I find myself in a bit of dilemma. There are five members of the city council to be reported on, but only one, Bruce Lee Silverstein, has such a totally obsessive need to be in the spotlight that he cranks out volumes of material practically every day, posting on social media and NextDoor accusing The Malibu Times, among others, of all sorts of nefarious motives. It is almost impossible to ignore. Invariably, as you can see in today’s Letter to the Editor from Bruce Silverstein, we are not simply opposed to what he doing and saying in his attacks on the city manager, among others, but it’s all done with evil in our hearts, or something like that. In today’s letter we have, according to Bruce, sunk to a “new low,” launching “a smear campaign,” publishing “biased blog posts by Hans Laetz” and a host of other charges. Apparently, you can’t just simply disagree with Bruce, find his personal attacks on people like Reva Feldman to be wrong and mean spirited, object to his attempt to bully people, take umbrage at the gigantic waste of time he causes at the council meetings because every piece of minutia they deal with is important to Bruce, or be astonished that he wants every interaction at the city to be recorded, transcribed and transcripts given to all the council members. You have to ask yourself, “Why?” What is this all about? I certainly don’t understand, unless you believe that there is some underlying dark state that is manipulating everything at the city or our city manager learned her trade at the Niccolo Machiavelli school of city management. I’ve watched every city council since we became a city in 1991. I’ve endorsed in every council election since we became a city. I’ve watched every city council member; some I’ve agreed with and some not. Some have advertised with us, and some not. But in the 30 years we’ve been a city, I have never seen anything like these constant attacks on the city and the city manager and the city staff. These constant accusations of corruption without any evidence. The constant personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. It’s unprecedented in the history of Malibu and it’s dangerous. It could end up being very expensive to all of its citizens.
More than 60 years ago, I made the decision to come to California after watching those Rose Bowl games with spectators sitting in their shirtsleeves on New Year’s Day while we were freezing to death in New York. I really can remember thinking, “Boy, that’s the way I want to live.” But over time you forget, and you begin to remember those cold days as one wonderful winter wonderland. I always felt a bit guilty, but Christmas was absolutely my favorite holiday with the city lit up and the department store windows all decorated. Today, they’d call that a cultural appropriation, but so what. This weekend jarred reality back into the picture. I watched real winter on TV and I suddenly remembered turning the corner down on Wall Street and the winter wind coming off the river literally almost froze the air in my lungs. It was hard to breathe. Likewise, Karen was raised in Minneapolis, Minn., where it could actually get to 40 below and, apparently, they hit that milestone again this winter somewhere in Minnesota. While this was all going on, we were walking around Legacy Park in our shirtsleeves this weekend and thankful that we were here.
For the first time in a long while, we are beginning to get better news on the COVID-19 front. Deaths from COVID reached a peak on Jan 28, 2021, and then began to drop. It’s not a terribly dramatic change but it’s moving in the right direction. Nationally, we have 487,000 who have died and, although the death rate has dropped to 1,000 per day, it’s probably going to hit 600,000 before it’s all over. All the school districts, including our own Santa Monica-Malibu School District, are working on plans to reopen. Generally, they are going to begin with the lower grades like kindergarten to sixth grades, since those ages seem be the least at risk. The problem is not the kids but the teachers. The sticking point in the negotiations with the teachers’ union is getting the teachers vaccinated before they return to the classroom, which means setting aside vaccines for the teachers, which is a sticky problem with supplies running short. A tentative deal has been worked out with our Santa Monica-Malibu teachers, but it is dependent on getting the vaccine for the teachers before the opening, which means the opening date is still uncertain.
We live in a period where people can’t seem to resist dropping into excess or trying to rewrite history. The City of San Francisco’s Board of Education is hell bent on renaming 40-plus public schools in the city and it is removing the names of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Dianne Feinstein from schools, among many others. Now, I can understand if the school was named after a known racist or someone with a patchy history, but this drops into absurdity. To judge history by today’s standards is nonsensical. Who can pass the test of being so pure that in 250 years they will be on the correct side of history? I think you have to judge things in the context of their times, but this where it gets interesting. It’s true that Washington was a slave owner, as were many of the founders, but he was a southern plantation owner and it was a slave economy. The three-fifths compromise in the constitution was, to my mind, an abomination, but without it we probably wouldn’t have had a constitution nor a country. The issue of slavery and its impact has had us struggling for close to 400 years and torn this country apart for that long, and is still doing it. You can imagine what would have happened if Jan 6, 2021, was an insurrection by Black Lives Matter. I imagine it would it have been a totally different scenario.