March 2008 – Community Comments On Oakwood Raid

March 1, 2008

 

Operation Oakwood – Search And Destroy

LAPD, Feds kick down doors, terrorize seniors in early morning “Iraq-style” para-military operation Feb. 19. The 300-plus invasion force said they were looking for gang members but found mostly elderly women, children and babies in the homes after kicking down the front doors.
•••••
 
The View from Inside the House

By the owner’s grandchild (name withheld because of fear of retailation) 

The assault on 646 Broadway was unfounded and unnecessary. There were no drugs. There were no weapons. There were no felons. The home was occupied by Rosa Hamm and other family members. 

In the past if officers had a problem or wanted to talk to a family member, they would ask to conduct their search and leave. Under the existing agreement with the city: 1) certain family members were banned and fined; 2) Signs were posted on the property that read: “No trespassing, no drugs, no weapons; 3) the iron gate was removed so the police could have access. 

The property was purchased over 50 years ago and the neighbors wonder how we can afford to live in this community. Gentrification is as evil as the Holocaust. The SWAT officers shot a flash grenade through my Grandmother’s bedroom window. They also gained entry through my Grandmother’s window. The officers then proceeded to walk to the front door and beat it with a sledge hammer. All they had to do was unlock the door. They never identified themselves as police or any other law enforcement. They did not show a search warrant until they left. The house was listed as closed before they even searched it. 

In some languages there is no word for “moving.” People can be destroyed by simply moving them. Forced eviction and seizure of the property is the goal, not the arrest of individuals perpetuating the crimes. The perception is allowed to fester to justify the injustice. Delay of arresting the people selling drugs was the root of the problem. It was noted in the Los Angeles Times, “The general Oakwood area- a roughly one square mile neighborhood was conceived as a neighborhood for working- class blacks by Venice developer, Abbot Kinney.” 

Rosa Hamm is a law-abiding citizen who has worked her entire life. Why should she be prosecuted? Look deeply into your community.

The City Attorney’s office issued eviction notices to 13 residents of Oakwood and has filed a motion to close the home at 646 Broadway, because of alleged drug sales.

•••••

Oakwood Residents Demand Their Rights 

By Jim Smith

An army, at least 300-strong, attacked that part of Venice known as Oakwood in the early morning of Feb. 19. The ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) troopers and the Los Angeles Police Dept. used “dynamic entry” (kicking doors down) to enter at least 18 homes. Anger and horror stories of the day’s events flew at a community meeting that evening. 

One senior, Mae Phillips, said she was roused from sleep when she heard someone outside say her address. The next thing she heard was her front door falling in. 

“I woke up this morning with a shotgun in my back and a gun to my head,” said another innocent homeowner. 

“I’ve been here for 50 years, yet you kicked down my door looking for someone who has been in custody for two months. Twenty-five officers were in my house. They beat my 14-year-old dog with a fire extinguisher, said another, her anger rising by the moment.

Police Capt. Joseph Hiltner responded, “this isn’t the forum to debate that.”

Operation Oakwood, as the police called the action, was well underway before Councilmember Bill Rosendahl received a call about it. He said he received a call from Capt. Hiltner as the Operation was beginning. There was no explanation why the elected official in the area was not informed in advance. 

Police were allegedly searching for illegal drugs and firearms, and targeting the Shoreline Crips, a local gang. 60 arrest warrants and 25 search warrants had been issued by a judge, according to police.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo was apparently informed well in advance of the raid. He showed up for a press conference at the Oakwood Recreation Center around 10:30 am. Delgadillo vowed to clean up Oakwood whether the residents want it or not. He claimed that gang members had taken over the Rec. Center and refused entry to anyone else. This came as a shock to the Oakwood Seniors who have lunch in the facility every day, and to this reporter who frequently goes to the center on Beachhead business.

Another women said that police put a gun to her niece’s head. “I almost had a heart attack when you bashed down my door,” then she added: “Are you saying because I’m an African-American woman, I can’t live in Venice?

Her statement reflects the feeling of many in the community that the raid served more as an attempt to intimate African-American homeowners in the gentrifying Oakwood area. Many of the homes have been in family hands for generations and are owned by the patriarchs and matriarchs of family groups that include grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Many of the offspring use these homes as their address even though they may rent in Los Angeles or Long Beach. Police either did not know this, or knew it and went ahead with the mission anyway.

The magnitude of the operation attracted the interest of several out-of-town newspapers, including the L.A. Times, Torrance Daily Breeze and the Marina Argonaut. All of them were apparently “embedded” in the police and city attorney’s public relations department, and gave scant notice to the community’s side of the story.

Fortunately no one was shot despite the firepower brought into the community by the 300 fully armed “soldiers.” 

In addition, the raid may serve to bring the entire community together to protect their own interests. However, when Jataun Valentine suggested the community have a meeting without the police, Rosendahl responded that first they should meeting with the Human Relations Commission, another city department.

••••••

Police Raid Results in Terror and Evictions

By Peggy Lee Kennedy

A community meeting was held at the Oakwood Recreation Center the evening of February 19 to discuss the gang sweeps that took place that morning and the previous evening. 
The community was visibly distressed and complained that warrants were used with names of people not even at the addresses. The Police crashed into the homes of senior citizens – breaking down the doors, terrorizing them, and leaving them unable to secure their homes. Guns were held to their heads. Officers screamed obscenities. An LAPD dog defecated in one family’s house and a baby was almost trampled. A 14-year-old boy said that two guns were on his head, but he had never been in trouble before. Homeless people – not gang members – made up part of the grand total of 19 people arrested.

Oakwood residents, including very vulnerable senior citizens, affected by the so-called gang sweeps are now receiving eviction letters from either the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office or their landlords using the current abatement and nuisance law, LAMC 47.50. 

Oakwood is a community with generations of African-American homeowners and families. For many years they have been dealing with the criminalization of their youth, police harassment, programs such as PACE (Police Assisted Community Enhancement Program) that negatively impact many seniors, and increasing amounts of more affluent neighbors who refuse to fit in with the older community.

The so-called gang sweep, and subsequent eviction notices, are a low blow, according to many people in the community, in an on-going attempt to remove these black people from what is now a very high priced beach community. 

Tips:

• What you say to the police or the city attorneys can be used against you. Consider getting legal advice before meeting or even having casual conversations with them.

• There are police misconduct forms, and self-addressed envelopes addressed to Internal Affairs, in every LAPD station. They should be sitting on the counter, or nearby. You do not need to ask anyone for them. 

• People facing eviction can contact the Eviction Defense Network for assistance on a sliding fee scale. Call 213-385-8112.

• There are a few good attorneys and referrals (not a guarantee of legal representation). Contact me at humanrights@freevenice.org.

• If we stay in fear or only complain and never organize to document and oppose violations of our civil rights, we will have no chance of winning or protecting our civil rights.

••••••

Two Anonymous Comments from the Community

A majority of the people that the LAPD are searching for are already behind bars. This community member received a letter the was “concerning the activities connected to the park.” Many 3rd and 4th generation African-American homes received the same letter because of their past and present associations of their family members, who are not necessarily living at these addresses. The gentrification that started back in the 1980s still continues to perpetuate ethnic cleansing. 

——

I cannot tell you of the terror of the elderly people as so many different law enforcement agencies swept through this community! It was terrible to break down doors at 4:45am, awaken so many people in this fashion. If the individuals that they were looking for could have been arrested on the streets, would not this be the humane thing to do? We must come out and hold all entities who were responsible, accountable for this type of treatment of our neighbors. We must put aside our differences and realize that we all are human beings living together in a great community by the sea. Civil rights have been violated and this must be addressed and tackled so it will not happen again. 


March 2008 – Letters

March 1, 2008
• Town Hall on the OFW Ordinance – Paul Carey
• More on the Ordinance – Steve Schlein
• Venice Women on the Web – Pat Hartman
• How High the Fence? – Kevin Maloney
• How High the Fence on Rialto? – Brian Finney
• Billboard Blues – Grant Gordon
• Letter from Seattle – Tina Morehead & Steve Effingham
• Immigration – Ron Lowe

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Town Hall on the Ocean Front Walk Ordinance

Dear Beachhead,

What an evening! I must say that the dais demonstrated remarkable compassion and tolerance of the disrespectful behavior on the part of some of the OFW community members.

 It is felt by all the current state of draft ordinance is unworkable. 

 Culturally disjointed: Zoning OFW is the absolute antithesis of the organic process that has brought world wide attention to Venice Beach.

 Unenforceable: The existing ordinance could well be working if it were actually enforced. The NUMBER ONE CONCERN of the OFW community is the removal of the commercial vendors. If you did not make it you may not sell it. Please keep these people out thereby reducing the need for zoning.

 Administrative nightmare: Zoning OFW as proposed has a fiscal impact that is not acknowledged nor are the jurisdictions involved prepared to accept the burden.

 Being a musician who must rely on an amplifier, and an engineer, I have specific issues with the noise ordinance as discussed at the meeting. The specifications are inconsistent with the physics.

 The ultimate objective is to harmonize the activities on OFW with the community while nurturing expression.

 While I personally can not understand why anyone who chose to live at the beach would complain, I do acknowledge that there are folks that wish the performers had an off switch. For all the time and energy that is going into this, perhaps we should ask an architect in the community to comment on the feasibility of a structure to block the sound.

 Lastly, I am dismayed that criminality is asserted in the ordinance. A workable ordinance will see enforcement limited to revocation of the permit to occupy a site with an appeal available subject to a hearing in the same venue that granted the permit. All criminality shall be judged according to existing municipal code. 

You really need to walk the boardwalk on Sunday and pick a few people who will participate in crafting a workable solution. 

Thank you for your commitment to the process.

 Paul Carey

••••••

More on the Ordinance

Dear Beachhead,

The Ocean Front draft ordinance published in the February 2008 issue of the Beachhead would legalize 75 decibels of sound volume at a distance of twenty-five feet from any source on the Venice boardwalk.

The Noise Element (Exhibit H) of the city’s General Land Use Plan places the volume of 75 decibels on a scale between the noise of shouting 3 feet away and the noise of a vacuum cleaner 10 feet away.

No member of the public should have to suffer this intolerable volume of noise while walking on the ocean front, and performer noise cannot legally be allowed inside the homes of residents who live on or near the ocean front.

 Performer noise far below 75 decibels already invades the homes of Venice residents.

 The noise decibel criteria in the draft ordinance is the wrong criteria because it will harm the public welfare and violate the seminal decision of the United States Supreme Court in Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781 (1989).

 In Ward, performers argued that they have a First Amendment right to perform outdoors even if their noise enters the homes of nearby residents. The Supreme Court ruled that performers do not have a right to place their noise inside anyone’s home. The justices observed:

“… It can no longer be doubted that government has a substantial interest in protecting its citizens from unwelcome noise. This interest is perhaps at its greatest when government seeks to protect the well-being, tranquility, and privacy of the home …”

 Since performers do not have a right to put their noise inside the homes of Venice residents, city government does not have a right to do it for them.

 Instead, government has a duty to “protect the well-being, tranquility, and privacy of the home” and that means keeping performer noise strictly on the outside.

 Steve Schlein

•••••

Venice Women on the Web
Dear Beachhead,
VirtualVenice.info delights in showcasing the talents of Venice artists. These women have their own pages: poets Philomene Long, Kate Braverman, Lynne Bronstein and Wanda Coleman; authors Laura Shepard Townsend and Rana Ayzeren; and photographers Arielle Haze Tyner and Helen K. Garber.

I would love to feature more Venice women. All it takes is: for a visual artist, a few photos of Venice-related art; for a poet, a few Venice-related poems; for an author, a book excerpt or substantial review of your Venice-related book.

Bios and interviews are also desirable, and it would be great to have women in other areas too, like music and theater. All I ask is that the examples of your creativity have something to do with Venice.

Please consider contacting me for your own page in Virtual Venice.

Best of all possible regards, 
Pat Hartman

•••••••

How High the Fence?

Dear Beachhead,

It’s not too late to distance yourself from Fox News. Georgie Gravel went stark, raving mad, putting such an inaccurate slant on the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Fences and Hedges meeting that Bill O’Reilly would be proud. Georgie, the only thing accurate in your article is the title, which, surprisingly, makes a good point. So why didn’t you expand on it, instead of completely misrepresenting what actually went on.

Yes, tall fences violate an existing ordinance that a LOT of people don’t like, some for very good reasons, some for, well, kinda shaky, embellished, emotional reasons. Yes, there was some rude shouting. But OVERWHELMINGLY, everyone was willing to listen to EVERYONE, for or against the law. Georgie Gravel, you are a liar. You said the meeting was seriously slanted in favor of people wanting to keep their illegally high fences. The FACT is, more than 90-percent of the people attending the meeting want illegally high fences. That’s not slanted! That’s just the way it was! Not only that, Georgie, but the few people with a minority point of view were graciously allowed to take cuts and speak earlier, so they wouldn’t have to wait until the end of the meeting. And their points of view were applauded, too, even by the “other side”. Yes, there were a few boos and hisses, but my dear Mr. Limbaugh, the meeting was mostly civil, and ably and democratically handled by the Venice Neighborhood Council. You make it sound like all opposing viewpoints couldn’t be heard over the din of self-righteous law-breakers. No, everyone was heard.

And if you say there are 70-percent of Venice property owners who want the existing law, and that they should show up at the next meeting, I say right on! Where were they January 29th?

I say to the Beachhead: Your publication is important. You don’t need to bend and misrepresent the truth to get your point across. That’s what the other side does.

Kevin Maloney

•••••

How High the Fence on Rialto?

Dear Beachhead,

In his report on the VNC Board meeting on Fences and Hedges, George Gravel introduces himself as “an innocuous-looking gent that [he means, who] observes, asks questions and listens.” Read further and nothing could be further from the truth.

He claims that 90 percent of the 200 Venetians attending “were screaming and hollering” their objections to the proposal to bring down all hedges and fences to a regulation 3’ 6”. While a few speakers qualified for this description, the majority of the objections from all but four of those attending were expressed in reasonable and often deeply felt terms. 

George Gravel then asserts with no evidence that “attendance was seriously slanted to people wanting to keep their illegally high fences.” To back up his contention he claims that he drove slowly through Venice and found that only 30 percent of our homes have high fences. I have done a house to house count of the 400 and 500 blocks of Rialto Avenue. There is no way you can do an accurate count with a drive-by. I found that 60 percent of the 400 block and 50 percent of the 500 block had high fences. 

George Gravel concludes that on his count that means that “70 percent observe the law.” Apart from rejecting his count, I would point out that several of the home owners in my block who have low fences nevertheless object to the proposed attempt to reduce Venice to a uniformity, when Venice represents for most of us a triumph of diversity – if not outright eccentricity.

If George Gravel considers his an impartial and objective piece of journalism, he should apply at once for a job with Fox News.

Brian Finney

••••••

Billboard Blues

Dear Beachhead,

Could someone please explain how it is that we got this hip, new, lighted mini-billboard on the corner of Main and Abbot Kinney?

Driving home from work the other day, I stopped at the traffic light.

I glanced over to my right to look for lurking cyclists/pedestrians and got an eyeful of the new ultra-desirable, oh-so-hip MacBook Air.

Why is there suddenly a billboard at that intersection?

Dangerously placed at eye level to a driver?

Do I need to find a new route home to avoid yet another slick pitch, this one so totally unavoidable?

Perhaps CBS/Decaux will face a lawsuit after someone gets knocked down because of their pretty but obstructive billboard.

Isn’t someone supposed to vet these things? Whose brilliant idea was this?

Or, is it, as I suspect, acceptable only if the products advertised therein are in the tragically hip and lovely category.

I can’t see a poster for Subway or Ralphs getting the green light, can you?

Are these the same geniuses that run the orange lights on the meaningless billboard at the community center all night.

Yours in total disbelief,      

Grant Gordon

•••••••

Letter from Seattle

Dear Beachhead,

Hope all is well with the collective. We so enjoy our Beachhead – a bit of sunshine each month here in the Northwest! Here is our sustainer check for $100. Keep up the good work!

Love, Tina Morehead & Steve Effingham

••••••

Immigration

Dear Beachhead,

There goes another bogus claim of the anti-immigration crowd. A report just released says that immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than are native born citizens. People born in the United States are eight times more likely than immigrants to be incarcerated.

Go to any cosmopolitan city, New York, Miami, San Francisco, and you will hear a wide diversity of languages from around the world. So much for the “speak English” only spiel of talk radio hosts.

As far as the assimilation argument goes, I see multitudes of Mexicans and Latinos and their children and they’re working, speaking English and assimilating quite well, thank you.

Every day the bigotry, intolerance and prejudice that drives the anti-immigration movement becomes more apparent.     

Ron Lowe



March 2008 – Fences

March 1, 2008
The Venice Neighborhood Council on Feb. 19 took up the issue of the maximum height of front fences and hedges.
The meeting took place the same night as the meeting in Oakwood (see page 1), but seemed to be a different city. Most of those in attendance opposed the city ordinance limited front fences and hedges to 3.5 feet. One speaker maintained that higher fences meant higher property values. Several spoke of concerns with crime, and a few, who had apparently never heard of the Venice Specific Plan, said they could do anything they wanted with their property. The VNC passed the buck to a new taskforce that will study the issue.

March 2008 – The Fellowship Of The Beachhead – Or How I Got To Be In Charge For A Change

March 1, 2008
By Lynne Bronstein

For the last 30 years or so, women have been learning to assert themselves and how to delegate authority without aping the worst traits of authoritative males. Does assertiveness training work? Well, it still helps if people are able to abandon their double standards. Regardless of what one thinks of Hillary Clinton’s politics, one has to agree that she comes in for some bashing for her take-charge attitude.

As for poor little old me, I’ve been trying for years to overcome a plethora of fears in order to get what I need. I’ve always been more of a loner than either a follower or a leader. But I have to thank the Venice Beachhead for helping me to see that I did have it in me to be a leader.

The Beachhead has always been run as a Collective and nobody is the editor. Editorial decisions are made by the entire group. Of course, since somebody has to lead meetings and organize production, every month one person volunteers to be the Coordinator, which would otherwise be called the Managing Editor. Back when I was on the Collective-late 1970s and early 1980s – each month’s meeting would begin with the last month’s Coordinator asking who wanted to take over for the new month-and somebody would volunteer.

For the first few months, I didn’t volunteer because I was new and wanted to learn more about the functioning of the paper. Then, I didn’t volunteer because it seemed as though all the others were so accustomed to speaking up that I wasn’t able to jump in fast enough.

And then it got to the point where many Collective members were growing weary of the task of coordinating. The question would come up and there would be a moment of silence and then someone would sigh and say “okay, I’ll do it, just this once more.”

Finally came a month when the question was posed. I had been thinking about how I had a golden opportunity to finally “jump in” and say that I would coordinate. There was the silence. Nobody spoke. So I nudged myself and said “I’ll do it.”

Remember that moment in The Fellowship of the Ring when the various elves, dwarves, and humans are discussing who should travel to Mordor to destroy the ring, and everyone has excuses, and finally, little Frodo speaks up and says he’ll take the Ring to Mordor? And the others are abashed and they pledge to help Frodo on his journey?

I felt tears in my eyes when I saw that part of the movie because it reminded me of the time I first volunteered to be Coordinator of the Venice Beachhead.

Nobody knelt at my feet but nobody said “No, Lynne, you aren’t assertive enough to manage things.” It wasn’t Beachhead policy to second-guess somebody else’s abilities. I was entitled to have my turn as all the others did.

That being said, I soon realized that my first task would be to establish a sense of order, for my co-workers were gossiping and I needed to quiet them down. So, when my gestures and murmurs of “Quiet” were not heeded, I took out my police whistle that I carried for self-defense and I blew the whistle! Everyone hushed up at the sound.

Then we laughed and someone said “I like the way Lynne takes charge!”

I coordinated that issue and at least two other issues. There were no fights or ego struggles. I didn’t have to stretch myself into a dictator to get my instructions across.

I don’t know if the whole world could be run by the collective process but I do know that it was and is a system that allows the formerly powerless to taste what power is like-without abusing power.

And over the years, the Venice Beachhead has been the home of a large number of assertive, smart, creative women who contribute to the paper in every possible way.

I’m glad I got to be one of them. 


March 2008 – An Ocean Front Ordinance, Once More

March 1, 2008
The long awaited night had finally arrived – as promised by Bill Rosendahl – for the people of Venice to discuss the proposed new ordinance for the Boardwalk. 
It was quite a well attended meeting. A real Venice mixture, a handful of colorful residents and vendors, an assortment of City officials and also what seemed to be an unusually large number of police. 

After general introductions, the proposed ordinance was explained by Council aide, Norman Kulla, and then time was given for public comment. Rosendahl has made it known that he really does want the input and approval of the community before any ordinance is passed. If he stays true to his word we are all going to have to wait a little longer because after this meeting the public comment was pretty clear.

It was started by an intense few minutes of drumming from a well known artist that set the beat for what was to follow. It went something like this: NO NO NO NO NO. Not going to work. Unfair. What? And some more no’s. 

Many speakers (mainly residents who live along the OFW) were concerned with the noise regulations and it was very clear that that is an issue that is going to be very difficult to rectify. The boardwalk is itself an extremely noisy place and trying to find that decibel balance is proving to be a hard task. Many speakers felt that the noise regulations were not going to work and in fact as one speaker pointed out – actually scientifically impossible. Residents openly complained about the fact that the noise is so bad and is only going to get worse; but after reading the proposed ordinance one wonders how the city could possible think that by putting ALL performers in one zone – the “P-zone” – is going to make the noise better for residents close to the Ocean Front Walk…  HUH?

Some speakers were in favor of a few things the new ordinance would offer, in particular the screening process that a vendor would have to undergo in order to participate in the “I-zone.”

The ordinance divides the available space on the boardwalk into two areas. One would be the “P-zone, and the other the “I-zone.” P-zones would be the areas designated for performance, and the vending of items such as newspapers, bumper stickers and books created by the vendor. The P zone will be made between 17th and Paloma Avenue, and only offer 120 spaces, most of which will be about 10 feet by 8 feet. 10 unassigned spaces will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis and 5 spaces would be reserved for large acts by allowing spaces of 20 feet by 8 feet. 2 of the 10 unallocated spaces are for the distribution of free food. I-zones would be for expressive items created by the vendor, such as compact discs, paintings and sculptures, or those that are inextricably intertwined with the vendor’s message. I-zone will allow for a maximum of 100 spaces. 25 of the spaces would be located in Windward Plaza, these spaces would be 6 feet by 6 feet. Another 75 spaces that are 6 feet by 8 feet will be found between Paloma Ave and Navy Court. According to the ordinance, “P” people will be allowed to use spaces in the I-zone but I people not in the P-zone. What??

There are also other differences between the zones that might bother some vendors. For example the permit system. P-zone vendors need to show a full permit but only during the peak season, I-zone vendors need one all year round. 

Noise, ah yes, the noise problem – this will be regulated by restricting amplified noise to certain areas and banning it between sunset and 9am. Noise will not be allowed to exceed 75 decibels, measured from a distance of 75 feet, or 96 decibels, measure from a distance of one foot.  There was no mention of what was to be done about the background noise which is sometimes louder than even an amplified guitar.

Without a doubt many artists will find this ordinance in bad taste as the city tries to separate and segregate artists and performers. There will be some who will enjoy the benefits, and of course there will be the ones who will try to break the rules, and there will always be residents who will continue to complain. That is the nature of the beast, I mean the boardwalk. More lawsuits will probably follow and in the meantime rampant commercial vending will continue. I really hope that the city and the people can come together and really make something that can work.. Something that is fair, constitutionally intact, and preserves one of the last free spaces in this world for artists and free speech to shine.

Read the full ordinance at http://www.freevenice.org.


March 2008 – Bunny Luv

March 1, 2008

By C.V. Beck

Way, way, way back in the 60s, hangin’ out in “da village”(yes, that village), I met a guy, Bill, at the Cafe Feenjon who was working as a manager at the Playboy Club “uptown.”
He arranged for me to go up there for an interview. I went, scared to death. I was seen by the Bunny Mother, a very pleasant-looking woman with a reddish-brown flip and contact lenses. She wanted me to not wear my black horn-rimmed glasses while working and also to put socks in the breastworks of the bunny costume. She took my picture with a polaroid, as I was bunny-dipping uncomfortably,with no glasses and with pairs of tube type sports socks stuffed in there.

 

We chatted a bit and I really didn’t want to put in or on socks, take off glasses, or wear 3 inch spikes, etc. Needless to say, I was not hired there, much to my relief.

The Bunny Mom turned out to be Gloria Steinem…in a previous incarnation, naturally. It was the 60s after all!



March 2008 – How Venice Voted – Obama Landslide In Venice

March 1, 2008

By Jim Smith

Venice proved its contrariness, once again, in the Feb. 5 primary election. While Hillary Clinton won California, 51.8% – 41.8%, and L.A. County 54.9% – 41.6%, Venice was going for Barack Obama by landslide proportions. Even neighboring Santa Monica went for Clinton by a margin of 300 votes.
Obama won every precinct in Zip 90291 except for the area between Lincoln Blvd. and Penmar Ave., north of Palms Blvd. While not doing as well in Zip 90292, that part of Venice south of Washington Blvd., Obama still took three of four precincts. In Central Venice – the old canal area – Obama nearly tripled Clinton’s vote. Perhaps the presence of an Obama office in this precinct gave him a boost.

Although John McCain won the Republican primary, the total number of votes does not bode well for Republicans in November. McCain’s total votes were less than 9% of Obama’s total in Venice. In the general election in 2004, George Bush was able to win 13% of the votes in Venice, a stellar performance compared to McCain’s.

Third party candidates fared poorly in Venice, perhaps due to Obamania. Only some of the results are posted, but of those that are available, candidates for most third parties received fewer votes than in previous elections.


March 2008 – Women are the Celebrities of the World

March 1, 2008
By CJ Groner
Women have much to celebrate these days … and also much to lament. 

We have the first female Speaker of the House in Nancy Pelosi – great.

We also have the first serious female contender for President of the United States in Hillary Clinton … who is desperately trying to scratch out a victory with negative attacks, her husband’s political clout (how feminist is that?), lies, stealing (words and votes), and trying to put her foot on the throat of what is FINALLY an actual MOVEMENT towards positive change in this country, just to “win” – not so great.

I just read an article about how a huge percentage of young girls have as their dream job, “Celebrity Assistant.” Not President, not Teacher, not Doctor, but someone who chases after the mental patient starlets of the moment. I’m still nauseous.

Sure, for every negative example you can hopefully find a positive … but when you get Miss Teen Whatevers getting up and showing the world just how very very stupid American women can be … and getting even MORE media attention to celebrate the fact – I’m going to start looking for someone to slap.

The Media? Parents? Society at large? What I DO know is that if we can IGNORE Paris, and instead we over-saturate the markets with women like Karenna Gore Schiff (yes, Al’s daughter) who wrote a remarkable book called “Lighting The Way” about the absolute BEACONS called: Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mother Jones, Alice Hamilton, Frances Perkins, Virginia Durr, Septima Clark, Dolores Huerta, Helen Rodrigues -Trias and Gretchen Buchenholz. You might not recognize all of those names … but you should.

It’s always interesting to be a woman … torn between wanting to be special, and be equal at the same time. We can’t HELP but be special! We can create new life inside of us! We have marvelous mounds of flesh up front that can also nurture life! We have empathy and love and brains and beauty … with all of that already going for us, frankly, I’ve never felt UN-equal to any man. We ARE different, so let it be and rejoice in it!

Just a couple weeks ago, I was in Kaua’i and went on a zip-lining adventure. I have long blonde hair and a decent cup size, and that was clear enough permission for one of the guides to unleash a ceaseless string of “Blonde Jokes” and lewd-ish comments the entire time. When he finally asked what I did, I replied, “I’m a neurosurgeon.” (I’m not, but how would he know?) The look on his face was classic, and the jokes stopped. I can’t even blame him, really. 

The “Girls Next Door,” the old ladies walking around Beverly Hills looking like The Joker, all going to the same plastic surgeon (Google Lois Aldrin – wife of Buzz – for the best example), fooling no one but themselves … all of it is just so sad and surface, and only serves to perpetuate the empty headed Chick myth. And that is what we have young girls aspiring to! 

We’ve got a lot of work to do in this country, in a lot of areas. But maybe we can start locally … tell the ladies in your life how much you appreciate and respect them, don’t buy the Celeb mags (read the above book instead), be a mentor to a young girl that deep down might want to change the world instead of just her lip gloss.

My feeling these days is not Female, not Male, but People power! Let’s get things done TOGETHER! It really is the only way.


March 2008 – A Few Of The Notable Women Of Venice Who Are Involved In Their Community

March 1, 2008
Happy Women’s Month!
 Suzanne Thompson - Political Organizer; Fundraiser, Former President, Neighborhood Council
Navalette Tabor Bailey - Venice Historical Society; Oakwood Seniors
Sheila Bernard - President, Lincoln Place Tenants Assn; former President, Neighborhood Council
Yvonne Guzman - Director, “Reach for the Top” – Housing for homeless children, men and women
Carol Wells - Director, Center for the Study of Political Graphics
Challis MacPherson - Chair, Land Use and Planning Committee of the Neighborhood Council
Carol Tantau - 25-year-business owner, Just Tantau, and Domestic Violence Victim Advocate
Jataun Valentine - Vice Chair, Venice Community Housing Corp.; Oakwood Seniors
Bunny Lua - Abbot Kinney Blvd. Activist; Owner, Green House Smoke Shop
Pegarty Long - Film Director/Producer; Photographer
Judy Baca - Founder/Artistic Director, Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC)
Debra Bowen - California Secretary of State
DeDe Audet - Past President, Venice Neighborhood Council
Ingrid Mueller - Lead Plaintiff, Lincoln Place Tenants vs. AIMCO
Linda Lucks - President, Los Angeles Board of Neighborhood Commissioners
Lydia Poncé - Board, Oakwood Recreation Center; Community Activist
Peggy Lee Kennedy - Venice Food not Bombs; Advocate for Homeless
Nina Merced - Owner, Fruit Gallery; Organizer of Thanksgiving Day Meals Program
Amanda Seward - Lincoln Place Attorney; Won Historical Status for the Apartment Complex
Emily Winters - Artist/Muralist; Chair, Venice Arts Council
Carolyn Rios - Neighborhood Council Board Member; Teacher, Phoenix Continuation High
Suzy Williams - Singer/Performer

A few more notable women…
The Venice group, Adaawe. 

Top Row: 
Monique Afenjar, Anindo Marshall and Dayna Franklin.
Bottom Row: 
Joselyn Wilkinson, Bridget Graham 
(former Neighborhood Council Board Member), 
Phylliss Bailey Brooks and 
Nakeiltha Campbell.


March 2008 – Beyond Baroque Is Here To Stay

March 1, 2008
Beyond Baroque, the nationally acclaimed poetry and literary arts center, will keep its home in the former Venice City Hall, thanks to the actions of Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and the letters of support from a great many Venetians.
The City Council today unanimously approved a Rosendahl motion directing city agencies to renew and extend a low-cost lease, allowing Beyond Baroque to keep its headquarters at 681 Venice Blvd. through 2032.

“Beyond Baroque is one of the last bastions of the spoken word in Los Angeles,” Rosendahl said. “It is appropriate that it maintain its home and its special relationship with the community of Venice, so long a haven for poets, artists and writers.”

The council action came after weeks of intense concern by many in the literary arts community who worried that Beyond Baroque might lose its headquarters and be forced to close or move from Venice, which it has called home since 1968. City agencies had sought a new policy that would have prohibited low-cost leases with struggling arts organizations. Rosendahl intervened, effectively saving Beyond Baroque from possible extinction.

“We are extremely grateful to Councilman Rosendahl for his support and for his leadership,” said Fred Dewey, director of Beyond Baroque. “Beyond Baroque is part of Venice, and Venice is part of Beyond Baroque. I am delighted we will be able to stay there, and I am extremely grateful for the City’s continued support for the literary arts and for our public mission.”


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