WHY, THOSE DIRTY … OOPS

“They’re a power in Santa Monica politics. Claim to represent a large segment of our residents. Working for their benefit, they say. Have done a lot of good in the past, in my opinion. Will play a very important role in our upcoming local elections.

“But try to find out anything about their inner workings. Or even, who they are. You know the names of a leader or two, but try to find out how to communicate with them, or who’s even on their governing board. Their web site won’t tell you.

“SMRR, right? Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights. Notorious for being a closed club that influences elections and ballot measures and says they represent so many, but just try and even peek inside. Who are they? What rules do they operate under? Not telling.”

THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I WROTE LAST WEEK

… in my column critical about some similar aspects of Residocracy, an idea and group I have always wholeheartedly supported. So for those who felt I was way off base — maybe you haven’t been following enough political conventions.

Residocracy did not have a convention; I wrote about their gathering to muster support and plan for campaigning for their one issue, on the ballot in November, the LUVE initiative. SMRR had their convention Sunday. SMRR has been in existence for 38 years. Their conventions before an election may seem disordered at times, but I feel much of what appears as a touch of chaos is just the leadership bending the vote of the members to their will, with whatever it takes. When parliamentary procedure can be used to bypass a vote on a very important initiative (let’s say, LUVE), even though many members in the room are shouting out, “What are we voting on? I don’t understand?!” or when a third ballot is forced, or denied, because a favored candidate hasn’t yet received enough votes for endorsement, or a disfavored one might prevail, it may look like disarray but I do believe it’s all well-planned.

Just like the Democrats and Republicans.

My criticism of Residocracy was that they weren’t having a convention, weren’t endorsing candidates, and it looked like they might not have enough citizen firepower to counter the huge waves of developer money expected by all, to wash in to fight this residents revolt. That puts me at odds with the leadership of Residocracy, and of course, it’s their baby. But I expected to be excoriated over what I wrote about the emperor’s new clothes, and was surprised to find that comments of agreement outweighed the criticism 10 or 15 to 1.

BUT WITH SMRR, WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET

They weren’t born yesterday. Not hard to figure out what the board wants because the folks on the mic, co-chairs Patricia Hoffman and Denny Zane, made no bones about it. After touting their own credentials, more than once. Very strongly worded pronouncements were made about each vote coming up, often more than once, so the voting members had no doubt how they were expected to vote. Is the opposing side given that voice? No.

And if that wasn’t clear enough, many sheets and flyers were handed out to each person. When things still hadn’t gotten underway nearly half an hour after the scheduled starting time, knowing I had to leave early, I turned to Councilmember Gleam Davis, a former SMRR co-chair, sitting in the row behind me, and asked jokingly, “Gleam, can’t you do something? Get this show on the road?” She shook her head and said, “No, apparently I’m not a part of SMRR anymore,” and handed me the handout sheet “From Your SMRR Co-Chairs … we urge you to support three [Council] candidates today” — but her name was not one of the three. She was, nonetheless, voted an endorsement by the membership, so, the manipulation doesn’t always work.

Just after things did get started, one of the first announcements was, “Does everyone have a copy of the Rules of the Day? Who doesn’t?” Many hands went up, including mine. But nothing happened. Maybe 10 minutes later it was announced that a show of hands vote would be held to adopt the Rules of the Day.

“Hey!” those many shouted out, “we never got that!” Finally a few distributors were sent out with the two-page Rules and Agenda, a very important document, and then, about 90 seconds after we got them — a vote was taken. I sure didn’t get to read and absorb it, but I have a feeling if I had objected to anything, I would have been soundly outvoted.

HARANGUING AROUND THE MICROPHONE

In the noisy shuffling, chatting period just before things kicked off, I noticed Mid-City Neighbors board member Catherine Eldridge — not so easy to do, because I’m sure she’s a few inches shy of 5 feet — standing in front of Zane at the front of the room, with her back to the crowd, obviously saying something to him. Zane was holding a mic so could be heard to say to her, “Stand back and stop haranguing me!”

Sheesh. Was that really necessary? Wasn’t there another way to express that request? Seemed really rude, especially with only his side of it being broadcast to the whole room. And for someone who has been a Santa Monica activist (though prickly to some) for decades. She might have been haranguing him, but still. It kind of represented to me the way the leadership steamrolls all things SMRR. The national parties could learn a thing or two from SMRR politics.

I guess I’m a hopeless idealist. I was, still am, really not happy at the way the Democratic National Committee stacked the deck for Hillary and against Bernie. It was so — undemocratic. As are all these other things I’m cataloging. And don’t get me started on voter suppression and gerrymandering. It would seem there’s hardly any democracy left in our democracy.

26 MILES, NOT ACROSS THE SEA

Very proud of my wife Dian and her sister from Austin, Monica, who decided to walk from our front door here to … San Pedro, where they grew up. In two days. 56,000 steps, all along the beach. Pretty good for tough and beautiful gals in their 60s.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” —Plato

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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