From the Publisher: Around Town

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Arnold G. York

Last week, there was a memorial service at Duke’s for one of Malibu’s pioneer realtors: Louis Busch. I’ve had both the honor and the pleasure to know Louis for over 28 years, and in all that time, I never heard him utter a cross word about anyone. He was what we used to call a “Gentlemen of the Old School” — immaculate, dignified, kind and generous. He will be sorely missed. We send our condolences to his wife Doris and the family.

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The weather this week has been almost freakish, more like New York or the Midwest in the sticky summertime. About the only thing we didn’t have was a mosquito invasion. There was a sudden rainstorm, which is marvelous for the plants, but seems to have loosened some of the hillsides. It’s been so dry the last few years that many of you newcomers have not seen the hillsides sliding onto PCH, which formerly was a regular feature of life in Malibu. Over the years, Caltrans, which has control of PCH because it is a state highway, has done a wonderful job of trimming back the hills and putting up retaining walls and K-rails to keep the highway open. But it is the nature of oceanside bluffs to erode over time, and the process of repair is continuous and ongoing. That’s what’s going on right now with the California Incline in Santa Monica, which has been an incline for over 100 years and is identifiable in all the old photographs.

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The Artifac Tree is closing this Friday and they are having a sort of 75 percent off, going out of business sale. So get over there and buy some stuff, or give some money because they are going to need that money to help move and find a new location. They have petitioned City Council for help, but other than mouthing a few pieties, I’m not sure the city has done much. The Artifac Tree is more then a thrift store; it acts as a private social work agency and shelter workshop. It’s time for all of us, with the city in a leadership roll, to step up and take some action to help. 

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City Council approved the Whole Foods EIR this week at a crowded meeting, so it looks like the issue of the Whole Foods and the Park development may be headed, per Measure R, for the November 2015 ballot, unless there are some unknowns along the way. The Coastal Commission, ever the opportunistic agency, has sent a letter to the developers, sort of a “we have our reservations” letter about the project. Translated into contemporary English, that usually means get out your checkbook, we are about to shake you down for some money, or, where I came from in Brooklyn, the boys would say, “No deal without a little vigorish.” 

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Our divorce from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District seems to be moving along thanks to the work of AMPS, whose members have spent endless hours trying to put together a deal. A joint citizens fiscal committee did a detailed fiscal analysis and recently published a report that concluded that the separation of Santa Monica and Malibu into two separate school districts would work. In fact, because of some peculiarities in the law, would give both districts more dollars. But there are still many hurdles to overcome — things like splitting liabilities and parcel taxes, and who gets the china and children visitation rights are almost like any domestic divorce. I must say that the process has been remarkably civilized and rational by everyone involved, and I wish all citizen groups and government agencies could act this way.

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Today, no column would be complete without a mention of the one and only, incomparable Donald Trump — that ever-louder voice of hair and blather. Much as he is a totally egotistic blowhard, there is also something terribly attractive about The Donald and his total certainty that he’s right and everyone else is wrong. With his latest comments about McCain, they are once again predicting his imminent demise, but I’m not so sure they’re correct. There is something in all of us that admires someone who really doesn’t give a damn about what the rest of us think of him, and much to the Republican discomfort, and my rather unseemly partisan glee, I suspect we haven’t seen the last of The Donald, not by a long shot.