“A Touch of Venice” mural by artist Jonas Never is going up on the St. Francis Hotel, which houses Danny’s Venice and the Venice Hostel. The noir mural depicts Windward Avenue from the 1930s to the 50s, and is influenced by the late Terry Schoonhoven’s mural that Never is replacing, and by Orson Welles’ 1958 film, Touch of Evil.
Monthly Archives: December 2011
By John Davis
The Four Kings and One Queen who call themselves the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the California Coastal Commission joined forces November 3 to wipe out hundreds of small boat slips, erect private buildings on public parking lots, put a shopping mall on our launch ramp, and allow luxury development on top of an undisclosed, highly pressurized underground methane gas storage field. Only one Commissioner, Esther Sanchez, saw right through the whole fraud and voted no.
The Government planners also failed to report MDR is in a State Seismic Hazard Zone subject to Tsunami, Liquefaction, Subsidence, and Seiche (harbor wave). The existence of an active geologic fault just off the harbor entrance was covered up. This is shown in the County General Plan but the County suppressed the vital evidence to promote development. Ballona Creek overtopped its banks and flooded the whole area in the 30s. What about 50 and 100 year flood events and the rise of sea level? Did they forget about Mother’s Beach liquefacting in the 1994 Quake?
What were the planners and Commissioners thinking? Was this incompetence, misconduct, or outright negligence? When the public revealed these major environmental concerns at the hearing, almost 100 miles from MDR, the CCC ignored the public safety factor in lock step with its staff, the County, and developers.
When a Local Coastal Plan (LCP) is amended, the Geologic Hazard section of the LCP should be thoroughly updated to avoid placing the public in harm’s way according to the CCC document entitled Managing Coastal Hazards. All Commissioners sign an oath to uphold the Coastal Act. Except for commissioner Sanchez, their collective word is not worth the paper the oath is written on. The Chair of the Coastal Commission, Mary Schallenberger, even jested about the entire process. Perhaps she forgot about the danger of methane explosion and the tsunami that reached Marina del Rey this last spring. Or, more likely, she simply does not care about public safety in the Coastal Zone and chose to follow the money.
While County and Coastal staff emphasized urgency in giving developers an illegal, market-rate foothold in this valuable Federal Project (see U.S. Public Law 780), the matter of the Public Health and Safety was not even discussed by the decision-makers. When I spoke with Deputy Director John Ainsworth at the meeting, he said he did not have the time to propose any update to the hazard section of the LCP.
This outright failure of the CCC can be considered the match that lit the fuse. They chose to please major corporate developers by refusing to consider the clear and present threats to public safety presented by geologic hazards, as the Coastal Act Section 30253 requires. The Commission, which implements the U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act, is required by federal law to investigate geologic hazards as well.
Only Coastal Commissioner Burke remarked upon the methane dangers in the Marina, but he failed to propose any mitigation to reduce or eliminate threats to human health and safety.
Having met with Coastal Commission staff prior to the completion of their staff report and recommendations, I presented evidence to Deputy Director Jack Ainsworth and Planner Al Padilla showing that pressurized methane was now stored below the Marina.
A gas well at Fisherman’s Village, located just feet away from residences, was demonstrated to have 820,000 parts per million by volume of methane 9ft below the ground at the well pad. The Upper Explosive Level of Methane is 15 parts per million by volume. Methane gas migrates to the surface and may get trapped under buildings. High voltage electrical vaults are attached to the structures. Did the CCC forget the San Bruno and L.A. Ross Dress-for-Less explosions? The well is named Del Rey 10 and is located right next to the harbor.
A gas well at Mariner’s Village, located just feet away from residences, was demonstrated to have 820,000 parts per million by volume of methane 9ft below the ground at the well pad.
Please don’t smoke in Marina del Rey, especially at Mariner’s Village!
Hydrogen Sulfide can be deadly when breathed and affects the young and elderly in small doses. Part of a concrete foundation in Mariner’s Village was replaced because it was destroyed by Hydrogen Sulfide. What can it do to humans?
There is an oil production line and a gas line, which the California Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources diagrams show as being hooked up to Del Rey 10, then running along Via Marina, Admiralty Way, and across the wetlands.
One of the lines leaked about 100 gallons of oil next to the sidewalk in 2004. HAZMAT showed up with a giant pump truck. The LA County Small Craft Harbor Commission has twice promised to follow up on the line’s status but has not. It is currently unknown if these lines are contaminating the soil and groundwater near the newly-approved development because the County and CCC suppressed the evidence from public view, even though the law requires full disclosure.
Currently Sempra Energy Corporation, (The Gas Company), is abandoning Del Rey 10 without letting the residents know a potentially dangerous situation may exist, without notifying the County, and without notifying the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services if it is the responsible party for the gas release. Sempra was the responsible party for the pipeline leak in 2004, but failed to report it as State and Federal law requires.
This stealthy abandonment helps cover the track of the release of deep thermo-genic gases to the surface near densely populated multi-story buildings.
The buildings have no methane protection in place. Other gases such as deadly Hydrogen Sulfide, Benzene, Toluene, and Xylene have all been associated with the Playa del Rey Oilfield. A California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) map from the Safety Branch shows odor, health, and cancer complaints as of 1997. What has happened since? The map also demonstrates well emission complaints, respiratory complaints in the wetlands, and a reported cancer cluster in Playa del Rey. The South side of basin D in the Marina indicates a Hydrogen Sulfide cloud exposure complaint. The map also shows occurrences of problem wells.
Many buildings in the County and the City are located directly over former wells that may be subject to leakage.
When former City Councilperson Cindy Miskowski’s Corporation demolished Deauville Marina, soil/gas samples from the Environmental Impact Report showed extremely high levels of Hydrogen Sulfide at a test site, which remained high through subsequent testing. Their solution was to test a hole somewhere else. So building continued anyway and the Coastal Commission ignored the threat to public safety.
At the Freshwater marsh/retention basin near the bluffs just South of MDR a U-Tube Video demonstrates a methane gusher gurgling up without stopping near the newly constructed Playa Vista public school. The City ignored this potential danger to students and teachers leaving them in the dark. The California Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) produced the video and conducted the testing: http://bit.ly/un6t8R.
The Playa del Rey Field is where Sempra Energy pumped and now stores pressurized methane gas underground. We should think of a huge inner tube full of small holes filling up with air when it is inflated. Now think of the same thing with explosive gas under your residence.
The holes in the storage field in this case are old oil and gas wells, which may not have been properly abandoned, and can leak like straws to the surface, along with faults, and geologic fissures.
Originally the Government operated the underground storage field and it was maintained at reasonable pressures and not under residences.
Private use of the 240-acre storage field was approved by the City of Los Angeles via a Conditional Use Permit for 240 Acres South of Ballona Creek in 1955. Since that time the State has become owner of most of the land.
The Subterranean Gas Storage Field has now expanded beyond its original City of Los Angeles permitted boundary according to the CPUC map. The Gas Company likes to call it a leak. Owing mineral rights is not the same as owning the right to store explosive methane gas under people’s homes!
CD 11 Councilperson Bill Rosendahl was contacted for comment. Staff Attorney Norman Kulla stated to me on November 23 that he would advise the Councilperson not to comment and that the Councilperson would not look into the Conditional Use Permit to determine exactly what it approved and if it was in fact still valid. The 1955 City Plan Case is No. 6162. Rosendahl may be reached at 213-473-7011 if you have any questions about your safety in regard to the underground methane gas storage. But, you should be prepared for him to provide No Comment.
The CPUC map reveals that the methane gas is now stored under residences in Marina del Rey, the Venice Peninsula, and under Playa del Rey. At least the Gas Company has promised not to pressurize the gas over 2400 pounds per square inch under Venice, as that is of any solace to those on living on top. You can also contact the California Public Utilities Commission Safety and Reliability Branch to find out if gas is now stored under your home. 213.576.7000
In February, DOGGR issued an Order to Stop the Gas Company from Injecting Gas, (Order 1008), except for testing because stored gas came to the surface at the facilities wells near Playa del Rey. The geologic formation is perforated by oil and gas wells both active and abandoned.
Grass Roots Coalition, a local non-profit, sued Sempra and the settlement agreement became law. It requires the Gas Company to conduct extensive testing and to alert the public of gas field emissions. Whether the Gas Company is operating under this law is now being questioned.
Nobody wants to admit releasing gas, especially the Gas Company. The State Coastal Commission and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are pretending not to smell it even though Commissioner Burke admitted to getting a whiff at the hearing.
This fact should have been disclosed and investigated before new development on a Federal Project was approved. The U.S. Government was not even notified. That is the purpose of Environmental Planning Processes. The Coastal Commission Federal Consistency Staff was not consulted. Without a full picture and proper Agency notification and review, inferior decisions have been made, which endanger the public on public lands, with the full knowledge of the decision makers.
Further Information is available at wearemdr.com.
By Jim Smith
Capitalism is doomed. The aged system has been increasingly unable to maintain people’s living standards since the 1970s. And now, everyone knows it.
Thanks to the Occupy movement, the viability of an economic system based on greed and survival of the fittest has been called into question. And found wanting.
We can thank the Occupy movement for two innovations in the art of political protest. The concept of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent has united everyone, no matter what their beef with capitalism, aka Wall Street. The other innovation from Occupy can be stated simply as, “don’t be distracted by specific issues,” which can divide us by substituting “effects” (issues) for “causes” (capitalism).
The problem is capitalism, not high tuition, lack of medical care, foreclosures, homelessness, and the myriad other issues that confront most of us day by day. These are the effects of a system that serves the interests of a decreasing minority of the population (actually, far less than 1 percent). The time has passed for piecemeal solutions to these various issues. We must go to the heart of the problem, the system itself.
It is true that a once vibrant capitalism built the economic powerhouse known as the USA. It did this at the direction of a group of ruthless entrepreneurs, beginning in the 19th century, who ran roughshod over their workers, their competitors and the environment. Decade after decade, they accumulated more wealth, more capital and more power.
American literature is full of Horatio Alger rags-to-riches stories, and reverence for robber barons with good PR like Andrew Carnegie, who hired slave drivers like Henry Frick to build Carnegie Steel, which J.P. Morgan later bought for $480 million in 1901 and renamed US Steel. Then there’s railroad magnate Jay Gould, who famously said: “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.”
The problem with revolting against these “industrialists” was that they only controlled one corporation each, albeit some very large corporations. People not directly connected with the company as workers or consumers could only express solidarity at the latest outrage committed by the owner.
Wall Street Takes Over
This all changed in the late 1970s when finance capital, aka Wall Street, took control of nearly every corporation in the country. It was impossible for the industrialists to compete with the power and wealth of Wall Street, which controlled the great banks. Nowdays, nearly every corporation has the same owners, which are the banks and foundations where the 1 percent stash their money. There are still a few individuals like the late Steve Jobs, the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdock, who run their corporations without regard for Wall Street, but they are few and far between. And most of them are as bad or worse than the bankers.
So what did the finance capitalists do when they achieved control of thousands of corporations? They maximized profits, of course. The effects this had on working people were devastating. At the beginning of the 1970s, Los Angeles County had three auto plants, four large rubber plants (making automobile tires), and the giant Bethlehem Steel Works. A few miles to the east was the even larger Kaiser Steel plant which made more steel than half the countries in the world. All of these plants paid good union wages with fully-covered health care and livable pensions. By the end of the decade they were all gone.
Some of the plants packed up and moved to low-wage states in the South (”free trade” pacts had not yet been negotiated). Others were simply shut down, their products being imported from Japan or Europe. In spite of huge coalitions of workers and communities called “Save GM South Gate,” “Save Ford Pico,” or simply “Save Our Jobs,” thousands of relatively well-paid workers found themselves in unemployment lines, applying for minimum wage fast food jobs or selling the cars they used to build.
A direct connection has been made by journalists and academics linking the demise of manufacturing jobs in South Central Los Angeles, East L.A. and the San Fernando Valley, with the rise of the cocaine and amphetamine drug culture, and the criminalization and incarceration of generations of Black and Latino men. The Southern California experience was replicated across the country. The “rust belt” of the Midwest was comprised of mile after mile of abandoned and decaying factories. Every part of the country suffered massive job loss, broken homes, violence against women, racial tensions, loss of public facilities, swelling prison populations, psychological trauma and the beginning of massive homelessness.
Even today, 40 years later, nothing has replaced well-paying union jobs for unskilled or semi-skilled worker. At the same time, rents and home prices have skyrocketed and real wages continue to fall. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, average weekly earnings peaked in 1977 at $310 per week. In 2004, they stood at $277.57 (in 1982 dollars). This only illustrates part of the problem. While real wages were declining, the wealth of the country grew nearly six fold during the same years. Where did this vast wealth go? A Congressional Budget Office study in 2011 found that the top 1 percent gained the most (a 275 percent increase in wealth) in the period between 1979 and 2007. In addition, much of our national wealth continues to be squandered on wars, weapons and a bloated Pentagon bureaucracy.
The Occupy movement is motivated by a recognition, understood either emotionally or intellectually, that things are going very badly. It is obvious to most people that there are overlaying crises – the environment, the income gap, education, housing, health care, jobs and a declining standard of living. Piecemeal reforms in any of these areas are becoming harder to implement because of the huge economic and political power wielded by Wall Street.
Since 2008, capitalism has been unable to function in a way that can calm the masses. As both mainstream and Marxist economists acknowledge, capitalism must grow in order to survive. That growth has hit the wall. There are too many things – homes, cars, clothes, airplanes, tools – you name it, for sale. All of which must be sold for a profit or someone is going bankrupt. Now the technological revolution has worked against capitalism by making it possible to produce more and more “things” with less and less workers (consumers), thereby creating a glut of unsold stuff. There is now a better than 50-50 chance that we are headed into a worsening, a double-dip, of the current depression. And after that? No one can say.
At this point, it is important that the Occupy this-and-that stand their ground, and not be dispersed. The second wave is coming. It is made up of those who are watching and waiting – the foreclosed, the evicted, the long-term jobless – literally millions upon millions of people who have lost their faith in the current system, and have nothing left to lose.
The Other Shoe Will Drop
What will Occupy Wall Street or Occupy L.A. look like with millions clogging the streets for miles around? And what will happen in Washington when millions fill up the Capitol Mall and the government buildings, and do not leave? What will happen when the police, the National Guard and the army are no longer reliable enforcers of the 1 percent order?
This is the nightmare scenario that they’re sweating about at JPMorgan Chase and in the Washington think tanks. But for the rest of us – a growing part of the 99 percent – it has the sound of liberation.
What will come after our current rules of oppression – and rulers – are chased into oblivion? We can hope it will be a system based on equality and sharing, of concern for human welfare, not corporate profits. Perhaps the government will be based on General Assemblies, where everyone can have their say, that were created in the early days of this revolution by the Occupy movement.
It is the hope and belief of Occupy supporters that the great wealth created by the people of the world, that is now being squandered by the 1 percent, instead can be used to ensure the economic security of the seven billion people on this planet.
For the first time in our lifetimes, because of the failure of senile capitalism, and the willingness of millions worldwide to stand up and be counted, real change, not cosmetic change, is possible.
- The Occupy Movement - Roxanne Brown
- Why Occupy Venice Makes Sense - Marco Mannone
- Santa Monica Airport - Dave Doctor
The Occupy Movement
People wonder what the 99% want – what their solution is – here’s mine.
I want to RESTORE ORDER. Currently we are out of ORDRE – Our Representatives Don’t Represent Everyone. They represent the 1%.
As Marie Antoinette said, “LET THEM EAT CAKE” – Let our congressional representatives, try to live:
- on minimum wage
- with no health insurance
- no pension
- a one or two week vacation
- a tax system based on income
- costs incorporating income
SOOOOOOOO what I would be looking for is
- a livable minimum wage
- health care for all – as western Europe and Canada enjoy now
- a livable pension/social security system
- 4 – 6 week vacations as western Europe and Canada enjoy now
- a higher tax on the most wealthy – as we see in Europe and Canada
- free checking for the person who has $200 in their checking account – checking account fees for the person with $2 million in their account – allowing one to subsidize the other – duh.
In Japan, it used to be that the highest paid person in a corporation could only make 6 times more than the lowest paid person. This make sense. No one person is worth multi- millions per year in my opinion.
In France, it used to be that people could not charge more than what was in their bank account – loans were different. Makes sense.
The New Yorker published a great article long ago – if you can research it – on we in America came to pay for insurance – WHILE our exporting of the Marshal Plan gave Europe a wonderful socialized medicine plan?!?!?
A friend from England, a sociology professor, once said to me, “If American didn’t have Medicare, they would have a revolution.” Duh. I’ve lived overseas and seen how wonderful socialized medicine is. If our system was so great, they would have it. When I talked with people who had socialized medicine, yes, they complained. However, once I told them that they might be paying $500 a month (that was my premium at age 50 with no medical conditions) – and that they would still have to pay a deductible, and 20% of the cost and the insurance company may say “We won’t pay that” – none of them wanted our system.
Has anyone noticed that the most socialistic democracies are doing the best in the worldwide Great Recession – and their people are the happiest? That would be Denmark and the Scandinavian countries. Hmmmmmm
So I say we are out of ORDER! Let Washington eat cake. Our representatives are OUT OF TOUCH (OOT) with the people that they allegedly represent..
Why Occupy Venice Makes Sense
Only a few weeks in, and Occupy Venice has already formed, occupied, imploded, scattered and regrouped in a different form like some shape-shifting apparition. It went from camping out at Windward Circle, to now meeting three times a week behind Ananda on Abbot Kinney (friend OV on Facebook for more info). So far, OV is small, intimate and offers a unique microcosmic glimpse into the Big Picture currently unfolding across the country, and much of the world. And, like fellow Occupations, OV has not been without its own controversies. Critics have argued that OV was less than hospitable towards some of Venice’s original occupiers — the homeless — when they started turning them away from Windward Circle. Such a move was considered to be very “un-Venice” and deemed antithetical to the Occupy movement in general. However, what these critics fail to understand, is that Occupy anything is not just about the physical placement of bodies in a specific space, but rather, a congregation of progressive ideas that aim to shed light on our current cultural Dark Age. In order for this vital exchange of minds to be successful, there needs to be peace and respect, both of which were in short supply at Windward Circle.
Yes, Venice is nothing less than a magical community, a haven for creative free spirits — whether they are movie stars or transients. Many of these beach dwellers are unsung artists, poets, musicians and overall gentle human beings in need of nothing more than some eye-to-eye compassion.
But, some of these people are bat-shit insane.
For example, it’s hard to constructively discuss effective strategies for localized protests and events when there’s a 6’2” bearded man staggering around you with soiled pants, screaming at no one in particular that he got “space AIDS from aliens” when they gang-raped him in their UFO. Entertaining? Perhaps. Productive? Not so much. As the Venice Occupiers dug their heels in, Windward Circle became a swirling whirlpool of drifters, drug addicts, drunks and people who thought they were being environmentally-conscious by defecating in the recycling bin. Do these colorful Venetians have every right to wander around 90291 at will? Absolutely. But when it comes to any revolution, there needs to be order. Without it, things efficiently devolve into nothing more than spirited anarchy — which has unfortunately become the case up in Oakland, when people decided to push back. You can’t exactly blame them, but breaking windows and setting trash on fire will accomplish precisely nothing, other than the complete opposite of what Occupied America stands for.
After having visited Occupy Wall St at Zuccotti Park and Occupy LA down at City Hall, it is the opinion of this freelance journalist that the Occupations have served their purpose and it is now time to pack it up and move on. The grass is rotting under the tents at City Hall, and the stench has become so bad, people need to wear surgical masks to bear it. Revolutions must become evolutions. We need to take all of this amazing energy and channel it into efficient means of direct action, and no one needs to camp out in a tent to do this. Occupiers in Zuccotti Park and City Hall cannot elevate any message to the mainstream media, or middle America, by progressively getting dirtier and more emaciated. Furthermore, banging on drums and smoking pot didn’t accomplish much 40 years ago, and it will accomplish even less today. What the Occupiers nationwide need to understand, is that all the dreadlocks and tie-dye in the world doesn’t amount to anything in the 21st century. If we want to be taken seriously, we need to look serious, plain and simple. Otherwise, this will all just turn into Woodstock and nothing more.
Now, in their defense, I would like to also clarify something for the outright critics of these protesters. I’ve heard snide remarks about how the Occupiers are “hypocrites” because they are using cell phones, laptops and other “corporate paraphenalia” while camping out. What these critics seem to misunderstand, is that the Occupy movement is not protesting civilization. I haven’t met an Occupier yet who believes things like telecommunication and infrastructure should be banished from our society. It really needs to be spoon-fed to these smirking cynics: the Occupations are protesting the greed and corruption of Wall Street and Washington that has devastated our economy and undermined our ability to seek justice for crimes of treason. Occupiers are not luddites. They are modern citizens who are rallying against an incredibly powerful minority who have bled the American Dream dry like a cluster of vampire leeches.
That said, Occupied America needs to stop being so literal and realize that holding down the forts has gotten the ball rolling hard and fast, but it is now time to take the action home with us and to regroup locally and frequently. This is exactly what Occupy Venice is doing in their own, intimate way, and I believe this should serve as a model for everyone else. After all, when Egyptians flash-mobbed their country, we’re talking about 386,659 square miles. Compare that to Texas alone, which accounts for 268,581 square miles, and we can put our situation in perspective. America is the largest country in the world undergoing a social uprising, and in order for it to keep moving forward, we need to adopt smaller, more localized General Assemblies. We need to make Occupy a way of daily life at school, in the office and during Happy Hour. Ultimately, every time you purchase something you are essentially voting for something. In this respect, every day is Election Day in America and it’s time to show the greedy bastards who’s really running this show.
In short, Occupy Venice has made it abundantly clear: it’s time to pack up the tents, take a shower… and start kicking ass.
Santa Monica Airport
So that everyone, by every airport, in every major city, can benefit, airlines must only purchase planes that emit dramatically less noise. The technology either already exists or would be invented soon if this was the law. The cost? The mufflers would simply shift the actual cost from residents to the people who own and use the planes. No new cost. Just shifting of costs to the people responsible.
By Greta Cobar
The sale of our post office has been suspended pending the outcome of the appeals filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Although initially David Williams, Vice President of Network Operations for US Post Office (USPS) in Washington D.C., stated that “there is no right to further administrative or judicial review” of USPS’s decision to sell the Venice post office, John Henning, Attorney at Law, successfully filed an appeal on behalf of Venice Stakeholders Association. Several others involved with the Coalition to Save the Post Office jumped on the wagon and filed additional successful appeals, which are now pending before the PRC.
Meanwhile a major law firm, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, has agreed to take on the case pro bono. I am so happy to report that social activism, community involvement and small-town power are alive and well in Venice!
The neighbors came out with signs, public announcement speakers, lots to say and cake to share, but most importantly with a strong individual unwillingness to yield to the powers that be. Two very successful rallies were held, well attended by tens of Venetians, Bill Rosendahl and post office police officers.
Official letters opposing the sale were sent to the PRC by Janice Hahn, Bill Rosendahl and Linda Lucks in addition to the appeals filed by our community members. Amanda Seward, who was instrumental in saving Lincoln Place, has been volunteering her attorney services and has been a leading figure in the Coalition to Save the Post Office. Spearheaded by the Beachhead back in April, the Coalition is now stronger than ever, comprising Venetians from all walks of life and representing the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC), the Venice Stakeholders Association, the Beachhead, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Venice Town Council, SPARC and the Venice Arts Council. If you are part of an organization that would like to join this extremely significant and promising fight, please contact the Beachhead.
Postage stamps illustrating the Edward Biberman mural housed inside the post office are now being printed thanks to Suzanne Zada, Executive Director of the Biberman Art Estate, who suggested that we use the post office itself to spread our message of preservation and public access to the historical building and the priceless mural. These post-office-approved, original and collectable stamps will add spark and interest to any Holiday card. Please contact the Beachhead if you are interested in buying these stamps and sending out cards and letters with the message “Save the Venice Post Office.”
Jeff Kaufman, director of the movie Brush with Life (which features the mural inside our post office and is about the artist who painted the mural, Edward Biberman) also attended Coalition meetings and donated several copies of the excellent film to our efforts. You can get your own DVD copy by donating $100 to the Coalition.
The effort to collect petition signatures is continuing and intensifying, just like all other aspects of this fight. If you did not sign the petition yet, you can do so on Fridays in front of the Post Office, at the VNC table at Friday’s Farmer’s Market, or online at change.org (search Venice Post Office). Well-attended public meetings of the Coalition are still taking place weekly as well. If you would like to tend the next one, please contact the Beachhead.
The five-member committee that makes up the PRC includes our long-time Venice resident and former mayor of Santa Monica Ruth Goldway. Although she stated her support towards our efforts to save our post office and made the effort to meet with the Coalition, she is forced to abstain from voting on this decision because of the very fact that she is a Venice resident.
Probably one of the least Republican communities in the country, Venice might have the fate of its post office in the hands of three Republicans, once again thanks to our Democratic President. When a Republican recently retired from the PRC and Obama had the chance to appoint a Democrat, he went ahead in true patriotic spirit and appointed a Republican, continuing his rivals’ party control of the PRC.
According to Bill Mitchell, long-time Venice resident, this is just another example of us being represented by individuals who do not represent us at all. If we had pure democracy, and Venetians were able to vote on the fate of their post office, there would be no problem at all.
Another thing to remember is that the post office crisis they are trying to sell us is nothing but a manufactured crisis behind a Republican-led effort to privatize everything, minimize government involvement and help for those less fortunate. The USPS is the only entity in the US that is required to pre-fund 75 years of future retiree benefits, all while the Office of the Inspector General determined that the USPS overpaid $75 billion into its pension fund. The US Treasury is demanding $5.5 billion per year for the health benefits of people who have not even been born yet, but refuses to return any of the $75 billion it owes the USPS. And that is the state of our current financial and banking situation in a nutshell.
Bottom line is, Venetians are not the ones to brainwash, step over and lie to; we are not the ones to succumb when faced with a challenge, but will rise to the occasion and intensify the fight instead. We have a strong tradition to live up to and still a great reputation to make for ourselves!
A video of the Nov. 5 rally to Save the Venice Post Office is on YouTube.com at http://bit.ly/rUnWxk
By Anne Alvarez
Jan Perry, 9th District councilperson and mayoral candidate, caused a stir when she attended the November 15 Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting. She was greeted by local residents, who had come to voice their grievances and disapproval towards several of her stances.
Community activist Lydia Ponce unleashed her discontent towards the city council’s recent renege on the promise of establishing a park at the site of the former South Central Farm. Perry herself has been instrumental in spearheading and then obtaining the unanimous vote of the city council to revise the original deal with Ralph Horowitz, former owner, a deal mandating that “2.6 acres of land be reserved for use as a green space.”
Instead Perry suggested Horowitz allocate $2.7 million for renovations and programs at existing neighborhood parks. Perry’s reasoning for the change is that “the site is not a safe or healthy location for park space due to its industrial zoning and location along the heavy-trafficked Alameda corridor.” She urged council members to instead turn the space into much “healthier” and “safer” headquarters of a consortium for four garment makers which “will help create over 600 jobs for the community.” From a more realistic point of view, however, her plan will provide an impoverished community with exploitative low-wage jobs and working conditions on par with sweatshops.
Perry lobbied and gained approval from the city council for a proposal she had submitted regarding reforms to the South Central Farm land deal. In 2003 Horowitz, in a closed session meeting recently deemed illegal by a superior court judge, reached an agreement with the city, after a much debated and publicized battle. A battle which was spearheaded by Horowitz and backed by Perry to have the city sell back the land that had been acquired by the city via eminent domain in 1992. The 14-acre plot of land located at 41st and Alameda in South Los Angeles had been allocated to community residents for use as farmland by the city and in conjunction with the LA food bank. It became known as the South Central Farm, which at the time was the largest urban farm in the country. The deal reached in 2003 resulted in the 2006 dislocation and forced eviction of over 350 farmers, their crops bulldozed. The land has since remained vacant.
Another issue raised by local residents was a letter Perry sent out to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) members, in which she asks that they revise the proposed sign ordinance to include “a mechanism that would enable the permitting of signs, banners and off-site signs at city-owned facilities such as city parks.” This would permit fast food, soft drink, movie and TV show advertisers to place billboards and ads on boardwalk poles, benches and other public properties.
Protesters greeted Perry with their own anti-advertising ads. Alice Goldstein, a Venice resident, wrapped herself in advertisements to prove her point. Goldstein feels that allowing advertisements at Venice beach would open flood gates for the rest of the city, and no place would be spared from brainwashing bright billboard lights, super graphic wall-scapes and digital signs. “I go to the beach for solace and to get away from my day-to-day stresses, not to be bombarded with advertisements,” added Goldstein.
Perry briefly addressed the protesters, suggesting Venice residents, in conjunction with the VNC, draft an “Opt Out” form. However, no further details were provided and calls to Perry’s office were not returned.
Another issue discussed was the city council’s refusal to appropriate funds to hold elections for neighborhood council board members. The current proposal is to forgo the 2012 elections and automatically extend all terms for an additional two years, until 2014. Don Geagan, long time Venetian and Beachhead collective member, gave Perry a passionately-charged message: “You have no right to take away the right of the people to participate in a grassroots democracy. Ten million residents are represented by 5 county supervisors, which means each county supervisor represents approximately 2 million people, which is not a democracy, but a lack thereof!”
Rachel Siemons brought up ordinance 181410 (Lifeline Subsidy), which was approved and passed in December 2010, with Perry voting in its favor. Since January it has affected over 59,000 DWP customers, increasing their bill by $18-25 per month. This has been a major financial burden to those most affected, who are elderly, disabled and living on fixed incomes. “It is unconscionable how the city council, including Bill Rosendahl and Jan Perry, unilaterally determined that this vulnerable population would be able to afford an increase of this magnitude, and that these residents should single-handedly be responsible for shouldering the burden of refilling the City of Los Angeles’s General Fund, which is where the extra money collected from this fee increase goes,” added Siemons.
The only thing made clear during Perry’s participation at the November VNC meeting was the people’s disapproval of her political tactics. Perry seems to have forgotten that she holds public office, which means she is to represent the people in the community from which she was elected, not investors or real estate moguls who can afford to fatten up her mayoral race fund. As Perry recently stated when stepping down as council president pro tempore citing claims of backroom politics and behind the scenes maneuvering, “I have a First Amendment right to express my disagreement, my disbelief, my disgust.” We have the same right.
If you would like to voice your opposition to the new sign ordinance, contact Ed Reyes, Chairperson of PLUM and 1st District Councilmember at 213-485-0763 or our district Councilperson Bill Rosendahl at 310-575-8461. If you have seen your DWP bill increase or you want to get involved and support our community’s most vulnerable residents, contact: SPDs4Change@gmail.com.
By Mary Getlein
In many cultures feeding the poor is a mandate: they provide for people who cannot provide for themselves. Not in this country and not even in this little town of Venice.
It has been decided by the city of L.A. not to allow a permit to feed people in Venice, on Thanksgiving. This is such a slap in the face to basic humanity.
For the second year in a row, L.A. city politics has denied the Venice people the permit to feed the hungry. Before, when they had the free Thanksgiving dinner on Westminster and Ocean Front Walk, it was a huge success.
Many people brought food, and many people were fed. The good feelings from the event promoted community. Why would the city of L.A. have a problem with this? Unofficially, the city’s policy has been to ignore the poor and to discourage people from feeding the poor, as this gives them a reason to “stick around.” The city wants them all to just go away.
This year there are many more homeless people on the beach than there were last year. People are really in need. It’s a travesty when people are willing to get together and have a beautiful celebration of sharing, and the city of L.A. shuts it down.
After midnight on Nov. 30, 1400 Los Angeles Police Department officers invaded and took possession of the Occupy L.A. home base at City Hall. In the process, at least 292 peaceful demonstrators, including some Venetians, were arrested. The assault on Occupy L.A. followed similar actions in other cities, including Oakland, Portland, Denver and New York.
City officials claimed the occupation had been there too long, although nothing has been done to address the issues that caused the occupation in the first place. Most of those present saw the loss of the lawn as a temporary setback in a long struggle.
A 538 page book of Occupy Poetry has been published by Occupy Wall Street. It includes poems from at least two Venetians: America by Philomene Long, and The World Wave by Jim Smith. Both poems have previously been published in the Beachhead. The book can be downloaded in pdf format at: http://bit.ly/sG9ygg
By Jim Smith
One of the many distinctions Venice holds is that of being the only city in North America with a progressive newspaper run by an all-volunteer collective. Even back in the heyday of alternative newspapers – the Sixties – most were owned by one person, usually a man.
In Southern California, there was the venerable Los Angeles Free Press, owned by Art Kunkin, and the OB Rag, which now has a website <OBRag.org>, was initiated in Ocean Beach in 1970 by Publisher Frank Gormlie. Countless other papers started up, published an issue or two, and disappeared.
Meanwhile, mainstream newspapers, some of which have been around for more than 100 years, are ceasing publication. Most have been bought up by newspaper chains which are beholden to Wall Street. The Los Angeles Times, long the plaything of the Chandler family of Pasadena, is now in the clutches of the Chicago Tribune (which might explain all those articles about Chicago). The Tribune Corporation was run out of New York City by a victorious strike at the Daily News before it turned its attention to the L.A. Times.
Thanks to a compliant Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the ban was lifted in 2007 on any media company owning both a TV Station and a newspaper in the same city. The Tribune, which owned Gene Autry’s old station, Channel 5, was free to also buy the Times. Channels 13 and 11 both became the property of Fox, neatly ending “independent” television. Like other greedy corporations, Tribune ate too much and had to declare bankruptcy. Earlier this year, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the ban. Now, the new FCC Chairperson, Obama-appointee Julius Genachowski, wants to re-overturn it to the applause of the media corporations.
In the olden days, big wheels in small and large towns would own a newspaper for prestige, not for profit. That all changed as Gannett, Knight-Ridder, Thompson, the New York Times Inc. and other big corporations bought up papers by the bushel full and changed them into bland purveyors of the Truth as seen by Corporate America.
Here in Venice, the Beachhead continues to chug along blissfully unaffected by the ups and downs of the stock market. All the other Alternative newspapers are gone, or have morphed into advertising vehicles like the L.A. Weekly, which is now owned by the New Times Corporation.
While most other newspapers are feeding their readers pabulum, the Beachhead has been informing the community about the issues that affect their lives. In the past year, we have advocated for the homeless, including those in vehicles, since they have no one else to speak up for them, and because it is the right thing to do.
We sounded the alarm on the plans of the city of Los Angeles to take the Vera Davis Center away from the community. Today, it remains a social service center serving the Oakwood section of Venice. We blew the whistle of the stealthy plans to erect a giant Ferris Wheel on the beach. The plan is still moving ahead, but most people know about it now.
We have enthusiastically supported the Occupy Movement. What other newspaper has devoted its entire front page to Occupy as we did last month?
And since April, we have been fighting, along with the rest of Venice, to save our historic post office on the Circle. The Beachhead has reached out to bring in all segments of the community (some of them kicking and screaming) in a wall-to-wall coalition that has the power to take on the U.S. Postal Service’s ill considered sale of our Post Office.
The Beachhead’s record in past years – going back to 1968 – is just as noteworthy. We believe it deserves support from the community. In fact, our support is all from the community. It is from local Sustainers who contribute $100 a year (or $8.33 a month) that allows us to publish, and from local merchants who take advantage of our low advertising rates to let the community know of their existence.
Here in the midst of a Depression that is driving much bigger newspapers out of business, we need your support more than ever. We have no high salaries to pay. In fact, we have no salaries at all, only volunteers. But we do have to pay our printer, who does a great job in turning our articles, photos, letters, poetry and cartoons into thousands of copies that are snatched up by Venetians at more than 100 locations. Let’s keep the presses rolling.
Please join us at our annual celebration on Dec. 17 at Beyond Baroque. See details on back page.