MLK JR EXPLAINS SM ELECTIONS
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking… Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” He also said, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will,” and I say amen, both those factors determine our local elections.
Add in the huge amount of money spent to control the direction of our beach city, because coastal property anywhere is worth more than gold, and you start to see how things work here. It really is that simple, despite all the song and dance.
The danger, especially for those of us who do make the effort to stay informed — and boy sometimes that takes an archeology degree — is in forgetting that the majority of voters are not. They either don’t care or don’t have the time or inclination to become informed.
The real problem — some people work to get people informed, to bring them to their side, while others simply exploit that human failing to not think. When you have a ton of money to spend, you can create some pretty convincing lies.
Maybe if the side of keeping Santa Monica livable and wonderful and growing within her 8.4 square miles means had huge stacks of money they’d be just as bad. I don’t think so, but the shenanigans by the forces for overdevelopment have been blatant for decades, from Prop T-RIFT through LV to, last election, Term Limits and the SMS school bond. You have to be able to discern reasonable disagreement from outright lies.
So for those of you who think you may not really understand what’s going on here (actually, that includes almost all of us, because obfuscation is the intention), and would like a primer, let’s just review some recent history.
You may have heard about a lawsuit, that would change how we vote for City Council members. Until just days ago we’ve had at large voting, meaning, we all vote for the seats that are open and all Council members represent the entire city. (In theory. But do they?)
But California law favors district voting, meaning cities are broken up into fairly equal districts (seven, here) and people vote for their district representative on City Council, like you do for your state and U.S. representatives. You can debate the pros and cons, but the law favors districts and the judge’s decision was that Santa Monica was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. Guilty. Must change.
The judge further ruled that there was a history in Santa Monica of using legislative and administrative means to discriminate against racial minorities in voting. Also guilty.
OUR CITY SPENT MILLIONS TO FIGHT IT
About $16m, so far, of our taxpayer money, and now they are going to appeal the decision, spending millions more.
Why is district voting terrible? I can’t come up with a reason but I do know this, that switching to districts greatly weakens the existing power structure that controls this city, a combination of SMRR, Forward, NEXT, Union 11 and various local lawyers and the big developers they represent. Could that be the reason? That the current Council members and all who have a stake in controlling them don’t want to lose that power?
Just who do our City Council members represent? This expensive, badly-intentioned resistance makes it pretty clear, I would say. They are fighting for their own power, their own political careers, and they are discriminating and using our money, millions of dollars of it, to do so. If you add in so many other instances where they have spent our hard-earned dollars like play money, you might start to understand why you should not have voted for any incumbents this last election.
They pushed a blank check school bond that will cost us a billion (yes, with a “b”) dollars, when a better bond measure in two years that had some specificity to it would lessen immensely the possibility for fraud, corruption and waste. $2.3M for a pair of toilets. At least $7m for shiny new blue bus seats that no one wants to sit in, partially replaced by the old benches. Surely you know we have a reputation for a bloated City staff who make absolutely top dollar (police sergeant at a quarter million, a City Manager and several staff lawyers who make way more than Supreme Court justices). Yet we have three brand new, desperately needed fire trucks sitting in a parking lot in Ontario because we can’t outfit them, with hoses and such. Because of no money?! Or because the fire chief screwed up the ordering procedure? Either way, our city is at risk. And let’s not forget a city offices annex being built at so far beyond state-of-the-art, a vanity project, that it could be done superbly for $40-60M less.
Follow the money.
HERE’S AN IDEA, SUE AND GREG
Congratulations on your victories in the last election for City Council. I did not favor Greg Morena because I heard no indications he would favor residents over his fiscally-oriented “synergy” philosophy. I did finally favor Sue Himmelrich because I felt she did stand up for residents in many cases, but bowed to political pressure to conform.
Here’s your chance, you two. Sue can show she really is for residents, and Greg can demonstrate he is not owned by the forces that picked him out of nowhere, to defeat long longtime Council person Pam O’Connor. (Everyone else on the Council is beyond hope.)
Take a stand to accept the judge’s ruling. You lost. Do not spend more of our money appealing.. Do not continue to stand for discrimination and flaunting the law. Do the right thing, and maybe 2019 will dawn with some ray of hope.
Oh, and something we can all do, and I do mean ALL. I have heard the idea floated that there should be a really large gathering at City Hall before the next Council meeting on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, to demand that the judge’s ruling stand and that the City waste no more of our money and moral standing pursuing an appeal. But it will take a really large crowd, at least 1000 of us. Can you do that?
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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