Welcome to June Gloom. It is ironic that as soon as summer comes so does the cold overcast marine layer to keep us away from the surf.
Nevertheless if the sun comes out, June and July are the best months for body surfing, with the water still clean and clear and the waves not yet disturbed due to hurricane season down in Baja. My favorite body-surfing beaches are Sorrento, Ocean Park and my own personal all time favorite, Catamaran Street — off the Marina Peninsula, just south of the Venice Pier — where the water always gets an A rating as there is no outfall anywhere near it. Try it, you’ll like it.
Greens Lose One
Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin McKeown has left the Green party. If I read things correctly, McKeown has left specifically due to his rift with former Santa Monica Mayor Michael Feinstein. This is certainly an unfortunate state of Affairs, because the Greens can use elected officials as proof of their credibility as a political party. Santa Monica was once home to two Green Councilmen, with Feinstein at the peak of his popularity becoming mayor. He brought national Green party meetings to town and opened one of the few Green offices in the country.
That’s what this whole issue is about. Feinstein had been working for years to get a Green party office funded and he wanted it here in Santa Monica, which is a good thing as it brought national figures like Ralph Nader to town.
During one such fundraiser for the office, a generous donor ponied up $10,000 and Feinstein earmarked it for the office. Months later, another Green faction determined that Feinstein had erred in handling the money and the donor then claimed he did not know what the money was to be used for. Okay, so there was confusion and different claims on the money. At that point Feinstein, who is independently wealthy and went into politics because he once had an epiphany regarding doing something good for humanity and devoting his life to politics, should have simply returned the money.
By then, however, the accusations of misappropriation were flying, and Feinstein was in the hot seat. To say Feinstein is scrupulous is an understatement.
When he first ran for councilman, I knew his treasurer very well and know they worked hard to live by all the rules. And, again, it must be noted that no one is saying Feinstein used the money for himself. So why not let the matter rest?
McKeown chose to go further and leave the party over this, further exacerbating the situation for Greens everywhere as news media will surely pick up on this and again focus on Green Party infighting. Too bad, as McKeown and Feinstein have similar core political beliefs and their relationship should not have come to this.
By leaving the Greens, McKeown is far less interesting as his party affiliation gave him national notoriety.
Feinstein is on to other things, helping to host a Green conference here in Santa Monica and traveling the world on the Green Party “circuit.” It should be noted that the Greens are the only “world party” in existence with elected officials in nearly 100 countries and part of the ruling coalition in several countries in Europe, including Germany whose Foreign Minister Jascha Fisher, a Green, helped keep Germany out of the war in Iraq. (See McKeown’s statement on page 3).
Business is booming in Santa Monica. Hotel occupancy is up. Room rates are up. Foreigners have returned and the retail trade is showing double digit growth. The Promenade is packed, Montana has several new stores and Main street remains one of the best “local” boulevards in Southern California. Even Sunset Park districts have many new stores. Property values are also up all over town with small houses hovering near the $1 million range, and commercial property is hard to come by and very pricey. Property rents are strong and the downtown is continuing to reshape itself with moves to Second and Fourth Streets.
Santa Monica Toyota GM Bill Renker told me his dealership is the nation’s largest Prius seller. No wonder with all the conscientious auto buyers on the Westside (let’s lose those dangerous SUVs already, eh?).
St. Johns and SM/UCLA are both undergoing massive new modernization and expansion programs and SMC has over $160 million of bond money to spend on new facilities including the highly anticipated Madison Performing Arts Theater. Urth Café was an immediate hit and enlivened north Main Street. The renovation of the former Toys-R-Us Henshey’s building will help Fourth Street bring in new pedestrian traffic. The good news goes on and on. The challenge will be to quiet the development of the Civic Center where a little peace can still be found and not to overdo the Santa Monica Place makeover.
On the Air
I heard the other day that 1 in 5 U.S. residents get their news via the radio. A big part of that is talk radio which fills our drivetime airwaves. I started tuning in to Air America (1150AM) radio, which is all left all the time and have turned into an Al Franken (morning) and Randy Rhodes (afternoon) junkie. Franken is one of the cleverest men alive and is a stalwart leftie progressive.
His show has some of the funniest bits ever (remind me to tell you about how he “kept” Ann Coulter locked in the Green room – friggin’ hilarious) and yet his show can be dead on serious.
His best stuff comes when he goes after the lies Rush Limbaugh and O’Reilly come up with. Talk about speaking from both sides of your mouth! These guys are pure liars and Franken calls them on it every day. In the three hours he is on daily (9:a.m.-noon) he covers a lot of ground and makes it really tough to get out of the car when I get to work. Being that it is commercial radio, I get the chance to take a break.
The only thing that keeps me from listening to Al Franken in the morning is Amy Goodman on KPFK (90.7 FM). Her 9-10 a.m. show covers ground you will not hear anywhere else. She is a one-of-a-kind and her shows feature guests ignored by what I consider to be the mainstream “right wing” media.
Once in a while I will tune in to KCRW (89.9), especially if I know Warren Olney is on, but it is mostly so tepid and soft that boredom sets in almost immediately. At least on KPCC (89.3) you get Prairie Home Companion once in a while and Larry Mantle’s talk show has some good guests, though his voice lacks any strong resonance so as to take the topical edge off.
For nonpolitical radio, I tune in to Peter Tilden in the morning on 93.9 FM country music. Fortunately, there is not much music and a lot of Tilden’s rich voice and his comfortable shtick. He makes you wanna hang around and ruffles few feathers while making sure some good laughs are had. Now he’s a radio personality worth listening to.