The Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) leadership was up to its old tricks a week ago on Sunday. The occasion was a meeting where endorsements for a candidate for the 50th Assembly District primary was, or wasn’t, on the agenda.
Three candidates — Democrats Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom; 53rd Assembly District Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, social justice advocate Torie Osborn and Republican attorney Brad Torgan — are vying for the seat in the newly redrawn district replacing the old 41st.
The group wound up endorsing Osborn. No surprise as many “old guard” and current SMRR power players overwhelmingly support her. Of 85 votes were cast. 57 went to Osborn, Bloom got 15 and Butler nabbed 12.
Bloom, who boycotted the meeting, issued a statement which was read at the Church in Ocean Park gathering. He said, “Today’s meeting was never advertised as an endorsement meeting, although a series of e-mails forwarded to me by those handpicked to receive them clearly indicate a plan to accomplish exactly that.”
Bloom, who had received SMRR’s endorsement over numerous council runs, claims there was very short notice to candidates that an endorsement vote was on the agenda. He states this was done to specifically flood the meeting with Osborn supporters — a charge that has been frequently leveled by those affiliated with other political organizations that have also endorsed Osborn.
SMRR is notorious for political shenanigans. I’m betting its elite guard, specifically co-chairs Patricia Hoffman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein contributed to the dupery. Tahvildaran-Jesswein was accused of a conflict of interest when students in his Santa Monica College political science class were given extra credit for handing our SMRR literature before the 2010 election. Complaints against him were deflected by the SMRR dominated SMC Board of Trustees.
SMRR’s elite have been accused of “a lack of transparency and fairness” numerous times over the years. At its Annual Congress in August, 2010, the rank and file membership refused to endorse perennial leadership darlings Pam O’Connor for City Council and Ralph Mechur and Oscar de la Torre for school board. Two nights later, the high command met behind closed doors and added their three names to SMRR’s endorsement roster.
SMRR bosses promised the additions would be billed as “supported” by SMRR. Candidates endorsed by the membership would be billed as “endorsed.” Fall campaign materials referred to SMRR’s slate as “the SMRR Team” with no differentiation between "support” or “endorsements.” And, all three won re-election in November.
Many members of SMRR’s oligarchy are veteran political activists used to getting their way. Their bylaws permit SMRR leaders to add their own favorites to member endorsements. And, these by-laws are secret and not available to members, let alone the public, to thwart any challenge that might depose long-entrenched party leaders.
In response to Bloom’s complaint, Tahvildaran-Jesswein actually told our reporter, “Certainly, with democracy, you have messy moments.” With SMRR, it’s so messy, its leaders are drowning in cattle excrement.
Tahvildaran-Jesswein should save it for his poly-sci classes because SMRR isn’t a democracy, it’s a self-serving, power hungry cabal.
A gentler Lincoln Boulevard?
Last Tuesday, City Council approved planning staff’s request to pursue $300,000 in grants to begin revitalizing Lincoln Boulevard from the Venice border to Wilshire Boulevard. However, it’s the part of Lincoln from the I-10 freeway south that’ll be most affected — or maybe I should say, “infected.”
“Infected” with the usual, politically hip and magnificently sustainable crapola such as lots of signalized crosswalks, reduced traffic lanes, planted medians, curb bump-outs and wider sidewalks! This will be in addition to the so far unimplemented morning and afternoon rush hour bus/bike only lanes (in the current parking lanes) that council already approved a few years ago.
Staff claims, “The LUCE (Land Use and Circulation Element) envisions Lincoln Boulevard as a street that transitions over time from a vehicle-priority boulevard that acts as a barrier into a vibrant boulevard that connects neighborhoods to the east and west.”
The proposed grant “would generate a community-based concept for enhanced pedestrian-orientation, activity centers that showcase quality design standards and a public realm improved with increased landscaping, trees, and street furniture, while still maintaining its role as a functional regional roadway.” It gets worse.
The grants would allow "design and transportation consultants to assist staff in design of the Lincoln Boulevard streetscape.” Think of the tomfoolery that will result after screwing with one of the city’s most heavily traveled and traffic impacted thoroughfares.
Look forward to “rigged” community meetings where planners and their consultants will try to sell their utopian vision of a gentle, attractive lane with lots of birds, bees and greenery where children can play. Forget that their “improvements” will further congest traffic and divert thousands of polluting vehicles a day into Sunset and Ocean parks.
In reality, it also means new building standards to replace auto repair services and other “visually cluttered” mom-and-pop businesses with design worthy, multi-story buildings featuring trendy shops and apartments. Think Montana Avenue with landscaped medians.
Need your car serviced, smogged or repaired? We’ll all have to drive (or get towed) to Venice or Mar Vista.
Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.