Kevin Cody

Letters March 17, 2011

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by Keith Robinson

Merge the schools

Dear ER:

The Hermosa Beach School District’s merger plan as an option was considered when I was on their Board as a Trustee (1979-81). I was in favor of it then, and now as a senior member of the community, I believe even more strongly that a merger with Manhattan Beach School District is the best option for all the reasons Erin Condren expressed [“Education planners hear charter school pitch,” ER March 3, 2011] and more: we’d still be a relatively small school district, our test scores and property values are similar, and most of our students go to the same high school.

I’m hoping the majority of parents and the rest of our communities will agree to the merger so plans are soon underway to make that happen.

Lynn Schubert

Hermosa Beach

Snake tales

Dear ER:

I really agree with the review [“The snake Who Would Not Bend: the story behind the story,” ER Feb. 17, 2011] because I read it and it almost made me cry.

p.s. Stay bendy!

Jack Morse

Alta Vista School

Respect the bass

Dear ER:

Congrats to the Best of the Beach – Best Original Music Band (runner up) Special C [March 10, 2011]!

But Easy Reader, you really blew it with your description of the band. Why bother telling us it is a trio if you fail to mention all three musicians? Evan Pershing is the bass player for Special C. I don’t think it would’ve taken much room to include him in this blurb — after all, you unnecessarily mentioned who Bubba’s brother is (tacky move, Bubba is an accomplished drummer on his own, you didn’t have to include that information). Evan plays as much of a role in this band as Dustin and Bubba, and deserves recognition.

Mary Carver

Paying their share?

Dear ER:

I watched the Feb. 28 meeting of the Hermosa Beach City Council-appointed Business License Tax Review Committee and read their report (available on the City’s website), which suggested a moderate increase in the tax on Hermosa’s bars and restaurants:  From the present $2,268 maximum to a new maximum, or cap, of $4,000. The report continued:

“Total related alcohol-related caps $147,000. This together with sales tax revenue is $1,428/day [of revenue, were the Committee’s $4,000 cap to be enacted].”

“The City Manager stated that 3/5 of police on one shift are scheduled to patrol these businesses. This equates to 0.198 of total police expenses, or $2,084,890/year or $5,712/day. Should the community be subsidizing this? Should the taverns/bar/restaurants/vendors that cause the City to spend $4,284/day greater than revenue the City receives be required to have their own patrol with a licensed security company, thus allowing the police to patrol the City?”

The 75 percent subsidy that would remain even after imposition of the increase suggested by the Committee is why I believe the tax proposed by my initiative is warranted [“Huge tax hike proposed for nightspots,” ER Feb. 24, 2011]. To those who suggest that such large dollar amounts are unprecedented or inappropriate, please consider that in 2010 Hermosa collected an average of $173,000 each from nine businesses in another part of the city’s tourism industry, the lodging places.

If you would like to sign the initiative, you can download it from www.vivahermosa.com.

Jim Lissner

Hermosa Beach

Thanks for sharrowing

Dear ER:

Mr. Ackroyd, in his characterization of sharrows as dangerous and ill-conceived [“Letters,” ER March 3, 2011], fails to recognize that like all bikeways, they are legitimate roadway designators per both the Federal Highway Administration and the State of California Manuals of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Section 9C.007 0f the former and section 9C.103 of the latter. Bikeways are designed to make our roads safer.

I believe we can agree that it is in our mutual interest to drive less, slow down and get more exercise. Bicycles can contribute to these goals. Hermosa Beach City Council adopted our Bike Master Plan in 2009. The sharrows on Hermosa Avenue are part of that plan and were installed 14 months ago in conformance with the design guidelines noted above. The use of sharrows is increasing nationwide because most of our existing streets do not have room for dedicated bike lanes.

Note that just last week The LA City Council adopted a Bike Master Plan for Los Angeles. LA County has also put up their Bike Master Plan for public review. Here in the South Bay, under the auspices of the South Bay Bike Coalition with grant funding from the LA County Health Department, we are developing a seven city Bike Master Plan that will provide safer bikeway interconnection between and thru these cities.

The key phrase that will ensure we meet our objectives is “share the road.” I believe most of us want to protect the environment and improve the health of our citizens. It is the responsibility of both motorists and cyclists to obey the rules of the road and respect each other’s rights.

I have a rear license plate frame that says “share the road.” I would be pleased to give one to Mr. Ackroyd. Just ask.

Julian Katz

Ink is forever

Dear ER:

Regarding “Tattooing the Beach,” [ER Jan. 13, 2011], I was fortunate to not have any remorse after getting tattooed at the age of 49. I worked on my design for weeks and was lucky to get Kevin from Liberty Tattoo in Gardena to transform the idea I had on paper into the delicate botanical design that now lives on my arm. It was exactly what I wanted.

I hope all of the tattoo artists that will be based in Hermosa can do as good a job for their clients.

Diane Lee

Redondo Beach

Pension pushback

Dear ER:

Hermosa Beach City Councilman “Kit” Bobko recently launched another public attack on the Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Associations. He essentially labeled them as greedy and unwilling to “relinquish the sweetheart deals they’ve purchased with millions of dollars of campaign contributions over the years” [see story page 8].

For too long I have been hearing Mr. Bobko spout inaccuracies or possibly even outright lies in his attacks on the public safety employees who serve this City. I now feel compelled to set the record straight and educate the local public about the ongoing negotiations process. Before explaining, I also want to clarify that I am a police officer with this City and am also on the Association’s negotiating team, however; I am writing on my behalf and not on behalf of the Association.

First, the community needs to understand that the Association does not have the power that Mr. Bobko implies it does. By law, the City is required to conduct “good faith” negotiations with the authorized employee bargaining units, however; the City is not required to reach an agreement with them. What this simply means is that the City is supposed to merely enter into contract negotiations with an open mind towards what the individual bargaining units are requesting.

If the City and the bargaining units cannot agree to contract terms, the City can opt to force their terms on the employees – provided the City adhered to the requirements set forth in State Government Code Sections 3500 – 3511 (known as the “Meyers-Milias-Brown Act”). As long as the City has complied with State law during the negotiation process, the City can essentially dictate its terms.

The public safety employees are prohibited by law from striking if they don’t agree to the salary/benefit terms being offered by their employers. Thus, all of the current salary/benefits provided to the City’s employees were obtained via voluntary and mutual agreement by the previous City Councils; there were no “strong-arm” tactics involved as Mr. Bobko would have you believe.

Second, the retirement and other benefits were essentially “purchased” by the Associations receiving them. In the past, the City would enter into negotiations by telling each Association how much it was willing to offer to them in the form of a percent salary increase. The Association would provide the City with its “wish list” of any salary/benefit increase. The City and the Association would then reach an agreement as to what each benefit increase would “cost” and, if the City agreed to provide a particular benefit, it would then “charge” that benefit cost against the total amount available. In the past, the Police Officers’ Association agreed to forego years of salary increases in order to pay for its current retirement formula and other benefits.

Third, Mr. Bobko is correct in that only future employees are subject to the salary/benefit reductions being demanded by the City. What concerns me is that Mr. Bobko is not revealing the true reason as to why the Association is rejecting the City’s demands.

Although below the area average, our current salary and benefits package is at least competitive with the industry standard. The Police Officers’ Association has agreed to a benefit reduction for new employees, but; the Association wants to ensure this reduction is in line with the reductions being agreed to by most other agencies and which is becoming the new industry standard. The City, however, is demanding benefit reductions that are significantly lower than the new industry standard.

I find this ironic since the City recently paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (through fixed and personnel costs) to obtain national police accreditation and can now boast that its police officers operate at above industry standard, yet it wants to compensate all new officers at below the industry standard.

Finally, the Hermosa Beach Police Officers’ Association has repeatedly said it is willing to do its part in reducing government expense by agreeing to the City’s request for a “Two-Tier” benefit system for new employees. However, I believe the City’s insistence on paying its new police officers below-standard salary and benefits will hurt the citizens of this community in the long run.

Such actions by the City will likely harm the police department’s ability to attract and maintain high-quality officers, and once these officers are hired, fully trained and State certified at the City’s expense, they will be much more likely to leave the Hermosa Beach Police Department to work for any one of the many higher-paying agencies in the area. Consequently, any savings achieved by the City will also be offset by the increased cost of recruiting, hiring, and successfully training additional officers in order to compensate for this continual process of attrition.

For anyone who so chooses, the information that I have provided in this letter is public record and can be independently verified. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight.

Sgt. Kevin Averill

Member, Hermosa Beach Police Officers’ Association

Let it go

Dear ER:

I believe that we are all significantly better off for Geoff Dolan having passed our way [“Watchdog hopes letter will show why Dolan left,” ER Feb. 3, 2011]. Many of the good things that happened over the past 15 years might not have happened without him, and he put an excellent face on Manhattan Beach City Hall, making it more people friendly and one with which all parties became more eager and willing to work. He calmly guided the ship through stormy waters.

We have recently made the amazing discovery that Geoff might actually be human after all. As Abe Lincoln once said, “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have few virtues.” And as my father-in-law, Henry Breen, who was owner of the John Deere dealership in Fairmont Minnesota down in corn and soy bean country, 11 miles north of the Iowa border, at 6-foot-7 a kind of Lincolnesque figure himself, and a man who enjoyed immense respect and admiration within his community, often liked to say, “There’s no man so good that there’s not a little bad in him, and no man so bad that there’s not a little good in him”, which may have been from Abe originally also.

It was a tough call for the City, a classic conflict between right to know and desire to protect privacy. But there should have been a better way. At times there is a tendency to make things overly complicated. The truth should always trump all else, and always does eventually, haven’t we learned that yet? Why not just go by what all of our mothers taught us, do the right thing, tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may?

So what has the Council gained or lost? Well they have certainly reinforced their reputation as being not so much a body representing the interests of the citizens as they are a PR team for the City administration, willing to speak the truth as long as it is politically correct, is good PR for the City and puts the staff in a good light. And what have we the citizens learned? Well I hope it is that if we are interested in acquiring the truth, we need active watchdogs more than ever.

And what about Geoff? While the money when amortized over his 15 years of service amounts to less than a dollar per family per year, I suppose we need to think about the other good uses to which it could have been put. At some point it might be appropriate to bring forth the concept of forgiveness, a basic tenet of most, if not all of our western philosophies, albeit one in which many in our society, perhaps especially some among us who are slaves to ritual, seem to have great difficulty grasping.

I realize all of this might miss the point for many, but I say let’s throw this fish back in the water and try for a bigger one. Out of respect and gratitude, maybe we should try to suppress our curiosity. The sun will rise in the east again tomorrow.

Richard O Strom

Must-not-see TV

Dear ER:

I should have known better. Turning in early for an early rise last Tuesday, I made the mistake of cycling through the channels, happening upon an extremely disconcerting expose of psycho-babble served up by the Hermosa Beach City Council.

The entire City Council and Staff were totally engrossed in the regulation of televisions [inside a restaurant], as if it was some health safety and welfare issue. Pete Tucker and Howard Fishman discussed the appropriate width and height of the televisions, whether the City Code should define a television to reflect the appropriate height and width, where a television should be located, what a television should be playing, etc. They even discussed the idea of hiring a television police, with ruler in hand would go around town to enforce TV specifications.

The display of grown men haranguing back and fourth about TVs was reminiscent of an Amsterdam hash house, except no one was high. Indeed, it seemed everyone except the poor guy subjected to the nonsense had a lobotomy. Given the City’s delusion of importance, it’s only a matter of time for Tucker and the boys to start regulating toaster ovens?

Robert Benz

Blue about green

Dear ER:

Assembly member Betsy Butler’s declaration as a new leader in “clean energy efforts” and her declaration to push the “Clean Energy Jobs” Initiative for California touting its virtues is another example of a politician painting a rosy picture of our State’s future [“Making the Golden State green,” ER Feb. 24, 2011]. We’re broke — how can you tout giving “grants” and “tax credits” for these green essentials? I believe Gov. Brown just asked the Legislature to “stop” passing legislation and get to the serious business of solving our state’s fiscal crisis.

Fact: Several solar panel companies recently moved out of California because California is not business friendly; The Sierra Club is currently blocking the building of solar plants in our deserts; Wind turbines are mostly made in China and Japan, and wind power costs six times more than comparable gas or coal fired electricity plants.

The only “green” future California needs is to generate more “green” we can put in the economy to pay off the State’s debts.

How about legislation to make it easy to do business here – unravel those regulations and reduce taxes on businesses. Green jobs cost Spain 2.2 manufacturing jobs for every green job created. Can we really absorb more unemployment here?  The devastation of our farmland in the Central Valley to protect those tiny fish has turned parts of the Central Valley into a new Third World with the green community ignoring the trash piles and shanty towns in the San Joaquin River Delta due to the loss of all the small farmers and all the jobs they provided.

Green makes me “blue”.

Getchel Wilson

Redondo Beach

Don’t dog it

Dear ER:

We live in a densely populated area and must take care to be considerate of others and our environment.

I have consistently used the greenbelt and Valley Park for exercise and dog walking since 1978. We are fortunate to live in a city that maintains such wonderful park space for all to use and allows the privilege of pets on leash, but I believe this privilege is routinely being misused.

Dog owners refuse to pick up after their dogs and refuse to keep their pets on leash.

Ninety-nine percent of all dog owners are responsible and I am calling upon them to politely ask other dog owners to be good citizens and responsible pet owners and obey the law. One has only to look to the beautiful Montana de Oro State Park in Morro Bay to see what can happen when dog owners are irresponsible – the responsible majority paid the price for the irresponsible minority – dogs are prohibited in the park.

Please pick up after your pet and keep your pets on leash.

Name withheld by request

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