One of my favorite movies is the 1982 comedy “Tootsie,” which starred Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey, a perfectionist actor who drove everyone crazy, including his agent George Fields, played by Sydney Pollack. (Who also directed the movie.) Typical of Dorsey’s annoying personality was his audition for a commercial where he was to play the part of a tomato. His obsessive attention to detail led the commercial to run horribly over-schedule because, to him, the idea of a tomato sitting down was “illogical.” Exasperated, Fields warns Dorsey he’ll “Never work in this town again.”
But auditioning as a meticulously dressed middle-aged woman, Dorsey miraculously manages to land the role of Dorothy Michaels, a feisty feminist administrator on a daytime soap opera, “Southwest General.” My favorite scene in the movie takes place in the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan. Dorsey (as Dorothy) approaches Fields in the crowded upscale restaurant and asks if she could join him as there are no empty tables. Reluctantly, Fields agrees.
Fields completely ignores Dorothy until Dorsey, using his normal voice, totally surprises him. “It’s me, Michael!” Incredulous, Field’s is speechless, as Dorsey boasts that he’s in the soap opera! Horrified, Fields exclaims, “I begged you to get help!” That’s how I feel about Santa Monica City government.
There was a time when Santa Monica wasn’t out of control with development, congestion and noise pollution. I remember when the Loew’s Hotel first opened up in our sleepy, quaint beach town. I was actually proud. Sophisticated New York thought we were worthy. Then a few more hotels followed. And more. And more. The city got very used to the wonderful “bed tax” seemingly endless cash flow and the rest is bad history. Some days when I’m stuck in our lovely downtown traffic, or I’m on Highway 10, a parking lot posing as a freeway, or even walking on the sidewalk and huge double-decker tourist busses whizzes by me, I feel like I’m living in a city I never voted for.
This brings us to the elections next Tuesday. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t remember when there wasn’t campaigning going on. And you thought deer season was too long? (Actually I just looked up New York State deer season. It’s not even close.) Take our race for City Council (please.) There are 13 candidates who have been showing up at God knows how many “Candidate Forums.” What an unbelievable grind.
This past Tuesday, on City-TV, I watched an entire Council Meeting. (4 hours I’m never going to get back.) What stunned me is that there are seemingly 13 rationale adults who spending day and night in pursuit of a job that’s incredibly tedious and pays very little. Several candidates have loaned themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars. (If they lose how does they collect from themselves? I hope they don’t get too tough.)
In a democracy they say we get the government we deserve. But what did I do to deserve Mitch McConnell? The point is (I think) that the more we care, and even the more we complain, the more we ought to do our part, the least of which is voting. Of course why we vote on Tuesday makes no sense. It goes back to agrarian days voting was a 3-day horseback ride and needing to be back in time for church. Santa Monica traffic is horrible, but it doesn’t take three days. So far.
Not that anybody asked, at the top of my list of admirable candidates is Bobby Shriver, our former Mayor, who’s running for Supervisor. Unfortunately, his opponent, Sheila Kuehl, has run a mean-spirited, snarky campaign from day 1. Much like his late Uncle Ted Kennedy, Shriver is respected for crossing the aisle to find common ground to actually get things done. Kuehl, a career politician, has accepted millions from unions, which, if she’s elected, she will be bargaining with for salary agreements. No conflict there?
In the Council races I strongly support two candidates: Kevin McKeown who’s been solid on the issues for 16 years, (also, he responds to emails!) and Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon. Like Shriver, McKinnon has risen above smear campaigns with class and dignity.
While I’m not voting for Phil Brock he has run an extraordinary campaign. And I’m predicting that perennial candidate, Jon Mann, will get 5 percent of the vote. Lastly, I’m an advocate for LC and vehemently oppose measure D and Proposition #46.
All done except for the caveat that you better vote on Tuesday. Otherwise, you’ll have to listen to me say, “I begged you to get help.”
Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or email@example.com.