FORGET THE ALAMO
Remember the Bird.
I know, there was Lime squeezing in too, and a couple of others tried to scoot in later.
But Bird is the word. Don’t forget that word. Remember that word when you vote in November. To un-Bird-en yourself of City Council members who clearly, demonstrably, do not have your best interests in mind. And don’t forget too, what the Phil Brock incident signifies. (I’ll remind you. It’s not about Brock.) I say, these two items tell you all you have to know.
Bird just did what any red blooded American corporation must do — try to make the most money possible. Corporations acquire a social conscience only when the PR value outweighs what they have to give up in profits. The exceptions are as rare as birds who don’t lay eggs.
To this day Bird touts itself as Santa Monica’s homegrown, local company, when in fact they came out of Silicon Valley and chose us as their beachhead.
Maybe, for the same reason we seem to be the locale of choice for the homeless and the criminal. Maybe, because the word is out that we’re easy, we’re suckers, Santa Monica does not enforce its laws.
That our City Council is more concerned with its image, as a progressive, innovative, compassionate, forward thinking, transportation modally magnificent city, than it is for the wellbeing of its residents. Ask yourself: was the way in which Bird was allowed to come in unpermitted, unregulated, completely unrestrained, do your thing, baby, we dig it, makes us look good, cutting edge, it’s soo Santa Monica, don’t worry we’ll walk around those things and not mention all the injuries but pray no one gets killed — is that your idea of a City Council who is looking out for you?
As other cities stopped the invasion on day one, issued cease and desist orders, confiscated scooters, insisted rules be put in place BEFORE permitting, we did nothing but slap a meaningless $300,000 fine (on a $2B company) and stage one day photo op confiscations (and then GIVE the scooters back, no penalty).
All those violations of the laws we do have, about helmets, underage drivers, riding tandem, obstructing pathways (for the handicapped, even), riding on the sidewalks and the beach path, not following traffic rules — well, we’re 23 police officers short of where we need to be, and apparently our understaffed City staff doesn’t have enough time to figure anything better out. What can we do?
HERE’S ONE SUGGESTION
Don’t spend $140,000,000 on a needlessly prestigious, resume enhancing, political career boosting City offices building when you could do it for half that.
Even figuring “only” $200,000 per year per officer for salary and benefits, that means we could hire those 23 we desperately need and pay them for the next 15 years. That’s not forever but I think it would help, don’t you? With crime and homelessness too, ya think?
Here’s another suggestion. Hire enough people to issue citations for traffic violations and you’ll not only have the revenue you need, you will suddenly see people obeying the laws rather than have their $2 scooter ride cost them a $200 ticket.
This might surprise you: I approve of scooters. I think they are a good idea for cutting back on auto trips and increasing use of the transit we have. What I don’t like is the way they were rolled out here, and the way our City Council rolled over.
WHY DID THEY ROLL OVER?
Could be any number of reasons, doesn’t matter, the thing to remember is that they did. The first job of any government is the safety and well being of its citizens. Do you think that was the guiding philosophy in this debacle?
The other incident that reveals our City Council’s governing philosophy is the one I mentioned at the top regarding Arts Commissioner Phil Brock. I detailed it last column but here’s the nutshell: a couple weeks ago there were 22 reappointments of commissioners before the Council. Only 21 were approved. Brock was not. (Only Sue Himmelrich voted for him in both rounds.) Very unusual. Why?
Pure politics. Brock has run for Council before and probably will again, and has been critical of some things this Council has done (while praising others). It’s not about Brock, dear readers. It’s what it says about this Council, so obvious in this case because Brock has a lifetime resume of service to Santa Monica. So when he is denied when there is no visible reason for it, what can we conclude?
It can only be the Council’s greed for retaining power, in their little SMRR-Forward-Next club, takes precedence over the benefit residents could gain from Brock’s continued service. Arts Commission. Why not? You tell me.
Just like there is no good explanation for Council’s handling of the scooter rollouts.
They’re just not that into you, folks. They have other masters. Let them know in November that you got the message loud and clear, and that things have to change.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Full disclosure: does my friendship with Phil Brock have anything to do with what I wrote here? Not a thing. In fact the last time we were together we were arguing pretty angrily. I would have written the same if it was anyone else.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK: “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” — Thomas Jefferson
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 email@example.com