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Middle America and the Westside Subway

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Leave it to Joel Epstein to connect his experience of running down an innocent deer in rural Nebraska with the proposed Constellation station of the Westside Subway extension. Seems Epstein could be running the bulls in Pamplona, climbing Kilimanjaro or surfing the waves of Bondi Beach, and he'd figure out some way to try to relate it to the Constellation station that he so covets.

Whereas in previous articles, Epstein made at least a half-hearted attempt to cite facts and give concrete reasons for his support of the Constellation alignment, he's now left with slinging non-sequitur attacks at a Beverly Hills Community which is uncharacteristically united in its opposition to tunneling under the City's one and only high school, hardly surprising especially considering that a perfectly viable and less expensive alternative exists one block away on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Epstein's latest shtick is to hold up mom, apple pie and middle-American values as a symbol for the Constellation station. Beverly Hills, of course, in Epstein's world represents the opposite of all of this. And Epstein doesn't shy away from piling the adjectives on the Beverly Hills supporters of the Santa Monica alignment: "grumpy," "pesky," "visionless," "mean spirited," "grumpy" again. No facts; just adjectives. He contrasts these adjectives with his middle-America inspired "big," "beautiful," "optimistic" and "great," presumably meant for the salt-of-the-earth, middle-American supporters of the Constellation alignment.

Spicing things up with a few choice verbs for the Beverly Hills supporters of the less expensive and less intrusive Santa Monica alignment -- "whine" and "shout" being just two of them -- Epstein tries to hammer home the nail in the coffin with a couple of sharp turns of phrase meant to describe the Beverly Hillsians. Epstein derides their "contempt for progress" and decries their "disdain for the people of Los Angeles."

For all of these grammatical parts, it is his literary allusions which evidently are meant to provide the withering coup-de-grace to these presumed enemies of the people. He calls the Beverly Hills supporters of the Santa Monica alignment "Pinocchios" and "Babbitts," in the same sentence, no less. Collodi and Sinclair Lewis -- together again.

What in the world do middle America or middle-American values have to do with a subway alignment which would unnecessarily tunnel under a community's only high school? Does middle America really prioritize pork-barrel politics and developer profits above the well-being of schoolchildren? Perhaps Epstein should read Patrick Range McDonald's LA Weekly article on the subway alignment if he is unclear about the major developer interests behind the Constellation alignment, which seems to have already been pre-ordained by the political grandees of the region.

Beverly Hills High School is set on some 25 acres of land. According to current CDE standards, if the high school were built today, the campus would need to be approximately double its current size. The Constellation alignment and tunnels under the high school would mean that the future ability of the Beverly Hills school district to renovate, refurbish, rehab or rebuild major portions of its campus would be significantly compromised. In fact, it would mean that whatever is built above the cones of the subway tunnels would be severely restricted and subject to Metro's approval in perpetuity. That's quite simply an unnecessary limitation on a school district's ability to meet the needs of future generations of children.

Does resisting such restrictions really make Beverly Hills residents who want to protect their schoolchildren and the integrity of their only high school "anti-American"?

Isn't that can-do gumption and stick-to-itivity of good American folks which Epstein seems to have a newfound respect for built on the foundation of public education? Aren't our kids our future and doesn't America -- especially the middle America which Epstein evidently now feels he knows so well just because he killed a deer with his car in Nebraska -- value the welfare of coming generations of American kids?

My guess is that in Crawford, Nebraska or Peoria, Illinois or Dyersville, Iowa -- not to mention points east, west, north and south within this great nation of ours -- the hard-working, honest residents will look to their kids as the foundation of this country's future greatness. And they will all agree that giving these American children the best education possible is the greatest service we can do for this bold and beautiful nation of ours.

As American civil rights leader Susan B. Anthony once said: "If all the rich and all of the church people should send their children to the public schools they would feel bound to concentrate their money on improving these schools until they met the highest ideals."

C'mon, Joel. Don't show such contempt for public education and disdain for America's future generations of schoolchildren. Join the Beverly Hills residents who support both a subway and the ability of communities to best serve their schoolchildren, both now and in the future. And guess what? The Santa Monica alignment would do just that. There's progress for ya.

Alas, I fear that Epstein is unprepared to get on the train of logic, common sense and savings of at least $60 million in taxpayer dollars. Who knows if that has anything to do with his consulting work for Move LA or his seeming aspirations to be a mouthpiece for Metro? Yet if he considers Beverly Hills Santa Monica subway supporters to be Pinocchios and Babbitts, Epstein's fanaticism and disregard for facts bring another literary figure to mind. Joel Epstein is truly beginning to seem like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and the Constellation station is his "precious." Forget middle America, Epstein's attacks on Beverly Hills seem to be straight out of Middle Earth.

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