July 19, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Letters to the Editor:

Dear Editor:

In letter to the editor in your August 21st paper, I was, by name, falsely accused of deceiving your readers in my statements regarding RIFT.

The editorial accused me of being deceptive by not stating that a facilities for children must provide daycare to qualify for an exemption from RIFT; I refer your readers back to Section 2(a) of RIFT where they can read for themselves that it says “child or adult daycare” not “child or adult, daycare.”

The editorial accuses me of deception by not admitting that RIFT will cause an $11,000,000/year reduction of city’s revenue. The $11,000,000/year is a 2023 projection from a presentation by HR&A Advisers to City Council. HR&A is a company that features on their website that they provide innovative solutions to the complex challenges of economic growth and real estate development (i.e. they are in the business of lobbying for developers). The $11,000,000/year allegation is so partisan that the city attorney was forced to ignore it in her report to the state of California on the fiscal impact of RIFT. Santa Monica residents will soon be getting their voting information packages from the State of California. The neutral assessment says that RIFT has no material impact on city revenue.

The editorial also asserts I deceived your readers by not admitting that RIFT will cause a $1,000,000/year property tax loss to Santa Monica’s public schools. The $1,000,000 is another partisan 2023 projection from the HR&A presentation. It is based on very high assumptions for future commercial development, very low assumptions for future residential development, and completely ignores that the property tax revenue, directed to public schools, is combined into a common fund for all students in the state of California. Students of Santa Monica make up only 1/10 of 1 percent of all students in California. Even if the alleged $1,000,000 in lost revenue was real, the cost to Santa Monica schools would only be $1,000. And to put a $1,000 into prospective, one only needs to look at how much Santa Monica schools lose because funding public schools in not a priority for the City of Santa Monica. The City of Beverly Hills contributes 5.3 percent of its budget to its city’s public schools. This compares to the city of Santa Monica who contributes less than 1.4 percent of its budget to its city’s public schools. If Santa Monica had the same commitment to public schools as the city of Beverly Hills, Santa Monica schools would be getting an extra $21,000,000/year (5.3 percent *$525,000,000 (Santa Monica’s current budget) -$7,000,000 (Santa Monica currently contributed to its public schools).

Jeff Segal

Santa Monica

* * * *

Whose Agenda Has More Value?

I’m writing in response to articles and letters to the editor regarding the recent SMRR convention and it’s subsequent endorsement of people running for the Board of Education.

It seems to me that the SMRR Executive Committee decided that their agenda of keeping the “status quo” in place on the Board of Education was more important or had more value than letting democracy happen.

Yes, parents of special needs children and their general education friends had joined SMRR in the hopes of having a say in the SMRR endorsements. We (myself included) paid our $25 to join, attended the convention, and voted our conscience. Unfortunately, our votes ultimately didn’t matter because the people ‘in charge’ decided we didn’t need to be listened to.

My suggestion is that we all make a concerted effort to have a write-in campaign for an alternate option (not necessarily just against Mr. Escarce – perhaps against SMRR’s entire ballot) – one good choice seems to be Judith Meister. She announced this week that she is no longer running because she realizes that without outright SMRR support, she’s probably wasting her money. Let’s show Ms. Meister that that isn’t true, that we need her on the Board of Education. We don’t need to give SMRR this power any longer! Let’s take back our voices!

Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns (Samohi PTSA President) quoted Margaret Mead in her recent Viking Voice article – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” What do you say, Santa Monica? Are you ready to stand up for yourselves and the disadvantaged of our school district and vote for school board members who will make a difference and shake things up?

Lynn Sturgis

* * * *

I was mesmerized at the militaristic precision with which the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games were conducted. It gave me pause to conjecture that such military precision could only be achieved in a totalitarian state like the Peoples Republic of China. It brought back memories of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in which 65 million people perished, an event which induced the fear to perform precisely today in the minds of the performers. Not well-known is that the first American to die at the hands of Mao’s thugs was Capt. John Birch, an intelligence analyst for General Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers. See jbs.org/index.php/about/john-birch.

The Chinese regime is still officially communist, even though the totalitarian “ism” called communism has been responsible for the deaths of over 100 million innocent human beings during the last century.

It is hard to imagine that the 1972 Munich Olympic Games would have been held there if Germany had still glorified Hitler in 1972. Yet the 2008 games are being held in China despite its continued glorification of Mao.

The president of the United States will, by his presence and his silence, extend the hand of friendship and legitimacy to the Chinese communists at the Beijing Olympic Games. I think that Americans should be outraged.


Frank M. Pelteson

Las Vegas, NV

* * * *

I started riding the Big Blue Bus when I turned 62 and the price of gas started to skyrocket. It taught me a lesson in humility and introduced me to a new perspective on humanity. I’ve witnessed all kinds of primate behavior from rude to civilized, and I’ve had conversations with other passengers from the mundane to the sublime.

I’ve watched passengers yelling at each other, loudly talking on their cell phones, or sitting quietly and reading Arthur Koestler. I’ve noticed how some kids wearing ipods had to be asked to give up their seats to seniors. I’ve observed people trying to board past completely oblivious riders standing in their way, rather than move to the back, or even pushing forward to exit from the front. I’ve seen people preventing others from boarding to ask the driver directions, and I’ve seen riders assisting older, handicapped riders and directing tourists.

The city needs to equip all our buses with video cameras and a voice activated interface with police radio frequencies, so bus operators can report hazards and dangers from inside and outside the bus. I’ve seen drivers, pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists and inline skaters usurp the right of way as if they owned the road, forcing the driver to brake suddenly.

The city allows SM College students ride the bus for free, so why not make the bus free for all? What better way to alleviate the traffic and parking crunch? Santa Monica has a fiscal budget of over half a billion dollars and can well afford to allocate some of those revenues to the people. It’s time to start giving back some of that huge budget back to the residents of Santa Monica, instead of to the bureaucracy!

Jon Mann


Santa Monica

* * * *


Your August 14-20th issue contained a report (“an odd turn of events”) on the endorsement that Jose Escarce received from the Santa Monicans for Renter’s Rights (SMRR) Steering Committee. It was followed this week by a correction of some of the facts of the initial article.

It is important that readers understand that this support from the Steering Committee came after membership failed on three separate votes to support Escarce’s endorsement.

In your correction, “Mr. Zane confirmed to the Mirror that he was an advocate for Jose Escarse’s bid for a seat on the School Board. Mr. Escarse received a 54.9 percent vote from the SMRR convention where 55 percent was required for Mr. Escarce’s endorsement. Mr. Zane added that, by supporting Mr. Escarse, the Steering Committee acted within the by-laws of the organization.”

This is just another way to spin the fact that Mr. Escarce lost by one vote. One vote that Escarce had three separate opportunities to capture, but failed. We are raised in this country to believe every vote counts, but I guess Zane and the SMRR steering committee missed that civics lesson.

The online Lookout News (Escarce Wins Late SMRR Nod, August 11, 2008), covering the same event quoted Zane as saying: “Some of the Steering Committee members expressed concerns that a faction of Special Education parents had joined the tenants group for the express purpose of mounting an organized effort to deny Escarce the nomination.” So Zane is essentially saying that some votes – those of SMRR members who also may be identified as special education parents – are less valuable than other SMMR members votes.

Whatever Zane’s, or the Steering Committee’s, real motivation was in overturning the membership, it represents a distasteful continuation of the attempts to marginalize an important minority by key members of this community. This marginalization is the very reason the special education community sought the help of the City Council when the SMMUSD Board of Education, with leadership from Jose Escarce, failed to protect the rights of our most needy students.

These SMRR actions reinforce the belief in the special education community that real concerns continue to fall on deaf ears within the school community and within SMRR. Escarce long supported a closed door, failed policy of coercion and intimidation implemented by the District’s administrator Tim Walker that skirted federal law and has put increased city funding for our schools at risk. Holding Escarce accountable for those actions is reasonable, and the community should understand these actions as they make choices in this fall’s election.

Unfortunately SMRR’s late endorsement of Escarce was followed by the withdrawal of Judith Meister, leaving only newcomer Chris Bley as an alternative to the 4 remaining candidates supported by SMRR.

I would hope that the leadership of SMRR collectively and as individuals would take the time to learn in depth the issues before speaking or taking positions that marginalize the rights of our community members. When this is done as recklessly as this recent action, it subverts the democratic process, and compromises the values SMRR purports to support.

We need leadership in our community, whether elected or voluntary, that doesn’t fall into the trap of demonizing and marginalizing any members of our community. We wouldn’t allow this if the faction had been identified as racial or ethnic, and we shouldn’t allow it for our special needs community either.

Zane and SMRR owe the entire community an apology.

Craig Hamilton

Santa Monica

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