Darfur at Samohi
I would like to thank you on behalf of all of the students at Santa Monica High School for your article “Samohi Students Attend Camp Darfur” (Vol. 9, Issue 46 April 24 – 30, 2008.) The Student Task Force at Samohi is especially grateful for your coverage. The public needs to know about the killings that occur in refugee camps not only in Darfur, but throughout Chad and Farshana as well. Children are forced to kill and women are raped everyday. Such atrocities should not be withheld from a student’s curriculum, but unfortunately, many teachers only find time to briefly skim over this current day genocide. Through Camp Darfur we were able to share important information with students. Thank you again for your article on this special event at Santa Monica High School – the first step to change in Africa is to promote awareness.
Junior at Santa Monica High School
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Big Blue Bus
On Friday, April 18, I had a few minutes before my appointment, so I walked to the Santa Monica Library.
At the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard at 6th street, I saw the Big Blue Bus, line 1, vehicle #4021, at 10:50 am, was about to turn left. The driver honked the bus’ horn, apparently at the other Blue Bus coming down 6th Avenue.
Yes, the bus driver honked in front of our beuatiful library, apparently glad to see a friend.
I have been in correspondence with Big Blue Bus over the past few weeks, especially with Stephanie Negriff. She wrote that BBB training messages are reinforcement with memos and that employee safety meetings are conducted quarterly.
That’s all to the good, but we still have a problem.
Director Negriff also wrote that the issue of honking was difficult to monitor unless they receive reports from the community.
So, citizens, BBB relies on your reports to monitor operator conduct. I note that the buses have compliment cards but not complaint cards, but there are several ways to give feedback.
There is, of course, the Customer Service phone line, (310) 451-5444, which is answered from 6:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Once, the person who answered the phone told me that honking the horn is not illegal. Yes, it is.
If you get that response, refer the person to the California code section 27001.
My favorite way of reporting is by the BBB web site, bigbluebus.com, clicking on “Contact Us.” Here your comment can be given at any time, day or night.
To properly report an incident, I include the following:
1) The BBB line number, such as line 1, which runs along Santa Monica Boulevard.
2) The direction; for instance, eastbound.
3) The time of day. The incident at the library was at 10:50 am.
4) The bus vehicle number, which is four large white digits on the outside of the bus, both front and back, and also inside the bus above the windshield.
For instance, # 3843.
Well, we have to make sure that Santa Monica remains quiet, and doesn’t turn into New York.
Larry A. Taylor
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Larry Taylor has sent letters complaining of horn honking by drivers of the Big Blue Bus. I see things a little differently. I have documented careless and unsafe driving by drivers of the Big Blue Bus with videos and photographs. I have footage of buses driving to the left of double yellow lines – a lot more serious than banging on the horn.
In the afternoon of April 5th 2008 I took overhead videos of buses on Santa Monica Boulevard heading westbound past 7th Street. Some buses enter the left turn lane before 7th Street with the appearance that they might turn left on 7th, but they don’t turn left. They continue straight through the intersection into the direction of oncoming traffic. Notice in one picture the traffic light is red.
On April 6th 2008 at 3 P.M. I took a ground video (rear shot) of bus number 4037 entering the left turn lane at a high rate of speed. Notice brake lights can’t be seen because the bus is accelerating into the intersection; not good. He then drove through the intersection at 7th Street and then on the wrong side of the road – left of double yellow lines.
In 2007 I also sent pictures and warned Santa Monica city officials of buses driving “off course” on a residential street in Los Angeles. The street is “thrashed” because of excessive poundage by buses.
Highland Avenue at Pico has signs posted prohibiting vehicles over 6000 pounds on Highland. My 2008 pictures include “posted signs” with Big Blue Buses in the background.
Because my friendly warning wasn’t taken seriously in 2007, I returned to the scene of the crime in 2008 to collect more footage. On March 19th 2008 after 3 P.M., buses number 4041, 4056, 4066, 4810, and 4095 were all photographed driving off course, with 4095 driving off course three times. The Los Angeles Police Department’s Citation Guide 2007 lists this as a Misdemeanor; 80.36.1 (a) L.A.M.C. vehicles over 6000 pounds prohibited. Its evident Big Blue Bus drivers aren’t afraid of their own managers seeing them, let alone someone with a video camera.
Robert Arroyo, Los Angeles, Ca
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In a shocker to no one, once again California ranks near the bottom of the list in terms of fairness of its legal climate; coming in 44th in the nation in the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform’s annual report on litigation climates.
Adding to California ’s dismal legal system, Los Angeles was again found as having “the least fair and reasonable litigation environment in the country.”
With our state’s rampant abuse of ADA law, never ending parade of class action lawsuits and grossly inflated damages awarded by juries, we aren’t going to climb out of the dregs anytime soon without reform.
Unfortunately, many of those with the power to enact reform are elected and kept in office in part by personal injury lawyer funds. This year already, we have seen our legislators shoot down bills that would have reformed the class action system; such as withholding part of attorneys’ fees in a class action settlement until all class members have been notified of an award.
Until we elect legislators who are not afraid to enact common sense reforms and who put the wellbeing of their constituents above campaign contributions, California’s legal climate will continue to be at the bottom of the barrel.
Robert Donin, Santa Monica
Board Member, Orange County Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse