Columnist Bill Bauer is on target with his My Write column “Intrigue and shenanigans on the local political front,” Aug. 6. All too often “phantom community groups” powered by vested interests with thick wallets win their way with slick ad campaigns designed to confuse voters. But as a City Council candidate and former Emmy-winning journalist, I find something else even more unsettling: the huge amounts of money going from developers to some City Council members, who then support the very same projects of those developers.
Take the proposed Village Trailer Park project. Councilmembers Terry O’Day and Gleam Davis, both seeking re-election, have accepted donations from the developer or his supporters. Maybe that is why, at the last City Council meeting, where 70 or so citizens spoke about the project, Davis and O’Day were, for the most part, silent. Only Councilman Kevin McKeown, who has made it his mission to do things the right way, peppered the developer with questions and seemed to urge other council members to consider alternatives.
We all know what campaign donations are doing to the political process in our nation, our state and our city. It may be legal, but it is wrong for a City Council member to take money from someone with a vested interest in a project that they will then have to decide the fate of. I think O’Day, Davis and others should give back that money. I never took a dime in 25 years as a TV news journalist and I won’t start taking it from developers if I am fortunate enough to win a seat on the council. I happen to believe in voters and their ability to know what’s right. I hope they, and members of groups like Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, and this newspaper, will choose to support candidates like me, who believe in campaigning the honest way, without the growing stain of big money buying future favors.
John C. Smith