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'Skid Row by the Sea'

February 23, 1992

Posters bearing the message, "Greetings From Santa Monica, Skid Row by the Sea!" are appearing throughout the downtown and pier areas. In the design, one cartoon character is robbing a man a gunpoint, while two more men lie nearby with their alcohol saying, "Thank you, Bob Myers!"

This blatant swipe at the problems of our city could easily be dismissed as merely offensive. However, what I find truly offensive is that the sentiments of the posters are quite true. Countless times my family has been harassed by aggressive panhandlers and overeager drug dealers in the downtown area. The recent crackdowns by Police Chief Butts are admirable and long overdue, but doomed to failure.

As long as our spineless City Council licks at the heels of City Atty. Bob Myers, the dangerous situation not only remains the same, it gets worse. Homeless programs are a huge growth industry in Santa Monica. Myers, the "Boss Tweed" of local city politics, steers a political machine that is fueled and greased by the millions of dollars per year thrown into these unregulated, unaccountable social programs.

The Myers Machine has no interest in "an oppressive piece of legislation" such as the ordinance banning people from living in the parks. To enact a policy that actually deals with the problem would also jeopardize their hold over the uses of major public dollars. More homeless attracted to Santa Monica equals more programs equals more money to be controlled. Myers is sly enough to hide behind the banner of ethics to protect himself and his conspirators. If there were a genuine ethical conflict of interest, Myers should have resigned as a show of protest. Of course, that would have negated his cushy $105,000-per-year salary.

While I have supported and benefited from their strict rent control policies, I now feel that Myers and the SMRR (Santa Monicans for Renters Rights) majority City Council can no longer be trusted to lead this city into the 1990s. What good is my rent-controlled apartment if I'm afraid to leave the slim safety of its confines? This city definitely needs new leadership. Come November, let's hope that "Skid Row by the Sea" posters remind voters how out of touch and unresponsive the current City Hall gang has become.

JOE DiPRIMA

Santa Monica

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