City Council candidate Jon Mann staged a silent protest during the Daily Press’ Squirm Night on Monday. (Photo by Brandon Wise)

As the Nov. 6 election gets closer, the stakes and controversies couldn’t be greater. Frankly, I’m still stunned by Willard Romney’s hidden video released last month by www.MotherJones.com. In front of a roomful of eager $50,000 donors, the Mittster despairingly referred to the “47 percent of the country who pay no income taxes, believe they’re victims and entitled.” He continued narcissistically, “I’ll never convince them to take personal responsibility for their lives.”

Speaking of responsibility, how about Willard releasing five years of his tax returns, especially since his father released 12 years’ worth when he ran for president. To see the hidden video, go to www.youtube.com and search “Romney in secretly taped video.” Or, for a laugh, visit www.youtube.com and search for “Mutt Romney Blues” performed by Ry Cooder, a much-esteemed Santa Monica resident.

By “controversies” I was actually referring to our City Council race in which 15 candidates are vying for four seats, two of which are “open.” (Mayor Bloom is running for the state Assembly and Bobby Shriver chose not to seek a third term, though some suggest he will soon run for county supervisor.)

Where’s the controversy? This past Monday this newspaper held its candidates forum known as Squirm Night, which featured candidates for the Assembly, Board of Education and City Council. With Ted Winterer ill that night, eight council candidates spoke before a packed crowd in the Martin Luther King Auditorium at the Main Library. Five days earlier the other six council candidates were informed they would not be included. Uh, oh.

The criteria were that a candidate had 5 percent of the vote from a previous election, or $1,000 in campaign funds or a prominent endorsement. They also had to return a questionnaire from the Daily Press. The “uninvited” were not exactly thrilled and immediately branded themselves the Santa Monica 6. (As opposed to the Chicago 7, although ironically in 1968 they had a Jerry Rubin and now we have a Jerry Rubin. In fact, when Chicago 7 Rubin was killed while jaywalking on Wilshire Boulevard in 1994 our Jerry Rubin was besieged with condolence calls.)

Among the most vociferous of the Santa Monica 6 was Jon Mann, who’s running for City Council for a record 12th time. Letters of protest were issued but the Daily Press held firm and Squirm Night came off without a hitch. Almost.

In the audience on Monday night were a few of the “uninvited”  including Jerry Rubin, Bob Seldon, and Terence Later, who fittingly enough, came later. Armen Melkonians, who was stuck in a Santa Monica traffic jam (I can remember when we didn’t have such things) arrived last, but generously brought green T-shirts to give away in support of the protest. But in terms of outrage, the Santa Monica 6 had dwindled down to more like a combined 1 1/2.

The “one” was Jon Mann’s, whose attire was a tad unusual. Wearing a tie and sports jacket, Mann looked quite dapper except for large black strips of duct tape across his mouth. (From a distance it looked like a huge Groucho Marx mustache.)

Holding a neatly-lettered protest sign, which only the folks in the first two rows could read without getting a migraine from squinting, Mann stood in front of the stage. After nearly an hour, and without incident, he took a seat in the front row and the event continued uninterrupted. All agreed that Jon’s civil disobedience had indeed been civil.

I first met Jon over 20 years ago when I was trying to moderate a candidate forum at The Shores where I live. I say “trying” because during one of Jon’s rather “complex” answers, I realized that I had suddenly lost total control of the forum.

Jon was talking about “virtual town hall meetings,” this long before I even had a computer. As with many of Jon’s unconventional ideas, it has taken me years to comprehend them, although the lag time seems shorter these days.

One of Jon’s more radical proposals is to turn Santa Monica Airport hangars into giant medical marijuana farms. Assuming he’s not kidding, then the poor souls in Sunset Park who have been scandalously exposed to jet noise and toxic pollution for years might one day be inundated with pot smoke. One plus, a nearby green space could then be named “Stoner Park” and have real meaning.

Though I write tongue in cheek, I genuinely admire the candidates for the tremendous time and hard work involved in running for council. Tonight, at 7:30 p.m. the caravan continues as The Shores hosts its biennial forum. But get there early as seating is limited.

And, oh yes, I figured out why Romney won’t reveal his taxes. In some years, what with his Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island income, he probably paid no income tax at all. If so, then technically he’d be among the very 47 percent he so bitterly complains that feel like entitled victims and don’t take responsibility for their lives. Honestly, I wish Willard would borrow Jon Mann’s duct tape.

 

 

The Shores, a 17-story apartment complex in Ocean Park, is located at 2700 Neilson Way. The forum takes place in the lobby Conference Room from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s open to the public and there’s free parking. Jack can be reached at jnsmdp@aol.com.