Guest Column: Present Facts of Corruption or Resign

Lance Simmens

Those who have either served in government service, run for public office or had the privilege of being elected must appreciate the unique honor it is to represent a constituency, regardless of size. Public service is the cornerstone of our democratic foundation. It carries with it the ultimate responsibility to make oftentimes difficult decisions that benefit not only those who supported you as a candidate but the entire community. To do less demeans both the community and its citizens and weakens the pillars of constitutional principles and precedent that distinguishes our nation. 

Ours is a representative democracy that places a premium on individuals to take into account information that may not be apparent to the general public. The reason men and women choose to run and secure elected office is to exercise good judgment based upon studies, data or experiences that may sometimes elude the average citizen. Key and often contentious issues simply are not merely put to the populace at large, but rather are based upon our elected officials’ capacity to examine relevant facts and make informed decisions. The complexity of government, at any level, requires representatives of the public to earn and secure the trust of the public at large. It is a solemn duty and allegiance to a constitution, not to an individual or certain subgroups of the electorate.

We are lending our support to this document because, as members of a small group of individuals who have made the sacrifices of running for local government, we care deeply about the state of our community. Each of us recently ran for Malibu City Council to represent our community and offer a commitment to render the best decisions to advance a forward-looking future for those who will follow us. But we also recognize the responsibility to lead by example with respect to the way we treat each other. Compassion and empathy must be a critical part of that equation in dealing with issues such as homelessness, while civility, comity, decorum and mutual respect for our fellow public servants is also a prerequisite for a civil society.

Currently, there is a dangerous and toxic environment that has infected City Hall and it has nothing to do with the coronavirus. Since the most recent election of Councilman Bruce Silverstein, a tsunami of personal recriminations, accusations and insinuations have been unleashed upon his fellow councilpersons and city employees. Because of disagreements over questionable and dubious policy proposals he has advanced, there is a sinister level of distrust that threatens smooth functioning of our local government and fuels deep distrust and divisiveness within our community. Quite simply, it represents an unacceptable level of chaos that is neither warranted nor tolerable. It must end! 

Since Bruce is a lawyer, we believe he has at least more than a passing familiarity with the concept of evidence and innocence until proven guilty. Yet his continuing insistence in social media posts that his colleagues must have personal/professional interests in their policy positions and continual corruption at City Hall suggests that either he has evidence that he does not care to share or, disgustingly, is hurling invectives in a fit of pique or personal grandstanding. If there is a scintilla of fact or evidence to suggest personal interest or corruption, it must be revealed to the appropriate legal authorities at once. To date no such evidence of facts are apparent.

A concept generally accepted in the normal maturation process but also acknowledged as important in interpersonal communications is that you may not like your colleagues, but you certainly should exhibit a modicum of respect for them to advance your ideas. It is as simple as that. Either failure or incapacity to do so is reason for disqualification for such office.

A key ingredient to the dysfunctional political discourse and polarization that is currently plaguing our society at all levels of interaction is the loss of civility and decorum in our dealings with our fellow man, and that is readily apparent in our current city council.

We lament and reject the personal attacks being leveled by Silverstein against Councilpersons Pierson, Farrer and Grisanti and humbly ask—better yet, demand—that they cease. The romper room temper antics of Silverstein reflect poorly upon his constituents, which we will remind him are all Malibu residents, whether they voted for him or not.

Buck up, Bruce, and carry the mantle of leadership which was entrusted to you last November. If you have evidence of corruption on either a government-wide or personal level, appeal to the appropriate legal authorities and present actionable evidence of such. Using accusatorial tactics as though you were in a courtroom shows that you have little regard for the importance of the position you have been elected to. This is not the time or place for courtroom theater; rather, it is the serious business of governing the city.

In short, we ask that you rise to embrace the gravitas of the position you hold or simply resign, because currently you are embarrassing both yourself and our community.