It’s only January 11th and the new Culver City Council majority is already exhausting me. The 1950’s-syle trio of Mayor Albert Vera and Councilmembers Göran Eriksson and Dan O’Brien have already rescinded a previously approved (the same night!) minimum wage for workers at Southern California Hospital. They have already set in motion an anti-camping ordinance that will just shuffle people experiencing homelessness from one street to the next, without a clear plan to provide services in place in a city with no shelter beds. Now, these Chamber of Commerce lackeys want to seemingly hide the only female and Black councilmember from public view.

On Monday night, the council conducted its annual divvying up of assignments to represent Culver City on other intergovernmental boards and commissions, where one councilmember serves as the city’s representative to that body (e.g. The Westside Council of Governments, the Southern California Association of Governments), and another serves as an alternate only when the appointed representative cannot attend meetings or events held by the other body. They also picked two members to serve on each council policy subcommittee. Due to the Brown Act, and a council of five members, the most a subcommittee can include are two council members who work together with city staff on issues and then report and make recommendations to the full council.

Time and again, Mayor Vera and Councilmember Eriksson either grabbed the city representative position and recommended progressive Councilmembers Yasmine-Imani McMorrin and Freddy Puza only as an alternate. Now, granted, Vera is the mayor, and the mayor should enjoy the opportunity to serve as the representative to important intergovernmental bodies. And yes, Puza is brand new, and perhaps could use a year to get his feet wet as an alternate. But McMorrin is the vice mayor, which one would think gives her more of a say than Eriksson – who seemed to intentionally recommend McMorrin and Puza for several alternate positions as if he was going them a favor – and she is also the city’s only Black and female councilmember. Shouldn’t Culver City be proud to let her serve as the primary representative to at least one other government body of her choice? We think so.

When it came to selecting two members to the city’s internal policy committees, McMorrin rightly raised the issue of ensuring particularly polarizing committees have diversity of thought. Meaning, the council majority should have one subcommittee member, and she or Puza should be the other. When challenged on this thought, the three white men seemed surprised they aren’t considered individual free-thinkers with completely open minds. But anyone following Culver City election seasons knows these guys are against more housing and creative mobility solutions, among other regressive stances. Anyone watching the meeting knows what side these guys are on, including and especially their own ardent supporters. McMorrin herself said she was just reminding her colleagues what their own campaign materials have espoused. Why should she have to fight so hard to point out the obvious? She remained polite, but her determination could not be mistaken and she should be praised for not giving in and letting it go.

One thing is clear – it’s going to be a long two years in Culver City. The forces that want to take Culver City back to the past are hard at work putting in place a framework for regressive ideas to return to a city that had really turned a corner in the last several years. And what bothers us most is the pretending and pearl-clutching. Vera particularly always bristles when his own lack of progressivism – or general practice of waffling, really – is questioned. Vera even called McMorrin snarky. But these guys are clear as day. They are against new housing. They are against gun safety. They are against creative and forward-thinking mobility and transportation solutions. And, as we’ve written here previously, we’re afraid the city’s progress on correcting its racist past and progress on a plan for reparations is next.

Culver City residents need to speak up, loudly, against this council majority’s attempts to take the city backward from the progress it has made, and that goes right down to who represents the city among other cities and which councilmembers are making larger policy recommendations to the full council. And Yasmine-Imani McMorrin should be allowed to lead. Gentlemen, let her representation mean something.

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