LET’S HAVE SOME FUN, FIRST

…before I start my litany of what’s going wrong in our fragile, under-assault but still-idyllic FOR NOW little kingdom by the sea.

Kingdom by the sea? Oh, aren’t we elitist? Isn’t Santa Monica special?

No, we’re not, but yes, it is. But I won’t go into that now. I promised some fun.

I think this is fun.

I’ve seen before where some group would try to bring New Yawk pizza to LA by plane and deliver it hot and of course, have to charge like $200 a pie. I thought that was amusing, and kind of cool.

But now, JetBlue airlines are doing it as a promotion, promises to deliver it hot to your door, and all for the same price as a local pizza with no tax, no delivery charge, and they tip the driver.

You have to be in the right zip code, close enough to their LA final prep site, which you can find out at their cheesy website, https://www.jetblue.pizza. Mine was approved and probably most if not all of Santa Monica would be. Too bad, San Marino, Hancock Park.

$12 for a 16” cheese, $15 for a pepperoni. “A truly authentic taste of New York City” from Patsy’s Pizzeria of East Harlem (est. 1933), “brick oven pizza from the legendary Pasquale Lancieri… widely credited with popularizing traditional New York-style thin crust pizza and the first to sell pizza by the slice.”

One to a customer per day, 350 per day flown in, three days only — you missed the first one! But try for TONIGHT and Thursday at midnight. If my first one was good enough I‘ll be on the ‘net again tonight and Thursday, 12:00:01. Don’t take the last one, please.

IS THE ARROGANCE GETTING WORSE?

Is Santa Monica mimicking Washington? Sometimes I think so. Politicians feeling untouchable do what they want, in defiance of constituents’ wishes, and make no bones about it. Increasingly, many of us feel a lack of effect on our city’s policies and decisions. Time after time I am appalled at the way the process for citizen input and influence is obfuscated, stonewalled, ridiculed, waylaid and ultimately ignored. Those doing so sometimes make a show of listening. It gives them some sort of talking point, I suppose, but sometimes I think, how stupid do you think we are?

When we go to a City Council “retreat” supposedly designed to have residents, staff and Council members strategize together to find ways to deliver “faster services” in Santa Monica, first I ask, why faster? Faster approval of severely flawed developments like 2903 Lincoln? We need to slow down a lot of these projects to allow better examination and understanding of the intended and unintended consequences. Once a building is up, it ain’t coming down. Many residents feel projects are rammed through before they even get a clue until the concrete foundations are being poured. Faster can be good but don’t ignore the big picture for the details.

FASTER, WITHOUT MORE SIX-FIGURE HIRES

To say now it is a priority to pull back on that is like adding “a safe city” to the list of five priorities the City Council came up with three years ago. Which is what they did, that day. It should have been number one in 2015, an obvious given, not left off the list. It seems our City is always playing catch up, after enough resident outcry about a crisis. “Tell us what you want us to do” comes the serious-faced entreaty, as though they’re now, finally, really ready to listen to us.

No — you should have been listening to us all along instead of catering to special interests at the long-term expense of residents, and second, we’re paying you hundreds of millions of dollars to run this city, you say we demand the best in services and so you have to pay top dollar to get the best people, so you do it! You’re the high-paid experts. Don’t come to us after problems arise — get way ahead of the curve. That’s what “The Best” are paid to do.

You can’t have it both ways. Of course, the staff are human and are overworked and make mistakes, as we all do. Then offer reasonable salaries, not higher than any other comparable city in California. So we don’t wake up one morning with a budget we can’t afford and pensions that will bankrupt us. It can easily happen. How many dozens of lawyers do we have on staff, but when it comes time to fight to close the airport or to resist district voting, we spend millions to hire outside firms. Something doesn’t add up.

INTERRUPTED, CUT OFF, “OFF TOPIC”

Like the three weekends of meetings held for the Santa Monica Civic workshop, there was a moderator (a handler) for the retreat who did more directing than moderating. In both instances, it became clear there was an agenda the City favored that he would steer us toward. For the Civic, do you want a small, medium or large hotel to pay for this? How much retail shall we build? At the retreat, Maria Loya was giving an impassioned opinion and literally three seconds after the word “developers” came out of her mouth, our highly-paid moderator interrupted her, cut her off, told her she was off topic.

It’s clear to many that the City tries to manipulate us, but it’s so ham-handed sometimes it’s embarrassing. We’re not fooled. We’re not happy. And we do know what’s right for us and the future of our city. Stop treating us like children needing to be lied to for their own good. More honesty, more transparency, could start to rebuild badly broken trust. We could all work together to make this a truly great city, now and for the future.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Is it an impossible dream? I hope not.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK: “He knows nothing, and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” ― George Bernard Shaw (“Major Barbara”)

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — The Lorax (Dr. Seuss)

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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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