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Frank Talk with God and a Union Lesson

February 1, 2002

Dear Editor:

It has come to my attention that some weeks ago Frank Gruber wrote a column (WHAT I SAY, "Without Prejudice," Dec.7) in which he lambasted Kelly Olsen and the Planning Commission for their decision concerning Howard Jacobs' Boulangerie project.

I'm told it contained the usual assumption that Frank Gruber speaks for God, and he and God are outraged at Kelly Olsen and Planning Commissioners for not thinking and behaving like Gruber thinks they should, i.e, for not ruling in favor of the developer.

Since I prefer to get my messages from God through channels other than Frank Gruber, I missed this column but feel compelled to let you know that I and many of my neighbors in South Beach Neighborhood breathed a grateful sigh of relief when we learned of this particular Commission ruling. We live with the impacts of over development along the beach and the adjacent area, and the threat of this massive project creating additional traffic and congestion in an area already congested was of great concern to us.

I have spoken before the Planning Commission several times this year on different issues and have in all instances been impressed with the thoughtfulness and care with which this Commission approaches each issue. It's clear that they care about maintaining a livable environment for those of us who are residents, and for that, I personally am very grateful.

Their decision Wednesday night not to certify the humungus Master Environmental Assessment (3 documents, 6 inches of paper), that would have served as the basis for all development decisions for years, is breathtaking in it's clarity and resolve.

In many instances, this report doesn't square with the reality we experience every day in Santa Monica, despite the credentials of the consultants on whose work it was based. Since the City did not notify its citizens (except in the California section of the Los Angeles Times), did not publish any agenda or notification on its web site, a relative handful of people were aware of the public hearing on this critically important document.

The Commission's decision to send it back to the Planning Department is, in my view, an act of courage, and an important moment in Santa Monica City planning. They decided this MEA was flawed and out of date and would not serve the City. If the "bible" is flawed, decisions based upon it would be flawed, and from that we have been saved (for the moment). I think we all owe the Planning Commissioners and Chair a debt of thanks.


Ellen Brennan
Santa Monica

January 28, 2002

Dear Editor:

Thank goodness for The Lookout. Democracy depends upon a marketplace of ideas, and without this electronic wonder, Santa Monica would be served only by tiny mom and pop shops available for free outside of every 7-11) instead of the 'Walmart' we know our community deserves. But enough of metaphors and down to brass tacks.... ;-)

I couldn't help but smile when I read Len LaBounty's tirade against Kurt Peterson (LETTERS, "SMRR-logic," Catholic Bashing" and "Diabolical Treatment," Jan. 28). I smiled not because I saw any truth in what Len wrote, but because like Kurt, I too am a frustrated former Catholic -- and I know Kurt personally as a man of deep convictions and integrity. No one works harder for people who have less.

Len, buddy, as a teacher I suggest you hit the books. You have much to learn about the history of labor in this country. The Jungle would be a fine start. The Grapes of Wrath would be a nice follow up. Finally, might I suggest The American Century by Harold Evans?

In this marvelous text you would read about the wonderful days of yesteryear when women and children had the right to work 14 hour days, six days a week for a dollar or two. How doors and windows were locked, how eating was disdained and bathrooms discouraged. These people were protected by their right to quit if they didn't like the conditions (and watch their families starve).

Yessiree... those were the days before unions came along and messed things up with a five day week, eight hour day, minimum wages, workers rights, medical benefits, retirement benefits and all those others costly infringements upon the company's bottom line. All of which resulted, of course, in the United States becoming the richest country on the face of the Earth (California,
were it a separate country instead of a state therein, would merely be the fifth richest).

Lastly, I would just like to note that I have yet to meet the capitalist that has actually read Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations." If they had, they would note the passage wherein Smith states (paraphrasing here), that the wages of labor are subsistence, nothing more. Since this book was published about the same time the American Revolution was beginning, it references the
economies of monarchies where the people had yet to stand up and demand their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Apparently, some would wish it were still so. Not I. And not Kurt.

Respectfully submitted,

Marc J. Sanschagrin
Santa Monica

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