By CHARLES ANDREWS
CAN’T DO IT
Won’t do it, actually. Changed my mind. (I can hear the chorus: “hope you traded up!”)
Last week in my CURIOUS CITY column, I wrote, “Next week, my New Year’s wishes for all.”
I had modestly evil intent. Maybe not evil; naughty. I had fun in mind, but frustrated fun at the expense of others. Others for whom I had long-standing ill will, for their leading roles in the degradation of the city and country I love.
City Council. City Manager. City staff (some). SMRR. Union 11. Denny Zane. Richard Bloom. Mitch McConnell. Donald J. tRump. Snidely Whiplash. Satan. (I laughed out loud when Christian Bale thanked Satan at the Golden Globes Sunday for “giving me inspiration in how to play this role,” of Dick Cheney in “Vice.” But nothing was better than The Dude’s rambling acceptance of a lifetime achievement award.)
Great once-a-new-year opportunity to prick the egos, hold their failings up to public ridicule.
But I’ll pass. It may feel good for a moment, to poke back, but really, what good does that do? When I wrote “Time to Throw in the Towel?” in my column Dec. 5, some people jumped to the wrong conclusion that I was giving up on ever seeing Santa Monica politicians work for the people they supposedly represent, rather than themselves and outside interests. I know, I know, that describes politicians in general, throughout history and throughout the world and certainly in Washington, but even in Washington today there are a handful of good guys and gals. We are a tightly-knit little city of less than 100,000 here and I’ve always thought, why can’t we get it right?
WHAT I GAVE UP ON
— was the notion of forcing right behavior from our representatives by showing them how many of their constituents wanted it. That’s a fool’s errand, a lost cause. Because of uninvolved, uninformed, misinformed, distracted, apathetic, lazy human nature, it just doesn’t work that way, as I wrote in a CURIOUS CITY right after the last election. In fact, it reinforces bad governance.
Martin Luther King Jr. knew it: “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” Thinking raises questions in your mind, and finding the answers requires educating yourself.
Add MLK Jr.: “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” And the important thing to remember is, those people, by far the most people, vote.
SO WHAT TO DO?
If I’m not giving up? I could go to insurrection, the violent overthrow of a repressive government. Pretty tough on the federal level but it could work in Santa Monica. Who’s with me? We might not even need arms. Just threaten the above-named with the guillotine if they do not resign. Um, anyone have a guillotine in their basement? (Wait a minute — no one here has basements.) You see how hard this is?
No, I’ll tell you what’s really hard, a Herculean, if not Sisyphean, task: to directly convince our City Council, by pen or in person, to do the right thang. (All the time.)
How? Well, it could be through this column. I know they all read it, much as it pains them. OK, probably Pam never did but she’s gone, and probably Terry never does. I know Kevin does because just last week he wrote to tell me I was wrong (at least partly) about the cause of the demise of our Vons on Lincoln. Sue reads, comments, usually critically, and we have met in person a few times.
MEET IN PERSON
That’s what I’m suggesting. Now you know to what lengths I am willing to go as your faithful, dedicated columnist. Coffee with Kevin? Tea with Terry, Ted? Gimlets with Gleam? I’ve already had Scotch with Sue.
Microbrews with Morena? See, there’s the rub. No sense meeting with anyone until we see who’s in our next City Council, after the judge rules and the dust settles from the district voting lawsuit. Pasta with Phil? Apple fritters with Armen? Margaritas with Mary? More Scotch with Scott?
This may sound like fun, if too fattening, but look at what I’m taking on. Into the devils’ dens. And first, I have to convince those politicos to sit down with their devil, me. But my horoscope today said “it feels good to test your strength… because you’re stronger than you thought.” Thank goodness horoscopes are gospel.
I don’t want to go this route but it’s either this or curl up in a corner and whine and watch my beloved Santa Monica be overdeveloped into density damned, tourist trapped, scooter scarred, diversity divested, junkie jeopardized, criminally cursed, gridlocked high rise hell.
I’d rather see if our new Mayor Davis and I can find any common ground. It means I will have to really listen and be open to seeing where I may be misinformed, misguided or even wrong. I can do that. I know for a fact everyone of those folks love Santa Monica, as I do. We just disagree on the direction for its future. Quite a bit. But like Gretzky said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” so I’ve got to take this shot. I’ve got to try. I hope they too might be willing, to launch a new year of listening, rethinking, perhaps compromising and cooperating. Oh, how bright 2019 looks… a week in.
But you just never know, what’s around the corner.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Did I call it? I knew when people questioned my disdain for admitted conflict-of-interest veteran and soon-to-be-former SM councilperson Tony Vazquez running for the Board of Equalization (BOE) that he had something up his sleeve. What agency is more open to big money corruption possibilities than the BOE, I insinuated. But their power was removed last year, you all said, duh. (Because of… corruption charges against BOE members.) Just wait, I said. Now Vazquez has announced he will lobby our new Governor to return that authority to the BOE. IT IS THE ONLY STATE BOE IN THE NATION that gives such power to elected, not appointed officials.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK: three more from the great MLK Jr. — “When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a moulder of consensus.”
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org