Whither June Gloom

By Ava Tramer

Partly cloudy
Highs: 64-68; Lows: 54-58

Hot and mostly sunny
Highs: 80-86; Lows: 52-58

Clear and hot
Highs: 96-100; Lows: 66-73

And Santa Monica…
The weather this week looks to be relatively un-summery for us.  Highs will be – gasp! – only in the mid-60s, and the sky will often be covered in – horrors! – clouds.  It looks like June gloom might be here a week or two early this year.  However, be thankful that it’s not scorchingly hot, and appreciate the nice temperate weather of Santa Monica, even if it’s a tad cooler and cloudier than ideal.

I will be graduating in June and can be permanently reached at artramer@gmail.com or atramer@post.harvard.edu

Getting Personal

Your doorbell rings. It’s a City employee. He’s carrying a tape measure and a clipboard and he’s there to make sure that your bedrooms conform to new City standards.

Unless you are dangerously flexible, you tell the City employee to mind his own business, and close the door.

As far as we know, the City has yet to set bedroom standards, but it has imposed a great many rules and regulations on us, as well as adopting standards on all sorts of things.

For the last five years, the City Council, planners and consultants have labored over the revision of the  land use and circulation elements
of the General Plan (LUCE). It will determine the shape and direction of Santa Monica, and, to a remarkable extent,  the way we live.

The 1984 revision triggered an avalanche of new commercial development – 9 million square feet in all. It was too much for this very small beach town. Many of  the new developments were merely large and pretentious. Traffic congestion was chronic. But City Hall’s  coffers swelled, and that was the point.

When work began on the 2004 revision, residents were determined
To limit commercial growth and restore the small scale that had been the rule since the founding of the town in 1875. But as work on the revision proceeded, the residents’ role shrank, and their so-called “vision” was relegated to the margins.

The revision remains in flux, and is  less coherent and more ambitious than it was a year ago.

The revision does not include bedroom standards. Yet. But, if you live here,  you had better take everything the City does personally, and seriously.
It’s your street, your sidewalk,  your curb, your curb cuts, your trees, your neighborhood, your boulevards, your parks, your beach, your town, and, above all, it’s your call.

Treesavers Mark Sad Anniversary

Treesavers held a first anniversary memorial march in memory of the ficus trees that were killed on orders of the City in downtown Santa Monica a year ago.

Environmental and community activists joined Treesavers in the memorial march on Friday, May 15. to “remember and mourn the destruction of 23 mature, healthy ficus trees on Second and Fourth Streets.

Treesavers, wearing black and green, carried candles and before- and-after pictures of the 23 trees.  at a brief memorial service at Arizona and the Third Street Promenade.

The service was led by Susan Hartley.  Linda Piera-Avila read a portion of Julia Butterfly Hill’s Legacy of Luna and Bob Wolff read his poem “23 Ficus Trees.”

Treesavers then formed a funeral procession and marched, candles and pictures in hand, to each fallen Ficus tree’s “gravesite”.  At each site, they shared memories of it.   Treesavers Herb and Sally Silverstein commemorated each killed tree with yellow and purple memorial ribbons.  The March ended at 4th and Colorado at the site of the killing of five young trees. Louise Steiner spoke, and read a passage  from Deuteronomy: “thou shall not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them.”

The May 16, 2008 tree removal was part of Santa Monica’s $8.2 million-plus “Pedestrian and Streetscape Improvement Project.”  All of the neighborhood organizations, along with over 11,000 people who signed petitions, opposed the removal of trees.

Treesavers’ efforts included attempts to convince the City of Santa Monica to listen to its residents and make tree protection and preservation, not tree destruction, a top priority.

One year later Santa Monica is setting up an Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force to advise on the development of a long-range urban forest master plan, review specific urban forest issues related to the master plan, and serve in an advisory capacity to the City Council on urban forestry issues.

The deadline to apply to the Task Force is June 1, 2009.  Applications are available on the City’s website at www.smgov.net.

Friends of Sunset Park Annual Meeting

Mayor Ken Genser, Chief of Police Timothy J. Jackman and Fire Chief Jim Hone will speak at the Friends of Sunset Park’s annual membership meeting on Saturday, May 30, 1:30 to 4:00 pm, Mt.  Olive church, 14th and Ocean Park Boulevard.

Among the other City officials who will attend the meeting are Eileen Fogarty, Director of Planning and Community Development, and
Bob Trimborn, Airport Manager

The Samohi Jazz Combo will perform. Refreshments will be served and there will be door prizes.

The neighborhood organization is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year.

It will hold its annual election at the meeting, current FOSP members can renew their memberships and new members can sign on.

Betraying Ourselves

In the midst of the turmoil that has seized Washington, the name-calling,
the charges and counter-charges, the lies, evasions and dissembling , it is vital to remember two facts.

First, our government has tortured people in violation of our own laws and principles as well as international law, and the politicians who ordered it, the lawyers who okayed it and the military brass and civilian spymasters who directed it should all be charged with war crimes and tried.

Second, in America’s 234 years, the only people who have ever actually abridged Americans’ freedom and violated our rights have been Presidents, members of Congress, other elected officials, and alleged law enforcement officials. Invariably, these bullies justify their breaches of the Constitution, abuses of power,  draconian measures,  and monstrous acts as necessary to protect our freedom and preserve our rights.

Every time our alleged leaders betray us and savage the Constitution, America is diminished.

The longtime boss of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover routinely violated
citizens’ rights and broke more laws   than he enforced, but was never charged, much less fired.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, the obscene House unAmerican Activities Committee charged 10 screenwriters with contempt of Congress and sent them to prison for not answering questions the committee had no right to ask them.

Thanks to the HUAC, Hoover’s boys, Senators Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon’s black lists and witch hunts, the lives and careers of untold numbers of talented people in television and film were ruined. They were guilty of nothing, but believing in  America and the Bill of Rights.

The chairman of the HUAC, J. Parnell Thomas, wound up in prison for tax evasion, but nothing happened to  the other Committee members, Hoover and his boys, and McCarthy and Nixon, though all of them had broken  the very laws they had sworn to uphold.

In the 1960s, the FBI and the CIA both infiltrated anti-Vietnam war groups, though opposing bad American policies, including wars, is not only legal, but mandatory.

In the 1970s, Nixon turned the White House into a moral swamp, breaking more laws than anyone could count, lying habitually, playing filthy tricks,
and it was all on tape. Some of Nixon’s men went to jail, but he and his vice-president, Spiro Agnew, were both allowed to resign.  Gerald Ford, who
succeeded Agnew and then Nixon, pardoned Nixon, saying, “The long national nightmare is over.”

It was an extraordinary miscalculation.

In  the 1980s, the financial crisis that unmade the world last September was set in motion, add Iran-Contra surfaced, but more questions were asked  than were ever answered.

Nixon, the most likely candidate for   impeachment in this nation’s history,
escaped, courtesy of Ford, but, In the late 1990s, President Bill Clinton was impeached and charged with perjury, abuse of power and obstruction of justice for lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

He was found guilty by the House, and not guilty by the Senate – more less along party lines. The seedy back stairs circumstances, the party line
vote  turned a profound Constitutional  proceeding into an extended smirk.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s list of high crimes and misdemeanors is as long as it is horrifying. They saw 9/11 not as an unparalleled tragedy,  but as an opportunity to run wild here and abroad, curtailing our freedom, violating our rights, making a  mockery of justice, invading Iraq and sending troops into Afghanistan, while allowing a great American city to drown and so on. And all the while, Congress was as docile as baby turtles.

Only if they and all the people who did their bidding are charged with and tried for war crimes will the rule of law prevail over the chaos that now envelops us and our endeavors.

I have great respect for President Obama and his wish to go forward, but until Bush’s sordid legacy is expunged can we move on.