In my college psychology classes,
I learned that a person’s perception of an issue is often dependent on their attitude toward the information source and the person’s predisposition to agree or disagree with the information being delivered. They and other factors can color a person’s understanding of issues.
I’m paid “big bucks” by this newspaper to have opinions. Some Daily Press readers disagree with me while others think I’m “spot on.” I’ve been called everything from a “right wing nihilist” to a “Libtard” and that’s OK.
Maybe perception is why readers occasionally completely misrepresent what I’ve written. For example, a couple of years ago, the Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School District’s then chief financial officer, Winston Braham, refused to certify to the state that the district had the resources to cover a classroom teacher pay raise and resigned. I had written a few columns critical of the school board for approving pay increases without knowing whether there were sufficient funds available to support them.
I joked that someone would write the Daily Press and accuse me of being against teacher’s raises. Sure enough, someone did. A well-known educational activist took issue with me and stated that raises are important to keeping top teachers even though I hadn’t questioned the increases themselves and only wrote that they need to be budgeted so the district wouldn’t go into fiscal meltdown. I guess because I’ve opposed most school parcel tax and bond measures, the letter writer assumed I was against teachers’ raises, too.
I’ve written that homeless services shouldn’t enable their clients to maintain an irresponsible street lifestyle. Inevitably, this has generated letters claiming “Bauer hates the homeless.” Asking that services be contingent on positive results is hating the homeless? Please.
I’ve written many columns recently about Expo Light Rail Phase 2 and have been particularly disappointed with the chosen route of the line — at grade (street level) on Colorado Avenue from around 18th Street to the Fourth Street terminal. I think it’s a bad choice for a number of good reasons.
On April 11, Dan Wentzel wrote in and said, “Once again we get to read an anti-transit rant from Bill Bauer who clings to the delusion that if we stop the Expo line and other transit and pedestrian improvements … ..” Whoa, hold it right there! Say What?
All I’ve written is that Expo needs to be done right — meaning with its own right-of-way preferably on Olympic or the I-10 Freeway siding; elevated to eliminate accidents, injuries and death and not create horrendous north/south street gridlock and be able to maintain an unfettered “on time” operating schedule.
I’ve never written that I oppose mass transit, bicycle or pedestrian improvements because I don’t. I have taken issue with transit financing and that pedestrian and bicycle amenities should not be at the sacrifice of existing vehicular traffic lanes or exacerbated congestion. That’s all. I’m not sure whether Wentzel read something into my column that wasn’t there of just wanted to pick a fight. I love a good debate but let’s debate on real issues, not on fabricated ones.
I admit, even I’m guilty of a little coloring. My April 6 column “The dark side of Expo Rail” (page 4) contained a quotation from Metro board member and Santa Monica City Councilwoman Pam O’Connor that she took issue with, and rightfully so. The quote was, “We think at-grade is better for development” and was supposedly said by O’Connor during the April 2 Metro board meeting when Expo’s route through Santa Monica was under discussion.
The quotation was e-mailed to me via a source at the meeting who is usually highly reliable. The source was wrong.
For the record, here are O’Connor’s transcribed comments recorded at the meeting: “At grade in Santa Monica really works well in terms of creating a strong, urban, pedestrian environment especially at the 17th Street Station which will serve the colleges and other institutions — and especially our downtown area. Coming into downtown Santa Monica at grade will help create and add to the vitality of downtown Santa Monica and we think frankly, it is a benefit and are very excited about designing and working around that downtown station.”
I still believe the thrust of her comments were that street level would be better for redevelopment than other alignments under consideration. I regret using quotation marks for what turned out to be my source’s interpretation rather than an exact quotation and apologize for putting words in Ms. O’Connor’s mouth.
For the record, Phoenix, Arizona’s new (at grade) Valley Metro Light Rail has been in operation for three months and there have already been 13 crashes involving trains and passenger vehicles, so far “ … averaging one crash every six days. It seems sharing the road with the new light rail has been frustrating and damaging for some Valley drivers.” — azfamily.com posted March 30.
Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org