Confessions of a Concerned Citizen

Commentary

 


By Ron Bassilian

I suppose my name has gotten out a bit ahead of me. In the past few months I’ve gone from casual observer of Culver City politics, to concerned citizen, to specter of the "Alt Right" that the City Council must defend against in the interest of all things human. It’s gotten a bit out of control, a bit much for any mortal voter to bear.

So, I figure you should all know a bit about me, the man who was behind the June 8th Brown Act complaint against our Council, and how a few simple queries on rent control and policing have metastasized into this specter.

Did you know I actually used to be a Democrat? And not a casual one, either. I started back in 1992, working on Jerry Brown’s presidential run. I would drive my mom’s car from Torrance to his office on Pico and Cloverfield to work phones. In 1994, I interned for the DNC in Washington. I spent my college days on the left, and in 2003 I was one of the original MoveOn organizers against the war in Iraq.


I dropped out of that soon though, once I saw MoveOn evolve from a grassroots movement into a fundraising arm for the Democratic Party. Even back then, I was a bipartisan guy, I was more concerned with issues than party. I didn’t like how criticism of the war devolved into “Bush is an idiot,” like if we’d voted for the Democrats who authorized the spending, we would have avoided the war.

And yes, I voted for Obama, twice. Crucify me now, everyone.

Cue forward to about 2014, when I first noticed the Democrats were heading for the ultra-left cliff. Issues that I thought were bipartisan – like police, laws, fair elections, two parties, property rights – didn’t seem to be bipartisan anymore. Meanwhile, humanitarian disasters in the Middle East were going unchecked. The Democrats ribbing of Republicans had gotten stale and disingenuous. And it was getting obvious that the issues the Democrats claimed for themselves, they were just showboating about – they had no intention of resolving them.

In January 2017, I flipped. I flipped because I felt I could fight better for the issues I care about in the Republican Party – yes, even something like climate change – than in the Democratic Party.

See, I understand Meghan Sahli-Wells' crusader zeal. We all have that zeal to right the wrong, to ease the suffering of the afflicted, to be custodians of a planet which has gotten more and more strained by our presence.

The problem is, Megan’s crusade is utter bunk.

As someone who’s spent a quarter century in the Democratic Party, I should know. The issues she brings up as the central issues of her tenure--fracking and immigration sanctuary--have nothing to do with reality. It’s nothing but a cynical ploy to paint Republicans as oil-happy, gun-toting Nazis.

I read our sanctuary policy. It’s pure dog-whistle politics with no effect on actual police policy. It makes believe Trump is sending out stormtroopers to remove all immigrants, up to and including Goran Eriksson. But President Trump is not--he’s said time and again his priority is criminal illegals. But that doesn’t stop its proponents from scaring people into thinking he’s coming for them.

Then there’s the fracking issue. This isn’t North Dakota. This is a populous urban center, and if we wanted to have a good faith discussion on the oil fields, it’s how to wind them down into something worthier of an urban center--like a park. Never mind that only five percent of the Inglewood oil fields reach out into Culver City.

But that’s not the conversation we’re having in this City. Instead it’s a bugbear, having people thinking that if we had instead elected Marcus Tiggs or Albert Vera, we’d be slant-drilling under City Hall and that Downtown restaurants would be dealing with flaming water faucets.

Which brings us to the bugbears about me being Alt-Right.

I came into this city council election a bit late. I asked simple questions like what the candidate’s positions on rent control are. And I was barraged by slanderous, hateful comments--all from people that we can prove are tied to Megan’s political clique. Yes, I had to block people--on the rent control thread alone I blocked about a dozen. Purely on the basis that if they couldn’t answer my question, and decided to attack me instead, I would block them. It’s made my Facebook life much simpler. I use Facebook for productive conversation, not for bad-faith flame wars.

For this I was ostensibly denied my reappointment to the Landlord Tenant Mediation Board.

But let’s not talk about that. Ostensible versus real. Let’s talk about the April 30th inaugural meeting, my invitation of Genevieve Peters to the meeting, and our subsequent Brown Act complaint about that meeting.

First off, I’m happy City Council corrected our grievance, and re-opened the vice mayoral election. We had 32 speakers speak out about it, as opposed to the dozen or so that came out on April 30. This proves that when you properly agenize an item, and open it up for discussion in advance, rather than leaving it rumors and gossip, we can have a productive conversation and not a chaotic shitshow.

Because it was in this chaotic shitshow environment that I invited Genevieve Peters, a friend of a friend that I had no contact with, to webcast the meeting so the larger world could see what our city was turning into. I didn’t know who she was, I didn’t know she was going to speak, and to this day we can play armchair consultant and hem and haw whether I should have brought her. I brought her on a desperate 24-hour rumor’s notice of what was going to happen.

To this day, councilmembers and their core supporters are still talking about her. It’s insanity only if you realize their problem wasn’t her, or what she said, it’s that she wasn’t one of their outsider leftist friends. You know, like the ones they brought in for the drone hearing, the ones who had to be escorted out, along with Goran, because of legitimate threats to his life.

Unlike them, she didn’t speak out of turn, or had to be dragged out, or threaten any councilmember. Quite the opposite, really. Two people who are tied to Fisch/Lee campaigns (they deny it, but we’ll get to that part in a bit) attacked her after the meeting. The court date for them is still pending.

And here’s the fun part. The Fisch and Lee camps have scrubbed all records of their campaigns. It’s spooky and borderline criminal, really. What are they trying to hide? All we have as records of who worked for them and supported them is screenshots and ripped footage, that we’re now compiling.

No, by attacking her, they’re smearing me as "Alt-Right" by extension. Their ultimate justification for calling me Alt Right was an article I wrote two years ago, two months before Hillary Clinton made Richard Spencer famous, while the term was still nebulous. I defined it to mean anyone who was fed up with leftist orthodoxy and was dropping off that bandwagon. My only crime was that Hillary had the bigger platform to define it as the white supremacist smear it is today.

And don’t kid yourself. They will be further extending this smear to any one of you who spoke out in favor of maintaining the rotation policy, in favor of the greater good and not Megan’s ill-advised crusade. What more and more Americans are realizing, on both sides of the aisle, is to be Alt Right is really to be anyone who is not on board this ultraleft agenda.

As Leon Trotsky said, "The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end."

So, here’s the two-month resume of our glorious, kind, newly elected city council: A Brown Act complaint that council took seriously enough to correct. An attack by alleged organizers of the new councilmembers. A circumvention of mayoral rotation policy – one which was only supported by Megan’s core followers, who are as I’m writing this busy congratulating each other on Facebook. A councilmember who admitted on the dais he says things only for political expedience. And what can be argued is a retaliatory rejection of my reappointment to the Landlord Tenant Mediation Board.

Not that I particularly care about that reappointment. I do have a Congressional campaign to run and bigger issues to talk about, like the Costa Hawkins repeal on the ballot in November.

What I do want to talk about is the concept of good faith. And that so many of us feel we are not talking in good faith with our City Council. That Council and their core of supporters are now ganging up on me, trying to isolate me from the body politic, when there is so much I agree on with so many of you, and that is not a fair fight.

They can justify their actions all they want and do all sorts of verbal gymnastics to avoid any legal trouble, but my concern isn’t legal action or courtrooms. I want a good faith relationship with my City Council. This isn’t just a legal term, it’s a feeling people have, a feeling that is now gone. And that’s the core trouble.

I want to know that our councilmembers won’t say one thing during their candidacy and another thing on the dais. At this point, even though our new councilmembers said they were against rent control during their campaigns, I’m being told we will be discussing rent control soon enough.

What other issues will we be ambushed by? Is this the Council we want? Is this the Council we voted for? Do we need to start reading directives from California Democratic Party officials to find out their motivations, and not the actual words that come out of their mouths? Because that’s what I’m doing now.

This atmosphere does not make for a tenable City Council.

 

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