A rendering of the proposed Wyndham Hotel remodel that would include three buildings, that tallets being 195 feet, or 15 stories. The hotel is located at the corner of Colorado and Ocean avenues. (Rendering courtesy Felcor Lodging Trust)

MY WRITE — This year, the developers and hotel forces gave up masquerading as a bona fide neighborhood group. Instead, they popped up late in the campaign as the political action committee (PAC) “Responsible Leadership for a Better Santa Monica,” headed by Mayor Pro-Tem Terry O’Day.

O’Day’s PAC received money from hotel operators Edward Thomas Management Company (Shutters/ Casa del Mar), Ocean Avenue, LLC (Miramar) and Felcor Lodging Trust; Developers Century West Partners and Kilroy Realty, L.P. and Assemblyman Richard Bloom among others. The PAC supported Frank Gruber and Pam O’Connor for council.

The same developers, hotel interests and housing advocates were major contributors to the “Committee to Protect Affordable Housing – Yes on H & HH” ballot measures. H/HH would have tripled the real estate transfer tax to fund low-income housing to be developed by City Hall’s Community Corporation of Santa Monica. It was nothing more than “big money” currying favor with planning commissioners and council politicians who consider public housing a priority.

Despite a blizzard of half-truths and outright lies about H/HH benefits, the electorate said “No way” to the propositions. Maybe the tide is turning and voters are tired of being taxed and taxed to fund politicians’ pet projects.

Or, maybe they’re finally realizing that City hall’s housing policies really don’t benefit Santa Monica’s seniors, singles or disabled and that policy makers have prioritized the homeless and low income out-of-towners to occupy Santa Monica’s affordable housing and expand the Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) voter base.

This election had its share of dirty tricks. Some scumbag(s) removed 40 of Phil Brock’s lawn signs from north side private properties Election Day morning.

How about Judy Abdo’s recorded phone pitch to voters? She identified herself as a member of the SMRR Steering Committee and asked folks to vote for Gruber and O’Connor. One problem: SMRR didn’t endorse them although her intent was to imply that they did.

After the hanky-panky during their endorsement process and a campaign mailer taking credit for stopping the Hines development, SMRR’s leaders need to clean up their act. Maybe Abdo should be removed from the steering committee for her abuse of power. Fat chance of that happening.

Unite Here, Local 11 (hospitality union) had all kinds of problems, too. Their endorsee Frank Gruber lost and their hit piece on school board candidate Craig Foster backfired. Their “Voter Alert” accused Foster of opposing policies aimed at closing the achievement gap. Worse yet, the flyer implied endorsement by the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, SMRR and others.

According to Karen Farrer President of the Malibu Schools Leadership Council,

the Classroom Teachers Association publicly disavowed any approval or prior knowledge of this flyer. SMRR has also it had nothing to do with the piece. Gotcha!

Speaking of school races, I was delighted to see Craig Foster win. When Ben Allen resigns to take his State Senate seat, a board position will open up.

The remaining six board members will appoint an interim member until the next election. Ralph “Let’s all get along” Mechur who failed to get reelected recently told the Daily Press that he wanted the appointment. That would be a huge mistake.

There are a lot of problems at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Administrators, board members and school cheerleaders either ignore them or try to paint a happy face on everything. Result: nothing ever improves.

Want proof? Just look around and see how many well-off Santa Monicans are now sending their children – our best and brightest – to a host of private schools thus contributing to a continued widening of the SMMUSD’s achievement gap.

We have an excellent opportunity to continue the rejuvenation of the school board by appointing someone else with fresh ideas, imagination, new energy and a solid commitment to transparency, education and fiscal stability. That’s Jake Wachtel.

Measure D lost and Measure LC won. The dueling airport measures are still meaningless because the future of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) will be decided in the courts before any local initiatives come into play. But the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and National Business Aviation Association that were behind D and opposed LC now have a bigger headache to face: Ted Lieu.

While they were promoting a ballot measure that couldn’t win, former State Senator Ted Lieu won the retired Henry Waxman’s Congressional seat that includes Santa Monica. Lieu has vowed to close SMO and now that he’s in Congress, he’s got a big bully pulpit to work from.

Sheila Kuehl won the Third Supervisorial District seat by beating Bobby Shriver – not because she’s so great, but because Shriver’s campaign was weak and didn’t deliver.

Ben Allen won the California 26th Senatorial District seat abandoned by Ted Lieu. Allen beat out Sandra Fluke after a hard fought campaign. Former Republican and now “independent” William E. Bloomfield, Jr. a Manhattan Beach real estate entrepreneur spent over a million bucks on Allen’s campaign through his own PAC.

What’s there to say about the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees race? Boring? Yep.

It looks like I’ll have lots to write about in the years ahead.

Congratulations are in order to Mary Marlow and the volunteers of Santa Monica Transparency Project for expertly tracking and publicizing political campaign contributions, expenditures and tomfoolery.

Lastly, Big Congrats to former Santa Monica High School Boys Baseball Coach Kurt Schwengel who will be sworn in Thursday evening as a new city Recreation and Parks Commissioner.

Bill can be reached atmr.bilbau@gmail.com

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