MY WRITE — I’ll be a happy camper after election day.For weeks, my mailbox has been stuffed with mailers and political propaganda. One day last week, I received twelve different pieces of campaign literature.

And, if that wasn’t enough, my phone has been ringing off the hook with automated “Robo-calls” asking for my vote.

You can often learn more about a candidate or a measure by noting who supports or opposes them. The first thing I read is the small print with the name of the entity paying for the materials.

Voters guides or slate cards are the exception. With names like “Budget Watchdogs”, “California Senior Advocates”, “Cops”, “One Voice Latino Voter”, “Health Care Voter Guide” and “California Vote Green,” these mailers are nothing more than a collection of paid ads assembled by a salesman on a “first come, first serve basis.”

There’s also literature from legitimate organizations and their political action committees (PACS) such as the Sierra Club, various Democratic Clubs, the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), League of Conservation Voters, Residocracy.org, Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC), and various unions such as the Santa Monica Firefighters, Santa Monica Police Officers Association, Santa Monica Coalition of City Employees, Unite Here Local 11 and others.

Just keep in mind that their endorsements are often a result of political horse trading, contributions or just plain old cronyism.

The important mailers come from SMRR. Because 70 percent of the voters are renters, “SMRR Team” mailers featuring SMRR endorsees pack a punch. However, the latest SMRR mailer in my mailbox grossly exaggerates SMRR’s roll in opposing the proposed 765,000 sq. ft. Hines development, last year.

While SMRR’s leadership takes credit for stopping the Hines project, the truth is that a public referendum circulated by independent, grass roots, Residocracy.org forced City Council to rescind the development agreement that permitted the Houston, Texas mega-developer to build the project in the first place.

In the meantime Residocracy.org has also endorsed candidates for various offices and local measures.

PACs will form to promote or oppose local ballot measures. Front and center is the Santa Monica Airport. Two ballot measure are in play. “Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions” (supporting Measure D) is backed mostly by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and National Business Aviation Association. D requires a public vote for operational changes at the airport.

A counter-measure, LC which leaves operations in the hands of City Council, has “Sunset Park Anti-Airport” and other anti-airport PACs consist of airport neighbors in both Santa Monica and West Los Angeles.

Another contentious measure is H and its companion “advisory only” measure HH. H would triple the real estate transfer tax on properties when they’re sold. Its revenues would be used for affordable and low-income housing.

H is backed by the “Committee to Protect Affordable Housing” which has received extensive financial backing from hotels and major developers– both with a number of proposed large developments awaiting City Hall approval.

$5,000 contributions have come from big developers like Century West, NMS Properties, Dallas,Texas developer 1640 5th St LLC c/o Lincoln Property ($7,500), developer law firms Dale Goldsmith and Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal LLP, Hotels like Edward Thomas — Shutters and Casa del Mar, The Georgian, Felcor Lodging Trust — Wyndham Hotel, The Huntley Santa Monica, owners/managers ($10,000) and others.

H and HH are opposed by “Santa Monicans against Ridiculous Taxes PAC” backed by The California Association of Realtors. If you don’t think that H and HH isn’t about development, think again.

An independent PAC “Responsible Leadership for a Better Santa Monica” chaired by City Councilman Terry O’Day is financed by many of the same hotel and developer interests supporting H and HH. It’s also backing pro-development candidates Frank Gruber and Mayor Pam O’Connor.

A number of out-of-town political consultants and campaign managers work every election cycle, here. Some, like Sharon Gilpin, do a good job informing voters of issues while others exaggerate, obfuscate and prevaricate. Many readers are aware of my disdain for dishonest campaigns like the one against the Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT) or Measure R in 2008.

Developers, hotels and business interests poured $800,000 into “Save Our City” (SOC), the anti-R PAC co-chaired by Terry O’Day (yep, same one) and SMRR Steering Committee member Judy Abdo.

SOC’s propaganda claimed R would hurt schools, see senior citizens evicted, older apartments demolished and end affordable housing even though it only temporarily capped commercial development.

“In picture-perfect Santa Monica, families are struggling” screams one H/HH mailer. Another states H-subsidized low income units are for our grandparents, parents and neighbors. Another claims H financed affordable housing would also go to teachers, policeman and firefighters.

The truth is that 90 percent of the people on the “affordable” housing list are from outside the city so, Santa Monica families will struggle on with or without H. And, the occupations listed usually exceed earnings thresholds that qualify for low income housing.

##

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

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *