Oscar de la Torre is his own worst enemy.

At issue was the funding of the embattled Pico Youth and Family Center that de la Torre founded and ran until last year when serious errors in bookkeeping forced him to temporarily step back as the organization’s Director.

Concerns about administrative issues at the PYFC were heard at the June 24 Council meeting that resulted in a $35,000 cut in its funding for the 2014/2015 fiscal year. Council approved $190,000 rather than the $225,000 annual grant because, according to City Manager Rod Gould, City Hall hadn’t been able to verify “finances or outcomes” with the PYFC.

According to an article in the June 28 Santa Monica Daily Press (“PYFC, City Hall still at odds,” Pg. 1), Gould called reporting and administration at the PYFC “a chronic and ongoing problem.”

This newspaper reported that “A 2011 audit from City Hall revealed nearly $30,000 in grant money was missing from the organization. De la Torre, who is also a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, claims that the discrepancy has been rectified and was a fault of the bank, not the organization.”

“‘Rod Gould wants to point at the PYFC and say that we have administrative issues but makes no mention of the errors that he’s made,’ de la Torre said. ‘Look what we’ve done for the community. What has he done to fight gang violence? What has he done to send kids to college?'”

_De la Torre noted that Gould, whose 2012 salary was nearly $353,000, takes more public dollars than the PYFC. “He’s the biggest welfare mom in the city of Santa Monica,” de la Torre said. Ouch!

De la Torre told the Daily Press that Gould’s complaint about PYFC’s administrative issues was “hypocritical.” He dissed Gould for his own recent problems including hiring and firing of a public relations person and a planning map where residential properties were labeled as commercial.

A number of councilpersons told folks at the Virginia Park Branch Library opening and Celebrate America events a week ago that his statements were out of line and they wouldn’t have voted for PYFC funding if they’d heard them before the vote.

Someone should tell the feisty de la Torre that you get more with honey than vinegar

Rumors are that de la Torre, whose term on school board expires this November, has decided to run for City Council. He’s supposedly signed up numerous new Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) members who are pledged to endorse him at the Annual SMRR convention Sunday, August 3.

SMRR’s endorsement is a “must” for anybody seeking public office as the organization dominates local politics.


Bozo on a bike

A friend was behind the wheel last Monday morning. We were driving north on 14th Street when a bearded, adult, male bicyclist in his mid-40’s zooms through the stop sign on California directly in front of us.

The Bozo on the bike had to be doing 25 or 30 mph and never attempted to stop.

My friend jammed the brakes and honked his horn. This elicited the usual F-bombs and middle finger from the doofus as he rode westbound.

We both yelled back. The jerk came to a screeching halt and taunted us as if he thought we were going to hang a U-turn and go after him. We didn’t and continued our journey.

Reckless biking is a particular problem on California between 17th Street and Lincoln where the street is wide and traffic is sparse. The stunt rider that cut us off went from idiot to A**hole in a few seconds.

It’s time to start licensing bicycles and those who ride them. And, how about a tax on bicycles when purchased to help pay for the millions of dollars being spent on special bike lanes and “safe streets?” Time to end free rides.

New bus stops suck

I noted in this space about being passed up by the Big Blue Bus on Montana and Euclid Street a few weeks ago. It turns out the bus stop was closed for renovation – a process that seemed to be taking longer to complete than the building of the Panama Canal. It’s one of some 200 new, system-wide, state-of-the art, BBB stops.

I’d like to report that they are just the ticket for Blue’s riders, but I can’t. Described as “bar stools with parasols,” at Montana and 17th Street, for example, they feature two round seats that are uncomfortably small. Their solid, textured surfaces retain heat in the sunlight and take forever to dry when wet. And, dirt or other liquid stains are difficult to clean.

Round, overhead canopies are also too small and don’t provide protection from sun or rain. Seating is placed so that the canopy support post blocks views of the street and oncoming buses unless you lean far forward or backward.

Nearby, are cheap-looking, trash/recycling containers whose openings are so small that they’re difficult to use unless you carefully place items into the openings. How many kids are going to bother? At some locations, containers are yards from the actual stops.

Lastly, Big Blue failed to install digital readouts at most stops so riders still don’t know when (or if) the next bus will arrive.

I don’t know who is responsible for these, but they’re obviously designed to discourage ridership. Didn’t anyone build or test a prototype? At a cost of around $7-million, they’re an unmitigated failure. Bring back our old benches.




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


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