With a new majority taking control of the City Council dedicated to a more transparent and responsive city hall, you have to be optimistic that the days of we-know-best backroom politics has ended in Malibu, at least for the next few months.And so I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU, select websites everywhere, and in The Local
The political consortium of the experienced former Mayor Jefferson Wagner, the battle tested local fire captain, Rick Mullen, and, we hope, a more attentive Skylar Peak, meant what they said while campaigning:
That they will resist the temptations of ever solicitous developer bearing gifts, a subservient staff and the perks of city office, to protect and preserve Malibu’s singular seacoast charm.
But as much as I admire the slate – you have to cut them a little slack for going through the trials and tribulations, nay the embarrassments, of a local election –you also must be concerned. The experiences of an octogenarian journalist have taught me to temper hope.
How else could you put into perspective the election of Obama followed by the election of Trump, of Kennedy and Johnson, followed by Nixon.
And meanwhile, in our misanthropic Malibu, I sadly note that many talk the talk of the city’s enlightened mission statement, but walk and the walk of the not-in-my-backyard crowd, or like Simple Simon simply follow the direction of friends and special interests, seemingly oblivious to their hypocrisies.
Indeed, I am haunted by the observation of Malibu’s respected first mayor, Walt Keller, when reviewing the parade of politicians that followed him, something happens to them once they take office.
“It’s really strange,” he said at a council meeting earlier this year marking the city’s 25th anniversary, and to me later. The ex-mayor explained that it has been his view that once elected and taking a seat on the dais, they all of a sudden think they know everything, and stop listening as they should be doing, and start talking, too much. And, of course, the city suffers.
And then there are a few dudes who have stayed in the surf too often on a cold day, and are sadly impaired.
This prompts me to suggest that perhaps we should direct council members, and the critical commissioner they are to appoint, and also reappoint, to hold their remarks at public meetings to 3 minutes. After all, that is what they restrict those who testify at City Hall hearings to do and then they expect the audience to sit through their ramblings.
The self-aggrandizements, the exchanging of plaques and platitudes of politicians, call for some sort of controls, a timekeeper, a sergeant at arms, or someone with an itchy finger on a foghorn.
Also needed is an inspector general, or an ombudsman. Indeed, now that a curtain has been lifted at City Hall certainly someone to review some of the actions of the past councils and how Malibu might have been compromised by former council members and staff.
It’s a thought for this holiday season, a gift of sorts to City Hall.