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Any Thought of Motorboats Is Dead in the Water

June 27, 1993

Tranquil waters: There's one more thing you won't see on the newly duckless Venice Canals.


In case anyone planned to use the narrow waterways for jet-skiing or speedboat racing, the Los Angeles City Council last week unanimously approved a motorboat ban on the restored canals.

The measure was sponsored by Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who was concerned about the increased recreational use of the canals once the 18-month renovation project is finished later this year.

"The rebuilt canals will be a more public place, but the area should not be turned into a haven for noisy powerboats," Galanter said in a written statement.

Boats are probably the last thing on residents' minds at the canals, which for the past month were the focus of a loud, nationally publicized battle over the state's eradication of about 350 ducks believed to carry a deadly bird virus.

Surely Galanter did not have the brouhaha in mind when she laid out the goal of the boat ban: to "preserve peace and quiet in the canals."


We are the world, the sequel: Acting Santa Monica City Atty. Joe Lawrence was not amused by Westside Watch's effort a week ago to have a little fun with his budget message. And he will no doubt be equally unamused by Councilwoman Asha Greenberg's detailed critique of his message and his methods.

The bottom line of Lawrence's lengthy report was that, despite criticism to the contrary, his office is tough on crime. He proved it by using statistics that said his office's prosecution rate in one category was way ahead of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office--where Greenberg is a prosecutor.

In a written response, Greenberg said Lawrence drew his conclusions using the wrong numbers from her office. If the right ones are used, she says, the Los Angeles prosecutor's office has a higher case filing rate and caseload than Santa Monica.

"I wish she would spend more of her time defending what the City of Santa Monica does than defending what the City of Los Angeles does," Lawrence said. "I'm afraid she, quite frankly, doesn't know what she's talking about."

Dueling statistics aside, what's Greenberg's point?

Greenberg says the numbers, whatever they are, are less important than what she sees as the underlying problem with the Santa Monica prosecutor's office--that it jeopardizes the public safety of residents by inaction and passivity.

Merely filing or rejecting cases brought in by police is not enough, said Greenberg, whose strong public safety message won her election to the council in November.

"To protect the public effectively, prosecutors must do more," she said. "They must work with police to find legal ways to address public safety concerns."

Greenberg contends that Santa Monica prosecutors thwart or discourage police from vigorously pursuing minor offenders by setting unreasonably stringent filing requirements. In Santa Monica, many minor offenses are committed by homeless people.

Lawrence, who is seeking to be hired by the council as the permanent city attorney, dismissed Greenberg's assessment of his office as a "straight political attack. . . . There is no inaction in the Santa Monica City

Attorney's Office on crime or anything else," he said.


Class warfare: Santa Monica City Councilman Robert T. Holbrook lives in a tony enclave north of San Vicente Boulevard and fellow Councilman Kelly Olsen lives within shouting distance of a fast-food, drive-through squawk box on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Don't expect the twain to meet, at least if Olsen has anything to say about it.

When Holbrook questioned why the city should spend a quarter of a million dollars a year to fund a group that helps neighborhood associations fight City Hall, Olsen went on the attack. He said his colleague didn't understand the problems of the common folk.

"You live in a very nice neighborhood north of San Vicente," Olsen said snidely during a council meeting last week. "Your neighborhood is so well protected from commercial intrusion."

Olsen, on the other hand, makes frequent public reference to the annoying aspects of life in his own neighborhood. Not only can he hear someone ordering a cheeseburger--hold the pickles--but he must also contend with noisy auto repair shops and car dealers on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Asked for a response, Holbrook said he was the first member of his family to attend college (he has a doctorate) and worked hard for his success as a pharmacy professor at USC.

As for Olsen's travails, Holbrook suggested that he move somewhere less stressful. "I hate to see him suffer so."

Ruth say more: Just about everyone on the Westside has had an earful of KCRW public radio station manager Ruth Hirschman. Between her relentless pitches for money to fund the station and her tendency to commandeer the microphone during breaking news marathons, she's a legend in these parts--and has the successful station to show for it.

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