Whither Winter

By Ava Tramer

Partly cloudy and warm
Highs: 69-71; Lows: 52-54

Partly cloudy with chilly evenings
Highs: 76-82; Lows: 45-47

Mostly sunny and warm
Highs: 75-82; Lows: 52-56

And Santa Monica…
We’ll welcome December in Santa Monica in our own unique way. With temperatures below zero in other parts of the country, blustery winds and pounding rains fill up dreary days and frosty nights. December will receive a cool welcome. Yet in Santa Monica, our welcome will confuse December. The warm sun, fluffy clouds, and mild temperatures will make December wonder if he came too early. But no, he didn’t: Santa Monica is simply its own special place, and doesn’t conform to the rules of weather!

“Vietnam: American Holocaust” Will Screen Friday

“Films 4 change” will screen “Vietnam: American Holocaust” on Friday, December 5, at 7 p.m..

The 87-minute documentary exposes one of the worst cases of sustained mass slaughter in history, planned and executed by presidents of both parties. Our generals and soldiers killed 5 million people using incendiary bombs. Vietnam has never left our national consciousness, and it is more relevant than ever.

It documents the White House fabrication of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and raises the question of whether JFK was assassinated to promote the Vietnam War.

It’s based, in part, on declassified White House tapes and documents, and covers the history of the conflict through Wotld War II and the French defeat and onto the American involvement, which was justified by President Lyndon Johnson’s lying to the American people about the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Testimony from American soldiers and Vietnamese people is featured, along with an exploration of the policies that led our country to war in Indochina. An examination of US mainstream media contrasts its role then and now.

Martin Sheen, who starred in the penultimate Vietnam film. “Apocalypse Now” almost 30 years ago, narrates.

A discussion will follow the film.

RSVP : RachelJay@earthlink.net or call 310-451-2752 (first 30)

$5 donation for Change-Links
Progressive Newspaper and Calendar
http://www.change-links.org”> http:change-links.org

The screening will be held at the home of Rachel and Jay 601 9th Street in Santa Monica.

Commotion on Fourth Street

Given the number of sitcom writer/producers who live in Santa Monica, it’s astonishing that none of them has based one on City Hall’s comical, often bizarre efforts to impose its idea of order on the beach town’s naturally rambunctious residents.

Remember the hedge wars, which began when the City distributed notices to owners of renegade hedges, threatening to fine then $25,000 a day for every day their hedges remained “out of “compliance,” i.e., more than 42 inches tall?.

Hedge owners’ outrage rocked City Hall. Officials immediately claimed the $25,000 a day fine was a typo, but no one believed them. And it took four years and several “interim” ordinances to achieve something like peace. But why is the height of our hedges City Hall’s business anyway?

The latest dust-up between residents and City Hall has already been chronicled in the New York Times’ “Santa Monica Journal,” an irregular feature devoted to our foibles. It’s also on You Tube.

The City Council will take it up Tuesday. At issue is the “appropriate” use of the Fourth Street median,

On its face, it couldn’t be simpler. A 1970 ordinance prohibits all activities on the median but walking and jogging. The City can either enforce the ordinance, or change it.

But nothing’s simple in our City Hall.

All of its trademark twists are already in play– – the rigid old ordinance, the molehill-to-mountain process. community outreach- input, “public education,” surveys and community meetings. And the Council hasn’t had its shot.

According to the staff report, “Although there has been an ordinance prohibiting the use of medians for anything other than walking or running since 1970, the 4th Street median south of Adelaide Drive is regularly used for exercising, stretching, group fitness classes and pick-up gyms. Nearby residents have expressed serious concerns about this use and the associated noise, traffic, and litter. In spite of many attempts to use proactive methods to secure compliance including education, new signs, intermittent enforcement, etc., the 4th St. median at Adelaide Dr. has attracted increasing numbers of people utilizing the area for exercise and other activities that are not permitted by the ordinance. A Park Ranger has been assigned to oversee the area as part of a regular rotation which has minimized non-permitted use of the median. Staff conducted a 1,000 foot survey of residents to gauge community concerns, held a community neighborhood meeting and has begun discussion of potential options and solutions. There is no fiscal impact to continue with the current periodic enforcement of the city ordinance with Park Rangers as already established. If Council proposes other actions that have fiscal impacts, funds will be identified in the current adopted budget…

“The median has become a gathering spot for groups, paid fitness coaches and individual exercisers, many of whom create noise, trash and human waste issues. The noise starts as early as 4:00 a.m. and often continues well into the evening. Recently, a Park Ranger has been assigned to oversee the area as part of a regular rotation… In spite of many attempts to use the proactive methods to secure compliance including education, new signs, intermittent enforcement, etc., the 4th St. median at Adelaide Dr. has attracted increasing numbers of people utilizing the area for exercise, etc.

“Staff has worked with neighbors from adjacent residences on a number of short term interventions to disrupt negative impacts and behaviors. In addition, staff conducted a 1,000 foot survey of residents to gauge community concerns, held a community neighborhood meeting and has begun discussion of potential options and solutions…

“Staff will evaluate additional measures that can be taken to address the neighbors concerns, present recommendations to the City Manager, and return to City Council for further direction, if required…”

Like the residents, I would vociferously object to what amounts to a traveling circus camping out under my windows before dawn every day.

But Santa Monica is one of the most densely populated towns in Southern California and, City Hall’s claims notwithstanding, we suffer from a chronic and growing shortage of open space. Compounding the problem, the things we can’t do in our parks and on the beach far outnumber the things we can do.

Surely, City Hall’s devotion to all things sustainable extends to people. Therefore, it should simply work with the exercisers to find another attractive, suitable and convenient location for them – wiyjout further ado.

Of course, it’s the ado that makes City Hall such perfect sitcom fodder, but surely we can spare a little ado for the sake of peace on Fourth Street.

Things To Be Thankful For

The worst President in American history will finally be out of our lives in 53 days, and we can begin to undo the damage he’s done to our Constitution, our country and the world

We made history by electing America’s first African-American President, Barack Obama, who has vowed to not only restore the promise of America, which has been tarnished by 40 years of neglect, but to revive its spirit.

Prop 8, the anti-same sex marriage measure, whose recent passage was decried by everyone who believes in justice, equality and separation of church and state, is under assault. A post-election poll showed that it would be defeated if a second vote were held. Large anti-Prop 8 protests have been held all over the the country. Most significantly, the measure will be reviewed by the State Supreme Court. And serious legal questions have been raised about the role of the Mormon Church in funding and promoting Prop 8.

This glorious, sublimely idiosyncratic, iconic beach town that we inhabit still stands, despite City Hall’s continuing effort to subdue it, and turn it into a money mill.

The deeply flawed revision of the land use and circulation elements of the General Plan is still in the works, and so residents still have a shot at fixing it.

Tricia Crane’s valiant crusade, the intervention of City Council members Ken Genser, Bob Holbrook, Herb Katz and Bobby Shriver, over the continuing petty protests of their colleagues, Richard Bloom and Pam O’Connor, the courageous declaration of Rebecca Kennerly, who heads the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s PTA Council, the Council’s involvement, the Barber study, and, most recently, the first forum on special education and the publication of the long-awaited handbook for parents of children with special needs have ignited the effort to finally develop a complete, effective and substantive special education program, in spite of the continuing lassitude of the Board of Education.

In the late 1970s, TIME magazine reported that the primary role of the mass of Americans was to consume. So it was that the majority of us were reduced to mere customers in our own land, valued for what we spent, not for what we made.

It was a fundamental change, a downturn in our national aspirations, an enormous, ominous shift, but there it was.

From then to now, one idiot leader after another has inveighed us to shop. When the going gets tough, the tough go…shopping.

Remember, after 9/11, when it was still possible to pretend that President Bush had a measurable IQ, our Commander-in-chief said it was our patriotic duty to go shopping.

A hot wire from America’s reduction to a coast-to-coast shopping center plugs right into the current financial crisis. There is nothing about any of that to be thankful for, but there is this.

During his campaign, President-elect Obama spoke often and eloquently about writing a new leading role for the declining middle and working classes by creating new industries devoted to producing clean, cheap, renewable energy and fuels, and related “green” products – from automobiles to building materials. . With the onset of the financial crisis, he proposed employing more millions to reconstruct the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — highways, bridges, schools and the like.

If the financial crisis leads to the creation of new industries and millions of solid, challenging, well-paid new jobs, that, in turn, may lead to the mass of Americans becoming active producers again rather than passive consumers – mere puppets in someone else’s game, that would surely be something to be thankful for.

Whither the Rain

By Ava Tramer

Overcast with potential showers
Highs: 62-67; Lows: 51-53

Partly cloudy with showers
Highs: 67-73; Lows: 44-49

Mostly cloudy
Highs: 69-80; Lows: 54-57

And Santa Monica…
The time has come: fulfillment is near,
It is a most wonderful time of year.
Families gather for good times and fun,
And finally, away goes the sun.
We dine on turkey, full stomachs in pain,
And weatherwoman is happy: finally, there’s rain!
She is thankful for one thing on this thanks-filled day,
That finally her weather advice is needed – hooray!