A Plea to Beverly Hills: Give Up the Anti-Subway PR Campaign

Metro ##https://www.facebook.com/purplelineext/photos/a.10150672477261778.390611.270944186777/10152456823176778/?type=1##posted this picture to Facebook## of the shovels ready for today's groundbreaking ceremony.
Metro ##https://www.facebook.com/purplelineext/photos/a.10150672477261778.390611.270944186777/10152456823176778/?type=1##posted this picture to Facebook## of the shovels ready for today’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Today is a great day for L.A. County. After decades of stalling, Metro is finally breaking ground on the Westside Subway extension from Wilshire/Western to Westwood.

Well, maybe it is not a good day for everyone. The NUMBY’s (that would be “Not UNDER”) in Beverly Hills are still so upset about the subway, they are still crusading against a train route that’s now already under construction.

Having exhausted the $3 million budgeted to fight the planned route of the Westside Subway extension of the Purple Line, the Beverly Hills Unified School District decided last month to double down.Perhaps buoyed by the pandering of Supervisor-Elect Sheila Kuehl, the BHUSD voted to allocate another $3 million (up to $6 million) in school construction bonds to wage a public relations, legal and political war of attrition against Metro.

Source: BH Weekly.
Source: ##http://bhweekly.com/##BH Weekly.##

So here’s a plea to the BHUSD. Give up. It’s over. The subway route is going to run under a portion of the Beverly Hills High School Campus. Please, stop spending Measure E construction bond funds to fight the subway. You’re just throwing your money away. It would be one thing if this were just about the legal fees needed to reach a settlement with Metro, which seems closer now than ever, but a lot of that money is also going to the communications firms to help smear the subway and alarm residents.

While I make this plea, I know it’s going to do zero good. The Chair of the School Board, David Goldberg, thinks the tunnel is going to endanger students. Despite being shut-down in court thus far, he also thinks that the School District will eventually be reimbursed its legal fees after its eventual victory. Here’s an excerpt from his fiery email defending the spending:

“By not fighting MTA, we will be taking tens of millions of dollars earmarked for classroom improvements and instead spending those dollars to reinforce foundations to striatal tunnels running under instructional buildings,” Goldberg writes.

Metro has publicly committed to mitigations in the EIS/EIR, but the exact amount of funding for other damage has yet to be negotiated. Because there are legal questions involved with BHUSD’s never-ending lawsuit, nobody is going to talk to a reporter about what Metro will and won’t commit to pay for after construction is completed. Even legal mediation can go awry.

Measure E is a $334 million construction bond proposal passed in 2008, ironically the same election as the County-wide sales tax Measure R which made the subway possible.

The language of the bond states that, “Funds received from the sale of the bonds shall be used for the specific purposes set forth in this Measure including modernizing school facilities; making structural seismic repairs; upgrading, repairing and reconstructing classrooms, infrastructure, multi-use, gyms, libraries, science and technology labs, roofing, plumbing, heating, ventilation and electrical systems.”

I would call tripling down on the subway fight gambling with other people’s money, but it is so obvious they will not win that it is only gambling in the same way that betting my son’s lunch money on the Utah Jazz to win an basketball championship would be gambling. The good news is, that BHUSD is spending its bond money so quickly they’re going to have to go back to voters to extend or increase the tax paying for the bonds. Voters will get a chance to weigh-in on how BHUSD is spending their money.

 

The bad news of course is that no matter what, $6 million of it won’t be spent on students.

So how is that money being spent? Mostly on public relations and lawyers.

The original Public Relations team of Sitrik and Company, who’s primary goal seemed to be to stop the BHUSD members from saying insane-sounding things in public, has been replaced by Endeavor Communications. Sitrik was clearly missed when the debate briefly turned to whether or not ISIL would use the subway to launch a terrorist attack against Beverly Hills High School.

Oddly, Endeavor has scrubbed every mention of BHUSD from its website in recent weeks so thoroughly that even the cache option comes up blank. Maybe the School District did not like being associated with Darrell Issa, the firebrand Congressman who is still investigating Benghazi who is the firm’s largest client. At least you can still find the old links on google.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 2.02.06 PM
Endeavor sent around the press release for a report slamming Metro’s fault studies in Beverly Hills. However, less than a month later there is no mention of the BHUSD or subway on their website. You can also ##http://www.primesourcepm.com/2014/10/03/gathbureshreport/##see the release at Prime Source##, the management firm that released the report which is run by ##http://www.primesourcepm.com/karen-mclaurin-buresh/##Tim and Karen Buresh.##

But you can’t argue that the money being shoveled to Endeavor that was supposed to pay for shovels for construction is being mis-spent. The public relations firm was able to change the editorial direction of the right-wing opinion website Breitbart in just eleven days. On May 10 of this year, the website seemed angry at the mis-appropriation of school funds to fight the subway. Just 11 days later, it was parroting BHUSD talking points.

Good work, Endeavor! Totally worth the $400,000 that the school district appropriated to the Washington, D.C. firm earlier this month.

Of course, in the end it’s always easiest to spend other people’s money.

  • Alex

    These people are worse than the ironically-named Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes here in Brooklyn. At least they’re squandering their own money to fight forward progress.

  • Jake Bloo

    This is hilarious.

    What’s BHUSD real reasoning? They don’t want Others being able to come out of the ground near them?

  • drsus

    Beverly hills is a pain on the entire county of LA…. why do we even have to listen to them? this is about THE CITY, not their neighborhood. The damn thing is going underground anyway. They simply dont want “those people” to have it so easy getting to BH, thats the bottom line, elitism. no one wants or ever needs to stop in BH, get over yourselves, we just want to be able to go east and west easier than driving through traffic, we don’t care about stopping in your boring neighborhood.

  • John Mirisch

    Despite the lack of objectivity in Mr. Newton’s article and the fact that most of his articles on the subject seem to be tinged by a yellowish hue, perhaps he shouldn’t have failed to mention the fact that the BHUSD, along with the City of Beverly Hills, the US Department of Justice, the Federal Transportation Authority and senior Metro staff recently reached a mediated settlement, which would have ended the dispute and litigation, once and for all. The settlement was approved by the BHUSD Board, as well as the Beverly Hills City Council and the DOJ and FTA representatives.

    Unfortunately, despite the fact that all parties agreed upon the settlement, and despite Metro staff’s recommendation in favor, the Metro Board rejected the mediated settlement, instead preferring to perpetuate litigation, including the associated costs for both sides. Notwithstanding the erroneous tagline used on a competitor blog, the “my way or the highway” mindset clearly does not apply either to the City or the School District, as the recent results of mediation prove.

    The press release from the City of Beverly Hills can be seen at the following link:

    http://www.beverlyhills.org/cbhfiles/storage/files/11611716649117457/MetroMediationRejected.pdf

    From the very beginning, my difficulties with the specific issue of the Purple Line routing has been one of process, lack of respect for local control, non-transparent decision-making and the unwillingness of a massive governmental agency to listen to the concerns of the very citizens it is supposed to serve. In an area as big as LA County, there will, of course, be multiple views, interests and needs; and listening – and often compromise – is the best way to try to balance interests. I have always felt that a mediated settlement would be the best way to resolve the situation, and continue to hope that, ultimately, the Metro Board will agree that mediation is preferable to litigation.

    In fairness, Mr. Newton should issue a plea to those who rejected a mediated settlement, which would have resolved the entire conflict, would save legal costs for both sides, and which would allow the entire community to come
    together in support of the overall project, including working together to get
    further federal funding.

    PS to Dr. Suess: Beverly Hills is not a “neighborhood,” but rather it is an independent city in Los Angeles County, and has been an independent city for more than one hundred years. Furthermore, the notion that the residents of
    BH oppose a subway in order to make access for “those people” (whatever that may refer to) is a canard. Most BH residents support a subway, including the location of the two stations which actually are going to be located in our City. What many have found objectionable, however, is the heavy-handed manner in which the Locally Preferred Alternative was changed, seemingly overnight, in an opaque bait-and-switch maneuver and the way in which the School District’s legitimate concerns have been blown off. As mentioned, the School District (along with everyone else except for the Metro Board) agreed to a mediated settlement, and such a resolution, clearly, would be the very best solution.

  • User_1

    I had to stop and fix a flat (bike) yesterday in BH. I found a nice little grass island that was city property to stop at and do my repair. The grass nearly swallowed my shoes cause it was so wet! Mind you, this was later in the afternoon. I’m over here thinking, “Man I’m moving to BH. There’s no water shortage here!”

    Not really, I’d never move to BH :-))

  • AC5000

    HI Everyone, Its not just the subway!!! The BHUSD does insane stuff , http://www.scribd.com/doc/231441051/Steven-Fenton-Guest-Column

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Zev Reader Questionnaire Part 1: Metro and Transit

|
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s answers to our reader questionnaire were so detailed that we decided to break the questions in to two parts.  There is just so much to chew on in this section, such as Zev’s views on the Westside Subway Station Debate, the importance of a subway and the future of the I-405 Transit Corridor. […]

Bev. Hills Courier’s Big Scoop: Metro Does Mailings

|
Century City Mailer for Web The Beverly Hills newspaper of record, the esteemed Beverly Hills Courier, has been doing its best to rile the residents of the 90210 against the Westside Subway route that would take the Subway under Beverly Hills High School The paper all but declared the Mayor a traitor to the city […]