A $30-million gamble

Re: “Schoolroom Shuffle,” news, Feb. 19

As a retired foreign language teacher, I have a serious objection to Steve Zimmer’s proposal for Mark Twain Middle School.

When I taught in an innovative Spanish/French program in Beverly Hills, we began in first grade with the intent that students would be fluent by high school graduation. Instead, many students with no foreign language instruction transferred to the district, which was forced to run two tracks through elementary and middle school. The program floundered for lack of funds.

Thirty million dollars is a lot to spend on an experiment in teaching Mandarin Chinese, given that students may opt out because they are not successful while others may join the program without the necessary knowledge for their grade level.

I currently volunteer at Beethoven Street Elementary School. This splendid school should not have to put up with disruptive construction and horrendous traffic. Its teachers work too hard with their students — especially teaching the large numbers who speak Spanish at home to read and speak and write English — to deal with this behemoth project in their adjacent playground and classrooms.

Caring LAUSD parents and hardworking teachers deserve to have their own school and salaries improved first and foremost.

Lynne Shapiro
Marina del Rey

It’s no joke for the animals
you eat

With April Fools’ Day just around the corner, it appears that the meat, egg and dairy industries have been playing us for fools all year-round. Their more remarkable hoaxes include phrases like “California’s happy cows,” “free-range chickens” and “humane slaughter.”

Less fun is the stuff they never talk about, like the hundreds of millions of chickens crammed seven into a cage designed for one, unable to move or spread their wings. Or their hundreds of millions of male counterparts ground up after birth and fed to other chickens. Or the miserable breeding sows producing piglets while trapped in tiny steel cages.

In the spirit of a year-round April Fools’ Day, the meat industry has developed a whole dictionary of fun terms to fool unwary consumers. Cesspools of animal waste? They call them lagoons. And to make sure that kids don’t confuse the pig flesh on their plate with “Babe” or “Wilbur,” they call it pork.

Ah, those meat industry folks are such kidders.

Al Masters
Marina del Rey

Kelly deserves an encore

Re: “Life Beyond Politics,” columns, March 19

Very interesting; I really enjoyed the article. Can we see more stories about the adventures of Kelly Hayes-Raitt?

Aileen Landau
Playa del Rey


Re: “Pier 44 rebuild would bring in Trader Joe’s,” news, March 12

Dinghy access to a restaurant? More car trips to another set of stores on Admiralty? Loss of views to the water and the boats in favor of “view corridors” that are visible for a split second while on a moving road (maybe a full second or two while in traffic)? The new boat lift will be for very light sail boats only. The marina boating community will lose a boat yard and medium-sized lift. The county and this leaseholder will gain revenue. A few working men will get construction jobs. Some more folks will have jobs in the shops. But why not make those jobs in the shops and stores at Fisherman’s Village, where the leaseholder wants to renovate?! Never mind … government always knows best, right?

Keith Lambert

I am all for it! As a local and a boater, Pier 44 is old and outdated. As a boater having guest slips and access via boat to Trader Joes, the marine store and new restaurants is much needed and overdue. Can’t wait!

Janae Brand

Fisherman’s Village would be the ideal location for all of this redevelopment. It is embarrassing that the marina does not have a destination village like other marinas — Long Beach for example. Put Trader Joe’s in Fisherman’s Village and the traffic would go down that street instead of being stuck on the corner of Admiralty and Bali ways.

Joanne Feldman

Now all of the folks in the marina who previously had no need to drive down Via Marina will have one. Ugh! The traffic is out of control on Washington and Lincoln boulevards; now Via Marina will be a problem, too.


I’m north of Venice and I would bike down there for shopping at TJ’s. It takes me far longer to drive to any businesses in that area. Sometimes I do drive to the Westchester TJ’s, so this would actually remove a car trip up and down Lincoln Boulevard.


It’s another welcomed improvement to a marina that is 30 years outdated. Anything that brings people to the water’s edge to enjoy the boats and views of water activities has my vote. The harbor will not be reborn without having a revitalized and continuous vision that surrounds the entire edge. A few new developments are not enough. We need the whole vision completed, including Fisherman’s Village.


Re: “Harrison Ford’s plane crash stokes calls for airport closure,” news, March 12

SMO is not a necessity. The noise, air pollution and safety issues it creates to the detriment of so many are not worth it — especially when considering that it benefits so few.


At one point in time Santa Monica was known for its car races. The Santa Monica Road Races were held from 1909 to 1919. The start and finish lines were at Ocean and Montana. The route went along San Vicente to where the VA Hospital is now, and then down Wilshire to Ocean Avenue. The American Grand Prize and the Vanderbilt Cup world races were on Santa Monica Streets in 1914 and 1916. But as Santa Monica became more populated, it was no longer safe to have the road races because Santa Monica was no longer a sparsely populated little city. The road races had to move elsewhere despite the pleasure the road races brought to many and despite the historical importance of the road races. Perhaps the same is true of Santa Monica Airport. I believe it is time for Santa Monica Airport to leave Santa Monica just as the auto races had to leave Santa Monica 95 years ago.

Suzanne Robertson

What if? What if? What if? The human imagination tends to the dark side at the slightest provocation and revels in irrational fears. In actual fact, over a 100-year span, only one single person has died as a result of aviation at Santa Monica Airport, excluding those actually inside the aircraft, and no one has been seriously injured either. Aircraft operations at SMO have never been and are not likely ever to become a significant threat to life or property on the Westside. Mr. Ford’s forced landing demonstrates that perfectly. Fear cars, fear domestic accidents, fear lightning, if you will — they are all vastly more prevalent and likely to call your number than any random airplane. Mr. Ford’s mishap is not some great miracle but is, in fact, the way most general aviation malfunctions play out and we are glad he wasn’t seriously injured.

Bill Worden

RE: “Keeping up with the Indiana Joneses,” columns, March 12

Ford was reckless and put a lot of people in harm’s way flying a 60-plus-year-old World War II aircraft over a dense metropolitan area, and then was praised as a hero for not killing anyone.


The stars are lining up for Santa Monica Airport. One even crashed for the cause last week. Thankfully he survived. Thank you Tony for the wonderful, insightful, factual and funny story.

Alan Levenson

Re: “Think globally, drink locally,” cover story, March 12

Plato is quoted as saying: “He was a wise man who invented beer.” I say: “He who drinks Santa Monica Brew Works beer is even wiser.”

Michael Bonitatis

Drew’s brews are inspired!

Michell Gallagher