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Beverly Hills Weekly
Beverly Hills, California
April 25, 2001     Beverly Hills Weekly
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April 25, 2001

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continued from page 2 "Is The Gelsonts Hills?" Project Right For Beverly As a 36+year resident of this city, I am absolutely appalled, disgusted and dismayed at the proposed development that threatens to impinge upon what Idde residential tran quility and quality of life remains here. The Gelson's Project is jusl one more example of proposed excessive development and the main issue here is "excessive." What l find disturbing is that the City Council continually extols how Beverly Hills should stri'Je to be a "destination point" for others and haw Beverly Hills' focus is to maintain its international reputation for attracting tourists. In no uncertain terms this type of thinking is delusional in its failure to recognize that Beverly Hills is not impec- cable, but a city that is in the reality throes of traffic congestion and of losing ils com- munity character. This thinking is also delusional in its failure to acknowledge that Beverly Hills is MORE than just Rodeo Drive The glowing reputation of Beverly Hills (that is beginning to tarnish) is the credit of our founding and early "fathers" who recognized that in order to develop into an exceptional community, that community had to also be a great and exceptional place to LIVE. That thinking is largely gone now. We are a community where business inter- ests get first consideration and the residents have to fight to be heard - and once heard, they are seldom heeded. If this "new thinking" continues, it will be just a matter of time until Beverly Hills will have a much different reputation - a reputation of being a great place to visit, but 1 wouldn't want to live there. The bottom line of all this, as far as the Gelson's Project is concerned, is thai I do not want a project that will bring more than 4075 weekday and 6500 Saturday vehic ular trips into a residential area with its resultant traffic, pollution, and noise. I do not want a project that would necessitate a change in zoning in order to justify its existence And I don't understand why this or any project with excessive specifications is even con sidered by the Planning Commission and the City Council Christine Skirmuntt Beverly Hills Congratulations for bringing an alternative source of local news to the doorsteps o[ the Beverly Hills' residents[ Furthermore, it is refreshing to read about the Gelson's monster market project from a source that is clearly not influenced by the "beck-slapping" boys operating in the "back room" and "under the table" with the revolving door group of "selected" people who have repeatedly swung projects for their own personal gain and that of their cohorts. It is more than evident to the few who are informed, that it is not a project that has one wit of benefit to the community of today's residents, tomorrow's residents, or any com- munity of Beverly Hills that may or may not be in existence in the future. Should the architects of the systematic sell-out of this world-renowned city be allowed to continue in this money-grabbing manner, pretty soon there will be no Beverly Hills left for anyone. Considering that this city is recognized as a tourist atlraction for the many dollars brought here each year, it will soon lose much of this revenue when the world visitors are welcomed to is a mass of "here today gone tomorrow" operations, multiple office buildings laying empty without being leased for years and fast-food take-home of eat- in-the street food places. Soon we shall see more "Leave on someone else's doorstep beer bottles," more Strarbucks or Coffee Been and Leave There or +'jumpy juice" bu~:kets creating a river of mixed sticky liquid to swirl around the ankles of the well-heeled visitor. This will not promote many return trips! Does London boast Trafalgar Square and Picadilly Circus, to name but two centers, apart from the multiple cultural centers for the entire world to visit? Does Rome boasl St. Peter's Square or even that little parcel of prime retail space called the Coliseum? Whal about Paris, or Moscow, or even this side of the Atlantic, New York'? And what about Beverly Hills? Yes, indeed, what about Beverly Hills! Well, lel us look under the carpet to see what has been going on for too many years Where has the planning commission been these past recent decades? Who allowed mass destruction of buildings built in the formative years of the city? Why were the tax paying people of this city sold down the sewer so many times? What are we going to do to stop this corrupt system before there is nothing left to save? These are just a few of the questions that seem to be avoided repeatedly, and it is aboul time that the people of the city start to demand some answers and make changes! In the wake of the recent elections, it is more evident that apathy and indifference won the seats of those who are repeatedly in the "party game" of musical chairs. Add to that fact, it appears that the "incumbent" runners have their its ands or butts permanently glued to the seats, so if your butt doesn't fit...well, you know how that goes! So, in answer to the question, "Is the Gelson's Project Right for Beverly Hills?" THE ANSWER IS MOST DEFINITELY NO! NO! NO! Let us honor the past by preserving for our future! Continue to allow the voice of the few to be seen and heard by the many... "Pellicone: The Final Chapter?" I was pleased to learn ("Pellicone: The Final Chapter," ApIi[ 5. 200I) Iha[ Robcrl Pcllicone and the BHUSD have settled the legal issues between thenl Dullng the 1998- 1999 school year, during which Dr. Pellicone served as Superintendent, I was presidenl oftbe teachers' union, BHEA Dr Pellicone and I interacted orion, on a myriad o~ issues, primarily having to do with the collective bargaining agreement between BHEA and BHUSD I saw hbn take several strong, appropriate actions ~() deal w/all dffilcult plod+ Ictus and I admded his willingness to tackle concerns lhal had h)ng been ignt>zcd However. in the end, Dr. Pellicone proved to be an unsuccessful administ:ator tte conducted meetings during which he alienaled everyone, including school-silo princl- pals. There were meetings where, even though the majority of staff supported his ideas, Dr. Pellicone's abrasive manner turned everyone against him. These events dramatically undermined Dr. Pellicone's effectiveness as an educational leader. Most importantly, the allegations that Dr. peflicone made unauthorized and illegal expenditures are entirely true. There exists clear and irrefutable documentary evidence of wrung-doing Whether the amount was $1,00O or $5,000 or more, becomes irrelevant. A teacher, custodian, or administrator, even the superintendent, musl all be held to the same legal standard. All employees of the BHUSD must understand this simple concept - the District's $40 million dollar budget is meant to provide for the quality education of 5.200 students - not the entertainment of an administrator who possessed extraordinari- ly poor judgment. When the Board of Education dismissed Dr. Pellicone, teachers, support staff, and administrators greeted the official announcement with expressions of joy No une. not a single person fi'om among the hundreds of District employees, said anything in support of Dr Pellicone Our school District desperately needed strong and effective leadership and in that role he sadly failed. Board of Education President Brucker, Vice President Okyle, and board member Lunn clearly made the appropriate decision when they terlnl- hated his contract Brucker, Okyle and Lunn should have received a standing ovation lot iheir decisive action, made all the more difficult by the dissent of the other members of the Board. There remains one additional aspect of this episode that needs clarffication. Richard Stone, former member of the Board of Education, blatantly misstated the facts in his April 13, 2001, Letter Io the Editor. Firstly, he called this situation a "shametial episode" and described it as an "extremely costly incident." What was shameful? Only Mr. Stone and one other board member, out of the hundreds of District employees and stall', opposed Dr. Pellicone's termination. As for being costly, Mr. Stone conveniently omitted the fact that, in spring 1998, he orchestrated the forced resignation of Superintendent Sol Levine who had one year remaining on his contract. The buyoul of Mr. Levine's contract cost the District over $125,0~0 and required the District to rush the selection of a new leader - eventually that being Dr. Pelfieone, Mr. Stone's letter also claimed "there waS incredible turmoil and no leadership for, . . at least one year." This part of Mr. Stone'S letter is clearly inaccurate. After Dr, Pelfleone's dismissal in summer 1999, an able and experienced assistant superintendent led the District for several months and beginning ifl late September 1999, the District hired a highly regarded, award-winning former Superintendent of the Year then smoothly transitioned into the currem and very capable administration of Dr Gwen Gross Finally, Mr. Stone commented on the "slow pace o[ construction and conslrucPon overruns in the millions" He should know The school modernization bond passed in1993 and during his eight years on the Board of Education, Mr Stone was Board Presidenl or Vice President for five years Mr Stone's effort to transfer his uwn failures and responsibility for the current proh+ lems in the District's modernization program to others smacks of the types of stories Ih~l usually originate in places like Beljing Stewart Horowitz Beverly Hills High School Social Studies Teacher Anise- Yvonne Palladino Beverly Hills ?,: '4+!tsWeekly