By CHARLES ANDREWS

IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE

Growing up as a news junkie, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I used to think corruption, serious political corruption, was what happened in other places in the world, but not here. Oh sure, we had crooked politicians, lots of them, willing to vote for something for the right payback, but that was normal politics.

They wouldn’t vote for something that would kill or impoverish their own people or threaten our future as a nation.

I’ll probably never be able to figure out if I was naive or uninformed, if the press of the time didn’t uncover it, or if things have changed. Probably all three, but definitely the last.

When I stepped outdoors Sunday for a stroll to the Farmers Market, breathing in another glorious day in paradise, I checked my email one last time only to discover the horrible news of the Texas church slaughter — and for the first time ever I thought, I gotta get out of here. Because I can’t believe, anymore, that it’s going to change.

America has gone insane.

Where can I run to? Spain, New Zealand, Greece, Portugal, Tangier (places I’ve been with beaches and pretty good weather) — almost anyplace but here. Not because any other place is perfect, or even as good as the USA on most counts.

Not because I personally worry about becoming the victim of gun violence (too late for that). But because America and its political system has become, unlike any other civilized nation on earth, willing to continue to sacrifice the blood and very lives of literally
hundreds of thousands of its citizens, for the obscene greed of gun manufacturers.

SWEET, INNOCENT LITTLE KIDS

In school, people praying in a church, someone who merely uttered angry words. You shall die, horribly, and we won’t lift a finger to stop it from happening again, and it will happen again, probably very soon, judging by our history, so just keep your thoughts and prayers ready folks, to trot out over and over and over.

Nothing new, unfortunately, but all of a sudden I realized I had a big problem being part of that. I think most decent people around the world felt shock, but sympathy, when the great nation of America found itself with a president as odious on every count as Donald J. Trump. Poor America. But they’ll fix it. And maybe he won’t be quite as bad as he seems.

No, we’re not fixing it, and yes he is. And the sympathy has turned to disgust and derision.

The tone always starts at the top, with the leaders, and the tone is uglier than ever, by far.

But what about us, here in Santa Monica? Gun regulations come from Washington (or, no gun regulations).

Not within our city control, but what about the horrible crime surge we’ve been experiencing lately? What can be done? It would seem our city leaders don’t know, so they’re having community meetings to ask us what they should do.

Too late for that. You’re supposed to be the experts. You are getting paid ridiculously high salaries and benefits to be those experts. Forget Beverly Hills.

We hire more staff at higher pay per capita than any city in the state.
Our City Manager justifies all those hires
at those exorbitant rates by saying it’s OUR doing because Santa Monicans are used to and demand the best in city services. I would dispute that, but there is no disputing that we are not getting the best, where we most need it.

We are getting community meetings

and city surveys that are biased and useless.

Meanwhile we are getting stabbed and shot
and hit by cars and trains, assaulted and burgled and raped.

That’s not what I intended to write about this week.

But it’s so much in our face, so pressing for immediate solutions, for thinking outside the box, necessary because our Council and staff have been circling the box with their eyes closed and their fingers in their ears, listening to the wrong people and not to their constituents, and now the box is on fire. We’re all wracking our brains for answers, for the big picture, but I think it’s pretty clear.

There are, of course, regional, state and national trends that contribute to all this. Can’t control that. But we can control our specific approach here in Santa Monica to solutions, and it seems to me there’s one factor that has been the rotten elephant in the room for a long time.

ONE OF MY VERY FIRST COLUMNS

Four years ago, put forth an extreme reaction of someone who had lived here nearly 30 years and was horrified at the changes that were being wrought. I started going to lots of meetings, talking with lots of people, and weighing what I had learned, and decided and proposed that the entire City Council and its SMRR overlords needed to go!

Boy, was I raked over the coals. You’re unsophisticated. A novice. You don’t understand our history or how city government works. Well, I’ve got a lot more experience and knowledge under my belt now, and I’ve come full circle.

You citizen politicians want a position of great responsibility (and influence, power, prestige and benefits)? Then you have to take responsibility for the results of your stewardship.

The results have been bad for a long time but now they are terrible and desperate.
I never
thought our City leaders were bad people. But their philosophies for our future, so different from mine and many who live here, have not produced results we want to live with. They’ve made things far worse. You’ve had more than ample opportunity, years of it. You’re doing everything to make Santa Monica a denser, more populous city, and now look where we are.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What was I going to write about? That same City Council, whose members are now revealing some interesting things as they are being interrogated over a lawsuit to bring district voting here. It could change our political landscape radically. We are seeing in Washington where depositions can take you, what might be uncovered. So far, some embarrassing but not prosecutable revelations, but it’s not over. I will write about those in the next couple of columns.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government too.” — Richard M. Nixon

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 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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