What’s at stake this election

2024 will see Protect Culver City’s five year anniversary.  We began at 2am June 25th, 2019, after Council implemented rent control.  It was how they did it that struck us – in the dead of night, by a Council that never ran on the issue, shutting out all resident input and following verbatim the demands of their militants.  Thus we knew that rent control would not be our only or even primary issue.

We had no idea how right we’d be.  The following year Culver City saw the worst riots since the Rodney King riots of 1992.  Westfield Culver City would have been ransacked were it not for the heroic efforts of the Culver City Police Department.  To thank them, this same council that passed rent control pushed to defund them by 50%.  That proposal was narrowly defeated after one of their own, Coucnilman Fisch, balked at such a radical move.  That began our Defend Don’t Defund campaign, which highlighted Vera and Eriksson’s commitment to CCPD – and the commitment of others to defund it. 

Eriksson won re-election by a narrow 32 votes that year.  If he had lost to Puza, we would not have a police department as we know it.

Since then we have solidified our commitment to the city to inform residents on several issues that should be dealbreakers for any candidate – but unfortunately are not anymore:

  • Culver City should have a police department that enforces laws.  This is not a debate about what the budget should be, or what functions should be offloaded, but whether we have a functional police department.  Defunding 50% would cease their function as crime prevention and demote them to crime reporting. 
  • Our city has the right to clean up transient camps.  If we have a place to send transients, but they don’t want to go, we have the authority to compel them to move.
  • The city is growing and getting denser.  But we should not sacrifice the quality of our neighborhoods to get there.  Likewise, densification requires public space -and in turn, public safety.
  • We believe in the laws of physics and economics.  “Build more housing” does not summon builder elves.  We need economic policies that pencil out and work at the scale that we need – NOT blank checks to developers.  Likewise, naturally occurring affordable housing – i.e., Mom and Pop multifamily – should be supported, not penalized.
  • We push for such transparency and accountability in all the city’s finances, including the school board.
  • We need traffic policies that reflect the reality of commuting in Los Angeles.

These issues should be dealbreakers – but unfortunately, they are not anymore.  “Our Culver”, the latest activist organization in Culver City, advertised their initial meeting “Fund This!” at Veterans Park in April.  They made their intentions clear.  They see this as their Culver City, not everybody’s.  “Fund This!”, as Councilman O’Brien has pointed out, is an allusion to defunding the police – reviving their 2020 demands.  They try to soften the rhetoric for election season, by claiming they’re just diverting some funds to other programs like parks.  But they are otherwise quite clear about their intentions. 

Their tactics don’t stop here.  The MOVE lane closures downtown were enormously unpopular and helped swing the city council from 3-2 for it to 3-2 against it.  But rather than concede defeat, they preferred to file a frivolous lawsuit against the city to delay restoring the lanes.  One of the plaintiffs, Bubba Fish, is running for Council this year with activist support.  Regarding the rent registry doxing, they filed a complaint against Albert Vera, which is delaying council from discussing it as well. 

These tactics show they consider this their city, and they do not wish to share it democratically.

And while they did not stop the new Council from cleaning up the camps at the Senior Center and Venice/405, it took the new Council to get this done.  If they take back the majority, the camps will come back.  Their philosophy is anathema to ours: we can build transients the Taj Mahal – if they don’t want to move, we can’t make them. Compelling them to move, they claim, “causes harm.”

With basic livability issues like these at stake this election, you’d think electing sympathetic councilmembers would be a slam dunk.  Yet even with all the new moderate political organizations sprouting up in Culver City, the outcome of this election is not secure.

This is because when it comes to elections, the activists don’t run on the issues.  At Protect Culver City, we know this all too well.  If they advertised themselves as the candidates to shut down CCPD, shut down key car lanes, or allow tent cities, they would lose.  Instead, they come up with wild stories about Hackman buying out council.  Or smearing anyone who dares run against them.

Just Google our name, Protect Culver City, and you’ll see any number of hitpieces about us.  You’d think Hackman paid hundreds of thousands to import tiki torch donning Nazis into Culver City to smash the hopes and dreams of some innocent hippies.  It sounds like madness, but these articles get wide distribution through and outside our fair city, though activists on social media.  These hitpieces take their tolls.  They reach well meaning voters, who then second guess their support for candidates we support.  It chills the election environment, and prevents our supporters from campaigning openly and effectively.  Meanwhile, these activists proudly strut around their support for their own candidates.

We anticipated these tactics.  When we first formed to push back on the rent control conversation, we predicted that Council would not pay attention to us unless we forced them to.  Our ballot measure did that.  But rather than discuss rent control, they wrote hit pieces about us as some dangerous right wing threat. 

From our police department, to zoning, to dealing with transient camps, they kept these same tactics. 

Today we remain the only PAC in Culver City to have forced them to campaign against us.  Which is why we’ve borne the brunt of their attacks.  Other candidates thought they could just run on the issues and get slam-dunk support from voters.  They quickly saw their names dragged through the mud.  Thus learning the hard lesson that these are not neutral issues – one must stand up and fight for them.

But the city is adjusting.  Several other PACs have formed to push back against the progressive slate, as well as candidates championing them.  For better or worse, Culver City now has party politics.  It doesn’t translate to Democrat/Republican – the above issues enjoy wide bipartisan support – rather, it acknowledges that an individual candidate can no longer win on their own.  They need the support of these PACs and their members, who are ready to mobilize.

We already know who the progressives have picked to represent them – Yasmine McMorrin, Bubba Fish, and Nancy Barba.  The loose coalition of PACs opposing them are supporting Albert Vera, Denice Renteria, and Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin.  These latter three have the thankless job of remaining above the fray of mudslinging while championing the causes we do. 

So how do we support them?  By sticking to the issues.  We cannot react in kind to the tactics of these activists.  We do not name-call, nor are we simply here to resist their agenda.  We have to put forth our own vision for the city, our stance on the issues, and where the candidates stand on these issues.  And we have to remind 29,000 Culver City voters what those issues are, and where the candidates stand.

Again, these seem like slam dunk issues.  But we can fully expect these activists to muddy the water and make the election about anything but these issues.  We need to campaign on these issues, loud and clear, to 29,000 voters.  We need mailer campaigns, door knockers and phone bankers of our own.  Our members need to have the tools to reach out to their neighbors and discuss these issues that essentially separate Vera, Renteria, and Wisnosky-Stehlin from Imani-McMorrin, Fish and Barba.

When voters are aware of these issues, vote on these issues, and ignore the noise and the mudslinging, we win.  We all win.

NO on Measure E: The more we look at it, the worse it gets

The basics: $86,000+ spent to pass Measure E – ALL from developers, NONE from residents:

  • TELACU construction $25,000
  • PJHM Architects $10,000
  • Barnhart Reese Construction $25,000
  • Ruhnau Clark Architects $25,000
  • Sandy Pringle Associates $1500

Contrast that to the expenditures against Measure E, with contributions entirely from Culver City residents and stakeholders:

  • $3000 from Protect Culver City
  • $2000 from Save CCUSD

$86,000 investment for a $360 million bond ROI?  Where do WE sign up?

Furthermore, TELACU has been going around campaigning for the bond measure.  Clearly, this is a conflict of interest.  But while activists accused Hackman of buying out the city by giving us $5000, they are utterly silent on this issue.

That this is a naked tax grab for fat developer contracts is already evident.  But by proponents’ own argument, voter’s only oversight to this will be the state oversight board.  

Meanwhile, we have Measure K from 2018 to see just how little oversight to expect.  Measure K raised over $2 million a year for school programs.  Most of it wound up going to a single contractor, New Earth – after the oversight committee had been dissolved, and with little to show for it.  When residents demanded an accounting of how the money was spent, they were met with Cease and Desist orders – from New Earth, with contact info provided by our new Assistant Superintendent of DEI.

Yes, it’s true.  While we need $360 million to fix leaky roofs, we can afford a DEI assistant superintendent – complete with office and staff.  Who is now on leave, presumably because of the above scandal.

This is in addition to many other ethical issues plaguing our school district. The idea of a bond measure to cover repairs has raised the attention of the county, which has asked for an audit of the city’s finances. The school district is also under fire for using school resources for political purposes, including their parental e-mail list.

So there you have every reason to doubt Measure E funds will go where they’re stated – even if you agree with the stated goal.  The details of this are still a bit iffy, but that’s the story as we understand it.

So what can you do?

We found that people who are supporting Measure E have been subjected to the pro-E campaign before we had a chance to talk to them.  Proponents have made some false claims, like that it won’t involve any tax increase, and is just free money from the state.  This is false.  It’s a $600/mil/year property tax increase.  So if your home is valued at $1.5mil, you can expect to pay almost $1000/yr to pay for this.

So, talk to your neighbors about this.  If you know someone with a YES on E sign, ask them if they’re aware of this information.

We put out our door hanger campaign, and that’s all the money we have to spend on the issue.  But letters to the editor are free, and so are forwarded e-mails.  If people want, we can create a PDF flyer to hand to neighbors to enlighten them about this issue.

Successful campaigns have the three M’s – Money, Message, Militants.  All the proponents have is money, and its ability to amplify a tiny voice.  We have the message, and we have the militants to get it out.  Let’s make sure our neighbors are aware of this disaster of a measure.

No on E: our homes are not your ATM

Arguing against a ballot measure is always difficult, especially when it comes to schools.  Immediately you must face the argument “why don’t you support our children? Why are you so miserly?”

But this measure will raise our property taxes significantly – $600/year per $1mil valuation of our homes.  And many homeowners in Culver City are on a fixed income – this extra $1000+ year tab won’t be easy to swallow.  Unlike a sales tax, there is no avoiding this.  Those of us footing the bill should expect an accounting of how that money will be spent. 

And right away we see issues in the language of the bond.  The money will be spent on needed repairs.  Not a brand new building or an overarching vision to renovate the campus.  Shouldn’t repairs be part of the general budget?  Yes, they should. 

So why are they asking for a bond to do needed repairs?  The answer is we have a school board that just isn’t very good at managing money.  They haven’t had a controller since March 2023, and have had issues staffing a number of other officers.   

One thing they’re not missing is their new assistant superintendent of DEI, along with a staff and office, or consultants at New Earth which apparently got most of the Measure K Parcel tax, passed in 2018.  The school board stonewalled the oversight committee.  When residents asked for some transparency, New Earth sent them cease and desist orders – with emails apparently provided by the assistant superintendent. People suspect that’s why the assistant superintendent is currently on leave.

When you look at who’s funding the passage of this bond, it gets worse.  $25,000 donated by TELACU construction and $10,000 by PJHM architects.  TELACU came under scrutiny in 2014 for its pay to play tactics in Centinela Valley school district.  They are actively campaigning for the very bond measure they stand to profit from. Some would consider it the standard kind of horse trading that goes on in elections.  It doesn’t make it any less repugnant to a small town based on small donations.  And it’s hypocritical given that the same people accused Hackman of buying out the city by donating $5000 to us. 

We get it.  Our city has expenses.  Sometimes, those expenses reach beyond the general budget, and the city needs to ask us to pitch in a bit extra to maintain or upgrade services. 

We just don’t think they’re into this bond for the benefit of the kids.

Given what we’ve seen – of this school board’s history, of their stated intentions for this bond measure, and of our ability to audit what they spend it on – this bond measure does not pass that scrutiny.  Vote NO on this one.  Our homes are not the school board’s ATM every time they come up short.

Our endorsement of Jonathan Hatami for District Attorney

District Attorney George Gascon’s radical policies have made LA County dramatically less safe.  Per CCPD statistics, crime in Culver City is up nearly 50% since he took office in January 2021.  There is little debate that the next district attorney needs to quickly and effectively undo the damage he has done.  

Many candidates have stepped forward to claim they would do exactly this.  Except for a couple candidates, challengers all agree on this platform.  

Hatami came seeking our endorsement in such a field of qualified and well funded challengers.  Our endorsement of him is not a criticism of these others, who we expect to support should they make it past the primary election.

We are endorsing Hatami because his story sparked our members with enthusiasm.  His is a simple story of a survivor of child abuse, who’s dedicated his life to giving victims justice and closure for crimes committed against them.  His role in the Gabriel Fernandez child abuse case got 30 million views on Netflix.  People know him and are ready to go to bat for him.

For us at Protect Culver City, that’s what matters.  Endorsing Hatami will allow us to harness our member enthusiasm.  We can rally behind one candidate and get the word out about the importance of the district attorney race.  We won’t confuse people with subtle distinctions.  

Most importantly, being able to campaign for him in the primary will get more voters out to vote against George Gascon and make sure he doesn’t et 50% of the vote in March – because if he does, he’s automatically re-elected.

We think Hatami is qualified, electable, and has a broad reach and a compelling story to challenge Gascon.  We at Protect Culver City are proud to offer him our endorsement.

So what does this mean?

Endorsing Hatami means we can start getting the word out to Culver City residents about the importance of this race.  Door hangers and flyers cost money – for that, we need your help!  It costs about $2500 to get a door hanger out to everyone who’s not behind a secure building.


The issue simply isn’t who to vote for – it’s who we need to make sure doesn’t make it past the primary.  Jeff Chemerinsky has several key endorsements – but at the DA debate the other candidates called him “Mini Gascon.”  They have reason to.  His father Erwin served on Gascon’s transition team.  And Jeff’s answers revealed he will do nothing different.

2024 Political Outlook – meet the BoS candidates!

Our current Council is divided 3-2 on issues people once took for granted:

  • Restore a second lane of traffic downtown
  • Defend CCPD funding and reputation
  • Remove tent camps at Senior Center and freeway underpasses

The 2024 election appears to be no different. Meanwhile, Culver City has graduated beyond the era of individual candidate. We now have two political “parties” in our city, for lack of a better term. Currently, the three member Council majority, and several players, are lining up behind three candidates for 2024: Albert Vera, Jeannine Wisnosky-Stehlin, and Denice Renteria. The two member Council minority is standing behind Yasmine Imani-McMorrin, Bubba Fish, and Nancy Barba.

As this election won’t be until November, with no primary, we will have this on the back burner. The March primary has some more pressing issues to deal with – County Supervisor, District Attorney, and a CCUSD bond issue.

Culver City requires cooperation with the County Supervisors to deliver on public safety and resolving homelessness.  Our current supervisor, Holly Mitchell, is a Housing First advocate and a police Defunder, who just renewed her endorsement of DA George Gascon.  We need better representation at the county level if we are to succeed as a city.  Meet a couple candidates who have a different vision for the county.

We will host meet and greets for two challengers:

Monday, December 4th, 7pm
Daphne Bradford

Wednesday, December 13th, 7pm
Clint Carlton

In-person at Veterans’ Park Kaizuka Room or online via Zoom

No RSVP needed for Zoom – but encouraged for in-person

Download our PDF flyer!

Daphne is an independent based out of Ladera Heights.  Clint is a Democrat based out of Marina Del Rey.  Both speak emphatically about the need for public safety in the county as well as the County’s responsibilities on resolving homelessness.  We encourage people to check out their websites and get in contact with the candidates.

Council to deliberate on rent registry Monday July 10th – city attorney answers our questions

Will discuss how to protect private registry information on item A-1


Can the information on the rent registry be protected from a public records request?  What if it can’t?  Should we even bother with it?  That’s the question people need to be asking next Monday.  Enforcement of rent control does not need a rent registry or an expensive bureaucracy.  It simply needs outreach – so tenants know who to call if a landlord is in breach of the ordinance.

If you don’t have time to speak, you can file an e-comment at the agenda item above, or e-mail your comments to public.comment@culvercity.org

City Attorney Heather Baker has also answered our questions about this issuePer her answers, it is not possible to redact information deemed private, even at direction of Council. 

1. The attorney who published this website claims he obtained the rental registry information under the California Public Records Act, claiming any data the city owns must be publicly accessible.  He says he will continue to get up to date information by invoking this act.  Do you agree with this?  How do rent records compare with sales tax records – which, to our understanding, are not publicly accessible?

Based on research and evaluation, including the various privacy interests at play, the City Attorney’s Office determined certain information contained in the City’s rental registry records was required to be disclosed under the Public Records Act (PRA) and not covered by any PRA exemptions.

2. Per Google doxing standards, as well as the California Electronic Cyber Harassment Law (PC 653.2), aggregating publicly available data in an easily accessible format can be considered doxing, given proper context.  In your opinion, do either of these standards apply here?  Does the city have any legal recourse to stop this website from being published in this manner?

Our Office has not reviewed this issue.  Notwithstanding, I cannot provide you with legal advice, and any opinion we would have in this regard would be subject to the attorney-client privilege. 

3. Do you think making tenant addresses and rents accessible to the public violates the privacy rights of tenants?  How about revealing landlord names and property addresses?  Namely considering many of these landlords are owner-occupiers, and this is also their home address?

All of these factors were taken into consideration when determining whether a PRA exemption would apply to the City’s rental registry records.  As mentioned above, after carefully considering these factors, it was determined that certain information contained in the records was required to be disclosed under the PRA. 

4. If the city has no legal recourse against this attorney’s website, is there a way to rewrite the rent control ordinance to protect these records from future public records requests, while ensuring landlord accountability on rents?Assuming there is a way – would you support editing the ordinance to protect information submitted to the registry?  If so, what would you protect, and what would you allow public access?  If not, what alternatives do you see to protect this information? 

The Culver City Municipal Code can be amended at any time upon a majority vote of the City Council.  City staff and the City Attorney’s Office are unable to respond to the remainder of these questions, as we receive our direction from the City Council. 

Planning commissioner doxes rent registry

When Culver City passed rent control in 2019, they created a rent registry which would be public record. Attorney Stephen Jones, who serves on the Planning Commission, invoked the California Public Records Act to pull all tenant information from the rent registry. He then aggregated it into an easily accessible format at ccrentals.org.

In response, Council has agendized whether to make this registry protected private information at their July 10th meeting. They’ve also temporarily taken down their registry portal, which allowed anyone to look up rents as well.

We’ll be posting regular updates about the upcoming meeting, and how to make your voice heard, on this page. We did ask councilmembers on their thoughts about the issue. However, the city attorney advised us that they will not be answering, as this could result in a Brown Act violation.

We still encourage everyone to write or call them yourself and tell them your feelings on this issue. You can find their email and phone number here.

We consider this website to be a grave violation of tenants’ privacy rights. We don’t believe anybody expected their rent to become public knowledge. This results in any number of negative consequences:

  • Because tenant rent is now public information, it will make it easier for people to determine their income.
  • This information can be used by others in legal proceedings. Generally, knowing that someone has to make 2.5x the average monthly rent, you can estimate the monthly income of each home. This can be used in lawsuits including child and spousal support. Judges are known to modify and/or make these calculations for support just based on someone’s living expenses.
  • This could also be used by tax agents to verify income tax statements.
  • Addresses with the highest rents are also now common knowledge – making an easy database for criminals to target.

There are many ways this does not end well.

Political Outlook for 2023

Getting past a bad faith Council

Protect Culver City was founded in July 2019 in response to Council passing rent control.  It wasn’t that they passed rent control, but how they passed it, that was cause for concern.  An issue nobody ran on, with no discussion, passed in the dead of night, over some unfounded pretext of an epidemic of evictions and gouging.  Based on this, we knew rent control would not be our only or even primary issue.  We need to take on the housing debate, and a bad faith council in general, if we were going to turn around this city.  Since then, we’ve been involved in the following issues:

  • Defending our police department – both their reputation and budget
  • Raising the public safety and health issue of homeless camps
  • Educating voters on Council’s upzoning plans
  • Keeping an honest debate on housing affordability, and questioning the effectiveness of rent control
  • Keeping voters aware of other issues that come up, such as the SEIU pay increase

In the 3.5 years since, our efforts have been more than vindicated.  For the first time, we have a majority on our Council that will listen to us.  But the bad faith elements remain – yes in the Council minority, but more so in their supporters.  Here’s what we’re seeing and where we’re going as a city.

The New Council: promises made, promises kept

The new council was sworn in December 12th and wasted no time getting to work undoing the damage of the previous council.  They immediately convened a special council meeting on the 21st to discuss an anti-camping ordinance for Culver City, mirroring the ordinances at Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles.  Staff has been instructed to draft this ordinance to be voted on January 23rd meeting, and will be implemented sometime in late February.  This will coincide with Los Angeles’s emergency declaration on homelessness, and will serve to ensure transients don’t simply cross city lines to find a more lenient place to live.

Council has promised a few things about any prohibition on camping in Culver City:

  1. Nobody will be arrested or cited for being homeless.
  2. Nobody will be forced to move unless we have shelter available for them.
  3. This ordinance is slated to go into effect at the same time our Homekey hotels go online, promising plenty of available beds for anybody who needs it.

There are some exceptions to these promises.  Camping in Culver City parks has always been illegal.  Those who try to camp here will always be moved out, regardless of other conditions.  The city also reserves the right for “sweeps”: in this case, getting street campers to pick up their belongings, temporarily, while the city “sweeps” the sidewalk.  This fulfills a basic duty of sanitation for campers and residents alike.  Once sanitation workers have completed their duties, the campers are free to return.

This fulfills the legal requirement of Martin vs. Boise – that no anti-camping ordinance shall be enforced if the city doesn’t have a place to send people.  And that’s the issue we pushed during our campaign: “if we have some where to send them, but they don’t want to go, can we compel them?”  Council has even gone a step beyond the basic requirement of shelter.  Our shelters are actually better understood as “navigation centers” – temporary spots for people as we figure out permanent housing for them.

We go well above and beyond Martin v Boise requirements because it’s such a contentious issue, with dark money lawfare firms ready to sue the city at the slightest opportunity.  Meanwhile, activists answer the above question with a resounding “NO, WE CANNOT.”  They envision a purely voluntary method for getting people into shelter and housing.  If they don’t want to move, we can’t touch them.  This philosophy got us to where we are today.

These activists constitute two of our councilmembers – Freddy Puza and Yasmine Imani-Mcmorrin, as well as several commissioners like Stephen Jones and Nancy Barba.

It would be one thing if we could have a good faith philosophical disagreement about how to handle homelessness and street camping.  Unfortunately, activists are being deceptive about the whole debate.  They make out “sweeps” to be some kind of mass arrest, envisioning stormtroopers descending on a camp at 4am and marching people off to concentration camps in Palmdale.

This is ludicrous, and Councilmembers have said none of this is happening.  But activists make this accusation as a dodgy attempt to get a promise from Council that they will do no sweeps.  But rest assured – when they say “sweeps”, they mean exactly what we mean.  They are trying to push councilmembers to agree to never touch a camp unless the occupants willingly move. 

Transient Camps, Homelessness, and Housing Affordability

Behind this voluntary philosophy on our camps is the basic contention that housing is unaffordable.  Fix affordability, and our transient camps will go away.  Without that, there’s nothing we can do about them.

On the surface, they have a point.  The new developments Council has approved go for multiple times what historic multifamily units go for.  We called attention to this during our Measure B campaign “which way, Culver City?”  We pointed out in 2020 that a typical multifamily 2br went for $2000, while a new development “stack n pack” 2br went for $4500+.  This latter number continues to skyrocket, dragging multifamily rents along with it.  Meanwhile, Council’s “affordable” unit stipulations and overlay provide a questionable amount of housing to offset this.

Councilmember Puza said on the dais that rent control helped stop homelessness.  This was a disingenuous argument.  The homeless we see in Culver City are not locals driven out by rising rents.  The debate on the transients we do have is whether they can be indoors at all.  The housing and shelters we provide must come with wraparound services which include addiction treatment.

Meanwhile, Council’s rent control plans were a solution looking for a problem – and are punitive towards multifamily owners.  The more conspiratorially minded would think that it was designed to drive older multifamily properties off the market, leaving only newer developments to rent from. 

Whether the intention is there or not, we believe that punitive measures on our most affordable housing will only make the problem worse.  Meanwhile we’d like to work with Council to come up with better solutions to offer everyone a chance to live in our city at an affordable rate.  Our rent control administration comes at a cost of $1.5 million a year.  This money could be much better spent expanding our Section 8 program or offering other means testing methods to offer affordable housing. 

But multifamily housing needs to be protected and nourished as the last affordable housing at the scale we need.

Police, Zoning, SEIU – the common factor

Let’s clarify right away.  Each one of these issues was a separate campaign for us, with its own budget.  Lumping them together does not make them any less important.  In fact we quickly found our Defend Don’t Defund CCPD campaign of the 2020 season quickly eclipsed our Measure B campaign.  This campaign gave shape to our opposition.  Nearly 80% of Culver City residents may support CCPD – but they quickly found that making their support public earned the fury of the activists.  We had so many signs stolen we wound up on the evening news.  The Knock LA blog wrote the hitpiece on us, saying we ran a racist intimidation campaign – when the only vandalism was against us.

But they attacked us because we were effective.  This campaign punctured the halo of the progressives.  For the first time, voters realized voting for them could cause real permanent damage to our city.  We believe this campaign helped turn things around and set the stage for 2022. 

The zoning issue was a bit more complicated for us.  Since most of us are multifamily owners, ending single family zoning didn’t hit us as personally as it did homeowners.  But again, it’s how Council approached this debate that raised the alarm.  They put in the minimum outreach they could get away with.  They used loaded words to claim anyone who opposed eliminating single family was a racist throwback to a segregated Culver City. 

We did our best to get out accurate information to residents.  But we were happy to take a back seat to emergent city groups like Culver City Neighbors United.  Not just because it took the burden off of us.  But it was a sign more residents were waking up to the bad faith tactics of the Council majority.  That allowed everyone to work in parallel to flip that third seat away from the activist slate.  

Not to be outdone, the SEIU has been pushing all last year to get a pay increase for their workers at Brotman Hospital through Council fiat.  They’re couching this in a “minimum wage for health care workers” – which would go slightly beyond them.  But considering Brotman is the only hospital in town, it basically hits their employees the most. 

SEIU has spent over $400,000 in PAC money on this goal – and that’s only until June of this year.  This figure alone already matches everything Hackman spent on the election, and they’re continuing to spend money to bully our current city council to pass this law.  While our activist friends have sounded the alarm about Hackman’s money, they have been completely silent about this.

The exiting council passed this law while the incoming council waited to be inaugurated – an unprecedented move.  Once the new council took the dais, they reversed the decision, saying it’s not Council’s position to declare wages in this city, that SEIU needs to do collective bargaining to get the wages they want for their workers.  Council also did this to avoid another lawsuit from the hospital.

We’re already seeing deceptive mailers from SEIU asking people to bully the new council into passing their law.  They mailer claims the new council “cut their pay.”  Nobody’s pay was cut.  Council reversed a decision that never went into effect. 

Again, this shows the deeper issue in our city.  Working in the interests of residents may seem like a no-brainer – but it also gets the opposition of some powerful and well-funded outside interests.   

Activists?  Progressives?  Who are they, and what do we call them?

Ultimately these activists reflect a tiny minority of people who actually live in this city.  Though they come with a lot of outside support from unions and dark money nonprofits.  We see the same fifteen residents at meeting after meeting, loudly claiming to represent the city, even though people are becoming increasingly aware of them – and tired of them.

They call themselves “progressives” – saying they represent progress, while anyone who opposes them is some Bull Connor 50s reactionary throwback.  But where are they progressing toward?  A city where people are locked down in secured stack-n-pack developments, terrified of streets teeming in anarchy?  Needless to say, we disagree with this progress.  An urban environment means public spaces that work for everyone.  Public spaces require public safety.  We have a fundamental right to be secure in one’s home and person – regardless of living conditions.  The barbaric conditions we see in our transient camps is unfit for anyone.

In that sense, this isn’t a division of “progressive” vs. “conservative” – and people do themselves a disservice by drawing the line that way.  Plenty of progressives in Culver City are aligning with us on this issue.  People only drive them away with this talk.

“Activist” seems a more fitting term, because it’s what they are.  We can never compete with them for devotion to a cause.  Most of us have family and jobs that keep us very occupied.  They can show up to 4pm rallies, noon council meetings in Los Angeles, and all night to spend talking on all agenda items.  But that also has its shortcomings.  The more involved we become, the more we too become activists. 

“Meghanites” has also been floated around as a cute term, as they all seem to stem from Meghan Sahli-Wells’ organizing efforts from the past ten years or so.  That too has its shortcomings, not least because it’s an ad hominem.  But also because they come with strong support from outside the city.  For example, the first speaker at Council’s meeting on an anti-camping ordinance was a Holly Mitchell representative, speaking against the ordinance.  What does that tell us about our future relations with the County?  Especially considering we depend on County Prop H money to fund our housing and shelters?

Whatever we decide to call them, we must understand who they are.  And why seemingly popular issues, like defending our police department or cleaning out our homeless camps, are so hard to fight for.  Really, the fight here is between councilmembers who fight for the residents, and those who capitulate to outside interests. 

Conclusions – looking to 2024

If there’s one lesson to be learned from our experience, it’s this – you have to fight for the things you care about.  Our police, our parks, and the overall character of our city may be immensely popular.  But we will still be attacked for defending them – and not just by people in our city. 

Plenty of outside activists, from unions to dark money nonprofits, to university academics, see Culver City as their Petri dish for their pet programs.  The new council majority gives us the opportunity to solve problems created by activists.  But they won’t take this lying down – they will continue to pressure Council and residents to surrender to their demands, by any means necessary.  This new council majority needs our help, and we must continue to fight and support them.

We also must look forward to the 2024 election season, where Albert Vera is up for re-election and two other seats are up for grabs.    

The best way to support them, and prepare for the 2024 election, is by simply speaking the truth – loud and clear, to as many voting residents as possible. 

Debate regarding the new Council inauguration

We figured the old Fisch/Lee Council would not go down peacefully, and they did not disappoint. The inauguration of a new Council is usually a purely formal affair – the first item is the old Council stepping down. Instead, they forced new Councilmembers Dan O’Brien and Freddy Puza to wait while they debated and passed the highly controversial SEIU pay raise. Once the new Council was seated, they reversed it.

Predictably, the usual activists ran with it, calling the new Council majority a bunch of grinches. But the real scandal was the Council that would not leave. Darrel Menthe wrote in to the CC Crossroads bringing up the “unprecedented” nature of this. Former Mayor Steve Gourley wrote the following response – which we are publishing with his permisson.

Mr. Darrell Menthe states in his letter to the editor of Culver City Crossroads that “something extraordinary” happened at the December 12, 2022 swearing in of the new council members: the newly elected members had to wait 2 hours until the old members had finished “old business.” 

I can understand that Mr. Menthe has limited knowledge of the City and its history.  When I was sworn in as a councilman in April, 1988, Dr. Jim Boulgarides, who had also been newly elected, and I had to wait AT LEAST an hour before the councilmembers we had defeated in the election, stepped down.  All of our supporters who filled the tiny city hall had to wait, too. 

Richard Brundo and Paul Netzel took turns excoriating both of us AND the VOTERS for turning them out of office.  Brundo and Netzel also swore that each would run again in the next election and beat us.   They did not run in the next election or any election after 1988. In fact, Netzel moved out of Culver City before two elections (4 years) had passed. 

I agree with Mr. Menthe that it was just plain bad manners for the excouncilmen Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch to hold up the swearing in of the new councilman, but it was nothing new or “extraordinary.”  As a result of the actions of Mr. Brundo and Mr. Netzel in April 1988, I never attended a swearing in where I was not being sworn in myself.  Both with the City Council and the School Board, I stepped down the week before and said my goodbyes and thank yous the week before the swearing in of the new Council and Board.

It seemed like the right thing to do.   

Steve Gourley

2022 election issues and recommendations

Download our flyer!

We want:

  • A hands-on approach to homelessness.  We need to enforce a time/place/manner for transient camps – much like Santa Monica does successfully
  • Our police department to have the tools they need to enforce our laws, and a Council that oversees them honestly.
  • Honest discussions about upzoning and the cost of housing
  • A transparent Council and an unpoliticized School Board

Our Council Recommendations

Dan O’Brien danobrien4culvercity.com – Dan has been a community leader in Culver City for 20 years. He steadfastly promotes a hands-on approach to transient camps, much like Santa Monica does successfully.

Denice Renteria renteriaforculvercity.com – Denice brings fresh insight as well as a steadfast commitment to the basics of city management – enforcing our laws, keeping our streets safe and clean, and keeping the city safe for everyone.

Both Dan and Denice come with the endorsements of Councilmembers Albert Vera and Goran Eriksson.

Why we DON’T recommend Fisch or Puza

Alex Fisch – came in under false pretenses as an economic moderate.  Since then he’s passed rent control (which he originally said didn’t work), has hobbled our police department (though he didn’t vote to defund), pushed a hands-off policy on transient camps, and has been the prime pusher of upzoning.  All the residents who backed his initial run are now organizing against him.

Freddy Puza – would be a continuation of Daniel Lee’s radical policies.  Defunding our police, a hands off policy on camps, and all the other radical and costly measures Lee has promoted while in office.

There are other candidates.  But we don’t believe they have the resources to gain a significant number of votes.  Our focus is to change existing policies that are ruining our city.  Therefore a vote for Dan or Dencie is the best way to keep Fisch or Puza from getting elected. 


Measure VY (Vote 16)  – NO.  Giving a vote to Culver High school students, regardless of their residence, would place undue influence in the school board over our Council.  The school board has been nakedly partisan in recent years.  Giving high school students the right to vote would give the school board a captive audience to harvest their ballots, and provide them a permanent voting bloc for their preferred council candidates.

Measure BL (Business Tax) – NO.  Our downtown businesses are struggling enough after the Covid pandemic and lane shutdowns.  Doubling/tripling their tax when they’re hurting would further erode our commercial districts.

School Board recommendations

We would like to stay focused on Council issues, and not be involved in the school board election.  Unfortunately, the school board has been too involved in Council matters, using students to their ends. 

We’ve seen our Defend Don’t Defund signs stolen by kids, and Eriksson’s house was vandalized in a student Defund the Police rally at his house.  School board members have not condemned or denied involvement any of this.  School board member Kelly Kent did have to publicly apologize for using school board resources to promote a Women’s March. 

This needs to end.

We are not concerned with curriculum.  We only want a school board that doesn’t try to put their thumb on the scale of Council matters, and doesn’t manipulate students to their political objectives.   Based on this, we feel these three candidates provide the best chance to change course

Other City/County race recommendations

As you may know, the homelessness issue is far greater than Culver City.  As such, even electing a friendly council will not solve our problems.  We will need to work with neighboring cities and the county to develop a proper, hands-on approach to get transients the services they need while maintaining public safety.
At the core is a profound philosophical disagreement: hands on vs. hands off.
That being said, we’re adding our voice to the following races.