Letters to the Editor: published Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

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Clarifying issues regarding the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum

As the public face and spokesperson to the now more than 600 total persons who have signed petitions in support of Save Seal Beach History, I find it necessary to make the following clarifications on our goal and the imminent issues at hand regarding the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum. This is not an “Elizabeth Kane vs the Antos” issue, although they would have you believe that. I have stood up as the spokesperson on behalf of many others, allowing the Antos’ to use me as their scapegoat and punching bag. Nor, as the headline last week in the Sun News is the Seal Beach Red Car Museum’s condition “in dispute”. I think it is obvious to anyone with eyes that the condition of the Red Car is in dire straits. What is in dispute is the way the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car organization (non-profit, 501(c)3 is being mis-managed.

I am not going to dignify the Op-Ed response written by Marie Antos on 10-8, because the piece, which points the blame at everyone in this community including our Police Department, the City, the Sun Newspaper, small children, and of course me, is filled with so many misstatements and misinformation I could fill a page. Instead I want to quell the questions and boil the issue down to the basics so everyone is clear and can understand what we are trying to accomplish.

It is very simply this:

The current leadership must be removed at the SBHS/RCM. Charles and Marie Antos and Granddaughter Monique Atwood, are in violation of many of the basic by-laws of the non-profit. These are facts. This includes such simple things as annual member meetings, bi-yearly change of leadership (they have held reign for over 10 years now), as well as failure to manage the organization in a way that raises the kind of adequate funding needed to support the SBHS, failure to attract and retain members, and to allow accessibility to the public to our treasured archives. There are many other issues in regards to the day to day management but these are the keys. Despite what Mrs. Antos states in her Op-Ed piece, the original Founding Document and By-Laws are still in effect from 1971. This has been confirmed with the State of California Department of Charitable Trusts which oversees non-profits.

This endeavor to have them step down was not taken lightly. Many, many individuals from this community have tried repeatedly to reach out to the Antos’ over the past many years to ask for change of leadership but for reasons unknown to everyone but them, they continue to avoid and refuse the request (also a violation of by-laws) or explain the “why” of why they are doing this. Our public quest is now our only avenue left. They chose this through their repeated failure to comply. Even now, with so much public sentiment asking for change, they are dug in, suing me as a way to get us to stop.

That’s it. We need a change in leadership in the non-profit ASAP so that new leaders can begin the arduous task of raising the more than $100,000 that will be needed to do a correct and professional restoration. It is nice they got $5,000, but that is a drop in the bucket at this point. A coat of new paint slapped over the wood rot does not “restore” the Red Car. A pig with lipstick is still a pig.

I will say it again: I don’t know what it is going to take in the end to make a change, but I hope that this little bit of clarification will continue to spark the community to demand a change that has so far gone unheeded.

Elizabeth Kane

Seal Beach

 

Thanks for Red Car article

Thanks for your article about the Red Car. We moved here from a town that has a vintage trolley similar to the Red Car, and it was lovingly cared for by a volunteer group. It is a focal point for the town (it is not static, but has a mile of track to run on) and shows what can happen when managed well. Like you, I wrote to the current management team to ask:

What is their vision/mission for the Red Car?

What is their plan for restoration?

What are the hurdles they face to accomplish a restoration?

I don’t expect to hear back but I’m glad they responded to you.

I appreciate Elizabeth Kane leading the charge on trying to make change happen!

Best Regards,

Anthony Wilson

 

Supports change in Seal Beach Historical Society

Recent opinion pieces, as well as the front page article by Charles Kelly, brought much needed attention to the Red Car Museum. However, the RCM is just one aspect of the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum. Please do not allow this emphasis on the condition of the RCM to overshadow the main objective of a recently circulated petition (as well as Elizabeth Kane’s opinion piece and Libby Applegate’s Letter to the Editor), which clearly is to effect new leadership of the SBHS/RCM. Supported by more than 500 people, the grassroots movement Save Seal Beach History is evidence of widespread agreement that change is needed.

I believe that those who support this movement join me in acknowledging the contributions of Charles and Marie Antos. I appreciate their service, their part in procuring historical memorabilia/artifacts and the countless hours they devoted to SBHS/RCM. However, I support the call for a change because under their current leadership:

1) membership in SBHS has dwindled

2) there is an inability/refusal to raise sufficient funds to properly restore (keep it “original”) the RCM whereas, by Marie’s admission, Elizabeth Kane’s opinion piece alone generated a $5,000 donation

4) the majority of the Board of Directors is comprised of members of one family

5) objectivity and diversity are nonexistent because the members of the Board are also officers

6) membership applications have been arbitrarily rejected

7) the wishes of hundreds of concerned citizens for new leadership are being ignored

8) some residents will not join SBHS unless new leadership is in place

9) inability to engage volunteers has limited public access to the museum to 3-6 hours per month

This call for change is not about personalities or individuals. This call for change is not a dismissal of past contributions. This call for change is an expression of appreciation of the past leadership, an acknowledgement that the present leadership is inadequate and a belief that new leadership will bring a vibrant future. To all Board members/Officers: Please answer this call for change and graciously step aside .

Bea Kuebler

 

Problems with parking passes

We really do live in Mayberry by the sea. I know because Barney Fife is in charge of parking for our city. If you happen to be one of the lucky residents who have the privilege of paying for street parking, you need to read on.

OK, I kind of understand why I have to pay $100 per year for the right to park in front of my apartment. (2 residents and 2 guests). In a tourist-based city, if we didn’t have some control, I’d never find a parking spot. Living a block and half from the beach is well worth it.

Thanks to the city for extending the current passes until the end of the year. Oh wait, I have to pay the same amount and the new passes will still expire in October. I guess by December COVID will have completely disappeared? (Editor’s note: The city has extended the parking permits to expire on Jan. 31, 2021.)

So, with the new virtual guests passes I not only get to pay to park I have to run to my computer and input the license of any guest who visits my house. My daughter showed up, let me run downstairs and get her license. My son visits; back downstairs and get that license, log in and send that info to the city. A friend shows up later in the day, license, input to the city. Now the city has a record of every person who visits me. Are we thinking about charging a visitors tax?

Is Big Brother Watching You! A senior lives behind me that doesn’t have a T.V. or a computer and can barely dial a cell phone. I guess she will have to run to city hall and knock on the door every time a friend visits. Of course, very few people don’t have a computer these days but you should be getting the point by now. Upload documentation for proof of residence? Not all of us baby-boomers are that tech savvy. The plastic window passes are numbered if you really need to know who is visiting me. I buy a new pass; the city enters the number and activates the new pass. The city hands or mails the passes to me.

I pay enough to live here. The city can suck up the price of some plastic and save me some inconvenience. If you are one of the residents who virtually have to pay to park, tell your friends, call write, email the Barney Fife at City Hall and tell him virtual guest passes are the stupidest thing to come down the pier.

Gary Kowarsch

Old Town Seal Beach