The facts of the matter

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Much has been made in the local press concerning the endorsement of Torie Osborn for the California State Assembly at the Malibu Democratic Club annual meeting on January 8.

Here is what happened: The by-laws of the club require that new members must pay their dues and register as members a month before the annual meeting, in this case December 9, 2011. Persons who were members in 2011 can, under the by-laws, walk up on the morning of the meeting, pay their 2012 dues, and vote. This by-law prevents candidates from stacking the vote by having people arrive at the last minute, become members and vote. Another reason for this 30 day rule is that it allows time for the club to verify that the persons who become members are actually registered Democrats, which is required under the by-laws in order to cast a vote.

At the January 8 meeting, Torie Osborn resonated strongly with the members on a number of issues, especially her strong opposition to the destruction of the Malibu Lagoon, which destruction was supported by the other two candidates, Betsy Butler and Richard Bloom (who heads the Bay Restoration Commission, which actually will run the bulldozers that are scheduled to destroy the lagoon on June 1). Bloom was actually booed when he stated his position, and Butler elicited gasps from the audience when she appeared to say that Malibu’s growth was “too slow,” a tone deaf comment in Malibu if there ever was one.

The endorsement vote was 41 for Torie Osborn, five for Betsy Butler, zero for Richard Bloom, and 13 for “no endorsement.” There were, by my count, more than 80 people in attendance, and 59 voted. A number of others, including Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, could not vote because they were not club members in 2011 and did not register and pay their dues by December 9. Ulich raised a point of order, and asked for a show of hands as to how many in the audience were Malibu residents, and it appeared to me that a strong majority of those present raised their hands that they were.

In fact, the club’s by-laws do not require members to be residents of Malibu, and the question also arises as to what is a resident of Malibu? Is it only City of Malibu residents, residents who live in zip code 90265, or any Democrats who are interested in Malibu and care to join the club? In fact, Ralph Erickson, the immediate past president of the club, lives in Sunset Mesa, in the 90265 zip code, and no one has claimed he is not a true Malibuite.

After the vote, a club board member volunteered to a Los Angeles Times reporter covering the meeting that three quarters of those voting were not Malibu residents and would never come back for future meetings. This gratuitous, sour grapes comment was inappropriate and inaccurate. The LA Times reporter admitted to me in an e-mail that she was not present when the show of hands regarding who was a Malibu resident was taken, and she took the word of the person who characterized the attendees inaccurately.

Ted Vaill

Second Vice President, Malibu Democratic Club