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The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education has seven members. Board member Ben Allen ran for and won a seat in the State Senate in
the recent election, leaving an open seat. Eleven people are now vying for
the seat.

Among the candidates are Ralph Mechur, who was appointed to the board in 2007,
and elected to a full term in 2010, but lost his bid for re-election in the November 4 election, and Tom Larmore, a partner in Santa Monica’s leading law
firm, Harding Larmore Kutcher and Kozol, whose principal clients are
commercial developers.

Harding’s wife, Laurie Lieberman, is currently president of the board.

In a written statement, Larmore said, “I want to assist in addressing signi-
ficant issues pending before the District, such as the achievement gap, the ‘unification’ proposal from some in Malibu, and adoption and updating of the
LCAP, as well as the constant issues that surround school finance.”

He also wants to strengthen the district’s ties with the business community. Finally, he wants the district to create a “robust curriculum in financial

It should be noted that in 2008 developers funded a $700,000 campaign to fright-
en the school community into opposing residents’ Prop T that would have limited annual commercial growth.

Jon Kean is currently PTA President at Lincoln Middle School and past PTA Presi-
dent at Roosevelt Elementary, and Kurt Schwengel, former SAMOHI basketball coach
and current kindergarten teacher have also applied, but teachers cannot serve on
the board, so Schwengel will have to quit his job or withdraw his name. Jake Wachtel ran last in the 2010 Board of Education election. A former teacher and
coach, he recently served as PTA President at Grant.

Applicant Jennifer deNicola, a Malibu resident, is president of Malibu Unites,
a non-profit organization whose principal focus is removal of PCBs from campu-
ses and transparency on environmental and health concerns at Malibu High School.

Another applicant, Larry Droeger, an L.A. DA , has two children in school and a
third who’s just graduated from Malibu High School. He wants to ensure that his children have the diverse and vital educational opportunities, he had trouble finding in the rural community in which he grew up.

Sion Roy, a member of the Santa Monica Democratic Club’s executive committee,
is a cardiologist at Harbor UCLA and chairs the District’s Health and Safety
advisory committee.

“I think I have the proper experience as a leader in the community and in our education system to be a valuable member of the school board.” he said in an
e-mail. “Finally, as a person early in my career who will start a family soon
and will be invested in the success of the school district over the few decades,
I offer a fresh perspective to the board. I hope that my application is stro-
ngly considered.”

Dhun May and Patty Finer placed seventh (5.169 votes) and eighth (5,148 votes)
in November’s election, and each of them has filed for the empty seat.

The School District will verify the candidates’ eligibility during the winter
break.Candidates will be interviewed in public on Jan. n 15. The board could
choose Allen’s successor that night.


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We’ve got a double emergency at Oxford Lagoon today.

Nature gave us a sunny day, which we are grateful for, but that means the con-
tractor hired by the County of LA is out at the lagoon — with workers fanning
out with ladders & chainsaws.

If they are not stopped today, the expectation is 40-50 of the 650 trees we’ve
all been working to save will be cut down and killed.

At the same time, we’ve now documented the Eucalyptus trees in the project site
to be autumnal & winter roosts for the Monarch Butterfly. This is NEW INFORMA-
TION that the CA Dept of Fish & Wildlife did not take into account when issuing
the County a permit. It is likely – had they known – this work might not have
been allowed to proceed at this time of year, if at all, because of this butter-
fly species being on the state’s list of “Species of Special Concern.”

Please call state Senator Ben Allen and State Assembly member Autumn Burke TODAY
and ask that they contact the Dept of Fish & Wildlife to a) STOP the work immed-
iately – which they have the authority to do for the butterflies – and b} to send
a biologist to a meeting we have scheduled with the county dept of public works
on the topic of Oxford Lagoon on Monday at 10:30 am!

Call now!
Senator Ben Allen tel:(310) 318-6994
Assembly member Autumn Burke tel:(310) 412-6400

Speaking for Nature ~ Marcia Hanscom, Ballona Institute
The Voice for Nature on the Los Angeles coast



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Several months ago, Mrs. George H.W. Bush was asked whether she would support
her son, Jeb Bush, if he ran for president. She said she thought two Bushes
in the White House – her husband and her son, George W. Bush — were enough.

More than enough actually.

George H.W. Bush was Ronald Reagan’s vice president, and the two of them over-
saw the wholesale redistribution of American wealth upward that set the stage
for the rise of the 1% and the fall of virtually everyone else.

Clinton followed George H.W. into the White House and restored some economic
balance, but George the Younger succeeded him, handed America over to Wall
Street, took us to war in Iraq for no good reason, and waved the oligarchs on.

Today, as a study released in April by scholars from Princeton and Northwest-
tern showed, America is no longer a democracy, it’s an oligarchy. And Jeb
Bush has announced that he is exploring the possibilities of running for pres-
ident, his mother’s objections not withstanding.

America benefited from the presidencies of two Adams and, later, two Roose-
velts, but two Bushes mortally wounded America, a third may be fatal.

. .


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LAObserved story
Kevin Roderick

edited post
Mayor Eric Garcetti and his advisor, seismologist Lucy Jones, unveiled an earth-
quake plan for Los Angeles that requires wood-frame buildings built before 1980
with “soft” first stories — such as apartments with parking under the occupied
units — to strengthen their structures within five years. These are the kinds of apartments that notoriously collapsed in the 1994 Northridge quake. The city’s
more threatening earthquake danger, “non-ductile reinforced concrete” buildings
built prior to 1980, would have 25 years to retrofit, the mayor’s office says. Political pressure from property owners has always worked to dampen City Hall’s enthusiasm for ordering expensive retrofitting across the city. And once again,
25 years seems pretty generous, though the initial media coverage is calling this “the most ambitious seismic safety regulations in California history.” An official
of the Building Owners and Management Association of Greater Los Angeles and
the head of the city’s Department of Building and Safety endorsed the mayor’s
plan today.

The premise of the report is that “the most obvious threat from earthquakes is physical damage to vulnerable buildings. Soft story and concrete buildings built before the implementation of Los Angeles’ 1976 revision of the building code pose
a significant risk to life in strong earthquake shaking.”

From the mayor’s report, which also looked at the water supply and communications:
The plan recommends significant investments in fortifying our city’s water supply, including developing an alternative water system for firefighting, protecting our aqueducts that cross the San Andreas Fault, increasing local water sources, and developing a network of resilient pipes.

The plan also calls for upgrades to our city’s telecommunications network to enable Internet and mobile connectivity after an earthquake, including creating partner-
ships with providers for shared broadband services after disasters, protecting power systems at fault crossings, creating a solar-powered citywide Wi-Fi network to avoid power disruptions, and fortifying cell phone towers.

“We acknowledge that we cannot prevent 100% of the losses in an earthquake. What we are trying to do is prevent the catastrophic collapse of our economy by addressing the biggest vulnerabilities,” said Dr. Lucy Jones. “And if all of these recommenda-
tions are enacted, I believe that Los Angeles will not just survive the next large earthquake but we will be able to recover quickly and thrive.”


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Saturday, Dec 20, 1:00 pm, Southern California Library, 6120 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, California 90044 Click here for more information and to visit the Facebook

TO carpool: RSVP to the church office at 310-399-1631.


Fight Back. Radical Women. Union del Barrio. Black Lives Matter. Dignity & Power Now, We Are Ferguson L.A., Youth Justice Coalition, National Action Network, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Black & Brown Clergy Alliance, MLK Coalition for Jobs,
Justice & Peace. For more info: contact Keyanna Celina 213.608.6370


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Santa Monica animal rights activist Marcy Winograd has filed a motion to dismiss
what she calls “a meritless law suit challenging my right to express my OPINION
that tethering ponies, butt to nose, to a metal carousel, forcing them to walk in circles on concrete for 3.5 hours, is abusive.”

Santa Monica Main Street farmers market animal vendors Tawni Angel and Jason Nes-
ter are suing Winograd, while they petition the SM City Council to reverse its decision of Sept. 9th. The Council voted to give preference to non-animal child-
ren’s activity vendors when the contract expires in May, 2015.

Winograd, a former congressional candidate, calls the lawsuit a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) designed to chill public debate on a controversial issue — animal exploitation at the city-hosted farmers market. Last spring Winograd launched a Move On petition, which now has 1,450 signatures from people who object to the market’s tethered pony ride and cramped zoo.

In submitting the anti-SLAPP motion, Winograd also included declarations from others who say they summoned Santa Monica Animal Control to the market because of concerns over possible lameness and lack of water, but were never interviewed by SM Animal Control about their concerns. In addition to the declarations, Winograd submitted dozens of “exhibits” — including photos of ponies with bars and rope across their face, crowding in the petting zoo, and an alpaca face down in the dirt on a hot day last summer.

After filing the motion, Winograd issued this statement: “To ponies, to alpacas, to animals everywhere who are tightly tethered or penned, unable to turn around or seek water on their own, their freedom severely restricted; to protesters everywhere who should never be silenced in the face of injustice; to my wonderful lawyer Jim Frieden who never stops, to my loving husband Buddy Gottlieb for his endless support, to my co-defendant Danielle Charney, to the ever-supportive Suzanne Robertson and husband Barry, to Council Members Ted Winterer and Gleam Davis for their leadership on this issue, to those who submitted declarations, to those who signed my Move On petition, and to those who quietly support us every step of the way as they roll up their sleeves and do the hard case work in the middle of the night.”

Winograd’s Anti-SLAPP hearing is scheduled in Superior Court in Santa Monica on January 9th.


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City Manager Rod Gould is scheduled to retire at the end of January 2015. During
its Tuesday closed session, the City Council appointed Assistant City Manager
Elaine Polachek to serve as “interim City Manager” until the Council appoints Gould’s successor.

Polachek has worked for the City of Santa Monica in a variety of positions since
1984, and probably knows more about its actual workings than anyone else.

The Santa Monica Pier’s west end was destroyed and 45,000 square feet were torn
out of the southwest deck in a “storm of the century” in 1983. Polachek was named operations manager of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation in 1984, supervising its reconstruction.

The reconstruction was completed in 1989. Subsequently, Polachek became the beach manager, and then moved on to oversee the city’s open space. She also served briefly as the City’s maintenance director.

She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA and a master’s degree
in Public Administration from USC. With over 30 years of public administration experience, she was appointed deputy city manager in 2008.

Today, as Assistant City Manager, Polachek oversees the day-to-day coordination, administration, and supervision of 11 city departments.

She has also represented the City on the Alliance, a four-member City-business
policy group, that has focused on developing, enhancing, and sustaining relations with key City “business partners” such as the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., and the Pier.

As a deputy City Manager and now Assistant City Manager. Polachek she has devoted much of her time to managing internal interdepartmental efforts and addressing community concerns. She is also responsible for carrying out the City Manager’s directives regarding interpretation of policies and representing the City Manager
in negotiations of complex use agreements with institutional partners, large scale event agreements, as well as resolving conflicts within the organization.

In 2014, Polachek received the John H. Nail Award from the League of California Cities City Managers’ Department, which is presented to “an outstanding municipal assistant city manager who has contributed significantly to his or her city government and to the advancement of the community as a whole.”

In addition to her years in City government, for a time she was Vice President of Marketing at the Pacific Design Center and served in management positions with the Province of Ontario and the City of Scottsdale, Arizona.


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Southern California’s premiere professional ballet company, Inland Pacific Ballet, opens its 20th season with its spectacular production of The Nutcracker, the classic holiday story danced to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score. The critically acclaimed comany brings The Nutcracker to life with dazzling sets, beautiful costumes, and nearly 100 dancers on stage.

The annual holiday favorite tells the story of a young girl named Clara who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve, and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. A fantastic dream with battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, and the delightful Sugar Plum Fairy stir the imagination.

Meet the cast after the performance for photos and autographs. A dazzling holiday tradition for the entire family, see it again or for the first time and be swept away in a winter wonderland.

“We are thrilled to expand our touring this season to four theaters including the beautifully restored Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside,” states Artistic Director Victoria Koenig. “While the core elements of The Nutcracker story remain the same, the show is always evolving and changing. This keeps it fresh for the audience, the dancers and all of us involved with the show — from Directors and Ballet Mistresses to Costume Designers. There is a great energy around the work this year. It’s very inspiring.”

This year, the cast features brilliant young talent from the region, most notably the two Claras, who at 14 and 15 years old are sure to wow this season’s audiences. The dancing for Clara has been enhanced and her character is now woven throughout the story, so for audiences already familiar with the show there is some new choreography to watch. IPB is also delighted to have Cameron Schwanz dancing the roles of Cavalier and Nutcracker Prince. Cameron is a thrilling dancer who was the Beast in last year’s premiere of Beauty and the Beast production and a wonderful new addition to the Company.

Inland Pacific Ballet, now in its 20th season, is a professional ballet company of national stature in the Inland Empire of Southern California. The Company is committed to producing exquisitely staged productions of full-length classic story ballets as well as presenting the best in contemporary choreography. Their large studio facility in Montclair also includes in-house costume and scenic departments. In addition, through creative marketing and an extensive Educational Outreach Program, Inland Pacific Ballet strives to introduce new audiences to the magic of ballet, and to make the experience more available and accessible to all. For students pre-school through grade 12 enrolled in public, private and home schools, IPB offers “A Young Person’s Guide to the Ballet,” connecting the arts to learning through music and movement with four educational morning performances of The Nutcracker. The Company is also committed to the nurturing of new talent and provides an essential training ground for serious young dancers.

Inland Pacific Ballet’s Founders/Artistic Directors Victoria Koenig and Kevin Myers (Riverside), are southern California natives and bring a wealth of experience to their visionary leadership of this young Company. Over the past 20 years they have built Inland Pacific Ballet into the premiere ballet company and a key creative force in the region, enjoying critical acclaim while performing the largest and most varied repertoire in the area. The Company’s repertoire includes such classics as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Sylphides, Graduation Ball and Swan Lake Act II. Full length classical masterpieces include Giselle, Coppélia and a lavish production of The Nutcracker. Contemporary classics include seminal works by the legendary George Balanchine including Serenade, Concerto Barocco and Who Cares? and a growing body of original work that includes creative adaptations of much loved stories such as The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Dracula.

A non-profit organization, Inland Pacific Ballet’s programs are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts – Art Works, The Ahmanson Foundation, The
James Irvine Foundation, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the
Los Angeles County Arts Commission the Claremont Community Foundation, US Bank, The Haskell Fund, Target and Hank and Jean Voznick.

Information & Tickets: ipballet.org; tickets from $38 with senior/child/group discounts available

Note: In the interests of full disclosure, Dispatch editor Peggy Clifford and
IPB founder and artistic director Victoria Koenig are cousins.


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To: City Council
From: The Board of Northeast Neighbors
Re: 12/16/2014 City Council Meeting Agenda Item 8-A – Water Rate Analyses and Rate Options

City staff proposes that City Council choose one of three levels of water rate increases as a way of ensuring “financial stability during the drought.”

The Board of Northeast Neighbors considers this to be a false choice.

We do not support any of the proposed water rate increases being advanced by staff and ask Council to postpone this discussion and first engage in an analysis of other options and approaches to financing our water program.

When this rate increase was presented by staff at a November Council meeting, Northeast Neighbors objected to it being discussed because the consultant’s water rate study, which was the basis for the staff proposal, had not yet been completed. The discussion was postponed. In the interim, Northeast Neighbors board members pursued a public records request and were able to review many of the consultant Kennedy/Jenks’ documents. Our review of the rate report raised many questions, which we would like Council to ask and have answered before they vote. These questions include the following:

1. The staff Report maintains that “Although debt funding of capital expenditures is common among utilities, the City has historically funded water obligations on a pay-as-you-go basis.” When was it decided that Santa Monica is a city that prefers the “pay-as-you-go” approach to repairing aging water infrastructure? While pay as you go was appropriate in the past, this method will force very large annual rate increases with the amount of capital expenditure proposed.

2. If the City proceeds with a “pay-as-you-go” approach and advances the water rate by 78% and then expenditures stop, will the rates drop? Why does the proposed plan not include an adjustment mechanism like those practiced in other cities to lower the rate when revenues are not needed?

3. The draft report from the consultant notes that “debt funding of capital expend-itures is common among utilities” and that the revenue plan set forth “includes the potential need for a debt financing program in later years.” Shouldn’t Santa Monica explore a bond measure first instead of a rate increase?

If the City chose to pursue a bond instead of a water rate increase, the annual average cost during 2014-15 and 2019 – 2020 would be $3 million a year instead of
$7 million a year (assuming a 25 year bond at 5%). This approach allows the burden
of the cost to be spread over all who benefit, rather than requiring current users
to bear the entire cost. This makes more sense because some of the projects being proposed have 30, 40 and 50 year lives.

This option needs to be discussed and an answer provided to the community before a rate increase is explored.

4. Built into the proposed plan for a rate increase is the assumption that it will result in people reducing their water use and that this, in turn, will lead to reduced revenues. Where is the data to support the staff projection that a 20% reduction in water use will occur? It seems to be a guess.

5. Why are we being asked to commit to a five year rate structure rather than adopting this plan on an annual basis? Since we don’t know the amount of water
usage reduction, we don’t know the annual cash flow impact. Therefore, the water
rate should be adjusted annually based on actual cash flow requirements not assumptions based on a new program.

6. Why does the Report include a chart comparing Santa Monica to other cities with very different water programs? These comparisons appear to be presented to show that Santa Monicans should be paying more for water. However, the reason water rates in Culver City are higher than in Santa Monica is because Culver City has no groundwater and Burbank and Glendale have very little. MWD water costs more than groundwater. The point is, we should be concerned about what water costs us, not what it costs them.

It’s not surprising that the people of Santa Monica are questioning a major water rate increase. In our view much more thought must be given to this approach.

These are questions people are asking and we request that Council ask of staff and discuss in a public forum in order to be fully informed before voting.

Thank you.

The Board of Northeast Neighbors


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Food, clothing, services, and referrals for homeless and at-risk California Veterans will be available from U.S. Vets, California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) and other sponsors this weekend, December 20-21, Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles

The Opening Ceremony will be held on December 20, 9:00-9:45 a.m. The Stand Down will be held December 20-21, 6:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Speakers will include CalVet Secretary Peter Gravett, Major General (Ret); Council member Curren Price; representative from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office; U.S. Vets President and CEO Stephen J. Peck; and local elected officials.

This Stand Down, the largest ever held in the nation, is a community-based program that offers homeless and at-risk California Veterans food; clothing; showers; haircuts; health, vision and dental care; housing and employment assistance; legal aid; counseling/treatment; benefits claims assistance; overnight accommodations;
and other services.

The primary purpose of the Stand Down is to provide our Veterans relief from life
on the streets and help them return to mainstream society. As many as two thousand former military men and women are expected to attend.

A reception for Stand Down sponsors and partners is scheduled for Friday, December 19, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at the U.S. Vets Service Center, Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, 1816 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles.