We are still in the process of trying to create our own school district here in Malibu. Tomorrow night, Wed., April 14, the City of Malibu has scheduled an informational Zoom meeting about the status of the negotiations between us and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, who really don’t mind us leaving, provided we leave a vast amount of money behind, payable over the next 50 years. As I’ve said before, this battle is really all about the alimony. On Saturday, April 17, the LA County Office of Education, Committee on School District Reorganization will hold a preliminary hearing on the district separation (which, in strange bureaucratic parlance, they call a unification), which will begin the process of separation and, if so, the terms and conditions on which it will happen, provided they agree it should happen. But there is an interesting new twist to the battle. We in Malibu are not the only ones unhappy with the school board. There appears to be a significant group of Santa Monica parents (how many we don’t know yet) who are even more unhappy with the school board than we are. They, along with some Malibuites, are circulating a “notice of intent to circulate recall petitions” asking for the recall of four members of the school board—Laurie Lieberman, Maria Leon-Vasquez, Jon Kean and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein—citing “serious malfeasance.” All are long-serving board members—long enough to have made friends and also picked up a whole bunch of enemies. Needless to say, they’ve all denied the charges of malfeasance and corruption (sounds familiar) but there is an interesting political twist on all this. Assuming they get all the necessary signatures to get it on the ballot, Malibu, which in the past has only been a bit player in school board elections (because we have less than 20 percent of the voters), suddenly may assume much more importance. If Malibu block votes to recall the school board four, that becomes a significant chunk of voters and recall becomes much more of a possibility. For the first time, we may have a little political leverage in the negotiations, leverage that we have never had before. I understand the school district has already made some sort of counteroffer, which I’ve been told doesn’t offer much, but it’s a start. We need you all to attend the county Zoom meeting on Saturday, April 17, at 9:30 a.m. and sign up to speak. It’s important they know the Malibu community is behind separation and we want our own school district.
Slowly, Malibu is beginning to reopen. Citizens are beginning to come out into the open and almost assuming a normal life. Tourists, many driving very expensive sports cars, are showing up on weekends, and then later in the day bragging to us about how fast their cars can accelerate, by putting metal to the floor. Restaurants are drawing diners both inside and outside and seem to be making a good faith attempt to limit capacity. There are still going to be flareups and pockets of COVID, and perhaps some variations of the virus yet to come. California has done very well, by some statistics the best in the nation, yet there are still risks. The problem is, we are all tired of being shut in and are ready to move ahead. Personally, I found getting our shots was very liberating, but after the entire population gets their shots there are still going to be cases. An entire group of people are skeptical of the safety and efficacy of the shots. Another group just doesn’t believe in vaccines for whatever the reason or think the entire thing has been overhyped. In time, the safety skeptics will see more and more getting the shots without problems and may change their minds. The anti vaxxers I doubt will ever change. But, thankfully, the end appears to be in sight, and as long as the hospitalizations stay at a manageable level and deaths at an acceptable level, this crisis will end. I know it’s difficult to say there is such a thing as an acceptable level of deaths, but the military makes that kind of evaluation all the time and I think the same applies in the public health pandemic context. Besides, as every elected official knows, America is tired of this and seems more willing to take bigger risks; whether that’s right or wrong, only time will tell.
There is a growing, disquieting trend in protest going on these days. The rule seems to be there are no rules and protesters are showing up at the homes of public officials, saying and doing all sorts of nasty stuff, and scaring the hell out of their families. This doesn’t seem to be unique to either the right or the left. Both sides appear to believe the ends justify the means. The only way to handle this is to prosecute serious violations. I personally believe that everyone who was inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6 should go to jail and some for serious time. But the same applies to protests that turn into riots, although that’s a much tougher call. The looters are easy. The tougher call is when the police order a dispersal of a crowd in a legitimate public protest. I remember an anti-Vietnam War riot, outside the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. While President Lyndon Johnson was speaking in the hotel, there was a long line of peaceful protesters walking down Century Boulevard, including many women, children and elderly people. Some protesters sat down in front of the hotel; the LAPD seriously overreacted, declared an unlawful assembly and started pushing the crowd. It was total bedlam. Many people couldn’t hear the police order to disperse. The police line moved forward and people were trapped and had no place to go and many were trampled by a panicking crowd and charging police. It was far from LA’s finest moment. We certainly don’t need a repeat of that.