From today’s LA Times:
Neighboring Residents Say Let the Marines Storm Marineland
Rancho Palos Verdes’ city manager, worried about the noise, said no to military drills at the old park. Then he got an earful from citizens.
By Steve Hymon, Times Staff Writer
As the nation inches closer to a war with Iraq, the city manager of Rancho Palos Verdes learned a valuable lesson Thursday morning: Don’t say ‘No’ to the U.S. Marine Corps.
Last week, City Manager Les Evans turned down a request by the Marines to conduct night exercises in June at the site of the old Marineland theme park. In the past, helicopters and explosions that are part of the exercises had awakened residents in the affluent community and prompted angry phone calls to police.
So, when the Marine Corps asked for permission to conduct the exercises this year, Evans said no. “That was my opening negotiation,” he said. “Obviously, I didn’t expect it to turn out this way.”
Word of his decision spread through town, and by the time Evans arrived at work a little past 7 a.m. Thursday, the local citizenry was quick to express its concern about the perceived lack of patriotism.
“Right now, public opinion is running 6 to 1 against me that I should cut my throat,” Evans said.
Evans is a veteran of the Navy Seabees who served in Vietnam. It didn’t matter. In his first minutes at work, he received six phone calls from angry residents and two more calls from members of the City Council.
“I was upset,” said Councilman John McTaggart. “I know there are people who are annoyed by the noise and don’t like it, but if it is a matter of improving skills for our servicemen, I certainly support” the exercises.
McTaggart said many of the complaints about the Marines were from residents whose pets were bothered by the noise.
Evans said his point was to create a better public awareness campaign to inform jittery residents that the exercises were the U.S. Marines and not a terrorist attack.
“I imagine by now he’s probably heard from a few other council members who have yelled at him,” said Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor Douglas Stern. “But I think the way he was handling it was appropriate. We need to let the public know what’s going on. They’re on pins and needles with the terrorist alerts going up and down.”
I think the Marines will be getting the cooperation they need…