Still needing more comment is the recent candidate and city leadership workshop at Malibu’s City Hall. which I had presumptuously labeled a gabfest. It actually was more.
The event was sponsored by the Malibu Times as a non-partisan presentation of what one needs to know to run for office in Malibu, or at least to be involved. It also exposed a few municipal conceits, as I note in my City Observed commentary for public radio KBUU and select websites.
As I had commented previously, the gabfest began with a session focusing on the workings of the City, delivered with a modicum of megalomania and a pinch of paranoia.
Displaying a touch of the megalomania was recently anointed mayor Lou La Monte, and seemingly enjoying it.
The paranoia was expressed by skittish city manager Reva Feldman, persevering city attorney Christi Hogin, and planning apparatchik Bonnie Blue. The gist of their remarks is that Malibu is a preferred city manager form of government, ostensibly relying on professionals, in short themselves.
This conceit had been adopted across California in the last century to avoid local government being infested by political appointees. However, some feel that over time it has replaced political corruption with bureaucratic corruption, at the whim of local office holders.
The afternoon session was to be a discussion of specific issues, not a forum for airing grievances, or candidate grandstanding. This would make a rare Malibu event.
Despite being weighted with pro development panelists, the session did get off to a coherent start with school board member Craig Foster giving an optimistic update on Malibu’s efforts to divorce itself from the Santa Monica dominated School District.
He noted that the issue of finances was methodically being resolved, as is the safety and upgrading of school facilities. And this despite the persistent criticism of a self-promoting parents group and the unfortunate over reaction of the district. That brew over the presence of PCBs and what to do about them has been politically toxic.
Then it was on to the rising resident concern of over development, with realtor Paul Grisanti stating how it was undermining the pressing need to upgrade the city’s water infrastructure.
Echoing that concern was lobbyist Don Schmidt, who went on a length to comment on the imperative of development, adding that the city was going to have to let property owners build or it would have to spend big bucks buying them out. More tempered was former conservative mayor and now planning commissioner Jeff Jennings.
Long time resident Barbara Cameron also was on the panel, but being on the city payroll she wisely kept mostly quiet. Not so the iconoclastic John Mazza, who reportedly elbowed his way onto the panel, as he is wont to do, and argued convincingly that Malibu already was overbuilt and PCH just cannot handle more traffic.
And so it went, with mostly Schmidt and Mazza trading observations, making me feel that I was sitting cramped between the two in a car on gridlocked PCH. 8.24.16