed when a Councilmember says, “I will go with what City staff recommends.” What a cop-out. We voted you in to make your own determinations, not to be a rubber stamp for staff. It is a convenient way for politicians to cover their butt, if I may be so bold. I see it with the current tree controversy. City staff says cut the trees because some are diseased and some we just want to move. Oh, O.K. Huh? Whatever happened to, “Are you kidding, we love trees and we want to protect them, find another way.” I am hoping Bobby Shriver and his good friend Bob Holbrook take a good second look at what is intended for our downtown tree canopy. Bloom is famous for going counter to public opinion, so don’t count on him to do the right thing, and Ken Genser is stubborn as a mule, but maybe, just maybe, Pam O’Connor can also be persuaded to rethink this. Then we may have an opportunity to keep our green. There is a famous behavioral author named Cialdini who wrote a book called The Psychology of Persuasion. He discusses how once people make up their mind and stake out a position, it is next to impossible to get them to change it. So the advocates of keeping our trees intact have a tough road ahead of them. What bothers me is our City staff is equating disease with death and the City Council is not standing up to them.

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Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl brought a resolution to end the war in Iraq in front of the LA City Council and won on a 12-2 vote. Rosendahl pointed out the tremendous financial cost of the war and how our local communities would be well served with just a small portion of what the war has already cost. But Rosendahl emphasized, “We have lost too many of our young men and women to this war. Supporting our troops means taking them out of this war and bringing them home.” When do I get to vote for this guy again?

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Has anyone noticed the beautiful Monarch butterflies migrating through? It is a real symbol of fall. Also nice is the extra blooming season we get when the hot summer months are over and plants can feel free to express themselves again.

My Mexican sage is blooming like crazy, as is some native fuchsia, and my azaleas always get an extra bloom this time of year. Not to mention I am seeing oranges, tangerines, and tangelos getting bigger, which means their succulent fruit is just around the corner. I just returned from yet another trip to Oregon where my buddy’s farm was in the middle of pumpkin season, which is a time when Portlanders make their final forays to the farm before the rain and mud gets too thick. It is exciting to see hundreds of families in the fields choosing their favorite pumpkins. Kids tend to like weird shapes, while adults seem to pick perfect ones. In any event, his hay wagons ship you out to the fields and give you a free ride back. The farm also has some late season harvesting, including French beans and some late blooming strawberries and some of the tastiest corn of the year, freshly roasted of course. One of my favorite fall treats is the great variety of pears and apples that come on. I like Bosc pears and Jonagold apples. My son likes me to take the skin off Comice pears and give him bite-size pieces, and he can devour two whole pears at a sitting. I am afraid our local markets are somewhat short on the variety of pears and peaches, as the best are grown far north. We do have a far greater variety of citrus, which I am excited about. I make my grapefruit juice from the Oro Blanco variety, but can be easily persuaded to down a full glass of fresh squeezed Valencia oranges. Oh, I can’t wait.

Michael Rosenthal


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