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Bill Gibson’s recent feature on a potential Playa Vista land swap [“Swap This,” September 8–14] contains a couple of factual errors to which I feel compelled to respond.
First, I never agreed to carry legislation to permit the land swap to take place. What I did do, after discovering that swap proponents were trying to put together a deal under the radar, was put the brakes on it until I could take a look at whether the swap proposal was a good one for the environment and for the taxpayers.
Second, the notion that I tried to “weave wording for the swap into an unrelated bill” authored by Senator Byron Sher (D–Palo Alto) is also incorrect. I drafted land-swap amendments to a bill that had been abandoned by Senator Sher, specifically for the purpose of getting feedback from the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, the State Lands Commission, the state controller and others who might have an interest in the proposal. Why? Because it’s much more productive to have a discussion about a concrete, black-and-white proposal than it is to try to get feedback on a “concept.” Every environmentalist agrees with the “concept” of protecting as much of the Ballona Wetlands from development as possible — but not everyone agrees on the details of how best to accomplish that goal.
I said it in July when I first heard about the notion of a land swap, I said it again in August when I pulled the plug on the idea and lobbied my colleagues to oppose it, and I’ll say it again here: If a land swap is truly the best way to preserve the largest amount of wetlands acreage at the least cost to the state’s taxpayers, then it’s an idea that will withstand the light of public hearings when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
Senator, 28th District (D–Redondo Beach)
BILL GIBSON REPLIES:
I stand by my story.
Thanks to Bill Gibson for bringing these old-fashioned backroom shenanigans into the light of day. Shame on the Playa Vista devel opers, who are in cahoots with our so-called representative, Ruth Galanter. It is time for Governor Gray Davis to do the right thing, take down the “Private Property” signs and turn this 70-acre piece of land over to the people of California as the beginning of a Ballona Wetlands Preserve.
—Leslie A. Purcell
After reading Bill Gibson’s article, my first thought was “Democracy does work.” The elected officials listened to the people. So Margaret Mead was right when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Congrats to the Ballona Land Trust, the Sierra Club and other environmentalists for taking on Goliath.
AIN’T RAND GRAND?
Re: Teresa Rochester’s “Out in the Cold” [September 8–14]. I couldn’t agree more with her that Santa Monica would be “out in the cold” without RAND. I’ve served in a number of volunteer organizations alongside my RAND-employed neighbors, and have firsthand experience about how much they contribute to the community in which they live.
I wonder how much consideration our City Council has given to RAND’s contribution to Santa Monica’s reputation as a world-class tourist destination. Every week, leaders from all over the world are visiting RAND headquarters, which is within walking distance of our fabulous beaches, hotels, restaurants, retail establishments, the pier . . . I can’t imagine Santa Monica without my RAND neighbors! I hope the City Council does everything in its power to ensure they have a comfortable home here for many years to come.
—C. Bryce Benjamin
Teresa Rochester’s article on Santa Monica’s review of RAND’s proposal to build a new headquarters struck a chord with me. I spent 30 years as an elected official in Southern California, first as an L.A. city councilman and later as an L.A. county supervisor. I frequently had to balance public and private interests in making decisions. Sometimes it was tough, and sometimes it was easy. This one ought to be easy.
Since leaving the Board of Supervisors, I have been a senior fellow at RAND and have seen firsthand how the organization operates, both as a supplier of objective analyses to its clients and as a citizen in its community. As John Jalili, the former city manager, said, RAND’s impact has been immeasurable.
My message to the Santa Monica City Council: I wish that all your decisions were this simple.
THE PARADE GOES ON
Re: Douglas Sadownick’s “Problems on Parade” [September 1–7]. We support full and accurate disclosure, but full and accurate means just that — not a partial, fractured picture that may cause inadvertent scapegoating. The first thing Christopher Street West’s board of directors president James Fields requested at a recent community meeting was a full audit, which CSW will then make public. It will take that and no less to get a real picture. We applaud the board for taking that position. And if there are issues regarding past expenditures, they should be taken up with the appropriate former board members (if they are still alive). This situation is far too complex to reduce to a scattering of numbers presented out of context in your publication. It’s irresponsible.
Douglas Sadownick’s most glaring omission, or oversight, in the article was the failure to note that Michael Yates was an employee of CSW. He merely carried out the decisions of the board of directors. He did, however, hold the whole operation together for years, working long hours at an impossible task, and was never paid very much for his efforts. We owe Michael Yates a debt of gratitude. The Weekly owes him an apology. Your readers deserve a clear picture of what happened and who was in charge when it happened. Together, we need to focus on solving the problem, not on making new ones and causing further confusion. Perhaps that’s just too easy for you to do.
—Bob Dallmeyer, Miki Jackson, Morris Kight (co-founder and former director, CSW), Cesar Portillo
OFFBEAT AND ON TARGET
I just want to thank Christine Pelisek and Gale Holland’s OffBeat for the gem of a paragraph in the Weekly for September 1–7 on Homeboy Industries [“Homegirl Hors D’Oeuvres”]. Somehow, Pelisek, by focusing on one 19-year-old, managed to give a clear, concise picture of a radically effective, struggling organization. I enjoyed reading it and won’t forget it.
About this chain story [“‘N’ Is for Nowhere,” September 1–7]: Far as I can say, I’m about the loyalest reader your rag has here in the Southland, but if you pull this crap again I’m outta here. Is that clear?
Due to a vaguely worded press release, last week’s Rock and Pop listing for the Comatones, Mau-Maus, Toilet Boys and others at CIA failed to make it clear that these were merely video screenings, not live performances.