POST ELECTION PONDERINGS, NATIONAL AND LOCAL

It might be another benign sunny day in my mellow Malibu, but to be sure there is a dark cloud on the horizon. It has been there since Election Day, and I am still in shock.

Call it PTMD, post-traumatic media disorder, but the Trump triumph, and the Clinton collapse, still reverberates, and I expect it will for some time as the obnoxious TV personality, casino operator and debatable developer prepares to assume the Presidency of the United States.

It is frightening, as I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net, and in select websites and print.

So take a deep breath, and get ready for a political roller coaster ride, through the peaks and valleys of rhetoric and reality. And watch out for those walls.

And yes, there was a local election, and in some respects it also was a populist referendum, a protest of sorts against business as usual in government. But unlike the national election, the vote count in Malibu was heartening.

The victory of the slate of Mullen, Wagner and Peak definitely was a repudiation of what has been characterized as Malibu’s persevering political machine.

However labeled, whether the friends of former mayors Barofsky, Rosenthal and Sibert, or what, they have been perceived as a tag team in serial elections empowered by a daisy chain of endorsements.

This is, of course, what small town politics is all about.

At City Hall, there were lots of self aggrandizing, perks, such as expense paid trips, and wallowing in the fawning attention that comes from sitting on a dais. And let us not forget the $300 councilpersons receive monthly as compensation, though I suspect that doesn’t cover the phone bills or gas.

The problem for the machine is that it more and more was identified as pro development, yielding to the entreaties of special interests, represented by lawyers and facilitators, (some call them fixers) with a major focus on the civic center.

The Civic Center is not really very civic, or a center, but has morphed into a fractured shopping mall with fewer and fewer local stores or services, and more pricey boutiques aimed at the tourist trade and Malibu’s increasing deep pocket part time residents.

\Whether characterized as old timers, or the young couple that bought last year, residents who actually make Malibu their home did not like what they saw. And they especially did not like the traffic it generated on PCH, which because of the hundreds of thousands attracted to the beach on weekends, and the inexorable daily crush, has become the bane of Malibu.

Repeatedly over the last several years, one resolution followed another in Malibu addressing growth, with convincing votes in opposition to a succession of projects, no matter what mustache was put on the pig-of-the moment

And while council members inevitably declared to be for slow or no development, they tended to vote otherwise, earning the ire of activist residents.

At the same time, there has been an explosion of sort of the social media, with residents increasingly communicating with neighbors their frustrations with City Hall. And immodestly no doubt raising the community consciousness was the establishment of a local radio station 97.5 KBU, featuring an informative daily local news report that tells it like it is.

Recognition also should be given to the newspaper, aptly bannered The Local, which took up the promotion of the slate and directed its cudgel against what it labeled the evil forces of rapacious development.

POST All this makes for a heartening and also challenging sense of community for a misanthropic Malibu. We await the seating of the new council with what we hope will be an enlightened majority. We hope.

 

 

 

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hallkaplan

Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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