Santa Monica resident Chuck Allord passed away this week at St. John’s Hospital during a simple elective procedure. He stopped breathing, then lapsed into a coma. Allord was a “resident activist” in town with many firm opinions on what he thought the proper direction of the City should be. It was obvious he cared greatly about his town and was vociferous in his support of residents. Allord became hot at this paper on occasion when our opinions varied from his, but he also agreed on many of our positions, particularly on overwrought development. Whenever there was a controversy in town, I often thought about what Chuck would say or think on a matter, knowing he had a position on virtually everything that mattered here. I may not have always agreed with him, but I appreciated hearing from him and I always learned something. His oversized presence kept politicians on their toes, as he was willing to call them on lapses in judgment. Towns like Santa Monica need people like Chuck Allord, people willing to step up, get tough and speak their minds freely. There was no censoring Allord; he had his own mind and he was willing to share it, for the good of all of us. May he rest in peace.
There is a new building that has just been completed on the south end of Main Street. The Palisades Development Group has put the finishing touches on this mixed-use addition to the neighborhood. It is called the Sailhouse Loft building, and it includes 9,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. New tenants include Cold Stone Creamery, a barbershop, a travel agent and an art gallery. When the old Boulangerie site is completed, the north and south ends of Main Street will be transformed from two empty lots to new homes with ground floor businesses. Main Street will in effect be “stretched.”
Main Street will be celebrating its annual Soulstice festival June 25th, helping to bring in summer. There is a lot to celebrate on Main Street these days, as it remains one of the best local neighborhood shopping districts with few national chain stores. The Farmers’ Market on Sunday has a weekly festival feel to it with families attending in droves. And of course the beaches off of Main Street remain some of the best and most frequented in the City. I go there because the parking is easy and the surf is steady.
The voters have spoken, sort of. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board President Julia Brownley won a hotly contested primary for the Democratic position in the 41st Assembly race this fall. Brownley won with 12,106 votes (36 percent), and 3,363 Santa Monica voters. Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) influence may have been the difference. SMRR Chairman Denny Zane ran this successful campaign where the four other candidates received 21,251 votes (64 percent). I would have liked a runoff if the winning candidate did not receive 51 percent of the vote, but it does not work that way in these types of primaries. In Santa Monica City Council elections SMRR can be counted on to deliver approximately 10,000 votes. The Republican candidate in this overwhelmingly Democratic district, Tony Dolz, received 11,091 votes.
There were 51,234 total votes cast for this primary; 76.4 percent voted for someone other then Brownley. Factor in the number of people who even failed to register, and the fact that only 30 percent normally come out to vote at all, and the amount of people that will have actually elected Brownley (she is a pretty sure bet to win in November) is approximately 10 percent of our eligible electorate. Ninety percent didn’t want her, or could care less about voting. Welcome to Democracy, U.S. style.
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When the Santa Monica Mirror began seven years ago the world was a different place. President Bill Clinton resided over a prosperous nation, one that was not at war and still commanded respect in the world. The day the first issue of the Mirror hit the streets, gasoline prices hovered around $1.30 a gallon.
I remember when Michael told me, in secrecy, that he was starting a newspaper. I was sworn to secrecy, unable to even tell my mother. I thought it interesting; here was a man who had no background at all in publishing about to begin a newspaper. I had been in publishing a long time and never dreamed of doing such a daring thing. He left the first issue on my doorstep on June 24, 1999; the Santa Monica Mirror was officially in business.
A lot has changed during the Mirror’s existence. Main Street and Abbot Kinney are a little trendier, traffic is worse than ever, home prices have skyrocketed and big buildings continue to be built all around our town. In my personal world, Michael and I broke up, got back together, broke up, got married and had a son. I wrote about some of it way back when I had my weekly column, “In Her Opinion.”
Now, as co-editors of this venture, we do our best to present the important happenings in our local environment to you, our most loyal readers. The thrill we get today whenever we see someone pick up the Mirror and read it is as strong as the one we got seven years ago. During the Mirror’s first year we once sat in the car in front of Mani’s and watched people take, or not take, the paper. Today, we excitedly wait for letters to the editor because we want to know what Mirror readers think.
There are so many people to thank: the staff – some with the Mirror since the beginning while others have come, stayed and moved on; the advertisers, who continue to believe in this endeavor; and mostly, you, our faithful readers. It doesn’t matter what we write – if you’re not reading it, it’s just fish wrap.
So here’s to the eighth volume of the Santa Monica Mirror, where, as always, we will continue to reflect the concerns of the community. As long as Santa Monica has concerns, we will be there to help.
Laurie Robin Rosenthal