Everybody knew Bill Bauer. And maybe nobody did.

He was complex but not contradictory. Mysterious (probably by intention) but not aloof. Most knew him only through his weekly column on local politics in this newspaper.

It seemed surprising, but charming, that when people shared memories at his memorial service on the Pier last November, it was as though everyone there knew a different Bill Bauer. He seemed to have revealed only parts of himself with even his closest, longtime friends.

But everyone knew two things, that Bill loved Santa Monica and wanted the best for the city and its residents (even though you may not have agreed with his viewpoint on achieving that), and that he was devoted to his “My Write” column. He wrote it every week for nearly 16 years, since the beginning of the Santa Monica Daily Press, more than 750 columns. Take my word: that is a Herculean feat of journalism.

Here’s something more specific that I knew about Bill, from getting together frequently the last couple of years over drinks or coffee (he preferred the Virginia Park Farmer’s Market on Saturdays — had lots of friends there): Bill loved the written word, and especially journalism. We often lamented together the decline of journalism, but when we did, I would remind him of my experience mentoring the newspaper class at Samohi and how impressed I was with the knowledge and dedication I saw from many of the students there.


I had been pondering how best to remember my friend and colleague and keep his generous spirit alive, when my fellow columnist Jack Neworth (“Laughing Matters,” “Snide World of Sports”), in a phone conversation a few weeks ago, blurted out, there should be a journalism scholarship in his name, and I shot back, absolutely, that’s perfect!

Sooner than I imagined, it’s a reality. After a short round of meetings (where everyone was very enthusiastic about the idea), we now have the Bill Bauer Journalism Scholarship (BBJS), to be awarded to a Santa Monica high school student planning to pursue journalism. We may be able to award the first one this May.

It is fittingly under the auspices of the Police Athletic League, because Bill gave so much volunteer time to our SMPD and had many good friends there. I greatly acknowledge and thank PAL Director Eula Fritz, who gave the final nod, and board director Neil Carrey, who established the Chris Carrey Education Fund (in honor of his son) through which this scholarship will be administered and awarded, and has pledged to be an energetic fundraiser for the BBJS. This would not be possible without them.


PAL is also a fitting partner because SMDP Publisher Rob Schwenker, who got this ball rolling, is also on the board of directors there, and was the one who suggested going this route. The Daily Press is sponsoring this fitting memorial, and thanks also go to Editor-in-Chief Matt Hall for being part of that sponsorship and support, and for backing the idea from the get go. Both of them said, during his illness and after his passing, that “Bill was family.”

Before it was even official, we collected $600 in pledges. You can donate on the PAL website, through Paypal, or send a check to the address there, noting that it is for the “Bill Bauer Journalism Scholarship.”

I know Bill would be dang well pleased this is happening.


The new City Services Building, as currently proposed.

Of course it’s dishonest to speak for the dead and I won’t, I can only speak for myself. And myself is in the awkward position, once again, of addressing something that may have taken unexpected turns between the time I wrote this and the time you read it, with a big fat long City Council meeting in between. But here’s a little background for those of you, many of you probably, just hearing about all this. I’ll try to keep it simple. But like anything SM, it defies simplicity.

Building an annex to City Hall has become a necessity, for a number of reasons. It’s a smart investment to house in our own building the overflow from City Hall, including some 240 staff already overflowed into Downtown office space, paying rent.

Mayor Ted Winterer claims that at the end of the bond period to finance it, the City will be ahead $6M, and then save $10M/year for the next 70 years. Hundreds of millions of dollars! However, since he says the bonding period is 30 years, those figures are based on the building still being used in 100 years — imagine the problems with lighting, heat, plumbing etc. in a City building from 1917. That may be running the numbers a bit too far into the future.

The question involved is twofold:


The plan as being pushed through is for a super sustainable state-of-the-art building that will pass the nearly impossible checklist to join the rare ranks of the Living Building Challenge. Problem is, David Gardner (citizen), who has filed an appeal with the council to prevent this boondoggle from eating up any more money in planning and development, claims that of only 10 buildings in the world which have met this lofty standard, most of them had to get exceptions because… they didn’t meet the standards.

The reason why most fell short was the toilets. The plan requires composting toilets, a very expensive and environmentally iffy proposition in an urban area. A plans inspector working for the City for 30 years has notified, he says, our City Manager Rick Cole and our Planning Director David Martin, as long as a year ago, that they are illegal per both City and state regs. Further, he said, the sustainable design has many practical design drawbacks for everyday office work.

Did I mention the cost, as being proposed? Including the financing, about $130,000,000. (Some add another $11M.) Are you serious?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which local gal filled the venerable Troubadour Monday night and knocked it out of the park with intense vocals, very clever, really funny patter, and an amazing band?

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Vidiots will be closing its doors Feb. 15. Que lastima!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” — Walter Lippmann

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live

anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at