Top News

Kuehl Handles the Crowd with Wit and Moxie

 


By Michele Johnson

At the end of Assemblyperson Sheila Kuehl's Topanga Town Hall meeting on October 12, nothing had really changed. A 25-mph speed limit for the town business center is no closer to reality. A new state septic law is still looming, Topanga still has no public transportation, and as one man put it, untrammeled growth in L.A. County still leaves us "rumbling toward disaster." Despite all that, just about everyone at the meeting seemed happy to have Kuehl in their corner, fighting the good fight in Sacramento.

  
 VOL.24 NO. 22
November 2 - 15, 2000

 

NEWS INDEX:



The very petite Kuehl looked cool and casual in loose clothing, and she soon showed she was very much in charge. Her wit often shined, but she sternly shut down the crowd whenever it became unruly. There was little pretense here. What you saw was what you got. One man became so impressed he paid her the ultimate compliment: "If you were running for president, I would vote for you." She isn't running for president, but she is seeking the State Senate seat for our district vacated by Tom Hayden. If she wins, and she seems like a shoe-in, her constituency would go from 500,000 to a million. Later, Town Council President Dale Robinette made his feelings clear when he reminded the crowd, "On the ballot, she is number 43."

The main purpose of the meeting was to dissect the Topanga Canyon Boulevard traffic issues, and many people came ready with questions and suggestions on that topic. The first hour-and-a-half of the 3-hour meeting was set aside for all other issues. But since Kuehl herself pointed out that many people were there to argue one issue-the traffic-we'll start there.

ONCE AGAIN, IT'S THE TRAFFIC, STUPID

Representatives from Caltrans, the CHP, the State Parks and the sheriff's department stood to the side to answer questions that lines of Topangans stood waiting behind two mikes to ask them. Sheila opened the discussion by saying, "They have not made a decision" about what to do about traffic safety in the center of Topanga. Meanwhile, she has asked Zev Yaroslavsky to help form a task force composed of community members, the CHP, Caltrans and Kuehl aides to work on the decisions.

Sheik Moinuddin, the Caltrans representative, agreed that there are "two or three locations that need to be looked at. There are some safety issues." One is by the new Pine Tree Circle mall. "Driveway, driveway, driveway, all over the place. This is the safety issue at that location."
Second is the blind curve at Fernwood Market. There had been seven accidents in three years, he said. Several people pointed out that at the rate of 25 to 30 thousand cars negotiating the canyon each day, that number could be considered low. Or, as one man put it, "You mean the 35 million people that negotiated it successfully [over three years] are going to be ignored." As these points were raised, the crowd began to audibly complain. Sheila called for order and got it.

At one point, Moinuddin said perhaps left-hand turns would be allowed at only one of the two driveways out of Fernwood. Someone then pointed out that there is only one driveway out of Fernwood. Cindy Jones, the owner of Fernwood Market, said that if left turns are banned, there will be a rash of people making illegal U-turns. "It will be more chaotic with no left turns," she concluded to applause. Finally, Kuehl stopped that controversy cold by stating, "If there's only one driveway, there will be a left turn out of it."

IS THE 25 LIMIT ALIVE?

Arlette Auvergne [Morgan], owner of Mimosa and a founder of the Slow Down Thru Town movement, stood to press the case for a 25-mph speed limit from the lumberyard to the school. She stated that the group collected 2,100 signatures from people backing the 25-mph limit.
Then came the bad news. Unless state law is changed or the present rate of speed on the Boulevard changes, Topanga Canyon Boulevard is apparently not eligible to go to 25.

In the first place, by law, the limit must be set at the next zero down from the rate of speed that drivers travel the road on the average. A study, which must be done in off-peak hours, showed that the average rate of speed on the Boulevard is 42 mph. The next zero down is 40 mph.

Traffic hazards, such as the curving road, allows another 5 mph to be lopped off, leaving us with a legal limit of 35 mph. Also, according to state law, business districts requiring a 25 mph limit cannot be established on a state highway. "Under state law at the moment, it can't be done," said Kuehl. "But we're not saying it can't be done." Gary Welsey put into words what everyone was thinking. "You can't have people go slower because they're going too fast. It's like a Joseph Heller novel."

SHEDDING LIGHT ON TRAFFIC SIGNAL

The signal that was initially proposed by Caltrans as a safety option for the driveways between the new Pine Tree Circle and the old Center was discussed. Three people stood to say they believe a traffic light is necessary for safety. The first woman who dared to defend a light was softly booed until Kuehl put her foot down. Lisa Trost also said she's in favor of a light. "I would love the traffic to slow down there." One speaker stood to say that perhaps, since the Pine Tree Circle just opened, we should wait and study the situation. Finally, Neil Shaw compared traffic lights to rabbits. "Once you have two, there's a lot more trouble."

TERRIFIC TRAFFIC SUGGESTION BOX

To general applause, Lindy Hill asked for paved turnouts to encourage slow drivers to pull over. In answer, Kuehl said, "Caltrans is nodding. It's always a good sign."

Neil Shaw said, "I like to walk," and asked for Bot's dots-raised dots-to enhance safety for pedestrians. The CHP Lieutenant later remarked, "Any highway with that many cars, I wouldn't walk along." Kuehl agreed, but added, "Currently it's not safe to walk on Topanga Canyon Boulevard.We have to work to make it possible." Shaw also asked if Highway 27 is officially considered to be a 405 alternate. Sheila said no. "It's not an official alternate."

Nelson Yardley was one of many who believed that the current speed limits should be more vigorously enforced. "There are too many damn cars going too damn fast in Topanga." Or as Andrea Koepke put it, "There's no enforcement! I can't believe I'm asking cops to give tickets."
Mary Helen MacIntosh has been in two accidents in three years stopping to make a left turn into Fernwood Pacific. She asked for a left-turn lane there. Moinuddin said, "We're looking into something like that."

Gary Welsey said, "The state could be called negligent for lack of signage," and suggested more warnings as a cheap, quick fix.

David Green voiced a suggestion that has been making the rounds. Put up a sign, he said, saying, "Now entering the community of Topanga. Speed limit strictly enforced." The only problem with this solution is that it has been tried before, and the signs have been stolen before most people had even seen them. One idea put forth: a plain, metal utilitarian sign-too ugly to steal.

Then there were the not-so-terrific ideas. Paint the yellow advisory speed limit signs white, so they'll be a legal limit. Make Highway 27 a toll road. Put speed bumps through the center of town. Make people who don't live here take an alternate route by building a new freeway through the Santa Monica Mountains. Make the signs bigger-billboards, anyone? Allow no parking on the boulevard. (That idea brought major boos). When the traffic discussion came to a close, no one was satisfied, but good suggestions were made and noted, and a basis was set for future progress.

SEPTIC RELIEF?

Other important issues held the floor during the first half of the evening. Kuehl unapologetically confirmed that she voted for the septic bill recently signed into law by Governor Davis. It mandates that local governments must create new tough regulations to monitor septic systems. As she put it, there was "concern about the cleanliness or lack thereof of ocean water." Environmental groups, including Heal the Bay, pushed for passage of the bill.

When asked if she would vote for a bill to subsidize replacement or fixes of faulty systems, Kuehl said she would. But, she said, "It would be a hard sell." For one thing, she said, "Money bills are difficult." And, she added, when the state makes grants to help people conform to state law, proof of need is required.

David Totheroh asked a follow-up question. Noting that alternatives to traditional septic systems are now illegal, he asked if the state could encourage the County to explore new technologies. Kuehl responded that the first step for her would be "me to Zev [Yaroslavsky]." "There's a lot of stuff I'm not in charge of," she said, but agreed to use her "bully pulpit."

FAIR SHARE FOR OUR SCHOOLS

Parent Neil Shaw spoke up about the school system, asking why LAUSD had not been getting its fair share of state funds to build and maintain schools. Kuehl acknowledged that under the old funding system of "first applied, first received," the "unwieldy, creaky mechanism" of LAUSD and other big city systems couldn't get their applications in to get to the money first. This meant that smaller school systems with much smaller needs won the lion's share of the funds. This year that's changing, she reported. $20 million will go to LAUSD now, with more to come in the future. She agreed with Shaw that this is a drop in the bucket, but said until the rules were changed, "They were dead out of luck. Now factors of need are factors they meet."

GETTING AROUND-IT'S GETTING TOUGH

Lydia Frank, a 34-year resident of Topanga, stood to ask on behalf of the seniors of the Canyon, "Is there any way you can help us to get a bus?" Frank said that she tried the County's senior transportation phone line recently when she needed to go from her home to the Community House. They sent a cab, and she was charged $15 for the short trip. Woman's Club President Linda Hinrichs also spoke of the need for some kind of shuttle that could take seniors to events at the Community House, and to doctor and hair appointments. Kuehl agreed to "initiate the question," though this, again, is primarily a County responsibility. Kuehl offered to have her aide in charge of transportation, Laurie Newman, "explore the existence of a contract." Lindy Hill stood to request that if there is a bus, it should run on natural gas. "I would like to see the diesel phased out. I would like an aggressive program on the state level to do that." "I agree with you," said Kuehl. "But and I are in the minority in the state." She cited "heavy lobbying" against the move. "I voted for every way to push alternatives.It needs a critical mass of people for it."

Finally, one young woman rose and said Lydia Frank's dilemma "touched my heart.I would love to dedicate my time to help transport the elderly during the week."

Others had other transportation concerns. One man asked if our state highway 27 could support a bicycle path. "I know you don't want to hear there has to be another study," Kuehl replied to general laughter. She then said it was a "difficult problem because of the width of the road." And, she warned, when questions like this are asked, "Sometimes the answer is just 'no.'"

CAN GROWTH BE SMART?

Another questioner asked, "What can the state do to help urban regional growth of L.A.?" Kuehl responded with uncharacteristic optimism. "There are a number of things that can be done." She has joined a "smart growth caucus" "to shape legislation that promotes infilling, instead of sprawl, sprawl, sprawl." Things are moving slowly, though. Kuehl said she backed a bill charging that no one could build over 200 units unless they knew where the water to support the subdivision is coming from. "It didn't even get out of committee," she moaned. But still, "Ideas of smart growthare catching on," though, she said, some attention had to be paid to "that pesky thing," private property rights.

Kuehl said one solution is to buy up open land for parks before it can be built on, and touted her personal effort in obtaining $80 million to buy up land from willing sellers in the Santa Monicas.
A follow-up questioner asked what the process is for spending Proposition 12 money. Prop 12, a bond issue that provides over $2 billion for parkland acquisition and maintenance, passed last year. Well, said Kuehl wryly, "It's said there are two things you don't want to see being made-sausages and law." She said that the Secretary of Resource makes the decisions. Kuehl got in early and asked for as much as she could justify. "I was fortunate that a lot of what we got in quick, we got. The process is a mess. It worked for me."

MOUTHING OFF ABOUT MOUTH OF THE CANYON

$40 million of that money has been earmarked to buy up the land owned by the L.A. Athletic Club (LAACO) that runs from the mouth of the canyon halfway up the s-curves. When asked if the land, if bought, could ultimately still be developed ("I don't want a mini Knotts Berry Farm at the bottom of the canyon.") Sheila answered, "I don't think anything's going to be built on this property." She then called Harriet Burgess, President of the American Land Conservancy up to the dais to expand on that answer.

Burgess had flown in all the way from Oakland to be available. Though some of the residents now renting properties on the land claim that the American Land Conservancy has in the past been part of development deals, Burgess insisted that isn't so in this case. "I want a mountains to the sea park," she said to general applause. She explained that the Land Conservancy was simply acting as a middleman with State Parks, which cannot come into land while it is developed. The deal has been in the works for years, she said, aided by a friendship that developed between her and the head of LAACO. Will the Conservancy develop the land? "No," she said. They would simply do the staff work, the toxic surveys, and appraisals for the state. When those are "completed and acceptable," the Land Conservancy would "buy the property and convey it to State Parks."

Later, at the break, Burgess went further. "I won't have anything to do with a transaction that means it's going to be developed.State Parks will own it." She confirmed that "development has to be removed" before the Parks can take over. And what about relocation for the 14 businesses and 56 renting families that will be displaced? "We're bound by law to do it.The standards are quite rigorous." At this point, Matthew Lasky, a Topanga resident who grew up in the Rodeo Grounds, as the group of homes on the property is called, asked if there was going to be a realistic timetable for relocation? Burgess said she couldn't answer that in detail because they were just now getting bids from companies who do relocations. And though they must relocate the families into "comparable housing," she said, "A few feet from the beach? It's going to be hard." As for the timetable, she would only say, "They're not going to be thrown out on the street in a month."

Things are moving along. The appraisals on the property are due by November. Then the relocation experts will be hired. They will individually interview every family. Meanwhile, until the deal is struck, Burgess said, "The LAACO people don't want us to go in and talk to those folks." Deirdra Walpole spoke up. Though the home she'd rented in another part of Topanga for 21 years had recently been sold out from under her, she was philosophical. "The fact is, when you're renting, there's no assurance that you can stay." Burgess agreed, and pointed out that the Rodeo Grounds renters "will have more benefits and protectionthan in the private sector."
The forum drew to a close only when Kuehl called it to a halt, saying she'd take questions after the meeting in private. Throughout the evening, she proved to be poised, knowledgeable, passionate and inexhaustible. Not bad qualities for someone who must deal day to day with the madness in Sacramento.



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North Area Plan Passes

By Tony Morris and Michele Johnson

In a near total victory for petitioners seeking lower building densities, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the North Area Plan.

At a meeting held on October 24, Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the Plan, which dictates development of the 21,000 acres of land located in the unincorporated areas of the County outside of Coastal Commission. The plan will reduce the maximum number of new housing units allowed in the area from 5,400 to 3,700--a reduction of about 30 percent from the Malibu/Santa Monica Mountains Interim Area Plan it replaces. "This is huge!" exulted Laura Shell, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's deputy.

The plan only affects new construction on land that has not been previously subdivided. Though the North Area Plan is much more restrictive than the Interim Plan, a major protest was mounted in and out of Topanga when the new plan was watered down by Regional Planning amendments in June that increased density in key areas of the County.

A letter-writing campaign was started in Topanga a few weeks ago. Topangans were also involved in a private meeting with Yaroslavsky that took place October 20. According to sources, major wheeling and dealing took place the week before the vote. And Topangans were among the 250 who carried their protests to the October 24th meeting itself.

Yaroslavsky arrived at the meeting with amendments in hand. Most substantially, he asked for two large areas to be downzoned. First he asked that several parcels totalling 1,500 acres, mostly adjacent to parkland, including Malibu Creek State Park and Paramount Ranch, be downzoned to reflect the Plan's density before the June amendments watered the Plan down. He proposed going from an average density of one unit per 20 acres to one unit per 10 acres. He also requested that the property south of the Calabasas Landfill and adjacent to the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor be downzoned.

Yaroslavsky asked to eliminate restrictions on septic system placement suggested by Regional Planning, because, he said, septic systems are already adequately regulated. He also called for a repeal of a proposed Watershed Ordinance, which he called "overly restrictive of uses that have not been demonstrated to impact water quality in the area."

In a concession to equine enthusiasts, he asked that language be added to make the plan less restrictive concerning equestrian and recreational uses in the area. He advised the Board to add language encouraging the building of privately owned recreational facilities, including equestrian renting and boarding facilities. He also added language to encourage the purchase of trail easements for hiking and horseback riding, and specifically added a "protection of viewsheds from trails" provision. All of the amendments offered by Yaroslavsky were unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors.

There were some losers. The Cornell Preservation Organization did not win its bid to lower the density of a development known as Live Oak Ranch in Agoura. Laura Shell said Zev did not ask for further downzoning, since the property had already been downzoned from 125 units in the Interim Plan to 108 units in the North Area Plan, and Yaroslavsky thought that was sufficient. The property, she added, is on a sewer system, abuts the freeway and has access to roads.
Also, Yaroslavsky did not ask that the Quest Ranch property adjoining Topanga in Calabasas, which had been upzoned from N10 to N2 by a June amendment, be downzoned. Shell said that was one of only two properties that the Planning staff recommended be upzoned out of hundreds of properties that had been petitioned, and Yaroslavsky bowed to their judgment. That means a maximum of 21 homes could be built on the 42-acre parcel.

Roger Pugliese, head of Topanga Association for a Scenic Community (TASC) who had worked for downzoning the Quest Ranch property, was still happy with the overall outcome. "I'm thrilled that the County has passed the North Area Plan. I commend the hard work that was put into it by Zev, Laura Shell and Genny Krueger. But I'm still concerned that the Quest Ranch property stayed upzoned."

On the whole, though, according to activist Toby Keeler, "It is a clear victory for the Santa Monica Mountains."


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Gathering of Arts on Tap

For the fourth year, the Topanga Canyon Gallery and Topanga Enrichment Programs are proud to present A Gathering of Arts at Topanga Elementary School. This holiday sale showcases the very best in handmade ceramics, paintings, jewelry and crafts.

The show will be held in the Topanga Elementary School Auditorium on November 18th and 19th, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 - 4. A percentage of sales will go directly to Topanga Enrichment Programs, the fund-raising committee for Topanga Elementary School. This money will be used to help support programs such as P.E., the school library, and teacher's assistants in every class.

Don't miss this exciting community event, where you can support our local artists and stock up on beautiful gifts at great prices. Refreshments will be available.

The Topanga Canyon Gallery will also be hosting a special reception on Saturday, November 18, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at their beautiful new gallery in Pine Tree Circle. For more information call Sue Sullivan at (310) 455-1169.


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Abuelitas Events Win Popular Vote

Why watch the election returns all alone in your home? Come to Abuelitas on Tuesday, November 7th, and party or commiserate with your friends and neighbors. The fun starts at 5:00 p.m. with full coverage of election results. Cast your vote Abuelita's style by ordering one of our special drinks named in honor of the distinguished candidates. Bring in your voter receipt and receive a well drink for only $1.00. Abuelitas is located at 137 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Dinner will be served from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Cocktails will be served until 12:00 p.m. Call 310-455-8788 for more information.

The work of local artist Susan Santiago will be displayed at Abuelitas Restaurant beginning November 16 and continuing through January of next year. The artist, and her husband Ral Curren, a resident of Topanga for over 35 years, traveled every summer for a period of about five years throughout the Mexican countryside, visiting archaeological sites and collecting folk art.
The exhibition, entitled "Memories of Mexico," features the people that the artist encountered during her travels.

An opening reception will be held on Thursday evening, November 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. Susan has been teaching art for over 20 years and is currently a member of the staff at Palisades Charter High School, where she has been teaching Advanced Placement Art History and courses in the Humanitas program for the past three years. Many of her students are children from the community of Topanga.

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Veteran's Day Swap Meet

Fall is in the air and there's chili powder on the wind as folks prepare for another chili cookoff at the Swap Meet. It's that time of year again. Topanga's Annual Swap Meet and Chili Cook-Off will take place at the Community House, Saturday, November 11 at 1440 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Expect to find great second-hand bargains. Let your discards become someone else's treasures. Swap Meet Booth spaces are approximately 10' by 10' and cost $15 each. Booth holders need to furnish their own display materials such as tables, chairs and anything else required to display the items being sold.

TEST YOUR COOKIN' SKILLS

A $10 entry fee will get you into the Chili Cook-Off. All chili must be made on site the day of the event and a $50 cash prize will be awarded. The entry fee for the Apple Pie Bake-Off is only $5. Pies may be created at home and brought to the Community House when the Swap Meet opens at 11 a.m. Judging will take place at 3 p.m. The winner will receive a $25 cash prize.

MARK DATE, RESERVE SPACE!

To reserve your place in this great Topanga happening just call the Community House at (310) 455-1980. The Topanga Thymes has an entry form in every issue so join the fun and we'll see you there!

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Spend Midnight at the Oasis

Let us slip off your shoes and slide you away into incense and silks, anoint you with oils as you dissolve into an ancient dream of dance, seated upon pillows to embrace a night not so ordinaryCome to A Night at the Oasis, Saturday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m. at The Mermaid.

Melanie Kareem Middle Eastern Dance and The Topanga Chamber of Commerce invite you to attend A Night At The Oasis. Made for "grown-ups only," A Night at the Oasis promises to be one of Topanga's most luxurious fundraising events ever. In support of the Topanga Chamber of Commerce, A Night at the Oasis will feature exotic food, deep relaxation and a full evening of sensuous Middle Eastern Dance at the lush, historic Mermaid.

Don your favorite Middle Eastern attire and slow your life down for just one night. The moment you arrive, Melanie Kareem's exquisitely costumed dancers will escort you back through time, where you will receive sumptuous foods, aromatherapy and sage advice from the wise women of Kareem's troop, culminating in the belly dance show Topanga adults have been waiting for.

If you have a sensual soul and a stake in the future of our community, A Night at the Oasis is a night designed for you. Tickets are $40 and must be purchased in advance. For information and reservations, please call (310) 455-2557 or (818) 591-1030. Don't let this evening of relaxed revelry slip away.

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To Wed in Antibes

Arlette Auvergne, owner of Mimosa's and daughter of Gil and Cety Auvergne, will wed Andrew Parker at 3:30 p.m., November 7, in Antibes, France. Cheers!

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Town Council Awards Essay Winners

At a recent Topanga Elementary School assembly, Town Council President Dale Robinette named the four winners of a Town Council Essay Contest. The challenge was to use their imagination to concoct a story about one of the cars plucked from the creek during the recent cleanup. First place winner Anna Hyman won a baby-blue razor scooter. The second place prize, a $50 Barnes and Noble gift certificate, went to Michael Ray; the third place winner Dani Dayani won a $30 certificate; and an honorable mention $25 certificate went to Tess Gardner. The following are the first and second prize-winning essays. Congratulations, kids!

See the newsstand edition of the Messenger for the winning essays



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Kids Behind Carlift Win Award

The ripple effects of the helicopter airlift of the 20 wrecked cars from Topanga Creek reach far and wide. In fact, the Public Advisory Committee of the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project thought it was such a wonderful project that they gave their first ever award to Teacher Ritesh Shah and students Nic Paparrella, Joseph Sloggy and Sean Denny. They traveled to Sea World in San Diego on Thursday, October 19, to receive their commendation. A lovely wooden plaque bearing the words, "For pioneering collaborative efforts that have yielded wetland benefits of regional importance and for persisting in the face of adversity," was given to each. Teacher Shah spoke about how the effort of the students to tackle the problem, their hard work in reaching out to the broader community and the power of a good idea had made his work as a teacher so rewarding. The awards were presented by Heal the Bay founder Dorothy Green and Mary Nichols, head of the CA Resources Agency. Terry Taminen of Environment Now presided over the ceremony, which also presented the same awards to Dr. Joy Zedler for her work in restoring the Tijuana Estuary and Dr. Wayne Ferren for his efforts at the Carpenteria Salt Marsh. Over 100 participants at the first ever conference on regional wetlands took time to honor the Topanga students. "These students and their teacher have reminded us that creative thinking, and hard work can really make a difference in the world," summed up Dorothy Green, reflecting the feeling of many on the Public Advisory Committee. Before the ceremony, the Topanga Team was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Penguin Encounter where everyone got to pat a penguin and learn about their needs. It was a wonderful tribute to the students and the community.

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A Ditty Called Mothrocity

By Noel Rhodes

As I, and about a million other people with nasty attitudes, drove along Topanga Canyon Boulevard, sweat was squirting out of my every pore. I was so anxious and perplexed that my teeth were rattling in my mouth like gravel in a rusted tin can. My ears began sprouting tufts of coarse, matted hair. My hilarious feet started spinning on my ankles like deranged pinwheels; the symptoms of stress. But then, in a flash, I thought of something that completely changed my withered and reeking perspective to one of unbridled ecstasy. My eyeballs began to swell slightly. My nostrils flared grotesquely as I inhaled this sweet new breeze of elated anticipation. My lower vertebrae, like some sort of ill tuned xylophone, clattered out a spirited bit of ragtime. Steam started whistling out of my kneecaps making a shrieking noise that built to a volume so great that my spinal cord slithered right out my mouth, lay down coiled on the passenger seat and let out a big contented sigh. I was happy. What was it that so radically altered my outlook? It was that realization that MOTHROCITY would soon hit the Community House stage!

What is MOTHROCITY? No one knows. I do know that Mothra was a moth so huge that the wind from its enormous wings blew down entire cities in the movie, Godzilla vs Mothra. I also know that MOTHROCITY will be presented by a group of Topanga youths ages 11 to 16 years.

It all leaves me nervously wondering what I will encounter at the Community House on November 10 at 6:30 p.m. at $3.00. I encourage you and everyone else to come and see for yourself. And although I cannot guarantee your physical safety or even survival for that matter, I will guarantee that something will emerge from its crazed cocoon, escape from its catastrophic chrysalis and reveal itself before a startled gathering.

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Green Machine

By Tony Morris

With Election Day near, a number of national polls report that the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore is a statistical dead-heat. Such a close race will focus attention on voters planning to support the Green Party's candidate, Ralph Nader. Serving as Southern California Campaign Coordinator for the Nader Campaign is Topangan Woody Hastings. Hastings, an environmental activist since 1982, has been active with the Green Party since 1985, helping Greens to get on the California ballot drive in 1991 and on the state ballot in 1992.

As the election draws closer, Hastings is confident that Nader's campaign effort will make a difference when the votes are counted. Some former Nader activists have already expressed their concern that Nader will draw votes from Gore and provide Bush with victory. Though many are asking that Nader not campaign in swing states, he has refused. A New York Times editorial recently said of him, "It looks from her elike ego run amok." But Hastings sees the Nader candidacy and the Green Party as "a viable progressive alternative" to politics as usual.
Hastings was appointed to the Green Party Council in 1998 and this year was re-elected in the March primary. The Council serves to set local Green Party policies and coordinates efforts with the State Green Party.

As the Southern California Campaign Coordinator for Nader, Hastings is responsible for coordinating activities such as precinct walking, phone banking, tabling, voter registration, "get out the vote" activities and organizing special events. Nader's campaign for Southern California-which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura, Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties-hopes to win up to 6% of the vote.

Hastings has been meeting with Topanga Greens since 1990 and organized several house parties in the 1996 campaign when Ralph Nader allowed his name to be used on the Green Party Ballot, but did not run a campaign. Hastings says that Topanga Greens will be organizing for the Nader Campaign, circulating information, posting signs and getting out the vote for Nader and the Greens.

A Topanga resident since 1983, Hastings volunteered for a number of environmental groups during the 80's before joining the staff of Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE) and serving as Los Angeles director from 1989 to 1992. Working with CBE Hastings organized programs aimed at preventing public exposure to toxins and helped Southern California municipalities, including Los Angeles, to establish curbside recycling programs.

In 1994 Hastings joined the staff of former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon as the only Environmental Affairs Deputy, and was instrumental in directing efforts to close the Lopez Canyon Landfill, the only remaining landfill owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles.

Working for the Nader campaign, which rejects corporate soft money and political action committee contributions, Hastings says that the two-party system has failed to provide voters with a real choice. Mocking the Democrats and Republicans as "Dumoblicans and Republicrats," Hastings pointed out that Nader views the current two-party system as having "morphed into a single corporate party with two heads wearing different makeup".

Reaching out to Southern California voters, Nader is scheduled to hold a "Super Rally" at the Long Beach Arena on November 3rd at 8 p.m. As Hastings works to get out the vote for Nader, he sees history in the making as the Green Party gains momentum in the United States and works to join forces with over 200 candidates who have already been elected throughout Europe.

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