I am being asked why so hard on the city manager, urging her ouster, and also disparaging her entourage, labeling them overpaid and under achieving, and together trashing them for their failures during and after the disastrous Woolsey Fire?

And let’s not forget my utter disappointment in the questionable performance of our first responders in the horrific hours of the fire. But that may be in part because of my contempt for our former mayor and fire captain Rick Mullen ‘s feeding at the pubic trough, albeit legally, padding his pay and overtime to $400,000 plus a year, and not even apologizing for it. His lack of shame does not augur well for Malibu.

How many more needed firefighters could have been hired in the slop of overtime he and others have consumed? We were told a recent pubic meeting the department was short some 500 to fight the fires, down from 1200 of a few years ago.

Still, this hasn’t seemed to bother some amiable Malibu locals, who suggest we look beyond Mullen’s machinations and also Skylar Peaks’s poor attendance record on City Council, where it has been observed even if present he is absent.  And Reva is just blandly duplicitous. 

As much as I try, I just can’t forget or forgive what I consider their foundering in face of the fire, and their false excuses. And as I write in The Local and other select websites, neither I believe should the city, if it really expects to rebuild for its persevering burnt out citizens. 

Being so judgmental I guess comes with my abiding calling over the years as a cultural critic, beginning as the Queens Teens columnist for the Long Island Daily Press in 1952, continuing periodically to the present, combating my dotage at large for various venues. It unabashedly prompts indulgent memories, and questions: 

Can it be that somehow the youthful years of boring hours of what I thought then was nonsensical recitations from the unforgiving Old Testament teachings actually took seed in my being, and now sub consciously shape my judgments?

 Perhaps blame it on that I am a born and ill bred New Yorker, and despite enjoying the last 40 years in L.A. and more than half in relatively mellow Malibu, I have little patience with feigned niceties or blatant bull shit. 

Or maybe it is because my skepticism was honed first as a police then metropolitan reporter 60 or so years ago when city newsrooms were for me classrooms, crowded because no one ever wanted to go home; work was actually too much fun, the off-the-record stories too captivating.

My graduate school happily was a then rough hewn New York Times, more Front Page than Society page, remembered in the late 50s and 60s to be clouded with choking cigarette and cigar smoke, and smelling of cheap liquor coming from the pints hidden in plain paper bags in easy reach below cluttered desks. 

Alcoholism I hazily recall was the bane of the august Times, as sex was for its neighbor and then competitor Herald Tribune. Later as an editor of a New York Post under a raucous Rupert in the late 70s I sadly remember it was drugs and divorce.

And then there was the cacophony of the constant ringing phones and echoes of garrulous laughter. It could be deafening, and indeed may be why I am now hearing impaired. Riding clattering subways half my life also certainly did not help.

The skepticism actually served me well years later when I became immersed in planning and development, principally in the wilds of New York City, and in later years in the brambles of Los Angeles. They were experiences I consider in retrospect to be a form of penance for which I arguably paid for my greed that in part prompted my move to Malibu.

 Also on occasion in those formative years I was enlisted to partake in several select New York State and federal investigations, I am not prone to discuss. However, to be sure those experiences certainly made me alert to abuses I view in the governance of my present Malibu.

Yes, for the last several decades, and hopefully the next few, I am contentedly settled in a comfortable Malibu, where in addition to my specimen succulents and cacti landscaping, hopefully my urgings for a reformed City Hall will take root.


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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.