LOCAL ELECTION CHEATING, DIRTY TRICKS!
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…
It’s not a very big deal that campaign signs are being hung illegally on City fences and placed on City property, but… character counts, and, why do it? I’m not saying some of the incumbent City Council candidates themselves did it, or ordered it, or even suggested it, necessarily, but then — who is responsible? I mean, there they are, those signs with the incumbents’ names in big bold letters and bright colors — TED WINTERER, ANA MARIA JARA, GLEAM DAVIS, TERRY O’DAY, and yes the new kid too, fast learner she is, KRISTIN McCOWAN.
Once the photos were posted on social media, with detailed information as to locations, if I were a candidate of honor I would go to those locations immediately and remove them myself. (Or have some volunteer do it.) And investigate who did the dirty deed(s). And issue a statement. But, that’s just me. Gleam Davis was confronted with the news of her illegal signs and did not say she would do anything.
I have yet to see any illegally placed campaign signs for non-incumbents, or posted online. Those little styrofoam signs are quite an expense for challenging candidates who don’t have six-figure PACs supporting them, like the incumbents. They probably give careful instructions to everyone as to where they should and should not place them.
PHIL BROCK IS SUCH A CROOK! – NOT
But you might have thought so, for a few minutes anyway, based on recent accusations filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) by Jason Islas, our inveterate erstwhile outside agitator and not-registered apparent lobbyist, turned registered lobbyist for Bird, and now officially not a lobbyist (he became a Bird drop) but salaried for years by Santa Monica Forward (who back the incumbents and definitely do not like the challenger slate), and by attorney and former Rent Control Board chair Joel Koury.
He’s a cheat, that Phil Brock, no business license, not reporting income, not paying taxes on his home-based, and much worse, in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, taking a rent controlled unit off the market to do so. Boy, those revelations could sink a campaign, even one showing a head of steam like Brock’s.
IF THEY WERE TRUE
Three complaints in eight days, all baseless, inconsequential or seemingly fabricated. But requiring Brock and others he’s running with to turn their attention away from campaigning and to fork out for attorney fees to refute them. When candidates come under sudden personal attack, it’s usually because their opposition has figured out they are in real danger of losing.
Islas filed his complaint with the FPPC over Brock’s Form 700 for candidates which did not disclose the income from his talent agency business. Brock admitted fault, and explained that he did not understand that there were different requirements for those running for elective office, and so he signed and submitted the same Form 700 he had used for his many years as a Commissioner. As soon as he was notified, he said he would file his amended form. But Islas’ was a duplicate complaint — I wonder if Jason knew that? — and it was thrown out. After Brock hired an attorney.
LET’S SEE YOUR 700!
In August Mary Marlow (of the Transparency Group) filed FPPC complaints against City Council incumbents Ana Maria Jara and Terry O’Day for failing to submit their Form 700s, which were due on June 1. O’Day, running now for the fourth time (he knows better), submitted his on Sept. 4. Jara said recently, “Yes, I erred in June with my filing – but I have since rectified the situation and am current.” Hmmm — payback on Brock? For these legit complaints? Especially considering Islas’ duplicate complaint?
Then comes attorney Joel Koury charging that Brock was operating without a business license and hadn’t paid taxes for 20 years. Even I could find that 20-year-old business license, and the record that Brock had paid his taxes every year, and I dropped out of law school after one semester. (The second semester requirement that we join a Satanic pedophile torture cult seemed good career prep but was just not my style. Seems to have gotten quite popular lately though, even for non-lawyers).
THEN THE ALLEGATION
Of removing a rent controlled unit from the market. First off, the rent control law does not prohibit anyone from having two rent controlled homes, or 10, and operating a home business out of one of them. If a complaint is to be filed it would have to come from the landlord, and Brock declared, “ My 92-year-old mother owns the apartment building on 12th Street, inherited from my grandmother. My mother has lived at this location for almost 75 years. I am at my apartment at the building daily – in part to care for my mother and in part to attend to my business which I conduct there. I pay rent to my mother for the apartment and have always done so. I began using an apartment in my family’s building when it was vacant, so no tenant was displaced when I occupied the apartment for my own use.”
I think any lawyer worth their salt could have easily found all this information before filing.
KOURY ALSO FILED A COMPLAINT
Against the “Change” slate candidates alleging that they receive free advertising equivalent to thousands of dollars in undisclosed campaign contributions through weekly columns in the Santa Monica Mirror written by a group of mostly architects calling themselves the SMart Group, that includes Brock and architect and Planning Commissioner Mario Fonda-Bonardi, also running for Council and part of the slate. They have been writing the column almost eight years and have often been critical of the direction City Council has taken for city planning; since those two filed to run, those columns do consistently endorse them as candidates, while disparaging their fellow contenders.
There may be some merit to this charge. They don’t get paid for the column, but newspaper space has a value, and the columns written since Fonda-Bonardi and Brock declared to run may constitute an undeclared campaign contribution. The First Amendment mixes in here, and it gets tricky.
Nonetheless, with the timing of it all, these seem to constitute harassment of candidates tactics, that I think most of us would rather see stay in Washington. But here’s the kicker. Co-founder of SMRR and Board Member Michael Tarbet immediately jumped all over these mostly spurious allegations and for days spread them all over, I mean all over, social media, treating them as fact. I think he might know something about rent control laws, since he helped write them.
So these seem, clearly, all harassment of candidates tactics, unfair, that I think most of us would rather see stay in Washington. But here’s the kicker. Co-founder of SMRR and Board Member Michael Tarbet immediately jumped all over these spurious allegations and for days spread them all over, I mean all over, social media, treating them as fact. I think he might know something about rent control laws, since he helped write them.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org