City Hall (File photo)

POLITICAL SCHOLARS AGREE

That the tenor of a government, the spirit, always comes from the top. It doesn’t have to be direct or even overtly stated. Underlings understand what the boss wants, and they get in line.

But while most rational people would acknowledge the ick in DC, most in Santa Monica would see no parallel here with our City government, and certainly wouldn’t think there’s any comparison. They would be wrong, on at least one count.

As messy and ugly as it may get in our Council chambers, they have little chance of igniting a nuclear war. But like a volatile tRump on the world stage, our Council does have the power to ruin our world, and our governance along the way. Not through walls or tariffs, saber rattling, cozying up to Russia or demonizing our press, but through overdevelopment, overspending, and an agenda that prevents appropriate response to major issues.

Trump apologists come up with amazingly absurd justifications. Here, all the talking points seem logical, normal and difficult to refute. But Santa Monica has many moving parts, a complex web with so much hidden from those not “on the inside.” When you do gain some understanding, you get a different picture. The politicians, the movers and shakers, the staff, all know the code. You don’t.

HOUSING, HOUSING, MORE HOUSING

More affordable housing, how can we get more affordable housing, we must, we must build more and more, we have a housing crisis! We’ve been hearing that for years and despite Santa Monica having built more than its share compared to other cities in the region, the drumbeat continues. A high-minded goal, but could part of the motivation be to collect development fees, to keep that tax base up, to trade cash for allowing builders to break the zoning and other regs — all to pay for our skyrocketing City budget, now approaching a billion dollars, to pay for the most bloated, overpaid staff in California and their looming budget-busting pensions, for a $140,000,000 City offices building, for $2.3M restrooms, for a self-inflicted failing local economy, unconscionable crime and homelessness, and on and on.

The housing “strategy” is a deal with the devil. We have an affordability crisis here, not a housing crisis. Santa Monicans may wind up with no more right to that housing than someone’s grandma who just got off the plane from Moscow. And you would be shocked if you examined the parameters of “affordable.” What we need are strategies to keep people in Santa Monica who have lived here but are being forced out of their homes, and this ain’t it. It’s a gnarly but very important dilemma, and I don’t have the answers, but in focusing so much on just building more housing, our City Council doesn’t seem to have noticed that they are building us into un-liveability. Longtime residents who loved this city are moving out, and declaring their intention to, in numbers I’ve never seen in 32 years here.

ARE THEY EQUIPPED?

This City Council? I say no. The message, the spirit they put out seems good, but the reality is different, and they proved it two weeks ago.

Like any politicians (every politician?), they demonstrated that what is most important to them, their number one principle, above all else, is not any of those things they pontificate about. It is greed. Specifically, greed for power. They will do anything to retain their power, no matter what the consequences may be to their constituents.

One of the pieces of business at that Council meeting was to recommend people for commission positions. These are volunteer positions, and commissions have no real power except to recommend, to Council.

There is certainly politics involved. But once on a commission, if a person has participated responsibly and not stolen funds nor slit anyone’s throat, you would expect them to get a second term. 23 people were up for renewal, but only 22 were renewed. Very unusual.

The one who was not: Phil Brock, on the Arts Commission. By all accounts, he was not only a responsible commissioner but an innovative and valuable one. Yet he alone was rejected, 5-2 (Sue Himmelrich voted both rounds to keep him).

Brock previously served for years on the Recreation & Parks Commission and chaired it. Born and raised in Santa Monica, third generation, doing public service since he worked at the Boys & Girls Club as a teen, coached in our schools, honored by Kiwanis and Elks, Samohi alumni president — it’s a very long and impressive list. He knows the City like few do and has served tirelessly, without pay. Could his very unusual rejection possibly be because he has run for City Council and probably will again, has been critical of some of their actions or lack of action, and his common sense approach is a threat to the power elite? But what of the residents of Santa Monica, who will be deprived of his knowledge, energy and service?

The very next morning tRump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, a man praised by all his colleagues for his decades of outstanding service, and for his knowledge and experience which is so valuable to our nation’s security. But he has been very critical of tRump, so he paid no attention to Brennan’s ongoing value to our country and tossed that aside for purposes of personal power.

The direct parallel was striking, too much to ignore.

I don’t want a President or a City Council whose top priority is holding on desperately to their own power, over the good of their constituents.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Things will get better over the scooter situation, it already is, but only because the City is desperately trying to make up for months of miscalculation, manipulation and hidden agenda, and the question is, how short is your memory? When all seems much better, will you remember what we had to go through until the Council and staff were forced to make some decisions that protected an enraged and disgusted population?

Do not forget, come November, how recklessly your City Council handled it all because they are so enamored of our reputation as an innovative transportation city.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK: “When it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, dictatorships, and human rights, you have to take a stand as a reporter because I think our responsibility as journalists is to confront those who are abusing power.” — Jorge Ramos

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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