Santa Monica City Councilmember Christine Parra is a mystery. She came out of nowhere for many of us four years ago to be elected as a member of the so-called “change slate,” alongside Phil Brock and Oscar De La Torre. She has largely sat quietly at city council meetings other than to go along with their nativist and regressive agenda. She doesn’t seem like she enjoys the job, or governing in general for that matter. I honestly don’t know why she would want to run again other than to piss off the three council members she called “the liberal minority” and their allies in the city. And not for nothing – it’s pretty scary if they are the only liberals on a city council of seven representing what’s supposed to be a progressive city.

But last Tuesday night, we saw Parra come alive, finally finding her passion: railing against good governance and ethical consequences all while trying to sound like she was for them.

At issue was a council discussion item, or an item reserved for the end of meeting agendas requested by one or more councilmembers, that was worded like this:

Request of Councilmembers Davis, Torosis, and Zwick that the City Council: 1. Direct the City Attorney to return with a proposal to ensure the City’s ethics rules apply to Councilmembers; 2. Direct the City Attorney to return with a proposal to initiate an investigation into recent leaks of confidential information disclosed in Closed Session; and 3. Direct the City Attorney to return with one or more proposals to impose penalties on Councilmembers and staff who inappropriately leak confidential information out of Closed Session.”

It’s the second time in as many years that such a request has been made following damaging leaks by a council member or council members regarding closed-session issues. Closed session items are issues with legal ramifications or liability for the city not discussed publicly, but whose results must be made public. In 2022, the council voted down a similar motion to investigate similar infractions. And on Tuesday, Parra was keen on shooting down such an effort yet again.

Parra opened her comments stating she fully agreed with maintaining the integrity of closed sessions and having transparency about leaks. But then said, “What I’m not in agreement about is that, as this is an election year, there’s no surprise at this agenda item, another waste of taxpayer dollars and resources.”

First of all, the leaks just happened. Of course a motion to investigate shouldn’t surprise anyone; just not for the reasons she suggests. It’s an election year every two years – are we only allowed to investigate ethical infractions in odd-numbered years? And how is maintaining the integrity and ethics of local government operations a waste of time or money?

Parra, Brock, and De La Torre are indeed up for re-election. But if none of them are guilty, what do they have to worry about?

Parra later said, “Weaponizing the city attorney’s office for political gain is absolutely disgusting.” So, she’s claiming, essentially, “election interference” and stating that a law-enforcement arm of city government was being politicized. I feel like I’ve heard similar arguments in recent years. If only I could remember who from?

She then reiterates the funds for an investigation could be much better spent on future investigations of “confirmed leaks.” Since she isn’t interested in the leaks from 2022 or the recent cases, so does this imply she thinks that person or persons responsible now deserve … immunity? We’ve been hearing that word a lot too.

Ms. Parra, you know what’s a waste of taxpayer dollars? Taking a taxpayer-funded trip to El Salvador – now a fascist dictatorship – and returning home to call that country’s governance an ideal paradigm of public safety and social order. How is that any different than the Republican Party sending leader after leader to Hungary – now a fascist dictatorship – and saying those folks really know how to govern?!

Councilmember Gleam Davis reasonably countered Parra Tuesday night, saying “It doesn’t do us any good to enact penalties for violating closed session confidentiality if we don’t [run] the investigation to find out who did it.” She added, “I appreciate the financial situation, but at some point, integrity has a cost.”

And all Parra could come back with was more about how she’s all for truth, justice, and the American way, but then called a proposed investigation “arbitrary,” and said it was pointed at her, Brock, and De La Torre specifically, despite any evidence. Apparently, if you merely feel threatened, you can gaslight enough people into thinking you’re a victim.

But every projection is an admission, and these aren’t the words of an innocent person, or a person interested in doing anything other than covering the backsides of her political buddies.

If she was truly interested in rooting out the problem, she would support an investigation and let the chips fall where they may. If it hurts her allies, tough luck. Everyone on that dais ran for a public office where there should be public consequences for wrongdoing. Again, if they are innocent, they have nothing to worry about.

Of course, the agenda item was killed, and by the same four councilmembers who shot it down in 2022 – Parra, Brock, De La Torre, and Lana Negrete. What passed was direction given to the city attorney to come up with protocols and suggested penalties for future infractions. But as Davis also stated, what good is a set of standards if a majority is determined never to take action to solve the problem?

The fact is Parra’s theatrics can’t be taken seriously because she’s not a serious person. For that matter, none of those four council members have shown themselves to be up to the job. If they aren’t prepared to put in the work to at least give the public trust in their local government, they should step aside for those who are. And if Christine Parra wants to find some waste in government, she could start by taking a look in the mirror.

Photo by screen capture.

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