Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

93% of Americans consider the arts to be vital to providing a well-rounded education. Parents and teachers know that the arts help students succeed. Studies demonstrate that access to arts education increases student engagement in learning, decreases truancy and drop-out rates, and helps students develop skills such as effective communication, critical and innovative thinking, cooperation, and flexibility. These are essential to California’s economic future, as one in five jobs in the state will soon be related to the creative industries.

As of January 2006, 11,464 people were employed in 1,634 arts-related businesses in Santa Monica. According to an August 2006 phone survey, 43% of Santa Monica residents said that they work in the arts for part or all of their living.

Our local officials have many difficult choices ahead of them. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District school board meetings on March 4th in Santa Monica, and March 5th in Malibu, may well decide the future of arts education in our district. If you support arts education, tell your school district leaders to provide a complete and well-rounded education for every child — an education which includes access to a quality education in the arts.

Contact information for Board of Education members is listed at http://www.smmusd.org/board/index.html

Zina Josephs

AN OPEN INVITATION (NOT) FOR CITY COUNCIL SEAT

by Dinah Minot, an > applicant            02/27/09

Despite the fact that I applied for the vacant city council seat
appointed last Tuesday in Santa Monica, I didn’t expect to get it.
But I didn’t expect it to be a scam either. And following the
appointment of Gleam Davis, there is barely a mention of the farce
in any local papers.

Here’s what happened from an applicant’s POV.

Six council members had the task of appointing a new member, to
fill Herb Katz’s seat, a 16 year veteran of the council who passed
away in January. All registered residents were invited to apply,
but without a majority vote, a special election would be called. I
tried not to be cynical that it was just some pro forma gesture.
Instead I imagined all the amazing go-getter types, especially the
Santa Monica moms who constantly network, brainstorm and
effectively manage ten things at once. I started talking to la
crème de la creme and encouraged them to go for it. But I usually
got the same response. The appointment is a done deal. The council
runs like the Mafia. All they want is a SMRR majority (Santa Monica
for Renters’ Rights).
\
It was the process that intrigued me most. I knew I wouldn’t be
appointed, although Obama’s call to service had inspired me. I had
my own agenda in mind for proposing some projects to the council
down the road, and I was curious how the CMs would handle this
“open” invitation. I wanted to look into the heart of the council.
If the intent were to convey an open mind, surely they’d put
themselves more at risk for exposing the contrary. They could have
easily posted expectations or criteria for consideration: must be
known to a majority of the council members, must have proven Santa
Monica political experience and must have demonstrated community
support from Santa Monica residents. Easy to follow bold print,
would have made sense, and most of all; it would result in a
manageable applicant pool, maybe 5 or 6, allowing for personal
interviews and intelligent screening.
applications for the city
council seat, one councilman chimed in before the voting began.
“ It’s wonderful to see all these folks interested in getting involved in our government.” But a subliminal message was on  display, loud and clear – We don’t want any outsiders.
>
CM Bobby Shriver, who appears to still be taking his integrity
vitamins, convincingly spewed passion and appreciation for the
election process. Without a smrrk, he described his own invaluable
experience:  campaigning door to door, the rewards of winning,
owning that win, and having to be accountable. It made sense.
Everyone in the room believes in Democracy. But when he motioned
for a special election, CM Richard Bloom struck it down. I couldn’t
help but hear Bloom’s words echo on the phone the day before, “Once
> you get into politics, you’ll see, everybody has a personal
> political agenda.”
>
Loud hushed whispers filled the room. Ted Winterer, a Parks & Rec
all-round good guy, who did mighty fine as a newcomer on the
November ballot with over 9700 votes, came in fifth to the four re-
elected incumbents. He was the obvious people’s choice. Not gonna
happen, as Dana Carvey immortalized on SNL years ago. Winterer was  also the SMRR enemy, the co-author of the Prop T citizen’s
initiative to put a cap on development over 75,000 sq ft over the
next 15 years. Squelched by an SMRR backed “No on T” campaign with major $$ from big time developers, the Proposition lost by only 2%.
>
> The voting began. After the first round, Winterer received three
votes, with two going to Patricia Hoffman and one for Gleam Davis.
All three contenders had been on the City Council ballot: Winterer
> in 2008, Davis in 2006, and Hoffman in 2004. A half dozen more
rounds came up short of a majority. Then, former Mayor Nat Trives,
not registered in the applicant pool at all, was nominated by
> another former mayor, Holbrook. But never mind that. The clerk
> didn’t notice either. Richard Bloom and Pam O’Connor practically
held up SMRR banners. The council then took a recess after a
bizarre Disney-like fairy character appeared in the chambers out of
nowhere donning a white face mask. She pranced up to the city
> clerk’s desk to deliver mysterious clear bottles until an officer
quickly escorted her out.

The room reeked of a sham. I began to feel badly for some of the
new applicants who may have believed they were actually being
> considered. I noticed one well-groomed woman with a fresh hairdo  wearing a tiny sparkling pin on her blazer, and another gentleman
reviewing his notes, sweating slightly under his new Lands’ End
sweater that neatly revealed the Brooks Brothers’ collar of his
buttoned down shirt. Many were sincere in their efforts and
actually had faith that they would be considered. They were duped.
That’s the core issue here. It’s about the mock open invitation.
Even though it was entertaining, but really quite terrible, the
council finally resumed with the task at hand until the deal was
sealed for Gleam Davis, Co-Chair of SMRR! She fit the unpublished
criteria: well known to council members, politically experienced,
and recognized by the Santa Monica Community. After the oath
taking, the council members resumed business, remarkably
uninspired, as if they had welcomed back a friend after the
weekend. Mission accomplished. They had their 5-2 majority.
Although drama trickles through the roots of the city council
(collectively serving 75 years), eventually the mud will dry up.
And sooner than later, one, maybe two, or hopefully, three or four
of the current council members will recognize that change is not a
bad thing. Let’s encourage a voice from the thirysomething, forty
year old set (median age in SM is 40). Case closed til 2010.

Editor’s note: Dinah Minot is a Sunset Park wife and mom, documentary filmmaker, former Paramount Pictures and NBC Producer, and a recent City Council
applicant.

>

Whither Boring

By Ava Tramer

Beaches
Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers
Highs: 63-69; Lows: 47-56

Inland
Partly cloudy
Highs: 62-75; Lows: 42-51

Deserts
Hot and mostly sunny
Highs: 70-81; Lows: 47-59

And Santa Monica…
A weather haiku:
Potential showers
But still many sunny days
Can you say: “Boring”?

Correction

As we reported in the following story, we lost track of  the vote switching. For the record, Bob Holbrook switched his vote from Ted Winterer to Gleam Davis before Councilman  Kevin McKeown switched his vote from  Winterer to Patricia Hoffman, rather than vice versa as we reported.