Courtesy image

GIVE ME A BREAK

Donald Trump tries to scare people with crime — it’s a shop-worn Republican trope, Law & Order, worked for Nixon, not so much for Barry Goldwater, actually goes back to Presidential campaigns in the 1700s — painting an apocalyptic picture of an America ruled by looters and thugs, police defunded and nowhere to be found, cities burning, no one safe on the streets or in their homes, people moving in next door who are …“different.” That will be Joe Biden’s America so you’d better vote for me because I’m the only one who can fix it.

Fix it? You broke it. People are incredibly frustrated and angry because the racism you’ve stoke for more than four years has resulted in more and more murders of unarmed people of color. After 400 years, we’ve had it. That doesn’t mean burning and looting is right, but it is certainly understandable. “A riot is the language of the unheard,” explained non-violent activist Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967, to a mostly white audience at Stanford.

It’s been Trump’s America for four years. This is one of the few ways Trump acts like a Republican: they have a long history of breaking things, like the budget, peace and autonomy abroad, voting and other rights, the environment, the economy, and then sounding the alarm, pushing the panic button, and demanding the car keys again after driving it into the ditch. Trust us, we’ll get it out. (Oh, Democrats — could you lend a hand?) Just vote for us again.

What ridiculous posturing. How could he even try that, using video from Trump’s America to scare people about a future Biden presidency — who would believe it? But he does try it, because they do believe it. “They,” his loyal, cult base, will believe anything he says. Get away from me with those facts! You probably got them from the New York Times, or NBC News, right?

BUT WHAT ABOUT SANTA MONICA?

I often draw parallels between our local politics and national, but my goodness, we do have our differences here in SM, don’t we? Not to brag but wouldn’t you say we have a population above average in education, sophistication, knowledge, awareness and, we hope, sound judgement? So you can’t pull that simpleton dodge on us, you politicians.

Let’s take the issue of crime. Let’s do that because it seems to be the number one issue for most residents for this coming election. Who hasn’t been a victim, or known someone who was? In my little condo complex of 10 units we had one longtime, gray-haired resident mugged for his cell phone just a few blocks from here, and another, a big strapping young dude, who was attacked and beaten by four guys as he emptied the trash out front.

Social media shows a constant flow of reports of everything from armed robbery, commercial burglary, carjacking and home invasion (probably not local kids) to the mentally unstable pooping on your porch, to knife attacks, to grandma getting clocked in the face. As someone who has lived here for almost 35 years, I can tell you, discounting the hysteria of social media (but few are making this stuff up), it is definitely getting worse.

BUT WAIT!

I must be wrong. Here’s what I heard at the recent SM Democratic Party candidate debate on zoom:

Pushing back on studies that show SM to be one of the most unsafe cities in CA — “You can cherry pick stats but compared to 10, 15, 20 years ago, Santa Monica is a much safer city than what it was. For me, public safety involves being a place where everyone can thrive. So for me, we need to become a city of wellbeing. Crime, people experiencing homelessness, a lot of the things that make us uncomfortable in the city right now are a result of the fact that we’re not taking care of people, and if we solve that underlying problem, of taking care of individuals’ wellbeing, a lot of the things that people do find uncomfortable will be solved. So I believe that what we need to do is invest more money in things — mental health, youth programs, programs that help seniors, those sorts of programs that reach out and help people where they are and help them thrive within the community, because not only does that help solve the individuals’ problems, but it builds a better community and a deeper community.”

That was incumbent Gleam Davis, addressing the issue of crime (??) in Santa Monica. It immediately brought to my mind a line in a song by the Animals, “The Story of Bo Diddley,” where Bo was asked what he thought of these scruffy young English blokes on stage performing one of his songs: “Man, that sure is the biggest load of rubbish I ever heard in my life.”

“NOT ALL SANTA MONICANS FEEL UNSAFE HERE

— I do not agree with your statement. It’s about social justice, fortifying a safety net, that all of us feel we belong.” That was incumbent Ana Jara.

“We do a good job here in SM of reducing crime. Part 1 crimes were down 16 percent in 2019, down more in 2020.” Incumbent Ted Winterer.

When the issue of funding for youth groups came up, candidate Oscar de la Torre asked the incumbents how they could justify completely defunding his Pico Youth and Family Center (PYFC), which he deemed very successful at addressing such issues, while continuing to fund the Police Athletic League while they were under investigation for incidents of child molestation. Incumbent Terry O’Day responded that the required financial paperwork was not filed on time by the PYFC, and it would be fiscally irresponsible to fund any group missing that. “We have to protect public monies,” O’Day said.

“The city paid a $42,000,000 settlement — how is that protecting public money…” De la Torre was then cut off from speaking by a very loud announcement of “TIME!,” five seconds into what was supposed to be a round of 90 second responses.

Crime is not an issue in SM? We’re good? One study ranks us the 8th worst city in CA for violent crimes, with a crime rate 131 percent higher than the national average (that’s double plus a third); another, 34th most dangerous; another ranks us down at 344th among CA cities for safety. The FBI says one in 19.6 SM residents will soon be a victim of robbery or theft.

It seems a silly tactic, for City Council incumbents to deny what everyone sees every day. But in these Dark Ages of Trump, who knows? Maybe they’re responding to longstanding complaints of not enough street lighting here, by going for gaslighting.

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