Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Local Briefs: Santa Monica Budget Tops $750,000,000; Beverly Hills Middle School Expels Students Who Portrayed Classmates as Nude Through AI

Daylight Savings Time Begins Sunday Night; Oil Slick Investigated in Huntington Beach

SM Budget Tops $750,000,000

Santa Monica lawmakers grappled with a three quarters of a billion dollar annual budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

"On June 27, 2023, the City Council unanimously adopted a balanced biennial budget for FY 2023–25 focused on community priorities of a safe and clean Santa Monica, addressing homelessness, and an equitable and inclusive economic recovery," says the City's website.

"Adoption of the Biennial Budget comes as Santa Monica emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and cultivates a revitalized local economy that reflects and serves our diverse community. The adopted budget is $745 million in FY 2023-24 and $750.6 million in FY 2024-25"

Both the pandemic and recent legal cases, in particular the Eric Uller child molestation settlement, have significantly impacted the City's budget, City Manager David White said. "At the end of last fiscal year, we estimated the General Fund has lost over $170 million in revenues due to the pandemic. During this time, the city also paid over $229.8 million in settlements of sexual abuse claims."

White is set to earn $348,936 next year. An amount that excludes benefits. Santa Monica pays some of the highest salaries for personnel in the United States.

$750 million is high by comparison with other California cities of 100,000 residents. On the other hand, the City typically has more visitors than residents on any given day, given that there are at least 100,000 daily commuters to Santa Monica on any given day. The City must provide services for said residents, who do contribute to local sales taxes, hotel taxes, etc.

Set Your Clocks Back

Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday morning at 2 am Pacific Standard Time. So remember to set your clocks forward on Saturday night when you go to bed.

The idea is that by moving an hour of sunlight to the evening hours, people will use less electricity.

During the 1970s energy crisis, the U.S. started doing daylight saving time all year long. But many Americans protested.

With the sun not rising in the winter in some areas till around 9 a.m. or even later, people were waking up in the dark, going to work in the dark & sending their children to school in the dark.

Nude Middle School Students in Beverly Hills

The Beverly Hills Unified School District voted to confirm the expulsion of 5 middle school students who were accused last month of using artificial intelligence to create and share fake nude images of their classmates.

The middle school students were at Beverly Vista Middle School.

"A shocking form of bullying at a Beverly Hills middle school: doctored photos that put the faces of real students on AI-generated nude bodies circulated online," wrote the L.A. Times, which broke the story.

Taylor Swift was the victim of a similar AI scheme. Supposedly nude, AI generated images of her were released on social media by unknown persons. Swift hired lawyers to threaten lawsuits if the offensive images were not removed.

Oil Slick Investigated

3/8/24: State and Federal officials are investigating an oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach Friday morning. 

"@USCG is responding to a sheen approximately 2.5 miles long 1.5 miles off Huntington Beach" tweeted the US Coast Guard. "Working with local authorities. Aerial surveys are planned to assess the size and potential impacts."

Investigators from the California Governor's Office Emergency Services filed a hazardous materials spill report, detailing an overflow of petroleum coming from an offshore platform belonging to Beta Offshore. The company operates three oil platforms in federal waters off the coast of Long Beach, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.


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