Continuing the 2010 Sammies — my figurative awards for all things good, bad and ugly in Santa Monica politics and governance.
The “Feeding at the Public Trough” Sammy goes to Harry Keiley and the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association. The generous school district is still paying two thirds ($55,000) of union president Keiley’s annual salary and, I assume, retirement and benefits, too. And, the school board gets the “Give It All Away” Sammy for not renegotiating Keiley’s union contract and booting him off the district payroll.
The “Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth” Sammy goes to the Pier Restoration Corporation and City Council for declining a proposal by CBS Radio Stations to produce nine “top-talent” concerts for the 2010 Twilight Dance Series on the Santa Monica Pier for gratis. City officials and the PRC decided they’d rather spend around $206,000, raise the cost of carousel rides to help pay for the series and stay with long-time promoter King and Company than save the money by letting CBS do it for free.
The “Smart Businessman” Sammy goes to Mayor Richard Bloom who said, "The radio stations will be presenting more commercially oriented acts that will, for obvious reasons, be more important to their bottom line, whereas the series in the past has been designed to be strictly a community benefit.” So, City Hall passed on better, free, “commercial” concerts to pay for expensive, schlocky, “eclectic” entertainment? Sheesh!!!
Last summer, City Manager Rod “Half-cent” Gould recommended floating ballot Measure Y to raise the city’s 9.75 percent sales tax an additional one-half percent. He claimed the tax increase was necessary to generate revenue to avoid cutbacks in police, fire and 911 emergency services — and there’d be enough to share with “education,” too
Therefore, the "Pinocchio” Sammy goes to Gould who’s now telling residents that the city’s portion or half of Y’s projected revenue ($6 million) will go into reserves to pay for future employee retirement and benefit needs. In the meantime, our newly-hired Public Works director will make almost $63,000 more than his previous salary of $136,000 in Pasadena (excluding benefits). It now appears that the threat to cut police, fire or 911 services was nothing more than a convenient untruth.
The lawsuit filed by the Southern California ACLU against the City Hall and the Santa Monica Police Department over mistreatment of the homeless was dismissed by a Federal judge in June. The settlement required no monetary payment of any kind, no change in any city law, policy or practice and no admission of any fault whatsoever.
Nevertheless, the ACLU still claimed victory even though they got their head handed to them on a platter. Therefore the “Full of Crap” Sammy goes to ACLU Legal Director Mark D. Rosenbaum and its pro-bono legal firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP who parroted hearsay and mistruths from alleged “victims” and disgruntled homeless services case workers — and failed to do even basic research or substantiative investigation in their complaint.
The “Votes for Sale” Sammy goes to Mayor Bloom. Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis, and councilmembers Terry O’Day and Pam O’Connor who each accepted thousands of dollars in campaign donations from out of town developers who have major projects pending their (City Council) approval.
The “What Public Process?” Sammy goes to the City Council, Planning Commission and City Hall planning staff who, after six years of community meetings and input, added a long list of last minute developer and developer’s attorney suggestions for the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), The net result: much more commercial development will happen than most residents wanted.
The “We Rule Here” Sammy goes to the Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights Steering Committee. Last August SMRR members endorsed candidates for local elections at the groups annual convention. Within days, SMRR’s 13 member Steering Committee met behind closed doors and decided to add three, dedicated, party loyalists to the SMRR slate — candidates that failed to receive rank and file endorsement.
The “Audacious B******t” Sammy goes to Fred Huebscher, owner of The Political Scientists, a political consultancy that specializes in political direct mail programs. Huebscher, assisted by local hotel/developer lobbyist Kim Karie, concocted Santa Monicans for Quality Government which was nothing more than a front for a series of misleading political mailers. Did I mention Huebscher has worked on campaigns for Bloom, O’Connor and Davis, too?
The “Exploit Students” Sammy goes to SMRR Co-Chair Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein who had his Santa Monica College political science students distribute SMRR campaign literature for classroom credit last semester. Critics claim this was a conflict of interest and breach of professional ethics. Tahvildaran-Jesswein admitted that only SMRR literature was available for distribution.
So it went in 2010. This year won’t include an election. Let’s hope we get a little basic honesty from our political leaders this new year. Fat chance.
Bill can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org