Maybe now the local business community will get more respect, you think?
The Los Angeles Unified School District pretty much dissed the business community in the runup to the June 4 election. The district pushed a tax-raising question onto the ballot, ignoring the offer by businesses to work with the school district to come up with a tax proposal all could get behind so long as the district postponed the election.
Largely as a result, influential business groups came out against the measure, including the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles County Business Federation and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles.
The question, as you probably know, needed two-thirds approval to pass. It only got 45 percent.
Supporters of the measure – the school board, the school unions, elected city officials, among others – apparently assumed that voters would approve the proposed 16 cents-a-foot parcel tax for indoor space because it would fall heaviest on businesses and wealthier people, or at least those with big homes. And after all, the money would be used for the kids.
But business groups, who were a bit riled about being left out of the process, made some compelling counter arguments and made them publicly. There was no guarantee that the new money would be used for the kids, especially since the district needs ever-larger volumes of cash to pay for big pensions, they pointed out. And the district doesn’t exactly have a sterling record of sound stewardship, financial or otherwise.
Said BOMA’s official statement: “District bureaucrats and defenders of the failed status quo want taxpayers to bail out a school district with a history of red ink, appalling education results, declining enrollment, runaway administrative hiring and exploding retirement and health care costs.”
Just think. Harsh statements like that may not have been made if the district had worked with businesses. In fact, businesses may have supported a different tax measure had they not been snubbed. Instead, well, here we are.
So, do you think the business community will get more respect next time? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, if I had one. Dissing the business community is too ingrained.
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Just my opinion: One of the greatest additions to our community in the last year has been the opening of what folks around here pronounce as “sa-mah-toe.” Actually, that’s CMATO, as in the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks.
It’s a true little gem – only 5,500 square feet – in a former Baby Gap store on the second floor of the Oaks shopping mall. The museum is headed by Tish Greenwood, who last worked at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Perhaps because of her standing in the arts community, she’s been able to curate some impressive and unexpected exhibitions. The inaugural show, featuring well-known artist Kevin Sloan, whose work can be perplexing, ran from November to February. The current one displays the work of Kelly Graval, the L.A. street artist known as Risk. Yes, she’s delivering some edginess to the ’burbs.
It’s also been embraced by businesspeople. Meetings and mixers are held there, often with some of the top Conejo Valley folks in attendance. The past chair of the museum board is local real estate entrepreneur Tony Principe; the new chair is Len Linton, a Thousand Oaks executive, and directors include well-known local businessman Larry Janss.
The fact that it’s in a regional shopping mall is interesting. The mall owner, Macerich Co., likes the fact the museum draws people who maybe weren’t looking to shop but ended up doing so. And the museum likes the fact that shoppers unexpectedly may wander in out of curiosity and have an authentic museum experience for a few minutes. (The museum is free, but donations are encouraged.)
And the museum’s sponsors probably appreciate the fact that their name gets more exposure, since about a million people a year go to that mall.
For those reasons, we’ll probably see more museums in malls. Especially since increasing numbers of malls could benefit by leasing space to non-traditional tenants as more retailing is done online. Locally, the Skateboarding Hall of Fame museum moved into Simi Valley Town Center, for example. According to Wikipedia, a number of such museums are opening in retail space across the globe.
The thing that sets CMATO apart is that it displays fine art and interesting pieces from name artists. I love the fact you can see everything in about 15 minutes; you don’t have to commit to a day-slaying trip to an immense edifice just to see some art. Again, it’s just my opinion, but CMATO is among the greatest recent additions to the entire Valley area.