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Police, 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 development.

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 issued Thursday.

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 leaders wrote.

“These candidates have shown that they have the experience needed to deal with the wide variety of issues facing our community,” they wrote.

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 calls.”

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 observers.

Since 1988, the group has backed three out of every four council winners.



Ted Winterer for Santa Monica City Council

Dr. Margaret


Vote # 158


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