Surf Santa Monica columnist Frank Gruber has a rather piquant view of the democratic process.
His most recent fulmination was triggered by his attendance at a neighborhood meeting(see “Wilmont Says No” below).
Gruber’s enthusiasm for the City’s revision of the land use and circulation elements of the General Plan (LUCE) in general and a proposed “activity center” at Wilshire and 14th Street in partuclar was not shared by the residents at the meeting. 74 percent of them approved a resolution opposing g the activity center.
In Gruber’s view, the project is right, the people are wrong, and so the project should go forward and the people should shut up.
He writes, “Community organizations are important in harnessing opinion, but on complex issues like this, wouldn’t it make more sense for an organization to use its power of collective action to survey their members about what they want for the future, and advocate for that, rather than have them vote on simplistic and misleading resolutions about what they don’t want?”
In fact, residents have been saying what they want in the LUCE revision for five years (See “Emerging Themes” in the first LUCE report), and the City has ignored them.
In contrast, the City has dome its best to “harness opinion” by packing its so-called community workshops with its allies and rigging the outcomes.
Unbothered by the facts, Gruber proceeds. “Here’s some unsolicited advice to the no-growthers of Santa Monica: you’re hurting yourselves with these tactics.”
The so-called tactics were pure Gruber last year when the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (aka “no- growthers”) “use(d) its power of collective action… survey(ed) their members about what they want(ed) for the future, and advocate(d) for that.”
But Gruber continues to carp. “Consider how you have alienated politicians in Santa Monica.”
What? City Council members are public servants. They serve at our pleasure. We elect them to represent us. That is their only reason for being.
If they do not faithfully represent us, that’s not alienation, that’s betrayal,
“Consider,” Gruber says, “how you lost so badly with RIFT.” They didn’t just lose, they were run over by an unsavory alliance of five of their seven alleged representatives, City officials, City unions, the ruling party, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, and developers who financed an $800,000
campaign that was based on bully tactics and lies. A profound betrayal.
Gruber concludes, “My advice: stop throwing rhetorical bombs from outside the perimeter and join the discussion.”
Of course, Gruber doesn’t really want a discussion anymore than his idols in City Hall do. Like them, he wants unconditional surrender.