TWO STEPS FORWARD…

Often I marvel at the parallels I see between local politics and national.

The nightmare is over. People are celebrating. Finally, someone elected who will listen to the people and understand what they need and act on it. Who will undo all the bad governance we have been suffering for years. We understand that we are still in very tough times and the sun won’t shine again right away, but now there is hope for the future. It’s a new day!

But wait. Are our knights in shining armor all we thought they would be? Do they really think and believe as we thought? And do they have the skills to accomplish what we sent them to do? Are the odds too stacked against them, the forces of opposition still too strong? Will it wind up being too much compromise, too much of the same ol’, same ol’, business as usual?

Which political scene am I referring to? Both?

PRESIDENT JOE

Is a good guy. Extremely empathetic. Devoted all his life to working for the good of the people, not outside interests. Well, mostly. But many voted for him mainly to rid themselves of the nightmare of Trump.

We know Joe will do good things. He will attack the awful pandemic with all his presidential powers instead of calling it a hoax, making it so much worse with false information and really bad advice, blaming the disaster on the opposition and walking away from a monumental challenge that he clearly was not up to.

Joe will act according to medical science and push for relief for small businesses, cities and states, hospitals, schools, and so many ordinary people who are really hurting, out of work, about to be evicted, hungry. But he still is firmly entrenched in the party politics machine, that many blame for the disillusionment of so many that pushed them to vote for a man like Trump.

YESTERDAY THREE NEW COUNCIL MEMBERS

Were installed. And the Council voted on the appointments of a new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. There had been talk of making Sue Himmelrich the Mayor — a mostly ceremonial title but highly coveted because for the rest of your life you will be referred to as the Former Mayor of Santa Monica. And it does have some power, such as the ability to set the agenda for meetings. Some figure it is Sue’s turn.

Since I am writing this Monday I don’t know how it turned out. I have advocated for something different.

Tossing out three incumbents in one election is unheard of, almost unthinkable in Santa Monica with its Old Boy/Old Girl $$$ power network. This was an undeniable, overwhelming mandate from the voters, to not continue business as usual, to make major changes in the direction our city has been steered by past Councils. But it does still leave the New Guard at a three to four voting disadvantage. They can’t do anything or block anything without the partnership of at least one incumbent. And, they would need to vote as a bloc, like the incumbents have. Will they?

MANY THINK HIMMELRICH

Is the one most likely to flip, because she has so often voiced opposition to projects the residents do not want. I like and admire and encourage that. She goes further than anyone else. But I say it’s not always all that it appears. After asking hard questions that no one else does, and voicing opposition, she would usually go on to vote with the majority, to make it unanimous. (They like unanimous.) Or vote safely against a major project knowing that it will still pass 5-2 (ditto Mayor Kevin McKeown), perhaps with an eye to the next political campaign. (She has stated she will not run for another term on Council.) Some say newcomer Kristen McCowan could be the swing vote, but she has yet to show anything but toeing the party line.

Let’s look at that mandate again, and the legacy of the remaining incumbents. Despite years or decades of voting to overdevelop SM into high rise oblivion, they could change all that this term, change their legacies 180 degrees, by acknowledging the big writing on the wall of the last election and voting with the New Guard we sent, for reasonable, sustainable, smart development and all that goes with it. In the midst of a pandemic, they are still pushing huge projects through as “emergencies.” What’s it going to be, incumbents? The next two years are so very important, but if we have to, we will wait to turn you all out too, next election. Onto the dustbin of bad history.

MAKING PHIL AND OSCAR

Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, in honor of their years of service to the community, would send a clear message, from the incumbents, about the change we voted for. It would signal that this City Council will be working for the betterment of Santa Monica as expressed by the voters, though obviously they would not always agree. It would be a big sacrifice by Sue, that would certainly be acknowledged.

Did that happen last night? It would be such a good sign. I’m betting against it. And hoping I’m wrong.

THANK YOUR MAIL CARRIERS!

Big time! Of course you know their load for Christmas is always huge, but did you know the load for election time is even worse? They jump from the fire into the frying pan.

Only this year you also have coronavirus, which has depleted their ranks from illness and also kept many others away from work. Add to all that a corrupt Postmaster appointment by Trump, who dismantled their sorting machines, removed blue street boxes, forbade overtime, and changed procedures to delay moving the load forward. And with all the increased online ordering, they wind up delivering a lot of Jeff Bezos’ packages.

The carriers are suffering. Some are arriving at work early, by 5-5:30 a.m. And not finishing until 7-9 at night. Most I’ve spoken with take a lot of pride in always getting that day’s mail out, and are distraught that no matter what their efforts right now, it’s impossible.

And of course they are risking their health, by being out there in public the entire work day. So show ‘em some love, won’t you? A kind word, or maybe a cool little present. And go ahead, slip a Franklin in there somewhere. I won’t tell.

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