As expected, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education voted 6-0 last Tuesday night to curtail the raising and spending of funds by school donors and PTA groups on their neighborhood schools.

The move is supposed to narrow the achievement gap by centralizing donations and spreading them more equally among the district’s schools. There is already heavy fallout from the decision.

Aside from being generally divisive, the new policy has resulted in accelerated efforts by Malibu residents to form their own school district. The lack of a Malibuite on the current school board (whose members are elected districtwide by popular vote dominated by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights-backed candidates) is also a sore point.

Last Monday night, Malibu’s City Council unanimously initiated the process that could lead to secession from the SMMUSD and the formation of a new Malibu school district.

Last year, before the election, I exchanged a number of e-mails with then board candidate Nimish Patel about "out of the box" ways to raise money for the schools. We specifically exchanged ideas about selling naming rights and licensing logos and names like "Malibu High Sharks,” "Samohi," etc. It’s an idea Patel still wants to explore.

When I was in London last month, I saw "University of California" and "UCLA" branded merchandise in a number of retail stores. Some merchandise featured the UC seal and UCLA’s script logo. I recall the UC Regents were planning to license university names and logos to generate new revenue and it appears they’ve done just that.

I also saw numerous young people around England wearing T-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with "Franklin and Marshall." Franklin and Marshall is a small, liberal arts college in Lancaster, PA. In addition to licensing their name, they’ve even licensed original sweatshirt artwork.

I can’t help but think that if an aggressive apparel firm such as Abercrombie and Fitch were to market "Malibu High" or “Samohi Vikings” labeled clothing worldwide, millions of dollars in sales would result — the same as their "Hollister" line generates.

Revenues derived from licensing SMMUSD branded apparel and other merchandise could support low income/low achieving schools without the ill feelings and penalization of PTAs and donors who want to contribute to their own (yes, wealthy) neighborhood schools.

As usual, there seems to be no interest by most school board members and district administrators to come up with new or novel ways to generate revenue. Too bad. In the meantime, bad decision making and self-destructive policies continue.

Lieu lays another egg

28th District State Senator Ted "Chicken" Lieu (D-Torrance) was grandstanding for constituents last Wednesday night at a Senate Select Committee on Air Quality hearing in West Los Angeles. The one-sided hearing focused strictly on air pollution from Santa Monica Airport (SMO). Lieu is chair of the committee.

According to a Senate press handout, "During the 2011-12 legislative session, the Select Committee on Air Quality will review issues of air pollution around the state of California and … look at causes and sources of air pollution and their environmental and health impact on various communities in the state."

OK. Again I ask, “Why is Santa Monica’s airport the only airport being targeted?” By only going after SMO and ignoring polluting aviation facilities in his own backyard such as Northrop Field/Hawthorne Municipal Airport, Zamperini Field in Torrance, Compton/Woodley Airport and LAX, Lieu comes off as disingenuous and phony. It’s not about air pollution, it’s about hot air.

Lest you think that Lieu is a great protector of the environment, you should be aware that he vigorously opposed AB-376, a new law which bans the practice of cutting fins off live sharks and dumping them, mortally maimed, back into the ocean to die — a brutal practice that’s threatening many shark species. The fins are then used in soup.

Lieu’s latest dog-and-pony show is a meaningless gesture and good example of how empty political suits posture and pose while ignoring real issues of aviation related air pollution in and around all airports. It’s OK to study SMO’s pollution. But, it’s criminal to ignore other aviation facilities and their effects on neighbors.

In Lieu’s case, better to beat up on the little guy and "stroke" your constituency living near SMO than go after a powerful target like LAX or your hometown airport in Torrance and really clean up the air. Bruccck, cluck, cluck.

Disastrous holiday gifts for sale

City Hall’s new Office of Emergency Management is holding its second "One Stop Prep Shop" for emergency preparedness on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Santa Monica’s Main Public Library.

Local suppliers such as Fisher Lumber, REI, the Emergency Café, SOS Survival Products, and the American Red Cross of Santa Monica will be selling emergency preparedness materials and kits — some at good discounts.

While you may think that giving emergency supplies as gifts and stocking stuffers is a little weird, they do make ideal presents. Who knows? Your gift “emergency kit” may save a life when an earthquake or apartment/house fire strikes.

Bill can be reached at

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