Shadow boxing in the dark

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    I must have blinked and missed it. Sometime, somewhere, something happened. Mayor Joan House turned into a bad guy, at least according to the Sufside News “letter to the editor” writer named P. G’Bur.

    You might well wonder why it is people get upset by a letter to the editor, particularly from someone no one ever heard of, who doesn’t appear to be a registered voter here in town and, as far as I know, has never participated in anything in Malibu.

    People are upset because they’ve seen it all before and they know what comes next. It starts with a letter to the editor from someone no one seems to know very well or at all, always includes a little character assassination, usually a few marginal lies and a few outright distortions. It always ends up telling you who the newly elected bad guy is and how that person is busy consorting with the evil empire, which is (and you can fill in the blank — the Malibu Bay Company, Pepperdine University, the Kissel Company, The Malibu Times or just some typically generic land rapers/high rise developers who want us to be Miami Beach).

    The attack almost always includes the charge that there is someone behind the scenes manipulating the strings. In this case, the chosen puppet master is Sharon Barovsky, which is sort of an interesting charge. I’ve known Sharon a number of years, and if there is one thing that she isn’t, it’s some behind-the-scenes person. I’ve never known her to be hesitant to tell anyone, straight out, exactly what she thinks, and what she supports and what she opposes. So what’s this all about?

    Why are the political waters of Malibu continuously being polluted and who’s doing it? Go back for a minute and think about the previous enemies of the people.

    First there was Larry Wan, with Sara Wan behind him manipulating the strings. The story was that both were out to sell out to the developers. So what happened? He went on to become a statewide officer of an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the coast, and she became the vice chair of the California Coastal Commission.

    Next it was that land raper, Malibu Bay Company puppet Mike Caggiano, who went into the environmental tourism business in Costa Rica.

    Then it was Jeff Jennings who was the designated pug ugly. A guy who was probably less personally political than anyone who ever sat on this council became the sinister political manipulator and all around environment-hating bad guy.

    Well, this time out, Tom Hasse beat Jeff Jennings. Everything should now be OK. After all, they (Keller-Van Horn-Hasse) supported Barovsky, maybe not with great enthusiasm, but certainly over Jennings. After all, Joan had previously run on a ticket with Walt and Carolyn, so it would be fair to say all were in agreement. So what happened? Why all this sudden nastiness? There is nothing particularly hot on the political agenda right now that I can see.

    I’ll tell you why.

    Normally this garbage doesn’t start until we get within hailing distance of the election booth, which in this case would be the year 2000. But Malibu is changing while America is changing, and I’m fearful for the worst. Usually people get elected, then spend most of their time trying to govern and, at the very end of their term, turn back into a pit bull in anticipation of the election. Not so anymore. Not so in Washington, in Sacramento or, unfortunately, in Malibu. Today it’s one continuous election campaign. There is no longer a rational middle, there is no longer a bipartisan approach to problem solving. It’s all pretending, posturing, attacking and very little problem solving.

    A case in point. The council just spent three hours at the last council meeting fighting over the contract for Charmlee Park. Why so long? Because they don’t trust each other. Because they have no shared vision. Because there are a few people involved in the negotiation who have taken it upon themselves to decide how it all should be, and the rest of us be dammed. And most of all because Walt Keller and Carolyn Van Horn are planning on running a candidate of their choosing against Joan House. They’re beginning the process of softening her up and every issue becomes a battleground for the election.

    Well, I’m issuing a challenge to P. G’Bur and all of his or her ilk. Come out of the shadows. Show yourself. If you want to attack someone, go ahead, but we want to interview you. Who are you? What have you done in your life? Why should we give you any credence? Why do you attack anonymously?

    We’re looking forward to meeting you.