By CHARLES ANDREWS

KEEP HOPE ALIVE

I often — too often, these days — come back for strength to that signature quote from Rev. Jesse Jackson, from decades ago, and he still professes it. Usually it’s when I am cogitating some social or political situation that seems hopeless. When there is no credible, even discernible reason for hope that something will change and I want to give up, well, just keep hope alive.

But this is Santa Monica, not Selma, or even D.C. I get some derision (less and less) whenever I compare what’s going on here with the horrorshow of our national politics the last two years. But, after last week’s unanimous vote by our City Council to appeal their loss in the voting rights lawsuit that everyone except their very expensive lawyers told them, correctly, they would lose, and the supercilious, nay, haughty, tone deaf proposal this week to limit even further resident input at Council meetings (writing this on Monday I don’t know how Tuesday’s vote turned out), to even consider that… you tell me.

SO, VOTE BY DISTRICTS

Big deal. About one quarter of all CA cities do, with 57 more switching this past election and many more coming. None have fallen into ruin. Some switch as soon as it’s proposed. Others do so without a fight, perhaps through clenched teeth, to avoid crushing legal costs. But not SM.

The lengthy court trial has so far cost us, the taxpayers, some $22M (estimated) and it will go higher by millions because the Council voted, unanimously, to appeal. They have been spouting baloney rationalizations but there is only one reason, really: the people in power want desperately to stay in power, they have worked for decades to put a machine in place that guarantees that, and they will fight to the bitter end because they can and because Santa Monica will pay for it,. They are doing it on our dime. No consequences.

Do you think this is $22M-plus wisely spent for the benefit of residents? What about the $140M they are spending on a City offices building, a price tag tens of millions of dollars higher than it needs to be because they are building it so beyond state-of-the-art that they believe it will be their legacy. It will look good on their resume. Because they can. No consequences.

$2.5M bathrooms. $8M for pretty but completely impractical bus stop ensembles. $1M for a lawsuit lost because a Mayor stomped her foot and opened her mouth. No consequences. How many more examples do you need of our City Council’s profligate fiscal irresponsibility? When is it going to bother you enough to do the hard, door-to-door work to get them out?

THAT FAT PIGGY BANK

When the horrible Woolsey Fire was burning out of control, rapidly becoming the most destructive in LA-Ventura Counties history, it took only four hours after jumping the 101 freeway to hit the ocean, all of Malibu in its path. Resources were deployed as rapidly as possible. LAFD was very quickly there, most fire departments in LA County sent at least two trucks, and Malibu’s neighbor Santa Monica? An SUV with a chief and two crew members. Forever shameful.

But we had no fire engines to send, because we had two down for repairs and no one to repair them. We’ve had four brand new $700,000 engines languishing since last July on an empty lot in Ontario for “lack of the funds” to outfit them with the necessary equipment, and another $1.4M hook and ladder truck about to arrive, to meet the same fate. Priorities. For those sorts of things, that crucially benefit and protect the residents rather than the incumbents’ political aspirations, we don’t have the money. No consequences.

How many more examples do you need of our City Council’s profligate, fiscal irresponsibility? Hey, it’s a long list, find out for yourselves, I’m almost out of space here.

TONY, TONY, TONY!

No call for resignation, not even a censure vote from our Council for then-Mayor Pam O’Connor. And not a peep about former Council member Tony Vazquez, whose School Board member wife Maria voted for six-figure contracts from firms that were paying him consulting fees and retainers. Tony then ran for state Board of Equalization and got nearly 1.5M votes. Council member Sue Himmelrich threw fundraisers for him at her home. “He’s my friend.” No consequences.

I doubt that they don’t understand finances. It’s the choices they make. Like $22,000,000-plus to make sure they get reelected, fighting so very hard to keep proven minority voting discrimination in place. Is that what we have become, Santa Monica? Is that what we will now be known for?

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is wrong with you people? Talking to voters now. What will it take? Are you fine with a boot on your neck while bulldozers demolish the town you say you love? My hope has barely a spark of life flickering.

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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