Returned from abroad to find the weather in Malibu cloudy, local governance foggy, and politics menacing. Lots of “sturm und drang“ among the city’s concerned citizens. Good. A sign of life, and so I comment on public radio 99.1 KBU and select websites everywhere.
Paramount is a concern for long term resident, mayor pro tem, Jefferson Wagner, a personal friend of mine, and it seems scores of others in Malibu. At present, he is a councilperson and the persevering member of a “reform” slate, whose other members are figuratively out to lunch, probably on someone elses nickel, no doubt.
An ever smiling surf shop owner on the fringes of the film industry, to many Jefferson personifies an amiable Malibu local, so I was shocked as others to learn he had been questionably criminalized in an early AM raid orchestrated by the county District Attorney.
He and his companion Candace Brown, also a prized friend, were handcuffed for a short time while the house was searched by a full dress squad of a dozen DA office investigators. All that was taken was a cell phone, and no doubt many photos.
That the house lies just beyond the city limits may have been the reason for the raid — you have to be a legal resident to serve on the council. But this issue has been raised before involving Wagner, and he long since purchased another residence, within the city, from which he votes.
Whatever, the D.A.’s office is not disclosing who prompted the raid and why; the warrant is sealed. And nobody involved is saying anything because the questionable case is still open. There has been much local speculation, some of it specious, long on accusations and allegations of conspiracy, and short on evidence. Malicious persecution? A mistake? There are many questions to be eventually answered by the DA’s office, and other persons of interest.
In the meantime, a fund has been established for Wagner’s defense, if he needs one. And reflecting as it might on his council status, still to be heard from is the city.
For the record, and for what is worth, we were told the warrant was signed before Wagner cast the lone vote against awarding wily city manager Reva Feldman a generous new contract.
I for one am hopeful Wagner will be able to serve as mayor as scheduled next year, and raises the issue of the need for better transparency and accountability at City Hall.
And I would add also needed is an improved competency within its bloated bureaucracy, which I have commented previously appears to be preoccupied more with padding payrolls, pensions and perks, and less with public service.
Then there is the outsourcing of city work to select, well compensated, consultants, and the acquiescence of a neophyte council.
This is something I hope that candidates for the two open council seats will address, in the local elections this Fall, that, with the national elections, cannot come soon enough for me.