IT’S TOO EARLY!
To start judging our new City Council. Give them some time. Give them a break!
Yeah, that’s what I heard about Trump, from people who were ignoring or glossing over what he had done and shown himself to be his entire life. Now because of the terrible damage he did in four years, the planet has a lot less time than before. So does our city, in this time of a pandemic and economic collapse.
This, of course, is not one person, it’s a dynamic of seven individuals on City Council. But we also know them, from their years of leadership.
Kevin McKeown has been on Council for 22 years. Gleam Davis, 11. Sue Himmelrich, she reminded everyone as she fought hard and strategically at the Dec. 8 Council meeting for the title of Mayor (http://santamonica.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2), has been there six years. Hmm, 22, 11… 6.
So keep in mind, the first three ruled Council, along with their like-minded defeated incumbents Terry O’Day and Ted Winterer and a couple of short-lived lock-step appointees, during the period of time that so damaged the city and angered voters that they did the unimaginable, the unprecedented, they turned out three incumbents and sent in a new team. (But a new team lacking a 4-3 voting majority.) We voted against the incumbents, and for a change of direction, not more political gamesmanship, ego gratification, and catering to outside interests.
So the previous regime was nearly completely repudiated, except for the re-election of Gleam Davis. This is called a mandate, folks, a clear mandate, and Councils and Congresses are supposed to pay attention to that, the voice of the people at the ballot box. But they usually don’t. In a small city we expect our neighbors whom we elect to respect our wishes.
I DON’T SEE IT
By the time you read this our new City Council will have had its first real working meeting. Let’s see what comes out of their closed session. Will they continue to work with the developers who want to turn our taxpayer-owned property in the center of downtown at 4th/5th-Arizona into tall, dense buildings with little open space and little return to the city, or will we see a restart that might allow for open space there, a true plaza, so desperately needed in our dense downtown? Will they continue the endless appeals of the lawsuit the City lost over district voting, continuing to flush millions of our dollars down the drain?
Let’s see what they do with the consent calendar. I hate consent calendars. They are supposed to be for little stuff, easy-peasy issues that everyone agrees on. No hidden complications, no controversy. They’re all lumped together for one yes or no vote, so you shouldn’t have one messy one in there that will pass only because the others are all needed. Instead, “veteran” politicos use a consent calendar to slip through and pass things they would rather not have the public notice.
This consent calendar had very close to $13,000,000 in authorizations. Yes, the staff makes their recommendations, but… well, what’s good for the staff (who mostly do not live here) and for their shiny resumes and future job prospects, is not necessarily good for those of us who do live here.
Donald Trump, face it. Forward-SMRR, developers rule, business as usual in pandemic times Council members — you lost. Face it, and act like it, or we the voters may not even wait until 2022, we may need to use recall to get you to act on what we voted for. You have a golden opportunity to turn a dirty track record into something people will remember with pride. If you are going to pass on that, I am not going to give you a pass.
It’s not like the people we voted for are just angry rebels. They have long records of public service too, many decades, from Samohi class president to Boys and Girls Club volunteer to municipal public safety expert to commissions and school board. They deserve your respect, and cooperation with the mission we sent them there to accomplish.
BROWN ACT VIOLATION?
After outgoing Mayor Kevin McKeown gave a speech at that first Council meeting Dec. 8, of his intention to offer Himmelrich a one-year term as Mayor, something he knew was anathema to her (she refused it four times during the nominating and voting), Kristin McCowan disclosed that she had advised Interim City Attorney George Cardona, who was in the meeting, “that I may have inadvertently violated the Brown Act” by having conversations with three other Council members “regarding the selection of a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem.” She indicated that she had previously made public statements of that same information. (My understanding of the Brown Act is that does not change anything.) She said Cardona advised her to make this public, on the record, before the voting took place.
After what seemed like a stunned and confused seven seconds of absolute silence from everyone, Cardona broke in and said, “I believe that you can proceed,” and Himmelrich immediately said, well, I guess we have to have a discussion of this new information of a possible Brown Act violation before we proceed…”
No, just kidding. she immediately said, “And, uh, I am flattered by the suggestion, Kevin, but since I have been on the Council for a few years, I will only serve as the Mayor if I can serve for two years…”
And no one said another word about the Brown Act violation concerning the vote they were about to take. But then, three of them are the same ones who said not even a tsk tsk when it was shown that Mayor Pam O’Connor had violated the law so badly in 2015 that the City lost a lawsuit to the tune of nearly a million dollars.
If McCowan had recused herself, as I believe would have been proper, Himmelrich would not have had the votes, and you would likely today be talking about Mayor Phil Brock. (He graciously cast his vote and his slate followed) for Sue, to break the logjam.
Not a good start, old guard.
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 email@example.com