Let’s curb smoking at Venice Beach

An open letter to L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin:

It has been well over a year since I requested that you take action to protect your constituents from the ill effects of illegal smoking on the Venice boardwalk. The state has defined secondhand tobacco smoke as an “airborne toxic substance” and it is illegal to smoke on and west of the boardwalk, yet you have done absolutely nothing to protect your constituents from this well-established health hazard.

I recently walked round-trip from Navy Street to Windward Avenue and was hit in the face with tobacco smoke 32 times. I saw a dozen others smoking but avoided their effluent by holding my breath or changing course to remain upwind of them. Most of the smokers were vendors, many were vagrants, and some were visitors who don’t know it is illegal because there are no signs so stating. There are now graphic signs on the boardwalk’s cement advising “No Bicycles,” but nothing to advise “No Smoking.”

I saw no police presence during my few hours on the boardwalk yesterday, and I saw no enforcement of the law prohibiting smoking. The fact that “No Bicycles” signs were painted on the cement proves that “No Smoking” signs could also have been painted there.

By this email I hope to accomplish two goals: 1) Significantly curtail smoking on and west of the boardwalk; and 2) Make it known that you are a “no action” representative who will stand by while your constituents suffer the injury of illegal smoking.

I don’t expect anything more from you than your usual “we’re looking into it,” and I am writing only to let you know that I am dissatisfied with your representation and that I intend to pursue this matter politically through proper channels.

Don Geier

Seeking clarity on an unclear law

It has come to my attention during neighborhood council meetings that our meetings have become more formal and, as a result, more restrictive. I also occasionally hear or read what I perceive to be inaccurate statements about the Brown Act.

When it comes to matters of law, we need to be able to distinguish what is right and proper from what is illegal.

A real problem emerges when a majority of City Council members conspired with each other to loot their city. Those members are now facing sentencing for, as former L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley called it, “corruption on steroids.”

I am writing to The Argonaut about this because I have a copy of a letter dated Aug. 27, 2012, in which the writer makes this statement in regard to a query sent by a neighborhood council board member:

“…You asked if a board member may send corres-pondence to a majority of members of a committee even if that board member is not on the committee.  The answer is no because this is a prohibited serial communication.”

According to my Internet search, the term “serial communication” is used in the communication industry to refer to the process of sending data, one bit at a time, sequentially, over a communication channel or computer bus. How that can become prohibited when most of us daily use email and other digital devices confuses me.

Examination of the law, however, reveals that the Brown Act, in CA Govt. Code §54592.2(b)(1) names “a majority” of members who may not use a “series of communications.” Furthermore, in §54952.2(c)(1), the Brown Act specifically excludes contacts made by one member of a legislative body as long as the communication does not refer to another member.

So what I see in the letter I quote is a restriction that is not clear. “Serial communication” and “a series of communications” do not mean the same thing to all readers. A board member, in particular, does not relinquish the right to communicate to avoid possibility of “serial communication.”

No harm is done when “a” or “one” member communicates. The Brown Act harm arises when a majority of a legislative body decides to conceal meetings, as in the city of Bell where all five city council members concealed their decisions from the public.

But depriving a lawfully elected official of the right or duty to inform other officials is not just sloppy writing, it is not just. As a matter of fact, I certainly would be greatly disappointed to know that an elected official was withholding information vital to the community.

At a time in Los Angeles when many neighborhood councils are holding elections, it is important for those who have the duty to inform us to understand their duty to make the law clear and unambiguous.

DeDe Audet
Marina del Rey

Candidate should turn right

In Natural Awakenings Magazine, self-help guru and lecturer Marianne Williamson claimed that we have the power to redeem our world. As a Democrat-turned-Independent, she is running for Congress. Not content with changing the world one soul at a time, she believes that she can heal Congress’ soul with a big hug of liberal-progressive bipartisanship.

Her latest mailer, however, highlights endorsements from leading Democrats: former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, retired Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, and former “Desperate Housewife” Eva Longoria.

Granholm was replaced by Republican Rick Snyder, who brought a limited government — low-tax, lower-spending — to Michigan and lowered union-influenced political culture, engineering a roaring recovery. That’s real progress. Kucinich is now a Fox News contributor who suggested that Obama should be impeached, should he use military force in Syria without congressional approval. Kucinich is more limited government than progressive, to say the least. Congressman Ellison claimed that Obamacare-related job losses are a good thing because “Americans work too much anyway.” Most Americans are not working at all or losing hours because of Obamacare. How is that progress? As for actress Eva Longoria: is Williamson’s campaign remotely serious?

In the same mailer, Williamson attacks “expanding corporate influence” in politics. Doesn’t corporate influence expose more people to her books and lectures, too? She then compares her independent status to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist. If anyone wants to call socialism progress, consider the bankrupted nations of Europe, fraught with tax fraud, government unionism and welfare-state profligacy.

Williamson also wants to “disrupt the political system” and “renew our dedication to democracy.” The Constitution instituted a republic, frustrating popular democracy as well as special-interest elitism. The Tea Party movement is disrupting business as usual in Washington.

To redeem Washington, D.C., Williamson should have run as a conservative.

Arthur Christopher Schaper

Put that moocher Bundy out of business

It’s perversely ironic for rancher Cliven Bundy to excoriate poor people for collecting government subsidies while ripping off the federal government for $1 million in grazing fees. But even if he were to pay up, Bundy and his fellow ranchers would still be living on government welfare.

Livestock grazing is subsidized by federal agencies on 270 million acres of public land in 11 western states to the tune of nearly $300 million annually. Monthly grazing fees per cow and calf on private rangeland average $11.90, but corresponding fees on federal lands are set at a paltry $1.35.

Even so, grazing subsidies are dwarfed by other government subsidies and the medical, environmental and other external costs imposed on society by animal agriculture. These extra costs have been estimated at $414 billion annually, or $3,600 per household.

Each of us can make our $3,600 annual contribution to the common good by replacing animal products in our diet with the rich variety of grain-, nut- and soy-based meat and dairy alternatives in our neighborhood supermarket.

Al Masters
Marina del Rey