My friend Pro Se, who is wheelchair-bound, lives in a city-affiliated Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM) low-income apartment on Fifth Street near Wilshire Boulevard.  When he moved into his third floor unit in May, 1998, he couldn’t get his bulky, electric-powered wheelchair into the bathroom or bedrooms.

Pro Se begged CCSM to rectify the four confirmed state building and safety code violations that limited full use of his unit. When his landlord failed to respond, he went public. Some of us then on the board of the Wilshire-Montana neighborhood group made inquiries. It took CCSM management nine months to make the necessary repairs so Pro Se could use his bathroom and bedrooms.

There were problems with the elevator that broke down hundreds of times either marooning Pro Se on the third floor or stranding him on ground level, with no way to get up or down.

Another problem was a malfunctioning front gate that occasionally prevented entry to the property. This resulted in multiple nights isolated outside his apartment or scrambling to find a manager with the authority to OK a hotel room (which still hasn’t been addressed) until it was repaired — which often took days.

With new CCSM management, things have improved. So wasn’t Pro Se surprised when the building manager told him that he was getting a new low-flush toilet? Pro asked that his “john” be handicapped-compliant with a raised seat to let him transfer from wheelchair to commode easier.

The toilet was installed and leaked the first night. A second toilet was installed the next day complete with a three-inch-high toilet seat. For the first time in 16 years, Pro Se has a proper toilet. Now, if he can only get the bathroom’s broken ventilation fan fixed.

Community Corp. has often fallen short in taking care of the needs of its disabled clients. Although things have improved lately, there’s more that needs to be done. Stay tuned.

Fun and games on the political front

 

On May 15, Santa Monica Democratic Club Co-Chair Jay Johnson took me to task for my column (“In ‘Lieu’ of Waxman,” April 22, Page 4) panning Congressional candidate and State Senator Ted Lieu. In a letter to this paper (“Not in line with Bauer,” May 15, Pg. 4), he stated my criticism of Lieu “smacks of distorted one-sided propaganda.”

“Picking one unpopular position of any candidate is unfair, without showing the ‘other side’ of their positive actions and positions,” he wrote. Then, Johnson embarked on his own one-sided propaganda rant praising Lieu.

As an opinion writer, I’m under no obligation to provide “equal time” or give both sides of an issue — that’s the job of a reporter. And, I mentioned four “unpopular positions” of concern, not just one.

I look at a number of factors when endorsing candidates. Does the candidate agree with my point of view? How about smarts? Honesty? Do they grandstand or “shoot from the hip?”

Johnson hinted that I may have a hidden agenda and opposed Lieu because he wants to shut down Santa Monica Airport (SMO).  Nope. The issue was that Lieu’s “Senate Select Committee on Air Quality” was reviewing “air pollution around the state of California” and looking at its impacts “on various communities in the state.”

His taxpayer-supported “statewide study” covered one airport: SMO and none of the four general aviation airports in his own Senate District let alone elsewhere in California. Lieu was grandstanding for his West L.A. constituents.

I also criticized Lieu for voting against legislation that would have outlawed mutilating sharks and throwing them back in the ocean.

I ridiculed him for threatening a State Senate investigation and boycott of Lowe’s Home Improvement chain just because he didn’t like their advertising policy. Worse yet, when interviewed about it on Fox 11 News, Lieu was totally unaware that the target for his personal umbrage was one of 60 national advertisers that had a similar ad policy on controversial TV shows.

I was recently reminded by a reader that Lieu broke a promise he made to oppose SB-173 to some 3,400 students at Santa Monica College’s Emeritus College in May, 2013. The bill would have banned all state funding for older adult programs like Emeritus College. However, when it came before the Senate, he voted for it. When asked why, he apologized and blamed his staff for “not flagging it for him.”

In the county supervisor’s race, Santa Monica Dems passed over a great leader and iconic Democrat, Bobby Shriver — instead they endorsed Sheila Kuehl who repeatedly lied to voters about a Santa Monica ballot measure in 2008.

Endorsements like this are why I’d never join Johnson’s club.

 

There’s more

 

Our Assemblyman Richard Bloom, and former mayor, sent a letter to City Council a couple weeks ago expressing his disappointment with their decision to rescind the controversial development agreement for the proposed 770,000-square-foot Hines Bergamot Transit Village.

Bloom who is chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Resources and Transportation wrote, “In fact, the Hines project embodied the most aggressive traffic reduction strategies the city — indeed, most cities — have ever seen and that would have been a model for other projects.” Come again?

Is he describing the 7,000-plus, new, daily car trips Bergamot would have generated or the two new traffic lights on Olympic Boulevard with left-turn signals? Traffic reduction? Better stick with the orcas, Richard.

Comments like Bloom’s earn state legislators their single-digit approval rating and why I now regret endorsing him three weeks ago.

 

Bill can be reached by mr.bilbau@gmail.com.

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