Some good news on the education front. New Visions Foundation and New Roads School have penned an agreement that will create a world-class educational village right here in Santa Monica. New Visions founder Paul Cummins was instrumental in creating Crossroads School, yet he left that institution and worked closely with “head teacher” David Bryan to form New Roads. One of the final links in the puzzle was a New Roads campus that fulfilled the long-term aspirations of the two founders and of the stakeholders, including kids, parents, trustees, and supporters. New Roads is on Olympic Boulevard near Drescherville, right next to the old Santa Monica Studios. The agreement, when it comes to full fruition, will pour significant money into an educational infrastructure with all the niceties that implies. The middle school will be joined with the high school.
There is quite a story going on at this not well-known Santa Monica private school. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that all students go on to college, and virtually all go to the school of their first choice. Though small in comparison to other private schools, the level of education is high and the school has the highest percentage of financial aid students, providing those with less income a real opportunity for a private school education. But that is not all; check out New Roads girl’s basketball team which is having a rather robust winning season. /p>
Did you know Patrick McCabe has been named president of the Santa Monica College Foundation? This happened after former President Herb Katz took over as Mayor of Santa Monica. Last I heard, McCabe, who once told me he was a “recovering businessman” (he was actually a rather successful sports agent among other things), was active on various boards and was the director of the New Roads Elementary School.
When I was a political science major in college, the most fun classes were those that had game-playing activities. Planning games – sort of a precursor to SimCity – involved various teams of people who would develop towns and cities taking into account tax revenues, economic engines, open space, stadiums, greenbelts (for the U.S. that was still a novel idea), and so forth. In a conversation with attorney Chris Harding, he reminded me that as the City of Santa Monica goes through its LUCE (Land Use and Circulation) endeavor, one major element must be what type of economic engine will the city pursue. For residents this may seem inconsequential, but it is a major factor in what type of town will be created over the next quarter century. Will Santa Monica be built for its businesses or for its residents? All are stakeholders, but residents live here, vote here, and carry the most weight in the city manager’s many workshops. Still, if the resident population wants the extra revenue created by sales taxes generated by retail, bed, and auto sales, then they must accommodate these industries. The ongoing question will be what is lost if the city chooses to rev down instead of rev up? What quality of life issues will be lost and gained? Will our beaches be clean, will social services be available, and will the money for affordable housing construction be possible? Will our school district receive the additional funding it so desperately needs? Over the next several months these questions are being debated, but not until the first drafts of the plan are presented will the advocates of either direction be pushing the political system to their way of thinking.
Harding is one of the city’s main land use attorneys. He was once called the eighth councilman because he kept an eye on the City Council in their more “activist” days in order to make sure they did not cross a legal line. Today, his law firm represents entities as varied as the Community Corporation and the Related Companies, the firm hired by the city to build out the Civic Center, and with it a significant housing component. Harding was raised in Santa Monica and is raising his children here as well. He struggles with how to handle the balance of jobs and housing, knowing the city needs affordable housing to meet state mandates and the political wishes of the electorate. And by the way, Harding has an Obama sign on his lawn.
I am also leaning toward Obama. I had the good fortune to meet him when he was in town a few weeks back, and was quite taken with his ability to speak enthusiastically for 30 minutes and yet elucidate virtually no specific political action he will take. But it sure felt good hearing him talk of coming together and moving forward. I am all for that. I think it is ironic that both he and Hillary, his main opposition for the Democratic nomination, come from Illinois. I think that is a good thing; after all, I was conceived in Chicago and have family memories of life in that very political town, including the fact that my father tells me my mother (deceased 10 years) is still voting there. I do recall my grandfather telling me with no qualms how the Dems would give him $5 on polling day and even pick him and my grandmother up to vote. And if you think George W. Bush stole an election, just ask about the JFK victory over Richard Nixon when Mayor Daley posited the question, “How many votes you need?” Illinois was the last to report, and their votes carried the day for Kennedy.
I thought it was a bad move by Ms. Clinton to Swift Boat Barack Obama in this last debate by actually trying to make us believe Obama admired Ronald Reagan’s ideas, when he has just said he admired his political acumen. It is that kind of stuff that bothers me about the Clintons. It seems like they are just trying to get even with all the evil stuff the Right Wing had thrown at them. Her target is inappropriate, however, as a fellow Democrat, and certainly Barack Obama, did not deserve those types of shots. She certainly is a qualified candidate, seems tough enough, and even has the issues down tight. She makes sense when she says she can hit the ground running – I believe that too. But is she going to “triangulate” to the point where real movement becomes scarce? Is she likable enough, or even more likable than Obama, because in the end Americans tend to vote that way.