Last fall, many questioned why our city was allowing our city attorney, Christi Hogin, to handle the negotiations for the now defunction Measure M (the Malibu Bay Company Development Agreement) instead of utilizing outside, experienced land use legal experts. Mayor Kearsley and the council justified the city attorney’s involvement (and lack of outside expert involvement) by stating that she had a “special relationship” with Richard Volpert, the Malibu Bay Company attorney.
Recently local activist (and pro Measure M support) Lloyd ahern requested that our City Council hire an outside election monitor to educate candidates and their committees on campaign legal requirements. Not a bad suggestion, especially considering that Mr. Ahern was just fined for violating campaign law in a recent election that involved a relative.
So our council and city attorney took Mr. Ahern’s suggestion to heart and recommended that our city hire (and pay) an outside firm to supervise the upcoming April council election (where two incumbents, Mr. Jenning and Mr. Kearsley, are up for reelection). The irony is that it turns out the outside counsel is a former classmate of Mr. Jennings and that the outside firm also employs Richard Volpert’s daughter, the same Richard Volpert from the Malibu Bay Company.
It may all be coincidence but it does prove that in this very small world with only “six degrees of separation” between everyone, great care needs to be taken to avoid conflict of interest and to ensure full disclosure (by our council and attorney) and not the local paper that dug out all the facts. How do we avoid this in the future? By electing new people to our City Council with the mandate to avoid any actions of inproprietary or conflict. It’s time to start fresh again.