May 31, Santa Monica’s Day of Infamy and Shame. File photo.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING

That everyone can probably agree on, no matter where they are on the political spectrum?

This: the number one duty of every elected official is to keep their constituents safe.

That’s it. Simple. Top priority. We bestow upon you the authority, the powers that perhaps lie nowhere else; you must use them, when necessary, to keep us safe. Move heaven and earth.

HOW ARE THEY DOING?

Our President and Senate? (The House is not the problem.) Our City Council?

Straight F-s. No make-up test, no summer school, no promotion to the next grade. They must all be sent home. They have been very bad.

While Donald Trump is killing us, in apocalyptic numbers, because of no national response to the coronavirus — and we just found out why, through reporting by Vanity Fair: it was an intentional, political decision — things seem to be moving along kind of normally here in Santa Monica, don’t they? We’re trying our best to get back to where we were. Which is, of course, exactly

THE WRONG WAY TO GO

In these unprecedented times we need bold leadership, thinking outside all the boxes, with a determination to not crawl back into any boxes that weren’t serving us before all this came down. We are not getting that here. We are getting business as usual. So, let’s vote to move ahead to build that 11-story behemoth hotel complex smack dab in the middle of our downtown, even though it may in fact be illegal to do so, instead of some open space plaza that we need and deserve.

I’m not going to go over all the longstanding issues. If you’re interested right this moment, you can go back and read 8-½ years of CURIOUS CITY columns. But let’s talk about that one issue that we all agree on, elected officials’ sacred obligation to keep us safe. We’ve got an election coming up in less than 90 days. Four members of our City Council are up for a vote, who were in office prior to the recent appointment of Kristin McCowan July 14. How have they done? Have they kept us safe?

POLITICIANS ARE HUMAN

They make mistakes. Police officers are human, including the Chief. But — we had the granddaddy of all tests Sunday, May 31 and they all failed miserably, completely, inexcusably, and at great damage to our city. Our businesses, our reputation, and our civic psyche. They did not make any effective effort to keep us safe. For that, they all need to go. This coming election. No second chances, no excuses.

Police Chief Renaud was out of town that weekend, when everyone knew the looters were coming, then concentrated her forces 5/31 on peaceful protesters just a couple of blocks away from all the looting. Many BLM protesters were from Santa Monica, but she used tear gas and rubber bullets on them, and arrested them, while letting the looters have free rein. A petition calling for her resignation got 60,000 signatures in just a few days.

But, she is still on duty. How is this possible? What is City Council thinking? (And don’t tell me “wrongful termination” lawsuit — you have to do what’s right and let the chips fall. Several police chiefs across the country have lost their jobs recently.)

That’s a major misstep by Council. 60,000 signatures, but they still try to cover their own backsides. They haven’t even censured her. But more important is that our City Council, and our City Manager, all aware that looters were coming, did nothing to prepare. No zoom meeting to discuss a Plan A or B. They seemed to have left it all up to the out-of-town Chief. They shouldn’t have. The final responsibility is theirs. The buck stops at City Hall.

THERE’S MORE, FOR SAFE

We all know the litany. The mentally ill commandeering our parks. Home invasions and auto thefts in the tony districts. Gangs on bikes, selling drugs. Human poop on your sidewalks in the funky districts. Open drug use. How about scooters dumped with no permission, permit or parameters, and residents being permanently injured? Remember that one? Tents pitched, filthy encampments. Rapes on the beach, mostly unreported. We have gained a sad reputation as the city that doesn’t enforce its laws, and guess who that draws as visitors? Ongoing, for years, not safe.

But there’s this too. They have for decades spent our money like drunken sailors, like it was play money. $140,000,000 for a vanity City offices building, so green it just might make you sick, that we will now have to spend more money to renovate for pandemic separation. It could have been built, platinum LEED-quality, for probably $40-50,000,000 less.

They spent more than $10,000,000 appealing a lawsuit the City lost, over district voting. This City Council decided they wanted to continue the voting practices the long court trial ruled were discriminatory toward minorities, for no other credible reason than to maintain the system that has kept them in power. (We don’t know exactly how much of our money they spent, because they won’t tell us.)

This year the City paid out $42,600,000 to victims of sexual abuse by Eric Uller in the Police Activities League, a tragedy, but Uller was preceded by two other PAL sexual abusers — why didn’t the City learn from the first two? There were no effective changes made to prevent recurrence. Our precious children were not safe, because they did not act, just threw money at the result.

Just those three extravagant, unnecessary multimillion dollar expenditures (there are lots more) have cost us almost $100,000,000. One hundred million dollars. Down the toilet. Necessitating a wrenching budget tightening in the wake of the COVID economic shutdown, that recommended elimination of libraries, many school crossing guards, letting go longtime lower level City staff (but not the highest paid ones who really would have counted), and curtailing other services. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had that $100M in the bank and didn’t have to decimate our budget?

Strike three, incumbents, if not strike thirty. You’re out.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com