Amid the daily circulation by the city of Malibu of mostly self aggrandizing, press releases there recently was a brief announcement that city is seeking the services of a highly qualified government relations and lobbying firm .

According to the brief item was that the city needs a firm to serve as “the conduit for communications with elected officials and other agencies.” No specifics were listed, whether this meant making introductory calls, chaperoning meetings , or just going to long lunches and charging the city.

That just may be revealed in the “six printed and bound” proposals the city is soliciting from lobbyist firms registered by the state, due in a few weeks.

But don’t expect wide distribution, for our city suffering as it does a passive aggressive institutional mindset, likes to keep these matters in house and quiet.

And whatever might be submitted by the gaggle of glad handing firms in the political swamp that is Sacramento, is the more germane question of whether modest Malibu really needs to spend $10,000 or more a month –my informed estimate of a range of expected bids – for an archaic service?

The answer here by someone familiar with fleeting legislative friendships and obsequious bureaucratic associations, and also my opinion of Malibu’s questionable benefits of past relationships, is a resounding NO.

And that also should be the city council’s judgment when the city manager Reva Feldman slips the recommended winning proposal under the door.
Perhaps in the bad old day of backroom politics when a pricey password was needed into a smoke filled room, but not now, in this age of the Brown Act, pledges of transparency, the social media and the internet, as well the open door policy of the area’s county, state and congressional representatives.

If access is needed, and if you are doing the job for which you were elected or appointed –I note here that our city manager is paid about $50,000 a year more than our congressman and U.S. senator– you really don’t need to pay someone outside City Hall to make the calls, draft emails , and arrange meetings.

Indeed, I recall a city press release of a few months ago announcing that council members Lou La Monte and Laura Rosenthal and City Manager Feldman had garnered a bevy of honorific posts and were headed to the state capitol to –quote ensure that Malibu’s concerns are heard.”

And in expense reports viewed in Freedom of Information request filed with the assistance of KBU, it appears they have been making quite a few of these trips, and others, presumably to benefit Malibu., with no mention of a lobbyist whom the city paid nearly $2 million over the last dozen years. .



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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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