Santa Monica councilman and Mayor ex-officio Bobby Shriver had a long list of achievements to share with Americans for the Arts at his keynote presentation last week. Providing the perfect hideaway for the number two fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted List was not one of them. Yesterday’s headline news that mobster James “Whitey” Bulger has been living comfortably in Santa Monica for the past eleven years raises important issues about Shriver’s recommendations for the arts community and the security of the Santa Monica area, which includes the Getty Center and some of the world’s most valuable private art collections.
A key clue to this mystery is just a click away at the website of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights. This site nostalgically refers to Santa Monica as the “Bay City of Raymond Chandler novels.” Another popular phrase puts this in perspective — “The People’s Republic of Santa Monica.” Santa Monicans for Renters Rights is quite proud of the achievement that its organization has had the support of the majority of the Santa Monica City Council for the last thirty years. That achievement also means that the Renters Rights community organization is so strong that the number two fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted List could expect that no Santa Monica landlord would be able to inspect a unit thoroughly enough to notice the unusual presence of $800,000 in cash.
This clue highlights the broader issue of “human intelligence.” Santa Monica is the world headquarters of RAND Corporation, a research complex that advises governments around the world about improving public administration and public safety, national and local. A slide in the slideshow provides a good indicator of how this has been applied in Santa Monica. The downtown parking lot is so automated that its electronic monitors can read license plates numbers and allow patrons to find the stall where their car is parked. Studies by Alzheimers researchers are building the case that this degree of automation is eroding the “human intelligence” and memory skills that are often needed to prevent crime and can promote compulsive “mental laziness.”
“Mental laziness” may be the tip of the iceberg. The Los Angeles County Department of Health and Human Services is supposed to have the expertise to make important decisions about whether a resident poses a possible threat to the safety of neighbors. If its staff is not capable of identifying a man who has murdered nineteen other Americans as a possible threat to the safety of neighbors after eleven years, they have probably not complied with their own Code of Conduct. This organization is managed by the same Board of Supervisors responsible for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which now faces one more objection from potential donors and artwork lenders who must wonder why its leaders let the FBI’s Most Wanted fall through the cracks.
There is another broad issue – the $2 Billion Broad art collection itself. This is located a short walk away from James “Whitey” Bulger’s hideout. Billionaire owner Eli Broad’s decision to locate much of his art close to his residence is quite common in the art world, although most insurance experts recommend against it. As the world’s leading innovator in the field of master planned communities, no one has more expertise available to pinpoint the safest location for housing a $2 Billion art collection. The difficulty this team of experts has demonstrated in detecting a safe haven for a notorious mobster and his support network raises serious questions about the state of the art in the private security industry.
One more important clue points to the possibility that Bulger and other fugitives could find a safe haven in Santa Monica. This clue is literally set in stone. It is difficult to see how Santa Monica officials could miss it unless they traveled everywhere by car. But many do just that and now we know the results. A block away from Santa Monica’s Civic Center, there is a work of street art in the sidewalk. The script says “POLICE CORRUPTION” and it is covered in blood stains. (see slideshow.) This should not be considered a work of fiction. Kyle Keegan at Voice of San Diego has been publishing a series of reports on this subject. These show crony COPitalism is as much a problem in California today as when James “Whitey” Bulger paid off the FBI in Boston in the 1980’s when his brother headed the Massachusetts State Senate.
The big picture is also known to regular readers of FoxNews.com. Pulitzer prize winning journalist Judith Miller actually began reporting about this twenty months ago on FoxNews.com. The first line of her report gets right to the point.: “Chilling signs that one of the worst features of Mexico’s war on drugs—law enforcement officials on the take from drug lords—is becoming an American problem as well.”
No one in the Los Angeles area should take this personally. If this could happen in Santa Monica while Bobby Shriver was Mayor, it could happen almost anywhere in America.