The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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A Brave Council, Defining the American Dream and One Bright Bulb

June 28, 2001

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to the City of Santa Monica and the brave members of their City Council for passing a living wage ordinance.

Despite paranoid, "sky is falling" arguments from the business community -- who are consistently proven wrong by studies that show increases in the minimum wage hardly have an adverse impact -- community leaders and everyday citizens were able to prevail with arguments for social justice and fair wages.

It's hard to believe that the wealthy hotel and restaurant owners are currently paying their workers (with a few exceptions) wages that by today's standards aren't worth what they were 20 years ago. Shame on you!

Let us now make sure this living wage for workers in the Coastal Zone is enforced with all deliberate speed. We must not allow the misguided machine and more selfish elements of the business community that brought us the expensive Proposition KK to slow us down with another initiative aimed at killing a solid living wage ordinance.

Please do not sign petitions that are being circulated in public spaces. It's Prop KK all over again. Like KK it's being funded by hotel, restaurant, and business owners who want to avoid paying a decent minimum standard to their hard-working staff.

Again - kudos to Santa Monica and the 5 brave progressives on the City Council.


Todd Flora

June 26, 2001

Dear Editor,

Who the hell is Raymond Marks to define the American Dream? I mean, besides being some guy who lives in the past and gets off on red baiting.

Anyone who tells me to plug up my ears and blame myself if I can't afford a home in Santa Monica is either a big fool or thinks I am.

Home ownership may be the American Dream for some people, but consumerism is what has driven this country's economy for the last 200 years. The commodification of housing (owned or rented), health care and now energy has become the American nightmare.

And who is benefiting? Under Mr. Marks' theory, if we don't benefit there's no one to blame but ourselves. We simply lacked the foresight and initiative necessary for wealth building.

Do not tell me that TORCA is the American Dream. Who really will benefit under some new form of TORCA? Don't listen to SMRR. SMRR might tell you who benefited last time. Don't worry, it's a short list!

Mr. Marks proposes the use of public funds to finance lending programs for tenants who want to purchase their apartments. What's the difference between that and Joan Ling's proposal for community ownership? Mr. Raymond believes the government should risk your money when private banks don't want to risk theirs.

Mr. Marks believes the form of housing ownership is more important than the creation of ample affordable housing opportunities -- because private ownership of housing is the American Dream!

We know that Mr. Marks. Unfortunately, the American Dream has nothing to do with the majority of people in this country anymore. We learned that in the last election. So do not define my American Dream. My American Dream is a democracy that provides safe, decent housing for everyone.

Linda Sullivan
Santa Monica

June 25, 2001

Dear Editor,

For all of you who are worried about electric bills and the utility tax, I will suggest a small investment over a few months. In March I bought two or three CF light bulbs. In April I took advantage of the offer at the Santa Monica Festival and bought 10 bulbs for $27.00. Since then I have bought a few more. They didn't have a 200 watt equivalent that I like for my reading lamp.

I have made no changes in my lifestyle other than being sure to turn off lights if the room is not to be used for the next half hour or so. No expensive replacing of my appliances or such. My light bill has gone down every month for three months. This month's is the lowest I can remember.

Last year in the same space of time we used just over 700 kw hours. This year it was about 450. Nothing has changed except this. The kids moved out long before a year ago.

Sure, it is a change of thinking to pay $10 or $16 for a light bulb but in one month I got my money back and they will last for several years. If we all did this there would not be a utility tax bonus. As it works now, those of you who do not conserve will get me a rebate of a dollar or two a month on the utility tax and I will get a 10 percent rebate from the utilities because I have cut usage.

Business may not as easily be able to conserve their way out of this mess, but the rest of us can. This is how we need to think.

Joanne Leavitt
Santa Monica

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