Amidst the many Mitt meltdowns, with the release of the 47 percent of the country are moochers hidden video of his candid talk given in front of $50,000-plate donors, the real Willard Romney stepped forward. (Actually, he stepped into it.)

Willard’s inability to relate to the middle class and poor should have come as no surprise what with his incessant bragging about his wife’s two Cadillacs and having a home being built with an elevator for his cars! Daily, Willard reminds me more and more of the buffoon billionaire Thurston Howell III from “Gilligan’s Island.”

By definition, in Willard’s 47 percent that he labels self-imposed “victims” are disabled vets on government assistance. Personally, when an IED blows off a GI’s arm or leg (and many are women) I don’t think it’s exactly self-imposed.

Adamantly pro-war (next stop Iran?), curiously when Willard’s time to serve came during Vietnam he moved to France. (His campaign cites that as foreign policy acumen. Even more troubling, his top advisor referred to Russia as the Soviet Union, which only fell 21 years ago!)

Apparently, Willard’s pro-war as long as none of his family are doing the fighting. Meanwhile, during his convention speech, Mitt not only didn’t refer to the Afghan war, he didn’t mention veterans once. I bet he wishes he could Etch-a-Sketch that faux pas.

Somehow I was reminded of Willard’s wealthy-elite view of the world last weekend at my apartment building where I’ve lived for 37 years. I was chatting with a friend at the pool except that the mob of kids in the shallow end were screaming so loudly that I couldn’t hear a word. On the very far side of the pool I spotted parents gabbing away, obliviously. I approached and politely asked if any of the kids belonged to any of them.

An attractive 30-something mother responded curtly to my plea, “Well, we pay a great deal more rent than you do.” (Say what? What the hell does that have to do with anything?)

Stunned by her twisted logic, I went to the gym where the clanging of weights was soothing compared to the kiddie cacophony. Minutes later her gracious husband came in and confessed, “I just wanted you to know that you were right.” Frankly, after 37 years of calling my apartment “home,” it was unsettling having someone suggest the high rent they pay as justification for being inconsiderate.

On that note, as I type this, despite the heat wave, I have my sliding glass doors shut and am shvitizing. (Yiddish for perspiring profusely.) You see another new neighbor (who also pays high rent) has a son who smokes. I find it more than ironic that smokers don’t want that disgusting second-hand smoke in their apartment but are perfectly happy puffing away on their balcony and turning my place into an ash tray.

In July, our City Council passed a housing ordinance that required all new tenants to refrain from smoking in their units. (But it did not affect current tenants!) But at the second reading two weeks later, the council reversed itself. (Only happened once in the past seven years.)

So now carcinogenic tobacco smoke fills my bedroom. According to the law, I could take them to small claims court or even file a restraining order in Superior Court, but for the moment I’ll leave a copy of this column at their door.

During one of these 5 a.m. smoke attacks, I raced to the park with a pair of binoculars. I could see the tiny glow of the lit cigarette coming from the balcony on the floor below mine. But barefoot and shirtless, I suddenly wondered what the hell would I tell the police if they saw me holding binoculars — that I was owl watching?

Soon the light went off and the balcony sliding glass door was shut. Somehow I felt like Columbo. Sure I may get lung cancer from second-hand smoke, but I had solved the mystery.

Back in July when the second reading failed, Mayor Richard Bloom promised the ordinance would be revisited soon. Even with election year pressures he kept his word. It’s scheduled for Oct. 2.

Joking aside, this is a serious public health issue and, uncharacteristically, Santa Monica is behind the curve. I’m imploring the council to find a compromise. If not I’ll be writing about it for weeks. (Which may cause my editor to scream louder than those kids at the pool.)

Just a few minutes ago, I opened the sliding glass door again hoping for an ocean breeze. Instead I was greeted with a toxic waft. There are more than 7,000 chemicals in a cigarette, including arsenic, ammonia and insecticide and 70 of them are carcinogenic. One word: yikes!

So I once again dashed to the park to spy on the surreptitious smoker. Sure enough the balcony sliding glass door was open and there was the tiny red glow of a lit cancer stick.

As I trudged home, I reluctantly accepted my fate. The bad news is every few hours carcinogens seep into my bedroom. The good news is, racing to the park like Inspector Clouseau, at least I’m getting some decent exercise. And who knows, one night I might even spot an owl.



The housing ordinance is scheduled for the Oct. 2 City Council meeting at City Hall at 7:30 p.m. On that Tuesday it’s best to call the City Manager’s Office at (310) 458-8301 to make sure it’s still on the agenda. Jack can be reached at

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