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Council Votes to Appoint Katz Replacement


By Jorge Casuso

January 28 – The Santa Monica City Council Tuesday night voted 5 to 1 to try and pick a replacement for late council member Herb Katz next month, with only Council member Bobby Shriver dissenting, saying the voters should decide.

The decision came as part of a motion to declare the seat held by Katz, who died January 7 after a long battle with cancer, vacant. Katz had been reelected to a fifth four-year term just two months earlier.

Nominees must submit their applications by February 17, and on February 24, the council will try to fill the seat until the next general election in November 2010.

“An election not only delays a decision, but it’s very costly,” said Mayor Ken Genser. “I think we should try and make it as public a process as we can.”

“It’s important for us to at least make an attempt to make an appointment,” said Council member Richard Bloom, who was elected in a special election in April 2000 after the council failed to make an appointment.

But Shriver argued that the decision should be left up to the voters and that spending $100,000 to hold a special election was “legitimate.”

“I think a person being democratically authorized by the voters is a significant factor,” said Shriver, who was reelected to a second term in November with the second highest vote count in local council history.

A candidate elected by the people would “come in with the full authority of having gone through an election,” Shriver said.

Council member Kevin McKeown, however, cautioned that holding an election would give special interests with deep pockets the opportunity to help elect a candidate to do their bidding.

“We don’t have clean money in Santa Monica,” said McKeown, who was the target of a hotel-sponsored ad campaign in the November 2006 council race, which he won with the most votes.

“We could see a distortion of democracy with outside dollars coming in,” McKewon said.

Bloom and Council member Pam O’Connor both argued that according to the City Charter, the council “shall” fill the post by appointment, resorting to an election if a nominee fails to win the necessary votes.

“It gives us some pretty strong direction,” said Bloom.

“The charter was adopted by the people,” O’Connor said. “The charter took a practical approach – first appoint.

“I think we should be guided by the charter,” she said. “The charter says to do that expeditiously.”

But Shriver, who is a lawyer, didn’t buy the argument.

“Shall,” he said, “can mean various things.”

Shriver argued that the council’s attempt to fill the seat vacated by Asha Greenberg in 1998 was “a fiasco.”

“No one could agree,” he said. “It consumed a lot of time.”

But council member Bob Holbrook, who was on the council in 1999, said he favored trying to make an appointment, but added that the person chosen should “reflect the values Herb had.”

He also said the council should try to choose a nominee who would serve out the two-year term but would not seek reelection.


“An election not only delays a decision, but it’s very costly.” Mayor Ken Genser

“I think a person being democratically authorized by the voters is a significant factor.” Bobby Shriver

“We don’t have clean money in Santa Monica.” Kevin McKeown

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