Recently, we received an email from Bruce Silverstein demanding a retraction of part of our recent city council story. When I say “we,” the demand for retraction was sent to our young reporter Genevieve and not to The Malibu Times or to me personally as the publisher of the newspaper, although he did manage to send copies of the demand to the Surfside News and Malibu Patch. This really didn’t surprise me because I suspect Bruce and some his cohort have been trying to intimidate Genevieve with emails and phone calls and retraction demands and it appears to me to be a kind of campaign, but not unheard of. In fact, this practice of older sexist men calling young reporters and leaning on them is so prevalent that the young female reporters have, I’ve heard, formed an organization in defense (but that’s for another column). I’m reprinting Bruce Silverstein’s email in its entirety (in italics) and then I’ll respond.
Your article about the debate over City Council policies includes the following paragraph:
“Silverstein, during his 2020 campaign, pledged to fire Malibu’s current City Manager Reva Feldman, whom he deemed corrupt, and to fight corruption in general at Malibu City Hall. Since his swearing-in, Silverstein has battled Feldman for access to documents and information and demanded she sit for a filmed conversation with him and grant him access to phone records—requests she denied.”
At no time during the campaign did I “pledge to fire” the city manager. As I have explained many times, I lack the power to fire the city manager. The most I can do is “press” (i.e., ask for a vote of the city council) to have the city manager terminated in accordance with the terms of her employment agreement—which is what I committed to do in the campaign. To succeed in accomplishing what I committed to press to do requires the affirmative vote of at least three city council members—which I explained from time-to-time during the campaign. Unless you are able to produce a quote in which I “pledged to fire” the city manager during the campaign, I request that you print a retraction of the statement that I did so.
At no time during the campaign (or otherwise) have I asserted that the city manager is corrupt. Indeed, I have stated multiple times that I have no personal knowledge of any criminality or corruption by the city manager, and that I am hopeful that an independent investigation will clear the city manager of rumors and claims of corruption by others. Unless you are able to produce a quote in which I said that the city manager is corrupt, I request that you print a retraction of the statement that I did so.
I have never requested, much less demanded, that any conversation with the city manager be “filmed.” I have repeatedly requested that my conversations with the city manager be “recorded.” Unless you are able to produce a quote in which I demanded that any conversation be “filmed,” I request that you print a retraction of the statement that I did so.
Stay Safe & Stay Well,
Just to keep this in perspective, let me give you first a few things that Bruce has said about the city manager, and I know this because he hasn’t been shy about posting his long diatribes on social media, particularly Nextdoor, which appears is one of his favorites. You will also notice that Bruce, like any lawyer, hedges on his accusations by saying things like “possibly corrupt”—it’s clear to everyone what he means.
He has called her:
– “an unelected fascist and fighting tooth and nail to avoid legal scrutiny of her dictatorial and possibly corrupt activities”
– “a tyrannical leader in Malibu”
In another post, he said:
– “he was exposing blatant lies of a deceitful, duplicitous and unethical city manager “
– “deceitful duplicity” (he seems to like that phrase)
– “the city manager’s opaque, unaccountable and unethical form of city government”
In other posts on Facebook:
– “…poor leader, has troubling character flaws including dishonesty, duplicity and lack of ethics”
– “The city manager’s contrived harassment complaint … factually flawed and legally unfounded”
– referring to her lawyer’s letter to the city as a “shakedown letter”
By now, you should have a pretty good idea that he doesn’t like Reva, wants her out and has mounted a campaign to force her out. So, in responses to Bruce’s demand that we retract:
On #1, we say, sorry Bruce, we stand on our story.
On #2, again, we say, sorry Bruce, we stand on our story.
On #3, he might actually have something there because he did say he wanted it recorded. Whether that includes filming also is hard to say so we will give Bruce the benefit of the doubt and say we should have said he “wanted it recorded.”
P.S. Think for a moment. If any of these charges made by Silverstein had any merit it would mean that former recent members of the city council, which would include Karen Farrer, Mikke Pierson, Jefferson Wagner, Skylar Peak, Rick Mullen, Laura Rosenthal and Lou La Monte, were all just putty in Reva Feldman’s hands and they were all too inattentive or weak to do anything about it. Does that make any sense?