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What’s in a name

In a letter sent last week to a local paper, Mary Grady made many false statements about a farewell gathering held for our departing city attorney. In an attempt to clear up Ms. Grady’s representations, I tried to reach her by phone, but she was not listed. Then I checked the voter registration and made inquiries, but I could find no instance of Ms. Grady being involved in the community of Malibu, not on committees, commissions, charities, etc. However, Ms. Grady described events and people as if she was a longtime political activist and as if she had really attended Hogin’s “retirement” party. The inaccuracy of her account suggests she did not.

I believe it is important to set the record straight regarding the outlandish inaccuracies in her letter. First, she characterized the gathering as being “a den of iniquity” attended by “a pro-development goon squad.” Yet at the gathering were many veterans of the “slow growth and pro-cityhood” movement as well as environmental activists, representatives of homeowner’s groups, and dedicated community volunteers. Among them was Les Moss, Fay Singer, Georgianna McBurney, Ruth White, Mona Loo, Oscar Mondragon, Pat Greenwood, Mary Frampton and I’m sure others who don’t fit the picture of “Malibu’s pro-development mob.” (Will these attendees now be added to Ms. Grady’s hit list?) I believe that all who came, did so for the same reason I did — to pay sincere respect to someone who served our city for nine years with integrity and intelligence. Second, the gathering was planned by Ms. Hogin’s colleagues at City Hall, not by Councilman Barovsky or myself as Grady stated, “House and Barovsky issued a royal proclamation relieving all city staff members from their jobs on Friday …. the guest list was a who’s who of Malibu’s pro-development mob.”

As to other Grady inaccuracies — she reported a “pinata whacking,” when in fact, there was no pinata at the gathering much less any whacking. In fact, many of those present described by Grady as a “perpetually angry crowd” actually shed a few tears while individuals from the community shared words of somber appreciation and praise. And Christi Hogin had to admit that it was almost (but not impossible) to make a “maudlin Irish girl like me cry.”

As to the assertion that Harry Barovsky and I are against slow growth, let me offer as one example, our votes on the Adamson Hotel as evidence to refute. I was the only member on council who voted against the 150-room Adamson Hotel against the Keller, Van Horn, Harlow and Jennings majority. (I have this meeting on video.) I agreed with then-Planning Commissioners Barovsky and Hasse that a smaller, residential-sized hotel was more appropriate with a maximum of 106 rooms.

This is not the first letter with ugly personal invective and deliberate mistruth. Why the name calling and personal attacks on dedicated environmentalist Mary Frampton, or on local charity and political activist Sharon Barovsky, or Beverly Taki, David Kagon, Marilyn Santman, etc. — all active, conscientious community participants who may not agree with each other, but who choose discourse over childish name calling and misrepresentations?

I believe that these letters of personal invective have done irreparable harm to the soul of our community and to the spirit of the political process. It appalls citizenry, drives good people out of Malibu politics and pollutes the possibility of rational discourse. And worse, it has given slow-growth advocacy a bad name. I would hope that in the future those who have legitimate concerns and differences in opinion confront the issues not the people.

Joan House

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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