Some things never change, but they can get uglier. The Pico Youth & Family Center is under attack again, and clarity is needed. The Friday article (“City staff recommends cutting funding to youth center,” Jan. 3) fails to report issues of libel: false and biased reporting by Judy Spiegel, who has a direct conflict of interest in the takedown of PYFC.

In the big picture, the attempt to destroy PYFC is urban planning warfare over land use: take down the PYFC, native Chicano leaders and advocacy of renters. This opens the floodgates on prime coastal real estate as the new rail line brings tourist dollars to the city’s 1 percent. At stake are renters and racial communities that have been here since the 19th century. Like the destruction of the nativity scenes in Palisades Park, figures like City Manager Rod Gould have no interest in tradition. They are the 1 percent. No need to help at-risk youth or working families, the logic goes, because these families will be shipped out to blighted areas of Los Angeles, someone else’s social “problems.”

The City Council needs to seriously and aggressively call the “objective” consultant Judy Spiegel into question. She has clearly demonstrated incompetence, bias, racism and conflict of interest as a hired consultant by the city. First and foremost, her report constitutes a clear violation of truthful reporting and is grounds for libel. Her document, in writing, was biased, untrue and deliberately incomplete, with malicious intent. Her report omits all the careful reporting of staff over the last six months of services to youth. The impact on and the voice of youth was left out. It deliberately highlights weaknesses and petty shortcomings to the detriment of PYFC’s existence.

Secondly, Spiegel expressed ignorance — on record in board meetings — of the “meaning of social justice.” Her incompetence led her to attempt to remove “social justice” from the center’s mission statement.

Thirdly, Spiegel stands to benefit from the loss of philanthropist money she helped sabotage. Spiegel is the president of the SM YWCA and, in cahoots with other corrupt board members (who left the board possibly to avoid incrimination), stands to benefit from this same windfall of philanthropist money (which the YMCA is also a recipient of). She attempted an unconstitutional premature take-over of the PYFC directorship in December, but the board rejected her.

Lastly, this ordeal is also a matter of organic, native leadership. Oscar de la Torre is being attacked for being a vocal, caring advocate of the Pico Neighborhood. His legacy has been realizing improvements of the least funded schools like Edison and Will Rogers, and the construction of the first library in the Pico Neighborhood. Truth be told, Oscar is likely the most able, disciplined, educated, caring and visionary leader that has ever come out of the Pico Neighborhood. This city should commend him, and stop the persecution by police and City Manager Gould of Pico leaders.

I stand by Oscar’s statement “the sum of good is 100 times more than the sum of its faults.” So should the council and citizens of Santa Monica. Defend the PYFC.


Elias Serna

Santa Monica

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