Says cost is not the issue with Conrad sculpture restoration

To the Editor:

The notion that the cost of repair to Chain Reaction, the sculpture by the late Paul Conrad is a false premise, that’s insulting to area residents and the taxpayers of Santa Monica (“City Council delays pending removal of Conrad sculpture for fundraising campaign,” Argonaut, March 29).

The city of Santa Monica has an operating budget in excess of $535 million annually. The projected costs of rehabilitating this gift valued at $250,000 at the time Santa Monica received it translates to 0.00042 percent of all city spending on the low end and 0.00082 percent at the maximized estimation of $443,000.

Is cost really the issue? Absolutely not.

What city bureaucrats don’t tell you is how much if anything has been spent on the maintenance of this structure since 1990.

What if anything has been appropriated to maintain this city asset during its time displayed in Santa Monica? Zero is probably the answer.

For the logic is mindless with no sense of common sense applied to this self-manufactured controversy created by Santa Monica’s refusal to find the funding in its bloated $500 million-plus budget.

The hard reality is that everything costs money.

Streets, sewers, sidewalks and other public properties must be maintained through responsible operating budgets on an annual basis. Many of the these items are maintained through capital budget expenditures that are part of any city budget.

When France gifted the United States the Statue of Liberty, the neoclassical sculpture that now represents freedom for all worldwide, did the United States not accept this generous gift that has become part of the fabric of American culture due to the cost of maintaining such a structure placed on an island in the Hudson River?

Since it was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886 the statue has been restored in 1938, 1984-86 and continues to be under restoration for a third time at the cost of nearly $30 million.

Do you hear anyone suggesting that the cost of maintenance of the Statue of Liberty somehow outweighs its value to all Americans? Of course not.

It is simply disingenuous for bureaucrats to determine the fate of artifacts such as Chain Reaction.

Like the Nativity scene debacle, it’s time for elected officials responsible for governing to make the right choices rather than abdicate responsibility to faceless government officials who fail to see the importance and impact of Chain Reaction and the legacy of the late Pulitzer Prize winning artist Conrad.

Nick Antonicello, Venice Beach

Says immigration needs more attention from government

To the Editor:

Subject: Illegal Immigration along the beaches in El Segundo.

Last month, a small boat hit ground off the beachfront outside of El Segundo. Inside were a number of illegal immigrants seeking entry into this country. Aboard the small boat, 14 alleged felons were also seeking unlawful entry. This maddening threat only emphasizes why the voters and legislators in this country need to face the matter of immigration head on.

Rather than demagoguing the individuals seeking economic or political asylum, we need to focus on the dangers which unsecured borders are placing on our people. Those who seek naturalization in this country deserve to recognize that they are entering a nation where their rights will be protected, as will the rights and responsibilities of those born here.

To ignore the understandable longing of many to enter this country is foolishness. To decide only on enforcing demanding border restrictions without limiting the welfare state and streamlining the naturalization process is to continue waging a losing battle.

Whether we like it or not, the immigration issue deserves more attention than it currently receives from our government, yet the needs of the citizen, born and naturalized, deserves better protection than what our legislators are willing to accord to us.

Defending our borders and securing the rights of all Americans, including those want to join this blessed experiment legally, must receive proper attention from our leaders in government, including state Sen. Ted Lieu, who has spent more time scooping up boutique endorsements instead of demanding the enforcement of the rule of law in this state.

Arthur C. Schaper, Torrance

Lists reasons why Conrad sculpture should be preserved

To the Editor:

There are important reasons why Paul Conrad’s Chain Reaction 26-foot-tall nuclear mushroom cloud sculpture in the Santa Monica Civic Center since 1991 should be saved and restored:

1. To honor the legacy, talent, creativity, and generosity of the late three-time Pulitzer Prize- winning political cartoonist Conrad, who created the Chain Reaction peace sculpture and gifted it to the city;

2. To continue educating, warning, inspiring, motivating, and artistically drawing attention to the dangers of nuclear escalation and the real need to promote peace;

3. To reinstate and reinvigorate our commitment to public art, even when local, state and national art funding is being cut; and

4. To honor how Chain Reaction has become part of Santa Monica’s cultural, artistic, political and historical landscape.

The Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division is now accepting tax deductible donations earmarked for restoring Chain Reaction through its non-profit Santa Monica Arts Foundation. We are deeply appreciative of the city’s help.

And, the family of Conrad has set up a website that provides information on how to contribute to save Chain Reaction. The website also highlights some of Conrad’s political cartoons and sculptures as well as a Conrad biography.

The website is:

There are many good reasons to support the Chain Reaction restoration effort. But the most important reason is showing you care.

Jerry Rubin, S.O.S. (Save Our Sculpture), Santa Monica

Not so convinced chain sculpture has ‘timeless’ quality

Paul Conrad was a liberal mouthpiece who played fast and loose with the facts while trumpeting his open disdain for conservative causes. No city should be the platform for the irreverent and unrepentant pundit. Nevertheless, Santa Monica provided a plot of land for Conrad’s Chain Reaction, a bunch of chains piled up to look like a mushroom cloud.

According to Santa Monica city leaders, the sculpture needs repair and refurbishment, at a time when municipalities are cutting core services while attempting to finance exorbitant public sector benefits.

I think it reflects poorly on the city of Santa Monica to showcase so political a figure, even if his creation was supposedly “not confrontational.” The issue of nuclear non-proliferation is hardly a “timeless” issue, as alleged by next of kin David Conrad. Nor is Paul Conrad’s extant artwork “the most iconic public art piece in the country.”

Has activist Jerry Rubin overlooked the Statue of Liberty, the Washington and Lincoln Memorials, or even the White House? These iconic structures hold higher esteem and carry far greater meaning and import than an anti-nuclear piece rapidly disintegrated into decay.

The fulsome praise which pacifists have heaped upon Conrad’s heap of rusty chains all the more highlights the growing irrelevance of the political cartoonist’s attempt at posterity.

The city of Santa Monica would better serve the needs of the city by investing the money in proper infrastructure renovation, not trying to fix up a cartoonist’s sop to his questionable legacy.

Arthur Christopher Schaper