Web is 21st century solution to accomplish transparency in municipal government

To the Editor:

The local election in Santa Monica was politics as usual. Those of us who [ran for office] against the machine may have received enough votes collectively to have taken one seat, but since so many of us ran, it was not to be.

We may only be a vocal minority, but it is abundantly clear that most informed residents of this city are not happy with the way this city is run. The incumbents are almost always re-elected because uninformed voters usually follow the dictates of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) and the city employees, who invariably endorse those incumbents, who again delivered their promised pay raises and other perks.

The City Council, by an almost unanimous majority, continues to support tax increases and so-called “smart” growth development. Their highest priority seems to be to increase revenues at any cost, no matter how negatively it impacts the residents, and using the city budget to expand the bureaucracy and reward special interests.

The Santa Monica City Council, their appointed officials and city employees should be accountable to the residents of this city.

There is a 21st century solution to accomplish transparency in municipal government, by utilizing the electronic interface of the World Wide Web. The city could implement grass roots participatory democracy by providing free WiFi, throughout the city, linked to moderated public forums on the city Web site.

It will take term limits, or a recall of the entire Santa Monica City Council, to accomplish locally what has just been accomplished nationally. It is not too soon to start.

Jon Mann, Santa Monica

‘No on AA’ campaign worked hard against

‘an entrenched machine’

To the Editor:

We did not prevail — this time — in defeating Proposition AA, The Santa Monica Community College District’s “Santa Monica Career and Educational Improvements” measure.

Everyone involved in the “NO on AA” campaign worked exceptionally hard against an entrenched machine that engaged in deception, distortion and fabrication. Add to that the fact that AA’s promoters had to spend about half a million dollars, or about $20 for each of their 24,000 “Yes”Ývotes.

All things considered, they cannot be very pleased with their limited effect of getting just 62 percent of the vote.ÝAlthough that is better than they did in 2004, it is far below their 70 percent win in 2002 when they spent considerably less money and far less political capital.

To borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton:ÝThe “NO on AA” voters made 15,000 cracks in a political machine that called in every favor it was due or could borrow, and took every penny it could get, much of it from people it once called the enemy.

Santa Monica voters will have the opportunity to work again to bring some rationality to education funding for Santa Monica’s children, and also to the governance of Santa Monica. With each election we gain more ability and experience and a greater number of organized, committed supporters.

As blocs of voters learn that the gifted and dedicated political leaders they once trusted withÝthe governance of Santa Monica have now become the privileged special interest they once opposed, those voters will begin to make more informed choices — and historically it will happen suddenly rather than gradually.

Phil Hendricks, Bond Fatigue Committee ñ 2008