Thank you for the coverage on the upcoming 10th District City Council election, where Madison Shockley is giving Nate Holden, as David Cogan wrote, "a run for his money" ["Heat on Holden," January 8–14]. However, part of the campaign description was so off the mark that we feel the need to clarify the goals of this important campaign.

The article stated we were rebuilding the Bradley coalition, the black-Jewish alliance, as if that were our sole mission. It is true that the last successful progressive coalition in Los Angeles was constructed by the forces around Tom Bradley’s City Council race in the 10th District. Today we know that for a progressive coalition to be successful, it must be broader. It does seem that again the 10th Council District is in the position to provide history-making leadership, because the district represents the African-American community of the Crenshaw and West Adams districts, the Jewish community up to the Fairfax district, and the new ethnic communities of Koreatown and parts of Pico-Union. We are working to build a new coalition among these culturally and economically diverse communities.

For the past 15 years, Coalition L.A. has had scores of residents in the 10th District walking precincts in each major election, and for the past three years, we have been putting together the pieces of what has now become a representative coalition with the potential to change the way politics are done in this city. The Rev. Madison Shockley was drafted by his neighbors to run exactly because he has hard-earned credibility within all these communities and is the ideal person to help pull together, and hold together, such a challenging but necessary coalition. On behalf of the many Latino and Korean residents, we would like to highlight that the most exciting part of this campaign is the building of a long-term community organ ization that represents all the residents and can therefore effect real change.

—The Rev. Altagracia Perez Coalition for Los Angeles 10th District Office




Marc B. Haefele’s commentary "Barrio Logic" [January 8–14] is pretty much on target. However, I question the validity of the so-called "five-year lag in crime rate." Out here in Encino-Tarzana, crime seems to be increasing, not decreasing — i.e., graffiti, break-ins, auto and real-property vandalism, etc. Every week new bars, gates and electronic devices seem to appear in an area where they previously did not exist.

As for the possible formation of a new "barrio" in the 11th Council District of Cindy Miscikowski — it’s already here! A significant portion of the 11th District is located in the southwest San Fernando Valley, and, especially in my area around Encino-Tarzana, the changes in the past five years have been dramatic. A check of the directory of occupants of all but the most expensive condominium complexes reveals surnames of residents from around the globe. In my particular apartment complex, there are numerous residents among whom English is neither spoken nor understood. On a daily basis, I encounter dozens of pedestrians in the area speaking languages other than English. Not surprisingly, the biggest increase is in the number of Spanish-speakers.

I agree that Mike Davis’ concept of "Fortress Los Angeles," outlined in his book City of Quartz, indicates the shape of things to come for this region. As the population further diversifies, exclusion will no doubt replace inclusion, unfortunate as that may be.

—J. Courtney TylerEncino




I enjoyed reading Mark Cromer’s article "Fast Track" [January 8–14]. It truly is nice to see that Angelenos are slowly but surely abandoning the mindset that the only viable way to get around this town is by private automobile. This new, radical way of thinking probably has Standard Oil, General Motors and Firestone Rubber a little nervous. These three companies were perhaps the most instrumental in seeing to it that the Pacific Electric "Red Cars" and Los Angeles Railway streetcars were abandoned and scrapped.

As a conductor for Metro link, I think a couple of things in the article deserve comment: Mr. Cromer’s reference to "stepping on the locomotive in Claremont" contains a technical error — a not uncommon occurrence when the media, both mainstream and fringe, attempt to publish articles pertaining to trains and railroading. A locomotive is a unit propelled by any form of energy operated from a single control by the engineer. In other words, it is the mobile power plant that propels the train down the track, and is normally off-limits to passengers. The author no doubt rode in the passenger cars that the locomotive either pulled or pushed to the train’s destination. At Metrolink, these locomotives can easily be identified by their fleet numbers in the 800 series.

Also, Mr. Cromer’s proclamation, "I like to put my feet up on the empty seat in front of me," describes a blatant violation of section 640(b)(6) of the penal code and Metrolink policy, making him subject to a written warning, or citation and fine. We certainly would not want his otherwise safe and pleasant journey marred by the issuance of a warning or citation.

—David ArthurConductor Metrolink trains 803, 683, 682, 802Grand Terrace




Re: "Gray Davis Takes Over" [January 15–21]. For quite some time, Harold Meyerson has been holding out the repeal of Proposition 13 as the panacea of choice for our county (and state) money crunch. I would like to point out that the property tax is a highly regressive flat tax, akin to sales and use taxes. A person who makes $40K a year and owns a $125,000 house (and yes, there are millions of such people in this state) now pays $1,180 per year in general-levy property taxes. If Proposition 13 were repealed and the general levy reverted to 2.5 percent, such a person would now owe $2,950. This would be equivalent to a whopping 97 percent increase in their state income tax! Flat taxes of any sort place an unfair burden on lower-income households, and the property tax is no exception. Only a progressive income tax makes any provision for taxing people based on their ability to pay, and I think Mr. Meyerson’s editorials ought to take this into account.

—Jim HendricksonTujunga

Harold Meyerson replies:

If all Prop. 13 did was reduce homeowners’ property tax, that would be one thing. But only 38 percent of the affected property taxes comes from homeowners, while the rest comes from the owners of commercial property. I’d favor a "split-roll" revision of Prop. 13: keeping homeowners’ property tax frozen while raising commercial taxes. Or I’d favor making up the hit that Prop. 13 inflicts on state schools —- which the nonpartisan California Budget Project estimates at $24 billion a year —- by progressively raising the state income tax. But letting our schools languish at Mississippian levels of financial support is not an acceptable option.




Michael Darling’s criticism of Ed Ruscha’s show at the Gagosian Gallery ["Top 10 Plus 10," January 8–14] is completely off the mark. Although he was correct in calling it a "drop-dead exhibition" (the viewer will drop dead from boredom), the show — trite, hackneyed, worn-out, tired, treaded, insignificant and profoundly unprofound — has little else to offer. It appears that Ruscha — and David Hockney, whose latest show was also lauded by Darling — are resting on their laurels and putting out mere forgeries of themselves. As for this "experienced Angeleno," I believe that Darling’s criticism of the two exhibitions displays just how far he, Ruscha, Hockney and the rest of the dried-up art dictators are from the streets of L.A. and the pulse of its citizens.

—John EvansBrentwood


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