Edward Biberman and the Painting of the Post Office Mural

October 1, 2014

By Suzanne W. Zada

This is a re-print from the December 2007 edition of the Beachhead

After working and studying in Paris during the late twenties, Edward Biberman returned to the United States. The European critics had discovered him and it did not take long for the New York art writers to detect his skill and talent. Then he moved to California.
Although he is in major museums, like the Smithsonian and LACMA with several paintings, Biberman was a very, very private artist, strange when you consider his political activism.
Even though Biberman was one of the most important expert in murals, he had painted few of them. This one was completed in 1941 for the post office, installed during the night just before the beginning of the war.
He used a wax and oil mixture to paint this mural. “The wax gives the mural a kind of egg shell gloss, but doesn’t give it a big shine that you get if you work with oil directly,” he said. And then he further remarked that “the technique comes from ancient Egypt,” and “it does give you a beautiful surface.”
He was paid the going price of $20/square foot for his work. Doesn’t it give you a thrill to get the price per square foot?
What does it matter if the work of art is priceless?
Biberman was fascinated by the story of Abbot Kinney, a member of a wealthy tobacco family, and his dream to build another Venice on the West Coast. Kinney studied in Europe and fell in love with Venice, Italy. Since Venice, Italy, is an example of great dreams, a place that attracts me back every year – you have to dream a big dream to build a church of the Santa Maria della Salute on a thousand stakes, for heaven’s sakes.
Speaking about Kinney, Biberman said “The story of a man’s dream and what the dream turned into was so fascinating that I decided that this would be a very interesting sociological study.”
Biberman decided to give back the atmosphere, and of the people, at the time of the creation of Venice on this mural, what Venice really looked like at that stage.
Kinney did pursue that dream. He brought in Italian architects and built canals and Venetian buildings, and then brought in gondoliers from Italy, and then invited Sarah Bernhardt and the finest symphony orchestra of his day for the opening. He was on his way to create a new cultural metropolis.
Then the slimy oil stuff showed up. Yes, Venice, California became an oil town.
The gondoliers went home. They got homesick. Everybody knows that gondoliers and oil don’t mix.
The dream is not completely interrupted, though. Venice shows the beginning of that dreamed artistic metropolis, with more and more writers, architects, artists and art galleries around, a true artistic Renaissance.
Suzanne W. Zada is the representative of the Edward Biberman Estate.

Mural in library           Above: Edward Biberman’s Story of Venice mural in the Venice library, where it belongs; Photoshopped image by: Jim Smith


Occupy Film Series Kicks Off Season

October 1, 2014

By Krista Schwimmer

Did you know that the first S.W.A.T. Team was created in Los Angeles in 1966? Or that you are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer then by a terrorist attack? That the origins of the police department stem from slave and Native American patrols? These facts, and much more, were discussed at the Electric Lodge when the Occupy Venice Film Series (OVF) kicked off its fourth season.

Co-sponsored by Venice Neighborhood Council, Occupy Venice Film Series is a free, monthly event that, according to their website, aims “to educate, activate and unite” the local community by showing short films, hosting speakers, and encouraging community comment around a new topic each month.

After feeding the community a complimentary, delicious meal, OVF launched its first topic, Police State USA. The moderator, Rob Dew, began the night with a moment of silence for Dan Wang, a member of both Occupy Venice and Occupy Wall Street, who was killed in a tragic car accident on September 3rd.

Rob soon introduced the panel of four speakers: John Raphling, primarily a Criminal Defense Lawyer and member of the National Lawyer’s Guild; Regina Clemente, a professional activist and Campaign Director for Brave New Films; Dan Factor, an LA Criminal Defense Attorney, and Teka-Lark Fleming, a journalist and creator of Morningside Park Chronicle.
The event was well-organized, using a sixteen page handout to guide the mixture of short films, speaker presentations, and public comment. Topics ranged from the origins and the history of police militarization; its correlation to both minority and poor communities; and solutions to fighting it.

The panel of speakers enriched the night, each speaking from both experience and conviction. The first speaker, John Raphling, using the 2008 Oakwood raid as example, spoke to the concept of how police criminalize poor and minority communities. Raphling also illustrated how gang injunctions contribute to such criminalization. These injunctions give “the police justification to stop young people whenever they want to – not that they need that justification because they stop people anyway, but they give them one more legal tool that they can to have social control and operate as an occupying army.” His concern was not only the physical militarization of the police force, but their “militarized mentality”. Like other speakers that night, he spoke of the erosion of 4th Amendment rights.

The second speaker, Regina Clemente, talked briefly on the issues that Brave New Films focus on: justice; income inequality, and security. She also addressed the issue of race and the police. “We’re willing to go into black and brown communities, military up, no matter what the causalities,” Clemente stated. She then shared a powerful example of how activism and community effort can positively change the relationship between police and the community it serves.
Teka-Lark Fleming, the third speaker, spoke of how the origins of all police departments shaped what they are today. They started as either slave or Native American “patrols”. The first publicly funded police department was in 1704, in South Carolina. She also spoke of the early 1900s as a better time for the African-Americans, at least in comparison with other cities then. This changed in the 1950s, when the Chief of the Police, William Parker, recruited southern officers to once more, change the culture of LA. For her, publicizing what is going on in communities is essential. She herself started the Morningside Chronicle for that reason. She encouraged blacks, latinos, and women to write more about economics, politics, and policy so that all voices could be heard.

The final speaker, Dan Factor, started out as a prosecutor in Compton. He left because of police lies and lack of holding them accountable. Two issues for Factor are the militarization of police and the non responsiveness of the judiciary. Right now, he continued, there are young, 40 year old prosecutors, 95% right wingers, who have no experience of working with people. “One of the reforms that we need is to have judges that are elected from their area.” Judges also need to make search and seizure motions again. Like Raphling, he thinks the 4th Amendment has been eroded. How can we as a society reinvigorate the 4th amendment? “One of the things you have to do is start with the judges,” Factor replied. “You have to put judges in that will actually respect it.”

Other solutions to the over-militarization of police included proposed legislation by Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson to demilitarize domestic police forces; know your rights educations for the public; documentation and filming of police (in cascade); returning to foot patrols; drug testing officers for steroids and stimulants; and creating a national database of police shootings.

Once more, Occupy Film Series addressed a pressing topic, highlighted in the news by the killing of Michael Brown; but already being usurped by other issues. The militarization of our police force is a very real danger. How else can one explain that in 2013, other countries such as Japan and Great Britain had no deaths from police shootings whereas for that one year, the United States had 409? Let’s not let this conversation be buried beside the bodies of more unarmed citizens. Let’s continue to educate each other and take the necessary actions to change Police State USA to Peace State USA.

For more information about the Occupy Venice Film Series: https://www.facebook.com/OccupyVeniceFilmSeries


October 1, 2014

What’s Wrong – By Panos Douvos
WAYS TO FILL HOLES – By Chaya Silbertstein
Owed to the Children – By John Kertisz

Roger Houston

My Cat, Athena – By Mary Getlein

What’s Wrong
By Panos Douvos

What have we done wrong
we only protect our national (oil) interests
bribe an Arab goon king or two
what’s wrong with that

are they angry at our SUV’s and heavy wallets
why are these dark Arab peasants upset
if they have a problem
we’ll squash them like bugs
what’s wrong with that

we steal their human basics
back their goon-leaders
but they’re our goon-leaders
what’s wrong with that

they have a beef we sound the drums
send in the back and brown boys
preserve our oilocracy
loot their lands pollute the world
they look at us cross-eyed
we nuke their ass
what’s wrong with that

so it is true
dad owns oil in Saudi-Arabia
dad owns Devil’s-brand oil wells
and come tomorrow will own
the whole heil world

what’s wrong with that
By Chaya Silberstein

Plant flowers in the hole.
If nothing grows, its okay.
Something will grow eventually, maybe.
If nothing grows, maybe it’s best to leave the hole empty.
There’s lots you can do with emptiness.
You can listen to its sound:
the stillness of a butterfly before it flaps its wings
or a ladybug hitching a ride on your leg.

There is so much love everywhere.
Don’t try to stuff it in the emptiness
or you will miss the glorious tapestry
spread all around you.

When feeling empty,
it is good to be still.
Owed to the Children
By John Kertisz

In this time of trials
Confusion & Tribulation
There is one thread
Of reason to live

For our children
Who know they have done no wrong
And wonder why they are here
In this world
With our rhymes seasons
games to play
Lies to tell and die
For country & power

What is it all about
Is that all there is
No time no money
For Art-Beauty-Culture

Only time for oil tobacco drugs
Fires tornadoes
and shuttles to places
No one can live

The time is now here
To listen to our children
And give to them
Trees flowers peace & Love
14:45 Saturday, October 11th, 2008, Abbot’s Library, Venice ….. The hours peel
like onion skins. In layers. An hour is removed, and no one cares. Another hour
looms. We move toward. The swift point of departure. Turn the card. The minutes
will coagulate. To form A simple eye. The calm before the Storm. Chronology
links to eternity. In both directions. Far as one can see. I took a nap.
Awakened to perform. Another function. Bring this hour full term. A beaded
necklace. Stranded to afford. The luxury of daylight. And a word. That needs not
to be spoken. Go upstairs. Look down upon this slow parade of hours ….. Roger
Houston, during my metaphysical cavalier period. Trick or Treat!
My Cat, Athena

My cat sailed off the balcony
she was plotting it for weeks
she’d lay out there, looking down
through the iron fence that measured the balcony.
she would flirt with danger
and possible death
I saw her tiptoeing on the outside of the fence,
up on the side walls, up and looking back at me
like a naughty child
I didn’t really think she would do it
but one night I came home – she was gone
did she survive the flight?
down to the bushes to hide
like she did in our old house -
I thought she was a goner . . .
Two nights later I came home and heard mewing
she came running out and I scooped her up,
ran up the stairs, and put her by the food and water.
she drank water for ten minutes.
I was so happy
Greta said to block up the fence,
because knowing her, (the cat),
she would probably do it again.
so I used two art-boards and some wood
spoiled her view of things
but it is saving her life . . .
she’s become very cuddly since her flight.

– Mary Getlein
Mary's Cat                                                                                          Above: Drawing by Mary Getlein


Venice Celebrates the Life of Jay Adams

September 1, 2014

By CJ Gronner

Venice lost one of the true O. G.s on August 15th, when Jay Adams, founding member of Dogtown’s Z-Boys and skateboard legend, passed away at the age of 53 of a heart attack, while on a three month surf trip in Porto Escondido, Mexico with his wife, Tracy. Adams had just told Tracy that it was the trip of his life, catching all the best waves, being in love and at peace. He was very much looking forward to coming back and living his life as a man of God, and helping others to deal with drug and violence issues like he’d struggled with in his past. He wanted to be a positive force in the world. “He survived so many things to get to a place where he could help people,” Tracy Adams told me. He had recently read her the Bible verse from 2 Timothy, 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” as being very meaningful to him. Adams died in his sleep, a happy man, ripping apart waves right up until the end. What a way to go.
When Venice got word of Adams’ passing, everyone came together. Lauren Wiley of the Venice Skate Alliance helped raise $14,000 in a matter of days to bring Adams back, cover funeral expenses, and help get Adams’ ashes and family to Hawai’i, where half of them will be spread. The other half will stay in Venice, where Adams was born in the canals, and always returned to visit.
Venice really came together on August 30th, a perfectly beautiful day, and one that will long be remembered in our community. Generations united to celebrate the life of Jay Adams with a paddle out ceremony next to the Venice Pier. It looked like a surf contest, with tents set up, a band playing, tropical flowers everywhere, friends and family members tailgating, and even a pot-luck bbq set up on tables in the sand.
Flower arrangements, banners and memorial surfboards made the occasion clear, and hundreds of people filled the sand and lined the pier to pay their respects to one of the men who not only helped keep skateboarding alive, but changed it forever with his smooth, surf style.
Old friends reconnected, new friends were made. It was a giant Venice family reunion, with both those who left a long time ago, but always kept it in their heart, to those who will never leave and are doing everything they can to hold on to the feeling of community like was felt on the sand that day. As Wiley said, “Look around. The spirit of Venice is not dead.” Not even close.
Adams will always live on as well, as pro skater and keeper of the Venice Skate Park, Jesse Martinez, told me, “If someone is skateboarding, Jay lives. Kids skating today don’t realize, Jay Adams had a big part in everything they’re doing today. He set me on the path to literally change my life through skateboarding … and it changed skateboarding forever.” All day long I heard stories being told about Adams and the wild and crazy times that were had with him. Martinez continued, “If Jay was your friend, you were in for a ride. You were privileged to have time with him. It sounds like a broken record, because everyone you talk to will say the same thing … there was just something about Jay. He stood out. He had a unique aura that he carried with him … life put him through ten rounds and chicks still loved him!” A kid approached Martinez at the skatepark and told him he was sorry he lost his friend. Martinez replied, “No, WE lost Jay. We all lost a friend.”
That was the common refrain of the day… “I haven’t seen you in forever, Bro!” “Yeah, I had to come. Jay was like a brother to me.” “He was a brother to all of us.” Which is what Seven Adams, Jay’s son, told me. “By having his fatherhood, I got a brotherhood.” That was clear all day, as hugs and respect were exchanged, and you know these guys will be looking out for Jay’s son (and daughter, Venice) always.
“My Dad taught me how to treat people, he’d give you the shirt off his back. When someone told me that, I ripped my shirt off coming off the plane, and gave it to someone.” A charming and happy kid, Seven told me that, “I just want people to remember how rad my Dad was, that he was just raw stoke. He went hard at everything … I know that he was one of the luckiest people alive, because he was stoked every day. Everyone has so much love for him, it’s been amazing.”

It really was amazing, as after a bit of eulogizing by pro skater, Christian Hosoi (“A perfect day, Jay would be so stoked …. Let’s all get together, not just at memorials, but to celebrate us being alive and being together … Amen?!” Amen.), everyone paddled out into the ocean north of the Venice Pier, where even the lifeguard boat paid their respects with a giant spout of water and horns blaring.
Flower petals were scattered down into the water as all the surfers shouted and slapped the water, bringing both chills and tears to the eyes. Adams was again eulogized by friends in the water and by his Pastor from Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana (“Welcome to Venice, Pastor!”), where his memorial service had been held the day before. It wasn’t easy to hear from up above on the pier, but I could make out a guy in the middle yelling, “Jay was 100%! 100% Skater, 100% Surfer, 100% Man of God, 100% Inspiration!” and everyone yelled and splashed the water some more.
A giant circle formed, and symbolically brought everyone together again. As we were watching (and a drone was filming it all from above!), rock star and Adams’ friend, Perry Farrell, told me, “He had a ton of energy, total fearlessness and courage. Men aspire to be courageous, and Jay was. There was no one like him.”
There was such a large turnout that there was a police presence, of course. I heard one guy say, “Jay ain’t even here and the cops came!” People laughed about stories with Jay all day, with Martinez adding, “You always had the best and craziest times with Jay … like all people growing up in Venice, we all had shady pasts, but then you evolve.” Seven Adams added to that, “He grew up a punk – but the most loved punk ever – and died a man of God.” Tracy Adams reiterated that, “He overcame so much, and became a man of integrity, 100% living and loving life.”
Carter Slade, a longtime friend of Adams, said, “The only thing you need to remember about Jay Boy is how big his heart was,” and went on to share wild stories about Jay, like the time he surprised a friend that needed one with a car, keys just left under the mat. According to everyone there, he did stuff like that all the time. Tracy Adams told me that he’d just spent the recent Go Skateboarding Day in Mexico, giving little kids all his clothes and teaching them tricks.
When the paddle out was completed with a chant of “Live Like Jay!”, everyone caught a big party wave back in, and spent the rest of the day catching up, partying around town, and then re-convening for a skate session over at the Venice Skatepark in the evening. There, pro skaters like Hosoi, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Lance Mountain eulogized Adams again through their tricks inspired by him, and an Adams mural was unveiled in the bowl.
I saw a tiny little boy standing in front of the board decorated in tribute to Adams for the paddle out, and in that moment, the depth and importance of Jay Adams – both in Venice and in the skate and surf worlds – was captured for me. That kid will remember this day, and he’ll learn tricks originated by the ever-smooth Adams. Adams himself said it best … “You didn’t quit skateboarding because you got old, you got old because you quit skateboarding.” Generations of skateboarders … forever young, with Adams to thank for that sage advice.
Adams, like the Venice he came from, was creative, unique, fun-loving, tough as nails, and very much beloved. It was a special day in Venice, for sure. Another Venice original, another piece of Venice history, is gone, but never forgotten. It’s events like this let you know how very special and precious it all is, and reminds you to hold it all dear. To Jay Adams for the reminder and the inspiration, to the spirit of Venice, and to the people who keep it alive every day … To you all, thank you.

Jay Adams 1961-2014 … Rest in peace.


Jay, a young bird flying high on his skateboard
To the heavens he soared…
Daring long haired kid
Rode like nobody else did!
Tricks & flips & jumps
Turns, twists & hitting bumps…
A rebel and skateboard’s wild child
Underneath was shy & mild.
Everyone else sold out for the buck
Jay just wanted to surf & skateboard saying,
“What the fuck!”
Arrests, drugs & drinking
Took its toll & messed up his thinking.
Dogtown’s best
Now he can rest…
Jay is in heaven teaching J.C. & the Virgin to skateboard
Now the angels won’t be bored!

– Marty Liboff

Jay Adams - By CJ Gronner2


Above: Jay Adams memorial, August 30, Venice Pier

Photo by: CJ Gronner



Above: Jay Adams, Venice Skate Park

Photo by: Rae Ray


Jay Adams - by CJ Gronner


Above: Jay Adams memorial, August 30, Venice Pier

Photo by: CJ Gronner

VeniceBeachPhotos.comAbove: Jay Adams Memorial, August 30, Venice Pier

Photo by: Rae Ray

Boardwalk Beating: “Worse Than Rodney King”

September 1, 2014

By Krista Schwimmer

Throughout the country, numerous cases of police brutality are bringing communities together in both explosive and peaceful ways. The most recent case is the killing of 18 year old, African-American Michael Brown, an unarmed teen shot down by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting of this teen led to rioting in Ferguson, bringing urgent attention to the matter across the nation. Such incidents not only reflect the racism in this country made more transparent since the election of our first African-American president, but also the heavy handedness of the police forces throughout the country. Military style tactics are used not only against African-Americans, but against the homeless and the mentally ill. A recent, unreported incident on the Venice Beach Boardwalk reflects just how far the local, LAPD police are willing to go to show their might.
On Thursday, August 7th, Solomon Turner, also known as “The Snake Man”, was skateboarding on the Boardwalk. It was a sunny, breezy afternoon, around 1 pm, with vendors, tourists, and locals enjoying the vibrancy of Venice. Solomon noticed four cops walking together “like the Gestapo.” He watched as these same cops surrounded a man sitting under a pagoda. Solomon had previously seen the man a few times. He described him as an African-American man in his 50′s or 60′s with grey hair, 6 feet something, 200 plus pounds, and wearing headphones. Later, this man was identified as Arrington Samuel Calhoun – not only elderly and African-American, but also disabled.
The same cops that Solomon thought were “walking like Gestapo” went up to Arrington who other witnesses claimed was merely sleeping under an umbrella. These officers wanted to write him a ticket for his umbrella.
According to not only Solomon, but several other witnesses there at the time, Arrington was just sitting down. “All he did was say he was not going to sign the ticket.” He did not fight or resist the police. He did, however, finally say he was tired of the cops messing with him; and then, looked up to the heavens. Evidently, he was known already for singing to God, singing to the Universe. When Solomon later asked people if this man was combative, the response was “he was the coolest guy ever.”
Solomon told the Beachhead that all of the cops jumped the man; then, took out “little skinny sticks and started poking him. All of a sudden we heard a tazer go off – BOOM!” After that, one of the cops punched him six or seven times in the face while Arrington was laying face down on the ground. Then they hogtied him, and took him to a nearby police car.
“That was the worst beating I have ever seen,” said Solomon. “Worse than Rodney King, worse than the highway patrol with the lady.” Here, Solomon is referring to the July 1st incident where California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Andrew was caught on video punching 51 year old, homeless Marlene Pinnock. Evidently, the CHP Officer thought punching her would protect her from wandering onto Interstate 10 where she was walking, barefoot along the shoulder.
Another witness to the incident, Katt, said the police “took him. They tazed him. They put a thing around his neck, his feet. They bound him up like an animal, a pig.” Not only that – but one of the cops grabbed Katt’s arm as she recorded the incident on her phone. The officer then threatened to take her to jail. She refused, telling the officer she knows her rights as an American citizen. Katt also stated that the reason she was getting more involved in this incident was because “I’ve seen what they did to another man before, a Caucasian guy that was walking through the parking lot and he was kind of hollering out, but he wasn’t bothering anyone. It was over there on 7th and Broadway. They threw the man on the ground, they tazed him, started beating on him. And I stood right there and told them. ‘Stop it’ because if I hadn’t they would have kept on going.” In that instance, the police officers did stop the beating, even offered an apology. Katt thought the apology was insignificant. The man needed help, not a beating.
Michael Mandel, a third witness to the August 7th beating, said he “saw the whole thing from the time the cops came over and beat this poor man silly. You know, he just wanted to sit and relax and they turned it into violence on their part. . . I bet a lot of people were getting robbed in the area while they were picking on this poor man. It’s very sad where they put their priorities. . . The guy was peaceful.”
On September 1st Solomon told the Beachhead that he has not seen Arrington Calhoun since the beating. The police, however, left all of the man’s stuff. “No telling what happened to him,” Solomon said. On another day, when talking to other police officers about the incident, Solomon said to them that “If we weren’t there, if it was in a dark alley, you would have killed him.”
But it wasn’t a dark alley. It was a sunny, breezy afternoon in the month of August, a time when the boardwalk is full of vendors, tourists, children, and locals. A time when it is quite common to run into a variety of quirky, strange characters of Venice. Was this deliberate on the part of LAPD? Through the number of officers and the excessive force on what Solomon said was “just a helpless, old, homeless guy sitting on the beach,” were the officers making a statement to the community at large?
In a Venice Neighborhood Council meeting this past February, Councilman Mike Bonin discussed at length his position on the homeless throughout the city. On the one hand, he referred to the problem as complex, a kind of rubrics cube of different colors and different sizes, that required diagnosing each situation individually. On the other hand, he seemed more concerned that our streets look inferior to those of Santa Monica due to the success of the Lavon case which prohibits the city from removing materials that may or may not belong to someone living on the streets. He spent more time explaining how the city can now get around this through storage units and 72 hour notices that state the city is going to remove materials then addressing how we could “move beyond managing the problem to solving the problem.” Ironically, the August 7th incident occurred on the afternoon before one of these city cleanups.
There is enough fury, grief, and dismay throughout the country to call to task the polices of police regarding the use of force. In fact, even the International Association of the Chiefs of Police (IACP) recognize this urgent need. On August 15, the IACP President Yost Zakhary released a public statement stating that due to the fact that “High profile incidents and allegations of police misconduct may drive a wedge between law enforcement agencies and citizens they are sworn to protect” IACP “will shortly be convening a summit to examine the current state of police-community relations, the evolving landscape of threats that confront law enforcement, and the need for policies and procedures that ensure fair and equitable policing practices.”
In the meantime, we must all watch over each other. Like Solomon, Michael, and Katt, we must be willing to not only bear witness to injustices around us, but to stand up and speak out about them. As the Buddha once said: “You are the community now. Be a lamp for yourselves. Be your own refuge. Seek for no other. All things must pass. Strive on diligently. Don’t give up.”
If you have photos or videos of this incident, please contact the Beachhead at: free@venicebeachhead.org

POLICE3Above: Police beating, OFW, August 7

Photos by: Michael Mandel


Michael Brown

September 1, 2014

By Marty Noel

If someone from another country, or perhaps another planet, saw the televised images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, this past month, they might think that they were watching war footage of Afghanistan, or perhaps Syria. Any place other than America, where of course we are reminded that such governmental domestic militarism cannot and does not exist. Yet, the “police riot” that the whole world has seen evolving on the streets of Ferguson is real! The senseless death of another young African American male, a young man who had no criminal record and was unarmed, was shot dead in the street and left to die like a dog, by another white male cop cannot be justified, no matter how the media chooses to cover it. While combat clad “riot cops” attempted to cover up their own crimes against humanity, by forcing down a news camera, while brutalizing onsite journalists whose only crime was to dutifully report the violation of and suspension of the rights of peaceful protesters. All taken together as one, this shows the perpetuation of a “police state” in America that has taken the madness of our ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and has brought them home to us, especially against African Americans and the poor who are brutalized in this “police state” the most. Whether the rest of us want to admit it to ourselves or not, the fullest ramifications of this now exposed state are still to be felt. However, beyond all of the socio, political after shocks and possible future shocks, of the events that transpired on a street in a place called Ferguson, Missouri, somewhere in the so-called “heartland of America” is this: a young man unarmed and innocent was murdered in cold blood by a police officer, and the rights of peaceful protesters and observers were violated under the cover of darkness for all of America and the world to witness.
What more can possibly be said?
What are we going to do about it?


September 1, 2014

By Laura Silagi and Laura Shepard Townsend

After a flurry of litigation, in 1984, an agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA was reached, which stated that Santa Monica had to operate the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) until 2015, at which time, Santa Monica would be permitted to cease airport operations. The City of Santa Monica is looking to put a park on the 227 acres of land, but lobbyist carpetbaggers have arrived with their satchels of ‘do-re-mi’ from Washington, D.C. to contest local wishes.
The ‘Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’ (AOPA) aligned with the ‘National Business Aviation Association’ (NBAA) are highly invested in making sure that the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) does not close and it will be business as usual. They have spent $280K to put their deceptive Charter Amendment measure, Measure D, on the City of Santa Monica ballot. Estimates of $1Million will be spent to get Measure D (you can remember it as – D for Deceptive) passed.
Why should Venice residents care? In case you haven’t noticed, the majority of the planes, jets and helicopters that fly over Venice, a densely populated area, are from SMO. They not only cause noise pollution, but put residents at risk in a possible crash – if one of those jets goes down, it will take out a block of houses. Ever wonder why LAX took out all of the houses west of the airport?
They also spew health hazards from the sky above, burning leaded fuel (lead in any amount is unacceptable) in prop planes as well as emissions of harmful ultra fine particulates from jet planes. Private jets are the most polluting form of transportation on the planet. All these pollutants are particularly dangerous to the vulnerable, the many schoolchildren as well as seniors. And if one of those jets goes down, it will take out a block of houses…
If you are not up on these topics, and want more information, go to the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Santa Monica Airport Committee’s report for information and documentation on the health impacts from Santa Monica Airport. (http://badair.publica.us/SMO/vnc-smo-overview.pdf) There you will learn plenty. Probably too much.
Ok, back to Measure D. If measure D passes, Santa Monica Airport will never close or be downsized because of the crafty wording by savvy consultant groups who serve only those with deep pockets. Here’s why.
Measure D, (the aviation industry measure) masquerades as a no-development, voters rights initiative requiring “voter approval” to close the airport. The measure reads in part,
“Shall the Santa Monica City Charter be amended to require the City to continue to operate the Santa Monica Airport in a manner that supports its aviation uses unless the voters approve the Airport’s closure or change in use, and until that voter approval occurs, the City shall be prohibited from imposing additional restrictions on aviation support services to tenants and airport users that inhibit fuel sales or the full use of aviation facilities, prohibit the City from imposing upon aviation services providers new restrictions that would inhibit the sale of fuel or the “full use” of aviation facilities.”
This means, changes, such as downsizing the airport, changing noise regulations, limiting hours, selling aviation fuel, changing landing fees or any other changes such as creating a park, etc. would be impossible. And closing the airport would require “a majority of the voters of the city voting ‘yes’ on a ballot measure approving such a change at a general municipal.”
There are different opinions even among the lawyers on what ‘majority of voters’ means, but in any case, after an analysis of past elections, it has been noted that it will be nearly impossible to obtain the majority of the registered voters. A vote to close SMO would require more voter participation on a single ballot issue than has ever happened in any election in the city’s history. In other words, a vote to close the airport would be nearly impossible to obtain. On the other hand, obtaining the majority of voters on the issue will be also very difficult due to the extensive moneyed political aviation lobbying. This is really a ‘keep the airport forever initiative’.
There is a competing measure we must support: Measure LC
Measure LC states,
“Shall the City Charter be amended to: (1) prohibit new development on Airport land, except for parks, public open spaces and public recreational facilities, until the voters approve limits on the uses and development that may occur on the land; affirm the and (2) City Council’s authority to manage the Airport and to close all or part of it.”
This would allow the Santa Monica City Council to control the airport while it exists. The Council could vote to downsize or close the airport and there would be no development allowed, except for parks, open spaces, recreational —until the voters voted for something else. It also means that if the FAA prevented the airport from closing, the city could still downsize it, change hours of operation, eliminate fuel sales, etc. This is clearly a better choice for those of us opposed to the airport.
It is frustrating that Santa Monicans alone can determine something that affects so many. But here is what we in Venice can do to support Measure LC.
Support Measure LC by getting involved in the following ways:
• Go to ItsOurland.org , a grass roots organization of local control, for the latest campaign news.
• Contribute money for the fight against the airport lobby.
• Walk precincts in Santa Monica and describe to residents (especially in the northern sections who are not directly exposed to SMO) our first hand experience with the airport to inform them of the level of its impacts.
Help with telephone banks.
• Reach out to anyone you know in Santa Monica and urge them to vote for measure LC and oppose measure D.
• Organize fundraising events.
It is greatly in the interests of those who live in Venice to have Measure LC pass, and as usual, we are fighting a well-funded political lobby group. Get involved and help get SMO converted into a park we can all use!
SMO - 7th and Rose


Top picture: Plane crash at 7th and Rose Ave., July 7, 1989;

Bottom picture: Plane crash at SMO hangar, September 30, 2013


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