Sherman Baylin, the owner of Sherman’s Place, a longtime supporter and campaign worker for Walt Keller and Carolyn Van Horn, and a 20-year friend of Van Horn, resigned last week as a Mobilehome Park Rent Stabilization Commissioner. Baylin set off fireworks with the resignation letter she sent to the council, exposing some fissures between councilmembers who had been allies.
In that resignation letter (see full text in Letters to the Editor, A-4), Baylin alleges Van Horn told her that Van Horn had reported her to Malibu’s interim city attorney for possible conflict of interest because Baylin’s mother now rents a coach in the Point Dume Mobilehome Park. Baylin states she was “startled” by that because, several days before, she had told Van Horn she couldn’t support Van Horn or Keller’s bid for re-election because she didn’t think they could win. She also told Van Horn she was committed to the term-limits ballot initiative drafted by councilman Tom Hasse and she had already agreed to head up the citizens’ committee in support of the initiative, an initiative Van Horn has publicly opposed.
In her reply letter to Baylin (see Letters to the Editor), Van Horn says she hoped she would reconsider; however, she denies there was ever any conversation about re-election support. Van Horn says in her letter, “At no time, Sherman, was anything said regarding your supporting or not supporting me in re-election, it never came up!” Van Horn reiterated this position in a telephone interview with The Malibu Times.
Baylin reaffirmed she and Van Horn talked about the race and that she told Van Horn she was concerned because she had not heard a lot of positive things about Van Horn’s chances in the election. Baylin said, “If she calls me a liar, it’s OK,” adding, “I guess I’m going to be called ‘Benedict Baylin’ now.”
Baylin expressed, more in sadness than in anger, “No one talks to anyone anymore. Do we want a City Council that doesn’t speak to each other? It’s so hurtful that no one is talking. They’ve been around too long.”
That sentiment was echoed by Hasse, also formerly a close ally and supporter of Van Horn and Keller. Lately, however, there have been obvious differences between Hasse and Keller and between Hasse and Van Horn, principally over policy issues but also frequently with an obviously personal edge. Hasse stated Van Horn never called him about Baylin, who is Hasse’s appointment. “Are we going to play ‘gotcha’ with each others’ appointments?” he said. He indicated he believed Van Horn was angry at him for his opposition to the negotiations concerning the Point Dume Headlands and Bluffs Park she and Keller had conducted with Rusty Areias, director of State Parks. In fact, Hasse indicated he was not notified of a couple of the meetings with Areias that were set when he was on vacation.
Van Horn, for her part, was equally as suspicious of Hasse. When asked why she thought Baylin wrote the letter, she responded, “Baylin signed the letter” but gave an emphatic “No comment” about whom she thought might actually have written it.
Hasse said he believed part of the problem was, “Some people have the attitude that, ‘We supported you, and you must do what we tell you.'” Hasse said, “I don’t take orders from anybody.”
Hasse also said he believes the city has changed. “This is not the city of 1990 or 1992. The demographics have changed. There is an influx of kids. We need facilities. Other cities have them. Open space and sports fields are not mutually exclusive …. New ideas and new people are being blocked by incumbency because it’s difficult to beat an incumbent.”
Hasse added, “We have to stop this politics of personal destruction. Why else would this [the alleged conflict of interest charge] come up only after Baylin told Van Horn that she thought Van Horn would have a tough time getting re-elected?”
Keller also sent a reply letter to Baylin (see letters) in which he distanced himself from the entire controversy. Keller writes he was frequently in Baylin’s store and added, “Surely you know I would not have sent Mayor Van Horn to talk to you for me.”