Venice Beach after the first storm of the year. Credit: Kris Dahlin

Response to Walter Lamb’s letter
Editor:

Regarding Mr. Walter Lamb’s responses to my letter in the 10/7/21 Argonaut, here are my rebuttals, respectfully:

1. In my letter I never named Mr. Lamb’s organization, the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, nor stated they are guilty of fiscal malfeasance (his words, not mine). Perhaps Mr. Lamb and his litigating allies would care to report to Argonaut readers the general amounts and categories of income for their organizations in year 2020, as well as the general categories of expenditures in that same year (overhead, labor, contract, and legal). What percentage of their income in any year was spent procuring expert scientific testimony and what “educational programs” of theirs do public schools partner with? Why is Mr. Lamb’s organization “Not Rated” by CharityNavigator.org, while Friends of Ballona Wetlands rates 100 out of 100?

2. Mr. Lamb asserts his organization has “successfully” sued developers of various nasty projects with positive results, but I beg to differ. His organization sued to stop Playa Vista, but whatever one thinks of it, PV was built. His organization joined litigation to stop the Ballona Freshwater Marsh at the Lincoln/Jefferson intersection, but it, too, was built and remains one of the premier birdwatching locations in Los Angeles. He spoke against and his allies sued to stop the state’s Malibu Lagoon Restoration, which also proceeded and has proven wildly successful in both ecological and public access terms.

Mr. Lamb asserts his Ballona litigation will improve the state’s Ballona EIR and project, but he and his allies have clearly stated opposition to the state’s preferred plan, instead advocating a plan rejected by the EIR analyses as neither meeting state restoration goals nor consistent with state law. Donors who believe these advocacy groups will in fact “stop” whatever horrible project they oppose ought to check their performance history per the documented outcome and decide what they consider “success.” Perhaps delays and cost escalation is a valid measure of success for some.

3. Mr. Lamb and his allies continue to make false and alarming statements about the state’s Ballona restoration project and represent them as facts. Now that his organization has sued our state, fact vs. fiction will not be decided by he, I or any other gadfly. Superior Court and likely Appeals Court judges will decide what is true and what is fallacy, hopefully beginning in mid-2022.

4. Whatever the Gas Company’s motivation for relocating their wells, Mr. Lamb’s “Defend Ballona” allies were visible to all on multiple days along Culver Boulevard earlier this year, protesting with signs that falsely linked the utility’s work to the state’s wetland restoration project. He cannot dispute that the restoration EIR calls for those wells to be properly abandoned. Relocation of wells or closure of the storage facility is under the purview of other state agencies that have nothing to do with the Fish and Wildlife Department’s restoration plans.

5. Mr. Lamb continues to flatter me by proposing he and I debate publicly about the state’s extraordinary restoration plan for Ballona. As I have previously stated in Argonaut and elsewhere many times, I can think of nothing more boring to the general public than such a debate. An event like that would only pointlessly draw in our own respective choruses to hear our preachings. Again, deciding who speaks the truth must now be left to the courts, thanks to Mr. Lamb and his allies’ lawsuits.

The General Public, I believe, is not interested in hearing Mr. Lamb and I debate scientific minutiae, such as how the Belding’s Savannah Sparrow will adapt to new habitat created at Ballona, nor how high marsh habitat at Ballona will gradually evolve into low marsh over a century of inevitable sea level rise.

I believe the 85,000 people who commute through Ballona every work day, and many more who do not but live nearby, have very different priorities. Among them, the ability to pack the family in the car or on bikes on a Sunday morning and visit a lushly vegetated, ecologically vibrant public open space nearby – a place where they can walk, paint, birdwatch or just get fresh air and see natural vistas. That is the vision of the state’s Ballona restoration plan. Stopping that vision is the foundation of the opponents’ fundraising efforts.
Dr. David W. Kay
Playa Vista

Mayoral candidates
Editor:

There is an obvious “disconnect” between this new crop of mayoral candidates looking to succeed the failed administration of lame duck Mayor Eric Garcetti, now seeking political refuge in India while Congresswoman Karen Bass becomes the latest entrant into a race that identifies the central issue of housing and homelessness, but doesn’t have a clue on how to address it!

The Bass announcement was long on flowery rhetoric, but lacked any sense of gravity to the housing and homeless condition that has paralyzed Los Angeles and in particular Venice for some time.

An ally of Garcetti and the embedded status quo, how does a Bass Administration change anything when she has been nothing but a silent supporter of the disastrous era of Eric?

Here in Venice, the host of more homeless than anywhere else in Los Angeles with the exception of Skid Row, what will be the fate of this community under Karen Bass?

Tragically, failed Councilman Michael Bonin, in the throw of yet another recall attempt tries to rehabilitate what’s left of his political career with “I like Mike” placards has endorsed Bass, making it almost impossible for any rational and reasonable Venetian to consider her candidacy moving forward.

Why would Venice support Congresswoman Bass if she thinks Mike Bonin is not part of the problem, but part of the solution when it comes to rampant homelessness, rising crime and the squandering of precious public dollars when it comes to the construction of permanent housing?

Does Bass support Bonin’s “containment” policies that have turned Venice into this homeless ghetto and slum by the sea?

For what is LA’s most undervalued asset that is Venice, is Karen Bass open to the suggestions and advice of a Mike Bonin, and if so why would anyone take her candidacy seriously?

For if Karen Bass views Mike Bonin as a supporter, can she be depended upon to hear the cries and concerns of Venice when our council representative has no standing or support with the residents of Dog Town he pretends to represent?

Last week we saw the 20-count federal indictment of Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas on bribery charges having to do with his time as a LA county supervisor, USC and his disgraced son, who was forced from the legislature and then seeking employment and scholarship in exchange for millions in discretionary county funding his father controlled in this attempted quid pro quo?

And like Mike Bonin, Mark Ridley-Thomas is yet another self-anointed homeless advocate who like Mike has no real accomplishment or solution for this tragic human condition that has gotten worse under the leadership of both Mike and Mark!

Candidate Bass apparently has disowned the Ridley-Thomas endorsement; will she do the same regarding Mike Bonin?

Venice needs to know.

And if she won’t reject his help which seems to be the case, is the Bass candidacy for mayor just more of the stale and tired rerun we have had under both Eric Garcetti and his predecessor Antonio Villaraigosa?

For when was the last time Karen Bass has been to Venice, and will she be escorted by Bonin should she decide to see for herself the state of affairs here at the beach directed and produced by Mike himself?
For this former LA and Sacramento insider, who is now a DC insider that was passed over for a Biden cabinet position is coming home to LA under the premise we need a female mayor more than the notion of a mayor that has a plan to turn LA around?

For the other mayoral aspirants seem equally dismal and disappointing as hopefuls Kevin de Leon, Mike Feuer and even Joe Buscaino appear lost and confused when it comes to clearly articulating what they will do and how they will do it when it comes to the issue of housing and homelessness.

And as this garden party of political candidates talk past each other and offer Venetians little to nothing on how to end this encampment debacle that continues to plague our community, is it any wonder that locals are signing and supporting this Bonin recall effort because no one is really listening as this mayoral “mosh pit” is nothing but more of the same with a wink of the eye and silent support for another term of office for Mike Bonin?

Is nearly nine awful years of Mike Bonin representing Venice proof enough it’s time for him to go?

For isn’t it really time to retire our $300,000 a year councilman, the highest paid in the entire country?

And even more tragic is the notion Venice can somehow “lawyer” its way out of terrible and defective public policy?

For all the lawsuits in the world and thinking that writing checks to underwrite continued litigation somehow works, look around Venice.

For the problem is not “legal,” but “political” and the way you fix your political problem is by picking up a clipboard and ensuring the recall signature drive is successful!

That is the way you dispose of Mike Bonin as councilman.

It is the only sure-fire solution you control as a resident and the one guaranteed way to replace Mike Bonin as he continues to play “chess” while many Venetians would rather play “checkers.”
Nick Antonicello
Venice Beach

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