AIR MAIL: Waxman and Harman to FAA

Randolph Babbitt
Administrator Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20591

Dear Administrator Babbitt:

We are writing to urge the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to produce a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) examining flight traffic at Santa Monica Airport (SMO).
As you know, SMO is a uniquely situated airport directly abutting densely populated neighborhoods. Both sides of the airport’s single runway face homes as close as 250 feet. The dramatic rise in traffic at the airport in recent years, particularly among large business jets, has elevated community concerns about safety, noise and pollution.

Sensitivity about SMO traffic has most recently been heightened following a test initiated by the FAA in December 2009 to change the flight path of certain SMO departures to separate traffic from flights departing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in order to reduce aircraft idling times at both airports. Regrettably, the FAA failed to conduct meaningful community outreach about the goals and objectives or the expected impact of the 6-month test. While supporters of the test welcomed the air quality improvements associated with reduced idling, the Santa Monica Airport staff also received thousands of complaints from residents living in the vicinity of the tested flight-path.

It is imperative that the FAA produce a complete and thorough EIS and hold public meetings to explain the purpose and results of the recent flight-path test, hear from affected homeowners and assess the broader safety, noise and air quality impacts of air traffic in the midst of densely populated neighborhoods. We look forward to your response.

Who’s Running the City?

The sad, sour truth is that this great old beach town and its mostly smart, funny, spirited, wildly diverse, progressive residents are ruled by a handful of people.

We are not referring to the Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) City Council majority, which has reigned for 22 years, but to  the SMRR “steering committee,” which rules the rulers.
In 2008 and again this year, the committee overruled SMRR members to add candidates who had been rejected by members to the SMRR slate for the November 2 election.

The committee is not elected or appointed by the members, and apparently is not answerable to them. Its authority resides in the “fourth bylaw,” but we know SMRR members whose requests for the bylaw text and/or a list of  steering committee members have been ignored.

The unelected, unnamed committee members are, in effect, the puppetmasters, behind the scenes. pulling the strings. running the City show.

Since SMRR has dominated Santa Monica politics for three decades, the steering committee is obviously an efficient political device, as it ensures continuity,or obedience, but it wreaks havoc with democracy and representative government.

When a resident votes for a SMRR Council candidate, is he or she voting  for the person listed on the ballot or the committee? There’s no way of  knowing.   SMRR has the right to organize itself any way it wishes, and the rank and file members have the right to accept things as they are, attempt  reform the organization, or abandon it.

SMRR members or not, all voters will benefit from knowing who else they may be voting for this fall when they vote for SMRR candidates. SMRR Steering Committee: Judy Abdo, Bruce Cameron, Catherine Eldridge, Bruria Finkel,Todd Flora, Patricia Hoffman, Ana G. Hara, Maria Loya, Genise Schnitman, Linda Sullivan, Sonya Sultan, Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein and Roger Thornton. (unofficial list)

Reckless Spending?

Dear Editor:

I have recently reviewed the details of our city’s 2010-11 budget, and the list of the salaries for all city jobs, on the city’s website.  Reviewing this information has caused me to have great concern that city has replaced its historic sound fiscal management with reckless spending on excessive salaries for city employees.  The new city manager (CEO of a city of 85 Thousand), who is paid 20% more than the Mayor of Los Angeles (CEO of a city of 3.5 Million), has called for a new $12,000,000 sale tax, in the middle of the worst recession in 70 years.  This sales tax is apparently needed because it is projected that in future years the city will be unable to sustain its growth in spending.
Continue reading Reckless Spending?

Y and YY: Tricks On Us

Dear Editor:
I am very concerned that concerned parents are being tricked about the city’s real intentions with Prop YY.  Many people have been pointing out that YY has no legal authority, and is merely a suggestion, however YY has a much more fundamental problem.  The supporters have been implying that YY asks City Council to double the city’s current annual contribution to the school district.  But that is not what Prop YY says.  YY only asks City Council to split the income from the proposed new transaction and use tax; there is no request that the new revenue be added to the existing contributions from the general fund.  Remember the California lottery.  Remember all the public school supporters lining up to tell us how it was going to be providing a whole bunch of additional funding for the schools.  Well, today all the lottery profits do go to the schools, however the schools contribution from the state’s general fund, has been reduced by an amount equal the profits from the lottery, making the net benefit for the schools — zero.  Think how easy it will be for city staff to say that now that the school district has its own source of funding, it no longer needs to share in the city’s general fund.

Jeff Segal
Santa Monica