The 2010 Los Angeles Marathon Committee would like next year’s event to run though Santa Monica. According to their Web site, the race will be held on a Sunday “sometime in March.”

Its new course is in flux. Tentatively, the 2010 race will start at Dodger Stadium, eventually head to San Vicente Boulevard, turn on Ocean Avenue/Neilson Way and continue to a finish line somewhere in Santa Monica, perhaps the world famous Santa Monica Pier.

Last year’s Memorial Day L.A. Marathon drew 17,000 runners while the 2008 race on March 2 drew 25,000 runners.

All streets on the course will be shut down most of the day as well as cross and intersecting streets. Gridlock promises to be horrendous. Access to Downtown, the pier or beach and parking will be difficult at best. Although, there could be a minor bump in local food, alcohol and hotel revenues, traditionally any substantial sales bumps are mostly at hotels and restaurants near the race’s start — around Downtown L.A.

With the exception of local runners, any benefit to Santa Monica would be negligible. That leaves the rest of us with only the inconvenience, barricaded streets and traffic nightmares.

The 2010 marathon’s date and course must be approved by Los Angeles City Council. Our City Council must OK any leg of the race here as well as how extra costs for police, city staff and traffic control will be handled. The issue may be before our council on July 28. They should say “No” to this turkey.

Another school parcel tax?

Thursday, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education approved the formation of an ad hoc citizens committee for placing a new, “temporary” school parcel tax on the ballot next June or in a special election. This comes less than a year and a half after voters approved a $346 annual measure that permanently renewed two expiring “temporary” parcel taxes.

The request for the committee was floated by school Superintendent Tim Cuneo as a way to help replace an expected $10 to $12 million reduction in state funding for the district. The measure is heavily backed by the usual school supporters such as Laurie Lieberman and Debbie Mulvaney, founding members of LEAD (Leadership Effectiveness Accountability Direction). The board also approved $50,000 for public opinion polling on support for the new tax in the middle of a serious economic downturn.

But, how serious is the crisis? According to state Assemblymember Fran Pavley’s 23rd District July newsletter, “The cuts also have affected schools in Santa Monica and Malibu, but not to the same degree as in other districts.

“The $4.5 million eliminated from the 2009-10 budget means class size increases in elementary schools from 20-to-1 to 23-to-1, and by one student at the higher grades,” said Jan Maez, the district’s chief financial officer. “The good news is all cuts have been accomplished through attrition, not layoffs,” she said.

Once again, SMMUSD administrators seem to have differing takes on financial issues. If Maez is correct, it appears that the state’s budget woes are being used as an excuse to sneak in an unneeded and unwarranted tax increase for a school district that never has enough money.

Despite the district’s own Financial Oversight Committee looking into alternative revenue sources and/or charging fees to non-district permit families (who pay no parcel taxes, bond fees or even donate to the schools), administrators, the school board and well-heeled school cheerleaders would rather gouge strapped renters and property owners for yet another regressive and unfair school tax than find other options.

The SMMUSD has a history of fiscal mishaps going back longer than a decade. Even members of the current Measure BB (construction bonds) Financial Oversight Committee have complained bitterly about not getting enough information, slow response to queries and interference by district staff.

The district loves to spend, spend and spend. According to district records, in 2008-09, the school board approved $842,000 for assorted lawyers to fight special education parents — more than four times what was originally budgeted. The SMMUSD also paid out $163,000 to attorney/consultant Mary Kellogg. And last January, the SMMUSD paid $150,000 to an outside legal firm for “labor negotiating.” That’s over $1.1 million in special ed and union negotiating legal fees for outside firms!

Then there’s Cuneo’s $220,000 base salary plus perks and expenses approaching $100,000 — which is what the classroom teachers’ union recently suggested he give up.

Another parcel tax? What chutzpah!

ACLU attorneys: Shoot first, ask questions later

I’m outraged that the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) may have slain the goose that laid the golden egg by filing a federal lawsuit last week accusing the city and its police department of violating the constitutional rights of the homeless.

Their litigation is predicated on misinformation, ignorance and misguided idealism. It’s totally without merit. I’ll have lots more to say about this offensive and potentially damaging (to homeless services) misfire next week.

Bill Bauer can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com.

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