How do I like my crow? Baked, boiled or fried? I had predicted that Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom would come in third at best in the four person race for the 50th Assembly District seat. Passmore bird, please.

Once the votes were counted and the dust had settled, Bloom came in second behindBetsy Butler,13,542 to 13,677. Fourth place finisher Osborn lagged 731 votes behind Bloom. It will be the battle of the “Bs” come November.Butler vs. Bloom.

A lot of you were also surprised that Bloom beat Osborn.Butlerand Osborn both outspent Bloom by wide margins. What happened?

BothButlerand Osborn flooded mailboxes with color brochures. I’ve always statedthat the candidate with the mostcolor mailers usually prevails. In this primary, the negative tone and number of mailers may have worked against both. For example,OsbornaccusedButlerof being unfriendly to the environment by sending out thousands of plastic bottles, then mailed enough brochures to decimate aforest.

Osborn’s campaign portrayal ofButleras a carpetbagger whose move into the 50th was engineered by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez didn’t resonate. Neither didthe controversy overhow Osborn garnered some Democratic Clubendorsements. Pointless, nastyarguments about who was a better friend to seniors were also poorly received.

Bloom wisely avoided the attacks. Hisstraightforwardmessaging primarily addressedtwo key concerns of voters. Creatingjobs andincreased funding for educationwere among his accomplishments asaSanta Monicapolitical leader.

Santa Monicansfor Renters’ Rights (SMRR) endorsed Osborn. It didn’t do her much good. The leftist SMRR has no political relevancy or clout outside ofSanta Monica. The 50th stretches fromMalibu toHancock Parkand includes Pacific Palisades,Brentwood,West Los Angeles,Beverly HillsandWest Hollywood. Only 18 percent of thedistrict’s voters are inSanta Monica.

One thing is for certain, with Bloom running for Assembly, he won’t be seeking re-election to City Council. With a strong possibility that Bobby Shriver won’t seek reelection either, two open seatsmay be up for grabs in November.

Calling all wanna-bes!

Parking going up?

City Hall is still doing everything it can to chasebusiness out ofSanta Monica.

It’s never been easy to shop, dine orgo to movies in Downtown Santa Monica. Years of misguided traffic policieshave resulted in frustrating levels of congestion. Most of the city-owned parking garages on Second and Fourth streets are inefficient anduninviting. Downtown’s panhandlers and inebriates don’t contribute to a pleasurablefamily experience, either.

Our 9.25 percent sales and use tax isamong the highest inCalifornia. The new, “smart” parking meters that sense when a vehicle enters or leaves a parking spot, rolls back leftover metertimeto zero and prohibit “meter stuffing” if parkedlonger than theallotted time are also a big turn off.

So,what’s next? Raise parking rates, of course.

Among the proposals being recommended by City Hall’s Finance Department are the elimination offree two-hour parking in the city-owned Downtown parking structures and a doubling of metered parking rates to $2 per hour.

Don Patterson, the city’s assistant director of finance claims the new parking rates will helpredirect traffic away fromThird Street-adjacent structures where parking is usually in tight supply to two outlying city garages where more space is available.

City Hall bean counters haven’t figured out thatthe newer CivicCenterand Library garages are underutilizedbecause they’re too expensive to begin with. The new parking plans would reduce rates in these two outlying garagesto $1 an hour with the first hour and a half beingfree. Maximum rates would drop to $5 per day. Although the lower rates are a positive step, parkers still have to walk three or four blocks to reach the Third Street Promenade.

How about knocking offthe social engineering and let motorists find their own way to outlying garages (with new, reduced rates) if space is unavailable adjacent toThird Street? City Hall should leaveDowntown’sparking rates alone.

Why? Compare the proposed parking costs with parking charges at key surroundingdestinations.

• WestfieldCenturyCity: First three hours free, $7 for three to three and a half hours, $2 for each additional 15 minutes, $3 with AMC validation (up to five hours).

• The New Westfield Culver City (formerly Fox HillsMall): Free parking, no time limit.

• The Grove: First hour free, one to three hours $3, $1 for every 15 minutes over three hours, movie validation $2.50 for up to four hours.

• The Promenade at theHowardHughesCenter: 30 minutes free, 31 minutes to one hour $1, One to four hours $2, $1each additional hour. Prepay flat rate: $2.

• Westside Pavilion: First three hours free, three to four hours $5,four plus hours $2 every 30 minutes.

• Marina Marketplace: Free parking, no time restriction.

•ShermanOaks Galleria: $6.80 hour (6 a.m. to 4 p.m.) $3 flat rate weekdays after4 p.m.and on weekends/or $1 with validation.

City Council will review newrate proposals in July. If approved, rates will go up by September and you’ll have one more reasonto stay away from Downtown.

So much for “ShopSanta Monica.” Look for even more folks to head out of town where there’s less hassle and parking is cheap — or free!

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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