RIFT Makes Progress Report

The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) issued a progress report over the weekend on, in its words, “our campaign to take Santa Monica back from developers,” which, again, in its words,” is moving full steam ahead!”

It goes on to say, “Before it’s over our resident volunteers will have sent personalized letters to over 10,000 Santa Monica voters!

“We will have called over 8,000 additional voters!

“We’re going to tell people the truth about Proposition T: That Proposition T will cut traffic growth by cutting future commercial development by 40%. And it will do that while affecting city revenues by less than 1%… and that’s not until 2023! (According to the city’s own report.)…

“The residents we’ve spoken to have overwhelmingly been supportive of Proposition T…

“We have to counter the deep-pocket, developer misinformation machine.”

The email concludes by urging people to volunteer. “With your help we can spread the word, spread the truth, and win in November! We can reclaim our city, limit development, and put the brakes on explosive traffic growth.
All it will take is a few hours of your time.

“Call our office at (310) 452-RIFT (7438) to volunteer or send us an email, and we will contact you – PropT2008@verizon.net.”

The report was signed by SMCLC co-chairs Diana Gordon and Victor Fresco.

For more information: www. info@smclc.net

America Is Back

America, the world’s “last best hope,” in Lincoln’s words, emerged from the Bush-Cheney “dark side” as the Democtatic Convention got underway in Denver this week.

In the course of the triumphant four-day celebration of the nation’s restoration. history was made and the American promise was renewed.

The journey from Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1776 to the Mile-High Stadium in Denver in 2008 took 232 years. Barack Obama’s profoundly moving promise to America was delivered 45 years to the day after the march on Washington and Martin Luther King’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.

232 yeas, 45 years — far too long in the view of those of us who believe fervently in the founding fathers’ promises of liberty, justice and equality for all.

But late is far, far better than never in this case, and so people of good will wept and cheered when Obama, with roots in Kansas and Kenya. became the first African American in history to be nominated for President of the United States by a major political party.

Down through the years, the promises our founding fathers made were broken by their successors more often than they were kept.

The grand imperatives of the American Revolution were overwhelmed by the crass imperatives of the Industrial Revolution early in the 19th century.

The Civil War ended slavery, but triggered a long, brutish, uncivil war.

In 1904, after touring America, the English writer and seer H.G. Wells said that all America had done was make feudalism more efficient.

Since then, America has gone forward and backward, risen and fallen, evolved and devolved, slowly, fitfully fulfilling some of the founders’ promises. — in spirit, if not fully in fact.

Some people died and many were beaten, hosed and jailed as the civil rights movement picked up speed in the 1960s. Non-violent civil rights workers were assaulted in the streets by ultra-violent cops. PresidentJohn Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, a Presidential candidate. and Civil rights leaders Martin Lither King, Jr. and Edgar Evers were assassinated. Still, desegregation and the voters’ eights bill became law.

But as the Bush-Cheney “dark side” descended on us, the American promise that the founding fathers made and legions of Americans down through the ages struggled to keep seemed to disappear. Bush and Cheney and their henchmen assumed imperial powers, Everyone’s civil rights were abridged. High crimes and misdemeanors proliferated, Congress waffled, and the rich got much, much richer, the middle class got poorer, and the working class got laid off.

It is entirely fitting, then, that a brilliant, dedicated, eloquent young black man should lead us out of the Bush-Cheney swamp and on to the high ground.

It was equally fitting that Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president, and her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, endorsed Obama early, campaigned for him and appeared at the convention Monday night.

Teddy Kennedy is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, but he ignored the advice of his doctors, and traveled to Denver to get the convention off to a rousing start. And that is what he and Caroline did.

Kennedy has been called “thee lion of the Senate.” He has not only been there for 50 years and in that time has played a shaping role in more significant legislation than any other Senator in history. And he’s not finished. Defiantly, joyfully, he vowed Monday that, after campaigning this fall for Obama, he would be back in the Senate in January to finally pass for “the cause of (his) life.” universal health care.

Now Obama, his running mate, Joe Biden, the Kennedys, the Clintons,
Senator John Kerry and Al Gore (both of whom spoke more passionately on behalf of Obama than they had on behalf of themselves during their runs for the White House) will spend the next two months campaigning for Obama and Biden, for change, hope, and dreams deferred too long.

Meanwhile, the Republicans will gather Monday in the Twin Cities for the coronation of their ticket. In 2000, they brought us Bush-Cheney, by any measure, the worst President and Vice President in history. Now, in an apparent effort to extend the nightmare, which they have found so profitable, they’re about to inflict John McCain and Sarah Palin, the plastic mavericks, on us.

Go, Obama!

Exhibit Devoted to Local Artists at SMC

“Emphasis: Santa Monica,” a new exhibit of works by Santa Monica artists curated by Bruria Finkel opened yesterday, August 20, at Santa Monica College’s Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery. It will run through October 18.

The exhibit, which features works in all media by 49 local artists, coincides with the grand opening of the 499-seat Eli & Edythe Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center, where the gallery is located.

On October 4, in conjunction with the exhibit, Al Young, poet laureate of California, will give a poetry reading from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Edye Second Space, the second, smaller stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center.

“Santa Monica’s Main Street, 4th Street, Franklin Street, Pier Avenue and the (Santa Monica) Airport have had a long list of artists who found their inspiration working there,” curator Finkel notes in the show’s catalogue. “To mention a few: Richard Diebenkorn and his “Ocean Park series” influenced by light, sea and sand; James Turrell, who pioneered the idea of light as an art medium; Judy Chicago, who created atmospheric pieces here; and of course Robert Irwin.

“Painters such as Ed Moses, Charles Garabedian, Arleen Hendler, Roberto Chavez, Curtis Hoekzema and innovators such as John Baldessari created in studios on Pier Avenue for years. Many more found the light and the community of artists a source of inspiration.”

All the artists with works iin the exhibit currently work and live in Santa Monica and some of them teach at SMC They are Elena Allen, Don Bachardy, John Baldessari, Edith Baumann, Tony Berlant, Ruth Bornstein, Janet Bothne, Bob Burchman, Shirley Cannon, John Clendening, Eileen Cowin, Judith Davies, Jennifer Diener, Barbara Drucker, Thomas Eatherton, Sam Erenberg, Finkel, Steve Galloway, Helen K. Garber, Frank Gehry, Greg Gioiosa, Phyllis Green, Mark Hanauer, Arleen Hendler, Ann Isolde, Kathryn Jacobi, Jennifer Jesswein, Tom Lundquist, Michael C. McMillen, Robin Mitchell, Brian Moss, Sylvia Moss, Manfred Müller, Patrick Percy, Ave Pildas, Astrid Preston, Barbara Robertson, Ruth Rosen, Katsuhisa Sakai, Lawrence Shapiro, Malissa Shriver, Elena Siff, Jon Swihart, Maritta Tapanainen, Chris Wilder, Diana Wong, Miriam Wosk, Takako Yamaguchi and Jody Zellen.

Finkel’s works have been widely exhibited. She has also created several public art pieces, and her work has been featured in books and is in archives of such institutions as the Smithsonian Art America Museum in Washington, D.C. She has curated shows throughout Southern California, including Track 16 and Arena 1 galleries at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station.

Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The gallery will be is closed Saturday, Aug. 23.

The gallery is located at the SMC Performing Arts Center, Santa Monica Boulevard at 11th Street. For information, call (310) 434-3434.

The exhibit coincides with the gala opening of the college’s performing arts complex, where the art gallery is located.

The 499-seat theater will open September 20 with an inaugural gala featuring legendary singer Barbara Cook. The Edye Second Space, a 99-seat black box, opened last fall and is located right next to The Broad Stage.

The state-of-the-art Broad Stage will feature opera companies, symphony orchestras, musicals, dance companies, film and theater, under the leadership of artistic director Dale Franzen. The theater will also be used for SMC student performances, master classes and special events for the public as well as for the K-12 and college levels.


Several years ago, Finkel curated a similar exhibit. During its run, she suggested that the City of Santa Monica create an archive devoted to the works of artists in all media, including lierature, film and music, who lived and worked in Santa Monica.

At the time, we applauded the notion, and suggested that the City should buy Frank Gehry’s landmark house, when he moves into his new digs in Venice. preserve it and make it the artists’Archive.

As far as we know, the City hasn’t done anything, but it bloody well should before irreplaceable stuff disappears.

What Democratic Process?

Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights’ (SMRR) steering committee’s decision to over-ride the membership and endorse incumbent Jose Escarce for re-election to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education has rendered the election itself superfluous and virtually ensured the perpetuation of the status quo in the District.

There are four ostensibly open seats on the board. Escarce’s fellow incumbent Maria Leon-Vasquez is also running for re-election. Incumbent Ralph Mechur, who was appointed by the Board to replace Emily Bloomfield when she moved away, is running, unopposed, to complete the two years remaining in his term.

Leon-Vasquez and Mechur have also been endorsed by SMRR.
Judith Meister, a veteran PTA activist, ended her candidacy after SMRR leaders gave the nod to Escarce.

The two remaining candidates are political newcomers. Ben Allen, a graduate of Samohi and a former UC student regent, was also endorsed by SMRR. Chris Bley, a teacher at Brentwood School. is the fifth candidate.
It would take a political earthquake for Bley to break the SMRR grip on the School Board. But the District, like City Hall, is in need of a major shakeup.
Here and now, the District is beset by problems that derive directly from the Board’s inability or unwillingness to act decisively.

Some Malibu parents want to break away from Santa Monica.

The District can’t seem to hold on to superintendents – either because it makes bad choices, or because the job is too taxing.

The Board doesn’t seem to manage money very well, with mini-financial crises popping up regularly.

And it has managed to make a shambles of special education programs. In 2004, a group of teachers and parents developed a workable special ed program. It was “approved” by the Board, but never adopted, and students with special needs and their parents remained in an awful limbo.
The parents told their horror stories to the Board again and again, but the Board did nothing. In contrast, on hearing the parents’ stories, three members of the City Council took steps immediately to reform the system.

In endorsing Escarce, the SMRR steering committee claimed that they were taking the unusual step, in part, because the parents of children with special needs had “packed” the convention in order oppose Escarce’s endorsement. In fact, the parents had played by SMRR rules, signing up, paying their dues and voting. In fact, if anyone broke the rules, it was the committee itself, and the democratic process, District voters and the School District are all the worse for it.

Anything Is Possible

Santa Monica resident Emily Josephs came home last week, ending a 66-day 3,800-mile transcontinental bicycle trip. She left Boston on June 11, and pulled up in Santa Barbara on August 14th.

Josephs, the daughter of Bill and Zina Josephs, rode with 30 other young people under the auspices of “Bike and Build,” a non-profit organization that organizes cross-country bicycle trips to benefit grass-roots affordable housing groups in the United States by raising money and raising awareness (www.bikeandbuild.org).

Each rider had to raise $4,000 in order to participate in the bike trip, half going for trip expenses and the other half donated to housing groups. This summer, approximately 210 young cyclists have traveled seven different Bike and Build routes from the east coast to the west coast. They will be donating a total of over $420,000 to organizations that provide affordable housing, such as Habitat for Humanity.

The cyclists on the Boston to Santa Barbara run stopped along the way to work on building projects in Massachusetts, New York state, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, and California.

Tasks ranged from digging postholes and mixing cement to building a fence, hauling bricks, installing cabinets, and painting a 6-bedroom house in one day for a Somali refugee with 14 children.

The Bike and Builders rode up to 110 miles each day, sleeping on the floor in church basements, school gymnasiums and, occasionally, campgrounds.

They took turns doing presentations in the evenings for their host groups on affordable housing.

After dipping the rear wheels of their bikes in the Atlantic Ocean in June, the riders crossed the Berkshires, the Poconos, the Appalachians, and the Alleghenies. They participated in the Cy Young Days Parade in Newcomerstown, Ohio, passed flooded fields in Illinois, and rode through the Ozarks. They traveled along historic Route 66 in Oklahoma, and one rider attempted the “72-ounce steak challenge” in Amarillo, Texas. They crossed the continental divide at 8,600 feet in Pie Town, New Mexico, and visited the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon. On one memorable day, they rode across the Hoover Dam in 115 degree heat, then through a thunder storm and into a rarely seen sight in Las Vegas — flooded streets full of stalled cars. Finally, they dipped the front wheels of their bikes in the Pacific Ocean at Santa Barbara’s East Beach in August, cheered on by family and friends.

Their motto is “Anything is possible.”

Emily Josephs was born in Santa Monica, attended Grant Elementary School, John Adams Middle School, and the Windward School, did volunteer work at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and the California Wildlife Center in Malibu. She recently graduated from Brown University with a degree in biology.

She leaves this week to begin work as a research associate at Indiana University, continuing in the field of plant research.