The hard-working volunteers of the Santa Monica/Malibu Meals on Wheels program got some help from a couple of big wheels--OK, medium-sized wheels--when Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts and City Councilman Ken Genser joined in to help deliver food to the homebound.
Butts was a particular hit with several of the elderly women on his route. In two of the dozen stops, the frail ladies noted approvingly that they had seen the chief on television, and a third urged him to "save Santa Monica." He said he would.
The program provides two meals a day, five days a week, to residents who cannot go out and buy meals or prepare food on their own.
"Often this is their only contact with the outside world," said longtime volunteer Bill Sellers. "Many are so lonely, often this is the only time they see anyone all day."
Butts said he was glad to help out: "It takes a lot to make a city into a community, and caring for our children, elderly, shut-ins and disabled is a key component of community-building."
The Santa Monica/Malibu Meals on Wheels program needs volunteer drivers and serving assistants. For information, call (310) 394-7558.
L.A. VS. ALBUQUERQUE: With New Mexico's congressional delegation stepping up its attacks, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Rolling Hills) and other California lawmakers have fired off a salvo of their own in defense of the Los Angeles Air Force Base.
At issue, in addition to 6,850 jobs at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque is smog, of all things. Theirs, not ours.
According to the Pentagon, which proposes to leave the Los Angeles base virtually untouched, Albuquerque has had problems in conforming to air pollution standards.
The response of U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.): "Outrageous," given L.A.'s reputation as a smog-leader.
A spokesman for Harman, however, said that other factors--mainly economic--were more important in the Pentagon's decision.
Located in breezy El Segundo, the Los Angeles base is home to the Air Force's Space and Missiles Systems Center. It is also close to several major universities and what's left of the Southern California aerospace industry.
But Bingaman and other New Mexico representatives question those economic factors, arguing that Kirtland has "more military utility." Among other things, it has an airstrip; despite its proximity to LAX, the base at El Segundo does not.
They point to an Air Force analysis from the early 1990s showing that Los Angeles should be closed and its work moved to Kirtland, home of the Air Force's Phillips Laboratory. Phillips, a center of space and missile research in its own right, would remain at Kirtland under the latest proposal.
"New Mexico is not trying to hijack Los Angeles Air Force Base," said Rep. Steve Schiff, (R-N.M.). "The Air Force offered to give it away a few years ago."
Harman, whose district includes parts of Venice and Marina del Rey, was among 17 California lawmakers, including Gov. Pete Wilson, who fired off a counter-letter last week to Alan Dixon, chairman of the base closure commission.
Gut Kirtland, they urged, saying the Air Force would save more money faster that way.
Hearings on the issue are set for San Francisco in April, with a final decision expected by July.