My city observed for this week for pubic radio 99.1 KBU and select websites was written and recorded BEFORE city manager Reva Feldman disclosed some corrective actions in the city’s troubled planning efforts,, and AFTER we requested a copy of the city payroll.
The actions involving several new hires and consultancies sounded hopeful, but from my perspective raises some questions concerning the governance of Malibu, whether indeed it a case of hardening of the city’s bureaucratic arteries.
These question and others I expect to review in time, but for now this week’s commentary stands, and, sadly, focuses in on another dubious deed by a self serving city bureaucracy attempting to feather its nest, and taking advantage of a woeful city council.
To be sure, Malibu is not being blatantly robbed, I hope, but council and staff just do not seem to be putting the interests of the city ahead of their own.
Prompting this latest criticism is the current crisis in the city-planning department falling behind in their varied assignments. This presumably was addressed last week by planning director Bonnie Blue, who announced a host of administrative changes and the intention to hire a new planner in the wake of several departures.
I was going to comment on these managerial maneuvers, while as a reprobate planner suggest the department become more efficient and proactive, consistent with the city’s mission.
In short, be less toady and more proudly professional, and as the long term hard nosed planning commissioner Jeff Jennings commented, not reinvent the wheel but push harder.
Of related interest, the commission is reported had been asked by City Hall last Fall not to call the Planning Staff to ask them questions about items on the Commission agenda. They were told the staff was too busy to answer their questions.
Then out of left field comes the news that concurrently Feldman is planning to add yet more bodies to her bureaucratic bulwark, in particular a deputy city manger for up to $190,000 a year to help with legislative matters.
I thought that why Lisa Soghor was hired last year, and also for which Feldman just recently received a healthy raise that gives her $220,000 plus generous benefits. That is more than our U.S. senators receive.
As for the city’s bulging payroll, the city contended in an internal memo, “There is no fiscal impact associated with this proposed change in the current fiscal year due to salary savings realized from the vacancies in the Planning Department.” Talk about a shell game.
And this addition to select consultants, such California Strategies, which I have noted in the past has been paid by the city $2million for unsubstantiated services. The figures keep adding up as does the wall around the city manager,
Supposedly overseeing these shenanigans is the council’s administrative and finance sub committee, consisting of local government novices Skylar Peak and Rick Mullen. They meet periodically with Feldman in closed session, and are apparently under her sway. It is all very cozy and questionable.
Obviously needed is some independent oversight.