If you live, and care about Point Dume as a community, and Malibu, as a city, if not just your property values, you have to be sensitive to the overt politics swirling in and above a confused City Hall.
I am, and so I said in my weekly commentary, on radiomalibu.net and 97.5 KBU. (also can be read on cityobserved.com)
The latest municipal machination has to be the surreptitious announcement late last Friday – not incidentally the preferred time for controversial press release – of the hiring of Chris Deleau as the city’s planning manager.
There was little question that the amiable Bonnie Blue was not up to the job in which she had been recently appointed; indeed was a deer in the headlights during the recent city conflagrations, as has been most of the skittish city staff.
But DeLeau for all his affability and, yes, planning experience, is a primarily a private sector lobbyist and a most questionable choice, coming as he does from the consultant firm of Schmitz and Associates.
Talk about a wolf being invited into the hen house.
The firm and its indefatigable director Don Schmitz has been very much a presence in Malibu, seen at almost every meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission, as well on the fringes of several task forces, ever ready with a quip and comment.
Principal among those he represents has been the sprawling La Paz development, which was one of the projects that prompted Measure R.
Very much also a presence acting as Schmitz’s gofer and echo through the protracted planning process has been DeLeau.
Recuse himself as he may, Deleau sitting behind a dominant desk at City Hall has to send a powerful message to staff as well as to the public.
In my opinion as a experienced planner and journalist, what we have with this appointment is nothing less than the politicalization of City Hall.
I was willing to give the city the benefit of the doubt over its mishandling of a confusing Measure R, which I fear will not be the best matrix to judge a large development, especially if well packaged as Whole Foods promises to be.
But then there was the pathetic abdication of the city council and city staff of its planning prerogatives to the slick consultants of developers; that is what triggered the last minute effort to save the hallowed trees at PCH and Cross roads.
Yes, they were saved, but a lot of aggravation would have been avoided if the city was doing its job.
Then there was the staff fumbling and the council’s feeble-minded embrace of the fabricated traffic studies, and once again showing little initiative.
There also is a history of the staff not responding to resident queries, and the council quick to denigrate anyone challenging their questionable judgment.
And now this appointment. Several weeks ago this commentary was taken to task for describing the city council as timorous. The phrase I would now use is inept.
Time for a recall?