Money, Power and Local Politics
As a long-time resident of Santa Monica I found it very disturbing to see local politics played out at its ugliest level during our recent elections. I refer specifically to the campaigns waged in favor of the four incumbent city council members as well as the one amassed against the LV initiative.
Once again our city council was able to have its way by relying on its developer friends to fund overwhelming efforts to see that incumbents were re-elected and the LV initiative defeated. And it once again called on its renters’ rights partners and city employee unions to vote in accordance with its wishes thereby mobilizing large numbers in its favor – all so that it could continue to advance its pro-development and social-engineering agendas without interference.
Opposing efforts were greatly outspent and had no chance against the local political machine. Lies and fear were used for good measure by council cronies to ensure success. Multiple lies about the consequences of the LV initiative were spread widely and often through glossy expensive pamphlets dropped at our doorsteps. Most disgracefully, our police and firemen were used as pawns by claiming that they supported council’s stance against controlling further development. After all, who among us would want to oppose the interests of our police and firemen? But what reasonable fireman, policeman or other emergency responder welcomes more traffic congestion when trying to do their jobs?
It should be apparent to most of us that live here that the city council is able to marshal these powerful resources by extending favors to developers, promising continued protection to renters, and maintaining high employee salaries and an inflated payroll. The fact that they get away with this use of power time after time is what is so disheartening.
It is high time we recognize that there will be no fair democracy in our city government until we reject local machine politics. We can begin by voting in new members to city council that can bring more balance to decisions regarding the future of our city.