Mayor Himmelrich Should Refrain from Nominating or Voting for Caroline Torosis Due to Appearance of Conflict of Interest
Sue Himmelrich is married to Michael Soloff who is Chair of the Housing Commission and co-chair of SMRR, an influential organization which endorsed Torosis for Council. It has been reported that last year Himmlrich and Soloff hosted a fundraiser in their north of Montana home for Torosis in her bid for a Rent Control Board seat.
June 30, 2021
The following is a written public comment submitted to the Santa Monica City Council on 6/29/21
This is to request that Mayor Himmelrich refrain from nominating or voting for SMRR-endorsed Council applicant Caroline Torosis due to the appearance of a conflict of interest caused by the fact that Mayor Himmelrich's husband, Michael Soloff, is a co-chair of SMRR.
A conflict of interest is a situation in which a person such as a public official has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of his or her official duties. Often, this is a financial interest, but it could also be another sort of interest, for example to provide a special advantage to a family member. An apparent conflict of interest is one in which a reasonable person would think that the public official's judgement is likely to be compromised.
When it comes to conflicts of interest, appearance is as important as reality because it diminishes the public's trust in government.
I have previously brought up publicly the issue of Mayor Himmelrich's apparent conflict of interest relative to her husband Michael Soloff who serves as Chair of the Santa Monica Housing Commission. At that time, Mayor Himmelrich promptly recused herself from voting on a commission-related issue.
It is my hope that Mayor Himmelrich will also act properly tonight and recuse herself from participating in any nomination or vote on the candidacy of Caroline Torosis for the Council seat.
Santa Monica is a small town that for decades now has been plagued by incestuous relationships among the ruling oligarchy. The two most politically prominent organizations, SMRR and Santa Monica Forward, had been controlling who ends up on the City Council, either through influence or financial support.
However, in an unprecedented turn of events, during the most recent election in November 2020 the residents fired three of the Council incumbents. To replace them, regular Santa Monicans were elected in hopes of saving the city from its progressing deterioration mostly caused by the influence of special interest groups.
The 2020 election proved two things: that the residents were fed up with the special interest groups that had a firm grip on the City's politics, and that the residents were able to elect three people who did not have the financial backing of the Urban Growth Machine organization Santa Monica Forward.
I commend Mayor Himmelrich on her conviction that Councilmembers are not sorority members and should not be appointing each other to the Council. A special election is in order. To those frowning at the cost I say there is no price tag on democracy.
Below is a list of the organizations and individuals who endorsed Caroline Torosis in November 2020. I call on all the Council members to analyze it from the point of view of a real or apparent conflict of interest, such as interest peddling, and to act accordingly tonight.
Caroline is proud to be supported by the following*
Los Angeles County Democratic Party
Santa Monica Democratic Party
Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights
Unite Here Local 11
Stonewall Democratic Club
Stonewall Young Democrats
Heart of Los Angeles Democratic Club
Congressman Ted Lieu - Representing California's 33rd District
Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon - 50th President pro Tempore of the California State Senate & Councilmember-elect, Los Angeles City Council District 14
Ben Allen - California State Senator representing the 26th District
Richard Bloom - California State Assemblymember representing the 50th District
Sue Himmelrich - Santa Monica City Council Member
Ted Winterer - Santa Monica City Council Member
Terry O'Day - Santa Monica City Council Member
Gleam Davis - Santa Monica City Council Member
Kristin McCowan - Santa Monica City Council Member
Michael Tarbet - SMRR Co-founder and founder of SMRR Tenant Hotline
Nicole Phillis - Rent Control Board Chair
Todd Flora - Rent Control Board Commissioner Emeritus
Anastasia Foster - Rent Control Board Commissioner
Steve Duron - Rent Control Board Commissioner
Naomi Sultan - Rent Control Board Commissioner
Torie Osborn - Senior Strategist, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
Abbe Arnold - Co-Chair, Santa Monica Forward
Dr. Nancy Greenstein - Trustee, Santa Monica College Board
Dr. Sion Roy - Trustee, Santa Monica College Board and President Emeritus, Los Angeles County Medical Association
Shawn Landres - Chair, Santa Monica Planning Commission & Steering Committee Member, Santa Monica Forward
Jennifer Kennedy - former Santa Monica Planning Commissioner & former Rent Control Board Chair
Michael Soloff - Co-Chair Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR)
Denny Zane - Co-Chair Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR)
Marcia Zimmer - Former Rent Control Board Hearings Department Manager
* info based on http://www.torosisforsantamonica.com/endorsements