Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Springtime in Vienna for Council Member Gleam Davis at Taxpayer Expense

Santa Monica taxpayers pay to send a Council Member to Vienna, Austria for a week in April for a housing conference

(Editor’s note: Gleam Davis is not termed out and could run for one more term).

Gleam Davis will term out on the City Council this year. Why are Santa Monica taxpayers paying to send a lame duck Council Member to Vienna, Austria for a week in April for a housing conference? Find out (or not) when the City Council addresses the Budget at its Tuesday, February 27 meeting.

____ Nobody else could go? But the City is already sending Council Member Torosis. Is Caroline’s attendance not adequate? Why are two people from the City, neither of whom is employed in city planning or housing, jetting off to Vienna at taxpayer expense for a housing conference? Anyone notice all the new residential housing currently being constructed in Santa Monica without sending City Council Members abroad to study how to do it?

____ Because Santa Monica has excess funds? The City has unfunded pension liabilities in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The City will be further tapping into its declining reserves and reducing expenditures on important social programs to balance its operating budget. Crime and homelessness far from under control. Important City programs are not adequately funded.The City is paying $229.8 million to settle a lawsuit for sexual abuse by one of its employees. The City can’t even afford to control the hundreds of ground squirrels running wild at Palisades Park. Gleam’s trip to Vienna is so important that it justifies diverting funds away from other City programs?

____ Because Gleam can’t afford to pay her own way? Gleam is a wealthy Harvard Law School graduate employed as senior counsel for AT&T. Her husband is a wealthy consultant. Public records show they sold the home, a short walk from the Brentwood Mart, for a whopping $8,315,000, which they purchased in 2019 for $3,500,000. Do the math. How many of you can even afford a home? Or a trip to Vienna? Many of you live paycheck to paycheck and have to pay for Gleam’s European international travel?

____ Because Gleam made a successful motion to reimburse her expenses? Gleam is no stranger to conflicts of interest. She thought it appropriate to vote on a project at the Miramar Hotel on which her husband was employed and Gleam would profit. She did not want to recuse herself despite knowing she had a personal financial interest in the project, even after her secret became public. It took the California Fair Political Practices Commission in a letter to Gleam, the experienced lawyer, in October 2020 to school her on how her participation in votes because of her personal financial conflict of interest would violate the law. ( A-20-117.pdf. The Santa Monica City Attorney, also reached the wrong conclusion. Could it be because their employment and compensation are determined by Gleam and the City Council?) Gleam (and Caroline) had a financial conflict of interest and should have recused themselves on a vote to send themselves on an expensive European escapade. Was this legal (don’t ask the City Attorney)?

____ Because the City Council approved Gleam’s motion? None of the other Council Members can explain why it is an appropriate expense to send even one Council Member - Caroline Torosis - over 6,000 miles to a housing conference in a socialist foreign country with very high taxes that can pay for superior public housing policies. Or why Gleam’s attendance will in any way supplement Caroline’s participation at the same conference or contribute in any way to local housing policies in her short time remaining on the Council. (Look at all the housing currently being built locally without lessons from Vienna.) Especially when there are highly educated and experienced housing experts at nearby world class universities, in federal, state and local government, in private firms, and in Santa Monica’s own planning and housing departments.

____ Will the City Council cancel Gleam’s trip? We all make mistakes. Many can be forgiven if acknowledged and steps taken to correct them. The City Council approved Gleam’s trip only two weeks ago. They are reviewing the budget now. They can change their mind and cancel Gleam’s trip to Vienna if not Caroline’s too. Why when reviewing the budget won’t at least one Council Member show some spine and integrity and make a motion to cancel the expenditure? Could it be that Council Members have lost all idealism of their youth and are cynically looking forward to benefitting financially from similar trips to European capitals and other unwarranted expenditures of taxpayer funds in the future?



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