MALIBU PLAN COMISSION CONFUSED

It was heartening to witness the public turnout at City Hall Monday night for the hearing on a proposed ordinance capping residential development.  

Though there was some understandable confusion concerning the flawed attempt to codify “neighborhood character,” most all speaking late into the evening expressed an obvious heart felt affection for Malibu.

But that made it all the more disheartening to witness, as the night wore on, the genuine homeowner concerns to be mostly ignored by a confused and at times contentious, supercilious Planning Commission.

The nit picking majority of commission eventually did painfully vote for a watered down version of the ordinance, exempting lots of less than an acre while demonstrating their embarrassing lack of planning knowledge, making several ad hoc additions.

Of course, what they should have done was simply hose down the ordinance, and tell the also neophyte compromised City Council to bury it, and instead direct the city’s planning staff to bolster its rebuild effort.

Despite its overblown PR effort, the city’s under achieving governance and over stuffed city hall staff is a muddle, suffering from a hardening of the bureaucratic arteries and in desperate need of surgery.

State of The City: Not So Good.

Embedded in the remark echoed by a parade of local politicians at the recent State of the City gathering in Malibu was the memorable plea made by Rodney King during the Los Angeles riots of 1992, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Most direct was those of the engaging State Senator Henry Stern, who declared he was concerned about the state of the city, “but not because of our competence, not because of our financial condition of our infrastructure, but because of relationships with each other.”

As I write in the Local and other select websites, Stern obviously was alluding to the growing chorus calling for the ouster of City Manager Reva Feldman, for failing to prepare the city for the anticipated Woolsey fire, for abandoning it in the heat of the fire, for absolving herself of any responsibility and for fumbling in the projected aftermath.

Her financial acumen also has been questioned, as well as her leadership abilities. Comments in the social media have been particularly scorching, while a petition for her removal has garnered 4,000 signatures. 

Further galling her critics has been Feldman perversely promoting herself as both a hero and a victim of the disaster, while never admitting to, or apologizing for, any failures. Instead she has depended on the questionable support of recalcitrant councilmen Rick Mullen and Skylar Peak, and self-important residents and special interests that she has favored.

Sorry Henry, but any chance of a civil dialogue is going to have to await Feldman ceasing favoring back scratching friends, supporters and consultants. Also must end is her stonewalling any resident she perceives as not being an ally.

Answering emails would be a start and simply doing the job for which she is overpaid, while not incidentally padding the city payroll for others to do it for her. Though not likely, she could, of course, simply resign and give up her $300,000 a year job she has wrangled for herself, which is more than the salaries of the State’s governor and U.S. Senators.

As for Stern who defends her by default, he may be a promising young progressive, but as most politicians, when push comes to shove, is a protector of the status quo and not prone to probe hardened bureaucratic arteries.

That pose in effect allows one to stand and shout in a boat adrift in the waves of democracy but careful not to rock it so it tips. This is a problem among public office seekers.

As for County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner, likeable as they also are, they obviously have shortcomings in their relationships with the city manager. Kuehl with her political establishment network and show biz connections of old seems to know who butters her toast and the ever amiable mayor sometimes is just too amiable.

You would think that after Wagner’s home burned, same as the 1,000 plus other victims of the fire, he’d be angry and would demand accountability and, yes, an apology from the wayward first responders and Malibu’s bloated bureaucracy. 

Accountability in public service? There’s the rub.

So, can Malibu be mended?  Can the local bickering stop?

I’m optimistic. But first, frankly, the bull being shoveled out of City Hall has to end and that begins with the council taking back the governance of the city from defacto mayor Feldman.

Get that elephant out of City Hall, and maybe the dialogue might begin, hopefully before the next disaster hits Malibu.

5.18.19

CITY COUNCIL FOLLIES

If the firm retained by Malibu to evaluate the city manager and city government, Management Partners, wanted an exemplification of the some of  the inherent local problems involved  it could have attended  the last meeting of the city council , or as I did view it on television.


However measured, either as an experienced hard edged professional or an empathetic local plebian, it was pathetic,  exposing as it did the council’s failed leadership and faulty thinking, and. particular galling, the city manager’s disingenuous maneuvers and disregard of the city’s past, and future.

At issue was the city manager Reva Feldman’s proposal of selling two prime acres of the recently purchased 9.6 acre Civic center site known variously as the chili cook-off site and more accurately as the “Ioki property,” a former flower and vegetable farm owned by an American  family of Japanese heritage that was shamefully seized in the hysteria of WW II.

The proposed sale to the L.A. Fire Department for a questionable location of a fire station and offices was placed on the agenda by the ever money-grubbing city manager, who prides herself  as a budget conscious bureaucrat  –except  of course when it comes to her bloated salary, hand-picked personnel, select consultants  and  travel budget for favored councilpersons.

Not incidentally, I trust that these items are being unearthed by the Management Partners team in its promised review of the city manager’s performance, consistent with the investigative maxim of “follow the money.” That as a relatively neophyte, first time city manager she is earning more than the State’s governor,  the mayor of Los Angeles and our Congressional representative  must raise some questions.

Though to be sure, it apparently didn’t bother her prime advocate on the council, former mayor Rick Mullen, who was found to be billing the public some $250,000 a year in overtime, according to a L.A Times expose, for literally sleeping on the job as a fire captain beyond his $150,000 annual salary.  Figuratively speaking, being on the public teat does make for some strange bedfellows. and sadly no apologies.

But thanks to an alert by the ever vigilant Mari Stanley and Bruce Silverstein, in the local social media, the agenda item prompted a diverse conscientious dozen residents to  attend the meeting Monday night.

All spoke in varying opposition and timbre to the sale, citing questionable appraisals, the lack of proper public outreach, the poor location for the facility, and the reneging of the site for recreation, a promise that dates back several decades when I did penance as a city Parks and Recreation Commissioner. The varied statements all added up to a cogent and convincing case for the rejection of the sale and a censure of the city manager.

But that was apparently too much to ask of a divided city council, several members who still seems obligated to the city manager for unspoken reasons,  and others who by their convoluted questions just do not seem particularly knowledgeable or sensitive to land use issues.  (Why is it the more they speak the less they seem to know about a subject.  “et cetera, et cetra,” to quote Mullen.

And ill judged as well as misguided was the praise by the ever amiable Mayor Wagner of the city manager’s debatable financial acumen and  concern for budgets.

As an aside, Feldman’s answer to a resident revealing that the former councilmember Laura Rosenthal might be the recipient of a $150,000 a year dubious position for a forged foundation was blithely  evasive, citing that the public funds was not the city’s but rather the county’s. as if this made it  acceptable.

Meanwhile, the council kept the proposal for the sale alive, kicking it to several suspect city commissions for presumably public hearings, and giving the city manager some wriggle room. 4.24.19

DEMOCRACY BEING TESTED, EVERYWHERE

Last Wednesday evening was one of the those nights when there were just too many events to attend, that’s if you care about Malibu as a distinctive livable community, and are concerned about its future, and no less the future of democracy.

There was first a special meeting of the Malibu Council to discuss the budget, actually it was labeled a workshop, and ostensibly to hear the heartfelt appeals of whom were burned out in the Woolsey Fire to lift the city’s onerous rebuild permits. These are friends and neighbors who need support beyond the sympathy and lip service they are now receiving.

There also was a community information meeting organized by the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District to review the proposed plans for a new middle and high school. Though my kids have long since happily graduated, I do feel strongly for the need of updated local school facilities.

Then there was a book signing by Suzanne Guldimann of her “Life in Malibu,” a love letter to her lifelong home. Having always read her with pleasure, in her Malibu Post and elsewhere, I wanted to go to show her my support. And also add that it regretfully was not a sponsored affair by our local library, for as a local author she need all the support she can get for her self-published effort. More on that later.

Also definitely at another time, soon, comments on the Council “workshop.” and the city’s new budget adjusted to give the fire victims some relief. I caught the proceedings on television, and appreciated the public comments, especially the offer to “blue pencil” the budget by Chris Carradine.

In the interest public disclosure, I worked with Chris briefly at Disney Imagineering, (as a senior creative consultant) and am more than confident he would bring needed justice to what up to now has been a municipal monopoly game of funny money played by neophytes behind closed doors.

As for the new school plans, another meeting is scheduled, which I hope to attend and perhaps comment.  My interest here is personal and professional, having in a distant maverick past directed the development of three high schools in New York City, thanks in part to the support of the Ford Foundation’s Educational Facilities Laboratory.  

But what I finally decided to attend Wednesday night was an always engaging Live Talks event featuring Nathan Gardels and Nicolas Berggruen, in conversation with Mayor Eric Garcetti, discussing the book “Renovating Democracy: Governing in the Age of Globalization and Digital Capitalism.” This might seem somewhat discursive and academic, but I feel it is relevant as well as worrisome, to what is happening worldwide.

Make no mistake about it, our hallowed democracy is being obviously tested nationally and internationally by a rise of harshly conservative potentates, who have come to intoxicating power under the pretense of populism.

Yes, democracy as an institutional form of governance involving the yielding of freedoms and the obeying of laws in return for at least a modicum of safety and services, and critically having the rights and responsibility of participating in its direction. This is all wrapped up generally in something simply defined as a social contract.

Locally, at least in my Malibu, the threat is more insidious, though not by the parade of pandering and self- important politicians. They have been mostly neighbors and can be indulged, except for a few exposed self-serving scammers sadly driven by greed.

No, the threat locally is by self serving bureaucrats, apparatchiks really, operating under the guise of public service; public servants who might be derogatorily labeled pubic serpents. In their quest for comfortable, lucrative sinecures, many have ridden roughshod over the rights and needs of the public, in particular those with out resources and resolve. Instead, they cater to paid  “facilitators” who in effect grease the skids to approvals and in effect do the work for them. And if not, there’s the cushion of consultants

I’m talking here specifically of Malibu’s city manager, Reva Feldman.  She might have risen to the position three years ago with undoubtedly the best of intentions, at an exalted salary in a congenial, solvent community.  And that after nearly a decade of pencil pushing in the backrooms of Malibu City Hall, and before that in the web of Joe Edmiston’s Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, not coincidentally a once well intentioned public endeavor, now clouded by a cult of personality.

But Feldman had been tested and found wanting by the disastrous Woolsey Fire, not adequately preparing for it, deplorably absolving herself and staff of any responsibility during the heat of the fire, and then fumbling the city’s protracted rebuild effort that now limps along despite its statements to the contrary. At least its inflated public relations staff has been hard at work.

Hard at work also I trust is the team of Management Partners, who was retained by the city to among other things evaluate the how role the city manager responded to the disaster, presumably before, during and after. I look forward to being interviewed next week.

TO REBUILD OR NOT

For those who lost homes in the Woolsey Fire and are contemplating whether to rebuild, there will be yet another workshop Sunday; this a public effort organized by the city.

As I write in The Local, one hopes that finally four months plus after the fire the bureaucrats have realized they are being paid to serve residents, extending themselves to overcome their obnoxious nit picking of explaining why you can’t do something rather than why you can.

There also will be a workshop Thursday, hosted, by the city for so-called professionals. They of course will tell anyone who will listen why for a price they can do something, anything actually, just not exactly how much it will cost. Do I see an insurance adjustor smirking somewhere?

This follows a workshop last Saturday organized by the private sector; a fishing trip of sorts with the usual suspect sincere architects and builders casting out lines, and also chumming. Nibbling were locals and the curious.

The workshops all fall under the banner of Rebuild Malibu, though it has been roughly estimated that at least half of the burntouts will not be rebuilding. Absent any city effort to house the victims in temporary and even permanent housing other than leaving it to individual fortitude, most will be saying their fond farewells to Malibu, if they haven’t done so already.

There is a sad if not tragic hollowing out of Malibu for most are long-term residents with deep roots in the community. Many also are seniors, with limited resources and neither the time nor patience to rebuild, while having to contend with the discouraging penny pinching insurance adjustors and rapacious realtors

.

Meanwhile, Rebuild seems to be everywhere, in full page paid advertising in the local throwaways and in constant press releases, promoting city services and offering “support and resources to residents impacted by the devastating Woolsey Fire, and promising to answer any and all related questions.”

Or at least deflect those questions, as City Hall does so nimbly having failed residents during the fire by not advocating and assisting the flummoxed first responders, mismanaging the mandatory evacuation, and closing down the emergency control center for 16 crucial hours so it can move to a safe Santa Monica, when it really did not have to.

And shamefully after, failing to insinuate itself as it should have in the fire fighting command chain, and then dismissing and actually hampering those who stayed behind to valiantly fight the fire and save their homes and their neighbors.

You might be able to forgive those at city hall who pleaded it was beyond their responsibility and that they were at best messengers, as our over paid and under achieving city manger Reva Feldman has declared. But if you at all care for Malibu, you can’t forget .

And as those who have had any managerial experience in either the pubic or private sectors can attest, when you take on a leadership role, you essentially forfeit the right to make excuses.

That is especially if you are a neophyte earning $300,000 plus a year, as our city manager has wrangled for herself, and have an entourage of aides at your beck and call.

Helping also at the time of crisis, is having a fawning fan of a mayor, such as the obsequious Rick Mullen, a fellow scam artist. What else can you label him after being recently exposed hitting up the strained fire department budget for $250,00 in overtime on top of $150,000 a year job. And he is yet to apologize.

One wonders if he was double dipping in those hours as a fire captain when also posing as mayor. This hopefully will be revealed in the studies now underway of what happened during the fires, as will be the actions and inactions of other. Hopefully. 3.24.19

THE FIRE AND OUR FADING DEMOCRACY


Like the residue of toxic ash from the Woolsey fire that is embedded in the soil of my Malibu, there are many aspects of that disaster that should haunt the singular seacoast village for the foreseeable future.

And if you witnessed the fire that destroyed some 800 homes, a fifth of the city and canyons beyond, it is certain that the thousands of persons directly affected will never forget, nor forgive, the failures of local government in the heat of the disaster, and their feigned excuses after.

Exactly what went wrong hopefully will be revealed in the promised  post disaster reviews: the lack of preparedness,, the faulty mandatory evacuation , foundering communications, the haphazard dispatch of fire fighting crews and apparatus, and the deficient support for those who stayed to save their homes and that of neighbors.

So many persons failed us, prime among them City Manager Reva Feldman and then mayor Rick Mullen. And though they may never have the courage to admit it, if there is any karma the failures should shadow them for the rest of their questionable careers.

But from my philosophical perspective,  a catbird seat on the point of  Pt. Dume, and as I write in The Local and select websites, the flagrant failures of government during and after the fire residents in Malibu are citing I feel reflect concerns on a far larger stage.

Indeed, they have political implications in communities almost everywhere, and are indicative here, regionally and nationally, of a breach of Jeffersonian democracy’s hallowed social contract between our public institutions and ordinary citizens, between those who govern, them, and the governed, us. It is serious, and troublesome.

The concern over the breach was raised coincidentally a few weeks ago by Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells in a select salon in Los Angeles hosted by the upstart Berggruen Institute and reported in its weekly World Post published in partnership with the Washington Post. 

Discussing his new book “Rupture: The Crisis of Liberal Democracy.” Castells is reported arguing that we are witnessing today across the West is not some normal turn of political cycles but a distinct fading of democracy and a historic rupture of institutional relationships. 

And he sees no new interconnection  that might supplant the old ways of representation, only fragments of the former mainstream parties and upstart populists vying for power through “ the exhausted mechanism of electoral contests in which ever fewer believe.”

“Where are the new institutions worthy of our trust?” declared the famous scholar of the networked society, as reported in The World Post. Instead, the article adds, he sees citizens acting autonomously through the use of new technologies, such as you are no doubt plugged into.

“They’re making use of the capacity for self-communication, deliberation and co-decision-making that is now at our disposal thanks to the ‘Internet Galaxy,’ and putting the enormous wealth of information and knowledge into practices to help manage our problems.”  He hopes, as I do in a poorly governed Malibu, despite what local apologists say.

Castells doubts that we will ever get to the possibility of consensus because the institutional link between the governing and governed is terminally severed, and that “Only the vast emotional transmission grid of social networks remains as the relevant public space.” 

And as we see in our bubble of Malibu, its print and broadcast media are fading, while sadly deferring to the status quo local government and the powers-that-be. Meanwhile, thankfully, we have the however compromised and indulgent social media; what you are reading now. And for that, I thank you.

A GLIMMER OF HOPE IN MALIBU

A ray of sun broke through the political cloud hovering over the City Council this week, and however modest, it offered some warmth and hope from which conflicted Malibu residents should take comfort.

The glimmer also hinted at what could be a heartening shift to those who have faith, however failing, in democracy and transparency in local government. Other levels of government are another matter, and in this forum I’m hesitant to kick over that rock.  The situation is bad enough in Malibu with a bumbling bureaucracy, a history of self-serving councilpersons and a lethargic citizenry. 

But hope for change flickered at the end of a mostly tedious meeting in which among agenda items councilpersons dutifully reported how what they been doing on behalf of the city, an appeal was heard to amend a needed Point Dume preserve project to include better enforcement of a dusk to dawn parking ban there and, finally, a perfunctory review and affirmation of council subcommittee appointments.

It came as the Council took up the item to establish a disaster response and recovery ad hoc committee that had been proposed by Rick Mullen and Skylar Peak with themselves as co-chairs.  Not incidentally, both Mullen and Peak have been adamant in their deleterious defense to date of over-paid and over-her head City Manager Reva Feldman,

Most egregious, she has been sharply criticized for failing Malibu in the Woolsey fire, and is now the target of a petition calling for her dismissal that at last count had nearly 3,000 signatures.  Also brewing is a recall for Mullen, and possibly Peak.


The first volley at the council meeting in opposition to Mullen and Peak came from resident Bruce Silverstein, a retired learned lawyer rising out of the audience, who cogently stated the appointment of two persons whose action in the disaster have been questioned, could compromise any review and community credence. 

This is a point I had made when the committee had been first proposed several weeks ago by an ignominious Mullen, who in addition to his flimflamming on council while mayor had been exposed on Page One of the L.A. Times of scamming the L.A. Fire Department of $250,000 in overtime in addition to his $150,000 salary. When will it ever stop?  When will we ever get an apology?

Mullen took a convoluted exception to Silverstein’s comments, citing his experience and that of sometime sidekick Skylar Peak, who appeared less than enthusiastic as Mullen droned on. However, as in the past, just when Mullen seemed to have swayed the council into submission, the recently elected and new mayor pro tem Karen Farrer politely demurred, and suggested a fresh view was needed. 

An independent Mikke Pierson added correctly that also at stake was the public confidence in City Hall, which at present is at a low point. And so it went, back and forth, until Mayor Jefferson Wagner stepped up and virtuously sided with Farrer and Pierson. They were subsequently designated to head the ad hoc committee. 

It will be a challenge whether the committee can complement the county’s inquiry announced by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and come up with a list of lessons learned that the city can implement.  But at least there is the promise that it will not be a steaming pile of excuses, “etc. etc. etc.” mumbled by Mullen.

Now exposed as the minority on council, and his veracity, and Fire Department record, questioned, there is hope in Malibu that Mullen will nobly resign, drop his dubious defense of the city manager, and that a revitalized council will have the votes and the gumption to fire a recalcitrant Reva.  That could nullify the vexing need for a recall. I hope so.

And soon the storms will pass, the sun will shine, new growth will green the now black and brown hills, and it again will be Spring in Malibu, a time of renewal.

Excuse me, but now that I am no longer constrained as I was at KBUU, and am no longer volunteering my 60 plus years of journalistic experience there, however its need, I feel freer on social media to indulge myself. The pay is the same.

MALIBU CITY COUNCIL DISAPPOINTS

Hope for a needed assessment of what went wrong as the Woolsey fire ravaged Malibu, who among the responsible frankly screwed up, turned to skepticism and then sadly disappointment at the last City Council meeting.

The hope was in response to the City Council considering establishing a Disaster Response and Recovery Task Force, to complement a “comprehensive review” of the County’s effort announced by Supervisor Sheila Kuhl.

I presume the Fire and Police departments will participate and possibly also will have their internal review.  But given the brotherhood of first responders, and from my experience as an investigative reporter for The New York Times and having once served on a politically infused federal task force, one has to be wary of a whitewash.  Thus my initial hope was flavored with a scintilla of skepticism.

 Then my skepticism turned to sad disappointment as I listened to unrepentant councilperson and scamming former Mayor Rick Mullen detail the focus of the task force; and then further soured with rising nausea when the Council unanimously anointed him and pusillanimous Skylar Peak to take the lead in forming the task force.

Mullen’s role in particular as a fire captain and Mayor has to be questioned in light of a Page One L.A. Times investigation that revealed him billing taxpayers some $250,000 in overtime in addition to his $150,000 plus salary, an obvious ploy no matter how legal to pad his anticipated pension.

 There is a question that some of those hours Mullen was also acting as mayor, and collecting expenses from the city. He has yet to explain or apologize for his actions, but rather continues preaching as a Malibu councilperson.  Has he no shame?

 No doubt in the wings like a puppet master will be another well compensated public employee, wily City Manager Reva Feldman. Many Malibuites consider her and Emergency Service Manager Susan Duenas culpable in failing to anticipate the fire, the chaos of the mandatory evacuation, not forcefully advocating for more first responders at the height of the fire, and generally crumbling in the aftermath.

 A petition is being circulated calling for their firing or resignations. https://www.change.org/decision-makers/mayor-of-malibu

That this trifecta will in effect presume to direct what ostensibly should include a forensic inquiry of their actions in the Woolsey disaster is a sham. Talk about putting the foxes in the hen house.

The council’s action has drawn much ire, and no matter how excused by a compromised enfeeble local media, there are strong requests that the Council reconsider its action, and indeed there are calls being made for Mullen and Peak to resign or be recalled.  If they do, they could save themselves, and the city, a lot of embarrassment.

Meanwhile, it should be noted, that the Malibu Town Council has launched its own review of the city’s response to the fire, and has requested all city records pertaining to the disaster involving Feldman, Mullen and Duenas.

The fires thankfully have been dampened, but the political aftermath certainly is smoldering.

HAPPY NEW YEAR ..NOT

Not if your house was burnout, want to rebuild, and have to hurdle a steeple chase of insurance ditches, plan check hedges and construction water jumps, and nail down some financing  in a roller coaster economy.

Not if you bore witness to house after house of friends and neighbors burst into flames while firefighters were no where to be found,  or if a few were located a safe distance away lounging by  their idle trucks said to be waiting orders from an unidentified dispatcher in another county. 

Not if your house miraculously actually didn’t burn, but you could not get back to it, to bring water and feed to the chickens or those who stayed, because of road barriers manned by officious law enforcement personnel  (now there is a redundancy) who had shit in their ears and had some vague arbitrary orders to bar all except the media.   

Not if you are concerned about the fire next time, and there is going to be a fire next time, and you have to rely on the confusion of communications from a not-to-be-ever trusted again City Hall of overpaid and underachieving bureaucrats.

And actually not if you happen to be one of those in City Hall blessed by the puppet master city manager, but has been exposed as inept  and now facing the possibility of, heaven forbid, some hard nosed oversight and loss of the cushiony job.

Or not, if you are councilmen Rick Mullen and Skylar Peak. Despite sitting smug and distracted on the dais, smiled upon a dwindling few sycophants, they are the subjects of an angry recall.  Hey guys, you must know you screwed up, big time.

Yes, New Years is normally a traditional time of expressions of hope, statements of fresh resolve, and confidences of better days ahead for ourselves, neighbors, community, country, and the world, to be topped off with a toast.

But not in Malibu, the toast, if there is one, is bitter.  The world and country aside, where incidentally, we are being held hostage and under constant threat by heretical politicians, tragically beyond rationality, some would say crazed, at odds with the environment and humanity.

There is not much else we as emancipated individuals actually can do about that, except have a toast and be sure to vote in what hopefully will be free elections in 2020 and if so inclined, possibly pray, for impeachment, and a return to normalcy.

But we really can do more on the local scene, where our Malibu is still reeling from the worst fire in its history that was sadly exacerbated by failures on all levels of government.

Here we have a petition to oust a recalcitrant Reva, prompt her to resign or be fired, and also shame Rick and Skylar into resigning, or face a recall.  The reality of Malibu today is that only with a change of leadership can reforms truly be instituted, and we can begin mending our city. 

I’d toast that.

ing.  new year has to be better,

No for many it is .

Not not if  live in eastern Malibu and realy northing , but now is oveis the nex because of foliage is the next area to be burned, and gherfe is no landscape plan in to clear the land of pines, palms and eucolyys trees, torches really, becaude of a clueless city hall.

relly, don’t expect too much to change as long as city manager reva fledman and her entourage, are still behind closed doors steerking at the computers , proming the payroll and clacutaing their retirement packages. and spewing out press releases .

not if still on city council are rick mullen and skular peak,  wno ai.led.

 so I fear it not going to happy nrw year. 

Happy New Year?  Normally a traditional time of expressions of hope, statements of fresh resolve, and confidences of better days ahead for ourselves, neighbors, community, country, and the world, topped with a toast.

The toast I fear comes in the face of the world and country under constant threat and held hostage by heretical politicians, tragically beyond rationality, some would say crazed, at odds with the environment and humanity.

There is not much else we as emancipated individuals can do, except have that toast and be sure to vote in hopefully what will be free elections and also, if so inclined, possibly pray, for impeachment, a resignation and a return to normalcy.

 So much for the current state of our country, and no less than the future of democracy, and, in the spirit of the season, good will to all. 

nd hiwm front, fdibgnations  and firing, recall, 

Though a few home grown nihilists would disagree, I feel there is actually more hope being able to effect needed change in our Malibu, though now still reeling from the worst fire in its history that was sadly exacerbated by failures on all levels of government.

, including our City Hall. And this despite their self congratulations

voi es afre loud andcc lear.

ohn and all: there is a pervasive tone deafness , small mindedness running the city and now with the fire we see the result that has unmasked how badly managed Malibu is . We have a feckless government and in some ways it is also corrupt . I mean ask yourself he following question folks : why does one need an expediter to get a building permit ? Isn’t that a sign that payoffs give you advantage and shouldn’t any citizen be able to navigate the permit process themselves effectively ? Doesn’t needing an expeditior favor the very wealthy which leads to huge homes etc ? John probably underands this better than me but it is just a question worth asking and reflecting on in terms of what have we become ? This is not the issue that I am personally most concerned with however . I am concerned with having a safe and tranquil place to live that is managed well and fairly whether one has the time to attend meetings to ensure this or not . In other words a government that has the backs of its citizens . We do not have that today . It’s time for big change. I say recall the city council less Mikke and Karen as they deserve a chance , fire Reva and look at dramatic ways to change the city so it functions properly or reverse cityhood and start from scratch ! Thank you all for listening and for your fair and heart felt comments, yes including Julian ! Regards ,

 i

MALIBU STRONG, SMART ? 12.15.18

Very much on display at the recent City Council meeting was what I would describe as the two cities of Malibu, one angrily testifying with justification what they witnessed in the wildfire of last month, the other vainly absolving itself.

As I comment on radio 99.1 KBUU and select websites, my two city theory is at the core of the mismanaged fire, and more generally at the disappointment and discontent with the city administration and the strident calls for the dismal of the city manager, Reva Feldman, and her top staff.

It is the city manager that in effect acts as a de facto mayor, at the helm of a bureaucratic construct that is the dominant city, its rank and file experiencing their domain in the glare of computer screens, their responsibilities spelt out in bureaucratic babble.

As for our hapless mayor, Rick Mullen, you had to rail at him at the meeting looking bored while oozing insincerity. Whatever he said had to be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism, in light of the LA Times story revealing that he had padded his overtime snoozing away at the fire station to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars last year.  He leaves as mayor this Monday, not soon enough. What an embarrassment.

The other city I would describe as a resident conceit, be they a homeowner or renter, for the most part pleased to be living in arguably one of the world’s most agreeable climates, 21 miles of scenic beauty, not withstanding escalated real estate prices, the bane of the PCH, and frustration with local government.

For most of the last quarter of the century since Malibu was incorporated, the conflict between the two cities has been considered minimal; with residents periodically protesting development with limited success. And if even aware of alleged problems of cronyism and mismanagement, most residents deferred to the city manager form of government. 

As exposed in the fire, there are real problems in the limits of local government, as there are problems in governments everywhere at every level, as skeptics note in defense of their disinterest in any political accountability.

 So much for the concept of home rule and Jeffersonian Democracy. There is a lot of talk in Malibu these days for reforms, but few people appear ready to spend the time necessary to make government work.

However, this might have changed. Listening to residents in the wake of the fires, I believe, the inherent conflict of the two cities has been brought to the front burner, and to a boil, that fateful Friday of November 9th .

It is then when the unchecked fire roared into Malibu, destroying in its capricious path hundreds of homes thought in the past to be safe.

So, while saddened residents are sifting through the ashes of their homes, I contend it’s time for the incoming council to sift through the city’s service contracts with administrators and consultants, as part of a needed review of the debacle.

And hopefully it will do so with the aid of a little Hoover Commission and independent interest groups, such as the L.A. Emergency Preparedness Foundation. Let’s really find out who was responsible, and who was irresponsible, who pretended to serve our city but in harsh reality just served themselves, before we lynch anyone. I hate lynch mobs.