WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE?

The City of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and Environment will host the breakfast reception at the 2012 edition of the Chamber of Commerce annual “State of the City” program.

To be held at the SGI-USA World Cultural Center, this year’s gathering will focus on trends in technology and business in Santa Monica and honor some local businessmen.

Mayor Richard Bloom will deliver the “State of The City” address, “providing insights on the local impact of the current global and state economy,” according to a press release. It did not say who would provide Bloom with “insights.”

In addition, Jason Nazar, CEO of Docstoc and host of “Startups Uncensored” will “share his perspective on the growth of technology in Santa Monica,” and Brad Cox, Chair of the Santa Monica Alliance, will moderate a panel discussion on “the use of technology and best new business practices here in ‘Silicon Beach.’”

A series of awards will also be given. “The Economic Excellence Award” will be presented to Santa Monica College. “The Innovation Award” will go to a local small business, CoLoft. “Catering to start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs, it employs an innovative approach to workspace allowing for great collaboration, success and growth.” The Leadership Award will honor Cox for “his transformative leadership in helping usher in a new era of collaboration among Santa Monica’s public administrators and business stakeholders.”

Cox is Senior Managing Director of Trammell Crow Company, Chair of the Santa Monica Alliance, Past Chair of the Los Angeles Business Council and Vice Chair of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.

Trammell Crow is a major American commercial real estate developer. It builds museums and parks, among many other things, in Dallas, its home base. Its most recent project here is the replacement of a modest apartment building at the junction of San Vicente and Ocean Avenue with a cluster of oversized and very expensive condominiums. Though the Landmarks Commission designated the original structure a landmark, Trammell Crow appealed the designation, the City approved the appeal, and the tenants, many of whom had lived in the apartment complex for years, were summarily evicted to make way for Trammell Crow.

Taking part in the panel discussion will be Dr. Chui Tsang, Superintendent/President, Santa Monica College, David Travers, Partner, Rustic Canyon Partners, Keith Klein, Partner, Bryan Cave, LLP, and Paige Craig, CEO,
Better Works.

Dr. Tsang has, according to the press release, “had a major impact bringing fiscal stability to the institution and establishing an open and inclusive management style…built excellent relations with local and regional organizations, while educating the future workforce to succeed in the current business environment.”

Rustic Canyon Partners, Travers’ firm, is “a venture capital firm investing in exceptional entrepreneurs…such as Santa Monica-based Docstoc and Leads360.”

Klein is “primary litigation counsel for Los Angeles-based internet companies including demographic-specific networks, social networking websites, and some of the largest direct marketing companies, and Bryan Cave’s Start Up and Emerging Growth programs,” which are based in Santa Monica,

Craig, “a former marine, has also worked in the intelligence community to support counter-terrorism efforts. In 2008, he founded Betterworks, a cloud-based business platform to help the country’s six million small and medium businesses create better work environments with happier and more productive employees.”

State of The City will take place on Thursday, January 26, 2012 from 7:30 am to 10:00 a.m. at SGI-USA, 525 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica. More information can be found at www.smchamber.com/SOTC. Tickets
can be purchased at http://stateofthecity2012.eventbrite.com or by calling 310.393.9825.

In fact, its focus is not really the “State of the City.” It’s not even the state of business in Santa Monica. It’s the state of the technology business in Santa Monica. There’s no reason why people shouldn’t get together to talk about the technology industry, but if they do, shouldn’t they see it as part of the picture, not the whole picture? And shouldn’t they discuss it in context. For instance, how it affects other more traditional businesses, how it complements, or conflicts with other businesses, and residents? Does it vie for space with film production and post-production companies in what the City has designated the “creative district?” What will its long-term effects be on this gloriously idiosyncratic beach town? And if Santa Monica is indeed morphing into “Silicon Beach,” why has Google just moved several hundred employees to Venice?

A couple of months ago, the City Council devoted an entire meeting to sustaining business in Santa Monica, or what can we do for you? And Brad Cox will be given the ”Leadership Award” for “his transformative leadership in helping usher in a new era of collaboration among Santa Monica’s public administrators and business stakeholders.” Is that a good thing, or is it, in fact, the basis for the cold shoulder residents have routinely received from City Hall on a whole range of issues (see “2011 – Not a Very Good Year?” below).

No question, any number of people are here for the money. But an equal or larger number are here for love. And who, if anyone, is listening to them? Everything that’s not Bigger or More is a Rhine battle. And the residents have lost virtually every round. The small scale, relaxed townscape that residents cherish has been fractured repeatedly by oversized, pretentious commercial developments, and gridlock is the rule, not the exception.

Five of the seven Council members residents elected to represent them have taken campaign contributions from developers, according to the Transparency Project’s research, and clearly corporate money speaks a whole lot louder than residents’ votes.

Occupy Santa Monica, anyone?

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