City Council votes 3-2 against installing top vote-getter Bruce Silverstein
Council members Grisanti, Karen Farrer, Mikke Pierson voted for Steve Uhring; however, Uhring declined. Uhring was the only council member who voted for Bruce Silverstein to serve as mayor. Silverstein accepted to serve as Mayor Pro Tem.
Prior to the meeting, participants were having a difficult time signing up for the public comment addressing the incoming mayor of Malibu. Council addressed the issue, and the public was able to speak on the election.
Silverstein and Uhring said the public should have an opportunity to speak.
Mayor Paul Grisanti asked City Attorney John Cotti if they were taking on a Brown Act risk.
“The Brown Act requires all items of business be conducted with the opportunity for the public to comment prior to action being taken; I think historically, there has never been any controversy with the selection of mayor and vice mayor; I don’t know if tonight will be any different, that’s why there’s typically no public comment,” Cotti said. “The public has a right to comment on who their next mayor is, but the counter to that is that it’s a ceremonial position, and it has no more power as mayor than does the mayor pro tem or any other council member, I think the best practice is to allow public comment, it is a matter of council preference.”
Cotti said the historical practice in the city has not allowed the public to comment, but the decision in not allowing public comment would be taking a Brown Act risk.
“When I look at the agenda, there’s nowhere that says it lists public comment,” Pierson said. “I think the public has a right to say their piece. I was unaware that it was not done before. It does seem odd that the public doesn’t comment on it.”
Silverstein supported the decision to provide the public with an opportunity to comment.
“I’m always in support of doing what’s legally appropriate, and I think it’s unfortunate that when this was raised in the past, under prior city leadership, it was done unlawful,” Silverstein said. “Let’s follow the law.”
Silverstein motioned, and Uhring seconded the motion to approve the modified agenda.
The public speakers who signed up for the election of the mayor thanked Grisanti for his time on council.
“Paul, I think, spent about 14 years in the public works commission and using his knowledge there, and I had the privilege of working with him on that commission, besides on the normal 30 hours a week that you all put it, as the mayor, it’s even more,” Scott Dittrich said. “For the effort that you put in, Paul, this is someone who volunteers his time, I wish more citizens would participate, and I think you have demonstrated over the years what it really means to be that kind of citizen volunteer.”
After a few positive comments for Grisanti’s time as mayor, Grisanti said the city needs to work on implementing an institutional code.
“Planning for the future is to figure out how we keep the character of Malibu without forcing owners of buildings who want to preserve it into selling them to someone who is going to do something else entirely,” Grisanti said. “I really have loved the opportunity to be the mayor; I loved the opportunity to meet with people and get a more unfiltered view of what people want.”
After the public expressed their frustration at signing up to speak during the meeting, they expressed their views and opinions on the new mayor-elect and mayor pro tem.
The last speaker, Louis Silverstein, Bruce Silverstein’s son, said he hopes to see in writing what everyone in the public comment has accused his father of saying.
“I just want to say, I’ve known him my entire life, and I have never once observed him harassing or treating anyone unfairly; all he has ever done in my entire life for observation is for people to be held accountable for what they do, say and are asked to do,” Silverstein said. “I have also heard allegations of people saying he has name called; I would love in writing to see any of these things materialized; I have never once heard him call names of someone, degenerate them, or be anything but respectful but holding them accountable. It is nothing but hearsay.”
Many members of the public, including Uhring, described this as ‘high school politics,’ voting for the most popular student as president.
“I am not a person that believes in looking back with regret or resentment for things that happened in the past, because the past does shape all the events that were occurring at that time,” Silverstein said. “I’ve been asked to apologize, I’m not going to apologize, but I’m not proud of that report, I’ve learned a lot in the last year, and I think I exhibited that over the past three to six months, as the number of the people who spoke on my behalf have said, so I really don’t get this.”
After a lengthy discussion and personal comments, Councilmember Farrer and Pierson nominated Uhring as mayor; however, Uhring abstained, and the floor reopened to take another vote.
At this time, Councilmember Farrer nominated current Mayor Paul Grisanti, which then Councilmember Uhring nominated Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein.
The council again, after much discussion and called for a vote, and Grisanti voted for himself and won 3-2 with Farrer’s and Pierson’s vote.
The floor opened for public comment, and the speaker named Alexander said the voting outcome is embarrassing.
“Paul, just the fact that you consider yourself the mayor when it’s so clearly Bruce’s spot, it’s actually embarrassing the way you are conducting yourselves; I think Steve described this as high school,” Alexander said. “Bruce is qualified for this, we’re wasting so much time and energy going back and forth voting; you know the outcome is going to come out in your favor.”
Alexander said this is the first time he finds out of Malibu city politics and the way it is run.
“It is such an embarrassment,” Alexander said. “This is how they conduct city business, doing these personal things, these false allegations, on a man that was clear, but because you guys are egomaniacs and what is more important is your personal feelings than that of the city. As an elected politician, people don’t serve you, Paul, you serve us, but you can’t understand that.”
Alexander said the council’s mentality is putting the people second and putting themselves first.
“This is embarrassing; this is just a ceremonial position, there’s no power, but it makes a statement,” Speaker Jo Drummond said. “I think Paul, you should step down as mayor; you are putting the residents second, it’s true, and it’s not right what you are doing to Bruce; he is a man of character; he has shown it tonight. I do not know why he can’t be mayor. it’s frustrating; it’s very upsetting.”
After thirty minutes of public speakers and a brief break, the council moved to the next item on the agenda concerning public matters. Council ended the meeting by addressing concerns regarding the increase in Edison bills, fatalities, projects on Point Dume, and the car show at Malibu Country Mart on Sundays.
To watch the Feb. 14 City Council meeting visit malibucity.org/VirtualMeeting.