FROM THE EDITOR: BUT THE PEOPLE OWN THE TOWN
Dear Ms. Griffin:
I’ve lived in and loved this gloriously idiosyncratic beach town for 30some years. Here and now it’s at a crucial verge. The outcome of the upcoming election will determine whether residents regain control, or the staff, in concert with a thoroughly compromised Council, continues the haywire development that has fractured the townscape and diminished its character, and will ultimately destroy it unless these so-called public servants start listening to residents.
I lived in Wilmont for nearly 30 years, six blocks east of the Miramar. I passed it several times every day, and, when a family friend who was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer opted to move out of her house and into the hotel for the last two months of her life, I got to know it intimately — inside and out.
You, as Wilmont’s spokesperson, had regularly rejected oversized developments, and complained about the neighborhood’s chronic parking shortage, but, at the first hearing on the proposed Miramar expansion, you applauded the hotel’s plans to double its size and increase its height by several stories, because, you said, its new underground parking garage would alleviate neighborhood parking problems.
Later that evening, a Wilmont member reported that the pro-Miramar expansion position as elucidated by you had been rigged by you and a few of your cohorts, over the objections of other Wilmont members.
I have not “mischaracterized the relationship between the Board of Directors…and the group of people trying to take over our organization.” I have, however, given “credibility” to the group because it is trying to get on with the business of Wilmont, which includes stating its actual position on the Miramar, rather than nattering on, as you have done, about rules i.e., “this process has no standing. It was not a valid election. Therefore, they were not legally elected to anything…working through our attorney, we terminated the memberships of everyone whose name appeared on the ballots brought to our June 9 Community Meeting. We also terminated the memberships of people we were able to identify as their key supporters. Their termination notices explicitly prohibit them from making any claim to represent the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Corporation, either as a member of the Board of Directors or as an ordinary member of our organization. This action was and is legal under our Bylaws.”
Are you as pleased at “terminating those memberships” as you sound? You misrepresented Wilmont members’ views of the Miramar expansion, they protested and you expelled them. Clearly, the bylaws are profoundly flawed. They should serve the people, not the chair, and should not sanction betrayal.
You say I “seem to be unclear on some aspects of Roberts’ Rules of Order and other methods of conducting meetings.” If necessary, I could probably recite Roberts’ Rules of Order, but I’d rather recite the Bill of Rights, the basis for the democratic process, which, in my view, ranks a whole lot higher than Roberts Rules. A neighborhood organization that gives unilateral authority to its chair is obviously out of order.
You say, “The Chair owns the floor. The Chair may permit others to speak, or not…I was the only person in the room with authority to conduct that meeting or any other Wilmont meeting. Other attendees blatantly violated the Civility Code printed on our agenda as well as rules of conduct for meetings.”
In fact, the so-called Civility Code is a bad joke played by the Council on residents, as, invariably, the Council members are the least civil people in the room.
You say, “When you legitimize the people trying to take over the Wilshire/Montana Board of Directors, you are assisting their unauthorized use of our corporate identity.” I don’t give a damn about your “corporate identity,” much less its “unauthorized use.” But I care passionately about the rights of all Santa Monica residents, including residents of Wilmont, to participate fully in the life of the town, express their opinions and wishes openly and freely and, above all, to be heard and heeded. The City stopped listening to residents some time ago. Apparently, you, aka the Chair, not only stopped listening, but made your own views the only views.
I founded the Santa Monica Mirror and, later, the Dispatch to not only inform residents, but to provide them with a platform. Their voice is ultimately the only voice that matters. They should always have the last word. The neighborhood organizations exist to speak for the neighborhoods and give their residents — individually and collectively — full voice on all questions.
The bi-annual battle for the soul of Santa Monica will dominate the next two months. City Hall — from the City Manager’s office to the employee unions — will be fully involved. as will developers, their lawyers and architects. A gaggle of Council candidates will vie for their money and our attention and our votes. Wilmont is the most densely populated residential neighborhood in Santa Monica. Its residents need a fully functioning neighborhood organization, not a Chair who is apparently more concerned with protecting Wilmont’s “corporate identity” than preserving the neighborhood’s integrity and character.
Onward and upward,