Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Open Letter to Mayor Villaraigosa

To Mayor Villaraigosa and city officials in charge of moving Endeavour to the California Science Center:

The way you have handled public relations for Endeavour's move so far is an absolute disgrace. By keeping spectators away from the shuttle route you are turning an event that could be a highlight in the history of space shuttle retirement into a nightmarish police state scenario. Your emphasis on "security" is a thinly veiled way of saying that Angelenos cannot be trusted to celebrate THEIR shuttle without damaging it, themselves, each other or city property - especially considering that the route leads through some of LA's poorer neighborhoods. I really have to wonder if you have a clue just how bad this looks to us - and everybody who will be watching this weekend.

This is the last time any space shuttle will be on the *move* anywhere on Earth or in space. Do you really want to turn this historic occasion into one that Angelenos and the world will remember as one of anger, resentment and ham-fisted management?

It is an honor for Los Angeles to have been chosen as the permanent home of one NASA's orbiters, especially considering the role Southern California played in the shuttle's design and development. One would think you could grasp the historic significance of moving this magnificent machine through our city streets. Angelenos and visitors want to be PART OF HISTORY. Yet you are treating Endeavour's move as if it is a huge inconvenience, through a city populated by residents too incompetent or dangerous to watch a shuttle go by at TWO miles per hour.

What makes you think Angelenos are incapable of participating safely in a celebration and parade? We have hosted the Olympics as smoothly as any city can. We host an annual marathon through those same city streets. We survived closure of our busiest freeway for a whole weekend without missing a beat, twice. We can handle horrific daily traffic, along with earthquakes, riots, fires and floods. Angelenos are tough, resourceful and delightfully diverse. How dare you paint us as people who can't be entrusted with keeping ourselves and the space shuttle safe because we want to WATCH FROM THE SIDEWALKS?

If your concern is for the shuttle or transporter injuring onlookers: Please. The transporter will be crawling along. What are you afraid of? I'd really like to hear what kind of specific "security" concerns you have. I would also like to know how you intend to handle massive crowds at a venue you are billing as a public viewing site, even though it accommodates only 3,000 people (Crenshaw Plaza).

Are you concerned the shuttle might get damaged by the people along the route? Endeavour has accomplished 25 fiery launches and re-entries, traveled 120 million miles in space and helped build the International Space Station. Are you saying Endeavour is too fragile for a parade and celebration in the streets of Los Angeles?

I can tell you this: You will not keep Angelenos and visitors from seeing Endeavour along the route. The shuttle belongs to the people. We paid for it, just like we pay for the maintenance of public streets. It's ludicrous that you're telling us we can't see our shuttle on our streets. Alas, just as we've learned to cope with man-made and natural disasters, we've gotten used to a city government completely out of touch with city residents.

It's up to us, then: We will find a way to #SpotTheShuttle!

I will scout the route tomorrow, talk to business owners and residents along the way and compile a list of viewing locations. Look for the info on this blog tomorrow evening.

Here is a detailed map of the route and major stops along the way.

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