Some people seem to think that President Trump’s public refusal to accept the verdict of the voters is the next-to-last act of the 2020 presidential campaign. The last act, of course, is when they have to carry him out of the White House bodily, still sitting in his chair and watching Fox News on his iPad. But I don’t think so. I think we’re seeing the opening act of the 2024 presidential campaign. Perhaps if the Democrats had also taken the senate (which doesn’t look very likely) or even gained some seats in the house or taken some of the state legislatures, Republicans would be publicly moving away from Trump. But the Democrats didn’t and, even though Trump is soon out of the White House (despite his claims), Trumpism is still alive and well and as dangerous as it always was and all the Republicans are going to be hedging their bets unless there is a turn in public opinion. It’s going to be difficult for other Republicans to build up a new candidate if 70 million of their voters continue to support Trump, and I can’t imagine Trump letting go of them. Besides, Trump needs them. He’s got $400 million in loans coming due, but with 70 million supporters, assuming they stay, all he needs is $10 from each of them to keep his parade on the road, pay off his debt and begin to fund his next campaign. I can see some rallies and a telethon or two on the horizon. Meanwhile, Biden has to ignore it all, put together his team and move on to managing the country. If the Democrats don’t take both senate contests in Georgia, he probably has to follow a relatively conservative policy agenda. If the Dems take the senate, well, then it’s a totally different situation. We’ll know in January, after the senate races in Georgia, what kind of course Biden’s going to set.
The city council election results are in and, even though it’s not absolutely final yet because some ballots are still being counted, it’s clear the three winners for the three seats on the council are Bruce Lee Silverstein, first, with 2,376 votes; Steve Uhring, second, with 2,265 votes; and Paul Grisanti, third, with 2,241 votes. Surprisingly, current council incumbent Rick Mullen, who was the largest vote-getter in 2016, finished out of the running this time, finishing seventh out of eight candidates. The local Malibu Measure T to increase the TOT (transient occupancy tax) to 15 percent on hotels, motels and short-term rentals, passed with 56 percent voting for it and 43 percent voting against, and it’s estimated it will bring in another $750,000 per year to the city when we get back to normal.
The battle between the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (BOS) and the Sheriff of LA County, Alex Villanueva, has gone in stages from complaining to sniping to now open warfare. The board just passed a resolution to seek options on legislative changes that would result in an appointed, rather than an elected, sheriff. They also, I suspect as a backup, want to find a way to remove certain responsibilities from the sheriff “to mitigate damage to basic department functions, and to curtail the sheriff’s resistance to transparency and accountability.” This battle between the supervisors and the sheriff is not unique to LA County but seems to be more vituperative and public than most. Throughout California, county sheriffs—which are an old and historic office in California—are elected independently but are still a department of the county with their budget controlled by the supervisors, and often also controlled by county rules passed by the supervisors, which many sheriffs try to ignore, claiming they are only answerable to the voters not the board of supervisors. Also, as often happens, the cities in the county are bluer than the extended county rural area, which are much redder. Mark Ridley-Thomas, a supervisor who has just been termed out, put out a press release that said, “We have managed to inherit the worst sheriff in recent memory, and he has set off what is close to a constitutional crises at the local level that we’ve ever seen.” That is very blunt and unusual language in government, where things are generally said more circumspectly. In a motion seconded by our supervisor, Sheila Kuehl, she charges that the sheriff continuously refuses to cooperate with the civilian oversight commission and the inspector general, defying both subpoenas and requests for information. Specifically, they’ve charged the sheriff has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to balance his budget, compromised safety by programs he has cut and is unwilling to demand accountability for deputy misbehavior, which has caused the county to pay out more than $149 million over the last five years to settle lawsuits and satisfy judgements. My take on it is that the sheriff has been blunt and unyielding, and figures he got into office with support of the rank and file of the department and is not about to compromise on any of it. His problem is that the concept of policing has changed, with the public looking at things like police shootings and use of force differently than they used to, and additionally there is a newly elected and more liberal district attorney coming into office. Things are changing and our sheriff is looking like a throwback to the old days that have long since passed.