Random Letters 4-18-19 — Myth of Progress in Technology; New Edu. Paradigm; $4.5M Renovation WGT; Diff. Facets of Same Fight; Trump Hiding Tax Returns; Newsom Visits El Salvador

  • 04/19/2019
  • Reporters Desk

Exploding the Myth of Progress in Technology

I would like to commend you on  your excellent editorial, “Exploding the Myth of Progress in Technology,” in the March 21-April 3, issue of Random Lengths. I have a number of objections to high technology, which I find depersonalizing, disempowering and infantilizing, among other things, and I’ll be damned if I know why everybody seems to bow down to it. I am distressed to see electronic and mechanical devices invading so many areas of our lives, and I dread the possibility of government spying. I hope to team up with others who want to use our hands, feet, minds and bodies again, in work and in play, and in ordinary life.

Naomi Anna Greenleaf, San Pedro

We Need a New Educational Paradigm

Sometimes I think I live in an alternate universe, one where everything seems so clear and right. I would like to change the world, and eliminate racism, poverty, illiteracy etc. I can’t. However, I can bring awareness to our local needs and our continual efforts to thwart new ideas.

Our education system is in need of a new paradigm, one that eliminates the naysayers. Education changes everything, and until it becomes the top line on everyone’s budget, nothing will change. I am all for beautification and the saving of our history, but not at the expense of our children. This was in the Daily Breeze: It was recently announced that L.A. City’s Department of Cultural Affairs secured more than $4.5 million to aid in the renovation of the historic Warner Grand Theatre.

Yet, around the corner is Barton Hill elementary school, where 1/10 of that amount of money would give them the books, computers, teachers they need to insure that all of our children are treated equally, regardless of race, income, or gender.

This is your money that is being used! Have you ever noticed how we honor our elected officials for donating to various programs in the community. It is your money they are donating! Please stop and think about this the next time you read about one of our City, County, State representatives donation to a local cause.

Arlene Dickey, San Pedro

$4.5 Million Renovation of  the WGT

As a native of San Pedro who has been attending programs at the Warner Grand Theatre for decades,  and producer of  a significant cultural event (LA Harbor International Film Festival) held there the past 16 years the recent announcement that  the City of Los Angeles will sponsor a  $4.5 million renovation of  Warner Grand Theatre  seems long over due that appropriate action being taken after years of neglect, especially since the city owns the property.

Under the adroit management of Lee Sweet and the Department of Cultural Affairs. in the most professional style,  the WGT is open for events nearly 365 days a year that include variety of  popular and classical music concerts, plays, film programs, graduation and wedding ceremonies, and filming for theatrical and commercial projects, yet it is  more than a venue for hire. The WGT is the only space available for large community functions and used frequently for that purpose.

There are many challenges in connection with the historic property. With 1,500 seats it is too small for large so called “A list” bookings such as the Music Center, Greek Theatre or Hollywood Bowl could command, and too large and costly for smaller events that might bring in an audience of 500 which would be actually be a good box office record. San Pedro is also a “destination challenge” and though the L.A. Philharmonic held a sold out concert over 20 years ago the orchestra never returned.

Something of immense concern with regard to the notion of bringing in “A-list” bookings is the lack of sufficient parking. The City of L.A. missed the opportunity to purchase the adjacent property next to the WGT that could have been ideal addition for parking, as well as augment the facility with more space for rehearsals, meetings, “green room.” More myopia or lack of vision that’s now being subsidized after the fact.  There are also  safety concerns in the downtown after dark. Where will the “A list” audience and performers park?

The historic monument status has stringent guidelines for restoration therefore whomever is commissioned to do the restoration work is subject to close scrutiny precluding zealous remodeling, notwithstanding consideration to current ADA edicts that could supercede.

Since the “Save Your Seat” campaign  (c. 2005) there has been an absence of significant investment or improvement from the Grand Vision Foundation,  non-profit support group that began as “Friends of the WGT, with the mission to  restore the WGT to its former glory

The WGT is indeed the centerpiece of historic downtown San Pedro and deserves to be treated with dignity, and  respected not exploited, and revered as part of our local history.

Stephanie Mardesich, San Pedro

Different Facets of the Same Fight

Civil rights, immigration, climate change, and the economy  — all are connected and tied directly to the issues of justice and human rights.

For too long, our society has compartmentalized these fundamental concerns, failing to recognize or even understand how they impacted each other. This has been true not only of governments, because too often, in the past, even activists didn’t make the connections.

At the Sanders Institute Gathering, I was honored to moderate a panel on civil rights, immigration, and human dignity with Dr. Radhika Balakrishnan, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Susan Sarandon, and Ben Jealous. We talked about how climate change and economic injustice are creating conflicts across the world and contributing to mass migration. This, in turn, has impacted several countries fostering xenophobic far-right movements. We discussed the importance of judging a country’s economy, not on how large it is, but on whether it is just and meets the test of providing equal opportunity for all. And we talked about the history of our own nation and how genocide against indigenous peoples, indentured servitude, slavery, and disenfranchisement defined our beginning and still shape our social and our political realities.

We concluded by recognizing the need to demonstrate this interconnectedness and to come together to fight for a better future for all of us – no matter what race, what gender, what age, or what country we come from or who our parents were.

What The Gathering made clear to us all was the need to come together and understand the interconnectedness of the challenges we face in order to find the path forward.

Dr. James Zogby, Founding Fellow, The Sanders Institute, Burlington, VT

The President  is Still Hiding His Tax Returns

As Tax Day approaches this [past] Monday, many of you are probably filing your taxes or waiting for your refund. Meanwhile, President Trump is still hiding his tax returns.

After reneging on his promises during the campaign, Trump became the first President since Nixon to refuse to make his tax returns public. While he originally claimed he could not release them due to an ongoing audit by the IRS, no law actually prohibits that, and his own IRS Commissioner says he’s free to release them at any time.

The law may not prohibit the President from releasing his tax returns, but one thing that is crystal clear is the law authorizes the Chair of a key House committee, the Ways and Means Committee, to request anyone’s tax returns from the IRS.

This administration has gone without proper oversight for far too long. Thanks to you, we finally have a House Democratic majority with the power to demand accountability.

Rep. Adam Schiff, Van Nuys

Gov. Newsom’s Visit to El Salvador

“We must not love our lives so much that we avoid taking the risks in life that history calls for.” —Saint Oscar  Romero

Last week I traveled to El Salvador, Central America to learn firsthand about the conditions causing tens of thousands of Central Americans to flee to the United States.

El Salvador is one of several countries impacted by the Trump administration’s recent cuts in federal aid to Central America — aid meant to alleviate and address the poverty and chaos that force so many to leave their homes. During my trip, I heard directly from folks who have fled their homes because of violence, corruption, and extortion.

But I also learned more about El Salvador’s beautiful culture and met folks working to make life better for the next generation.

I had a moving visit to Saint Oscar Romero’s home and the chapel where he was assassinated. He was a true warrior of faith and justice, and an example to us all that it is never the wrong time to do the right thing.

I met kids learning to code, offering a chance for a better future for themselves and their families. I also met the USAID team providing these classes, whose funding is now at risk of being cut by Trump.

And I spoke to leaders and activists about how the very same American aid that Trump has threatened to cut is helping curb the need for migration, create economic opportunity, and protect so many from violence.

One thing has been made crystal clear to me by this trip: We have to address immigration in a comprehensive and thoughtful way.

The divisive rhetoric coming from Washington is doing nothing but creating more chaos and harm to this country. It’s reckless and irresponsible — and California will not stand for it.

Our state is going to offer even more help to separated families and asylum seekers here in California. We’re going to continue working to expand access to healthcare for anyone who calls California home. And I’m going to push Congress to finally pass the Dream and Promise Act, which will provide a pathway to citizenship and permanent status for immigrants across the country.

California won’t sit by while the federal government abdicates its duties. We will do better.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sacramento

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