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November -- Status Quo Prevails, Drati Makes Surprise Exit

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By Lookout Staff

December 30, 2023 -- After big-time campaign spending and hard-hitting mailers, the political status quo prevailed in Santa Monica in November. The biggest surprise was Superintendent Ben Drati's departure from the School District.

A total of 563 households apply for the City's highly publicized rent relief program, fewer than one-tenth of the 6,000 very low-income households City officials say are paying more than half of their income in rent ("City Could Be Vastly Overestimating 'Rent-Burdened' Households," November 1, 2022).

As political campaigns race to the finish line, Santa Monica's low cap on candidate donations bolsters the influence of both unknown donors from outside the City and powerful political players from within ("A Few Donors Carry Heavy Clout in Local Races," November 3, 2022).

Councilmember Phil Brock says he won't vote to settle a landmark voting rights lawsuit against the City, making it a non-issue no matter the outcome of the Council race ("Brock Drops Support for Voting Rights Settlement," November 7, 2022).

It's going to be a long night -- make that month -- after the LA County Registrar's office estimates 1 million mail-in ballots countywide remain to be counted after election night ("An Estimated 1 Million Ballots Countywide Yet to be Counted," November 9, 2022).

The early vote tally, however, shows Caroline Torosis with a large lead in the race for City Council, followed by Jesse Zwick, with incumbent Lana Negrete in a tight battle for the third open seat (Torosis, Zwick Lead Early Voting; Negrete in Battle to Keep Seat," November 8, 2022).

Skaters hit the ice for the first time in nearly three years during the grand opening of ICE at Santa Monica ("Ice Returns to Santa Monica Wednesday," November 11, 2022).

The opening was delayed a week after a major storm blew through the region, washing off much of the snow that had been laid at the rink at 5th Street and Arizona Avenue.

With just 13.5 percent of the countywide ballots left to count, Councilmember Lana Negrete holds on to the seat she was appointed to fill, while Mayor Sue Himmelrich's transfer tax hike and Santa Monica College's bond measure win in the only tight races ("Negrete Headed Back to Council; GS, SMC Win," November 17, 2022).

In the end, the political status quo prevails: Every incumbent is returned to office -- many by huge margins -- and every ballot measure but one is approved, with most cruising to easy victories ("Ballot Measures Nearly Make Clean Sweep," November 22, 2022).

WSC puts up for sale three Santa Monica properties rushed into the planning pipeline before the City's Housing Element was given final approval by the State on October 14 ("Santa Monica Developer Puts 3 'Builder's Remedy' Properties for Sale," November 18, 2022).

In a move that catches School District officials by surprise, Superintendent Ben Drati is hired to run the Bellflower public school system ("Drati Makes Surprise Departure from School District," November 21, 2022).

As the holidays get underway, weekly Coronavirus cases jump in Santa Monica after rising steadily for more than a month ("COVID Cases Spike in Santa Monica; Deaths Nationwide Mostly Among Vaccinated," November 23, 2022).

An analysis of local crime data shows that habitual offenders are being released to commit violent crimes in Santa Monica that include murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon ("OPINION -- Repeat Violent Offenders Expose Folly of Criminal Justice Policies," November 30, 2022).

Santa Monica rents remain relatively flat in November, falling by 0.5 percent to an average median rent of $2,202, according to Apartment List's monthly report based on the site's listings ("Santa Monica Rents Remain Flat," November 30, 2022).

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