One City Councilmember will be elected from each of these seven districts.

By CHARLES ANDREWS

THE OTHER SHOE

Has finally dropped. Is it a game changer? Or just an adjustment, a gnat to be flicked away by our entrenched corruption cabal here, “business” as usual?

On Friday Judge Yvette Palazuelos issued her final ruling in the district voting lawsuit the City lost. She ruled that Santa Monica must have a special City Council election, by districts rather than at large, on July 2. Which means that every current Council member will be out, deemed to have been seated by “unlawful elections,” and have to run in their own districts if they want back on the Council. All seven seats are now up for grabs.

This is quite an opportunity for change, but before you dance your jig of hallelujah, understand that the same ugly heads will be lurking in all seven districts, funding six-figure PACs to elect their favored folk who will do their bidding. Union 11 will organize to back and support, with phone calls, mailers and demonstrations, candidates who will give them as many union wage-paying hotels as possible, hotels everywhere, hotels to the sky.

SMRR will still bestow their crucial endorsement on their hand-picked candidates, still crying Renters’ Rights but doing little to stop the continuing loss of truly affordable rent-controlled apartments, instead focusing on begging developers for a handful of “affordable units” that aren’t very affordable, as they advocate for building more, more, more in already jam-packed Santa Monica. (That is a terrible strategy. Unless your goal is simply to remain the kingmaker, to continue having control of city politics, by adding more and more renters, never mind the longtime residents who get forced out in the process.)

BUT DON’T DESPAIR!

District elections may not be sure salvation but it is cause for hope. Despite the continuing influences I cited above, it is now possible for a candidate to knock on the door and speak to every voter in their district. You couldn’t do that with city-wide elections; you couldn’t even consider running for City Council unless you had a war chest of at least $120,000. The advantage went to those wealthy enough to at least partially fund their own campaigns, like Sue Himmelrich. Anyone else had to be beholden to the groups who provided them the necessary funds to campaign and win. Campaign funds — a nice term for bribery.

I love seeing candidates twist themselves in knots declaring they have nothing to do with PACs and don’t even know who funds them. Right. Council member Kevin McKeown loves to righteously announce that he has never taken funding from developers. Probably technically true. But we all know where the money comes from that buys all those ads and flyers that promote his candidacy each election.

Terry O’Day ran a PAC in 2014 ostensibly to support the candidacies of Pam O’Connor and Frank Gruber for City Council, but the law is loose on reporting where the money comes from and where it goes.

THIS IS OUR OPPORTUNITY

To elect Council members who will  always put residents first, truly adhere to transparency in government, and will not be owned by special interests.

Look to the SMDP reporting on this issue to see the map of the new voting districts. Which one are you in? Who among the sitting Council members is in your district? Incumbency is worth a ton of votes, you know.

District 1 – O’Day, Jara; District 2 – Morena; District 3 -Davis, Himmelrich, McKeown; Districts 4, 5, 6 – no incumbents; District 7 – Winterer.

Some observations: I don’t believe that City Council voted for Ana Jara to fill the vacant CC seat because they thought she was the most qualified. I believe they backed her because she was a Latina who opposed the lawsuit calling for district elections, good for their possible appeal. I believe she is sitting on Council to show, look, we have Latinas on CC — two of them! Even though only one Latino in the last 73 was elected. Gleam Davis was appointed before she was elected, and she never ran as a Latina. Advantage: O’Day.

Morena, new kid, sometimes bucking the CC wave, but I’m sure he got slapped down for it. Will he become his own man? I doubt it but I’m open.

District 3, really interesting: CC doesn’t like Sue because she asks hard questions, but then votes with the majority, to get along. McKeown has never been a CC favorite, he could move to a different district, leaving Davis as the favorite. Himmelrich is the one we need to keep!

District 7, Ocean Park — Ted was very popular to begin with, now has lost cred among most voters in OP. Will someone give him a run?

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: For years people have been begging me to run for City Council. Is this the moment? I could run on two simple standards: I will always represent the interests of the residents of Santa Monica, fighting all the special interests that now control our city; and, as a longtime Ocean Park resident — I’m not Ted. I’m sure I would face a lot of SMeaRR tactics but I think that even without campaign funds I could pull enough votes, don’t you?

… nah.

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  therealmrmusic@gmail.com

 

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