The late Joe Natoli would have enjoyed the City Council candidates forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters on Friday, October 3, at Santa Monica College. The City Hall gadfly who passed away in March regularly complained that the City spent too much money and relied too heavily on paid consultants, and if there was a common theme at the forum, it was that Natoli was right.
Challengers among the field of 13 seeking the four open Council seats charged that the City’s money could be better used than in paying consultants, and even the four incumbents seeking reelection acknowledged that maybe the use of paid consultants was excessive. At one point, candidate Jerry Rubin argued that “City Commissions and neighborhood associations are the free consultants available to us” in considering the issues facing the City.
The candidates for City Council aired their views at the October 3 forum and again on Monday, October 6, at a forum sponsored by Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP).
All 13 candidates attended the League of Women Voters’ forum (except write-in candidate Terence Later who had not yet filed his petition signatures at that time), and in their opening statements each echoed the themes set forth in their official candidate’s statements. (Santa Monica Mirror, August 21-27; smgov.net/cityclerk/Election2008/ QualifiedCityCouncil.htm.)
Challenger Susan Hartley, a supporter of Proposition T, called the process of developing the pending Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) of the proposed City General Plan “a joke,” while incumbent Councilmember Ken Genser praised the LUCE process as having “gotten people we haven’t seen before” to give input.
When given an opportunity to state their position on one of the three measures on the city ballot, Ted Winterer, Jon Louis Mann, and Hartley voiced support for Proposition T, while Mayor Herb Katz, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Bloom, John Blakely, Genser, and Rubin said they opposed it.
In answer to the same question, Linda Armstrong and Blakely spoke in favor of SMC bond measure AA while Linda Piera-Avila opposed it; Herb Silverstein supported Proposition SM amending the User Utility Tax regarding telecommunications while Councilmember Bobby Shriver and Blakely opposed that proposition.
The field of candidates includes Treesavers Rubin, Hartley, Silverstein, and Piera-Avila. On the other hand, Mayor Katz defended the City’s decision to remove some of the ficus trees on 2nd and 4th Streets as a health and safety issue, but noted that the move had not been handled well and that “Treesavers woke us up and that was healthy.”
At the CRAAP forum, State Assemblyman Ted Lieu and Norman Kulla from L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s office pledged to support Santa Monica in its continuing battle with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over operations at Santa Monica Airport.
When asked about appointing Los Angeles residents to the Santa Monica Airport Commission, Katz, Bloom, Genser, and Hartley said this was not possible under the city charter (although Hartley called for a “creative solution” on the subject), but most of the challengers favored such a move.
All of the candidates in attendance agreed to make airport pollution a priority, and there was considerable – if not universal – support for the proposition of closing the airport when the City’s agreement with the FAA expires in 2015. (It should be noted that the FAA has gone on record as denying the City’s option to take this action.) All of the candidates agreed that airport closure should be the subject of one or more town hall forums.