LET’S SEE, WHERE WERE WE?

Oh yeah, at the park, in last week’s column, with an odd tale of Sunday morning soccer and shenanigans.

Some would laugh off even the notion of shenanigans. Others see abuse of power and suppression of free speech. That’s quite a gap in perception. But that’s the problem of the day, isn’t it? From Clover Park to Trump Tower.

Here’s the rest of the story.

Clover Park was filled with happy, squealing young ball kickers and their families on Sunday morning, Oct. 9, for the big annual AYSO Soccer Fun Day. People set up canopies, for adults to be able to relax in the shade while the kids went nuts.

But at least one soccer parent seemed not as relaxed as the others. City Council member Terry O’Day saw a canopy set up by people in favor of Measure LV, who were talking with passersby and handing out their information, and even though when he confronted them they assured him they had City Hall permission (and they did), he decided to contact City Manager Rick Cole and ask him to look into it. Right now. Cole kicked the ball to Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek, who called our Director of Community and Cultural Services Karen Ginsberg to go to Clover Park and see what the fuss was. On the one hand, this was a good idea because Polachek knew Ginsberg lived just across the street.

BIG STICK

On the other hand, we had a high-ranking city employee making $361,000 (pay and benefits) hopping to it on a Sunday morning because a Council member got his soccer shorts in a snit. (That’s my quaint characterization. I can’t verify it.) Do you think if citizen Terry Smith called, or citizen Terry Garcia, we would have had the same rapid response?

O’Day told me he got complaints from parents about the presence of the Yes on LV table — O’Day is very No on LV — and was merely acting on behalf of his constituents. I feel the best course of action might have been to assure those parents (probably also No on LV-ers, don’t you think?) that he would definitely look into it, on Monday morning, and let’s just go back to soccer.

School Board member, City Council candidate and LV advocate Oscar de la Torre observed the dispute and walked over and had a conversation with O’Day. I agree with him that this seemed to be a politically motivated overreaction. In an email, O’Day referenced to me the action at Virginia Park the previous week, where the Yes on LV people were asked to move (but not Jason Islas and Carl Hansen, when they were passing out No on LV literature there) because the nature of the farmers market

permit did not allow them to occupy the same space. But a Council member, I think,

should be more certain about the rules of free speech before trying to abridge it. Free speech, in our public parks, is allowed. It’s a tradition we inherited from the Brits. And yes, it is important that the exercise thereof is not subject to intimidation.

At a backyard fundraiser a week later for O’Day and fellow candidate and incumbent Gleam Davis, I asked him if he had anything to add to his statement about the incident. He smiled broadly and said no. When someone there inquired about it he related the story, someone added they heard it was being characterized as an “assault on free speech,” and they all had a good laugh at that notion. I didn’t laugh.

The following was written before it became known that Brock had pulled papers to file as a Write-in candidate for City Council

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Everyone wonders why Arts Commissioner Phil Brock, who narrowly missed being elected last time, backed out of the City Council race, after declaring he would run and pulling papers. ​I believe conversations with local power brokers convinced Brock he would face such intense opposition and resources, especially because he would back LUVE (all four incumbents strongly oppose it), that he backed off what seemed like a hopeless fight. He has stated he regrets not running.

Should Phil Brock file and run as a write-in candidate for City Council?

Since he hasn’t yet filed it’s pretty doubtful he could win, with about two weeks left

before the election (filing deadline is Oct. 25), so I’m not endorsing a candidate but suggesting he still file, and asking you all, should he?

I believe it would be a statement, a needed one (as in, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not

going to take this anymore!”), pushing against the destructive overdevelopment we have now and in the pipeline. A chance for people to vote for something other than what’s being offered, four incumbents with a likelihood of winning because incumbency automatically gives you a big built-in advantage. Plus they have very large piles of money available, much of it from developers eager to exploit our soaring land values and compliant city government — that money pays for endorsements that go onto misleading flyers that flood every mailbox and front door, that many people, lacking better information, carry into the voting booths. Big money strangles democracy, locally and nationally.

The incumbents running are a well-intentioned but misguided group who have been good stewards in some areas but, most importantly, show no signs of changing their dedication to voting for every gigantic project, bad for our city, that comes before them. It’s got to stop.

For longer term we need a change in who sits on our Council. At a recent candidates forum one of the incumbents made reference to the “slow growth majority we now have on the Council,” and the room immediately exploded in laughter.

This newspaper’s policy of not making endorsements means I won’t name names but I will say there is one or more on the current Council I might vote for — when next they run, a couple of other non-incumbent candidates I’ll pull the lever for this time, but all around we are sorely lacking common sense in our candidates for local office.

Urge Brock to run, even now. It’s a start, it will send a message, it’s needed.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.” — H. L. Mencken

 

By CHARLES ANDREWS

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 30 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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