I pity the poor fools now running for Santa Barbara city mayor. Who do they have to bribe to get a break? I say that because this year’s mayoral election is threatening to become one of the weirdest, wildest, most out-of-control, genuinely unpredictable, and freakishly interesting since 1934. That’s when a messianic megalomaniac who got in fights on Haley Street and packed a gat in his cummerbund beat out a fractured field of boring, pince-nez-wearing establishment ho-hums and the combined might of the city’s power elite. Yet no one cares.
Yes, Santa Barbara might have a certified, male, XY chromosome mayor for the first time in 36 years. But such possibilities can’t compete with the ever-escalating self-immolation Trump has unleashed upon himself, firing G-Man-in-Chief James Comey in the most craven way imaginable: via TV news announcement executed from the safe distance of 3,000 miles away. Comey initially thought he’d been the victim of a particularly well-played prank. This from a commander in chief — with his finger on the buttons of 4,018 nuclear missiles — who achieved critical mass in the celebrity freak firmament for his syndicated reality show, You’re Fired! Barely 100 days into Year One, Trump appears to have ignited a constitutional crisis of such magnitude that in any parallel universe would have already brought him down. The cruel irony here, of course, is that many people singing in the anti-Trump choir believe Comey richly deserved to be fired … just not by Trump, nor for any of Trump’s phony-baloney reasons.
The stated rationale is that Comey violated protocol and usurped the chain of command by announcing last July there would be no charges against Hillary Clinton for numerous email security transgressions, and that he did so again on October 28 — just 11 days before the election — when he announced he was reopening the investigation because new emails had surfaced. July and October being several eternities ago, one can reasonably ask, why fire Comey right now? Because Comey was actively investigating ties between the Trump White House and Russia for possible collusion. Two hours before Trump fired Comey, federal grand jury subpoenas had been issued demanding business documents from associates of Trump’s short-lived former national security advisor Michael Flynn. In other words, the investigation was heating up. Flynn, as we now know, improperly met a Russian diplomat before Trump was sworn in, improperly discussed American sanctions recently imposed against Russia for hacking the election, lied about it, and failed to properly disclose the $45,000 he was paid by a Russian propaganda agency to deliver a speech in Russia.
To an unusual degree, Trump’s election brought America’s genitals out of the closet. It’s worth remembering that we would not be in this mess were it not for disgraced congressmember Anthony Weiner’s twisted need to flash his junk — via sex texts — to a 15-year-old girl in another state. Weiner was married at the time to Clinton’s aide and confidante, Huma Abedin, to whom Clinton had sent some of her emails for printing. Abedin shared a computer with her husband, who in his sextcapades went alternately by the on-screen monikers “Carlos Danger” and “T Dog.” When the feds investigated Weiner and his computer for corrupting the morals of a minor across state lines, they stumbled across emails from Clinton. These emails — the number of which, we have since learned, Comey greatly exaggerated — gave rise to his October 28 announcement that the investigation against Clinton was being reopened. He would quickly conclude there was nothing to the new emails, either, but by then the damage was done. There’s no doubt Comey’s October 28 announcement was the fatal blow to Clinton’s campaign. Only in America does a compulsive dick waver named Weiner manage to get an inveterate pussy grabber elected president.
Competing for oxygen in this atmosphere are six definite mayoral contenders. In a normal universe, Councilmember Cathy Murillo would be and should be the clear front-runner. As the furthest-left, most overtly populist member of the council, Murillo should be able to tap into the surging anti-Trump sentiment. No one will campaign harder, she’s raised tons of cash, and she’s backed by the Democratic Machine. But Murillo tends to lead with both heart and chin, and a backlash is mounting. Normally, Councilmember Frank Hotchkiss, as the sole Republican, wouldn’t stand a chance, especially given his past skepticism about climate change. But with so many candidates, Frank — a Zen Buddhist realtor with a steamy midlife-crisis novel featuring a hot Russian babe as lust object — could win with even a tiny fraction. Former Deckers CEO Angel Martinez just announced from Mt. Olympus this week that he’d generously make his vision and executive skills available since both are so sorely lacking at City Hall. Martinez, a Cuban immigrant who reportedly grew up eating Great Society peanut butter, has gobs of dough, a business pedigree that can appeal to the right, and progressive beliefs that resonate left — he hates Trump and has the Tweets to prove it. Though he has zero experience with City Hall, he is strongly backed by a coalition of impatient, agitated, and frustrated Funk Zone property owners. Spicing things up is wild-woman art curator Maiza Hixson, who declared her candidacy at a press conference at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday. Hixson, in town only two years, finds Santa Barbara’s art scene — with its conspicuous lack of nudity and political content — suffocatingly tame. Hixson may have no chance, but she’s smart and funny and should run an entertaining performance-art campaign that offers actual nutritional content. Councilmember Bendy White has yet to announce and former councilmember Hal Conklin has, but both toil in the ho-hum fields to which smart, experienced, mushy moderates with gobs of experience are consigned. If Trump’s the question, they may not be the answer.
Here’s what I want to know: If Trump’s the answer, what’s the question?