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Light Rail Forum Dispute Simmers

October 22, 1989

I had to laugh when I saw the letter from Susan Brown giving her lame defense of the fairness of her so-called "Light Rail Forum." Here's my view of her highly orchestrated non-event:

The "forum" was promoted only in the neighborhoods along the Exposition right of way. Brightly colored posters lined the streets within a block or so of the rail line. I also received a definitely one-sided sheet announcing the event from her group, the Cheviot Hills Homeowners Assn. The notice presented none of the alternative information available from other groups.

Especially ludicrous was her defense of the gathering as representing alternative viewpoints. Yes, Neil Peterson, the executive director of the county Transportation Commission was there. But he was asked to speak first. Then the other five primary participants took turns lambasting him, his presentation, the city of Santa Monica, and light rail.

This spectacle was followed by a videotape that made up in inflammatory distortion what it lacked in technical competence. At this point you could have taken the audience and goose-stepped it down to kick the tracks.

In her letter, Susan Brown asks the question: "What other responsible viewpoint could there be?" Well, mine was there but was not welcome. I made 400 copies of a letter to the community I drafted urging caution (and) asking residents to beware of manipulation by both sides. It also asked if we should preserve the right of way for other possible uses.

I asked Ms. Brown if I could leave the letter on the table with the other literature which was all anti-rail.

She proceeded to yell, "Absolutely not," that this was "her meeting" and that if I wanted to give them out I could go and organize my own meeting. Clearly, according to Susan Brown, the only possible responsible viewpoint is her own.

My first concern is that the Exposition right of way should be preserved before it is lost, regardless of whether it is found most useful for a strip park, urban bike trail, jogging path, or any of the various possibilities for public transportation. I now have the added concern that my neighbors and I are being manipulated by demagogues whose only concern is for their own narrow agendas.

ROL MURROW

Rancho Park

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