PTA-hosted candidate forum turns ugly as candidates argue.
By Tracy Domingo/Special to The Malibu Times
and Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer
Bill Winokur announced he was withdrawing from the 2004 City Council race on March 10 at a candidates forum at the Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School. Just two days later, John Mazza entered the race, replacing Winokur as the third Malibu Community Action Network-endorsed candidate. Mazza’s name will not appear on the ballot, but he will be a formal write-in candidate. He still had to file papers like all the other candidates, and must turn in financial statements. To avoid any conflict, Mazza has resigned from his post on the Malibu CAN Board of Directors, although he is still involved with the organization.
In January, Mazza had pulled papers to run for council. But he did not return them because he became ill. Mazza said had be
not been sick, he would have announced his candidacy earlier.
Winokur said he was bowing out of the campaign because he realized serving on the council would require a time commitment he could not deliver. Mazza said he was surprised when Winokur made the decision, and decided he needed to fill the void that was created by it.
“There’s three pro-growth candidates running,” Mazza said. “There were three planned-growth candidates, and now there are only two. We need to give this community a choice.”
Councilmember Jeff Jennings, who along with Mayor Ken Kearsley and Pamela Conley Ulich, was classified by Mazza as being pro-growth, said Mazza’s comments are a repeat of the same old story.
“Mazza characterizes his side as planned growth, but none of them have ever put forth any plan for dealing with Malibu’s problems,” Jennings said. “The only participation any of them have had has been to oppose any proposed solution.”
Mazza said Kearsley and Jennings have supported development at every opportunity they’ve had. He added that Conley Ulich has the same supporters they do. He said his evidence is that she received campaign contributions from Kearsley, Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Barovsky and council supporters Lloyd Ahern and Georgianna McBurney. Mazza said Conley Ulich also attends events with Ahern.
“Mr. Mazza is only capable of hurling insults of guilt by association based on who somebody’s seen having coffee with,” Barovsky said. “If that’s his platform, we’re in big trouble.”
Conley Ulich said to classify her as pro-growth is not accurate. Rather, she said she is in favor of slow, adequate growth that complies with the needs and wants of the citizens of Malibu. She added, “I am not sponsored by any special interest group. I have sought the support of every citizen of this community, including John Mazza … I hope John can stick to issues facing Malibu instead of personal attacks. I believe the voters are tired of name calling, and I hope the polls reflect that in April.”
Mazza appeared at a PTA-sponsored forum on Monday in his first public appearance as a candidate. In a closing statement at the forum, Kearsley said former mayor and current candidate Walt Keller had rejected an opportunity for the city to obtain land for parks from the state in the ’90s. An angry Keller roared back that Kearsley was rewriting history. The two then engaged in a heated argument after the forum. Kearsley could be heard saying, “Don’t tell me to shut my mouth.”
Disputing Malibu history was also part of the game at the March 10 forum. When asked how to end Malibu’s development moratorium (issuance of coastal development permits have been on hold since September 2002 because of a court dispute between the city and the Coastal Commission over the LCP), Kearsley and Jennings said if it were not for Jay Liebig and
the organization he formerly headed, Taxpayers for Livable Communities, the current development limbo would not exist.
“Let’s be clear about how we got to where we are,” Jennings said. “Be it not for Jay Liebig’s lawsuit, we would still be issuing permits.”
The city approached the court about being able to issue coastal permits without it affecting its case, but a judge would not grant the request. The state did not oppose what the city asked for, but Taxpayers for Livable Communities wrote a brief in opposition to it.
Liebig, who said his vision for Malibu is to maintain the rural and scenic nature of the community, said the current situation is the city’s fault and could be remedied immediately.
“The moratorium could end tomorrow if the city stopped their appeal,” he said. “I wanted the 2000 LCP and now we are stuck. Thank you very much City Council.”
Liebig and Keller blasted the current City Council for pulling “a perfectly good LCP” in 2000. They said the document, which was drafted by a committee headed by Keller’s wife, Lucile, was withdrawn before it could go before the Coastal Commission. However, Kearsley and Jennings called the story an “illusion.”