None of us are safe when the legislature is in session


    So what’s happening?

    By Arnold G. York/publisher

    There is so much going on it’s impossible to write a column on just one subject anymore

    The legislature is now out of session, thank heavens, but not before they passed another bill that may come back to haunt Malibu a few years down the road. The legislature, the California Coastal Commission and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards do not like septic systems, particularly those in the coastal zone. What with beach closures growing, they’re looking to put in state standards. What that probably means downstream is a lot of additional expense for Malibu homeowners, particularly those on the beach and many with old septic systems. In the mean-time, we didn’t have the votes to block the bill, AB 885, but we managed to get it amended, so at least we and a bunch of other cities and counties have a seat at the bargaining table when the new rules and regs are being written.

    Things have been fairly benign at the City Council meetings. They seemed to be getting along reasonably well and working productively. Even the opposition, primarily those pushing the Right to Vote on Development Initiative, has refrained from highly personal attacks, which markedly in contrast to the kind of free-for-alls we had in the old days. But we’re beginning to get closer to the November ballot for the City Council seat and a decision on the three ballot propositions. We’ve all been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and Monday night it did.

    It seems the Sierra Club filed a law suit against the City of Malibu in connection with a variance the city granted for two properties on Latigo Canyon Road, which the Sierra Club, or at least Frank Angel, their lawyer, didn’t think they should have done. That, in itself, was not particularly unusual. What was surprising was a press release from Angel on behalf of the Sierra Club practically accusing Jeff Jennings, Ken Kearsley and Joanne House of corruption. The style and vitriol of the language was sort of surprising since we haven’t heard much of that kind of dialogue since two former members of the council, who shall go nameless, left for greener pastures. Since Angel is a member in good standing of the zero growth coalition and they always seem to act collectively, I can only assume this is an announcement that we’re back to business as usual, which raises another question.

    When last I looked, the Sierra Club was a large national organization, with a large environmental agenda. Apparently, the local Sierra Club has its own agenda, which would appear to mean approving or opposing individual projects in Malibu, supporting or opposing individual candidates for local office, filing their own lawsuits. It’s all very murky to me. Just who is this local Sierra Club, and to whom do they answer? Is there a board of directors or are we just talking about a few people who have run off with the organization’s stationery. If so, what the heck is the national doing about it? As I understand it, they’re running a candidate, Robert Roy Van de Hoek, a member of their board of directors, for the Malibu City Council. They appear to be moving, locally at least, from an environmental organization to a political party. That certainly is their right, but when they invoke the name of the Sierra Club it would appear to me they’re really just talking about themselves. Some of you out there are active Sierra Club members. Would someone call and explain this to me?

    On a lighter note, Tina Fisher Forde from Malibu, who has covered many Olympics, is down in Australia covering the Olympics for a number of publications, including ours, and we’ve asked her to send us some stories about her first-person experiences. The first story just arrived. Although it was too late to make this week’s paper, but it will be in next week. We’re trying to adjust to the fact that Australia is not only a different time zone but also a different day.

    Both the Republicans and the Democrats have kicked off the local political scene. The Republicans have opened their headquarters and the Democrats are out raising bucks in our town. What makes this year unusual is that we haven’t had a presidential race this close probably since Kennedy and Nixon. Usually the top of the ticket helps to carry the lower offices, which don’t get as much exposure. With the electorate apparently so undecided and fickle, anything is possible. When you see poll numbers jump around the way they have this time, it means that everybody’s support is really just luke warm, particularly for those independents in the middle. The first guy to mess up badly is probably going to lose, which is why both Gore and Bush are trying to be so careful and not make any mistakes.