Like nothing ever before in the history of Malibu, the furious Woolsey Fire not only torched nearly a thousand homes, but also the landscape, laying it blackened and bare. Tragic.
But from a political perspective, the fire also laid bare the conceit of government, notably the embarrassing failures of the first responders, the bumbling County and State bureaucracies and most exasperating, our local bureaucracy.
And that is no matter what the reviews of the various official governmental responses to the fire will eventually conclude, be they convoluted explanations or bland fabrications, as the guilty connive to cover their asses and the compromised media parrot the press releases.
There is of course the bureaucratic bungling during the fire; not advocating for the city, closing the emergency control center, the lack of communications, and the blocking supplies to those who stayed. These have become a sorrowful litany in the social media and wherever residents gather.
But beyond not being transparent and truthful and apologize for its failures, City Hall under the heavy thumb of Reva Feldman continues to be disingenuous. This includes making back door deals with the SCE and special interests while handing off heavy lifting to lap dog consultants.
By the way, one has to ask whether it was a coincidence that Feldman took a poorly timed “vacation” in the wake of the fire to go to Paris, and then shortly after somehow a beach front fashion show was approved for Paradise Cove despite serious environmental concerns?
However, most mendacious has been the mismanagement of the rebuild program, according to burnout victims wanting desperately to rebuild and return to Malibu before their insurance ends and the construction costs get out of hand. Not wanting to incur any retaliation from a churlish City Hall, they understandably traded candor for anonymity.
They report that there have been with a few exceptions a hardening of the bureaucratic arteries , enough so if not to give heart attacks, then to prompt fits of frustration and depression. So much for the city pledges to be sympathetic and supportive.
To this person of some city planning experience that included processing major construction projects in a tough New York City, our modest small town of Malibu is woefully mismanaged, even with the aid of consultants. Be it inexperience or attitude, they are just not up to the task of advocating for beleaguered residents and expediting plans.
Just forget all that ”robust” self advertising and self congratulations out of City Hall. Just look at the burned out lots in western Malibu.
So out of respect and sympathy for the victims of the Woolsey fire, I have to be forthright, since an irresolute City Council regretfully is not.
Sadly for various reasons I feel the however well intentioned the council majority, it is fumbling away its governance of Malibu to a wily city manager.
Being subverted no less is the heretofore functioning city manager form of government. This is prompting cries however strident for political reform that includes an elected full time mayor and a councilmanic reorganization. That obviously should be studied and needs to be debated.
Meanwhile, the rebuild effort must be reformed, post haste, and that starts with the Council getting its act together, providing the responsible oversight necessary, do its job, and fire Reva Feldman.