Council Meeings Need Radical Redesign

A 20-year old piece of bad advice has become the mantra of the current City Council, as well as the rationale for the apparently endless nattering of Council members.

A while ago, in the face of a rising tide of impatience at the excessive length of Council meetings, Council member Ken Genser cited the advice a School Board member gave him when he won his first term 20 years ago. She said that he should always remember that the meetings were for Council members, not for the public.

Council member Pam O’Connor repeated the piquant notion the other night, as if to
justify the extended monologues she and her more loquacious colleagues regularly deliver.

Time and time again, even if they have nothing to say, they say it at great length.

Council members also seem to enjoy bringing the meetings to a full stop to grill staff
members, which could be done as easily and more efficiently in advance of the meetings.

But this semi-weekly talkathon is only part of a larger problem. As the vile warden said to Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is failure to communicate.”

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Treesavers Lose in Court

In a hearing this morning, Superior Court Judge Ann Jones rejected Treesavers’ contention that the City of Santa Monica should be barred from removing 50-plus trees from Second and Fourth Streets in downtown Santa Monica.

Treesavers, a group of Santa Monica residents, has been fighting to save the trees since the City Council approved their removal, as part of An $8.2 million downtown “improvement” plan several months ago.

Over 2,000 residents have signed petitions opposing the City’s plan To take the trees out.

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Dutton’s to Close April 20

Store owner Doug Dutton met with his staff Sunday morning and gave each staff member a copy of the following statement.

“It is with profound regret and sorrow that Dutton’s Brentwood Books must announce that it will be closing on April 30, 2008.

“As our regular customers and friends well know, the past year for the store has been one of upheaval and turmoil. Hard on the heels of the closure of the Dutton’s Beverly Hills location came word that the Brentwood property had changed ownership, and the new owner, Charles T. Munger, announced plans to redevelop the property. The multiple uncertainties of the bookstore’s future, combined with the encumbrances associated with the closure of the Beverly Hills store have crippled the store’s ability to provide the kind of immediate service and depth of inventory that our customers have come to rightly expect.

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We Were Just Wondering…

A working group, City Council and staff members, consultants, Bayside District officials, and property and business owners have labored on and discussed a new “management plan” for downtown Santa Monica for what seems an eon, but has only been a year or so.

But, according to a recent story by Jorge Casuso in SurfSantaMonica, a few “key points, including the makeup of the new board that will run the agreed proposed assessment district” have been resolved.

Casuso quoted consultant Brad Segal of Progressive Urban Management Associates as saying, “This was huge… Governance has probably been the number one issue in this deal.”

Casuso also reported that, among other things, the new board will oversee the expenditure of $3,7 million in new assessments on “improvements.”

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