We avoided the worst – what to expect next

Council voted 3-2 against Culver City Action Network’s initial proposal to defund our $45 million police budget by nearly $8 million at their June 15th meeting. The vote break down was Eriksson, Fisch and Small against the cuts, and Sahli-Wells and Lee for the cuts. The cuts they proposed instead were minor – about $400,000. Such cuts showed both a respect for our police and an understanding for our Covid-related budget shortfall.

Now, CCAN has decided to double down. They are demanding at least a 50% reduction in CCPD’s police budget within three months.

The question now is whether Fisch and Small voted against the cuts because they genuinely support CCPD, or simply because the initial proposed cuts were too hasty.

Indeed, such cuts were hasty on an insane level. This initial budget cut would have been ratified at the June 22nd meeting, and implemented July 1st – leading to massive and immediate layoffs in our police department. And no real plan of implementation.

Rather than implement these immediate cuts at their 22nd meeting, council voted to create a “task force” which would would “reimagine public safety.” It is fortunately composed of city staff only, keeping it relatively isolated from political activists. But it will be working with the Police Chief’s Advisory Panel – a newly formed body of about 20 residents and students, which is still nebulous in its nature and mission. Considering what we heard from students at meetings on the 15th and 22nd, this should concern us. They were the primary voice behind defunding the police, and seemed organized by our own school board.

Fisch and Small have repeatedly paid homage to CCAN in the past and have aligned themselves with it. Meanwhile, Eriksson was the only councilmember who publicly defended CCPD after the riots and subsequent attacks on CCPD’s reputation. Which leaves us concerned that their rejection of the initial proposal was only so they can provide clear legal cover for even deeper, more permanent cuts in the next few months.

This is why our campaign is not just going strong, but is now more urgent than ever. We bought ourselves until September to rally the residents of Culver City to this cause. We need to inform each other of these proposed cuts, and how dangerously close we are to losing our police department. We must confront the lies and smears about our police, which serve the sole purpose of undermining or abolishing it. And we must show our council we want to keep CCPD as is, are organized, and will do what it takes to keep it.

A 3-2 vote against gutting our police overnight was way too close for comfort. We must remind our council that it’s not just the “overnight” part we oppose.

June 22nd council meeting and CCPD: what to expect

Culver City council meeting Monday the 22nd will be approving the 2020/21 budget (Item PH-1) and establishing “a Task Force to Review Public Safety Services” (Item A-2).

We have assurances from 3 out of 5 councilmembers that no cuts to Culver City Police Department will be made that will result in any layoffs. CCPD is freezing new hiring and that’s it. That’s not stopping a fringe group organized by councilmembers Lee and Sahli-Wells from pushing a radical demand to defund CCPD by 50% in three months. As we’ve said before, the intent of such cuts is to abolish CCPD entirely, leaving our city at the mercy of the county Sheriff. They’ve referred to this in their demand note.

Defend CCPD Yard Sign
Get your “Defend CCPD” yard sign! Contact us for details.

We knew that getting council to forego gutting CCPD’s budget tomorrow would, at best, buy us some time. That’s why our “Defend Don’t Defund” campaign is still going strong. We recommend everyone get a yard sign, and distribute flyers to their neighbors about what’s at stake. People should also join the council Webex meeting tomorrow and “raise their hand” to speak.

We know online meetings are difficult to navigate. You can also file an eComment (read the tutorial here) or just e-mail comments to public.comment@culvercity.org. But speaking at council is the best way to make yourself heard. Supporters of defunding CCPD are a small minority, but they are loud, well organized, and connected to councilmembers. They will try to get in line first to speak, and pretend they’re the dominant voice.

Here’s how you can speak tomorrow:

  1. Register for tomorrow’s meeting online at this link.
  2. Once you have registered, you will be emailed a link.  Check email and confirm your account.
  3. The DAY OF the meeting (Monday 6/22) you will receive an email allowing you to “Join Event”.  Follow that link and it will forward you to Webex.  You will have a box on your screen to write “I (state your name) request to speak on Agenda Item (PH-1 for budget, A-2 for police task force).
  4. You will be set up and on mute, until they are ready for you to speak, and they will unmute you.  

If this sounds confusing, it is. We still need more details and confirmation on this – like when we are clear to join the meeting. Our goal is to make sure they don’t monopolize the first part of the meeting.

Some talking points to make when you speak:

  1. Thank council for promising us to be able to debate on this issue before they make any profound changes to our police department. We hope they follow through on this promise today.
  2. Our police department heroically saved this city May 30-31. Cutting the police budget would leave them unable to do exactly what they did that weekend.
  3. We passed Measure CC (extending the half-cent sales tax increase) in March overwhelmingly, because council invoked our police department and our need to preserve it. To turn around and gut it now, would mean they lied about why they needed this tax increase.
  4. Our police department enjoys a 78% approval rating. Council, on the other hand, has a 47% approval rating. Council’s rating has dropped precipitously since this time last year.
  5. We are barely keeping up with these “defund the police” plans that are unagendized and unannounced to Culver City residents. We hope these next three months will involve a legitimate discussion and not just legal cover before council goes along with this tiny minority.

Defend Don’t Defund – our initial posts

Update June 16: Council majority said CCPD will not see layoffs.
CLICK HERE for a recording of last night’s meeting. Despite a loud, organized minority, sanity prevailed.
Council will approve any changes into budget in their June 22nd meeting, which will become effective July 1st. Join our mailing list for updates on that. We want to be hopeful but cautious that the final budget will not affect CCPD on any fundamental level.

Update June 14th: Council will be meeting June 15th at 7pm to discuss defunding CCPD by ~20%.
Opt-in to SMS updates by texting “PD” to (424) 532-8490
Three ways to get involved in order of effectiveness:

  1. Register for the Webex meeting and speak online at the meeting
  2. Register to post an eComment online
  3. Email comments to public.comment@culvercity.org and CC city.clerk@culvercity.org

The agenda for Monday’s council meeting came came online Friday afternoon – barely the 72 hours advance notice legally required.  Then came last night’s unsigned demand letter by Culver City Action Network demanding a $7.65 million cut out of a $45 million police budget.  We believe this letter represents council’s intentions for tomorrow night.  This gives us just about a day to prepare for something they’ve likely been planning for a couple weeks now.
That we’re relegated to online council meetings, where only the internet savvy can participate, doesn’t help.  
CCPD has heroically protected our city from the looting and destruction on May 30th and 31st.  Now it’s our turn to protect them.  Please fill out a comment about how you feel about them.  Go to protectculvercity.org/ccpd for more information, or you can go with these talking points:

  1. We did not have enough time to prepare for such a consequential decision for our city.  Council needs to reschedule this discussion.
  2. The “reforms” CCAN is asking of CCPD have largely already been enacted.  Culver City Police Officer’s Association mentions this and many more of their current policies which are already compliant with current concerns.
  3. Gutting the police budget by 20% will leave them unable to do exactly what they did to protect our city May 30th/31st.
  4. The end goal of this is not a more equitable police but the city’s escape from the public safety business.  Doing this will leave our public safety at the mercy of the Sheriff’s department – making us little different from an unchartered city.

June 9, 2020

On the weekend of May 30th and 31st, riots and looters hit a number of neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.  We all witnessed the looting of 3rd St. Promenade and, Melrose and Beverly Blvds, and Long Beach.  Even Rodeo Drive wasn’t spared the mob. 

Culver City remained conspicuously pristine. Aside from a few scattered spots, our major centers remained untouched: Fox Hills Mall , Downtown Culver City, Culver Center on Washington and Overland, Costco.

This wasn’t an accident or routine task.  Culver City PD did a heroic job protecting all these spots from looters.  Looters came in caravans, alerted by social media, in coordinated campaigns.  Our police force were proactive and ready for them.  They monitored social media, set up barricades at key entrances, and anyone stepping foot in key hotspots was quickly swarmed and escorted off. 

For this heroic feat, our council will debate cutting the police department’s budget on June 15nd by a third.  If council goes through with these budget cuts, they could take effect as soon as July 1st.  Effectively rewarding our police department’s heroics with pink slips, leaving it unable to continue to do exactly what they did. 

Our current council, led by councilmember Meghan Sahli-Wells and her “Gang of Four” – vice-mayor Alex Fisch, and councilmembers Thomas Small and Daniel Lee, is leading the charge.  They are jumping on the “Defund the Police” mantra which emerged after the death of George Floyd.  Defunding is exactly what it means – no longer paying for police.  A third of the budget could be gone as soon as July 1st, and the rest of the budget gone soon after. 

We’d like to think we’re over-reacting. Unfortunately, when our councilmembers are jumping on this issue the way they have been, we have to take them seriously that they will act on it. With disastrous results.

CLICK HERE for the full thread of her tweets.

Their rationale is police are a throwback to a slavecatcher past and rooted in racism.  In fact, any use of force is racist.  Such rationales are laughable.  We literally have a pristine Fox Hills Mall to contradict them.  But as we’ve learned these past two years, current council is blind to reality and deaf to residents. 

  As of this posting on June 10th 2020, our city is still largely boarded up because of the looting and riots.  But boards alone don’t protect our businesses.  The ability to use force against those who would do us harm, in a civilized fashion, is that thin blue line that keeps our city from ruin.

Culver City’s Police Officer’s Association has released a statement about this, and we highly suggest people read it. They are fighting back, but they can’t fight this alone. As our police department defends us, we must return the favor and defend our police department. 

Former mayor Andy Weissman (unrelated to our PAC) weighs in on the situation. CLICK HERE for the full-res PDF.

The criticisms levied on our police department since the death of George Floyd have been nothing more than smears, fairy tales that hearken to a bygone era of redlining and sunset town clauses that date back to the 60s, if not the 20s.  Today’s CCPD is the most diverse is ever been: sworn personnel makeup is 39% White, 38% Hispanic, 10% Black, 6% Asian, 4% Pacific Islander, and 3% Middle Eastern.  Actual complaints about racist treatment are nil, unjust killings are nil.  Meanwhile, our elite police department delivers a level of safety that brings people to our city in droves – to live, shop or work.  People of all walks of life, of all races and ethnicities.

Even if we do drive these points home, our council has proven itself to be an unbreakable Gang of Four that votes lockstep.  Here’s our analysis of those four:

Meghan Sahli-Wells and Daniel Lee are both hooked on fairy tales that our city can continue without a proper police force. When they say “defund the police” we need to take them both seriously.

Thomas Small makes overtures to our police department.  But he makes overtures to a lot of people.  In the end, he goes along with Sahli-Wells.  He’s also up for re-election in November. 

Alex Fisch – makes pretensions to be centrist and rational, but consistently sides with councilmember Sahli-Wells.  Barring a recall effort, he’s in office until November 2022. 

The one dissenting voice in our current council is mayor Goran Eriksson. He has steadfastly defended our police department against smears on their reputation.

The Black Lives Matter people sprang into action after the death of George Floyd, taking to the streets to demand defunding or abolishing the police.  We can no longer dismiss such protests, or their disastrous consequences for our city.  If we are to preserve our own police department, and our city itself, we need to mobilize ourselves. 

We hope you will leave a comment at the June 22nd council meeting defending our police.  To get more involved, please reach out to us on our contact page.

City Leaders Speak Out Against Defunding CCPD

Our PAC wasn’t the only one to take calls to defund Culver City’s Police Department seriously. A number of ex-mayors, ex-councilmembers, and other city leaders have stepped forward to give their statements in support of our elite police department. These citizens have no relationship to our PAC. We are just happy to see others are stepping forward with similar concerns. Here they are as follows:

Andy Weissman
Jim Clarke
Jozelle Smith
David Voncannon
Ed Wolkowitz
Jeff Cooper
Marcus Tiggs