A child rides a pony at the Sunday Main Street Farmers' Market. Some want to ban it. (Photo courtesy blocksnap.com)

MY WRITE — While I was away in jolly old England for the last two weeks, the mice came out to play.

City Council voted 4 to 0 to end a decade of pony rides at the Sunday Main Street Farmers’ Market. Ted Winterer, Gleam Davis, Kevin McKeown and Tony Vazquez cast their vote around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning (Sept 10).

Left wing gadfly Marcy Winograd had protested the pony rides and petting zoo run by Tawni Angel. “Pony whisperer” Winograd claimed Angel’s animals were overworked, mistreated and unhappy.

A number of veterinary and animal rights organization cleared Angel of mistreatment and Market Supervisor Laura Avery even vouched for Angel’s responsible care for her animals. Winograd, who is a school teacher, made the big mistake of projecting human emotions on animals.

If I were Angel, I’d sue. However, if Winograd’s attorney husband were to become involved, Angel would be lawyered ad infinitum.

McKeown called Winograd’s attacks, “unfair and unkind.” He was “disturbed, though, by the demonization of Tawni Angel and her ponies.’ He said he was wary of a process which, “gives power to the attack-based protest against an individual.” So am I.

Instead of standing up to ignorance, councilmembers Davis and Winterer, who agendized the item, said that their decision has nothing to do with Angel, but with the “protest” surrounding the issue.

Yes, Virginia, this is the sorry specter of four council persons using “protest” as reason to cave on Winograd’s bullying. Too bad “protest” wasn’t used as an excuse to vote down the Hines/Bergamot project in February.

Council’s voting results in a loss of enrichment and an enhanced community experience way to frequently. Four years ago, it purged the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets of long time, favorite non-food vendors. This time they eliminated an educational experience for children to be around and near farm animals.

Never fear. The Sunday morning Brentwood Farmers’ Market on Gretna Green Way has a pony ride and petting zoo. Ponies get to carry their young charges on a footpath next to the Brentwood Country Club. The petting zoo is a delight. But, don’t tell Winograd. She’ll go up there and incite another witch hunt.

Pedestrian Action Plan is more nonsense

A community meeting on the new “Pedestrian Action Plan” (PAP) plan took place September 23 at the main library.

The PAP is another nonsensical planning concept that tries to convert arterials and streets used to transport folks to/from home, work, school and shopping into a multi-purpose recreational facilities.

Trying to co-ordinate equal access for vehicular traffic with bicycling and walking activities on city streets has been an insurmountable challenge for the planning geniuses in City Hall. Efforts so far have been failures.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, pedestrians complained about drivers cutting them off in crosswalks, especially when the vehicle is turning. I was nearly run down by a left-turning motorist at Euclid Street and Wilshire Boulevard a couple of Sundays ago. People drive recklessly and inconsiderately because they can get away with it.

Wider sidewalks, landscaping and street beautification will do nothing to solve this problem, but a police motor officer with a cite book will. Let’s face it, there’s just not enough enforcement.

There is resistance at City Hall to stepping up enforcement or even including it in the planning process because hiring police doesn’t make busy work for a bloated planning staff.

One concept being studied is called “Vision Zero” – a philosophical approach to pedestrian/bike/car relationship that aims for “zero” dangerous interactions.

Vision Zero is a pipe dream conjured up by the Unicorn chasers. One its big advocates is planning commissioner and council candidate Richard McKinnon who told our Daily Press reporter, “We need to try to create streets where cars and pedestrian interactions don’t occur.”

Candidate McKinnon is in Fantasyland. There’s no way that a street or intersection will have “zero dangerous interactions” even if configured exclusively for cars, bicycles or for pedestrians.

Union endorsements about wages and benefits

In previous elections, many of us noted the extensive political support and flow of campaign funds from developers and their associates. This cycle, it’s the labor unions that are most active.

While I was in the UK, a couple of council candidates continued to benefit from union endorsements: incumbents Kevin McKeown, Mayor Pam O’Connor and former Lookout columnist and attorney Frank Gruber who has reinvented himself as a labor candidate.

Better than a pro-development candidate, huh, Frank? I’m not impressed.

Labor unions back candidates who support pro-union positions like increased wages and benefits packages. For example, the bargaining units representing the Santa Monica Police Officers’ Association (POA) and Firefighters, Local 1109 endorsed McKeown, O’Connor and Gruber. They claimed their endorsement was due to, “consistent track records of voting for issues that favor community safety and ensure the highest quality of emergency services.”

Is that really true? The POA also endorsed Sheila Kuehl over Bobby Shriver for Los Angeles County Supervisor, 3rd District. Shriver led the move to have police officers pay a small percentage (3%) of their own pension benefits when he was on City Council in 2011. (“Taking on the 800 lb Gorilla,” Editorial, SMDP, Feb 11, 2011, Pg. 4)

Shriver’s position saved Santa Monica taxpayers millions of dollars but the payback for Shriver is and will be harsh. No doubt we’ll soon see mailers saying, “Shriver not good for public safety.”

For me, it’s exactly why I’m supporting Bobby for Supervisor because he does what’s best for the people over voting for himself, politically.

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