Onward, O’Neill!

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    Malibu’s resistance movement has always been about saving a way of life. It began long ago with successful efforts to stop a growth inducing sewering effort. Next we defeated a planned freeway that would have destroyed beautiful Malibu Canyon. Then there were the fights we won against a developer instigated water system boondoggle, the proposed nuclear plant on an earthquake fault in Coral Canyon and a second sewering attempt. Earlier activists like Remy O’Neill and the Road Worriers defeated all of these growth-inducing impositions. And clearly the motivation for this resistance is not venal. Slow growthers, preservationists, and the sustainability side anticipate no financial gain from working to save what’s special about Malibu.

    When you look at the famous satellite image of Los Angeles, Malibu is the only coastal area that is still fairly natural. Malibu’s slow growth activists are why we still have horses, mules, llamas, spreading oak trees, soaring hawks, bobcats, fragrant sage, free running streams, deer, mountain lions, spring wildflowers, starry night skies, and yes that magnificent four footed rodent muncher our Native American sisters and brothers called God’s dog. While we see evidence all around us that Malibu’s bureaucracies have not fully appreciated these values, we know that the majority who voted for our present City Council members were hoping to save what’s special.

    Isn’t it interesting that until we created our own city, our defenses against unbridled growth never engendered a witch-hunt? Now, don’t get me wrong, Fair election practices and campaign finance controls are essential to the democratic process; but this whole affair seems very strange. If I understand correctly, three people wrote checks amounting to a total of $500 instead of $300. 0n each check two contributors were named, and a required legal phrase was omitted. Even though one legal phrase was omitted on each of three checks, how could that $200 alleged infraction engender months of costly investigation, scandal mongering and brouhaha?

    Why was a Kenneth Starr-style investigation required for such picayune omissions? Why were we left to imagine much more serious violations? Who would think that a citizen informing the electorate regarding campaign issues might end up with as much as $5,000 in fines and 2-1/2 years in jail — over $200 in contributions that were reported as to source, but without the words “through an intermediary?” How much are taxpayers forking over for what must be a costly legal proceeding? And what is the civil rights violating court action against Joanne and Gil Segel costing the taxpayer? Will we ever know? Further, we might ask why the city that quakes at the very thought of developer lawsuits would lay itself open to potential damages awarded from countersuits charging malicious prosecution of its citizens? And why has this sort of action never occurred in past elections where irregularities were observed?

    In all the years I have known Remy O’Neill, I have observed that integrity is her hallmark, and persistence in the face of challenge is her way of life. “When we get lemons, we make lemonade,” is the quote that best describes the Remy way. Those who now gleefully glory in Malibu’s prosecution of Remy O’Neill and the Road Worriers, imagining that slow growth proponents will be discouraged from further advocacy are baying at the moon.

    Howard Steinman