CURIOUS CITY —WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON HERE? Less than two weeks until election day and more craziness unfolds daily.
Our mayor Pam O’Connor, running for reelection, has been charged with dozens ‚Äì not one or two, dozens! ‚Äì of campaign violations, for taking money from developers with projects before her council, both before and after approval of those projects, with O’Connor always voting for. The evidence is there, in public records, but O’Connor is in denial.
“I’m doing this as a part-time job,” she responded. “I’m a single woman who works… your average Santa Monican. I didn’t have a professional treasurer but now I [do].” Seriously? She offered that?
Where are the TV and radio station trucks lined up in front of City Hall, shoving microphones in her face like they would if Lindsey Lohan got busted again? Why isn’t this a front page screaming banner in all our many local papers? A search of the L.A. Times database finds not one reference to it.
Why doesn’t the very accusation, of multiple offenses over 10 years, make her toast in this election?
Well, there’s Michael Grimm, running for Congress in New York ‚Äì you remember, the guy who threatened, on camera, to throw a reporter off a balcony and “break him in half, like a boy,” for asking about his campaign finances ‚Äìwho was just indicted on 20 felony charges. And is still the nominee, and still has a 4 percent lead over his challenger.
So I guess this is peanuts, right, Santa Monica? Not even a factor, in such a crucial election? All I’m still hearing is that O’Connor still has a very good chance of being re-elected. Unbelievable.
I’m not convicting her, but evidence presented to the City Attorney’s Office by the Santa Monica Transparency Project is impressive in its research, and indicates she may have taken both unethical and illegal “donations.” Certainly there is an appearance of wrongdoing. (But that never bothered Scalia and Thomas.)
When other prominent figures are accused (except in New York, and probably Jersey), it’s usually big news, and a political career death knell. Bigger than this, anyway. I knew O’Connor had deep connections all over L.A. but how to explain the kid gloves treatment from the media? And why hasn’t a single public figure, including those running for Council, suggested she should drop out?
Okay, no one’s got the nerve to do that, but I’m taking some comfort in the knowledge that if she were to be elected and then convicted, there would be cause for immediate recall. If you find my crumpled body below a balcony for saying all this, go look for Mr. Grimm.
Then a week later we find out Council member Terry O’Day (not running) heads a PAC to elect O’Connor and Gruber that is funded by two hotel groups, Shutters/Casa del Mar and Ocean Avenue LLC, which is trying very hard to stick a 21-story tower on the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Ocean Avenue. Each pitched in $25,000. So far. Let’s just call that what it is, development money. Are we still buying the dashing duo’s campaign promises of working for the people of Santa Monica, to rein in overdevelopment?
Such PAC activity is completely legal, of course (thank you, SCOTUS). But c’mon, folks, how much more do you need it spelled out? I’m plenty tired of a Council and candidates who say they’ll work or us but get their checks from the folks who want to bury us in concrete and congestion and skip town with their millions.
Slightly off the subject but nonetheless highly interesting and entertaining, here’s another fun factoid we just learned of: the Measure D group, you know, mainly that national pilot’s association out of Maryland who have our best interests in mind, have raised over half a million dollars to make sure no changes are made at SMO that would dive bomb their sweetheart deals.
Since Atlantic Aviation has been draining our city coffers for years of the difference between the $200,000 they pay us in yearly rental and the $4,000,000 they collect from others for the airport property they lease, the half a mil is chicken feed. Beyond any health or safety concerns, that alone is reason to vote No on D and Yes on LC.
Time for school
I don’t know what surprises me more, that so many people have yet to make up their minds about that last candidate or ballot measure, or that I’m one of them. But I have come to a few more concussions. ‚Äì uh, conclusions. (One is that I’m going to need a massage by the time this is all over. Anyone know a great masseuse who understands election fatigue?)
I’ll lay them out next week. But I did some one-stop shopping at the Daily Press’s recent Squirm Night candidate forums, being smart enough to show up early enough to hear the first two, for school board and SMC Trustees positions.
Like judgeships, I sometimes skip voting on something like these if I’m really uninformed. Now I know a bit more about the issues and what’s involved in these important elected service positions, and the forums gave me a chance to size up the candidates a little.
My choices come down to more emotion than thorough knowledge, but I’d be happy with these choices:
For SMMUSD School Board, I was impressed with teacher Craig Foster, and also feel now, especially, is an important time to have a Malibu person on the board. I’ll go with incumbents Ralph Mechur and Oscar de la Torre, and probably another teacher, Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.
For the SMC Board of Trustees, I came away feeling good about Dennis Frisch (and not just because he looks like he came out of central casting for the role), Nancy Greenstein, Andrew Walzer, and probably Maria Loya.
Next week: what’s left. No bullet, I’ve decided, but let’s use some common sense.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.” — H. L. Mencken
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at email@example.com