Author: christinahanford

City Council appoints Ken Genser mayor and Pam O’Connor new mayor

Councilman Ken Genser, who has served on the Santa Monica City Council since 1988, was appointed to the rotating position of mayor at the City Council meeting Tuesday, December 9th. Genser, who served two one-year terms as mayor from 1991 to 1992 and 1999 to 2000, will serve as mayor for two years, while Councilwoman Pam O’Connor serves as mayor pro tem. The mayor is not elected by Santa Monica voters. The position is ceremonial and mayors are appointed by the City Council itself. Some believed that it was Councilmen Kevin McKeown’s and Bobby Shriver’s turn to have two-year terms as mayor and mayor pro tem. McKeown, who has been on the council since 1998, and Shriver, who has been on the council since 2004, are the only members on the City Council who have never served as mayor. Both have also been very popular among Santa Monica residents. Most recently, Shriver was reelected to the City Council in November as the top vote-getter with a record 24,298 votes. In 2006, McKeown was reelected to the council as the top vote-getter with 14,000 votes. “The appointment of the mayor should be a collegial appointment,” said peace activist Jerry Rubin at the meeting. “It should be based on what’s fair. It seems to me the fair thing to do would be to appoint Councilman McKeown and Councilman Shriver for a...

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Reassessment of carob tree removal is tabled

After a lengthy discussion between the Santa Monica City Council and city forester Walt Warriner about a reassessment of 202 of the city’s carob trees at a council meeting in late November, assistant city manager Gordon Anderson pulled the item for consideration at a later date. Warriner had recommended to the City Council the removal of 189 carob trees as a result of a “high risk” for failure and the removal of 13 carob trees because of “very poor viability” in mid-December, with replacement trees to be planted in late January and early February. He also reported on the feasibility of a phased removal program, which he discouraged, before the item was continued to a later meeting by Anderson. Over half a dozen residents were against the immediate removal of the 202 carob trees and voiced their opinions at City Hall. Attorney Susan Hartley, who is the chair of the Santa Monica Airport Commission, was one of them. She noted that the staff report recommending the removal and replacement of the carob trees was “overladen with risk liability.” Santa Monica resident Brian Varnum, who lives on 12th Street — where a number of carob trees have been recommended for removal — pointed out, “We live in a risk-filled world and to try to execute against that would deprive us of any street trees.” Mark Armour, a board member of...

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Santa Monica City Council adopts budget revisions

The Santa Monica City Council authorized city manager Lamont Ewell to make budget expenditure adjustments of $64.2 million for fiscal year 2007-08 at a council meeting late last month. That fiscal year ended June 30th. The Redevelopment Agency and the Parking Authority — which each consist of the seven members of the council — also approved year-end budget appropriations to certain city departments, which is standard procedure. The additional net appropriation of $64.2 million brings the final revised operating budget for fiscal year 2007-08 to $482.8 million, up from $418.6 million. Of the $64.2 million, $61.1 million is being appropriated for one-time events, including $56.7 million for the Charnock Wells legal settlement, and a one-time transfer of $4.4 million to the Self Insurance Fund, said Chuck McBride, assistant director of fi- nance. “There’s also a $1 million increase in revenues that account for additional funds for the Big Blue Bus state transit assistance fund received from MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority],” noted Carol Swindell, the city’s director of Finance. The 2007-08 fiscal year is currently being audited by an independent CPA firm called Mayer Hoffman McCann, Swindell said. The final comprehensive annual financial report is scheduled to be issued in December. 2008-09 FISCAL YEAR BUDGET — The City Council and the Redevelopment Agency also adopted several budget changes for fiscal year 2008-09, which began July 1st. Since the council adopted...

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Kathy Wisnicki chooses not to seek another four-year term on the Santa Monica-Malibu school board

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board meeting Thursday, November 20th, was the last for board member Kathy Wisnicki, who served just one term. Wisnicki — the only school board member who resided in Malibu — chose not to seek reelection for another four-year term this month, which leaves many wondering whether she will run again for Malibu City Council in April 2010. Wisnicki ran for council earlier this year, in April, but failed to win a seat. Out of five candidates, Wisnicki came in fourth, losing a seat to Malibu Planning Commissioner John Sibert by just 24 votes. At the school board meeting November 20th, Wisnicki was presented with flowers and a glass plaque bearing her name and dates of service. Malibu parent Heather Anderson spoke on behalf of a recently formed ad hoc committee “in honor of our extreme gratefulness for her service.” “Two words come to mind when we think of Kathy,” Anderson said. “First, energy and then dedication.” Several school board members and administrators also thanked Wisnicki for her years of service. “Kathy, we’re going to miss you,” said school board member Ralph Mechur, who added that he always appreciated Wisnicki’s “willingness to stand up for all our children.” Said school board vice president Jose Escarce, “I really value your contribution tremendously to the board and your friendship.” He added that what most stood out...

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Teacher Jose Lopez named first Exceptional Latino Educator

Jose Lopez, a teacher at Santa Monica High School for over 30 years, has been selected as the district’s first Exceptional Latino Educator. “This is a historic moment,” said school board president Oscar de la Torre. “It’s also a meaningful moment for me. When I was at Samohi [Santa Monica High School], he taught me Spanish. He’s done so much for our district.” Lopez, who teaches Spanish at Santa Monica High School and is also the high school’s Spanish Department chair, has also served as a soccer and baseball coach for the school. Additionally, he started the high school’s celebration of DÌa de los Muertos, a Mexican tradition celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. Outside the classroom, he has served as a club sponsor, event organizer and mentor. Before he was a teacher, Lopez had a very successful career playing soccer at UCLA, his alma mater in 1973, where he never lost a home game in the four years he played, was a two-time team captain and was the first soccer player to be inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame. For the Exceptional Latino Educator Award, Lopez was chosen from a pool of nominees by a small committee consisting of interim superintendent Tim Cuneo and several school board members. The award was intended to be given during Hispanic Heritage Month, which is September 15th to October 15th, but...

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