Facts vs. Fictions

In a story listing the ten top news stories of 2010, the Santa Monica Daily
Press lards the facts with fiction.  According to the story, a “$12 million budget gap and more than 60 layoffs at the district…brought together school advocates and the electoral might of City Hall’s municipal unions. Known as Measure Y, the half percent sales tax increase proposal needed only 50 percent of the vote to succeed…and passed with a landslide on Nov. 2. Expected to raise $12 million per year — half for City Hall and half for public schools — the passage of Measure Y was a sweet victory for school advocates…the worst recession in decades was no match for a united front put up by Santa Monica’s traditional power brokers.”
That’s a lovely story: the good people of the community working together to save the schools. But it’s not true. As the people who opposed passage of proposition Y said, the additional tax was not necessary. Then-Mayor Bobby Shriver put it succinctly. The City was “rich,” he said. Jeff Segal, in an analysis of the current half-billion dollar City budget, noted that it included a $26 million allocation for employee raises – in a year when no one, including Social Security recipients, was given the customary cost of living increase, much less a raise, and many residents’ incomes had dropped.
In fact, the “electoral might of the City Hall municipal unions” and “the“ united front put up by Santa Monica traditional power brokers” that won passage of the additional sales tax was simply a reprise of the successful
2008 Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR)/City Hall/developers’ scam.

They needed an issue that would draw voters to the polls who would vote for SMRR incumbents and thereby secure the SMRR pro-development Council majority. So, as they had done in 2008, they made the schools financial crisis the bait to propel voters to the polls, and spent developers’ cash promoting SMRR candidates as school advocates.

The Daily Press also reported that “With five City Council seats up for grabs in November, voters had an unprecedented chance to, as the saying goes, ‘throw the bums out.’ Instead, they issued a ringing endorsement of the status quo by handing each of the five sitting members an electoral victory.” The incumbents’ sweep was by no means “a ringing endorsement of the status quo,” it was merely one more “ringing endorsement” of the power of money and hyperbole to tilt elections. Armed with developers’ money, buttressed by City Hall’s clout, the SMRRs released a barrage of mailers, some bogus, some simply hyperbolic, touting the incumbents as saviors of everything good.
The incumbents all won, but we have yet to find one resident who’s happy with them or the status quo.
The Daily Press story also reported that “It took seven years, but the City Council finally revised its general plan for Santa Monica. The long-range planning document, known as the Land Use and Circulation Element…”
In fact, it’s “the Land Use and Circulation Elements” – two specific elements, not one. The difference is enormous. This error is not the Daily Press’s, but the planners,’ which may explain why the LUCE is such a muddle.

The story goes on to identify, “The first test of the document’s force (as) the massive Hines project planned for a 7-acre parcel across from the future site of the Expo Light Rail Station at 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard.” In fact, Hines has allegedly given money to four of the five incumbents. The principal “test” will be whether the four — Pam O’Connor, Terry O’Day, Gleam Davis and Bob Holbrook – vote to approve their benefactors’ project or. as an ever-increasing number of residents have done, reject it as badly planned, too large, a traffic generator, undistinguished, and irrelevant.

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