The Good<p>

For the third year, the "Helping the Homeless” Sammy goes to West Coast Care. Since arriving here in Oct. 2006, WCC has helped more than 750 people to transition off of the streets by reconnecting them with family and friends in their home towns or getting them into treatment programs and/or housing. It’s an absolutely amazing success record.

Since going on contract as the outreach team for the Santa Monica Police Department in March, 2008, WCC has helped 456 people leave the streets. Only about 5 percent returned to Santa Monica.

“The majority of those returning ask for help again within a very short time,” said WCC’s Ron Hooks. “There are only a handful of people that have been helped and have relapsed back onto the street."

The Sammy for “Best Youth Hangout” goes to the Santa Monica Police Activities League. Between all the fantastic services they provide to children and young adults, there’s also PAL-loween and the annual Holiday Breakfast. For all those who work, volunteer, donate or contribute to PAL, take a bow for a job well done.

The Bad<p>

The “Do We Care” Sammy goes to the City Council and planning commission for favoring a middle of the street alignment for Expo Light Rail Phase 2. Ignoring traffic problems, quality of life issues and safety, they’re only concerned with future development along the Olympic Boulevard/Colorado Avenue corridors. Talk about cutting Santa Monica in half!. A special shout-out goes to City Councilmember and Expo Construction Authority and Metro Transit board member Pam O’Connor for a total lack of leadership and concern for the community.

The “Fudging the Figures” Sammy goes to the Expo Construction Authority. Its final Environmental Impact Report summary “found no significant traffic, noise or safety impacts” with trains running at street level or through street level (at grade) intersections.

However, Expo’s EIR detailed traffic studies (table 3.27.27) shows substantial evening rush hour delays at key Santa Monica intersections because of “reduced capacity on Colorado.” The EIR also ignores the traffic impacts of two dozen rush hour trains crossing intersections hourly at an average 40-second-per-crossing. The same EIR said Expo’s mid-Colorado alignment would result in “no significant safety impacts.” Hello! A bunch of 225-ton, 90-foot long trains cruising down the middle of unfenced, congested streets and intersections are definitely a safety hazard.

The Sammy for “Biggest Party Pooper” goes to City Council members who voted to jack up parking rates last September for the Santa Monica Pier’s 100th Anniversary. When celebrants arrived at city parking facilities and found $15 and $20 parking charges, hundreds of them turned around and drove away. A few people stayed to watch the fireworks but the pier’s big birthday party turned out to be a big flop.

The “Just Ignore ‘Em” Sammy goes to City Hall for another year of disregarding major community complaints. In a city survey last April, residents said traffic congestion was the most serious problem. Yet, traffic lanes were narrowed or removed, signal lights are sequenced to slow traffic, speed limits were reduced and traffic-generating developments are approved.

Downright Pathetic<p>

The 2010 Sammy for “All Time Muddle-Headed Incompetency" must go to the Southern California ACLU and their pro-bono law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP In July, the ACLU announced the filing of a lawsuit in Federal Court against the city of Santa Monica and its police department for allegedly denying the constitutional rights of six homeless plaintiffs.

The ACLU never approached City Hall with its concerns, rather they cobbled together a list of gripes from disgruntled homeless persons, filed suit then called a quick press conference on City Hall’s steps to show what “big shots” they were. ACLU Legal Director Mark D. Rosenbaum claimed City Hall was waging a war against poor persons, but It appears that Rosenbaum and his associates are really more interested in column inches and TV air time than really helping those in need.

The ACLU’s complaint was so riddled with factual errors, tortured reasoning and concocted allegations, it read as if it were written by law school wannabes. More troubling is evidence that case workers from OPCC (which receives much of its homeless services funding from City Hall) encouraged their clients to take their complaints to the ACLU as opposed to City Hall. Meanwhile, the litigation drags on causing city resources to be diverted from homeless services.

The “Same Old Crap” Sammy again goes to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education. We’ve had another year of bad decision-making, incompetence, non-governance, excuses and foot shuffling. Now, they want us to approve another unfair and regressive parcel tax to make up for their fiscal incompetence. Yikes!

Last but not least, if you go out and shoot a gun into the air this News Year’s Eve, you may not get next year’s “Big Loser” Sammy, but you’ll surely be a “Number One Jackass” in 2010.

Happy New Year!

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