A School Board action I can agree with! Something I can even thank them for.
Don’t get me wrong, I know our elected School Board members work long hours and make many difficult decisions that benefit our kids. I always applaud and thank them for that. But, that’s in the job description. And there remain certain very important financial issues that can’t be ignored.
Thank you for finally, finally, fixing that ugly wall at the corner of Lincoln and Ocean Park, at what used to be/used to be called Olympic High School. The money for that was an expenditure item generated from school bond Measure BB, passed in 2006. Out of $268M, $60,000 was “set aside”to repair the wall that was deteriorating even then… AND TO PAINT A MURAL THERE. But that $60,000 somehow disappeared, and nothing was done. There was never, for the entire 45 years of the Muir Woods mural that was painted there by Jane Golden in 1976, any effort by the District to preserve, touch up or repaint the mural. And so, naturally, it fell into ugly disrepair.
Of course by the time they got around to that repair 15 years later, it was a lot more expensive. Just the repair.
But now we have a “blank canvas” wall there, a unique wall perfect for an epic mural, say, a landscape, because the wall facing Lincoln Boulevard wraps around the corner to face Ocean Park, with no windows or doors to break the “canvas.” Nothing else like it exists in Santa Monica.
What an opportunity!
What a decision, for the District. The School Board, really, because they work very closely with the staff in charge of all facilities, including all buildings. And the district, with more than a billion dollars of our bond money in their coffers, has been adding facilities like crazy the last few years. Building, demolishing, building.
HOW TO DECIDE?
Some think the decision on what should go on that unique, long wall was made years ago, though not through a public process. Probably about the same time it was decided to put, loosely termed, a project-based high school there, an extension of the philosophy that SMASH (K-8), just down the block, has always operated under. Plans for that new, innovative high school have been in the works for more than a decade. But involving only a small team of educators, bureaucrats and parents. I heard of no community input.
There has been, for some time, and now immediately repainted on the repaired walls, two small black signs at the top, facing each of the intersecting thoroughfares, with the name of that new high school: Michelle and Barack Obama Center for Inquiry & Exploration. (Order some extra large diplomas.) My guess is that there is a contingent within the District that wants to put a large portrait of the Obamas there, and always had that in mind.
For nearly 50 years those walls displayed a peaceful sylvan scene at the second busiest intersection in Santa Monica. (Soon to become number one.) Now, what will our school administrators choose? Will they seek community input? (Unbiased, unmanipulated.)
Because of all the ideas of what should go there, there is one design that has many hundreds more votes than any other, and that is a repainting of the original Muir Woods rendering by Jane Golden, now a world-famous murals director for the City of Philadelphia.
So thank you, SMMUSD, for finally making that repair. Now we shall see how they go about deciding what to put up there. Something historic and known all over the world that was lost due to their neglect, something serving the community? Or something serving narrow partisan interests?
AND, THE POLICE?
Of course. We all know our police officers do a lot of good that’s witnessed by few. I think the complaints many of us have with them, serious ones that need addressing, are organizational, systemic problems.
A young friend of mine returned to her car in Parking Structure 5, late yesterday afternoon, and sensed something was amiss. She saw two men sitting in the car next to hers, and walked around the car until she saw that it was jacked up on the other side. Suddenly the car sped off, toward the exit. She raced down the stairs and confronted them as they were trying to leave.
“Hey! That was my car!” she yelled and started to video them. “We didn’t do it!” they yelled back – oh really, do what? – and then they started to inch their car towards her, at which point she bailed to the side, being sure to get the license plate.
SMPD arrived in about 10 minutes! Took info, took the jack, got a copy of her video and filed a report.
By interrupting their crime, they weren’t able to steal her catalytic converter – in broad daylight, in a parking structure with cars going by all the time! (They had a lookout, she said.) They had made a cut which she was able to get welded for 100 bucks.
When mine was stolen a few weeks ago, right in front of my building, it took several calls to the police and although they said they did show up and take a look around, they never knocked on my door to talk to me, and never filed a report.
It cost $3,500 to replace, which my insurance company paid for but cost me the $500 deductible. I inquired about them paying for a shield to be put in place, which cost about $450 locally, but they said nope. Since the thieves who steal them know where that car “lives” and that the owner will have to replace it in a few days, that makes you a prime target for repeat business. So I had the shield installed, but in San Pedro, for $300.
Glad my young friend had a better experience than I did, and the nerve to chase them down, and the good sense to step aside at the right moment. But that also shows that these petty thieves have a mindset to cause physical harm if they think they might get caught. So, that word of caution.
There is a lot of this kind of theft, here and everywhere. I will follow up and report what steps the SMPD takes on an incident like this. “Bloody nothing I’m sure” my friend opined.
As Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org