Letter: Small Margins, Big Impacts

Letter to the Editor

Small margins,

big impacts

Critical as it might be to the future of Malibu as a livable community, the launching of the local election with the official listing of the candidates this past week had to be doubtless subordinate to the Democratic National Convention television bonanza, at least among the politically attentive.

Pitting the energized candidacy of Biden and Harris that emerged from the compelling four-day virtual convention to challenge President Trump, the national election has been described as no less than a battle for the soul of the nation, beset in a pandemic and a depression, and further plagued by climate change, systemic discrimination and social unrest.  

Momentous as that battle for votes will be, there is real concern by involved residents here in Malibu that the local election for three seats on the city council would be, at best, an afterthought, attached to the end of the ballot like a disposable lizard’s tail. Having a confusion of ballot measures doesn’t help.

What happens nationally is by far manifestly paramount. I do believe our future as no less than a democracy is at stake, and will cast my vote knowing that in the general presidential election it will have the weight of a grain of sand, even less in the very blue and true California. Such is the curse of an antiquated electoral college. 

But locally in municipalities such as Malibu where elections have been decided by small margins, a single vote can make a difference. And with eight candidates running individually for the three seats here, we can expect the vote to be scattered and further thinned.

Adding to this election stew, of course, is COVID-19, the pandemic that has eliminated coffee klatches, open forums and door-to-door campaigning where one could have gotten to see and hear the candidates. We are left with the limited local and social media, and the advertisements of those who can afford them. Then there is always the hearsay and gossip.

Voters are just going to have to be very discerning, and that includes filtering the online commentary of local pundits, such as myself. I do appreciate the feedback and take earnestly the queries of my views of the upcoming election, drawing upon my long maverick media experience.

Despite appeals of late to be less stringent in my criticism of local governance, and those who are scamming the system, I think it more important than ever to be forthright, to tell it the way it is and how we can possibly take back our Malibu.

And that is what I intend to do, so much for Malibu’s cult of amiability. To echo the now popular adage for this election, it is what it is. 

With that, I launch my election perspective, by declaring that in my view there are really just seven candidates for City Council. The eighth is incumbent Rick Mullen, who I feel forfeited his legitimacy when as mayor of Malibu was exposed in a front page L.A. Times story legally scamming L.A. County for a $400,000 plus annual salary, ostensibly to pad his projected pension as a fire captain, reportedly sleeping on his job a few miles from his home in Ramirez Canyon. 

And this while the Fire Department has been claiming its lack of funds for new hires was one of the many reasons for its poor response to the Woolsey disaster that ravaged Malibu. As a footnote, another reason I feel is that Mullen as then mayor and city manager Reva Feldman just did not advocate more forcefully and effectively for Malibu during the disaster. Reason enough for their castigation.

Meanwhile, Mullen’s failure as a public servant and elected official to at least apologize for his greed is a nagging embarrassment to the city, as he is an embarrassment to himself by his long winded muddled performances on the Council, the latest exposing his Trumper tendencies being the lone vote against making masks publicly mandatory. His decision to run for reelection is shameless. Cross him off your ballot. 

Malibu deserves better. As for the remaining seven aspirants, keep tuned.

Sam Hall Kaplan