From the Publisher: Risk and Reward

Arnold G. York

Like many other seniors, Karen and I have received both of our Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and we are almost a month past the second shot. This is much the same with many of our friends in the same age group. So we called around to our friends and said, “We’re all home free so let’s have a celebration party.” Unexpectedly, many of our friends turned us down with all sorts of reasons. “It’s too soon” or “there are all sorts of variants around and I don’t want to risk it.” It quickly became apparent that the only place many feel safe is at home, alone or perhaps with one or two others. Coming back to the old normal, at least to my generation, is going to be a lot slower than probably any of us realized. After a year of being sheltered, it’s almost like there is a massive case of agoraphobia going around, and climbing out of our holes may be tougher than we ever thought.



People keep sending me an endless supply of posts from Nextdoor and other social media sites from Bruce Silverstein and, lately, also Steve Uhring, getting into the fray. To reduce it to its essence, Silverstein and Uhring are accusing the council majority (Mikke Pierson, Karen Farrer and Paul Grisanti) of a massive failure of leadership because the three have not solved the problem the two council members created in their attacks on Reva Feldman. By that, I suspect they mean when they go into executive session about the city manager, which they are required to do when dealing with personnel matters, they are no more in agreement about what to do than when they talk about it in public. Actually, the council has taken steps and they are in the process of hiring two lawyers, one to investigate the charges in Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner’s affidavit charging attempted bribery and corruption and the other to examine the letter from Feldman’s attorney charging essentially that the two are illegally and maliciously trying to run her out of her job by keeping a constant barrage going, charging her with all sorts of malfeasance.

Let me give you an example of the attacks. Uhring posted a letter on Nextdoor from the Malibu Township Council that in essence tells the city attorney John Cotti he is professionally obligated to tell the council the best way to terminate the city manager ASAP. In case you don’t know it, the Malibu Township Council, which purports to be an organization, is in reality not much more than a letterhead controlled by Steve Uhring and several of his other fellow travelers who want the city manager gone. Apparently, they want Reva Feldman fired even before an attorney is hired to investigate the variety of charges. It’s sort of like first the execution and then the trial. Not only is the Township Council wrong but it is also the height of stupidity to suggest they sort of finesse a way to fire the city manager. Lawyers always tend to hedge their advice to be safe but there is one thing I can tell the Township Council, all six of them or whatever their number is, with absolute certainty: When you get a letter from an employee’s attorney making charges of harassment, maintaining a hostile workplace, and disparagement of her professional reputation and competence, the one thing that any knowledgeable lawyer will tell you is that the absolutely the last thing you do is fire that employee before you’ve conducted a fair and unbiased investigation by an outside source. To do so would be to commit municipal malpractice.



We have a story in this week’s paper about the Wildfire Protection Plan meeting. According to experts, we are going to have more fires in the future, because we have an elevated fire risk and that risk is inescapable. They go on that the burden is on us, the homeowner, to create a 100-foot defensible space around our homes. What they say is good advice except it makes no sense. For most us to really clear 100 feet would require removing all vegetation, because at 100 feet you’re into your neighbors lot in many cases. They like to talk about our responsibility but it’s kind of like blaming the victim and not the perpetrators. There are lots of other things that go into making a conflagration. Weather and wind we can’t control, but having fire units prepared and strategically placed in neighborhoods sure helps. I’ll confess the LA County Fire Department has improved greatly and kept fire under control this year. Having sufficient water supply and reservoir tanks is also essential and that requires the county cooperation and the waterworks department. But most of all the majority of the woodland in the mountains is owned by a checkerboard of government agencies that do not take good care of their land. I’m talking about the U.S. National Park Service, The California Department of Parks and Recreation, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and its sister agency the MRCA, LA County sanitation districts, water districts, etc. 

Almost none clear their land of dead trees and such. They used to do controlled burns, which certainly reduced fire risks. They don’t do them anymore because they don’t want to contaminate the air. If you want to clear underbrush, you can expect all sorts of opposition from environmental groups because there are critters that live in that underbrush and call it home. We live on the interface between the coastal shelf and the woodland. The Santa Monica Mountains is a National Recreational Area and we don’t take very god care of it because to do so is very expensive and politically very difficult because there are so many stakeholders involved with different agendas. So, sad to say, there are things you can do to try and make your home fire safe but the reality is there is an irreducible risk to living here—but I must admit, it’s worth it.