Wool hath no furry like a lone ram shorn

Since no one seems to be talking about anything other than the sudden departure of our city attorney, I decided rather than rehash old ground I would write about something totally different: crime in Malibu.

Some of you who have already seen the front page know there was a major crime in town this week. Recently, some of you may have noticed three sheep standing in a field at the intersection of Civic Center Way and Webb Way. It was reported to me that sometime between last Thursday night and early Friday morning, the middle sheep, actually a ram, vanished. I spoke to a deputy involved in the investigation, who agreed to give me information but only on background because this is an active, ongoing investigation.

He said they had received a number of anonymous tips and had begun to question some people at City Hall, which is very close to the scene of the crime.

One City Hall insider said he thought the sheep hadn’t been stolen at all and suggested it probably left voluntarily. When it was pointed out to him this seemed highly unlikely since the sheep was actually concrete, he apparently scoffed and said, “How do you know the sheep was concrete? Perhaps it was just pretending to be concrete while planning its departure.” This line of logic seemed rather farfetched until we heard there is a fund at City Hall for animal relocations and apparently a withdrawal had been made recently. But we were told the withdrawal was merely from the accrued fodder fund and didn’t mean the ram was asked to leave.

The detective had also heard rumbles that things were not that harmonious among the three sheep, that the sheep on either end were upset because the ram was always in the center while the two ewes were on the ends, and that there was a secret vote and thereafter the ram was allegedly told to leave. Apparently, they wanted to rotate the center position and the ram refused to budge.

Another City Hall source said that wasn’t it at all. She said the reason was that the ram was grazing in a tsunami/flood plain. She had attended a seminar recently about liquefaction, and it was her opinion that, since this was a well-known liquefaction zone, the ram probably just slipped into the ground. We were skeptical because the other two sheep are still there, but she said they talked about that at the seminar and our area was susceptible to “spot liquefaction,” and any time anything is put on that land, that’s where the liquefaction occurs.

We then had a call from a radical environmental activist group, “Sheep Up.” Although not taking credit for the disappearance, the group felt it was really a political act of protest. Sheep, a spokesperson said, were inherently bad for the soil, destroying indigenous vegetation, and since this was a highly sensitive area of coastal scrub and junk (“junk,” by the way, is a subspecies of the coastal scrub), perhaps that was why the sheep suddenly vanished. We said considering the ram was concrete that didn’t seem very likely. That didn’t matter, he countered, because this was a symbolic political act — this was a concrete symbolic sheep eating symbolic grass in a symbolic wetland/ tsunami/liquefaction zone. Finding it hard to refute that tight logic, we moved on.

Another local called us to say it was absolutely clear to him that it could only be the Malibu Bay Co. that was responsible for the disappearance. He said there was a clear historical record that whatever bad occurred in the Civic Center was the fault of the Malibu Bay Co. In fact, he had called a member of the Planning Commission, and she told him it’s written right into the Malibu General Plan, in the boilerplate section, in bold letters. It says, “IT’S THE MALIBU BAY CO.’S FAULT.”

So we called the sheriff’s investigator back. He said livestock rustling was rather common in rural areas like Malibu but the investigation, unfortunately, had stalled in a jurisdictional dispute between the Sheriff’s Art Squad and the Sheriff’s Rustling Squad, and they were awaiting a decision from downtown as to which group was to proceed.

He said he’d call back.

P.S. An interview with Councilwoman Joan House and former City Attorney Christi Hogin is currently airing on Falcon Cable (The Malibu Government Channel).

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

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