In this heated electoral season, local passions have run high on a variety of issues, from national to statewide, to the many important local Santa Monica elections and ballot measures. Regarding CA Props 2 and 8, and Measures T, SM and AA, the Mirror has received an unprecedented amount of community input, and cogent, intelligent arguments have been made in defense of both sides of these issues. Thus, as Election Day approaches, we urge our readers to read and objectively assess the variety of opinions put forth by the members of our proudly activist community. AND THEN VOTE!
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To the Editor:
I was surprised to learn that the Friends of Sunset Park (where Santa Monica College is located and where I live) is opposed to Measure AA, the SMC bond issue. Zina Josephs’ letter to The Mirror on behalf of FOSP complains of students who come to the college from “elsewhere,” objecting to efforts to include students “from outside the district, from out-of-state and from abroad.” Maybe our neighborhood organization should amend its name to “Friends of Sunset Park, Enemies of Students from Anywhere Else.”
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I am voting NO on proposition AA. It’s not that I don’t support Santa Monica College. We, the Santa Monica residents, have been supporting the college for years with a series of bond issues and through our property taxes. It’s time to put the spending in check and make the school more accountable to the community and its overall constituents.
I question the need of requiring local residents to continue to dig deep in our pockets to support a regional, even international, school. Less than 16 percent of the students live in Santa Monica. Many local residents can not afford to attend performances at the new Broad Theater. Furthermore, the proposed new career center and improvements to the Bundy Campus would be located outside of the City of Santa Monica (it’s in Los Angeles city limits). Many of the vocational programs, such as auto repair, which historically helped local youth gain skills for jobs, have been cancelled in favor of science programs that help make SMC “the nation’s undisputed leader in transfer to the University of CA system.” That’s great, keep up the good work SMC but please start charging the people who are directly benefiting rather than continuously asking Santa Monica and Malibu residents to subsidize these endeavors. No on AA.
Santa Monica resident
Many of us know that it is time for a change in Washington and Sacramento and will likely vote for it; but how many who are dissatisfied with the direction Santa Monica has taken in the past decade will vote for change here? Conversations at coffee shops, gyms, soccer matches may be anecdotal – as to a lesser extent are letters to the editors of the SMDP and the Mirror. But how many of you – whether you’ve discussed it publicly or written a letter ­– find that this city has been headed in the wrong direction? How many will decide that perhaps all those glossy mailers from the incumbents, the mailbox full of No on T brochures (I received five on Monday alone), the pleas to pass AA although only Santa Monica voters will be paying nearly one billion dollars for the more than 80% of the students who are not from this city – how many will decide that much of the money pushing all this is not Santa Monican’s money? Bloom and Genser run every four years making the same promises about homelessness, traffic, development. And do nothing. Do you see any changes? Thank you SMRR, lurching to the right nightly, for allowing this to happen on your watch. I have no idea why Katz and Shriver run, and emails to the latter, if answered at all, are answered by one “honored” helper or another. No answers come from Shriver. He seems to take the same indifferent attitude to constituents as he does to Council meetings. Take back the city people: the developers, lobbyists, incumbents, and, yes, the establishment have run it long enough. Let’s get some fresh ideas from some less tired, less jaded people.
Ron Di Costanzo
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To Whom It May Concern:
Per the posting on the YES ON T website on 10/27:
To the “Yes on Measure T” Committee:
Anti-T mailers from Save Our City feature the name of Marian Blount, a 16-year Santa Monica resident prominently featured on a list of those who oppose Measure T. For the record, I never told anyone I opposed T, never gave anyone permission to use my name and I have, in fact, already voted FOR T.
– Marian Blount
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Attached you will find a signed NO ON T endorsement card for Marian Blount. The “Yes on T” campaign has consistently been using intimidating tactics on voters and being dishonest and here we see another example of that.
Marian Blount signed this endorsement card on her own accord and turned it in to our campaign. We understand voters change their minds. Numerous voters have realized the risks associated with Measure T and are now voting No.
Save Our City/No on T
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Dear Mr. Cohn and Santa Monica Community:
I have been a Sunset Park homeowner for 14 years, and I am urging all my neighbors to vote yes on AA. Having SMC in the neighborhood is one of the greatest benefits of living in Sunset Park. I use the pool and track and attend the SMC theaters. My children and I walk to SMC to take classes (or take them online). My son is in the Samohi Marching Band, which marches on the SMC football field at home football games. My son’s club volleyball team practices at SMC. I also teach at SMC and see how state funding cuts affect our ability to maintain technology and facilities. The current board and administration of SMC have supported alternative transportation efforts that have removed thousands of cars from our streets while continuing to offer excellent educational services to students from all over Southern California. Vote YES on AA!
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Advocates of green building nationwide view Santa Monica as a leader when it comes to producing high-performance, energy-efficient buildings. The City has successfully worked with developers to build in more environmentally friendly, sustainable ways. Curbing development, which Measure T threatens to do, will impair our ability to continue to be leaders in the green building industry, and advance green, resource-efficient buildings in a time when it is essential that we develop solutions to reduce green house gas emissions, preserve our water supply and relieve our dependence on fossil fuels. Continuing to use smart design and green guidelines, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) programs, will decrease traffic because the principles behind such programs involve building more walkable, mixed use communities with access to good public transportation. It is in these ways that we can continue to enhance our community and decrease traffic, not measure T.
James Leahy, P.E., LEED AP
LEED Accredited Professional
Sustainable Buildings and Operations
KEMA Services, Inc.
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Measure AA is Regressive Taxation.
The Presidential campaign has come down to an argument about the distribution of wealth in the United States.
Barack Obama favors taxation that shifts some of the burden from average wage earners and small business people to the wealthier Americans so that most Americans will have more money to circulate through the economy. John McCain favors taxation that reduces the tax burden of the wealthier Americans in the expectation that increased “investment” by them and cost savings due to decreased public services will offset the lost revenues.
A Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter named David Cay Johnston (profiled by NPR, PBS, Forbes, Mother Jones, and Salon) has meticulously researched how the current tax system is rigged to take money from most Americans and concentrate it in the hands of the wealthiest. How does this happen? Look at Measure AA as an example.
Measure AA proposes taking a little bit of money from everyone in Santa Monica to provide the SMC Board with a huge war chest for construction and property acquisition. Where does this money go?
First of all it goes to a firm who will underwrite the bond for a hefty fee. The bonds will be sold as a triple tax-free investment to high net worth individuals who will derive tax free income from them.
The District will hire architects, consultants, attorneys, planners, engineers, public relations flacks, general contractors, realtors et al. for their construction projects and acquisitions, many (if not most) of whom have already siphoned off millions from the initial $300 million raised by the College. The property owners whose land is bought by the College will also make millions.
So if you’re in favor of further aggregating wealth in the hands of the few at your own expense and at the expense of other working families then Measure AA is for you. If, on the other hand you agree with candidate Obama that spreading the wealth around is a better option, then vote NO on Measure AA and keep your money. You probably need it more than those who are asking you to hand it over to them.
Something is wrong with the Measure AA equation – it is not about education at all.
Only about 15 percent of students at Santa Monica College are from Santa Monica/Malibu, and that rate declines every year. Residents have paid for almost all of the building and construction costs of SMC’s eight sites since its inception in 1929. More recently we passed Prop U for $160 Million in 2002 when the college said there would be “no more college bonds for decades.” In 2003 SMC killed at least 10 vocational education programs and never brought them back – so much for “community” needs. Then despite their promise of “no more bonds” they us brought Prop S in 2004 for $135 million. And now in 2008, with more than $100 million of that money still unspent, they want another $295 million to expand SMC again; virtually all of this for 25,000 out of area commuters. And perhaps worst is that while all of this goes on our K-12 Unified School’s buildings deteriorate, being older than SMC’s, and a large number of students remain seriously deficient in math and reading skills. If there is money in the community to spend, then it should be spent on our Unified Schools, not on SMC’s expansion and recruitment schemes. Measure AA’s promoters say a Unified bond is coming next – do they believe that in this seriously declining economy, with no end in sight, that voters struggling to provide for themselves and their families can support both bonds? – doesn’t passing AA put the coming Unified Schools bond and our K-12 school children in jeopardy?
Please join me and thousands of others who support a return to rational, responsible education funding for all of Santa Monica’s students by voting NO on Measure AA.
Residents and Officials to Expose Big Developers’
Attempts to Buy Santa Monica Elections
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“Yes on Prop T” advocates – along with Councilmember Bobby Shriver of Santa Monica and Councilmember Bill Rosendahl of Los Angeles – will hold a press conference to unveil attempts by out-of-town developers to influence the outcome of Santa Monica’s City Council election and local ballot propositions. Following the press conference will be a demonstration by residents to protest the huge buildings and gridlocked traffic brought on by overdevelopment.
Santa Monica traffic is a major source of congestion in West LA and Westside communities.
In numerous city surveys, the top two concerns of Santa Monica’s residents are traffic and overdevelopment. “Yes on Prop T” is a resident-backed initiative to fight traffic by setting limits on commercial development in Santa Monica. Currently, there is no cap on commercial development. Developers are fighting Prop T to the tune of $1 million or approximately $20 per voter.
Joel Brand, Santa Monica
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To the Editor:
I was disappointed in your editorial position on Prop 3 (“State Measures: Know the Facts, and Make Your Vote Count”), which “speaks” to the health of millions of children and the hospitals that serve them.
Children’s hospitals did sponsor a bill to put the Children’s Hospital Bond Act of 2008 on the November ballot, and it passed the General Assembly by the required two-thirds vote, with strong bi-partisan support. But, the bill was not considered in the Senate because of the debate on health care reform, and as time ran out for the Legislature to act, the state’s children’s hospitals collected more than 684,000 signatures throughout the state to qualify for the November ballot.
Children’s hospitals must have access to the latest technology in order to effectively treat the most seriously ill and injured children. And, without continued investment in new facilities, like the New Hospital Building now under construction at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, California’s children’s hospitals simply will not be able to meet the needs of the state’s rapidly expanding pediatric population.
Children’s hospitals are very fortunate to have generous philanthropic support for these projects, and their other needs, but private philanthropy alone is not enough.
Prop. 3 will make $980 million available to the five University of California children’s hospitals and to California’s eight eligible not-for-profit children’s hospitals, which will be able to apply for grants for new construction, expansion, remodeling, renovation, furnishings and equipment to meet the increasing demand for their services.
We depend on our children’s hospitals. They save lives. Many children are cured; others have their young lives extended for many years. For most, the quality of their lives improves.
I urge a “Yes” vote on Prop 3.
John D. “Jack” Pettker
Co-chairman of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Board of Trustees.
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On November 4, Santa Monica voters will be asked to vote on Proposition T, a measure that would restrict most development in Santa Monica to no more than 75,000 square feet per year for the purpose of controlling traffic. At first impression, this may seem good. After all, traffic is often frustrating and we need serious controls on new development. But Proposition T is not the answer.
Proposition T is a deceptive, irresponsible and unnecessary measure that would not reduce traffic as promised, and may make it even worse. And Proposition T threatens to harm important community services including our public schools, public safety and health care. In these very uncertain and difficult economic times, we cannot afford the risks of Proposition T.
That is why we have formed Save Our City, a broad-based coalition that includes Santa Monica’s classroom teachers, police and firefighters associations, SMRR leaders, State Senator Sheila Kuehl, environmentalists, health care advocates, the Chamber of Commerce, non-profit and religious leaders, and hundreds of Santa Monica residents. (See saveourcitysm.com/opposes.html for full list.) Though we do not always agree on every issue, we all oppose Proposition T.
The voters should not be fooled by the scare tactics and deception being used to sell Proposition T. Though packaged as a traffic control measure, the only expert traffic study of Proposition T concludes that it will have virtually no impact on Santa Monica traffic. In fact, it may make traffic even worse by undermining the real traffic solutions contained in the City’s new, nearly-finished General Plan update known as the LUCE.
Nor is Proposition T necessary to control commercial development as its proponents claim. In fact, the City’s new LUCE incorporates strict controls on development, including a braking mechanism unanimously supported by the City Council that will regulate the pace and amount of new development.
And the voters should not be fooled by claims that Proposition T only restricts commercial development. Proposition T also restricts new health care uses, which explains why our two local hospitals, Saint John’s and Santa Monica-UCLA, have issued a joint statement exposing Proposition T as dangerous for health care. (See surfsantamonica.com/ssm_site/the_lookout/letters/Letters-2008/October-2008/10_02_08_Joint_Statement_Concerning_Prop_T.htm)
Proposition T also classifies non-profit uses – including those serving our youth, senior citizens and the disabled – as “commercial,” which explains why it is opposed by key non-profit leaders. Our local non-profit agencies face enough challenges raising funds in these difficult economic times; they do not need the added burden of competing with developers for a Proposition T square footage allocation.
Proposition T will harm renters as well, especially vulnerable seniors. As Councilmember Ken Genser and other renter advocates have argued, Proposition T encourages demolition of rent-controlled apartments and their replacement with expensive condominiums, thereby displacing renters. And Proposition T would impede the City’s strategy of building workforce housing (with resident-serving commercial uses) in its commercial zones – housing for those who work in Santa Monica but are not now able to live here. Workforce housing will not displace existing renters and will cut down on commuter traffic – a key source of Santa Monica’s traffic congestion.
Proposition T also threatens important services that depend on City funding – including our public schools. According to an independent financial study, Proposition T would deprive the City of millions of dollars in tax revenue that we need to fund our schools and other important services. The effects of Proposition T, in combination with anticipated declines in school funding due to the economic recession, pose a serious threat to our public schools. That is why the Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, nearly every member of the School Board and College Board, two leading education advocacy groups (CEPS and LEAD), most Councilmembers and many education activists oppose Proposition T.
In addition to these major flaws, Proposition T suffers from being poorly drafted and rigidly inflexible. Because none of its terms is defined, and it leaves key questions unanswered about how it would work in practice, Proposition T would trigger years of conflict and costly litigation – wasting City funds on lawyers that would be better spent on our schools and other important community services. Moreover, Proposition T cannot be modified, nor can its maximum square footage be exceeded, without voter approval. So when its negative effects become apparent, Proposition T would prevent the City Council from providing Santa Monica residents with timely and effective relief.
Santa Monica can and will address the challenges of controlling development and reducing traffic congestion without the severe harm threatened by Proposition T. Please join the broadest coalition in Santa Monica’s history and vote No on T.
Terry O’Day Judy Abdo, Steering Committee Member Pico resident Santa Monicans For Renters Rights
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VOTE NO ON MEASURE AA:
I urge all Santa Monica homeowners to vote NO on Measure AA.
Why should we pay for the education of 25 thousand foreign and non-resident students?
More SMC expansion equals more traffic, less parking and a increase in the property tax bill. Therefore vote NO on AA !!!
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Before you buy into (literally) the yes on Prop. AA advertisements that are pouring into our mailboxes, please take a trip to SMC and look around. You will find a state of the art aquatics center, two new parking structures, a new business building, a new social science building, a new physical science building, a new football field with new offices, a brand new 24 million dollar library, a brand new performing arts building, and a sparkling new nine million dollar quad area complete with a beautiful fountains and scores of expensive, mature palm trees. When you finish looking at all the new and on-going construction at the main campus, head over to the Bundy campus and to the Madison campus (with it’s $31 million cultural arts center) and have a look at all the new facilities at these locations. What you will find is NOT a dilapidated college in need of another 300 million dollars.
All these new buildings and expansion are great for attracting international students and students from out of the area, but the residents of Santa Monica are paying a high price. It’s not just the increases in our rents and increases in our taxes, but the increased traffic, congestion and noise that the passage of prop. AA will only make worse.
While the SMC board of trustees likes to talk about how they “respect the neighbors of SMC” nothing could be further from the truth. Residents concerned about the expanding college’s effect on property values are derided and called “selfish.” Residents concerned with the increased bus traffic created by SMC’s shuttle buses that pick up and drop off students in the neighboring residential areas instead of in front of the college are ignored. SMC’s priorities are to increase enrollment at any cost to the longtime residents of Santa Monica, as a result the quality of life for nearby residents has been diminished.
Nowhere in the glossy Prop AA fliers will you find a mention of the 295 million dollars that the people of Santa Monica have already generously given, or the fact that 100 million dollars is still unspent from the previous bonds. In these tough economic times we cannot afford more rent increases and more tax increases to pay for massive SMC expansion. SMC is exploiting the generosity of the residents of Santa Monica by asking for another 300 million dollars. Enough is enough, vote NO on AA.
Jeff Bender, Santa Monica
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A Teacher for Prop T
Prop T not about our schools, it’s about our students. It is about the quality of life for every child in Santa Monica today and long after they graduate from SAMOHI. Our children deserve better. They need less traffic, so they can again ride their bikes safely to school. Their parents need to be able to drop them off at school without having to fight traffic everyday. The teachers union supports it, but only a handful of teachers actually live in SM. Every teacher I spoke with that lives in town is voting Yes on T. The PTSA stands neutral on the issue. Every neighborhood group supports prop T. If you have ever voiced a complaint about traffic, a Yes vote on T can start to solve the problem. It’s simple. Less commercial development means less traffic and a better quality of life for all residents.
Edward Anthony Jacobs, 45 year resident, 28 year SMMUSD teacher
Edward Anthony Jacobs
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I am a homeowner in Ocean Park. I hate seeing my property tax increase with every successful bond measure. Still, I’m voting yes on measure AA, but for purely selfish reasons. I like taking night classes at Santa Monica College for both work and pleasure. It’s cheap and convenient, just like all the best things in life. And given that I often have classmates who are also local working professionals, I know I’m not alone. So I’m willing to invest in SMC to maintain its facilities because I will personally benefit – as would any Santa Monica resident who wants to take a class to get better at their job, or to learn a foreign language, or simply to avoid having to build their own Olympic-sized pool. Sure, I think investing in SMC is good for a lot of other (more noble) reasons. But let’s face it, it’s easier to justify paying for something when you actually use it. Which is more than I can say for my gym membership.
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I am addressing your recent position that your paper took on PROP 9. You stated to the community that your position was:
“Prop 9: Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole. This measure will just send more kids to jail, not the right approach. Vote NO.”
I think you should take a closer look at what it actually does.
Prop 9 empowers victims and their families. A YES vote on PROP 9 means that Crime victims have additional constitutional GUARANTEED rights. The right to participate in any public proceedings. Payments of restitution to crime victims would be required WITHOUT EXCEPTION!!! Any funds collected from offenders ordered to pay restitution would go to pay that obligation before any other. Such as probation and court costs. Early release of inmates to reduce prison or jail overcrowding would be restricted in certain circumstances.
My family and I have been residents of Santa Monica for over 15 years. On a bright, clear Wednesday morning at 11:15 a.m. September 26, 2007 I was parked in front of my home loading my 1 year old twins into our car to take them to a activity class. As I was loading one of my babies a woman under the influence of alcohol and multiple illegal drugs rear-ended my parked car slamming my child into the rear of the front seat so hard that she gave him a concussion and he had seizures for 4 months. My other child was off to my left side and I was forced into a situation that no mother should ever face and that is to try and save her babies lives at the same time.
This woman has her own seven-year old child in the car. She stumbled out of her car and I had to tell her to check on her child. She was obviously impaired.
She was arrested with a .10 alcohol level. Later blood tests revealed she had marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and Xanax in her system. She was released from jail without bail initially and charged with misdemeanors.
Our FOSP board, Susan J. Hartley and others were instrumental in getting her charges raised to felonies of which she was convicted. However, over the past year MY insurance has had to pay for my car, she has been ordered to pay over $50,000 in just damages and we have not been paid anything from her. Our family is out of pocket over $25000 and this woman is going about her life as if she has no care in the world.
This measure would allow for the court system to force her to pay the restitution she was ordered and would have allowed her to remain in jail for her sentence instead of walking out of jail the same day because of overcrowding.
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I am writing in support of Measure AA, the community college bond measure which will fund building renovation, a new math and science wing, and a new career center at Santa Monica College. The College is a much loved community resource; many residents take advantage of the enormously rich and diverse programs at the college, including writing, literature, languages, the arts, and career advancement courses. In addition, by passing this bond measure we will be able to expand much needed career opportunities for the young people in our community. Given the quality of life in of Santa Monica, it is fitting that we have a premier educational institution in our midst.
Trustee, Santa Monica College
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I am voting for Obama. But McCain repeatedly says on TV, “Raising taxes in a time of economic difficulty is wrong.” This is what SMC wants to do; raise taxes for SM residents and use money to bring in more students from OUTSIDE SM, and “pad” the rapacious SMC system. FRAUD ! Add to that the SMC measure does not exempt seniors from tax –as does the past measures for tax for Santa Monica/Malibu schools does – is not only wrong, but makes SMC Trustees criminals. VOTE NO ON PROP AA ! VOTE NO ON MEASURE AA.
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You miss the entire point of the City dropping the ball on collecting any developer fees for the last 17 years. Think about where all of that money could have been spent – it would have been required to be spent on improving traffic mobility in our city, which now suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in the region. Because of incompetence or collusion in City Hall and on our City Council, developers have not paid for their fair share of traffic improvements. Taxpayers have been left holding the bag. That’s why we need Prop T. Let’s put the brakes on overdevelopment in Santa Monica. Vote Yes on T.
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Given our economy, many people might be of a mind to vote against initiatives that call for spending. But, spending can be a form of investment, and some investments give early returns. Certainly, investing in Santa Monica College is a sure bet. Voting “Yes” on Measure AA means providing for our children, for our community, and for our future.
In tough economic times, it is even more important that our children to go to college. SMC is not only affordable, but it offers such excellent classes that more students transition from SMC to four-year colleges than from any other school in California. As a retired teacher, I know that many of my students would have lost out on college altogether if SMC had not attracted their attention. For them, it has provided a chance to get ahead. Funds provided through Measure AA will increase its attraction by upgrading the campus, replacing Corsair Stadium to meet seismic safety standards, improving the Media and Technology programs, and providing a Career Opportunity Center for workforce training in emerging green technologies.
These improvements, in turn, will benefit our community. If our next president creates new jobs, students attending SMC will be on the cutting edge of our new economy. Those, learning how to solarize their community, can make Santa Monica a model for improving communities all around our country. Also, home values will increase. Homebuyers are willing to pay more when good schools are available. Besides the quality education SMC offers young people, it provides Life-Long Learning to all members of the community through its Emeritus and Community College courses. Another real plus for families is SMC’s community pool.
By voting in favor of Measure AA, we are taking responsibility for our future. By increasing the productivity of institutions that have already proven their worth, we raise the standard of living for everyone. Santa Monica College has become a symbol of the success of our community. Building on that success makes good economic sense.
Please vote “Yes” for Measure AA.
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Election Day is almost here. Informed by the past, we vote for the future. That is true as we vote for president, and it is true as we vote on Measure AA. Our votes on Measure AA will determine the future quality of Santa Monica College.
If voters support Measure AA, SMC will be able to complete the renovation and modernization of college facilities that began after the Northridge earthquake. SMC will preserve its ability to offer high quality, affordable college coursework, job training, and career advancement into the 21st century.
Without passage of Measure AA, SMC cannot complete the renovation of buildings that are more than 50 years old and that do not meet current seismic or ADA requirements. We will not have the facilities or sufficient science labs and classrooms needed to meet technological demands and the demands for training students in nursing, healthcare, and emerging green technologies. Quality will suffer. It is that simple.
Community colleges are an interesting hybrid. They are established and regulated by the state but governed by a locally elected board of trustees. Operating costs, which are the lion’s share of the total cost of running a community college, are paid for from sources almost entirely outside the local community. However, facility costs, including the costs required to build or rebuild facilities, are paid for from local bonds and matching funds from the state and other sources. Without local bonds, there is no way to qualify for state funds. As a result, passing local bonds becomes the only way community colleges and school districts can generate the funds they need for keeping facilities up to date. That’s the way the system works.
In return for sharing the cost of funding facilities, local residents get convenient access to classes, lectures, performances, athletic facilities, jobs, an educated workforce, and college facilities. SMC facilities include community rooms, the pool, Corsair stadium, football field and track, the gymnasium, the planetarium, theaters including the new Broad Stage, gallery spaces, open space, and an award-winning library.
Santa Monica College is one of the top community colleges in the nation. We want to keep it that way. As the national and state economy falter, more and more residents will depend upon our community college. More and more families will not be able to afford the high tuition of four-year universities. We need SMC to be here for them.
As businesses fail, more and more people will seek re-training to qualify for jobs in the new economy. We need SMC to be here for them too.
Whatever the future holds, education will remain essential for the success of individuals and communities. That’s why we need to pass AA. Please join me in voting YES on AA.
Sunset Park Homeowner
Santa Monica College Trustee
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Saturday, October 25 at 6:34 p.m. I heard pounding at my front door and when I opened the interior door I was asked by a hostile SMPD (Officer Dove, Badge number 3340) if the Halloween display outside was mine and I replied yes. The officer then told me to step outside repeatedly which I did not do. He said I could deal with him or the Secret Service. He said my Halloween display could be interpreted as a death threat to the president. I tried to explain my Halloween display is merely meant to be humorous and at the same time PRO-Obama. I stayed very calm as he became more agitated and demanded my I.D. I did not give it to him or step outside as I was in my own home. I did give him my full name and phone number and he obviously had my address. When I didn’t give him my I.D. he said usually when some one doesn’t give an I.D. there is some sort of criminal activity going on. So I asked for his badge number and name and told him I was going to alert our city council members and the press. I felt this officer was bullying me and trying to intimidate me. As I spoke with him calmly he kept telling me to calm down as though making it seem we were having an argument. I have since slightly modified my Halloween display. I feel for anyone else who may subjected to this kind of treatment especially those in lower income areas whom may not know their rights.
(Display is on 23rd Street, just south of Montana, east side of street.)
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The insinuations contained in the recent letter, entitled “Wild Speculation,” that all who oppose Measure T are either misguided or bought and paid for by developers are false, offensive and condescending. Many of us who share the author’s passion about our schools have simply come to a different conclusion about the negative impacts of Measure T based upon the information that is available. We have done our own research and we do not take the position we do because we fear the wrath of politically or financially powerful people. Rather, our opposition to Measure T is grounded in fact.
Fact 1: The only independent financial analysis that was performed concluded that if Measure T passes, the City will lose significant revenue between 2008 – 2023. The independent study estimates a loss of approximately $11.8 million (2008 dollars) in annual revenue by 2023, when Measure T would expire. The analysis indicates that the School District will also lose property tax revenues and redevelopment funds annually that would range between $500,000 and $1 million (2008 dollars) by 2023. There is no financial analysis disputing these conclusions. It is inevitable that the City’s loss of revenues will force the City to cut funds somewhere, and since the City is not obligated to fund our schools (that’s the legal responsibility of the State and the School District itself), that leaves our schools vulnerable. The author’s dismissal of the financial concerns expressed by school advocates such as the Santa Monica – Malibu School Board, the Santa Monica-Malibu California Teachers Association and both education advocacy groups, CEPS (Community for Excellent Public Schools) and LEAD (Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability, Direction for Santa Monica-Malibu Public Schools), ignores the historic battle which was fought to obtain the level of City funding of our schools that currently exists. Combined with the frightening state of the economy (which no one could claim is exaggerated), loss of school funding does not seem like an illegitimate fear to us. Furthermore, what’s really “false and irresponsible” is the misrepresentation of the City Attorney’s impartial analysis, which did not analyze the financial impacts of Measure T, along with the misstatement of the reason that the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Council took no position on Measure T.
Fact 2: Measure T is a poorly drafted measure that defines nonprofit uses as well as important health care uses like labs, clinics and medical offices as “commercial” uses thus forcing such uses to compete with other development projects for City approval. These defects could be destructive to those who depend on adequate local health care and social services. This is why our two hospitals – Saint John’s and UCLA-Santa Monica – along with key youth leaders like Alan Young, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, have warned of the dangers presented by Measure T.
Fact 3: The only traffic analysis of Measure T predicted a change in traffic within the range of +1 percent to –1 percent if it were to pass. In other words, Measure T is as likely to increase traffic by an insignificant amount as it is to decrease traffic by that same insignificant amount. Meanwhile, the City’s nearly complete Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), prepared in an open process involving many community residents, along with environmentalists, transportation experts and planners, offers much better solutions to the traffic problems that we all experience. Measure T is a simplistic response to a complex problem which ignores the City’s widely vetted LUCE and its comprehensive approach to reducing traffic and protecting the quality of life in our City. Masquerading as a traffic measure, Measure T is a poorly drafted slow-growth measure that will not solve our traffic problems. In contrast, the City’s LUCE contains a series of land use regulations along with a “braking mechanism” to control the rate and pace of development, all of which are designed to reduce traffic, while also maintaining the City’s flexibility to address changing conditions. According to an independent study of its impacts, Measure T would weaken the City’s ability to implement the planning principles proposed in the LUCE. In our opinion, ballot box governing is generally an ill-advised approach to serious problems and Measure T is no exception.
Fact 4: The reason that such a wide range of community residents, elected and volunteer school advocates, business people, homeowners, renters and other organizations like the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Monica Police Officers Association and Santa Monica Firefighters oppose Measure T is because it is a bad measure. Of course developers oppose Measure T – that’s a given – and of course they have the money to oppose it. But that does not mean that the broad coalition who opposes Measure T (see saveourcitysm.com/opposes.html for a complete listing) are dupes of developers or victims of political intimidation. We in Santa Monica are so fortunate to live in a community of involved and informed people who – along with our elected leaders – have a history of independent decision-making. The wide range of people who oppose this measure proves that as a community, we are capable of ignoring our differences and “crossing the political aisle” in the interests of our City and our School District. If we want to disagree on the merits of Measure T or any other measure, let’s do so in a truthful manner. But let’s not do so by denigrating or impugning the integrity of other community activists and leaders who have reached different conclusions. There is nothing sinister about our opposition to Measure T – we simply believe it is bad public policy.
Sadly, the major impact that the introduction of Measure T (aka RIFT) has had on our community is to create a rift between people who should be working together on commonly acknowledged problems like traffic and protecting school funding. In that vein, we agree with the author that Measure SM needs our support to prevent a loss of funding to our schools and other vital community services. We therefore recommend that you vote Yes on SM, Yes on AA and No on T.
Debbie Mulvaney and Laurie Lieberman
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Your endorsement of Proposition 1A notes a hangup on “environmental problems with the Altamont Pass” for the high-speed rail route.
Actually, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has ruled out Altamont as the preferred alignment between the Central Valley and the Bay Area. Pacheco Pass is the preferred alignment (the one that has caused some consternation among environmentalists). This CHSRA made this decision on July 9, 2008 when it formally adopted the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project, with the route going via Pacheco. The EIR considers Pacheco the “most environmentally responsible option.”
Please consider publishing a correction noting this fact. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Matthew Melzer, Director of Communications, National Association of Railroad Passengers, 900 Second Street, NE, Suite 308 Washington, DC 20002-3557