Against the long standing objections of the neighbors, 70 foot poles with high intensity stadium lights have been installed in Malibu. Among the arguments made in favor of permanent lights is that the funding is borne entirely by the Shark Fund. This is false. If one examines the budgets and spending of the SMMUSD as I have, you will note that the soft costs associated with the stadium lighting come in at just under $500,000. These “soft costs” have been borne by all taxpayers in the district. In one especially noxious expenditure a lobbyist was paid very close to $100,000 for her efforts to persuade the Coastal Commission to adopt language permitting the lights.
The 2012-2013 SMMUSD budget, (conveniently released after the council’s approval of 70-foot poles for stadium lighting), shows a $2.54 million budget shortfall. This will precipitate cuts across the board. Especially hard hit will be special education. Special education will see a cut of $692,500. Yes, the monies for the stadium lights have already been spent. However, the district is currently still spending with its exhaustive efforts to impede the community efforts to adopt temporary lights.
Which special interest group do we have a greater moral obligation to serve? Do we, as a community, have a greater obligation to the 16 young men who play on the varsity football team or to the many students with special needs? In this extraordinary time of fiscal hardship, is this really where our limited dollars should be going? What is true is that we have a moral obligation to educate all students to the best of their abilities. Cutting $692,500 while spending $500,000 is not going to help us meet that obligation.
Julie M. Tobias