Santa Monica’s “Ride Share” program is certainly admirable in their intent but from my experiences very misguided. As a new city employee someone from that program showed me how to fill out a form, which reimburse commuters for the cost of their commute. Then after filling out and turning in that detailed form three times I was informed that the reimbursement could only be given in the form of tokens. Now, does that make sense to reimburse an employee with tokens when they must pay for their monthly bus pass with cash? It didn’t make sense to the Los Angeles Metro and Santa Monica Big Blue Bus employees I talked to as I found tokens are not redeemable for cash and cannot be exchanged towards the purchase of passes. Now there is a form that will pay those who don’t really need to commute a dollar a day for their commuting expenses. But for those of us who actually have to take more than one bus to get to and from work, a form which pays the “full cost of your commute” only pays in tokens. Maybe that’s just to dissuade people from using this program with an environmental conscience and give those who run the program a little less work. Or maybe it’s just a token attempt at doing the right thing. Oh, well, I guess I’ll just buy a gas-guzzling car and commute to work. The only problem with that is finding a place to park. If only there weren’t so many pesky trees around, maybe then we’d have more places to park. Now there’s an idea that might make sense to those who run Santa Monica’s “ride share” program. Reimbursing the city employee commuters in a manner they can actually use sure doesn’t.
John Brody, Santa Monica CA
* * * *
For the past few weeks I have been musing about our city’s mayor-election system, which amounts to a popularity contest among city council members who seem to use their voting power to reward or punish their colleagues. Trading personal favors can be, of course, a political practice of office-holders using “good old boy” criteria. Still, it is possible to take a loftier perspective. As a 40-year resident of Santa Monica I have appreciated the attitude of past council groups who, in electing our mayor, have followed a collegial rotation schedule rather than continually handing the title back and forth among a favored few. Those councils considered a Candidate’s contribution to the city as a whole, measure by his/her seniority and vote-gathering history.
In voting for mayor a few months ago, our city council by-passed a worthy candidate, Kevin McKeown, whose responsiveness I have appreciated as a citizen. He answers his emails, attends community gatherings (such as the League of Women Voters) and openly discusses the decision he makes, which impresses even when one disagrees on a particular issue. He was the top vote getter in the 2006 election. He is halfway through his third term but has yet to be elected mayor. Why are so many of our councilmembers willing to dismiss the voice of the voters and withhold the mayor’s seat from a long-serving top vote getter?
Santa Monica, CA
* * * *
As a Santa Monica Resident and longtime Patient Advocate, I ask and urge Governor Schwarzenegger to OPPOSE Proposed Budget Cuts in Mental Health services and proposed Redirection and Redistribution of Proposition 63 MHSA (Mental Health Services Act) funds.
In 2004, Californians voted to reverse severe underfunding of the Califonria public mental health system by supporting and enacting Proposition 63.
Proposition 63 has expanded community care keeping people out of costly hospitals, homeless shelters and criminal justice institutions.
By redirecting and redistributing MHSA funds, the budget proposal by the Governor risks turning Los Angeles County residents in need away from community services and placing them back in costly institution settings or out on the street. This is not leadership. This is a step backward and is not in the best interest of our state and its people. His plan to eliminate critical provisions of Proposition 63 could lock California permanently into the inadequate financing of mental health, which existed prior to MHSA passage.
The budget proposal by the Governor would eliminate the local mental health department’s ability to render services other than crisis services. The annual cost of incarceratrion is about $50,000 per person while the cost of community treatment in an outpatient setting averages $16,000 per person.
The proposed budget action by the Governor eliminates MHSA funding for prevention and early intervention. These mental health services are particularly important for families given our economic instability and high unemployment. Families under stress have increased mental health incidents of crisis and adults higher suicide rates.
I ask and urge the Governor to respect the intent of Proposition 63 and the people of California and oppose proposed budget cuts in mental health services and Proposition 63.
Robert Donin, Santa Monica, CA
* * * *
Letter to the Editor
Increases in traffic, population and auto emissions are making our health and quality of life suffer. This is when we need better transit as shown by the passage of Proposition R. Sacramento is working on a budget that will eliminate state funding for public transit, which will effect not only Los Angeles Metro, but municipal bus lines as well, such as San Gabriel Foothill Transit, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Long Beach Transit, etc. as well. Once the budget is passed, it will be too late to stop cutbacks in service. The time to act is NOW! Please contact the Metro board members and Sacramento to voice your outrage.
Donna Gooley, Santa Monica, CA