The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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Kudos and the Living Wage

March 21,2000

Dear Editor,

May you continue to prosper and report accurately the news for the Santa Monica community. You have been fair and direct in your reporting.

I wish you growth so you can cover ALL stories fit for the press.

Bruria Finkel
Santa Monica Rent Control Board

March 20, 2000

Dear Editor,

Happy Anniversary to the Lookout! It's the first place I look for local
news. Keep up the good work -- and keep leading the ever-evolving
communications industry as the premier e-newspaper!

Pam O'Connor
Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tem

March 19, 2000

Dear Editor,

Councilmember Michael Feinstein's comments quoted in your March 17 article sound like typical corporate management in response to dissident
shareholders --how un-Green-like!

Since when is the ballot box "a theft of democracy?" Why is he so afraid of the voters? The real thefts have been committed by the Council and SMART:

First, they misappropriated the phrase "living wage" by attempting to
apply it to a measure which would more than double the minimum wage. An increase of this magnitude will force many small, independent restaurants out of business, perhaps to be replaced by large national retail chain stores.

Second, this extreme measure was prepared by a small group meeting in
secret with absolutely no attempt to meet with the Chamber of Commerce or any other employer group before bringing it forward. They were simply not interested in concerns of the business community.

Third, the Council then voted to study the proposal with no attempt to
seriously listen to these concerns. For at least the last eight months, the
Chamber has been calling for the appointment of a bipartisan commission made up of labor, business and the community to study these and other ideas in the hopes that a consensus might develop. This approach has been taken by previous Councils on issues such as the homeless, funding of community organizations and Charter Reform. However, the Council has consistently dismissed this approach, leaving the business community totally out of the process.

Finally, the Council, in a ludicrous process and over concerns expressed
by both the City Manager and the City Attorney, retained as an economic
consultant a team which has made a practice of being an apologist for a
variety of living wage and minimum wage measures.

Is it any wonder that the business community feels totally
disenfranchised? What does the Council expect? That the Chamber will simply sit by and wait for the final shoes to drop? Mr. Feinstein thinks we should "hear from all voices before formulating public policy." We agree, and using the ballot box will give us an opportunity to do just that.

Unfortunately, the Council is not listening to "all voices" and is obviously not prepared to do so. There is nothing in our proposal which will prevent the Council from completing its study, listening to as many voices as it wishes and placing a final product on the ballot for consideration by the voters. This issue is too important to be left to the discretion of 4 or 5 members of a City Council which has already made known its attitude towards business and this issue.

The Chamber has consistently supported true "living wage" measures such
as the one we are proposing. We would hope that SMART would also support our measure because it is modeled after the ones they pushed for in other cities and simply requires anything beyond that to be placed on the ballot. But apparently, like Mr. Feinstein, they are afraid of the voters.

Tom Larmore
Chair, Chamber of Commerce Committee on JOBS

March 19, 2000

Dear Editor,

I think we all want to get past the process issues and get on to the hard work of solving the School District's problems. However, I need to correct a misunderstanding that appeared in Our Times today.

The article reported that the District had met the City's conditions for the release of the $2.1 million and the check should soon be in the mail. But the conditions stated in the exact wording of the Council's motion say, "The grant will be released when the School District publicly notifies the City that it has established an independent Financial Oversight Committee . . ."

The Board has now decided to set up the Committee, but it has not yet ESTABLISHED it. The details listed in the Our Times article are good
ideas that are being talked about, but the Board has not yet formally adopted them.

I know that the City and the District do things a bit differently. When I read the District's staff recommendation to the Board, I was not sure what would happen next. So on Thursday, I called the Superintendent.

We agreed on the following scenario:

On Wednesday, the Board decided to set up an independent Financial Oversight Committee, and it authorized the Superintendent to return to the Board with a plan containing the details for final Board approval.

The Superintendent will spend the next few weeks preparing a recommendation on who should be on the committee, what its charge should be, how it will function and have access to information, what its resources (consultants) will be, etc. When that plan is approved by the Board, the District will publicly notify the City and the money can then be released.

I have no reason to believe that the above scenario will not happen and the Superintendent has already started on getting the plan together. He has made it clear that the cash is not needed immediately. What was needed was the assurance that the district will get it and he feels comfortable that he has that assurance.

Paul Rosenstein
City of Santa Monica

March 16, 2000

Dear Editor,


Mr. Mosher is a carpet beggar who was hired by big business in this city to derail a grass roots cry for the living wage. Go home, Mr. Mosher. We don't need the likes of you here.

The Chamber of Commerce should show some grace and citizenship instead of trying to fool this community. Taking positions in wolf's clothing does not work here. It fails. Remember the YES NO-vote on PCH.

This community is an intelligent and caring community, and they will find you out.

Remember: DO NOT SIGN the petition. Those who claim to be for the living wage are not.

Bruria Finkel
Santa Monica

March 13

Dear Editor,

I just read that six of the seven current school board members were endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR). Does this mean that 6/7 of the $5 million or so that school district has squandered from mismanagement is SMRR's responsibility? If so, my calculations say that's $4.28 million.

If we asked nicely, do you think SMRR would give us some of that money back? Maybe we can get SMRR to take the cash they have earmarked toward running their new candidates for the school board and convince them to give it directly to the schools instead.

So, SMRR, what do you say? Please?


Ron Schlessinger
Santa Monica

March 7, 2000

Dear Editor,

My son participates in the music program at Santa Monica High School. He is a member of the marching band and expects to continue participating throughout his high school career. I have another child who attends Lincoln Middle School. She is plays the flute and wants to join the Santa Monica High School Marching Band after she graduates middle school.

I believe that music programs are important components of our children's
education. Music develops skills in listening and in understanding complex concepts. It can be a bridge to history, mathematics and science. Beyond these benefits, music and art programs provide a common bond between students of differing cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.

It would seem that you would want to promote programs that have such benefits rather than cut them back. California seems to be searching for methods to improve its educational programs to address deficiencies highlighted by the standardized testing programs. Why ignore vehicles like music that can have a positive impact on developing the overall knowledge of our children and that can facilitate their understanding of mathematics and language?

I would appreciate your efforts to reevaluate the budget to find the
necessary funds to improve the music programs in our schools.

Irwin Stalk

March 6, 2000

Dear Editor,

Please do not cut elementary school music, or the music aids. If you do cut elementary school music you will be sorry, because it will not just affect elementary music, but junior high and high school.

If you cut music AIDS, the teachers will be so upset. If a student has something wrong with his/her instrument the teacher can not stop the whole class and individually help that person, so she sends him/her to the AID so she can continue with the class, how is she going to handle all of this by herself. Who is going to be able to do all of this?

Patricia Sullivan

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