OH TO FLY FREE

Over the open skies of Santa Monica, like a bird!

Soaring and swooping in the sunshine and cool ocean breezes, among the tall palms, pondering the great Pacific shore and the limited lives of the tiny earthbound humans I see below me.

But I can’t do that, because I keep having to avoid big, tall buildings, more sprouting every day from the soil — I think there’s still soil down there, with all that concrete, asphalt and glass — and more and more I’m in the shadows, not the open sunny skies.

AS A COLUMNIST

I would love to do the same. Soar amongst all the great things about our unique and wonderful little beach city, all the great things that our selected leaders, City staff and ordinary citizens are doing every day. To write about them and tell the world.

But every time I think about doing that, something gets in the way.

Reality.

Our reality here in Santa Monica is that all the smaller, everyday but important things that are being done are put in the shadows by the big sticky SMRR-der web that covers it all. The overdevelopment. The corruption at the heart of wrong-headed public policies. The unwillingness to listen to and act on behalf of the residents. The absolutely crazy stuff that should never stand.

LAST WEEK’S COLUMN

Was the first of the year and I wish it could have been more positive. I threw out a few Wishes for 2020 but as soon as I typed them I realized all had the chance of a snowfall in SM of coming true.

Then I went into the territory of Crazy. Been there before. So many things being proposed and done here are on their face just plain crazy, but no one with any power will stand up and say it.

So for those who complain that I rarely write about the positive things going on in Santa Monica, I’m telling you, I want to. Badly. But I have a job to do.

AND NOW, THAT MURAL!

Time is now running really short to save the Muir Woods Mural. The School Board has arranged for the original artist Jane Golden, to come to SM at the end of this month from Philadelphia. She was given a contract ($10K?), meetings have been arranged, public discussion scheduled.

But none of this has been made public, nor included in any way the Save the Muir Woods Mural (SMWM) group — Jerry and Marissa Rubin and me — who have been working for six years to save this piece of our history, this environmental message. We have done research, presented talks and films, participated in a long but fruitless mediation process requested by SMMUSD, garnered media coverage worldwide, and gathered signatures of support from hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations, including many prominent Santa Monicans.

And yet the School Board is now continuing to proceed unilaterally with their so-called fair process to determine the fate of the mural through input from the public and from City officials. Which group do you think will receive the greatest weight?

I can’t answer those questions because the School Board continues to leave you, and us, who represent so many who have expressed love for that mural and a strong desire to have it restored, out of the process. Despite repeated failed promises to include us.

At some point you have to stop asking, because that’s proven a fool’s errand, and start demanding what’s fair and right.

“DEMANDS”

However, have a bad connotation. No matter how necessary they may have become. So even though your requests have been ignored for years, continue to make “requests.”

Speaking for myself, I request a meeting with whomever at SMMUSD is making these arrangements, that will also include Jerry and Marissa Rubin. We have earned a place at the table.

I request they make the schedule they have come up with public record, and publicized widely NOW to residents.

I request to know the criteria they have for determining the mural’s fate. Strictly by the will of the residents? Because that’s what they promised at the Oct. school board meeting.

It was claimed the mural was scraped a few months ago to remove peeling strips that contained lead paint. Requests for documentation were stonewalled, and buried deep in one report finally received was the information that the lead content was far below any cause for action. Also, if there is lead there why aren’t they testing every SMMUSD building?

The scraping, of course, made the already 40-years neglected mural look even worse. SMMUSD COO Carey Upton told me personally, when I asked if they took photographs before the scraping destruction, said yes they did, comprehensive, complete. I request to see those photographs.

I request that school board members cease all one-sided communication with artist Golden, except for necessary travel arrangements. I request that they provide us, SMWM, with notes of any communications that have occurred, or will.

People are still repeating on social media and spreading the claims made by School Board President Jon Kean at that Oct. meeting about the wishes of Golden concerning the mural, which if true would be in complete contradiction to what she has written for publication and expressed to Jerry and me in earlier phone conversations.

If these requests, so long ignored, are not now accommodated very quickly, it will show bad faith on the part of SMMUSD to resolve this community issue fairly and honestly.

I know nearly everyone at SMMUSD wants to do the right thing, and I believe they will.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *