The Santa Monica Democratic Club (the operative word here is “club”) Executive Committee last week picked its favorite candidates for local races in the November election.

For full-term City Council seats, the committee supported incumbent Kevin McKeown and challenger Ted Winterer. Both the committee and I agree on McKeown and Winterer. Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the city’s leading political party with a monopoly on local politics, also endorsed McKeown and Winterer.

The committee was wise in not endorsing four-term incumbent Pam O’Connor, who received a rigged post-convention SMRR Steering Committee nod after failing to get an outright membership endorsement. But, what about incumbent and Democrat Bob Holbrook, who has my vote and support for the third full-term seat?

I e-mailed Holbrook and he responded that he didn’t participate in the committee’s interviews because he’s a moderate Democrat and “the group doesn’t endorse moderates.” The club also failed to endorse Bobby Shriver both times he ran for City Council. You know, that Bobby Shriver of the Kennedy clan. So much for credibility, huh?

The committee endorsed interim council appointee and corporate attorney Gleam Davis who is running to fill out the late Herb Katz’ term, and another local attorney in Susan Hartley (who also ran once before for council) for the other two-year council seat.

The committee’s recommendations go to the club’s general membership for approval or rejection at its “convention,” to be held Sept. 15. Sixty percent of the group’s 14 Executive Committee members had to vote “yes” for a candidate to receive the committee’s “official” recommendation.

For Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, the committee tapped incumbents Oscar de la Torre, Barry Snell and Ralph Mechur. Mechur and de la Torre received SMRR’s steering committee post-convention “support” days after Snell was endorsed by SMRR’s membership.

The committee also picked Patrick Cady from Malibu for the fourth open seat. While having a Malibu resident on the school board is probably a good idea, picking three incumbents who’ve been heavily criticized for their lack of management and oversight the past four years is a classic example of cronyism and explains how we get the poor caliber of politicians we have — at all levels of governance.

I’m glad I’m an “independent.” One of the things wrong with politics is blind obedience to party affiliation. Like SMRR, the Santa Monica Democratic Club, often referred to as “Little SMRR,” is just another political clique often supporting friends and loyal party workers over those with abilities and common sense. I’m hoping the 41st Assembly District Democrats will do better with their endorsements

Virginia Ave. Library insider job<p>

For those who are interested in the new branch library in the Pico Neighborhood, just a reminder that a community workshop will be held next Saturday, Sept. 11, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Thelma Terry Community Meeting Room at Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Ave.

According to a City Hall press release, “Topics covered at the ‘Let’s Talk Pico Branch Library’ workshop will include an update on planning the new branch library, a presentation featuring a virtual tour of libraries nationwide as well as an opportunity to meet the design team, Koning Eizenberg Architecture.”

Koning? Can’t be the same Koning like in Hendrik “Hank” Koning who’s on the Planning Commission? Forgive me for going off on a tangent but maybe I’m confusing Koning Eizenberg with another favorite City Hall architectural firm, Pugh + Scarpa, whose partner Gwynne Pugh also sits on the Planning Commission. Naw…

There’s nothing illegal or wrong here, but I see red flags when firms owned or co-owned by City Hall insiders receive a lot of big city contracts.

I also have concerns when architects (and real estate interests) sit on the Planning Commission and/or the Architectural Review Board where they can make biased, pro-development decisions that impact what can be built in Santa Monica — such as they did with the Land Use and Circulation Element.

Go around, bikers<p>

Last Monday, I wrote that Santa Monica-based Agensys, Inc., a bio-medical company involved in research and development of anti-cancer pharmaceuticals, had requested a development agreement to build new corporate and research facilities at 1800 Stewart St.

The Planning Commission reviewed their request Wednesday night and, like my column, the core issue was community benefits — specifically a proposed bike path through the property including, if necessary, through the corporate/research facility itself. I wrote it was an outrageous demand benefiting only a few while endangering the whole project.

The commission unanimously voted to recommend to City Council (who will be reviewing and approving the DA on Sept. 14) to request Agensys up their offer of $70,350 to find ways to improve bicycle connectivity or explore other alternatives in the area, instead. The company had offered a long list of solid community benefits as part of the DA process but wisely balked at having a public bike path traverse its project.

You can contact Bill Bauer at

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