Election: Need a fix? VOTE! In-person voting is open through Nov. 8. Courtesy art

O LORDY LORDY, I’M TURNING REPUBLICAN!

Yeah, right. But I did suddenly flash that I will be voting for candidates despite their flaws, failings or faux pas, because I want them in office to follow a similar agenda to mine, and that the other side would be a disaster. 

And isn’t that the rationale given by, for example, Georgia GOP voters who have not quite taken leave of their senses but are MAGA enough to want the GOP in charge, to ban abortions and books and voting by “the wrong people,” and will therefore vote for any red candidate, even the one time football star who is … well, let’s just say, spectacularly unqualified for Capitol Hill? We now seem to have strictly tribal voting where, as in other countries like the UK, you vote for party and ignore the sins of the particular candidate. 

It’s so clear we need to become more civil in our political disagreements, before someone is hurt or killed. Oh wait, too late. 

WE ALL KNOW POLITICS IS DIRTY

But it seems to me like one City Council candidate, Lana Negrete, has become a real target. Likely, because she is seen as a threat to keep the Council on a path that eschews overdevelopment. Literally, there are billions of dollars at stake, in this little city.

The very first mailer I got for this election was an attack with her photo and name writ large. Prior to that it was alleged that she was trying to do away with rent control (a SM mortal sin!) – which the City Council has no power to do, and a protest, of the misinformed and frightened, was organized for the next day. Also widely disseminated was that she violated Presidential security for President Biden’s recent stop at our airport, but she said she was nowhere near the security line.

A video was posted showing a supporter of Council candidate Armen Melkonians, Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman, aggressively inserting himself between him and attorney Joel Koury, whom Melkonians said was arguing with him, but what you don’t see is what preceded that. You’ve got to have thick skin to run for office anywhere, but these days you might also need body armor, and we’ve got to somehow reverse that. Attack a candidate’s policies, but not the candidate. And don’t make up lies.

Maybe I’ve missed it but I have seen nothing like this attacking candidates Torosis, Zwick, Raskin or Zernitskaya. And I hope I don’t.

I WILL BE VOTING

For the candidates that have promised to work for the well-being of residents – the ones who already live here – whose records are consistent with that promise. Those running against them, who have a chance of winning, come from a history of wanting to enable even more development in Santa Monica and that is destroying our city. It is the biggest issue. Our resources were already overburdened, our water insufficient. More residents per square mile does not increase safety and a sense of well-being. We need more parks and trees, not more high rises. 

It takes a long time to turn a big ship around, especially if there are still hands on the wheel pulling in the other direction. But we have seen progress in the last two years and we need to continue that direction, not go into reverse.

SCHOOL BOARD

This election doesn’t draw nearly the interest of City Council, and voters seem woefully uninformed. I imagine a lot of people just vote for the incumbents because they figure everything’s still fine with our vaunted school system.

Yes, it is still good, but sure could be better, with a school board that paid more attention to students, teachers and curriculum than to shiny new buildings (some not functioning properly, some not needed, all too expensive). Take Samohi, where a lot of this very expensive construction is taking place. The US News & World Report 2022 rankings place Samohi at number 108 among CA public high schools. That’s pretty low, if you ask me. Buildings don’t raise your academic achievement and standing. But they do provide revenue for the district, through rentals. Millions, actually. And in my opinion, that explains a lot.

The population of dissatisfied parents has grown, to the point where four of them are challenging the entrenched political machine in this election. I believe that change is desperately needed, to make the district and board more responsive to parents and the community.

STEEP LEARNING CURVE

For any newcomers, but I believe a complete change of governing philosophy is desperately needed if we want to maintain the excellence of our schools.

Some are saying education must be the top priority. I disagree. The first responsibility is for the safety of our children, in the care of the schools for so much of their lives. And this board has failed miserably.

From the PCB poisoned soil in Malibu, to the forced closure of John Muir/SMASH for mold, to the recent penalty of $45M for the abuse of two special needs second graders, the district has often gone far too long to address problems after becoming aware of them, often fighting the facts instead of fixing the problem. That’s got to stop.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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