Council Member O’Day’s recent statement denouncing “newly formed” political groups misses the point. The problem in Santa Monica elections is not new resident-controlled groups. It is the sudden appearance and disappearance of shadowy PACs run by outside developers with projects going before the City Council. These groups frequently employ underhanded tactics to confuse voters in order to influence elections.
We recall the dishonest practices of a developer PAC calling itself “Santa Monicans for Quality Government,” or SMQG. Two years ago, SMQG issued a deceptive mailer titled “Santa Monica Democratic Voter Guide” days before the election, which left off candidate Ted Winterer’s name from lists of candidates endorsed by local Democratic Party organizations. Mr. Winterer barely lost that election, by a mere 56 votes.
This time around, one of the developers behind SMQG — NMS Properties — is behind a new “pop-up” PAC. This PAC is named “Santa Monicans United for a Responsible Future,” which is remarkably (and confusingly!) similar to our own name, “Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth.”
This new PAC has usurped 75 percent of our name. We feel that this has been done intentionally, in order to confuse voters as to which group is the genuine, community-based, responsible growth / slow growth organization.
We, Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth, are a group of Santa Monica residents who came together to elect City Council candidates who will put residents’ interests ahead of developers’ profits. We are supporting Richard McKinnon and Ted Winterer in this election — candidates who have strong track records advocating for responsible growth. In addition, we are not a “pop-up” group. We are here to stay!
It is astonishing to us that Mr. O’Day would diagnose the problem in Santa Monica as “newly-formed” groups without a “history,” rather than the real problem, PACs that are completely controlled by outside developers with financial interests before the City Council, who seek to confuse voters and thereby engineer a more compliant Council. It is not legitimate, or accurate, to present all “new” groups in the same light.
Two months ago, when we sent the City Council candidates a questionnaire about development- related issues, Council Members O’Day and Gleam Davis, candidate Shari Davis, and other candidates publicly refused, in a “Transparency Pledge,” to engage with us until we provided information about ourselves. We complied.
In the October 11, 2012 issue of the Santa Monica Daily Press those three candidates “denounced” what they termed “pop-up” groups. That’s not enough.
By creating, signing and publicizing the Transparency Pledge, Terry, Gleam and Shari raised the bar. They should stand by the spirit of transparency that they touted, and demand that NMS Properties — sorry, “Santa Monicans United for a Responsible Future” — immediately stop campaigning on their behalf, until they change their name to accurately represent who they are.
May I suggest “Outside Real Estate Developers for Building As Much As Possible in Santa Monica”? OREDBAMAPISM has a nice ring to it, and the name would be admirably transparent.
Co-Chair, Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth