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 "August 2011"

Buzzing About Possible AOL Sale

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Mark Lacter • August 31 2011 3:24 PM

Not much doubt that the idea is at least being considered – company executives have been meeting in recent days with M&A specialists, the NY Post reports. The more relevant questions:
–Would anyone be interested in the entire package?
–If not, which units might be unloaded? (Patch seems like a dead duck, as do the other weak revenue generators.)
–Would it make sense to take the company private?
As Felix Salmon sees it, the company relies too heavily on its creaky dial-up service to bankroll all the content, including the Huffington Post. Sooner or later, that’ll catch up with you. With the stock price having fallen sharply, it’s probably sooner. From Salmon:
There’s no precedent for the idea that throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at a web content company will make it big and strong and self-sufficient. Expensive web content is expensive, especially when you’re trying to build out a network of thousands of locally-staffed sites. Meanwhile, profitable websites tend to be run on the cheap — including HuffPo, before it was bought by AOL. If I wanted to make a long-term for-profit investment in a website built on the genius of Jonah Peretti, I’d choose BuzzFeed over HuffPo any day. So the ruthless logic of the market would seem to imply that the best thing to do with the dial-up business and the content business is to tear them apart. The dial-up business, on its own, is ripe for a managed decline, where you extract as much money as possible before it finally dies. Private equity companies do that kind of thing very well. Meanwhile, the content business is still attractive, to someone — probably Yahoo, is my guess.
It’s worth noting that reports of AOL being taken over are not new – and the company continues to claim that no deal is currently being considered. That’s probably true – the M&A talks appear to be in their early stages, at least based on news reports. But I wouldn’t bet against a sale, and perhaps soon.

From LA Observed


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An Antarctic storm has spun off large swells that are expected to begin pounding local beaches on Thursday. The breakers should build through the weekend and reach ten feet on some south-facing beaches — maybe 20 feet or so at The Wedge in Newport Beach, says outdoors writer Pete Thomas.
As with all large Southern Hemisphere swells, there will be long lulls between giant sets. Swimmers are cautioned that monstrous waves may seem to spring up suddenly, and because of this they’re advised not to venture too far from shore.

This is the same swell that greeted ASP World Tour surfers in Tahiti during a contest that was won by Kelly Slater on Monday. Surfline is predicting this will be the largest wave event of the summer and may feature some beach erosion and coastal flooding.

Fun for surfers, but a pain for lifeguards.

From L.A. Observed

Stajich’s “Hostages” Opens at Ruskin

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As comic-actor-playwright-director Steve Stajich says, “Ah, summer time. To many it means hot dogs, lemonade, picnics… and of course two-act dramas about gender and power in the work place.”

He’s talking about the premiere of HOSTAGES,” which he wrote and is directing, on Saturday, September 10, at the air conditioned Ruskin Group Studio Theater. It will run with shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m. every weekend through October 2nd.

Stajich says, “Those that follow my e-mails on theater projects will know that with each new play I always say, ‘This is the best cast I’ve ever worked with…’ and that’s because it’s always somehow oddly true. This is a dynamite group of six female actors and I am hopeful you will be able to come and see their work and enjoy this new play that addresses so many things that are happening right now everywhere.”

The “dynamite group of six female actors” includes Heather Ankeny, Bernadette Birkett, Lola Davison, Rachel Hardisty, Mona Ibrahim and Deanna Watkins. In HOSTAGES, They deal with “secrets, lies and business as usual.”

The Ruskin Group Theater is located at 3000 Airport Avenue in Santa Monica, across the street from and west of the Santa Monica Airport
terminal. Seating is extremely limited, so Stajich is “encouraging reservations. Tickets are a modest $10 with all funds going to encourage the Studio new works development program. I hope you’ll all be able to
join us for an invigorating evening of theater.”

Bye Bye Blues VI

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Sonya Sones, author of the Los Angeles Times best-selling novel-in-verse, THE HUNCHBACK OF NEIMAN MARCUS (HarperCollins, 2011), will post a new poem on her blog ( every day for the next several weeks about how a mother feels when her child heads off to college. As a public service, we will post the poems in the Dispatch. Herewith, installment six:

We’re the First to Arrive at Her Dorm

We explore the sterile, echoing rooms
of Samantha’s suite,
scouring it for aspects to admire—

the view of the courtyard,
the size of the common room,
the picturesque slant of the walls.

Then, before we’re quite ready, the other
three girls come swarming up the stairs,
their suitcases and parents in tow.

All of us greet each other, shy as deer.
But soon our daughters’ breezy banter
banishes the hush.

Then, beneath the chatter, comes the tinkling
song of summer’s last ice-cream truck,
floating in through the open window—

it’s the same melody
that used to drift from the mobile
that spun above Samantha’s crib…

Michael hears it, too.
He reaches for my hand.
And when he laces our fingers together
the lump in my throat
threatens to cut off
my breath.


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We have less than 30 days to convince Congress that it must pass the
Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, S. 1094.

$693 million of dedicated autism research funding and vital funding for the Autism Treatment Network (ATN) hangs in the balance.

California’s Autism Treatment Network Centers are in jeopardy of losing
federal funding. The centers not only provide treatment for thousands of
people with autism, they are striving to establish a standardized protocol for physicians who treat both children and adults with autism along with their comorbid medical conditions such as gastrointestinal and sleep problems.

Call Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the most influential members of Congress,
today and ask him to use his considerable clout to ensure that Congress passes the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act — HR 2005.His
phone number is (202) 225-3976

One in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism now. The bill is budget
neutral and its reauthorization is vital.

After you contact the Congressman, send an email to our action center, and
also spread the word on Facebook, ask all your friends to contact their own
members of Congress and ask them to support and cosponsor the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 – HR 2005, as the funding for the California Autism Treatment Network Centers is in jeopardy if the bill is not renewed by September 30.


To learn more about the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, please visit our CARA Action Center. The next 30 days are critical. We also need your help in ensuring that Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein actively support the reauthorization.

Autism Votes is an initiative of Autism Speaks. Become an Autism Votes Advocate. For more information on Autism Votes, please visit

Congratulations, Santa Monica Voters!

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You have just won the Grand Prize, the enviable opportunity to share the city streets with an additional 27,000 vehicles, Monday to Friday, from 6AM to 7PM, every week, forever, courtesy of the City Council members you elected to represent your wishes!

Six of your ELECTED council members took a brave stand and, despite the overwhelming concerns and opposition expressed by the residents in
numerous public meetings, voted to go forward with Development Agreement negotiations with Hines for the Bergamot Transit Village.

Give yourselves big “atta boys” and send kudos to those Council members who, at great risk to their political lives, chose to ignore your concerns, because THEY know what’s best for the city (not to mention their election coffers).

Kevin McKeown must be the only Council member who, along with the rest of us, objects to sitting in gridlocked, smelly traffic, while the other six seem to “love the smell of napalm ( ie, exhaust fumes) in the morning”…and afternoon…and evening.

With any luck at all, you will continue to re-elect these six brave souls, and we will be able to pass this legacy on to future generations.

Joanne Curtis
Santa Monica


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A student pilot attempting to land at Santa Monica Airport overshot the
runway, tried again and, on his second attempt, apparently lost control of the plane, clipped some trees and the corner of a garage before crashing nose first into the ground at a house near the intersection of 21st and
Navy Streets.

The accident took place about 2:45 p.m. Monday. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was a Cessna 172.

“I think the tree saved his life because it pushed him to the left, and he just hit the corner of the garage of the house,” witness Luis Espana told Channel 7.

Robert Trimborn, who manages the airport for the City, elaborated. “It actually struck a cinderblock wall, the fence in the back of the house, and it appears as though the wall absorbed a lot of the energy.”

Nobody was in the house when the plane crashed. Painters who were
working outside the house pulled the pilot out of the plane, and used a garden hose to put out a fire that was ignited in the crash.

One of the painters was hit by flying debris. He and the pilot, who appeared to have a broken leg, were taken to UCLA hospital.

The cause of the crash has not been determined. The area has been shut down for an investigation. 21st Street will be closed to through traffic and Navy Street will be closed to traffic in the area of the crash. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) expect to work late tonight, attempting to determine the cause of the accident, and removing the plane.

According to the NTSB database, there have been something like 90 accidents associated with Santa Monica Airport since 1962.


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The following letter was sent to San Vicente residents, but everyone in Santa Monica should be aware and concerned. Dispatch Editor

Urgent Action: Keep Magnolias as Designated Tree on San Vicente from Ocean to 7th Street!!

For those of us who live along San Vicente Boulevard, the magnolias trees along the sidewalks from Ocean to 26th Street present a beautiful, consistent canopy while complementing the coral trees in the center median. The magnolias produce showy, fragrant white flowers, have a beautiful canopy, provide needed shade and privacy, attract songbirds that eat their seeds, and withstand pests and disease.

Now, the current draft of the Santa Monica Urban Forest Master Plan proposes to replace our magnolias from Ocean to 7th Street as replacement is needed, over time, with a smaller, narrower tree with red flowers and a very short flowering period.

Yet the Plan proposes to keep magnolias as the designated replacement trees for the 19 blocks along San Vicente from 7th Street to 26th Street as the magnolias there need replacing.

We strongly object to phasing out the magnolia trees along just our small stretch of San Vicente. It would needlessly differentiate this apartment/condo stretch of San Vicente from Ocean to 7th Street from the single-family homes stretching along the rest of the Boulevard to 26th Street. The magnolias along our stretch are doing very well as a general rule, as are the ones east of 7th Street. In fact, magnolia trees adapt well to their particular site and will tolerate sporadic irrigation, once established.

Fortunately, this plan is just a draft and not yet set in stone. We urge you to be heard on the issue while there is still time. To review the proposal, just look up San Vicente Blvd online at:

If you agree that magnolias should be the designated replacement trees all along San Vicente, including along our portion from Ocean to 7th Street, please send an email to: Or mail your comments to: Ms. Heidi Said, Public Landscape Division, Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Or come to one of the two meetings on Sept 7 or Sept 14th at 6:30 p.m., Virginia Avenue Park, Thelma Terry Building, 2200 Virginia Avenue.

And please pass this email on to your neighbors and friends and ask them to do the same. Recently, 200 residents on Georgina objected to their replacement tree, and the tree was changed.

See you in the neighborhood and thanks,

Diana and Jeff Gordon
San Vicente residents


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A small plane crashed into a house near the intersection of Navy and 21st
Street in Sunset Park at about 2:15 p.m. today.

According to initial reports, the plane had just taken off from Santa Monica
Airport, but later reports suggested that, in fact, the pilot was trying to
land at the airport.

Officials said that the pilot suffered a broken leg. No one was in the house
at the time of the crash, but two painters who were working on the house
put out a small fire in the plane and pulled the pilot to safety. One of them
was injured, and he and the pilot were taken to UCLA Hospital.

Santa Monica Police officers, a Santa Monica Fire Department Rescue
Unit and Building and Safety staff all arrived at the crash site quickly.
Crash investigators were said to be on their way.

The cause of the crash was not known at press time.


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Sonya Sones, author of the Los Angeles Times best-selling novel-in-verse, THE HUNCHBACK OF NEIMAN MARCUS (HarperCollins, 2011), will post a new poem on her blog ( every day for the next several weeks about how a mother feels when her child heads off to college. As a public service, we will post the poems in the Dispatch. Herewith, installment five.

Flying Our Daughter to College

I’m tucked into the middle seat
between Michael and Samantha,
who’s looking out the window at the clouds.

I cover her hand with mine
and ask her
how she’s doing.

She answers my question
with an eloquent smile,
then goes back to staring out the window.

But a few seconds later
her head drops down
onto my shoulder.

My hand flutters up
like a startled bird
to cradle her cheek.

We sit here together.
Wordless. Close.
Closer than we’ve ever been.

Her shoulders begin to quiver.
Her warm tears slip down my fingers,
anointing my wrist.

And when my own tears come,
it’s as if they’re gushing
directly from a crack in my heart’s dam.

I stroke her cheek,
kiss the top of her head,
wrap both arms around her.