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.

Monthly archives "March 2009"

Splendid New Children’s Book

Peggy Clifford 1 Comment

Violet and Winston
by Sonya Sones and Bennett Tramer
illustrated by Chris Raschka
Dial Books for Young Readers

By Ava Tramer

Violet and Winston represents the first display of the combined talents of teen novelist Sonya Sones and television writer Bennett Tramer.  Caldecott Medal winner Chris Raschka filled the book with fanciful illustrations, setting a whimsical stage for the three stories about Violet the confident swan and Winston the bumbling duck.

Sones and Tramer extracted humorous anecdotes from their 25-year-marriage as a rough basis for the tales, which manage to be amusing and touching at the same time.  In “The Noisy Eater,” Violet hilariously struggles with Winston’s manners, foiled at every attempt to be sensitive to her friend.  In “The Missing Glasses,” Violet leads Winston on a search adventure all over town, showing how Violet and Winston’s personalities make them the perfect pair of friends.  “The Garage Sale” shows Violet’s more sentimental side, and sweetly emphasizes the strong bond between these two birds.

But why should you trust my opinion about Violet and Winston?  My last name bears a suspicious resemblance to the last name of one of the authors, and, at 22 years old, I hardly fall into the age range of the target audience (3 to 8 years old).  Why don’t you trust the reactions of three young children instead?  Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to read Violet and Winston to a seven-year-old girl, a four-year-old boy, and a six-month-old girl.  The seven-year-old laughed all the way through the book and the four-year-old kept pointing out funny and interesting details in the illustrations.  Even the six-month-old was clearly a fan of the book: she joyously tried to eat it, cover and all.

Barnes and Noble on the Third Street Promenade has copies of Violet and Winston signed by the authors.  Visit for more information.

Whither the Sunshine

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

By Ava Ttramer

Gradually warming
Highs: 64-72; Lows: 52-55

Hot and sunny
Highs: 72-77; Lows: 46-49

Clear and hot
Highs: 80-88; Lows: 55-58

And Santa Monica…
This weatherwoman is done with complaining about the boringness of Santa Monica weather (at least for the time being).  After an extended jaunt on the East Coast, she had forgotten how nice sunshine is, and how much it should be appreciated.  There is nothing quite like the feel of warm sun beating down from the sky.  Those of you who never stray from Santa Monica’s sunny shores, I hope you appreciate how nice it is to have weeks upon weeks of warm, unchanging weather.  The upcoming week is an exemplary Santa Monica weather week: highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s, with clear, sunny skies.  Enjoy it, and remember to be grateful!

The Unmaking of Santa Monica Proceeds

Peggy Clifford 3 Comments

The newest member of the Santa Monica City Council, Gleam Davis,
was appointed about a month ago to replace  the late Herb Katz.
Council member Bobby Shriver has just begun his second four-year term.

In contrast, the other five members —  Ken Genser, Bob Holbrook, Pam O’Connor, Richard Bloom and Kevin McKeown —  have spent a  total of 77 years on the Council. Yet, with the notable exception of Holbrook, they seem to know nothing about Santa Monica, or its residents.

When elected officials know  nothing about the people they are supposed to represent or the place they allegedly oversee, there’s bound to be trouble, as was demonstrated at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.

During a discussion of City Hall’s latest dingbat proposal, several Council members boasted, as they are  wont to do,  that they were  making a “world class city,”  and the proposal would accelerate the transformation.

Actually, they are not making a “world class city,” they are making a mess. In any case, neither I nor anyone I know who isn’t on the City payroll wants Santa Monica to be a “world class city.”  We want it to be what it is –  a great old  beach town  that is gorgeously located on the  storied  Southern California coast.

But City Hall isn’t listening. It’s too busy making its “world class city.”
Clearly, City Hall planners and consultants and their Council acolytes see  Santa Monica as a movie set that they can rearrange or derange at will.

The planners have never had more willing and ardent co-conspirators than Bloom, Genser, McKeown and O’Connor, The City Charter calls for  citizen politicians serving part-time for token pay to represent the residents. But Bloom,  Genser, McKeown and O’Connor have  made Santa Monica their profession.

Really? Yes. Imagine  McKeown NOT riding his bike to more meetings than there are. Or Genser NOT reading the fine print and peppering staff with abstruse questions, but almost always ignoring the whole.  Or  Bloom and O’Connor NOT involving themselves in regional quasi-official  organizations.

Only a die-hard Panglossian would see this as good news —  proof of the quartet’s devotion to Santa Monica and its residents and its   willingness to go the proverbial extra mile on our behalf.

In fact,  they have a vested interest in what happens here. Never mind  the state of the town, or the well-being of the residents. Their egos are on the line. Further, they reserve their primary allegiance not for the town or its residents, but for City Staff  and the ubiquitous, and very expensive, consultants, who  write all their material.

Judging by the projects and policies the four have approved, despite their years on the dais, they know as little about planning and design as they know about  Santa Monica and its residents.

The principal subject at Tuesday’s  night’s  Council meeting was an inter-departmental proposal that the Civic Center, Santa Monica High School, the Light Rail’s proposed western terminus, the new Bloomingdale’s, the Santa Monica Pier,  Palisades Park and the freeway be combined in a world class municipal mosh pit at the heart of this world class city.

Their timing is bizarre. City Hall has spent four years and untold millions of dollars on the state- mandated revision of the land use and circulation elements of the General   Plan (LUCE). When it is finished and approved, it will  serve as  a sort of blueprint for the next 20 years.  But it remains unfinished, and is deeply, perhaps fatally flawed.

Surely, the mosh pit, which has been  on City Hall computers for months, should have been folded into the LUCE and presented as a part of the whole.

But, for reasons of its own, City Hall chose to lead with the mosh pit and Bloom, Genser, McKeown and O’Connor chose to wave it on, and so the unmaking of Santa Monica proceeds.

CITY HALL TO US: Surprise!

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

Anyone who’s lived in  Santa Monica for any length of time knows that City  Hall  likes nothing so much as taking us by surprise.

Among its recent surprises are “The Strategic Framework” for the revision of the land use and circulation elements of the General Plan (LUCE),  which, if implemented, will fracture the townscape, the mega-“Village” it proposes building in the Civic Center, its apparent acceptance of the absolutely wrong location for the Expo Light Rail maintenance yard, and the Big Blue Bus Store.

At tonight’s City Council meeting, the “professional planners,” as they call themselves, from five City departments will introduce preliminary plans for tying the proposed Light Rail station at Fourth  and Colorado to the Santa Monica Pier to Palisades Park, to the glitzy new Bloomingdale’s that is replacing the drab old Macy’s (the professional planners’ adjectives) to  the Civic Center to Santa Monica High School to the freeway to  make the biggest, nastiest knot in Southern  California history.

In the process, the once elegant and serene Civic Center will be reduced to a traffic circle, and much of the freeway, west of  Fourth Street will be covered by “decks.”

There are numerous examples of bad planning around town, but this inter-departmental  job is monstrous.

Read the staff report (go to and click on City Hall, City Council Information, Agendas, 2009, March 24, item 8A ). Go to the meeting. Watch the meeting on CityTV (channel 16, 5:45 p.m.)
Email  the Council members. Now!

If we don’t  step on this  monstrously bad plan quickly , the Council majority will approve it, just as it has approved so many other bad plans.

Whither the Spring Break

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

By Ava Tramer

Clear and sunny
Highs: 65-70; Lows: 46-53

Warm and clear
Highs: 70-78; Lows: 38-47

Mostly sunny
Highs: 75-87; Lows: 42-56

And Santa Monica…
It’s March, ladies and gentlemen, and spring has officially arrived.  We all know what that means: SPRING BREAK!!!!  WOOOO!  However, those looking for fun in the sun in Santa Monica might do well to look elsewhere.  The peak temperature this week looks to be a high of 70 on Wednesday, but other than that, Santa Monica does not have much to offer in the way of spring break fun in the sun.  Well, I take that back.  You may find ways to have fun even if the weather is not completely warm.  And yes, there will be sun.  In fact, it looks to be a mighty clear and sunny week.  But the temperatures just won’t rise high enough for a good splasheroo in the ocean; if you go swimming, you’ll be likely to come out of the water chilly and blue.  But the weather is lovely outside, even if it’s not perfectly and comfortably warm all the time, so enjoy the sun’s golden rays.  Just bring a sweater along for any breezes that blow your way.

L.A. Heritage To Be Celebrated

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

The L.A. Heritage Alliance will hold Los Angeles Heritage Day on
Sunday, March 22, from 11 a.m. to   4 p.m. at Heritage Square Museum in Highland Park.

Among the day’s highlights will be  historic homes, a scavenger hunt,  other activities for children and  families, panel discussions on  culture and preservation, tips for promoting local heritage and  information about  local preservation organizations, museums, and historical societies.

The Santa Monica Conservancy booth will feature the Shotgun House, future home of our Preservation Resource Center.

Heritage Square Museum is located in Highland Park, just northeast of downtown Los Angeles. This “living history museum” tells the story of Los Angeles’ development through historic structures that were relocated to the site to save them from demolition.

The museum is located at 3800 Homer Street, off the 110/Pasadena Freeway at Avenue 43.

Admission to the general public is $5. For more information, go to

Santa Monica Man Plans Fundraiser

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

A Santa Monica attorney is one of 15  Man & Woman of the Year candidates in an unusual competition organized by  the. Greater Los Angeles Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).

Like all the other candidates, Gregory Rutchik has organized and is running his own fundraising campaigns to help LLS fund blood cancer research and provide support services for patients and their families.

The man and woman  who raise the most money  will be named the Man and Woman of the Year.   Candidates are judged solely on their success at raising money, with each dollar counting as one vote.

Candidates run in honor of the Boy & Girl of the Year, who are local blood cancer patient survivors, as well as  sources of inspiration to others.

The Los Angeles area competition has just reached the mid-way point and will culminate with a grand finale gala on April 3, at the California Science Center, at which the Man & Woman of the Year will be announced.

Explaining why he is participating,   Rutchik said,  “Boy & Girl of the Year Tyler Cordova and Kelly Delaney, symbolize the many kids and their families whose lives have been interrupted by deadly blood cancers.  I thought, who would be there for me and my family if we were struck with a sickness such as blood cancer? We would look to our community, friends and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. So I am stepping up the plate to be there for them.”

Rutchik’s fundraising event,  “Celebrate for a Cure” will be held  on Sunday, March 29, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Roosevelt School in Santa Monica. A  children’s arts festival, it will include a pancake breakfast, performances by award-winning child  musicians, and much more.
Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults. Ticket packages and sponsorships are available.  well.  For more information,   go to

Rutchik is the founder and owner of the arts and technology law group based in Beverly Hills.  A Fulbright Fellow at the University of Tokyo Japan, Rutchik is a Board member for the Los Angeles Chapter of California Lawyers for the Arts and has served as Co-Chair for the American Bar Association, Subcommittee on Copyrights.

To make a contribution to Rutchik’s Man of the Year campaign or to learn more please visit: GRutchik.

Whither the Excitement

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

By Ava Tramer

Partly cloudy
Highs: 66-72; Lows: 53-58

Mostly sunny
Highs: 71-81; Lows: 48-52

Hot with occasional clouds
Highs: 81-92; Lows: 56-62

And Santa Monica…
Weather, weather, blah blah blah,
Sure it’s nice, but why give a hurrah?
There’s nothing exciting to feel or see
The temperature always reaches the same degree.
The sun shines brightly, day in and day out,
Shouldn’t this be a good reason to pout?
Where is the excitement in the boring and bland?
The sun always shines on Santa Monica sand.
Maybe I sound ungrateful to you,
But don’t you think it’s boring when the sky’s always blue?

Playing the Loopholes

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

To the Editor

Senior executives at Trammel Crow Company have vowed that they will board up the buildings and leave the apartments at 301 Ocean Avenue vacant after the last tenants are evicted on March 17, and if they do not get their way and have the landmark designation reversed by the City Council. It already looks very much like an abandoned property with weeds nearing two feet in height along the parkway and in the once beautiful interior garden courtyard.

It is the elderly tenants who have made their homes at the city landmark for decades that are the last to leave because this has been their permanent home and not just an apartment and leaving is a heartbreaking experience. This week Betty Yamamoto who has lived there for 27 years bade a tearful good-bye to her long-time friend and neighbor Lois Storey who left to live near her children in Kentucky. Ironically, Ms. Storey moved in the same year as Betty and lived in the apartment first occupied by Clo Hoover, Santa Monica’s first woman mayor, and is now moving to the state Clo Hoover left. Storey’s eviction was especially painful because she is still grieving the loss last year of her husband of 50 years with whom she had made her home here.

Trammel Crow’s employees alleged that they had the best interest of the city in mind throughout the protracted process that ended with the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission designating the property as a city landmark because of its identification with Clo Hoover who is unquestionably an important historic personage in Santa Monica. One wonders exactly how an abandoned building at what is arguably the most scenic intersection in the city could possibly be in the best interest of the city. Already gang graffiti is appearing on one of the buildings and a homeless man has been sleeping in a carport. Abandoned buildings are alluring to vagrants, addicts, and unsupervised youngsters looking for a place to party. They are not alluring to neighbors that have invested in expensive homes nearby.

Santa Monica’s Landmarks Commission is a superbly credentialed and conscientious body that studied the property and its historic owner for nearly a year before conferring the landmark designation. Now Trammel Crow Company has appealed the designation to the City Council and seems to be using the threat of a vacant building in the center of a beautiful neighborhood to sway council votes in their favor. There is a lot of buzz in the community that the company has already lined up enough votes to secure their reversal when the council brings the matter to the table in April.

We certainly hope that is not the case as it would destroy any semblance of transparency in the city’s processes since the council members are bound to maintain a neutral position until the matter comes before them in chambers.
Titus Wapato
301 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica-

Whither the Pretty

By Ava Traner

Mostly sunny
Highs: 59-67; Lows: 44-50

Warm and partly cloudy
Highs: 60-70; Lows: 38-43

Highs: 70-77; Lows: 44-50

And Santa Monica…
Is there any point for me to serve you?
Why do you need predictions if the sky’s always blue?
Why do you ask what the weather’s going to be?
Can’t you figure it out without hearing from me?
Why do you act like a bunch of helpless fools?
Did you not learn pattern observation when you were in school?
Do you really need a weatherwoman for your fair city?
Don’t you see that the weather’s ALWAYS pretty?