String is his thing

With so much frightening news recently making me feel a bit off, I’ve moved into bringing new games for the young cat we’ve raised from a rescue infant to his present 10-month-old intrepid self. His name is “Buddy.” His desire to play games demonstrated itself at age two months when he learned to fetch a ball of crumpled paper, returning my throw with the ball in his mouth for me to toss again.

Most cat owners know the power of a laser pointer in providing a moving target for their cat to pursue and attack. Our previous cat Sam became so addicted to the red dot that he would loudly beg for it to come out in the morning. I gradually withdrew the red dot at my wife Debby’s urging because she wanted a calmer kitty in the morning.

Well, Buddy’s thing is string. I use a short length of frayed braided cord tied to the tip of a toy fishing rod that I manipulate around, up and down. Buddy never tires of chasing the string, sometimes leaping a few feet into the air in his pursuits.

However like other addictions, I yearned for more than the string offered me. I’d get bored far sooner than Buddy, so I’ve recently returned to the laser pointer. I do this after Debby goes out for her morning run to prep for her next race when she can’t scold me for adding this additional obsession to Buddy’s repertoire. She was working on him to accept cuddling at times other than when he initiated it by climbing into her lap or crawling under the bed covers at night or in the early morning hours.

So for you cat people out there, here is the new forbidden laser game I call, “Capture the Dot,” and here is how it is played: Inspired by Buddy’s natural response to reaching out with his paw to capture it himself, I sometimes reach out with my foot to stomp on the dot as I turn off the pointer. Buddy then examines my foot and the edges of my slipper sole from all angles. When he tires of his examination and turns to chewing my toe, the dot suddenly appears on top of my slipper, and runs away around the floor and up the walls with Buddy in hot pursuit.

Sometimes I let Buddy capture the dot with his paw, making it reappear when he lifts his paw to see if the dot is still there. We’ll see what new game develops itself when we both seek the next new happy distraction from the more serious concerns of the day.
Tim Tunks
Santa Monica

Ballona Wetlands

It is clear that David Kay missed his calling as a marketer for big oil. In fact, he should cease putting any environmental credentials after his name. True scientists are willing to change their hypothesis based on new data and new information. The peer-reviewed studies of multiple scientists have established that the Ballona Wetlands was primarily a freshwater marsh that would occasionally break through to the ocean during heavy rain events.
However, the mouth of Ballona Creek, and previously the Los Angeles River, would quickly close, returning the wetlands to freshwater marsh habitat. Don’t believe the scientists? There are historic photographs of the large freshwater lagoon that would form at what is now Marina del Rey. Google it.

The claim that 2.3 million cubic yards of dirt buried the wetlands also appears to be without foundation or evidence. Howard Hughes, the owner of the land at the time Marina del Rey was constructed, was not the type of guy who would allow a governmental agency to simply dump dredge spoils on his land without compensation. We have asked for the evidence of such agreement, and it apparently does not exist.
In fact, a previous EIR for Playa Vista found that the Area A of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve had some fill dumped along its perimeter for access roads, apparently well before the dredging of Marina del Rey. No dredge spoils were deposited in the central portion of Area A, the exact location where CDFW wishes to excavate.

Here is a not so radical idea: How about a true stakeholder’s process where assumptions and evidence may be challenged in real time; where people, including government bureaucrats, must justify their positions with scientific evidence, and scientific consensus drives the project? “Alternative” facts should not be driving policy. Converting freshwater marsh habitat to saltwater is not restoration.
Todd T. Cardiff, Esq.
Law Office of Todd T. Cardiff
San Diego

Letters to the editor
I understand why you print Letters to the Editor. Some are educational and constructive and advance the discussions concerning issues of the community; some don’t do much of anything.
Lately, you often publish letters that merely say that liberals and Democrats stink and have failed, without stating what makes them stink or in what specific way they have failed. More importantly, these letters to not offer any alternatives to what the writers complain about.

So, what is the service to your readers provided by your publishing those letters that are only argumentative and negative? Name calling is not productive to public debate.
Jack Schwartz

David Kay’s second fact-free rant

The value of letters to the editor is the free expression of a range of opinions on matters that impact the community. Factually inaccurate statements are not opinions, and do not add value to public discourse. David Kay’s “rebuttal” to my response to his initial letter (Response to Walter Lamb’s letter, Nov. 3) is again full of factual inaccuracies and yet more innuendo. That Dr. Kay describes as “boring” discussions about critical habitat for endangered and sensitive species in an ecological reserve speaks for itself. The future “vision” that Dr. Kay speaks of is a reality right now.

Just this past Saturday, I rode my bike to the Ballona Wetlands and, as a volunteer nature walk leader, saw scores of wild birds and other fauna and flora, and took in the fresh air and scenic vistas that Dr. Kay wistfully suggests will not exist until after a $182 million construction project is implemented sometime in the distant future. What is lacking right now at Ballona is well-managed, ecologically-sensitive public access to more than one crowded corner of the ecological reserve. which would allow for desperately needed stewardship and expanded educational programs.

Dr. Kay suggests something improper from the fact that the organization I represent, the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, does not have a rating on Charity Navigator. Because our revenue is less than $200,000 per year, we are not eligible for a rating, as Dr. Kay could have easily determined for himself by simply reading the explanation of who is eligible for ratings. We are a small, grassroots organization. I am proud to donate my time to the organization and of being a top donor.

Ironically, Dr. Kay neglects to mention that Friends of Ballona Wetlands is only rated in one out of four categories, or that the Ballona Wetlands Conservancy, another nonprofit affiliated with the Friends, has only a 43% rating. We have partnered with numerous Title 1 schools to provide free in-person and online nature education, and anyone from The Argonaut is welcome to observe a future class or field trip. Dr. Kay’s intent in raising these points was simply to cast doubt about our organization in order to distract readers away from the questions about the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project that he can’t answer. It is an old but effective trick.

The two special interest projects our organization successfully opposed were the construction of a 46,000-square-foot building and the construction of the three-story parking garage in the ecological reserve. Dr. Kay is aware of these projects, which were supported by the Friends of Ballona Wetlands. To distract readers from the discussion at hand, Dr. Kay points to other issues, completely out of context. Neither I nor the organization I represent took a position on the Malibu Lagoon project, but that factual reality is of no concern to Dr. Kay.

Dr. Kay claims that I have made “false and alarming statements about the state’s Ballona restoration project.” What are they? He still can’t articulate what claims in our lawsuit he disagrees with. Our organization takes pride in carefully documenting our assertions, just as I did in my previous letter with regard to the undisputed loss of critical coastal marsh from the ecological reserve if the proposed plan were to be implemented as designed. It is worth noting that Dr. Kay hasn’t refuted this point. It is quite something that we have an $182 million project proposal, which took 17 years and over $10 million to create, that would actually wipe out critical wetland habitat in an ecological reserve.

And contrary to Dr. Kay’s misinformed assertion, the loss of high and mid marsh to low marsh would begin almost immediately after project implementation. While not every member of the public may care equally about the biodiversity of our planet, it is the legal purpose of ecological reserves to protect such biodiversity. We have no intention of letting ecologically unsound policy threaten critical habitat just so that Dr. Kay has a place to paint whatever is left. I urge Dr. Kay to bring his brushes down to the wetlands this Sunday, and I will personally show him plenty of vistas and wildlife that he can paint.

Finally, Dr. Kay dodges my invitation to have a civil discussion about these issues by noting that the issue is now before the courts as a California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) enforcement action. Yet that doesn’t stop him from continuing to submit inaccurate and misleading information to this and other media outlets. For readers who are tired of the back and forth on this important issue, I urge them to read Dr. Margot Griswold’s thoughtful discussion in the latest issue of the Western Tanager, the newsletter of the Los Angeles Audubon Society, which can be found at

This crucially important ecosystem deserves a more coherent discussion than what Dr. Kay is pushing. I hope that Dr. Kay will realize this and join a more thoughtful discussion, so that future generations of people and wildlife can continue to appreciate and rely on the wetlands, respectively.

Walter Lamb
Ballona Wetlands Land Trust