Hotel a ‘tall’ order

Re: “Plan for wetland park, open space area approved by Board of Supervisors” (Argonaut, May 17).

Buried on Page 38 was an article on an issue very disturbing to Marina del Rey residents on both sides of Via Marina, over 7,000 of us. We were told by the county Board of Supervisors at a previous meeting that they would approve two five-story hotel buildings rather than a 19-story building.

Directly across the street from this property are over 100 condominiums whose owners have just completed very costly improvements to their buildings and their units, each owner spending more than $60,000.

We residents pointed out to the supervisors that the skyline from the beach did not warrant such a tall building, like a finger looming above the Marina, and that a hotel in this location would bring hazardous waste, too much traffic and considerable pollution, especially during construction.

We residents have paid very high property tax for years and years, sustaining and maintaining the Marina. I do not understand how the California Coastal Commission, supposedly independent, could approve such a misuse of this property.

I hope this article does not accurately reflect the intent of the supervisors or the Coastal Commission.

Lynne Shapiro, Marina del Rey

Monuments to remember the past

Re: “Former internees get peek at planned memorial marker on 70th anniversary of relocation” (Argonaut, May 3).

The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, more dispassionately identified as “Executive Order 9066” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a sorry affair altogether in the history of the United States.

Despite the crude conditions and unjust, racist treatment which they endured, Japanese-Americans continued to demonstrate their loyalty to their country, going so far as to serve in the military of the nation which had interned their friends and families at home.

Many Japanese youth distinguished themselves in the service of their country. In my hometown of Torrance, the city commemorated the service of Ted Tanouye outside of his alma mater, Torrance High School. He was a nationally recognized and decorated soldier during World War II, and the city went out of its way to celebrate his contribution to his country.

In Venice, where a remnant of former internees still live, Arnold Maeda championed the establishment of a monument commemorating the strive and struggle which forcibly relocated ethnic Japanese-Americans from their homes in 1942.

The elderly gentleman gave a hint of the pain which he still endures when visiting the corner where a monument will be erected.

It is unfortunate that such painful memories haunt Americans to this day. I do not believe, however, that establishing monuments alone will erase the pain of what happened in those early years of the war. The pain of the past is born, ultimately, from trying to make right what went so wrong. It is not our place to fix the past, but rather to receive the present and believe that the future holds better tidings for us, that we can believe with unshakable certainty that the trials of yesterday will inform a glorious restoration for today and tomorrow.

If there is one lesson that we can take from the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, it is that we should honor our country, cherish our countrymen, but always question our leaders and never trust our government, especially when the state assumes broad and unconstitutional powers, and justifies such extensions of power as a move in the best interests of the citizens’ safety and security.

Arthur C. Schaper, Torrance

Zipline money talk

The decision of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) to approve a “zip line” ride on a temporary basis may have long-term, unintended consequences while establishing a dangerous precedent of turning the Venice Boardwalk as well as the beach into profit centers for a city government that is fundamentally broken.

By a vote of 8 to 6 with three abstentions, the VNC voted in the affirmative to allow this zipline ride and structure constructed no later than July 1.

The question is not the zipline. The question is how does the city Department of Recreation and Parks spend its budget?

According to the 2011-12 city operating budget posted online, Los Angeles has $3.65 billion in “unrestricted revenues” of which six percent is dedicated to Recreation and Parks, or roughly $220 million.

How is that $220 million spent on an annual basis? How many employees work for Recreation and Parks?

How can a city with a dedicated operating department budget of $220 million not have the ability to perform basic tasks such as the collection of garbage or the maintenance of restrooms at what is considered the most visited destination in all of California?

To put this into perspective, roughly 19 million people come to Venice every year.

That’s the equivalent of every attendee of every NFL football game in a given season (75,000 x 265 games or 19,875,000). Do you think the NFL understands the need to maintain bathroom facilities in the 31 stadiums across the country that host the NFL (There are 31 facilities that host 32 teams. The New York Jets and Giants share MetLife Stadium in New Jersey)? Do you think they get it when it comes to basic maintenance and the integrity of the product they offer consumers?

Why isn’t Recreation and Parks obligated to present how they spend their money before making these kinds of requests that for the most part are predetermined?

Sadly, only 14 of the VNC’s 21 members voted on this important issue and two others decided to abstain.

The dollarization of public space and parks is a slippery slope that is a symptom of just how truly dysfunctional the city of Los Angeles has become.

Our “representative,” Councilman Bill Rosendahl, was in attendance briefly for photo ops and a dose of empty rhetoric, but where was he during the public portion of this debate? Coming to a public meeting to blow out candles (for his birthday) and treat his position as an elected official in such a cavalier fashion is not only insulting, but denigrates the importance of the discussion as well as the future of Venice Beach.

For what is next? A fee to sit on the beach? A fee to stroll the boardwalk?

Why is there no audit or monitoring of the expenditures and revenue of Recreation and Parks?

Turning publicly owned space into profit centers in lieu of property taxes and the billions Los Angeles as a city has mismanaged for decades is the enabling of a municipality that is financially and fundamentally broken.

The VNC is a grass roots, independent council of residents obligated to represent the interest of Venice, not serve as some arm to the office of Rosendahl.

I admire the people on the VNC. They are hard-working and for the most part passionate about Venice. But they need to stop drinking the political “Kool-Aid” of downtown politicians and stop doing their dirty work as well as their political bidding.

If you’re going to evaluate a proposal, get all the facts, especially the financial numbers to make an informed decision.

For if the VNC cannot act in an independent fashion, the whole purpose of these councils will be lost forever.

Nick Antonicello, Venice Beach

Keeping an eye on TSA

More state power in the name of protection only increases the amount of protection that we need from state power.

Search and Seizure staff, stationed under the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) are supposed to be keeping illicit elements out of our airlines. Yet while they have invaded the privacy of private patrons with invasive searches, some of the TSA ranks have allegedly been passing along illicit substances of a substantial fee.

If ever there was a time for someone to cry out “Quid custodiet ipsos custodes?” [who will watch the watchers themselves?], now is the time.

If we truly want to invest in salvaging and protecting our airlines from terrorists and bankruptcy, the American Aviation Authority must consider adopting the controversial yet effective policy instituted by the Israeli government of stationing an armed body guard on every flight leaving the country. On every flight flying out of Israel, an armed body guard is stationed in full view, ready to neutralize any threat while scanning for any potential threats.

The determination of one armed guard is an effective deterrent. Last time I checked, I have not read about any terrorist successfully taking over a plane coming out of Jerusalem.

The procedures used by security screeners in Israel do not buckle over qualms about political correctness. Instead, Israeli personnel have no problem profiling certain political or cultural elements in the their country who are about to board a flight.

Moreover, they do not require passengers to strip down or submit themselves to invasive pat downs. Although a change of procedures may upset civil rights advocates, the safety as well as efficiency of our airlines is important, and currently the expansion of state power has done nothing but invite corruption while discouraging travel.

Arthur Christopher Schaper, Torrance

Fix potholes, get tires ruined

The city of Los Angeles has been doing some street work that has torn up the streets. When they finished, they filled up the holes with asphalt.

Well, the lousy job of filling the holes has sunk, creating large craters that if you drive over them, you hit them very hard, creating a very good chance of ruining your tires and/or your front-end alignment.

Does the city of Los Angeles have ties with tire and front-end shops?

Brad Collins, Westchester