Santa Monica Dispatch

The Santa Monica Dispatch is an independent newspaper founded and edited by Peggy Clifford. Our objective is to give voice to the community.



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At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the bureaucracy
triumphed again over fair play and common sense.

Some weeks ago, a group of beach workers and their supporters asked the Council to change their status from “as needed” to permanent, so they would have job security, could engage in collective bargaining and have an opportunity to move up to better jobs and pay raises.

They weren’t asking for favors or advantages, they were asking for equity.

As they and their supporters noted, they had worked on the beach for years, and done their work faithfully and well, but their status, “as needed,” meant they could be let go at any time or for any reason or no reason, and they could-
n’t qualify for permanent jobs, better jobs or higher wages.

At that meeting, Human Resources Director Donna Peter clearly opposed the workers’ request, seeming to rank the civil service system itself, which was developed in the 19th century to protect helpless workers from rapacious employers, over the needs of the beach workers.

She took the classic bureaucratic line – if we make an exception for them, we’ll have to make exceptions for others and jeopardize the entire system, etcetera.

But, ultimately, the Council seemed to agree with the workers. They had done their work well and faithfully and had earned the right to be treated as permanent employees.

We assumed, as did the workers themselves and the people who spoke on their behalf, that the City would take the necessary steps to change the status of the workers and treat them as full employees.

We were wrong. It turned out that interim City Manager Elaine Polachek had denied an appeal filed by the Inter-national Workers of the World to establish a collective bargaining unit to represent 11 beach workers.

Deep in nitpicking territory, Ms. Peter claimed that the fact that all 11 worked on the beach did not qualify them as a “unit,” according to an ordinance, as they could be moved, depending on circumstances beyond their control,to another location. They’ve worked on the beach for years, but any day now they might to move – to what? A parking structure?

Over 1700 people are employed by the City, but Ms. Peter seemed to think that the 11 beach workers’ request might “fragment the workforce” and render it less efficient.

After some discussion, Council member Sue Himmelrich made
a motion, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Tony Vazquez, that the
Council approve the beach workers’ petition to organize, saying, “They aren’t represented and nobody has stepped forward to represent them but IWW. I think we should reco-
gnize them as a bargaining unit.”

Council member Pam O’Connor countered with a substitute motion, denying IWW permission to represent the workers. Council member Terry O’Day seconded O’Connor’s motion saying, “We’ve heard from our staff and I think this is a critical factor.”

Voting with O’Connor and O’Day to defeat the beach workers’ request were Mayor Kevin McKeown and Council member Ted Winterer.


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An extraordinary exhibition currently at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, “Coney Island Visions of American Dreamland:1861-2006” includes “SIDESHOW, a Coney Island-inspired contemporary art companion piece to the special exhibition by Michael McMillen, a truly original and brilliant artist who has lived and worked in Santa Monica all his life.

The Coney Island theme has imbued his work for most of his life, He was born in Los Angeles, but when he was 11, in the summer of 1957, his father took him to New York to visit his own youthful Greenwich Village haunts. The artist has held onto indelible images of that trip for the past half century, particularly taking the train out to Coney Island where he visited the crumbling Steeplechase Park.

McMillen explains: “There, somewhere within the complex of worn rides and faded attractions, I recall visiting a walk-through display tunnel of life-size tableaux depicting famous murders and other social malfunctions. It was both strangely fascinating and familiar. Growing up in Santa Monica, the Ocean Park Pier held a powerful draw for me, made even more attractive because of my grandmother’s admonitions to ‘STAY AWAY!’ The carnival facade was a thin cover for the faded dreams and gross depravity that one would read about in the local tabloids. There was something about this unexpected encounter with the terrible side of human nature and the crudely sensational way it was depicted that was simultaneously riveting, repellent, and haunting.

“Years later as a young artist thinking about how to engage an audience, I recalled and recognized the power of the immersive environment.”

In SIDESHOW, McMillen plans to create such a space through moving shadows, light, and wall projections that create an atmospheric setting for a collection of unusual curiosities and mysterious artifacts. Looking back at his previous 40 years as a working artist, he plans to integrate some of the objects from his 1973 UCLA MFA project, The Traveling Mystery Museum, including a fragment of the Mystery Mummy and Hannah the Fortune Telling Mouse. The alluring installations Lighthouse (Hotel New Empire) (2010) and Terminal (2014) will also be featured in the exhibition.

I first saw McMillen’s work at the Whitney Museum in New York and was immediately and eternally captivated. Later,
I saw exhibits of his work at the Long Beach Museum of Art, and wherever his works turned up. He is an exquisite craftsman, but it is his portrayal of things that I find truly dazzling, and irresistible. .

Hartford is a humdrum sort of town, the “insurance cap-
ital,” but, in addition to the Atheneum, Mark Twain’s mansion – intact and very fancy and the Alcott family’s
far more modest digs are there, and the great, late Katherine Hepburn lived her entire life there – but for her occasional, sometime extended stays in director George Cukor’s guest house.

The exhibition opened last month and will run through May.

McMillen is represented by L.A. Louver Gallery in Venice. which is currently showing a new sculpture by him. .


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For the last four weeks, Capital & Main has plumbed the depths of the most foundational problem facing our state: rampant economic inequality. We went on a road trip from Palm Springs to Silicon Valley, reporting in real time on what inequality looks like at the ground level. We looked at how inequality affects every dimension of our lives, from education to nutrition to our natural environment. And we looked at who is most responsible for exacerbating economic polarization and standing in the way of solutions.

Now, in our final week, we take a look at the future: what can be done to fix our current predicament, and what might happen if we fail to meet the challenge?

Check out renowned political journalist Joe Mathews’ meditation on what our state’s future could look like decades from now — for better and for worse.

Then read Judith Lewis Mernit’s list of ten crucial things activists in California have done to build a path toward a more equal society in our state.

Finally, take a look at USC sociologist Manuel Pastor’s essay, co-written with Dan Braun, on the dozen most important steps we need to take right now to start to rebuild California’s disappearing middle class.

—Danny Feingold
Publisher, Capital & Main


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Walmart may be making national headlines with announce-
-ment of pay raises. But here’s the bottom line about inequality in California: Half of the state’s nearly 15 million workers don’t earn enough from their primary jobs to afford a modest standard of living for a family of
four – even with two full-time breadwinners.

That leaves millions of Californians and their families with a set of bad choices. At the heart of the problem is the fact that too many very large and very profitable businesses are failing to pay their employees enough to live a decent life.

Check out our new infographic on California’s lopsided economy, and read Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Gary Cohn’s story about the top five corporations driving inequality in the Golden State.

Then check out the rest of Capital & Main’s special month-long series, “State of Inequality.”

Misfortune 500: How One Economist Exposed a Dirty Corporate Secret

The Ghost of Howard Jarvis: Why Corporations Still Love Prop. 13

—Danny Feingold
Publisher, Capital & Main


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Anticipating the future closure of all or part of the Santa Monica Airport,Santa Monica Airport2Park Foundation, a 501
(c)(3) tax exempt, non-profit corporation, has been formed to advocate for building a great park on the airport land. The formation of the foundation comes after the November election when Santa Monica voters rejected Measure D, an aviation industry initiative designed to stop any efforts to close or reduce flight operations at the airport, and overwhelmingly passed Measure LC, a measure that calls for replacing the airport with a park.

The president of the new foundation is Neil Carrey, who has long been a mainstay of the Santa Monica recreation and parks community, serving for 12 years on the Recreation and Parks Commission. Carrey was one of the leaders of the successful effort in the early 1990s to turn non-aviation land at the airport into the current Airport Park after the City Council reversed plans for development there. The other members of the initial board of directors of the foundation are Michael Brodsky, John Fairweather, Frank Gruber, Cathy Larson, and Mike Salazar. These five, along with Carrey, served as the executive committee of Committee for Local Control of Santa Monica Airport Land, the organization that campaigned against Measure D and in favor of Measure LC.

“Now that the election is over, we can return to construc-
tive efforts to build a park for the benefit of all,” said Carrey. “We have formed the foundation to be the catalyst for a citywide effort to turn the airport lands, as they become available, into a most wonderful park, one that will combine recreation, arts and culture with the restoration of natural habitat.” Carrey went on to say that, “The fact is that on July 1 of this year, when the City’s 1984 agree-
ment with the FAA expires, the City will gain control of nearly 12 acres that currently serve aviation purposes. This land was classified in the 1984 Agreement as ‘non-av-
iation land,’ but has had to be used for aviation purposes because of other requirements in the 1984 agreement. Those requirements expire July 1, and we at the foundation will be advocating for the City to take immediate steps to make that land available for public use.”

Next steps for the foundation will be to form an advisory board and create committees to serve in such areas as community outreach, event planning, media relations and fund raising.


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Santa Monica College’s Spring 2015 Literary Series begins today,Thursday, Feb. 26 with Dr. Benjamin Bowser speaking about “It Is Bigger Than Ferguson” at 11:15 a.m. in Art Lecture Hall 214.

Renowned sociologist and CSU East Bay Professor Emeritus Bowser will provide historical context to the nationwide outrage about the racial profiling of African American men. This lecture is also a Black History Month event cospon-
sored by SMC’s Black Collegians Program, and part of the SMC Global Connections Series.

Tuesday, Mar. 3: “The Taste of Second Chances.” Natalie Baszile will reads from her debut novel,“Queen Sugar” at 11:15 a.m. in Humanities & Social Science Lecture Hall 165. A member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, author of nonfiction pieces for numerous publications, and a former Holden Minority Scholar at Warren Wilson College,

On Tuesday, March 24,Jeri Westerson will read from “Knights, Templars and the Grail Myth” from her latest medieval noir novel, “Cup of Blood,” at 6:30 p.m. in Humanities & Social Science Lecture Hall 165. She’s president of the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America and former VP of Sisters in Crime Los Angeles. “Cup of Blood, her latest medieval noir novel features Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight turned detective on the mean streets of 14th-century London.

On Thursday, Apr. 23, Kem Nunn will read from his work at 11:15 a.m. in Humanities & Social Science Lecture Hall 165.A longtime surfer, Nunn is an award-winning author of six novels, as well as film and TV screenplays that include “Deadwood” and “Sons of Anarchy,” will read selections from his writings.

Now in its 12th year, the SMC Literary Series has featured Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling “The Kite Runner,” Audrey Niffenegger, author of the bestselling “Time Traveler’s Wife,” and Jonathan Safran Foer (author of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”).

For information, please call SMC’s Office of Public Programs at (310) 434-4003.

ll lectures in the series are FREE and are held on the main SMC campus, 1900 Pico Blvd. They’re sponsored by the SMC Associates ( – a private organization that funds speakers and special programs on the Santa Monica College campus – and the SMC English Department.

Seating is on a first-arrival basis.


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The Santa Monica Conservancy is recruiting Shotgun House Docents, March 10, 2520 2nd Street, Ocean Park, Santa Monica. A few spots are still available in the docent training class. Please fill out an online application here.

The Conservancy is seeking interested individuals to intro- duce residents and visitors to the Preservation Resource Center at the Shotgun House, located at 2520 2nd Street, across from the Ocean Park branch library. This house, a tiny time capsule on the edge of the Third Street Historic District, will take visitors back to life in Santa Monica in the 1900s.

The Shotgun House offers docents the rare opportunity to actively engage visitors in the house and its interpretive displays. Rather than perform scripted tours, docents will create interactive conversations to stimulate visitor curiosity and imagination.

If you’re fascinated by historic architecture, passionate about preserving our historical structures and enjoy engaging with others, you will enjoy this opportunity. During the docent training, you will learn the art of asking questions that will encourage a diverse audience – history buffs, preservationists, students, and tourists – to discover the unique features of the Shotgun House, little-known details of local history and the nature of 21st century preservation in Santa Monica.

No special experience is required. Essential qualities include having excellent social skills, being comfortable with spontaneity, and being able to ask good questions, listen to many ideas and shape a conversation.

Docent Training Program
The interactive training sessions will be held on 4 consecutive Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm beginning March 14. You will learn about:
• The history of the Shotgun House and its rehabilitation
• Architectural styles in the nearby Third Street Historic District
• Local history
• Basic preservation concepts
• Creative strategies to engage visitors

March 14: Welcome to the Shotgun House
While humble, the shotgun house style provides a rare, authentic relic from Santa Monica’s early days and an example of an architectural form with deep roots in the American past. Its unique floor plan offers advantages and drawbacks.

March 21: Architecture in the Third Street Historic District
in a few short blocks, the District provides a visual history of the development of Santa Monica with 38 buildings constructed between 1875 and 1935 in a variety of interesting architectural styles.

March 28: The World of the Shotgun House
Local history comes alive when you learn about the local movers and shakers and how life was led a century ago. Learn about early businesses on Main Street including the start-up of the Merle Norman Cosmetics empire, tourist attractions, the piers, beach clubs, and amusement parks that made this area a magnet for visitors and developers and ultimately full-time residents.

April 4: Why Preserve the Past?
A user-friendly guide to the methods and benefits of preserving older buildings, including rehabilitation, renovation, adaptive reuse and stewardship. Learn to explain the critical role of the Preservation Resource Center in Santa Monica. Lunch and completion certificates will be provided following this last session.

Docent Schedule
Upon completion of the training, docents are expected to work 2 three-hour shifts per month, interacting with visitors at the Shotgun House which will be open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 2 pm and
by appointment.

Application Process
To apply, please complete the application form online. If you have any questions, send them to or leave a message at 310-496-3146.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2004-2012 by the Santa Monica Conservancy.


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The Annenberg Community Beach House will present “Julia Morgan’s Legacy” on Sunday, March 1, from 11 am to 2 pm. Docents will spotlight the renowned architect of the Marion Davies Estate on the Santa Monica beach.

Morgan collaborated with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst to create the Davies estate, Hearst Castle on the Central California coast and other important works.

With a $28 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation, the estate’s Guest House and historic pool were meticulously restored by the City several years ago.

Julia Morgan was a pioneering woman in a man’s field, one whose achievements have only recently been recognized for their mastery, inventiveness and versatility. The first woman to be licensed as a professional architect in California in March 1904, she created an astonishing body of more than 700 projects, adapting historical styles to the buildings’ function and site. The American Institute of Architects awarded her a posthumous Gold Medal in 2014, the first and only woman to ever receive the medal, which is considered the profession’s highest honor.

The Annenberg Community Beach House participated in a statewide celebration of Julia Morgan’s extraordinary
accomplishments in October 2012, and now has an annual Legacy Day to recognize her significance to the site and
to the world of architecture. This year, the observance includes a lecture presented by Victoria Kastner, “ Julia Morgan: A Closer Look,” at 11 AM in the Event House.

Kastner is the Historian at Hearst Castle, where she has worked for more than thirty years. She is the author of the definitive trilogy on Hearst Castle, all published by Abrams books: “Hearst Ranch: Family, Land,” “Legacy; Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House” and “Hearst’s San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land.” She has lectured extensively – at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, LACMA, and the Getty. She has also been interviewed on the Today Show, CBS This Morning, NPR, and Australian National Radio. Kastner also co-authored “The Beverly Hills Hotel: The First 100 “ and has written for the London Telegraph, the Journal of the History of Collections, and “Antiques,” the magazine.

The event is free, but reservations are required for the lecture. Reserve your spot now.

Your annual membership contributions support our work to preserve the architectural and cultural heritage of our city. You will receive our informative quarterly newsletter and discounts on tours and events – as well as complimentary admission to our annual Holiday Party.

Join or renew now! You may join online as an Individual or Household Member or as a Business/Corporate Member. Or send a check to the address below. Thank you for your support!

Mailing Address:Santa Monica Conservancy, PO BOX 653, Santa Monica, CA 90406. Contact Name: Santa Monica Conservancy
Telephone Number: (310) 496-3146


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When Santa Monica Police, working with an L.A. County Sheriff’s Major Crime Bureau team, located a suspect in Ocean Park wanted in connec-tion with the fatal stabbing on Feb. 10 of a man on Vermont Avenue in an unincorporated area near South L.A. February 10, the man barricaded himself in an apartment on the north side of Ocean park Blvd. just east of Lincoln Boulevard across the street from Albertson’s.

Despite the efforts of the Sheriff’s team, an air unit,
and the Santa Monica Police, the suspect remained in the apartment for more than five hours, leading to the evacuation of the building. It seemed to be a stalemate, until the Sheriif’s squad released tear gas into the apartment, and the suspect was then forced out of the apartment by a police dog biting at his leg.
“The situation concluded after tear gas was deployed into the location,” Deputy Grace Medrano of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said. “As the suspect began to exit the location, he attempted to return back inside when the Special Enforcement Bureau K-9 was deployed. The K-9 was able to control and bring the suspect to awaiting deputy personnel with no further incident.”

The suspect was identified as David Carillo. He’s being held on $1 million bail.


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Some time ago, the American bureaucracy became the fourth
and most powerful branch of government, and — with few
checks and a built-in imbalance — the antithesis of democ-
racy. Unlike the executive, legislative and judicial branches, whose powers and limits are precisely limned in the Constitution, the bureaucracy’s powers and limits have never been clearly defined, but have been cobbled together by pseudo-legislative fiat.

it’s a patchwork job that by now has grown beyond anyone’s reach, much less comprehension.

To the extent that the burgeoning bureaucracy had a model,
it was the corporation. There was a certain dour logic to it as, by the mid-nineteenth century, the imperatives of the Industrial Revolution had overtaken the promises of the American Revolution, and the dominant agrarian culture was being rapidly replaced by a business regime. The residents own the town, or city, and thus they have the last word, but the bureaucracy makes policy, and administers it. Like corporations, bureaucracies are self-contained, closed systems. And like corporations, they need a host body on which to grow, and from which they can draw sustenance.

Bureaucracies at all levels have inevitably outgrown their
host bodies, and, in some cases, subsumed them, and become
the main thing. But Calvin Coolidge’s dictum (“The bus-
iness of America is business”) notwithstanding, towns,
counties, states and the nation are not businesses, so it’s a basically berserk arrangement.

Adopted in 1946, the Santa Monica City Charter formally, if unwittingly, codified the madness.

Under the Charter, the bureaucracy crafts policy, the Council approves it, and delivers it to the City Manager and his minions. The Council has the last word, but the appointed staff has more specific powers than the elected Council. The Council hires the City Manager, the City Attorney and the City Clerk, but the City Manager hires and oversees everyone else – from the Planning Director to the Police Chief to the crew that sweeps the beach.

The Santa Monica bureaucracy, like its federal, state and
municipal counterparts, has a life of its own, and prior-
ities and an agenda to match. There is no significant place in it for the people it was designed to serve. Its primary aims are putting on a good show and increasing revenues to ensure its own well-being. It operates in a perpetual present — uninterested in the past and unmindful of the future.

In April, 2014, a joint study by Princeton and Northwest-
ern was released that declared the much-bruited, hallowed American democracy had become an oligarchy, in which the government was no longer of, by and for the people, but
was run exclusively of, by and for the very rich and powerful.

The news came as no surprise to Santa Monica residents.
We had been at increasing odds with City Hall for some
time. Staff’s plans for our gloriously idiosyncratic beach
town had become increasingly pretentious, ambitious,
and wrong. Its primary concern, as one of its spokesmen
said, was maintaining its own “fiscal health.”

Our beach town was under fire from City Hall in concert
with the Chamber of Commerce and developers. “More”
was the operative word.

Four of our seven alleged representatives took campaign
contributions from developers, and voted to approve their
projects though a majority of residents opposed them.
The proverbial last straw was the Council majority of
four’s vote to approve the Hines project that residents
had opposed from the moment it was introduced. It was too
big. It had too little affordable housing. It was architec-
turally mediocre. And it would add 7,000 car trips a day
to neighborhoods that had already been rendered chaotic
by the perpetual traffic jam that had seized Sunset Park.

But a very smart civil and environmental engineer, Armen Melkonians, had devised, a form of direct democracy, “a community network of residents,” that gave residents the means to veto Council votes, and they did,
collecting over 13,000 petition signatures — more than twice the number they needed.

Residents had not only stopped the local oligarchs, they
had saved their town.

Fourteen candidates fought for three open Council seats
in the 2014 election. They included the two best-known Council members – Kevin McKeown and Mayor Pam O’Connor —
and Sue Himmelrich, a public interest lawyer and Planning Commissioner, who’d lived here for 22 years, but had never run for office.McKeown and Himmelrich left everyone else in the dust. O’Connor ran a distant third. And, for the first time in years, the Council majority didn’t take campaign contributions from developers and favored slow, thoughtful growth.

The new Council majority – Mayor McKeown, Mayor Pro Tem Tony Vazquez, Himmelrich and Ted Winterer, armed with Melkonians’ Residocracy, had restored power to the people, proving they are capable of ending the bureaucratic bedlam that has prevailed for too long.

It won’t be easy. Residents own the town, but the staff writes and applies the rules, and it has almost literally tied Santa Monica in knots.It’s been playing games with the state-mandated revised zoning code for more than a decade, while leaving the downtown specific plan in limbo.

A profound drought overtook the state several years ago and has shown no signs of letting up. It has made hash of the City’s long-term water management plans as well as its development of “sustainable” policies. Tuesday night, the Council will be asked by the staff to approve a series of major increases in water fees in the next several years. The rising prices would be imposed exclusively on property owners, not renters.

Announcement of the City’s plans has set off a firestorm of protests. The increases are too severe. Placing the entire burden on property owners is unfair, and wrong. The Dispatch receives dozens of email protests every day. Almost all of them rage at City Hall. Some of them lobby for less draconian measures, including issuing bonds. Meanwhile, Armen Melkonians has been meeting with neighborhood organizations.

I don’t think anyone knows what will happen Tuesday night. At the moment, I’m focusing on the Oscars.