WHAT I TOLD THE MALIBU CONSULTANTS


In its information gathering efforts, Management Partners, the firm retained by Malibu to evaluate the responses to the Woolsey Fire by city manager Reva Feldman and the city government, asked that the interviews be confidential. 

While acceding to the request concerning THEIR comments, I nevertheless replied that in the interest of transparency in public matters I felt free to reveal MY comments made in my extended interview.

As to the question that Management Partners having a conflict of interest as reported in The Local, employing as it does former city managers and underwriting their professional association in which city manager Feldman is active: I felt as an experienced journalist I would take the firm as its face value, and judge its effort by the anticipated report and recommendations.

Meanwhile, as I write in The Local and other select websites, there were no surprises in the interview, because actually the questions asked had been raised and answered in my commentaries since the disastrous fire of six months ago that remains a haunting memory for many.

Concerning history, I noted before the fire the city had been repeatedly urged by myself in print and others that emergency precautions be instituted in the wake of the deadly fires elsewhere in the State and the continuing hazardous conditions. But little was done, by a blithe, neophyte city manager harboring a defensive bunker mentality, which unfortunately persists.

Then when the fire roared into Malibu, the city not surprisingly proved woefully inept; its mandatory evacuation was a near disaster; it failed to advocate for the city in the county’s chain of command, and egregiously shut down its Emergency Control Center for 16 critical hours in the heat of the disaster.  It also impeded and speciously reprimanded residents who stayed to fight the fire.

I repeated my opinion in the interview that at her bloated salary Feldman was not being paid to make excuses, and then further to not apologize for the city’s blatant failures, while incredulously publicly praising herself and staff.

I added that her fumbling has continued in the Woolsey aftermath; that the Rebuild effort is a muddle; that in its critical launch period she went to Paris on vacation, only to return to contrive for herself a dubious award as city manager of the year, and then request a raise. That’s chutzpah.

In concluding the interview, I was asked what three recommendations I would make to improve the city’s governance in the wake of the fire and in anticipation of the next disaster.

I answered that the first would be the restructuring of city government to create councilmanic districts to improve communications, encourage civic involvement and organize emergency services.

 Second, I would reboot the city’s bureaucracy, to be more responsive to residents and efficient, scrutinize its consultant contracts, and consider establishing an oversight process and hiring an ombudsmen.

But I added that the city politic was depressed by the fire, divided and demographically skewed, and that it only would begin to heal itself when Reva Feldman resigned or was fired. That was my third recommendation.

I know that is a tough call, but there is cause, and let’s face it, the Woolsey fire disaster demands it, and no less than the future of Malibu depends on it.

5.2.19

BEYOND THE PCH: DANCE

Contemporary Dance continues to top my cultural check list as a theatrical experience, combining as it does music, movement and drama, using the stage as a tableau to make an audience feel alive.

It has been a particular pleasure of mine ever since witnessing its emergence from formal classical ballet, to exploratory modern, to the more expressive contemporary, first as a wide  eyed teenager at New York City’s performing arts high schools and one dollar a seat concerts, a long, long time ago, later as a guest at Jacob’s Pillow, the renown center for dance in rural Massachusetts, and wherever my travels have taken me.

.And now in L.A. , where dance has been emerging in recent years as a prime cultural attraction, to be enjoyed downtown at the Music Center, in Westwood, at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, and  most recently at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the Cal State east L.A. campus, with an offshoot in the city’s arts district  which is finally living up to its name.

Any list of a place in L.A. to experience dance also must include  the Heidi Duckler Company that performs, indeed celebrates, dance in non-traditional settings, be it vacant lots, laundromats, gas stations and who knows where next.

But most engaging for me recently this has been a most diverse schedule of dance performances at the very accessible Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.

As readers of my cultural commentaries in The Local and other select websites in Malibu and beyond might have noted, in the first few months of this year I have attended several performances at the Wallis.

These have included the very edgy dance company Ate9, under the artistic director and choreographer Danielle Agami.  Always presenting the unexpected, the program featured live vocals of Spanish indie pop singer Lourdes Hernandez, also known as Russian Red, and in another piece percussionist Glenn Kotche playing on stage, while the dancers performed.

Then a month ago was a rare U.S. performance of Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company, “malpaso” in English meaning misstep, which is what the company was labeled when it broke away from the originally state sponsored theater.

But the company has persevered to become renown, blending as it does a variety of modern dance styles, featured a repertoire of favored old and challenging new.  Of particular delight for me their performance of Fielding Sixes by the late, great choreographer Merce Cummingham.

Upcoming next weekend, May 10th and 11th, appearing will be the ever challenging Jacob Jonas Dance Company, which has been in-residence at the Wallis.

Known for its distinctive mix of contemporary ballet, breakdance and acrobatic movement, the company’s final appearance  features the premiere of “There’s Been a Study,” directed and choreographed by Jonas to an original score by rock vocalist and pianist Nicole Miglisa piece.

Adding a most definitely political dimension to its program, the Jonas Company also will perform “To the Dollar,” described as a physical representation of a speech about equal pay for women by Presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren.  This I have to see, and no less in decidedly affluent Beverly Hills.  It should be memorable.

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.

BEYOND THE PCH: THE LACMA CALAMITY

A calamity perhaps is the word to describe the design process our Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been suffering for the last half dozen years, and let me stress that is “our” taxpayer supported museum.

A catastrophe certainly will be the word to describe the museum if the $600 million plus design becomes as feared the nightmare construct and a failed Southern California conceit, orchestrated by a self aggrandizing art crowd.

Putting on my battered hat as the former architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, and several other professional publications, I join the chorus of critics and tax payers to urge the County Board of Supervisors to stop feeding funds to what will be by the time it is built a one billion dollar mistake. That total includes the private donations by art patrons that could have gone elsewhere.

The Board including that usual clear headed Sheila Kuehl who represents my Malibu is poised to release $117.5 million for the calamity, having to date been wined and dined, and their egos massaged, by wily museum director Michael Govan. Talk about an edifice complex of a star struck arts administrator, and of what is ostensibly a public institution.

Meanwhile, the clearly over-whelmed Govan and over-his-head architect, Switzerland-based Peter Zumthor, have been putzing around with the design for what seems like dog years, the latest study inexplicably reducing the proposed gallery space, when obviously needed is more to house the collection. Less in this case is less.

It appears the design process has been a cozy, closed closet exercise, involving numerous commutes between Zurich and Los Angeles. Not bad when you are punching the clock at a non profit sinecure, but sad when considering those funds could be used for arts education in our culturally starved public schools.

And talk about being environmentally insensitive, it is hard to rationalize the demolition of the nearly half a million square feet of the existing landmark museum, and the chaos of the years of construction

As for the proposed design, it is no longer colored black as the muck in the adjacent tar pits, but it is still a biomorphic blob sprawling across Wilshire Boulevard. The galleries might be one floor, as Govan wanted, but the structure is ugly and awkward.

Time for the County Supervisors to bring this farce of a design process to a screeching halt.

4,4.19

DANCE ABOUNDS

Whether it is just the warm and welcoming seasonal weather  coming this year after a hard Winter of wildfires and floods, or whether it is just the coincidental whims of select cultural venues. Whatever it might be, the joys of dance are happily being celebrated this Spring across Southern California.

At the relatively accessible Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills last weekend, on stage in a rare performance was Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company. (BTW, the company was labeled that when it broke away from the originally state sponsored theater, malpaso in English meaning misstep.

But the company has persevered to become renown , blending as it does a variety of modern dance styles, featured was a program of the favored old and challenging new. 

Yes, old but for me ever new 30 years since it exploded on  a New York  stage was the Cuban rendition of Merce Cunningham’s Fielding Sixes, adapted here for eight agile dancers.  Also on the program were three more recent pieces, and though interesting, just did not excite as did the Cunningham restaging.

Perhaps  it was nostalgia, in anticipation also of this weekend’s offering at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Music Center downtown L.A.  Wednesday thru Sunday by the venerable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

For sixty years the much honored dance company has been mesmerizing audiences with fresh interpretations of modern dance techniques.  And I am pleased to note that the nightly differing programs all will feature the acclaimed masterpiece Revelations, a personal favorite.

For those who are really turned on by dance, for an admission price of $75  there will be what promises to be an unforgettable party  after Friday’s performance, to meet and mingle with some of the Alvin Alley performers. Light fare will be served on the fifth floor. where, who knows, you just might be tempted to try out some of your moves.

In the same spirit, but free, at the Wallis’s outdoor Promenade Terrace, being offered every second Sunday afternoon of the month, beginning next Sunday, the 14th, will be an interactive studio conducted by the dancer Debbie Allen and Friends.  Yes,that’s free.  Thank you Wallis

Each studio will feature a different dance step, beginning with Flamenco in April, Voguing in May and Salsa in June.  By the way, Voguing is a stylized dance originating from the black and Latino LGBT community of New York City. All ages and levels are invited. Just make sure you’re wearing the right shoes.

Also upcoming this Spring. is the Los Angeles Dance Festival, at the  Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the Cal State east L.A. campus., next weekend, April 12 thru 14. That is for the main stage performances of a variety of dancers and companies. Checkout the program on the website, luckmanarts.org

 For what promises to be a little more edgy are the offerings April 26th to 28th at the festival’s Fringe, at the Diavolo Studio Black Box, in the downtown’s Arts District, 616 Moulton Avenue. If you love dance, you have to love these diverse venues, however a challenge it might be getting to them.


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

REVIEW OF CITY MANAGER POSTPONED

The latest: The City Council in a closed session DECLINED to act on the review of Reva’s performance, and have put off the item until April 8th. This has to be encouraging to the many who feel the over paid and under achieving Reva has been derelict in her duties as City Manager, and has been scamming the city. These had been my prepared remarks I submitted to the council prior to its closed session:

“One has to wonder what it will take for Malibu to come to the sad awakening that it has been poorly served by its city manager who presumably was sworn to protect us?

The question before us now is Whether the failures of Reva Feldman can be forgiven by this City Council, and a status quo conscious citizenry; failures that include the city’s lack of preparedness for the fire, its mishandling of the mandatory evacuation, and its witless disregard of the besieged residents in the aftermath of the fire.

These debacles and their disastrous consequences can be laid at the feet of Feldman, who actually at first had the temerity of praising herself for her efforts during the fire, and conspiring with then Mayor Rick Mullen to blandly attempt to try to deceive the public.

But when she was exposed as actually abandoning City Hall and the Emergency Operations Center there during the 16 hours when the fire was ravaging western Malibu and Point Dune, she pleaded she was just following the mandatory evacuation and had no authority over the response of the Fire and Sheriff’s departments.

Cited were state laws and codes concerning a declared state of emergency that limit the authority of a city manager and all local government officials. But whatever regulations there are, in the immediacy of a disaster local governments are not excluded from the manifest chain of command, indeed are a much needed link in the communications that flows up and down the chain in combating the fires.

The harsh fact is that during the critical hours of the fire Feldman failed the city; wasn’t even a self described “messenger” for which she incidentally is obscenely paid $300,000 a year, despite her lack of proven supervisory experience.

She was challenged by the fire, and was found wanting.

As for the appeals not to be divisive, and the contention that Feldman as the city manager is vital to the rebuild effort, that is simply answered by her going on a Paris vacation at a parlous time.

She is really superfluous, and thank goodness there are staff beyond her entourage known to be competent, if not dispirited by her closed door, closed mouth mismanagement. If this was the private sector, she would have been shown the door long ago.

Of course, if the council listens to the anguish of its constituencies, it could vote to remove her, now. She could also resign, and save the city a lot of angst, and herself further embarrassment.”

BURNTOUTS PONDER FUTURE

It’s been four months since the Woolsey Fire, but for many of the burntout victims no doubt it seems like four or more years, as they grapple with whether to give it all up to the devil and move elsewhere, or rebuild with the intention of selling, or eventually moving back.

As I write in thelocalmalibu.com, these are hard choices for persons who profess their love of Malibu as a seaside rural village with a distinct sense of place and community, for when ultimately deciding what to do they also must consider their age, finances and fleeting feelings of an evolving city.

 It should be noted that almost all encountered were long term residents of western Malibu and Point Dume, and the streets there of more modest homes of mostly nuclear families; that is when compared to the up scale beach streets with a more transient and less neighborly population. Those garage fronts and gates are uninviting,.

 It was the relatively more modest streets and canyons that were hit hardest by the fire, and that has raised concerns that if many of its residents don’t return, how Malibu will change over the coming years after the rebuild?

The question I proposed was, will there be a hollowing out of Malibu, from a community of more congenial households with a local history to a more anonymous tourist town and trophy luxury houses for the off-putting, wary one percenters, people who can afford the costlier rebuilds.

Those informally questioned were frankly hesitant to reveal their plans, because they truly hadn’t decided yet, or had nagging concerns about insurance, the Rebuild process, escalating construction costs and the time all would take.  Seniors were most concerned.

               There was nothing particularly revealing in the city’s update of the fire damage, which reported the residential structures destroyed totaled 488. There also were 100 residential structures damaged, and 222 “other” structures destroyed or damaged, including mobile or motor homes.

This brought a estimate of “residences” affected by the fire to about 600, out of the city’s 5,500 households, according to City Hall. Realtors and others have further estimated that about a quarter of the total households are mostly second homes and a lesser number of short term rentals.

If as assumed by the census there are 2.32 persons per household, putting his the total directly affected by the fire at a roughly 2,000 persons, a substantial quarter of Malibu’s permanent population, estimated at 8,000 of the  posted population of 13,000.

As for the arbitrary few burntout victims cornered, almost all, without prompting, expressed palpable anger how the city and first responders had failed them, and how this has exacerbated concerns over the future of the city.

They noted with varying emphasis and anguished adverbs the pathetic preparations, the woeful frustrating mandatory evacuation, and, most of all, the apparent botched deployment of fire fighters and equipment. If they blamed anyone, it was City Manager Reva Feldman, further reviled for being self-aggrandizing.

Yes, this was a repeat of what was voiced at the several forums in the wake of the fire, but for victims and others who witnessed and felt the heat of the catastrophe, it is something that will probably haunt them for a long time.

 It certainly haunts me, and I am obliged to repeat it, less we forget who failed us, and who might fail us again in the future fires, sure to come, to a changed Malibu, sure to be.

3.13.19

MALIBU’S FOLLIES, CONTINUED


So, the attorney for the over reaching Malibu Beach Inn has threatened to sue the city if it does not approve a public-be-damned proposal calling for a traffic light on PCH so the high end hostelry can accommodate quest parking off site and a private swimming pool.

Such brazen threats by attorneys in the past have been known to intimidate Malibu’s City Hall, which too often has tended when browbeaten to yield on planning issues, especially when confronted by resourceful applicants.

That is except when generous attorney fees could be charged to the city to hire help for its in house legal efforts, though given the city’s poor record in the courts raises questions whether the expenditures were worth it.  Well, rumor is that city attorney Christi Hogin is going to retire soon, anyway, as I comment in my city observed, here and in TheLocal.com and select websites.

Meanwhile, to its credit an emboldened Planning Commission at its last meeting rejected the Beach Inn’s proposal that unquestionably would make worse the tortured traffic on PCH, what with valets and guests darting back and forth, and a another light only a few steps away.

 The proposal now goes back to staff to putz around with, and may come back to the Commission and possibly City Council, accompanied no doubt by echoing threats to sue. By the way, threats are cheap; law suits expensive.

The Commission’s rejection came despite the recommended approval of the Inn’s proposal by the city’s Nit picking Parking and Zoning Police Department, which operates under the nom de plume of the Planning Department, and the twitchy thumb of director Bonnie Blue and the heavy hand of city (Mis)Manager Reva Feldman.

Not incidentally, the well compensated nodding doll duo no doubt is impressed by the PR enhanced Malibu money and celebrity crowd, to be sure as others are, which does frankly make living and working here perhaps more lively, if not pricey. It also exposes the municipal mismanagemernt.

With the unctuous Reva unquestionably taking the lead, the duo have the arrows in their City Hall quivers to be able to accommodate however surreptitiously the local deep pocket real estate rabble, which has been known to pick up an occasional check at the local overpriced eateries. These include the Inn which yearns to be a second choice for the over flow high spenders at its overpriced celebrity spangled neighbor Nobu.

Reva certainly is known to like her perks, milking her Malibu identity, and traveling often on city business, as she did recently to pick up an reward as City Manager of the Year, from an association of peers, which she is coincidentally an officer, and for which the city picks up the tabs.

 Whatever the association’s criterion is for the award, it haughtily refused to discuss them with Paul Taublieb, a contributor to The Local whose journalistic experience includes a few Emmy Awards. This can unnerve despotic bureaucrats who are used to bull shitting underpaid and untutored journalists on compromised community media outlets.

Though perhaps we really don’t want to know how she wrangled the award, for Reva has been shown to be wily, as evidenced by her $300,000 plus annual salary and benefits she receives from Malibu.

 And this after just a few years of administrative experience and no pertinent graduate degrees, having been previously a behind–the-door bean counter for nearly a decade, though obviously knowing where, and how, the bodies are buried in bureaucracies. Being also able to pad her payroll with faithful lackeys and tap outside consultants, obviously helped her public image, at least enough to impress Malibu’s neophyte councils.

Exercising as it does scant oversight, past councils of mostly undiscerning half-baked politicians over the years have tended to be fond of handing out generous consultant contracts, in return reportedly of being glad handed and validated off campus. And what hints of administrative abuses may have been uncovered, they were ignored, consistent with the cult of amiability that pervades local politics.  

Hey, Jake, Malibu may not be Chinatown, but being a mythic and more-than-well off desirable seaside village with the reputation of having a mostly distracted, self-satisfied citizenry, it is well suited for burrowing bureaucrats in search of sinecures. Where else can an inexperienced city manager earn more than the governor of a State with the 5th largest economy in the world.