The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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"Slap That Guy," "Shame on You" and "Terrified by Homelessness"

February 27, 2002

Dear Editor

(Re: "OPCO Power Struggle Fizzles," Feb. 26, 2002, which said: "Allen Freeman, who recently moved to Santa Monica's Mid City Neighborhood and is helping to form a citywide group to advocate Smart Growth, spurred the debate when he called for the transformation of Lincoln Boulevard into a strip resembling Main Street."

I want to slap this guy. Where do these people come from, and where can I donate bus fare to send them back?

Lincoln Blvd doesn't need gentrification. It's a busy street that has businesses people need in their everyday lives. It has adequate parking, and is jammed at rush hours.

It doesn't need busways, widened sidewalks, valet parking, or outdoor cafes so diners can suck in bus fumes. And it doesn't need the subsequent higher rents that will drive out the auto repair shops and hardware stores just so Mr. Freeman will have another locale to reenact "Friends."

Bob Barnett

February 27, 2002

Dear Editor:

I can't express my disappointment with your publication regarding the article on the OPCO Congress. Did your reporter go to the congress? I didn't see him there.

The entire article was made up. There were no "opposition candidates" and as a member of the Board, I assure you that there was not even one candidate that was backed by the current board, much less a slate of candidates.

To characterize the write in candidates as opposing affordable housing is nothing less than a lie. Most all the candidates were in favor of affordable housing. Your publication did a terrible disservice to this community by printing such an erroneous article, shame on you.

Joe Pipersky,
OPCO Board Member
Main Street Merchants Association Board Member

(Eds. note: Two Lookout staff members attended most of the Sunday meeting, which ran longer than scheduled. OPCO Chair Rick Laudati did not return follow up calls that evening. The Lookout's statement that the current board backed a slate was based on a flyer handed out at the meeting listing a slate of candidates that included every incumbent.)

February 26, 2002

Dear Editor,

Thank you for reporting on the OPCO annual congress. It is truly an all-American event that all of us in Santa Monica and Ocean Park should be extremely proud to be a part of. As I said in my nomination speech, shame on all of you in Ocean Park for not being there.

I am one of the of the seven candidates who was part of the "last-ditch" write-in campaign to get elected. I would like to point out that your statement that, "The opposition candidates had coalesced against a proposed affordable housing development on Main Street", is not accurate.

To my knowledge, only one of the candidates had the housing project as a primary issue. I, and several others, ran for an entirely different reason -- to change the leadership and to change the status quo of OPCO so that those of us that have a different view can be heard.

The fact is, that OPCO is controlled by a small, well-organized group which rallied the troops (most of which showed little interest in the activities of the day and simply came in to vote for the slate and leave) to keep the status quo. The organization is tightly controlled by the chairman who is threatened by any reasonable challenge. He keeps, what should be an open, visible neighborhood organization, opaque and secretive.

For close to a year, I, and other board members, demanded to see the organization's financial statements and membership roster. We were repeatedly rebuffed by the chairman. Not only was his behavior unethical and outside the spirit of openness of a neighborhood group, but it violated California law. That is a fact, not an opinion, and I find it unfathomable that several of the board members accepted and even defended this behavior for close to a year.

Contrary, to the slanderous statement made by the women distributing the OPCO slate, I do not want to destroy OPCO. Rather, I simply want to make it an organization that represents the entire neighborhood and that stands in the bright sunlight of day.

One small interesting fact... Although, I support the democratic process, I do find it a bit disheartening that OPCO is such a closed organization. One would like to think that as a neighborhood group, anybody who wanted to get involved, even if they have opposing views, would be welcome.

For the period of over a year, before I was appointed to the board, I attended all, but one, OPCO board meeting, as simply an OPCO member. In the past year, five of the twelve newly-elected board members have not attended one single board meeting. Now there is commitment.

I understand that that several of the new board members are balanced, reasonable people -- I hope that is true. I congratulate and support them and wish them luck. I sincerely hope that they make OPCO the organization that it can and should be. Best of Luck.

Very truly yours
Tom Fuller
Santa Monica

March 2, 2002

Dear Editor,

I too am concerned, as was one of your more recent letter writers, Jeffrey Weinstein, (LETTERS: "Beach Bum Hangout and Echoing Outrage ," Feb. 18, 2002) about the shame it is that homeless men have to hang out at beach restrooms drinking, smoking pot, and terrifying passersby. We all SHOULD be terrified by homelessness; yet as a homeless person, it appalls me that public officials continue to claim that "Santa Monica does more than its
'fair share' for the homeless" -- when the proof such as this to the contrary is right before our eyes!

Santa Monica, with 457 liquor outlets has among the highest number of liquor licenses per-capita of any city in the country, yet this city, like the nationwide buyers and sellers of alcohol, continue to refuse to take any responsibility for the alcoholism, violence and homelessness that this dangerous product contributes to.

"Its all their (the alcoholics) own fault," is the mantra of the blind on this. Certainly, there is much money to be made by any insurance company that would have to insure liquor the way we
tax tobacco -- for it's social costs; and I wonder when we will get attorneys suing liquor companies to pay for the social costs of pushing alcohol -- the way they finally were able to with tobacco pushers.

Meantime, where will homeless alcoholics (men and women) find a safe place to gather where they can be respected as human beings -- and not solely blamed by the "responsible" people of this communities' (and their letter writers') continuing bigotry and hypocrisy? Santa Monica might at least need some sort of "safe zone" for homeless alcoholics until then.

David Busch

February 27, 2002

Dear Editor,

I just read your article "College Takes Case to Voters" (Feb. 26, 2002), and there was one argument against Measure U that was not being made.

SMC isn't particularly well-run, and giving $160 million to the administration before they've demonstrated that they know how to work with what they already have doesn't make much sense.

For example: I have taken several courses at SMC, and they are nigh onto impossible to sign up for. I have had to resort to calling the President's office in order to get someone to take my money -- then to find out on the first day of class that too few people signed up for it, and getting my money returned.

There are very simple things to do, such as tracking the number of rings, or the amount of time on hold, that prospective students are being forced to wait. At every turn there are enormous queues-- a business-minded administration would attack those in order to increase revenues.

These are no-brainer, obvious ways to increase the financial viability of the school. I don't begrudge them more money for better facilities, but let's have them show us that their stewardship is one to be trusted.

Michael Sieverts
Santa Monica

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