The reasoned proposal for “transparency, affordability and ethics” in Malibu City Hall sadly was dead on arrival, no thanks to City Manager Reva Feldman and a willfully ignorant city council majority.
Whether it was done spitefully to slap down the prickly persistence of its proponents, the two top voted councilmen Bruce Silverstein and Steve Uhring, or to stealthily sabotage the call for a needed investigation of City Hall, the effect was to sink the hope of needed reform further into the muck of Malibu.
The late night actions of the toady majority trio to wrench the proposal from its conscientious sponsors and refer it to the inactive Ad Hoc Policy Review Committee, peopled by counterfeit councilpersons Karen Farrer and Paul Grisanti, had all the markings of manipulative Feldman.
But more than just a bald maneuver reminiscent of high school politics, it hinted that the grousing, defamatory demand letter slapped on the city on behalf of Feldman, complaining of harassment and requesting to be bought out for big bucks, just might be a sham to paint herself as a victim and Silverstein a villain.
And that by also professing her love for the job and Malibu, she is cunningly soliciting an appeal to remain as city manager, perhaps at an even higher salary than the present $300,000 in pay and benefits, more than most mayors of major cities, and most importantly, no investigation of her questioned practices.
Feldman may not have had the credentials as a planner or a senior civil servant needed for her job, but despite her mismanagement certainly has had the political smarts to play the puppet master to a credulous council majority.
As for the warning Feldman might sue the city if she resigns or is fired, I doubt she would dare. Besides marking her as a management malcontent in the municipal job market, it would open her up to the two way legal street of discovery, which could backfire, given the legal acumen of her local antagonists and the debility of her dithering defenders.
And all this while she is orchestrating a fawning following and an undiscerning local media in shaming the assiduous Silverstein who may be an exemplary lawyer that Malibu desperately needs on Council, but is thankfully not an unctuous politician.
That unfortunately for Malibu has to be the two ad hoc committee appointees, Farrer and Grisanti.
After ridding into office on the strength of her many years as a respected volunteer in the local schools, in just two short years on council she has unwittingly exposed herself as a dupe for Feldman.
Whatever, she has sadly lost the respect of many and most unfortunately has undermined community confidence in a separate Malibu school district with which she is identified.
As for Grisanti, it is not without wrath he has been appointed to a committee reviewing ethics, having once been found guilty in court of violating his fiduciary responsibility as a realtor swindling an elderly homeowner of the full value of her Malibu condo.
Though several decades ago, it is nevertheless a telling lack of character, which though known by a few in Malibu, perhaps if publicized could very well have affected his third place finish in the past election.
Well, there is always the next election.
Sam Hall Kaplan