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Council to Take Stance on Ukraine

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By Jorge Casuso

March 8, 2022 -- The City Council on Tuesday will decide whether to make Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy an honorary citizen of Santa Monica and dump any Russian assets from City funds.

The item placed on the agenda by Counclmembers Phil Brock and Lana Negrete also calls for lobbying State officials to divest government pensions from Russian assets and terminate state contracts with Russian firms.

"The Santa Monica City Council fully condemns the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Government and their dictator, Vladimir Putin," the item reads.

"This is not an invasion by the Russian people. It is a culmination of a years’-long harassment by a dictatorial tyrant of a border nation whose people have their own culture and language, and it is reminiscent of the power-grabbing that initiated the horrific events of World War II.

"The Council urges all citizens of the world to take notice and call for an end to the barbaric and tragic violence that is being waged on the peaceful nation of Ukraine," the item reads.

The Council's vote comes days after cities across the nation have approved similar measures, Brock said.

"Dozens of cities are adding it to their agendas," said Brock, who pushed for City Hall and the Pacific Park Ferris Wheel to display Ukraine's blue and yellow colors.

"It's obviously an empty measure of support, but it's a measure of support," Brock said of the agenda item.

In addition to cities taking a strong stance condemning the invasion, pension funds across the country -- including in New York, Philadelphia and the State of Washington -- have divested their Russian assets.

The Santa Monica City Council has a long history of attempting to influence national and global events and policies.

In 1983 after Santa Monicans for Renters Rights' (SMRR) won control of local government, Council meetings "increasingly became a forum for debates on social issues (and) foreign policy," according to a 1983 article in the New York Times.

"Several Council sessions last year, for example, were devoted to long debates on American policies toward El Salvador and Israel," the Times wrote.

In 1997, Santa Monica joined a number of U.S. cities that adopted laws forbidding companies investing in Myanmar, also called Burma, from receiving city contracts.

In 2010, following the lead of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Council voted to boycott Arizona over its passage of an illegal immigration enforcement law.

Under that agenda item, travel for official City business was prohibited and City staff was asked to review contracts with businesses and governments in Arizona.

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