Sat, Dec

As the World Spins

ALPERN AT LARGE-As I write from the beautiful northern heights of Jasper National Park in Alberta, I am grateful to enjoy access to the Internet that allows me to stay part of our world as it turns...and as it spins.

The LA Times spins that Westchester plays the role of NIMBY when it merely wants to protect its commercial, jobs-laden district from an unnecessary and job-destroying northward expansion of LAX, while lawyer Christopher Sutton spins to transit advocates that he opposes conflict of interest in the Gold Line Construction Authority Board when he merely wants to oppose a City of Monrovia land sale for the Gold Line Rail Maintenance Yard that would result in less profit for his client, George Brokate and Excalibur Holdings.

Fortunately, there is ample evidence that Westchester is anything BUT NIMBY:  they have no problem with the future Crenshaw/Green Line Rail Maintenance Yard being in Westchester, no problem with an optional and elevated Manchester/Aviation light rail station being added to the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line despite its visual and traffic impacts, and has no complaints (even encouragement!) extending the Green Line west from Century/Aviation to Century and Airport Blvds. and to LAX Parking Lot C to serve the businesses, hotels, commuters and residents of Westchester.

(LAX northern expansion and its reticence to follow through with a decades-old promise of being an Automated People Mover to connect the Green and Crenshaw Lines to the individual LAX airline terminals threatens all that--perhaps the role of "NIMBY" is best assigned to LA World Airports, which runs LAX).

Also fortunately, the municipalities of the Foothill Gold Line are being supported by other cities and Sacramento to approve state legislation to allow the Gold Line Construction Authority, which is meant to encourage Foothill Gold Line cities to NOT play NIMBY and to have buy-in and a motivation to build the Foothill Gold Line (which is what an Authority is supposed to do) so long as there are no personal financial gains among the Gold Line Authority Boardmembers.

As I read the local newspapers from Calgary (the Herald and the Sun) and from Edmonton (the Journal), I see lots of other spinning.

Finance Minister Snelgrove, and the rest of Alberta's government, is spinning their decision to go with oil sales and exploration and pipeline building as a way to balance Alberta's budget.  Environmentalists are spinning the Keystone XL oilsands pipeline from northern Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast as a disaster that will fry the planet from global warming.  And President Obama is caught between keeping environmentalist voters and unemployed Southern voters who need the oil industry jobs--both of whom voted for him in 2008 but are threatening abandonment in next year's elections.

Canadian baby boomers are worried about how their mortgage debt threatens their retirement plans, and an increasing number of Americans are wondering if they're ever going to retire at all. (Link)  Some of the "experts" are spinning this phenomenon as a result of bad planning and decision-making on the part of those who waited too long to really and realistically plan for retirement, and others are spinning this as a result of Wall Street bankers and investors defrauding stockholders and homebuyers for years.

Former Goldman Sachs Vice President Peter Haller changed his last name to his mother's maiden name to Simonyi, and now Peter Simonyi is a staffer of one California Representative Darrell Issa, and the latter is now calling to slow down regulation for financial firms dealing in derivatives.  All sorts of spinning about how Washington should avoid socialistic tendencies to strangle wealth-building capitalism, and all sorts of spinning about how Washington should avoid letting misbehaving Wall Street financial firms allow capitalism to go amok and create wealth-destroying risk-taking, needs to be put aside to deal with the awful reality of how both parties, in both Congress and in the White House, have too much Wall Street conflict-of-interest to protect the average American and worldwide investor.

Alberta Conservative leadership candidate Gary Mar took the controversial step of recommending an option for private health care for Canadians willing to pay for health care to avoid the long waits for orthopedic surgeries and MRI's.  Many Canadians are spinning this as a blasphemic quip against a Canadian public health care system that is attacking a treasured part of Canadian existence (and pointing out the flaws in the U.S. health system), and other Canadians are spinning this as a long-overdue discussion of the "elephant in the room" (and pointing out the benefits of the U.S. health system).  

And both sides appear to acknowledge that the weight of Canadians of all economic classes are forcing them to visit the U.S. for their health needs to be addressed in a timely manner.  Perhaps they should temporarily swap homes to those Americans visiting Canada to purchase medications at an affordable price?  Either way, it bodes well for tourism on both sides of the border.

So what's MY spin?  Well, MY spin is that purchasing a collision damage waiver for your car rental is well worth the extra money when your car is being butted by a small herd of bighorn sheep in remote Jasper Park.  

MY spin is that it's wonderful that people like my family now spend lots of money and time shooting photos of bears and their cubs foraging for leaves and berries by the roadside in Banff...instead of shooting bullets.

MY spin is that my children can go from being best of playful friends to worst of angry enemies to best of friends again within mere seconds when confined in the car for hours at a time.  But while I'm thrilled we have the money and will to spend on a national park system (whether it's in Canada or in the U.S., where we visited awe-inspiring Glacier National Park as well), I also recognize the need to build an economy to create the jobs and wealth that will pay for those cherished national parks.  

And MY spin is that I want them to be around for my children when they get to explore them again with their future families.

So let's stop spinning our way around things and let's build both a Foothill Gold Line to connect to Ontario Airport, and a Green/Crenshaw Line to connect to LAX.  Our economy, environment and quality of life would all benefit by these long-overdue endeavors.

The meeting times are below.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]  He is also co-chair of Friends of the Green Line. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)  -cw

Tags: spinning, LA Times, Westchester, NIMBY, Gold Line, Foothill, Green Line, Crenshaw Line

Metro Green Line to LAX Workshops
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Flight Path Learning Center
6661 West Imperial Highway
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Served by Beach City Transit Line 109 with connections at the Metro Green Line Aviation/LAX Station and LAX Transit Center.
Free parking is available on site.

Thursday, August 25, 2011
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Metro Headquarters
Plaza Level Lobby, 1st Floor
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Served by Metro Red, Purple, and Gold lines, Amtrak, Metrolink, Metro Bus Lines 40, 42, 68, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 485, 487, 704, 728, 733, 740, 745, 770, and 910 (Silver Line), Dash B, Dash D, Dash Lincoln Heights/Chinatown, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 10, Torrance Transit Line 2, and Foothill Silver Streak.
Free parking with validation is available on levels P2 and P3.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Veterans' Memorial Complex - Yanji-Iksan Room
4117 Overland Avenue
Culver City, CA 90230
Served by Metro Bus Lines 33 and 733 and Culver City Bus Lines 1, 3 and 7.
Free parking is available on site.

Spanish translation will be provided. Special accommodations and information in alternative formats are available to the public upon request. All requests for reasonable accommodations must be made three working days (72 hours) in advance of the scheduled meeting date. Please call the Project Hotline at 310.499.0553 or the California Relay Service at 711.

Please visit  Metro for more information.

Vol 9 Issue 67
Pub: Aug 23, 2011