It’s time to bestow the Annual Sammies — figurative awards to deserving local folks who blew it big time, fell on their face or grabbed the golden ring. Let’s begin with outstanding accomplishments.
Securing housing for homeless veterans has been a personal cause for City Councilman Bobby Shriver. He’s worked for expanding housing and related services at the Veterans Administration in Westwood for years. Finally last June, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki committed $20 million to renovate and rehabilitate one of three buildings earmarked by Shriver and others for housing and services. For his tenacity, Shriver earns the “Well Done, Mate” Sammy.
Last March, the 2010 L.A. Marathon terminated in Santa Monica. While it did snarl up traffic and parking Downtown, the event was still a huge success. So the “Great Fun” Sammy goes to the L.A. Marathon and all who were involved. And, they’ll be back in 2011. Yes!
For the fourth straight year, the “Helping the Homeless” Sammy goes to West Coast Care. Since October of 2006, WCC has helped more than 1,000 people transition off of the streets by reconnecting them with family and friends in their home towns. They have a 95 percent success rate and at a cost of about $200 per client. Amazing!
No year would be complete without misfires, belly-flops and pratfalls.
The “Wishful Thinking” Sammy goes to the City Council and all those who were hoping the Santa Monica Airport was going to close when an operating agreement between the federal government and City Hall expired in 2015. An FAA spokesman recently said that there’s a requirement to keep the airport open until at least 2023 because of an agreement involving federal airport improvement grants.
Say goodbye to parks, wind farms, golf courses and mixed-use developments envisioned for the site. SMO will stay open because it’s needed for disaster relief operations in case of an earthquake, terrorist incident and/or other threat to national security. There’s no reason to study future uses for a site that wont be available for decades to come, if ever.
The “Dream On” Sammy goes to Mayor Richard Bloom who still doesn’t get it. He recently told the Daily Press, “FAA officials are entitled to their opinions … . I am quite confident that the city will have many more options after 2015 than the FAA is willing to admit. As far as I am concerned, it is the city that will determine the fate of the airport and what is best for the community.” Yes, Richard. And, pigs will fly. In and out of SMO.
I thought Gleam Davis would win the “Incredibly Stupid Statement” Sammy for her comment about persons not wanting to pay school parcel taxes could sell their homes and move out of town. But, Terry O’Day snatched a Sammy with this brain buster.
When recently asked by Santa Monica Patch, a local online news source, “What was the City Council’s biggest achievement of 2010?” O’Day answered, “The boycott of Arizona businesses. (It) proved that we can be a city that stands up for its ideals, and we can do it without increasing costs in every instance.” Never mind that the boycott was grandstanding, a total waste of council’s time and had nothing to do with governing Santa Monica. However, it made City Council — and O’Day — look foolish.
Recent changes in the Main Street and Pico Farmers’ Markets included replacing longtime vendors with new suppliers. Last Saturday (Dec. 18), the Pico Market’s new bread purveyor, Le Pain Du Jour, was a no-show, again — it was raining. The “Think Again” Sammy goes to City Hall’s market overseers Jodi Low and Laura Avery, who need to end the foolishness and ask Old Town Baking Co. to return to Pico. Unlike Le Pain, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays this courageous courier from the delivering the bread.”
In a city where affordable housing is the number one priority, low-income rental units all over town are being bought, sold and leased at market rates. In the Dorchester House on Fourth Street, 13 units were designated as “affordable” in the building’s development agreement with City Hall.
After three decades, without review or oversight, these units are now mostly owner-occupied by people who wouldn’t normally qualify because they make too much money. City Hall is looking into legal recourse, but no action has been taken. The “Who Cares” Sammy goes to the City Council for letting these apartments and who knows how many hundreds more fall out of compliance.
The “Manana” Sammy also goes to City Council who finally — after 10 years of wrangling and micro- managing -— approved the 20th Street and Cloverfield Boulevard greenscape plan in March. Requests by Pico residents for street trees and landscaping turned into a monument to wasted staff time, cost overruns and unfulfilled promises. Unfortunately, work has yet to commence. Oh well, What’s another 10 years?
More Sammies next week. Happy New Year!
Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.