Firefighters Back Council Incumbents, Oppose “T”
By Jorge Casuso
September 19 – Santa Monica’s Police and
Firefighters unions are throwing their political clout behind
the incumbents in the race for four open seats on the City Council
and opposing a measure that would place a cap on most commercial
Mayor Herb Katz and Council members Richard Bloom, Ken Genser
and Bobby Shriver “have been supportive of the members of
the both associations in reducing crime and addressing fire and
life safety concerns,” the unions wrote in a joint statement
The council next year will be asked to boost the Police and Fire
departments’ annual budgets by a total of more than $8 million
a year to meet a growing demand for emergency services. (“Police,
Fire Chiefs Ask Council to Boost Public Safety Funding,”
March 12, 2008)
“After a series of interviews and meetings, the Santa Monica
Police and Fire Firefighters Associations have selected these
candidates for their commitment to Public Safety,” Jay Trisler,
Chair of the officer’s association, and Brad Lomas, president
of the Firefighter’s Association wrote.
“Track records show that (the incumbents) will continue
to give the Police and Fire Departments the tools they need to
deal with terrorism, gang violence, substance abuse, homeland
security, emergency operations, disaster preparedness, Haz-Mat
response and overall quality of life issues,” the union
“These candidates have shown that they have the experience
needed to deal with the wide variety of issues facing our community,”
The endorsements comes days after the Coalition of Santa Monica
City Employees, which represents 1,500 non-sworn municipal workers,
announced it will back the four council incumbents.
The backing of the Police and Fire unions is considered among
the most important endorsements, along with those of Santa Monicans
for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), which has controlled City government
for the past quarter century, and the Chamber of Commerce.
Viewed as the most powerful force within local government, the
police union, along with the firefighters, also voted to oppose
Measure T, which would cap most commercial development in the
city at 75,000 square feet a year for 15 years.
The two unions agreed with opponents of the measure – also
known as the “Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic”
– who argue the cap would curb future General Fund revenues.
“If Measure ‘T’ were to pass, funding for Public
Safety may be reduced,” the union leaders wrote. “The
result will be a reduction in the services that we provide.”
The police and firefighters unions also voted to endorse Measure
SM, which would “continue and update Santa Monica’s
Utilities Tax on telecommunication services to fund City activities
including police, fire, paramedic and emergency services,”
according to the ballot statement.
“The Police Officers and Fire Fighters Associations believe
that if Measure SM is defeated, funding for Public Safety may
be severely impacted,” the union representatives wrote.
In March, Police Chief Tim Jackman asked the council to add 31
sworn officers and 14 civilians to the upcoming fiscal budget
at an annual cost of $6.4 million.
Fire Chief Jim Hone requested an additional $3.6 million a year
to add 22 members “to meet a dramatic increase in emergency
At the March 11 council meeting, several of the incumbents expressed
their support for expanding the City Police and Fire departments.
“The needs outlined by the two chiefs need to be our highest
priorities,” Genser said.
“I agree,” said Katz. “I think it has to be
the highest priorities. If we don’t have a safe community,
everything falls apart.”
Four years ago, Katz, a SMRR opponent backed by the chamber,
failed to win the police union’s endorsement, as did former
council member Michael Feinstein. Instead, the union backed challengers
Shriver and Patricia Hoffman.
The unions’ backing will be a boost for the incumbents
in a race that has seen SMRR and the Democratic Club take the
unprecedented move of only endorsing two candidates – Genser
and Bloom -- for four open seats.
Traditionally the City’s police union has hedged its bets
by backing candidates from rival factions and basing its endorsement
not only on a candidate’s position on public safety issues,
but on their chances of winning, according to several political
Since 1988, the group has backed three out of every four council