If the last local election in Malibu demonstrated anything by awarding the most votes to two of the candidates committed to reforming city government, Bruce Lee Silverstein and Steve Uhring, it was that at long last our iconic seaside village might live up to its promise of a livable community in a singular, spectacular setting.
This despite within recent years a disastrous fire that hollowed out stable neighborhoods, the invasion of myopic moneyed trophy house hunters, slovenly rapacious development, an inept, mismanaged City Hall and compromised city councils of mostly vain-glorious neophytes.
And now we have a farewell gift from a departing former mayor, Jefferson Wagner, of an executed affidavit of alleged criminal activity and malfeasance in a sad sack city government, favored treatment of select property owners and scandalous details of the publicized raid on his home after he declined to support a raise for the city manager and also not vote for a particular permit.
Also noted was that Wagner previously disclosed some of these iniquitous matters, including a bald offer of graft, to Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin, who ignored them and so became complicit, and, perhaps not coincidentally, just retired.
Ironically, a good portion of the last meeting of the outgoing council was devoted to a slavish praising of Hogin and her long, and I would add, lucrative, career, and her personal, protracted reply.
More pointed and pertinent was the following first meeting of the new council, usually a pro forma self-congratulating, boorish affair, but not this time with the seating of Silverstein. He reiterated his election platform to work diligently for public safety, environmental protection, fiscal responsibility and government reform, beginning with a call for a task force to provide a needed overview of City Hall.
However, it is sad to report, the council’s first action was to awkwardly slap down the fervent Silverstein by denying him the position of mayor pro tem that almost always goes to the incoming councilperson elected with the most votes.
A blatant high school-like coalition of a mealy mouthed Mayor Mikke Pierson and status quo conscious Karen Farrer, ignoring a reasoned plea by Uhring, were determined to anoint the newly elected, grasping Paul Grisanti, who did not have the class to decline.
This most likely for the moment will please Malibu’s ever-avaricious development interests, and the ever-conservative resident aging sorority and fraternity crowd that champions Farrer.
But as Silverstein pledged in his winning campaign, he no doubt will not back down, and the issues raised by Wagner’s high minded, law abiding affidavit will be prosecuted.
Sam Hall Kaplan