WHOSE CITY IS IT?
WHY CAN’T YOU BE NICE, CHARLES ANDREWS?
You’re such a Negative Ned. You never write about all the good things our City does for us. All you do is complain.
To listen to you, you’d think every City Council member is corrupt, every City staffer is overpaid and self-serving, that SMRR and the UNITE HERE union have forgotten or willfully abandoned their lofty ideals, that the executive boards of the police, fire and teachers unions do not make their very influential political endorsements based on what’s good for the city overall, that nobody listens to or acts on behalf of the people who live here (just the hordes they hope to bring here), but outside interests, outside campaign money calls the shots, and developers and speculators own this town.
OK — you’re wrong. None of that is true, for me. Well, none is completely true. But I can see why you might get that impression.
Good things are peachy but not necessarily news. When dog bites man, thousands of planes land safely, when the weather here is gorgeous, you usually don’t report on it.
Believe me, I would LOVE to be nosing around town to discover and tell tales about all the great policies our City Council puts forth, all the good things the staff does. Because they are legion! And wonderful! Really they are.
But no matter how long that list may be, it’s overshadowed by the most important thing: the big bads they are perpetrating far outweigh the gazillions of small goods. In fact, they will make all those good things moot, even undo them. Reverse that and I will gladly become Santa Monica’s Huell Howser. But until then, I feel it my duty to comment on the big issues.
I believe most of the actors on our prominent, pricey little political stage here are good people with good intent. They do an impossible job with no assistants and almost no pay. God bless ‘em. How to explain, then? The phrase often used is, they drank the Kool-aid. I elucidated in a previous column that it refers to “someone holding an unquestioned belief, argument or philosophy that was a change from their former beliefs, that occurred after joining a group and being influenced by peer pressure.” That happens all the time here but I don’t think that explains it all.
I think many ascend to office with only public service in mind, but once they get the lay of the land they become seduced by their own power, to shape things the way they perceive them, and then representing their constituents’ wishes becomes secondary, even an annoyance. Rabble-rousers. NIMBYs. What do they know? Most Council members, I think, come to believe they were elected because of their “vision,” and they stop listening to those who elected them.
SIX FIGURES, I HEAR YA
Oh, they listen to some. They listen to those who ponied up the six figures it takes to be elected to City Council. But they become deaf to anyone else who doesn’t line up with their beliefs. They come to understand that with incumbency, no term limits, oodles of campaign money and the backing of SMRR and the unions, etc., they are untouchable. There is always an insistence that all is done for the good of the residents, but they have a paternalistic attitude that they know better than we do what’s good for us. Skyscrapers on Ocean Avenue, a massively sprawling Miramar expansion, a 12-story hotel in the middle of Downtown instead of an open space town square, on the taxpayers’ land, is good for whom, again?
Housing with good intentions but questionable methods. They roll along trying to pack more in everywhere possible, next to freeways, on top of freeways, and developers are delighted, but we the residents are left gasping with more traffic and less water and so many more resultant problems that many are now fleeing this city they once loved and were devoted to.
Here’s a recent example I encountered of City government working well, responsive to constituents. A neighbor reported to me that when he went to play basketball at Joslyn Park last Tuesday he couldn’t, because the court had been taken over by a group of young soccer players. Love our young soccer players. But that’s wrong for several reasons. It’s clearly a sports area intended for basketball. Young ones running around there are likely to fall and face plant into asphalt. And there is a grassy open area right next to the courts.
I contacted our resident volunteers on the Recreation & Parks Commission, Chair John Cyrus Smith, and Commissioner Maryanne LaGuardia, and the problem was solved within two hours. LaGuardia got hold of three City staffers, and Community Services Program Supervisor Eric Johnson responded, “The group is not permitted to be out there. I will go out there this Tuesday and speak to the group.” Boom. Done.
When I addressed availability problems on those same courts when I first started writing this column six years ago, Community & Cultural Services Director Karen Ginsberg sent me on fools’ errands for three months, until I finally figured things out, with a big assist from then-Rec & Parks Chair Phil Brock. I’ve learned a lot since then. It can be easy, responsive to residents, or it can be a bureaucratic nightmare. I like easy.
Shameless self-promotion! Do you love music, fascinated by it? Who isn’t?
Every so often I am tapped to appear on the august panel of knowledgeable and opinionated, sometimes snotty music lovers on an internet radio show called Nights At The Sound Table (NATST). You can catch it live at 7 p.m., or go to the site a few days later and download it as a podcast.
All panelists are given a set of questions to answer (the same questions), and a relevant song plays underneath as they expound, enlighten and entertain with their trivial knowledge, or boneheaded opinion. You decide.
Here are some of the questions for tonight: What is the worst cover of a Beatles song? (So many candidates.) What song is the best album opener? Which band or artist gives you hope for the future of music?
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Are you registered to vote? Do it, become educated on the issues and educate your friends and neighbors. It’s an important election coming up in November.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” — Mark Twain
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com