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 "July 2009"

Schwarzenegger’s Shame

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian body builder turned movie star turned mogul turned very rich man  turned governor, becomes very emotional when he credits America in general and California in particular for his extraordinary rise  from shy, penniless immigrant to world-famous celebrity and governor of America’s most populous, diverse and liberal state, and the world’s eighth richest economy.

It’s a great performance, right out of one of those sentimental old B movies that Hollywood used to make. But he hasn’t done it in a while. After he made hash of the   state’s  finances, and broke more promises than he made, he chose to revert to The Terminator (he’s not just an action figure, he’s a  franchise!) .

Tuesday, the Terminator made a series of additional cuts in the already lean, mean and mindless new budget. Using the line item veto, he focused exclusively on the  people and programs that had  suffered the worst cuts in the budget negotiations. It’s the first rule in  Sacramento: never hit  anyone who can hit back.

These latest,  most brazen and cruelest cuts amount to a direct assault on our most vulnerable residents:  children, old people, poor people,  the disabled and the chronically ill.

In all, the old body builder slashed a total of $489 million   from  Child Welfare Services, the Office of AIDS Prevention and Treatment, critical services for the mentally and physically  disabled,   the Department of Aging, the Department of Public Health, programs for abused and neglected children, domestic-violence programs, Healthy Families, which provides health care for poor children, and state parks (100 of which will be closed), among others.
It was a shameful act by a man who, with the stroke of his blue pencil, denied untold numbers of children, older people and disabled people the opportunity he had to live fully and well in this blessed place.
Legislators have already  questioned the legality of the line item veto. There may be lawsuits, or a vote to overturn the veto, but it would requre a 2/3 majority of the Legislature to overturn the veto.
And the children and elderly and the  disabled continue to  wait.

More Questions Than Answers

By George Wolfberg
President, Santa Monica Canyon
Civic Association

I attended an emergency meeting of the PCH Task Force this afternoon.  As you may know, the task force was created many years ago by former Assemblyperson and State Senator Sheila Kuehl to provide a forum for issues relating to the Coast Highway from the McClure Tunnel through Malibu.  I have encouraged Senator Fran Pavley to continue the committee and am pleased to say she has.

The Bluffs restoration is the first of several projects that will have an impact on the highway.  More information is available at   The Bluffs project is fully funded with a federal grant and must be wrapped up, including after-action reports within three years.  It is currently out to bid with the City of Santa Monica hoping to award a contract by September 8, with work to begin about a month later.  The key component of the work is the installation of approximately 80 hydraugers to drain excess water from behind the bluffs to reduce the danger of future slides onto the highway.  It takes about eight hours to drill one of the 6″ cores into which 1.5″ pvc pipe with holes to drain off the water will be placed.

The problem:  Cal Trans has placed conditions on construction that wil  be limited to 4 hours per day, 9 AM to 1 PM, Monday through Thursday with no work during the Summer, Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Contractors, hungry for work that they are, have told Santa Monica that the four hour work limit just won’t cut it and it appears the bids will be few and exorbitant.  The purpose of the emergency task force meeting was to learn of the problem, options and possible solutions.

The option of doing some of the work at night is out because this was not studied in the Environmental Impact Report.  It will take about six months to prepare the revised EIR.  The project will be bumping against the upcoming California Incline project and the LA City Coastal Interceptor Sewer project that is planned to start in Fall 2010.  Most of the lane closures will take place between the Incline and Entrada Drive in the Northbound #3 lane.  The option to cordon off the lane with K-rails and work extended hours with the middle lane re-striped so a lane isn’t lost was problematic:  The Incline left turn pocket is in the way, parking lots and homes on the beach side would be off limits to left turns, and the clincher was the lack of access for emergency vehicles during peak traffic periods.

All eyes turned to the Cal Trans people and Senator Pavley’s person running the meeting summed up the best option as working from 5 or 6 in the morning until around 2 in the afternoon.  Cal Trans has some recent traffic flow numbers and will be crunching.  I think they will be flexible up to where the estimated flow exceeds lane capacity.  So, it will come down to expanded day hours, or revise the EIR to do work at night.  Cal Trans also will have to consider the impact of public outreach and extensive signage to warn people off of PCH.

Councilman Rosendahl’s deputy suggested making Entrada one way down the hill and Ocean Avenue one way toward the pier.  Not sure there was much traction, but it is out there.

Clinic Protests State Health Care Cuts

Peggy Clifford 1 Comment

For the past month, Westside Family Health Center, a non-profit community clinic in Santa Monica, has  held a rally every Wednesday to  protest the state’s budget cuts. ( See lead story “Schwarzenegger’s Shame”)

The current budget crisis has made it increasingly difficult for individuals, families and communities to get the health care they need.

In addition to the rallies, the Center is collecting signatures from patients and outreach contacts and sending them to state representatives, urging them to stop the severe cuts that are  decimating the safety net that has
maintained vital health care services for the poor.

The Family Health Center, 1711 Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica, invites everyone who is concerned about the health care crisis to take part in the rallies and other activities. For more information, visit the website at

FILMS 4 CHANGE: Revolutionary Road Friday

Adapted from the revelatory novel by Richard Yates, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is an incisive portrait of an American marriage seen through the eyes of Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) and April (Kate Winslet) Wheeler. Yates’s story of 1950’s America poses a question that has reverberated  through relationships ever since: can two people break away from the ordinary without breaking apart?
Frank and April have always seen themselves as special, different, ready and willing to live their lives based on higher ideals. So, when they move into their house in the suburbs, they  proudly declare their independence from the suburban inertia that surrounded them and vowed never to  be trapped by the social confines of their era. Yet for all their charm, beauty and irreverence, the Wheelers found themselves becoming exactly what they were determined not to be:  a good man with a meaningless job who’s had a failure of nerve and an   unhappy homemaker who’s starved  for fulfillment and passion.

Driven to change their fates, April hatches an audacious plan to start all over again, to trade the comforts of Connecticut for the great unknown in Paris. But they soon find themselves at profound odds.

Directed by Sam Mendes (Academy Award® winner for AMERICAN BEAUTY), from a screenplay by Justin Haythe,

RSVP : or call 310-451-2752 (first 20)

$5 donation for Change-Links
Progressive Newspaper and Calendar

The film wil be screened at  the home of Rachel and Jay, 601 9th Street in Santa Monica, at 7 p.m., Friday, July 31.

Blood Drive This Week

The American Red Cross of Santa Monica and KLOS/95.5 radio will host their  28th Annual blood drive on three days — Thursday, July  30 and   Friday, August 31, 2009 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturday, August 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

People  wishing to give blood should to make an appointment. Residents can call the Red Cross at 1 800 448 3543 or go to Spanish –speaking residents should call  1 866 .767 8432, or go to

Persons in good health over the age of 17 (16 if accompanied by a parent),  weigh at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate blood. Photo I.D. is required. Potential donors should drink plenty of water and eat normally before giving blood.

Donations will be taken at the Santa Monica Red Cross chapter at 1450 11th Street in Santa Monica. Free parking is available.

Donors wil receive a commemorative S T-shirt, a free Skillet Queso from Chili’s, a $5 gift certificate from Daphne’s Greek Cafe and a concert voucher from LiveNation to one of several concerts.

The American Red Cross of Santa Monica, is a publicly supported, 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

To the Mayor, Council and Staff:

The Treesavers organization supports the organization of an independent Santa Monica Tree  Commission. In this, we join with the Recreation and Parks Commission who unanimously voted for this on January 15, 2009. They recommended that “City Council establish a Tree Commission with the responsibility for providing oversight and direction on the preparation of an urban forest master plan.”

On May 12, 2009, City Council approved a contract with Artecho
Landscape Architecture for $203,791 to “develop the City’s Long-Range
Urban Forest Master Plan.” It called for public input in the form of
four (4) public workshops and for the consultant to work with the
Urban Forest Task Force (assuming this is the not yet named Tree

The consultant is already working on updating the current tree
inventory. This is a key component for determining the future urban
forest plan.

There has been no public input on what criteria should be considered
in taking the inventory, nor has there been any publicity about it.

It appears that the City and its forestry department is going ahead
without waiting for a commission to be established, generating a plan
that will be presented as a fait accompli in the next few months. Then
four dog and pony shows will be put on and a newly organized Tree
Commission will have nothing to do with the development of the Urban
Forest Plan .

Additionally, this master plan is supposed to be for fifty years; even
the City’s LUCE plan is for only twenty years.  The last city forest
master plan was adopted in 1999, only ten years ago and is noted
Mostly for all the exceptions that have been made in its implementation.

The Treesavers organization requests that the City, its community
forest department and the consultants immediately make available to
the public the criteria for the inventory and any information thus far developed.

Treesavers also requests that the development of the Urban Forest Plan
be put on hold until the Tree Commission (Urban Forest Task Force) isnamed, organized and is operating.  If a fifty year master program (or lesser) is to be adopted, there should be major oversight by and input from the community, none of which has taken place.

Per resolution adopted by Treesavers on July 14th, 2009.

Saint John’s Nurses To Be Blessed

The registered nurses of Saint John’s hospital in Santa Monica, the
California Nurses Association and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA) will hold a public blessing of the  nurses on Wednesday, July 29.

Members of the public who would like to participate should gather at  9 a.m.
at the corner of  22nd Street and Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica.

The Nurses Association issued the following statement: “While the hospital administration is refusing to respect the rights of the RNs who have served the hospital faithfully for many years, clergy and community members will join together in solidarity and support of the RNs’ efforts.”

To RSVP or for more information contact

Whither Forecasting

By Ava Tramer

Partly cloudy
Highs: 69-76; Lows: 61-65

Highs: 95-101; Lows: 64-68

Clear and hot
Highs: 110-116; Lows: 80-86

And Santa Monica…
Do-It-Yourself Weather
Step 1.  Look outside.
Step 2.  Observe sun, partial clouds, and mild temperatures.
Step 3.  Count the number of days in the week (this should equal seven if you have counted correctly).
Step 4.  Complete the following equation in order to arrive at your weather report for this week: Weather (step two) multiplied by Days (step three) = Weather for the upcoming week

Cops, Firefighters Dominate Pension Roster

Peggy Clifford 1 Comment

On July13, we published “ SM Employees Hit Pension Jackpot” (see below)

We did not list the former employees’ Santa Monica occupations.  However, a reader has now filled in most of the blanks, and so we are running the annotated list.

As you will see, most of the pensioners are former SMPD and SMFD officers, along with a couple of former City Managers, a pair of deputy City Attorneys, a rent control administrator,  and, lo, a research  librarian.

James Butts $18,239.03 a month — $218,868.36 a year (former SMPD Police Chief)
Gary Gallinot $14,728.05 — $176,736.60 (former SMPD Lieutenant)
Ettore Berardinelli, $14,084.11 — 169,009.32 (former Fire Chief)
Roy McGinnis $12,814.47 — $153,773.64 (former SMPD Captain)
John Miehle $12,359.00 — $148,308.00 (former SMPD Lieutenant)
Francisco Fabrega $12,075.87 — $144,910.44 (former SMPD Lieutenant, currently with LAWA)
Bijan Jalili $11,683.98 — $140,207.76 (former City Manager, aka “John” Jalili)
Walter Hard $11,048.88 — $132,586.56,
(former SMPD captain)
Mary Yurkonis $11,008.93 — $132,107.16 (former Rent Board administrator)
William Kolberg $11,005.06 — $132,060.72 (former Deputy Fire Chief)
George Centeno $10,843.31 — $130,119.72 (former SMPD Lieutenant, currently LAWA Police Chief)
Michael Murphy $10,798.52 — $129,582.24
Susan McCarthy $10,798.20 — $129,578.40 (former City Manager)
William Curtis $10,363.17 — $124,358.04
Kenneth Polhill $10,330.28 — $123,963.36 (former Fire Dept. Captain)
Paul Gonzales $10,301.96 — $123,623.52
William Brucker, $10,188.38 — $122,260.56 (former SMPD Lieutenant)
Larry Larson $9,991.84 — $119,902.08
Robert Harvey $9,972.68 — $119,672.16 (Arcadia Water Treatment Plant)
David Saxby $9,900.88 — $118,810.56
James Keane $9,834.26 — $118,011.12 (former Police Chief – preceded James Butts)
Jaime Fernandez $9,602.84 — $115,234.08 (former Fire Dept. Captain)
Richard Bridges $9,421.67 — $113,060.04 (former Fire Chief)
George Menta $9,401.41 — $112,816.92 (former Fire Dept. Captain)
Thomas Mapes $9,111.67 — $109,340.04
Patrick Armstrong $9,089.60 — $109,075.20 (retired SMPD Sergeant)
Michael Landis $9,055.01 — $108,660.12
John Montenero, Jr. $9,026.91 — $108,322.92 (former Fire Chief)
Steven Wells $8,954.63 — $107,455.56
Gregory Slaughter $8,930.70 — $107,168.40 (former SMPD Lieutenant)
Robert Ayer $8,901.25 — $ 106,815.00 (Drug & Alcohol Program Manager)
Linda Mills $8,877.49 — $106,529.88 (former Deputy City Attorney)
Norman Hirata $8,814.16 — $105,769.92 (former Deputy City Attorney)
Patrick Cates $8,769.99 — $105,239.88 (Fire Dept. Engineer)
Judith Franz $8,751.78 — $105,021.36 (former Assistant to the City Manager, aka Judy Rambeau)
Craig Collier $8,735.90 — $104,830.80 (Fire Dept. Battalion Chief)
Nancy O’Neill $8,700.45 — $104,405.40 (Principal Reference Librarian, SMPL)
Stanley Conger $8,657.96 — $103,895.52
Harry Wirtz $48,605.96 — $103,271.52
John Hutchison $8,375.23 — $ 100,502.76
Margaret Bendiksen $8,342.92 — $100,115.04

The original information was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).

With thanks to the reader who did the requsite research.

© Copyright 2009 by the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility. All Rights Reserved

The Foundation, which was founded by the late Howard Jarvis, sponsored the infamous Prop 13, which many people believe created the financial chaos that has plagued  the state for a generation.

Shame On The Republicans

Last Thursday, during a debate on restricting public funding of  abortions in the District of Columbia, Congressman Todd Tiahrt, a Kansas Republican,
said, “If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that will be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that will encourage women who are  single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion,

“If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? Our president grew up in a similar circumstance.
If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother may have taken advantage of it?
“Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his great mind? The opportunity to have tax-funded abortions, a financial incentive, is something that I think most of us want to oppose in America and it’s certainly deserves a clean up or down vote.”

Tiahrt is clearly short of much more than a vowel, and long on the  singularly grotesque racist notions  that seem to be the Republicans’ specialty these days.

In fact,  the last good idea the  Republicans had was President Dwight Eisenhower’s valedictory in which he warned against the perils of the rising military-industrial complex half-a-century ago.

Since then, the Republicans have brought us the bombing of Cambodia, Watergate, the neutron bomb, union busting, the first  commandment — greed is good,  funny money, the decline and fall of American manufacturing,

the Grenada war, Iran-Contra,  the Gulf war, the rise of the so-called Christian Right, the muddying of the separation of church and state, the rigging of the 2000 presidential election, the lies that preceded the  invasion of Iraq, the Iraq war, its casualties –American and Iraqi, its costs, the nearly total   destruction of New Orleans, the Afghanistan war, its costs – human and fiscal,  , illegal wire taps, Bill of Rights violations,
torture and war crimes, the largest deficit in history, the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression, high and more high crimes and misdemeanors than anyone knows. .

In 1904,  the great English writer, H.G. Wells, toured America and concluded that America’s principal  accomplishment was to make “feudalism efficient.”

Today, thanks to Tiahrt, his colleagues and their predecessors,
Feudalism still flourishes, but it’s no longer efficient, it’s  crude.

Text of Tiehrt’s remarks courtesy of  the Hufffington Post.