I’ve been thinking.

I’m reluctant to announce that because I’m pretty sure it will be received less with interest and anticipation than with trepidation and pity. Perhaps even fear and loathing. Direct all complaints to my brain, then. It seems to have a mind of its own, and rarely consults me for whatever dash of common sense I might still possess.

I partly blame my walking regimen. After technical discussions, over a proper scotch at local, cool-dive-bar the Daily Pint, with my Ambulatory Advisor Mr. Blatz, of Santa Monica High School fame, I decided to almost immediately start up again to repeat my recently completed project to walk every street in Santa Monica. Why not? I might have missed something, you know, while lost in thought. Right, brain?

The first time I skipped around willy-nilly, often picking each small area for the day’s walk based upon how I felt about driving to get there to get started. Sometimes I would give in to my inner wimp who was loudly complaining, I don’t want to walk there! It’s a boring neighborhood! Let’s go where it’s beautiful and peaceful and there are big trees and big homes with gardeners, and pretty, shiny cars.

Mr. Blatz’s strolling strategy is to go methodically, up, down and across, from one corner of town to the next. He’s done it several times! I’ve come to see the wisdom of that, because then you get more of a sense of the city, as it’s laid out, than if you skip around. So I’ve started at the far east end of Sunset Park, near the airport, and will work my way toward the ocean, then progressively north. If you spot me, come up and introduce yourself. I can’t give extra credit like Mr. Blatz does when his students spot him out walking, but I will mention you in my next column.

I love, love, love much more to play basketball, if you can call what I do that. (It does involve a basketball and running around in the proximity of a net.) One-on-one mostly, with a couple of good friends. (Um, one at a time.) But walking, besides being better for your heart than almost anything, according to my cardiac crew, also affords you that time to think. So thanks a lot, Mr. Blatz, I guess we can all blame you for this sorry situation.

In another sporting reference, Mark Black, truly the wrestling teacher of Samohi, is back where he belongs, in the classroom, and all is right with the world, yes? Not yet. I still say, as I did from the beginning, that some sort of investigation, determination and accountability should be made over school district Superintendent Sandra Lyon’s rush to judgment and her damaging remarks, indicting the teacher and showering sympathy on the student (now charged with misdemeanor crimes), which she tried to take back the next day. We should expect more from our superintendent, and decide if we still have the right one for the job.

Speaking of Bergamot Transit Village, I may have to force myself to another City Council meeting (I know, that’s a terrible attitude) on Tuesday, May 13 to find out who won’t be on our council next fall. Because that should be when the vote is taken concerning the very successful recent referendum drive to force reconsideration of the Hines project there, and my sense of the city is that any council member who votes to give that same rejected overdevelopment another chance, through putting it on the ballot and giving big money another opportunity to prevail over popular sentiment, is committing political suicide.

The excuse of “letting the people decide” in an election won’t fool anyone. In 28 days, with almost all volunteer effort, 30-some big boxes of petition signatures were collected, and more than 10,000 signatures were certified, all on only a week’s notice.

“It’s wonderful that 10,000 people signed it,” Mayor Pam O’Connor declared, disingenuously, if not sarcastically. “That means there are 45,000 registered voters in Santa Monica who have not weighed in on it. So we will see where we go on this in the future.”

Excuse my Italian but that sounds to me like a sandwich made of unmitigated baloney and gall, with too much mayor-naise. O’Connor is such an enthusiastic cheerleader for unbridled development and for finding excuses for ignoring the people’s expressed wishes, that I’d lay money down that she’s history anyway. But I predict that this vote will determine political careers, even of those not up for reelection for a couple of years.

And I still say we need a recall of the entire council, now. Our city’s soul is at stake, and waiting could bring irreversible bad stuff, haunting us for decades.

I believe all these recent developments, as unwanted as they may be, have given many of us a sense that we can, and must, take charge of our city, and that there is so much that can be done on a local level that might even elude state or national solutions.

Take net neutrality, a very important issue. Basically it means everyone gets equal access to the fastest speeds online. The FCC has a new chairman, Tom Wheeler, a former industry lobbyist and by all accounts a tough guy, who runs committees like they’re his personal fiefdoms. He is reversing FCC policy and will be giving the huge corporate players the chance to buy faster Internet speeds than the rest of us, the cost of which will of course be passed along to consumers. Pay, or be left in the dust.

Fortunately, here in Santa Monica, we have a good head start, to utilize our own fiber optic network, and not be affected by this corporate coup. But we may need to give higher priority now to its completion.

Maybe there will be a new People’s Republic of Santa Monica, rising from the ashes of the Hines project debacle, with citizens discovering their power to shape their destinies, at least locally. Only it could be a true republic this time, not just a nose thumb to landlords, trendy graffiti on the freeway entrance and meet the new boss/same as the old boss.



Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 28 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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