Letter: Checklist is Just the Beginning

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Letter to the Editor

“Ethical,” “experienced,” a dedicated public servant, pledged to a transparent and accountable tenure, adherent to Malibu’s mission statement—in a simple sentence, that would be my recommendation to the city council, which is soliciting public participation in its recruitment process for a new city manager. 

And, having a checklist of desirable qualities is helpful, based upon my administrative, consultant and critical media experiences. I would add to the city’s vetting process that it solicit some savvy, streetwise, boots-on-the ground site evaluations of the candidates’ tenure.  

The candidates may be amiable and articulate in their recommendations and recitals, but the question must be asked that while earning the awards of pay, pensions and perks that come with public service, what did they really accomplish in the interests of their city’s constituent residents and livability?

Malibu has suffered enough from municipal mismanagement and a bulging bureaucracy that includes too many paper pushers without the needed smarts and experience for their jobs, as well as frankly a parade of vain, inept and compromised councilpersons and commissioners who yielded their responsibilities to a grasping staff. 

If a current example is needed, I cite the proposed Westward Beach proposal, which would unthinkably shrink the fragile sandy beach to accommodate more questionable parking. And, we must ask, who will benefit if it is built, and who has benefited from flogging it?  

In addition, the proposal would be a good case study to pose before the city manager candidates to see how they might address the situation, hypothetically, of course. 

Sam Hall Kaplan