Remembering state Sen. Jenny Oropeza

To the Editor:

Our kids and grandkids now have improved safeguards from cigarette smoke.

Our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives now have better, broader protections from breast cancer.

Those breakthroughs are among the dozens of victories state Sen. Jenny Oropeza won during her 22-year public service career, the last 10 as a statewide policy maker.

On Jan. 20, exactly three months after Oropeza died from complications related to a stomach blood clot, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a close friend and ally of the feisty Oropeza, led a state Senate floor tribute to Oropeza. She was 53.

After six years in the Assembly and the last four in the Senate, she leaves behind substantive achievements, noteworthy for occurring amid years of chronic budget deficits.

Yet, she made progress. She inspired. She was a role model. The Legislature’s Latino Caucus marked many of her bills as “priority” because of their expected impact on the community. Her cancer-fighting efforts won her the American Cancer Society’s first-ever leadership award. A nationwide business magazine named her one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States.

Here are some of her most significant legislative accomplishments:

Fighting smoking: After her four-year fight, Oropeza’s ban on smoking in cars with children younger than 18 made California the strongest of only three states with such a law. Related cancer-fighting restrictions closed loopholes in anti-smoking efforts;

Fighting breast cancer: Two months after her death, Oropeza’s efforts helped restore $25 million in breast-cancer services to low-income women. Her related law improved mammogram safety statewide by requiring public notice to patients and medical staff when x-ray machines fail safety inspections;

Health and safety: Her laws increased fines on those found guilty of abusing dependent adults or senior citizens; maintained millions in federal Medicare funding; protected domestic violence victims from stalkers; reduced radiation exposure from routine x-rays; and established the first-ever state regulations on massage therapists; and

Environmental protection: From the Sierra Club to the League of Conservation Voters, environmentalists heaped kudos on Oropeza for her bills that cracked down on diesel exhaust, strengthened the state’s global warming initiative on regulating harmful gases, and reduced school-bus idling.

Not all her Capitol battles were successful. But her raising public awareness had value. She waged a four-year fight to win equal pay for equal work.

She was unable to get retail food preparers to donate edible leftovers to help “feed the hungry and save the planet.” And her environment-friendly ban on smoking at state beaches and parks was vetoed.

Sadly, Oropeza was unable to do more. Had she lived to serve the four-year term she won after her death, with 58 percent of the vote last November, she surely would have continued fighting for her “core” causes. We can only hope those she inspired will follow her. May her legacy live on.

Ray Sotero, former communications director for Sen. Oropeza

Comments on recent stories printed in Argonaut

To the Editor:

Re: “Venice Neighborhood Council supports inclusion of beach bicycle path extension in city bike master plan” (Argonaut, Jan. 27):

There seems to be some confusion regarding the quote, “The 22-mile-long (South Bay) path…has one major flaw; it empties onto Washington Boulevard right in the middle of it and puts riders, skaters, runners and walkers at tremendous risk.”

There would be no “flaw” or “tremendous risk” if skaters, runners and walkers stuck to the sidewalks and left bikers to enjoy “their” path. Walkers, in particular, seem to be oblivious to any risk as they leisurely stroll along the bike path blocking both directions.

Then, the consulting entomologist for Los Angeles World Airports must be one clever dude if he can estimate that there are between 111,562 to 116,474 El Segundo Blue butterflies. (“Population of El Segundo Blue butterfly rises at habitat near LAX,” Argonaut, Jan. 27). Estimates are rounded, to whole 1,000s in this case, when there is a significant range between low and high. Pity that the rest of us can’t enjoy them and the more than 1,000 species that call the LAX Dunes Restoration Project home.

And, nice to see that Santa Monica College is going to train 660 folks with a $4.87 million grant how to recycle, a bargain at about $7,000 per person. Of course not all will get “green jobs with upward mobility.” (New recycling and job-training initiative at SMC announced).

Maybe they will be able to straighten out the L.A. County/city recycling system that a recent study has found flaws in. They could also focus on banning Styrofoam cups, something the Santa Monica City Council omitted when they recently voted to ban those dreaded single-use plastic bags. Of course, the ban will require more city staff because stores have to report sales of paper bags. Go figure.

Peter Crank, Marina del Rey

Reflects on Board of Supervisors meeting on Marina LCP vote

To the Editor:

Close to 50 Marina del Rey residents chartered a bus to attend the county Board of Supervisors meeting Feb. 1 in downtown Los Angeles. My first disappointment: an hour and 15 minutes were taken up with high school awards and obituaries.

The people’s business did not begin until 10:40 a.m., when we were told that each side would have only 35 minutes to present its case before the supervisors.

The developers always say the same thing, “Šthe Marina is shabby.” It sure is, and whose fault is it? The county’s lessees have not maintained or updated most of their buildings while enjoying profits for 20 years or more. The county does not require them to do so.

The amendment to the Local Coastal Program (LCP) was passed in a heart-beat with no discussion whatsoever, and the 19-story hotel was not even included.

The Neptune-Legacy developer boasts that it is “giving” affordable housing; No, it isn’t, but rather it’s taking land mandated by the federal government for either parking or a park. That’s where it’s building its extra units, total 526, an insane number in a small residential neighborhood. Property taxpayers, board the next bus.

Lynne Shapiro, Marina del Rey

Says fatal hit and run accident may have been averted if sidewalks were on street

To the Editor:

The more I read about the tragic death of Brigitte Burdine, the more the feeling grows that something obvious is being overlooked. I don’t understand all the talk of parking and traffic calming.

The accident happened when the roads were quiet. If there’s money to be spent, then build sidewalks. If there were sidewalks on Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey this accident would not have happened.

I don’t agree that Culver Boulevard is like a freeway, but it is the main route to the 90 freeway for anyone living west of Saran Drive. The only way I can see that changing would be to extend Falmouth Avenue north to Culver/Jefferson Boulevard to create another route out of Playa del Rey.

James Reilly, Playa del Rey