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When Police Call Citizens Thieves, Twisted Political Flyers and Apparent Dangers

November 1, 2002

Dear Editor,

Letter to the Editor,

Voters just received the third mailing from the Santa Monica Police Officers and Firefighters Union. It says Measure HH(VERITAS) supporters are thieves: "Warning from Santa Monica Police Officers: Thieves Are Trying to Steal Our City."

The mailings allege that there is a conspiracy of "out-of-town corporate millionaires" who will "take over Santa Monica" and install their "political puppet District by District." Really? Who has the big money? Measure HH collected $56,000 this year. The anti-HH forces are amassing a $350,000 campaign, a large portion aimed at Measure HH.

SMRR will have $200,000+, hotel unions $100,000+, and the police and fire union $50,000+. Businesses contributed less than half of our $56,000. The majority of our donations were from small contributions. Ninety percent were $250 or less, and 80 percent were $100 or less.

If there really were a dangerous out-of-town conspiracy, as the police allege, we would be far more vulnerable under our current at-large system. As almost everyone knows, it would be more difficult for "out-of-town" corporations -- or unions -- to dominate Santa Monica elections if Council members were elected from small districts where independents are on their "home turf" and can run without money from unions or corporations.

Our officers are among the highest paid in the nation. A large portion of the City's revenues come from businesses involved with major corporations, including the hotels, restaurants, and car dealerships. These are the same out-of-town corporations the police and firefighters call "thieves." Without their revenue, we could not provide police officers and firefighters with such excellent salaries and retirement plans.

The three mailings were created to deliver false information so close to election day that it would be impossible to correct the tremendous damage they would inflict. The first attack mailer was a veiled threat that if voters approved district elections, the police and fire department might not respond to emergency calls for help. When questioned by the press and community leaders, the union apologized, saying it wasn't intentional, just bad wording.

The second strike was a mailer that tried to create confusion about historic districts. When called a second time, the union again apologized, saying it was another mistake in the words. Now, the third strike, a chilling "WARNING FROM SANTA MONICA POLICE OFFICERS" that Measure HH (VERITAS) supporters are thieves. Whatever the alibis were for the first two mailers, with this latest piece there can be no doubt that the Police and Fire Unions are deliberate in these blatant lies.

On behalf of the thousands of people who support Measure HH (VERITAS) and the hundreds of people who donated to Measure HH, citizens as well as businesses, we call upon the police officers and firefighters to forthwith deliver a written apology to every household where they sent these knowingly false, defamatory mailings.

Let the police and firefighters show the same respect to the community that we have shown to them. Let the police and firefighters clearly tell our citizens, especially our youth, that in a great democracy like ours people will have different political points of view. No one should be called a thief or criminal simply because they have a different opinion from the police and firefighter unions.

Lastly, Dear Voter, ask yourself this question: If we had an accountable City Council that respected the rights of everyone, do you think it would remain silent while the police and fire union engaged in these threatening, false, and libelous mailings? Look again! The six entrenched politicians on the Council who oppose Measure HH reforms greatly benefit from this misconduct. Fellow citizens, in the privacy of the voting booth, do not be intimidated by police misconduct. Stand up for democracy! Vote Yes on Measure HH (VERITAS).

Irene Zivi
Paul DeSantis
Yes on Measure (HH) VERITAS Committee

October 31, 2002

Dear Editor,

At a time when we've truly learned to appreciate the courage, dedication, and lofty community spirit in policemen and firefighters all over the country, comes a most out of character election mailer.

Of all the twisted political flyers to grace my mail box this month, the one from the Police Association
is by far the most vile. From the very people we expect to take the high road, from the organization we pride as our finest, comes the most wantonly salacious document of the local political season.

This contemptible mailer comes with a bold-faced hysterical warning to instill rampant fear in voters. And it comes complete with a blanket accusation for a message -- all supporters of VERITAS are thieves! It's all metaphorical hyperbola, of course, and from another ranting political lobby I might not be as offended, but I expect more from the people we know are real heroes.

If the police organization opposes HH, it could have said so in a professional, ethical manner, not
with wild defamatory, unsubstantiated accusations. We get enough mailers and TV ads like that. As a citizen I feel betrayed. As a voter I feel more convinced than ever that we need a jolting change in
this City. Vote YES on VERITAS (HH).

Larry Mollin
Santa Monica

October 31, 2002

Dear Editor,

On Tuesday, Santa Monicans will make a very important decision about our city government -- the direct election of the mayor by the voters. Presently, the City Council elects one of its members to serve as mayor, to be the presiding officer and serve in a mostly ceremonial position. This will be drastically changed if Measure HH is approved because a very powerful position of mayor will be created.

The sponsors of this initiative who were responsible for getting it on the ballot used direct election of the mayor as the selling point outside the grocery store signature gathering spots. It is a premise that sounds good when first heard. However, when the details became known, the dangers became apparent.

Under HH, the Mayor sets the agenda for the City Council and then presides over all proceedings of the Council, serves as the liaison of the Council with the City Manager, represents the City in intergovernmental matters and supervises those functions, appoints and removes the Mayor Pro Tempore (City Charter Amendment to read: the Mayor Pro Tempore shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the Mayor), and has the right to vote in matters concerning the removal of the City Manager or City Attorney.

In addition to the powers noted above, under Measure HH, the Mayor will have the power to veto ordinances adopted by the City Council. Every ordinance is presented to the Mayor for approval; if it is vetoed, it then is presented with the objections of the Mayor at the next Council meeting. The Council members could attempt to override the veto, but it would take 5 votes to do so. This would significantly change the process for adopting ordinances, as well as drawing out the time frame for their passage. On close votes of the City Council the Mayor has the ability to cast the deciding vote in joining with the minority on the Council to reject a vote of the majority.

All this, yet proponents claim that this new position of Mayor "will have no Executive power…will have difficulty wielding even the modest power provided." In effect, under Measure HH the Mayor will not only act as the chief legislative officer but he or she will also act as the chief executive officer. Thus, unlike state and federal government where there is a separation of power between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch, this would not occur in the city of Santa Monica with HH.

Under Measure HH the Mayor serves for 4 years and to be eligible needs only live in the city 30 days prior to the first date for filing as a candidate. No experience is necessary to wield this enormous power. The Mayor only needs to be well connected with those who are willing to spend to get him or her elected.

The direct election of a mayor with veto power and the authority to set the agenda would concentrate a lot of control in one very influential person. It would be a very desirable position and would attract a lot of special interest money. If the proponents think you need a large war chest now to get elected, they should see the amounts that will be needed in future elections! As we have seen in numerous elections at all levels of government, who elects the officials (the voters) and who the officials are accountable to (the donors) are often very different.

Cost is a factor that has been mentioned in discussions about Measure HH; costs for the system of elections, costs of campaigning. I have not heard mention of a different cost: increasing the number of elected officials by one. The Mayor is in addition to the seven City Council members so additional monthly compensation will be spent. Plus the cost of the medical, dental, health and other benefits now given to our elected officials plus other costs associated with them.

Measure HH proponents have mentioned a worthy goal of "creating a more accurate and effective method for the People to communicate their will to the city government." The goal, one we can all agree with, would not be the result of this measure.

Karen Carrey, president
League of Women Voters of Santa Monica

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