The appointment of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights co-chair Gleam Davis to the late Herb Katz’ City Council seat is still garnering a lot of angst from disappointed Ted Winterer fans.
Comments about how those dirty, rotten SMRRs (who controlled four out of the then six votes on the council) appointed one of their own to fill Katz’ seat have filled the letters columns of most local news outlets for weeks. Writers say Winterer, the highest unelected vote getter in the last election, should have been appointed instead of being shafted. It’s all becoming a bit too much.
The letter writing campaign seems to be well orchestrated. So much so, that my cynical mind says that this outpouring of support for Mr. Winterer is not spontaneous. Most of the letters contain a certain naiveté about how politics work here in Santa Monica. That, plus the mostly unfamiliar signatures — as opposed to the usual neighborhood activists and letter writers — tells me those “We Love Ted” fans may have been “encouraged” to publicly voice their support for the Ocean Park activist.
Before all you Winterer fans start a new letter campaign stating that I’m against Winterer, remember he was one of only two candidates (the other was Bobby Shriver) I endorsed for City Council last fall.
I’d written in these pages for weeks that Katz’ council seat would go to Davis. She has great credentials — was a planning commissioner, is a woman, was supported by the school lobby and is/was co-chair of SMRR. It was a done deal.
Then there was Ted Winterer — a middle-aged, white male, previously passed over for endorsement by SMRR. His pluses include recreation and parks commissioner and co-author and supporter of The Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT). On the ballot as Measure T last fall, RIFT would have reduced commercial development in the city for 15 years — if approved by voters. T was strongly opposed by some key SMRR leaders, which was another strike against Winterer.
Davis says she’ll run next year to fill out the last two years of Katz’ term. Winterer has also vowed to run again. He can go specifically for Katz’ seat or run “at large,” meaning against Bob Holbrook, Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor who are all up for re-election. If Winterer runs specifically for Katz’ seat and comes in second, he’s out. But, if he runs for an open seat, he has a better chance of reaching the dais because the three top vote getters, not just one, will prevail.
It’s generally believed that O’Connor and McKeown will surely run again. Holbrook, who e-mailed me that he hadn’t thought about it yet, may just decide that after five terms that it’s time to go fishing.
My advice to Winterer’s supporters is stop Kvetching. It’s water over the dam. Instead, work on issues SMRR is vulnerable on. Complain about how SMRR politicians have screwed up traffic, parking, development, the homeless problem, our public schools and squandered precious city resources.
Organize an “Elect Ted” team and start raising money, now. Work on a slate including other candidates to support for council seats, school board and Santa Monica College Board of Trustees. In other words, start a movement. Change is good. Just ask Barack Obama. It got him elected.
For example, the new update to the city’s master plan will be before City Council for approval later this year. The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) will open the doors for an extensive amount of new, denser and taller development centered on major boulevards and intersections which will also get an “adaptive reuse” to accommodate bike lanes and pedestrian amenities while removing vehicle carrying capacity. Holy major development! That’s something to bitch about.
Of the two SMRR incumbents, McKeown is very popular despite what I consider to be some pretty far out ideas (translated as too much social engineering) that aren’t solving current problems and exacerbating things like traffic and congestion. O’Connor is not as well liked as McKeown and she has her enemies. In my book, she’s more at risk for not being re-elected.
Then, there’s Gleam Davis. Can she hold on to Katz’ seat? Her newness on the dais is a vulnerability. Watching her voting record on key issues may provide fodder for “Dump Davis” cannons. Non-SMRR Holbrook is well liked but I sense he’s losing enthusiasm for the game. If he retires, then there’s a great opportunity for newer blood on the council.
Writing letters and complaining about SMRR’s power grip on the city’s throat is meaningless because nothing will change until some or all of the SMMRs on City Council are given the boot. That means eliminate O’Connor, Davis and McKeown in 2010 and then go after Genser and Bloom in 2012.
Now, get to work.
Bill Bauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org