May 6, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Letters to the Editor:

As a member of Treesavers, I appreciate your coverage of the loss of our 23 ficus trees on May 16th.

You stated the important point that gets lost in all the furor, that the City did not win any lawsuit based on evidence and information; it won a suit based on the technicality of Treesavers lawsuit being filed too late.

Interestingly then in the article, the City forester Walt Warriner, said in a statement that none of the trees had “any root base” a fact that was “confirmed when (the trees) were taken down.” Sawing down a tree does not show the root structure, uprooting a tree does; these were not uprooted.

As someone who was present, I saw no digging to check root structure that day, nor do I see any evidence of any since; so I must assume there are records of previous root inspections through potholing or other methods that must be available along with the pictures taken at that time.

It is readily apparent from all the pictures available of the downed ficus, that, even to the untrained eye, there was no decay in the trunks. So, now we are being asked to believe the danger lay unseen beneath our feet.

I think that for Mr. Warriner’s statement to be accepted by the public, requires the City to release its records of root inspection of not only the 23 trees destroyed, but on all the others inspected on 2nd and 4th Streets in the past years. These should be posted on the City’s website; so independent foresters can compare the information on root structures on the destroyed trees to those still left standing. This information would then through scientific questioning and comments enable the validity of our forester’s statement to be accepted or rejected.

Without the technical information being made available by the City, we are again being asked to swallow another story about a hidden bogeyman.

Treesavers lost on a technicality, the trees lost, the public lost. Now we ask the City Forester to provide us with the technical information that obviously he must have available on the 23 downed ficus trees or believe that he is a clairvoyant.

Bob Wolff

Santa Monica

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As a Treesaver, I appreciate Lynne Bronstein’s excellent articles about the fate of our beautiful trees. Her recent article contained many shockers, especially this memo form the City Manager’s office: “…seven months of lost time. This has increased the cost of the project by over $100,000.” There is no doubt who pays for this: we, the taxpayers; we, the people who were against the “project” from day one; we, the people who thought we elected a council who would listen to us. My question is, who gets the “over $100,000”? Who gets over $100,000 for NOT cutting down trees for seven months, in fact for doing NOTHING for seven months? Lynne, can you find this out for us? And can you also find out why deciduous trees will replace our magnificent evergreens? Why must we unnecessarily endure the unpleasant sight of trees that appear dead for several months out of every year?

Thank you for your attention,

Cecilia Rosenthal

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In an opinion column published in the May 22-28 issue of the Mirror, Steve Stajich made several assertions with which I plainly disagree. Before I speak to those, I’d like to agree with him on the central premise of his argument: that gay marriage is going to be an important issue in this election. As a straight man from the Midwest, I can say that I personally have no problem with gay marriage. In fact, I’ve known gay couples that are far and away more stable than some of their heterosexual counterparts. Despite this fact, Mr. Stajich is absolutely correct when he asserts that conservatives will use the issue to stoke peoples fear this fall.

What I disagree with is his assertion that America is less afraid of a black president than they are of a woman president. To be certain, sexism exists in America today. But sexism is not the reason that Hillary has lost the nomination. Senator Clinton made some terrible, shortsighted strategic decisions during this primary. The first was when she refused to take seriously the nominating contests in the ’small’ states between Super Tuesday and Texas/Ohio Tuesday. Yes, she has won several large states, but her blatant disregard for the primaries and caucuses in places like Nebraska and Maine represents a huge blind spot in her strategy to win both the primary and the general election.

It’s important to remember that both Al Gore and John Kerry lost the general election with variations of this same strategy. Also, the last person to take each primary seriously, challenging his opponents from coast to coast was her husband, who not coincidentally was the last and only democrat in 30 years to be president. What’s more, he ran on virtually the same platform of hope and courage as Senator Obama is currently using to great success.

Finally, I believe that the current dialogue coming from the Clinton camp is a disservice to women and future female candidates. It represents a last ditch gasp on the part of a dying campaign to cast her as a victim, which she is plainly not. She made some pretty hefty mistakes and she needs to accept that. She is afterall just a human being, flawed as we all are. Wouldn’t it be the epitome of equality to live in a world where it’s just part of life to have a candidate accept responsibility for their own mis-steps rather than hide behind cynicism and negativity, regardless of the color of their skin or their gender?

Jess Behrens

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Paul Cummins is to be commended for his tireless campaign to keep education at the forefront of our thinking in Santa Monica and nationally. Recent calamities within the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), though less catastrophic than those of inner city schools in our larger region, indicate there is a crisis in public education in our own community. Santa Monica’s public schools are a prime reason families locate here, but when our District’s administrators fail to monitor and react to small problems, they grow into major ones, and threaten the exemplary reputation of our local public schools.

One recent example is our delivery of Special Education needs. A long-festering conflict between several parents and the SMMUSD’s Special Education administrators over the level of service authorized and provided has caused heartache, investigations, and is related at least in part to the planned departures of the District’s two top administrators. Lost in all this has been possibly an even greater problem: the demoralization and departure of many of our District’s Special Ed service providers, those professionals who work day in and day out to address ever-increasing needs in this field. (Special Ed staffers include speech pathologists, school psychologists, special day class teachers, and occupational therapists.)

Cummins’ point concerning teacher burnout is relevant here. A casual glance at the number of speech pathologists recently departing the District should send shudders within the community. In just one year, between June of last year and the end of this current school year, more than 2/3 of the speech pathologists serving our District will have resigned or retired, most of them earlier than their normal career spans. Speech pathologists are among the most difficult of secondary education staff to recruit; their training is highly specialized and universities turn out a limited number. These are human assets not to be toyed with, and experienced ones are in high demand everywhere. But in Santa Monica they have been caught in the crossfire between frantic parents and willful school administrators.

Sometimes even communities that value education and support local financing initiatives like Santa Monica can be ill-served by the implementation and monitoring of educational policy. If a school district fails to adapt programs that address changing, often dramatically increasing needs, and also fails to implement performance evaluations of their administrators to measure effectiveness and community impact, problems multiply until fixing them is formidable or near impossible.

Not only do District administrators need to be held accountable, but so too do our elected School Board officials.

Rodney Punt

Santa Monica

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