From the Other Publisher: I Can’t Help but Wonder

Karen York

I am deeply disappointed to learn that our city manager, Reva Feldman, has decided to resign her position and is asking the city to buy out the last year of her employment contract. However, I understand. No one should tolerate the abusive interactions and slanderous social media rants heaped upon her by those who campaign to question her competency and her honesty. Sadly, I am sure they feel vindicated and rewarded by these nefarious efforts and are celebrating her pending departure. How sad! 

Personally, I feel that Reva is and has been a real asset to Malibu and I am sure that, once she posts her résumé, her services will be in great demand as she has an excellent reputation among her peers. Her management is the reason that Malibu has been awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Transparency and Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for the 19th consecutive time!  What a loss!

I can’t help but wonder whether or not the reasons for her departure fit the legal definition of harassment, in that the actions of one city council person and his supporters have created what is legally known as a hostile work environment and perhaps even sex discrimination. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that this vitriolic and very public campaign of insults and insinuations would have been waged against a man.

Not one to throw terms around irresponsibly, some web research provided the following definitions for “hostile work environment:” 

• A work environment where demeaning or confrontational language is regularly used

• Includes any comment, action or type of behavior that is threatening, insulting, intimidating, or discriminatory and upsets the workplace environment

• Is created by a boss or coworker whose actions, communication or behavior make doing one’s job impossible. This means that the behavior altered the terms, conditions, and/or reasonable expectations of a comfortable work environment 

Sound familiar? 

While “attending” the city council meeting this week, I watched as multiple individuals spoke during the time allowed for public comment. With the exception of a few, most spoke in support of Reva and distained the manner in which she has been treated, resulting in her decision to resign. During these comments, the source of this egregious behavior sat smiling like the proverbial Cheshire Cat—even this negative attention appeared to feed his ego and satisfy his need for attention. My lay diagnosis: narcissism. But back to the web to find the clinical definition of narcissism—Below is an abbreviated list courtesy of the Mayo Clinic: 

• An exaggerated sense of self-importance

• A sense of entitlement and requiring constant, excessive admiration

• A tendency to exaggerate achievements and talents

• A tendency to monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior

• A tendency to expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations

• A tendency to take advantage of others to get what they want

• The inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

• Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious

Sound familiar? 

Casting aspersions seems to be the default behavior of the day so I apologize in advance if my reflections are adding fuel to this fire. Yet, calling attention to disruptive and inappropriate leadership behavior that is not only hurtful to others but that compromises the efficiency of city government cannot be ignored or tolerated. I urge the council to use every legal avenue available to them to address this situation immediately—before more council time is wasted and more damage done to Reva’s reputation, to city operations and to city staff morale. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the ballot box. Recall, anyone?