USPS mailbox no longer on corner

For at least 40 years, there was a [U.S. Postal Service] mailbox at the corner of 19th and Harkness streets in Manhattan Beach, less than two blocks from my home.

It disappeared a month or so ago, and I asked employees at the post office on Sepulveda Boulevard what had happened to it. One said it had been stolen. That seems unlikely since they are made of iron and bolted down.

Another said it had been vandalized and so it was taken away. Neither could tell me if or when it was going to be returned.

That means the closest mailbox is now at Manhattan Beach and Aviation boulevards, one-half mile away. It's not a huge issue, but it's still an annoyance to the people who live in the surrounding neighborhood between Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Marine Avenue. I could write to the USPS, but I can't imagine that would bring any result.

—Jay Berman, Manhattan Beach

Options for HB police services

I like cops. I respect anyone who runs toward gunfire and toward disaster. But years ago I made a mistake. The Hermosa Beach City Council was considering eliminating the police department. I thought that it was important for the town to have its own police. Over the next decade or so as I got to understand the HBPD and its workings better, I realized how wrong I was.

I tried to get a city council to at least explore hiring the LA County Sheriff to replace the HBPD. I got assurances from three council members that they would support it. Of course, they lied.

The HBPD is a “second chance” department. But even worse, it (at least at my last inspection) was a really bad “corporate culture.” When cops aren’t busy chasing criminals they get into trouble. They engage in “inter-organizational sodomy” and go after each other. They also do other things that aren’t good for the community.

LASD would probably cost less money, but more importantly they would staff little, low-crime Hermosa with senior cops who have a much more measured and rational approach to crime.

I’ve escaped to America. I have almost zero desire to ever return to Hermosa Beach, so you can blow my comment off with impunity. But I most highly recommend that you let the HBPD go and replace it.

—Gene H. Dreher, Mesquite, Nev.

City's position re: Hermosa Beach police negotiations

The City of Hermosa Beach has been working diligently to reach a resolution of its labor negotiations with the union representing the City’s police officers and sergeants, Hermosa Beach Police Officers Association (HBPOA). Recruitment and retention of officers is a priority for the City, and I have joined the HBPD’s recruiting efforts and added the chief, our Human Resources manager and a Human Resources Department analyst to the HBPD’s recruiting efforts. I recently initiated a sign-on bonus program that will provide up to $30,000 in bonuses for joining the HBPD to entry-level and pre-service recruits and up to $40,000 to “laterals,” which are qualified officers from other law enforcement agencies.

On Jan. 9, the City also provided the HBPOA with a market adjustment to its compensation proposal that reflects recent increases in other cities’ police compensation. The new proposal would increase compensation so that police officers’ and sergeants’ total compensation would be at the median of police compensation among 12 cities surveyed. The market adjustment includes a pay increase of 17% over 3 years – or 4% more than previously proposed by the City. The offer also raises vacation accrual rates, shift differential pay, Field Training Officer and Watch Commander pay. It adds officer retention bonuses of up to $7,500 and education incentives to pay for course fees, books and tuition at CSU rates.

The HBPOA has rejected this offer. Its last proposal was for a 26% increase over 3 years. We appreciate the public’s input and will keep you updated via the City’s website. There’s also more information available there: www.hermosabeach.gov

—Suja Lowenthal, Hermosa Beach city manager

Manhattan Beach school district budget

Dear Readers, I am writing to ask for your help. Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) is anticipating layoffs this year of 30 teachers and staff.  The layoffs are a result of a nearly four million dollar gap in funding. The gap is a primarily a result of the rise in pension and special education costs and a lack of sufficient per pupil state funding.

Unfortunately, Governor Newsom's budget increases in education don't apply to MBUSD. MBUSD continues to be one of the lowest funded districts in the state, and relies on community funding to make up the difference.

Thank you to MB residents who voted in favor of the Measure MB Parcel Tax two years ago. That additional funding as well as continued funding from the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF), MB PTA, MBX and City Council enabled the MBUSD Administration to avoid layoffs at that time. MBUSD teachers and staff now need your help again.

Please help in the following ways to keep MB public schools ranked top in the country:

1. Donate to MBEF at mbef.org as much as you can. At least $1750 per student is asked from every MBUSD family.

2. Ask your favorite local business to become an MBEF Community Partner

3. Attend the MB Wine Auction on 5/30. All proceeds go to MBEF.

4. Attend the City Council Budget Social on 1/28, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Joslyn Center or an upcoming City Council Meeting & provide public comment in support of additional education funding

—Heather de Roos, Manhattan Beach

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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