There are many cultural touchstones to reference the absurd or farcical. Maybe you have fond memories of Monty Python skits or Franz Kafka. Maybe you’re under 60 and have Rick and Morty or Eric Andre as your frame of reference. Regardless, if you’re local, the Santa Monica City Council’s attempts to appoint people to boards and commissions is low-hanging fruit.

At the July 25 meeting, it took Council 10 rounds of voting to pick three individuals for the Planning Commission with multiple rounds of identical repeat voting highlighting stubborn differences in council factions.

Council has an unofficial policy of delaying appointments to the city’s various boards and commissions until all councilmembers are in attendance at a meeting. At least one councilmember was absent from the past two meetings prompting delays in completing 24 appointments this year.

Most appointments were straightforward and received little debate. However, the Planning Commission discussion descended into the local version of partisan politics almost immediately.

A total of seven residents (Thomas Ciszek, Deborah Cohen, Alexander J. Sinunu, Josh D. Hamilton, Mario Fonda-Bonardi, Nina Fresco and Jim Ries) applied for the three open positions.

Fonda-Bonardi, Fresco and Ries were all incumbents. However, those incumbents came with a set of complications. Fonda-Bonardi and Fresco were both applying for a third consecutive term and Council rules require those individuals to receive five votes as opposed to the normal four. Ries was actually applying for a fourth term but as he left the Commission for a time between terms two and three, he wasn’t subject to the supermajority vote.

Several public speakers did express support for both Fonda-Bonardi and Fresco prior to the votes and Mayor Gleam Davis suggested the council start deliberations with a nomination of Jim Ries suggesting his candidacy may be easiest to resolve given the vote threshold required to reappoint the other incumbents.

Mayor Pro Tem Lana Negrete responded by also nominating Hamilton. Ries emerged victorious with votes from Councilmembers Oscar de la Torre, Caroline Torosis, Christine Parra, Jesse Zwick and Gleam Davis.

Davis then renominated Hamilton and Phil Brock (who had voted for Hamilton in the first showdown) nominated Fresco.

Torosis, Zwick and Davis voted for Hamilton with Brock, Parra, de la Torre and Negrete backing Fresco, one vote short of the supermajority needed to reappoint her.

In the next round of voting Councilmember Zwick renominated Hamilton up against Fonda-Bonardi resulting in the same 3-4 split as the prior round and no winner.

Councilman Brock then immediately renominated Fonda-Bonardi only to have Torosis renominate Hamilton for a carbon copy of the prior vote.

Negrete immediately summarized the problem.

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going to happen right now,” she said. “So I just don’t want to be here all night. But we can do this.”

The result was indeed the same as the already taken vote.

Council chose to ride the roundabout another time pitting Hamilton against Fresco (again), Hamilton against Fonda-Bonardi (again) and in a change of pace, Hamilton against Fresco and Fonda-Bonardi to no avail.

In response to various questions suggesting the council was deadlocked, Mayor Davis reminded everyone that anyone can change their votes at any time and that voting would continue for the foreseeable future until a resolution to appointments was reached.

In the next round Councilman Brock quickly nominated Hamilton and no competing nominations were put forward. Hamilton received six votes and was appointed with Parra initially voting no. Parra later changed her vote to “yes” upon seeing the result as is an unofficial tradition on the Council to show support for the majority appointment.

With one seat left, Brock immediately nominated Fonda-Bonardi who was challenged by Davis nominating Fresco. Brock, Parra and de la Torre backed Fonda-Bonardi with the other councilmembers backing Fresco.

Without the five-votes needed to end the process, both Fonda-Bonardi and Fresco were immediately renominated, but in what became the final round of voting, de la Torre backed Fresco giving her the five votes needed to retain her seat.

Of the other appointments, most were made without controversy.

Geoffrey Neri was reappointed to the Airport Commission alongside Margaret Griffin. Edward Scott was the only applicant for the Architectural Review Board and was reappointed. Kathleen Benjamin was reappointed to the Arts Commission alongside Deepra Subramaniam and Michelle S. Edgar. Incumbents Dean Kubani and Susan Mearns were reappointed to the Commission on Sustainability, Environmental Justice and the Environment. There were no applicants for an open seat on the Disabilities Commission. Theresa Marasco was reappointed to the Housing Commission, but one seat was left open due to a lack of applicants who qualify for the seat. Alexis Hemphill-Elsea was reappointed to the Human Services Commission alongside Susan Einbinder. Antonio Spears was appointed to the Library Board.

Melanie Allen was reappointed to the Personnel Board.

Negrete made a stand to appoint Albin Gielicz to the Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission, but after several rounds of deadlocked voting without gaining a second vote for Gielicz she changed her vote resulting in Jaime Cruz and Derek Devermont being appointed. An open seat for youth was left unfilled due to a lack of applicants.

Ann Bowman was appointed to the Recreation and Parks Commission. Armando Martinez was reappointed to the Urban Forest Task Force with one position left absent due to a lack of qualified candidates.

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...