From the Publisher: Why Do People Need Someone to Blame?

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Arnold G. York

The Woolsey Fire has had a devastating effect on Malibu, not least of which is lots of people are very, very angry and looking for it all to be someone’s fault. They are mad at the fire department that never came, at the sheriff’s department that manned roadblocks as if the population was the enemy, at the city and the city manager, Reva Feldman, for the failures of communication, at the county for not having enough firefighters and equipment, and at themselves for listening to the evacuation order and leaving their homes. The emotion is understandable, but the actions are sometimes foolish.

One group has launched a drive to try and force the City Council to fire the city manager. They just filed a petition to recall Skylar Peak and Rick Mullen. We’ve been told the petitioners said they would drop the recall petition if Peak and Mullen agreed to fire Feldman. That is no way to run a city. It’s clear that there are some behind this petition drive who have a personal beef with Feldman and simply want her fired for personal reasons. 

The city has put an orderly process into motion to look at the performance of the City of Malibu, its employees and the city manager in their handling of the fire. The process is being run by two council members, Karen Farrer and Mikke Pierson, who were chosen because they were not on the council when the fire happened. To short cut this by stopping the investigations, having no trial and just going directly to an execution—which is what they propose—is not only unfair, but also stupid. Ours is not the only investigation and out of this all will come the truth. Then, we can decide if actions are called for.

Some of you may have noticed that the large lot just below the old city hall has been graded and prepared to serve as what they call a laydown yard for Southern California Edison. It is where Edison will put all of its equipment. Edison has not only a lot of restorative work to do, but also needs an accelerated schedule for replacing poles, perhaps covering vulnerable wiring, replacing all older equipment and a schedule to try and do this as quickly as possible. I suspect their people saw what’s happening to PG&E and they wanted to jump in before the next fire, and avoid the losses if possible. But as you would expect, some Malibu people are already complaining because they didn’t want to see the lot graded. Wanting and waiting for the perfect solution are the enemy of a good solution, maybe not the best solution but at least a workable solution. We need SCE out there doing everything it can to avoid the next fire. 

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We have announced this year’s Dolphin Award winners in this week’s Malibu Times. It’s different than what we usually do because this year, which was a normal year up to November, turned out to be the year of the fire. We struggled to find a way to honor all those heroes who stayed behind, managing to save their homes and also many of their neighbors’ homes. To date, the roster of heroes numbers over one hundred, so we decided to honor the heroes with a scroll that names them all, which we hope will hang in Malibu City Hall. We will publish the names in The Malibu Times. If you know of others who should be added to the scroll, let us know and we will add them. 

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This weekend, Malibu is going to look like an old MGM movie because we are going to be filled with sailors. A very large U.S. Navy ship is coming to visit Malibu, anchoring off of the Malibu Pier—some visitors will be taken on board to see it. We can’t give you the name of the ship yet, per Navy policy, but suffice it to say, it’s large. I thought about slipping into my old Navy uniform in honor of the visit, but I had to give it up when I discovered I’m a bit rounder than I was at age 22.

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Lastly, the president of Pepperdine University, Andy Benton, is retiring. He and his wife, Debbie, have been engaged in this community for many years, both at the University and in the larger community. I’ve known them both since we bought the paper and I’m pleased to call them friends. Pepperdine and this community will miss his leadership.