It’s a new day

News Analysis

A new city council was sworn in Tuesday evening, in a brief happy ceremony before a packed house of well wishers.

Later everyone adjourned to the patio of the HRL building to whoop it up and celebrate the changeover with food supplied by the victorious candidates.

The new council includes Tom Hasse, who was elected by his colleagues to be the new mayor, and Joan House, the new mayor pro tem. Hasse was first elected in 1998 and still has two years to serve on his term. House, as highest vote getter in the April 2000 election, became the mayor pro tem and will serve as mayor after Hasse completes his mayoralty term.

The others on the new council are former councilmember and mayor Jeff Jennings and Ken Kearsley.

Jennings served on the council from 1994 to 1998 until his defeat by Tom Hasse by 29 votes. He now returns for a new four-year term. The only totally new face to the council is Kearsley, longtime community activist and immediate past chair of the Planning Commission. House, Jennings and Kearsley easily defeated Walt Keller, Carolyn Van Horn and John Wall by an almost two-to-one margin.

The three carried every one of the 13 Malibu precincts, even those that included the Mobile Home Parks, previously the cornerstone of the Keller/Van Horn political axis.

There is one vacant seat left on the council, that previously held by the late Councilman Harry Barovsky. Voters will elect Barovsky’s successor in November, at the same time as the presidential election. Last Saturday, the old council, Keller, Van Horn, Hasse and House, voted not to fill the vacancy, but instead to let the electorate decide.

Van Horn said, “As was true in the past, it still takes a nucleus of caring, focused, dedicated people to protect and sustain our environment against the so-called inevitable ‘progress.”

The old council had earlier decided to honor Barovsky, who was due to become Malibu’s next mayor, by making him the honorary mayor for the year 2000-2001.

The election of new councilmembers and the untimely death of Barovsky has raised a number of questions about what happens to the Barovsky, Keller and Van Horn appointments to the various city commissions, boards and task forces.

Probably the most significant of the appointments is to the Planning Commission, which has been reduced to four members as Kearsley moves to City Council. Kearsley, who was a Barovsky appointment, will now get to make his own appointment to the Planning Commission; however, they will still be one person short. The four councilmembers could decide to appoint a fifth Planning Commissioner but, according to an informed source, that would first require a new ordinance, which would need at least three votes to pass.

Of the remaining Planning Commissioners, Van Horn appointed Jo Ruggles and her term ends on May 31 this year. The term of Commissioner Andy Stern, who was appointed by Keller, likewise ends at the end of May. The terms were designed, according to City Attorney Steve Amerikaner, to aide in an orderly transition of power. The two remaining commissioners are Ed Lipnick, a House appointee whose term also ends in May, but who could be reappointed, and Charleen Kabrin, who was appointed by Hasse. Kabrin’s term runs until May 2002, but she serves “at the pleasure” of Councilman Hasse, who could replace her any time he wishes.

Under the Malibu ordinances, the terms of Barovsky’s appointees end automatically 90 days after his death. However, they may continue to serve until they’re replaced.

The Code Enforcement Task Force, which consists of 15 members, with three appointed by each council member, all serve at the pleasure of the City Council. The incoming councilmembers could appoint new people immediately or, if they chose, reappoint some or all of the previous appointments.

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

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