IF YOU CARE ABOUT MALIBU

If City Manager Reva Feldman was so determined rallying resources on behalf of Malibu in the disastrous Woolsey Fire as she is preserving her sinecure perhaps the present local quandary could have been avoided. Who knows?

If you happen to care, what we are sadly seeing at City Hall these dark post disaster days is a classic double defense of its questionable administration, the conscious construction of a bureaucratic bulwark by a wily city manager Feldman.

 And perhaps more sadly with Malibu suffering “fire fatigue,” it seems to be working.  It has been six months since Feldman failed the city and no criticisms have been forthcoming as of yet from a decidedly split, compromised City Council.

To be sure, it is waiting, as we all are, for the report of a well connected, perhaps too well connected, team of management consultants who are reviewing the city’s performance during the fire, and hopefully will address Feldman’s failures.

I added “hopefully,” given their indicated predilections otherwise cited by the indefatigable documentarian and local watchdog Paul Taublieb.  Will the report be a smoke screen?

Meanwhile, the city manager continues to laugh all the way to the bank, depositing her $300,000 a year salary and benefits, not bad for a neophyte pencil pusher with just three years chief ranking managerial experience.

Of course, that does not include her years as a fledgling under Malibu’s menace Joe Edmiston, of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. There no doubt he passed to her the apparatchik ability to haughtily ignore any criticism or critics.

Feldman’s first line of defense has been simply to be unapologetic, keep a stiff upper lip and not to take responsibility for having failed the city at its most crucial time during the firestorm, and pathetically continuing to fail it, while padding her payroll.

 Those who witnessed the city’s manager’s megaflop might be able to forgive her. That is if she admitted her failures, but they can’t forget her not preparing the city adequately for the disaster, mismanaging the mandatory evacuation, closing down the emergency control center when most needed, failing to advocate in the civic chain of command for a focused first response, and then dismissing and actually hampering those who stayed behind to valiantly fight the fire. 

Talk about grounds for dismissal!

No amount of bureaucratic obfuscation can hide the simple truth that if individuals such as a city manager and mayor had any sense of fidelity for their positions of trust, they should not be making excuses for their inaction and blaming others. Not apologizing also is just bad manners.

The second line of defense which we are now witnessing with a certain amusement is her obviously contriving awards for herself and staff from congenial consortiums, and taking credit for whatever half truths can be manufactured surrounding City Hall stumbling in the fire and after.

So for the State of the City, her fattened PR staff produced what I would label a public disservice video obviously at some expense in house, Now being played on the City’s social media and the City TV channel and available on-demand on You Tube, the slick video takes some egregious liberties from my perspective as an Emmy award wining reporter/producer.

Particularly sharp were the comments Taublieb, also an Emmy winner, included in an email to the city inquiring about the cost of the video. He added:

“BTW, the video is quite nice – great shots of fireman at work, but missing the ones of frantic homeowners waving at fire trucks riding by and refusing to stop and help!  and really love the coverage of the relief effort at pt. dume marine science and the boat relief – both efforts the city had nothing to do with and actually tried to stop!  or in reva’s words to me, “if you stayed behind you were not the responsibility of the city.”  but heh, we’re in the shadow of hollywood and taking credit for things you didn’t do is almost a local tradition!”

How will this farce of a City Hall end? I hope sooner rather than later, for I really don’t want to continue as town grouch, preferring instead to pursue cultural offerings, travel and tending my landscape.

But I also hate to witness my Malibu of many, long, loving years being hustled and compromised by greedy bureaucrats and special interests, orchestrating the sorrowful Woolsey Fire experience to their advantage.

5.25.19/6.1.19

Published by

hallkaplan

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.