Commission member’s removal hot topic at council meeting

The Malibu City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night. The evening started with addressing item number 7a on the agenda, “Councilmember Pierson to make his appointment to the Parks and Recreation Commission.” Councilmember Mikke Pierson made the motion to move the item to the next City Council meeting on March 28. Councilmember Steve Uhring seconded the motion with no opposing. 

Mayor Paul Grisanti declared March 2022 as American Red Cross Month and encouraged citizens of Malibu to reach out to its humanitarian mission.

During public comment for non-agenda items, community members Bill Sampson and Jo Drummond addressed the firing of Dr. Georgia Goldfarb by Councilmember Pierson as misogynist even though the item was removed from the agenda. 

“Women hold more than half of the population of Malibu and represent family and environmental values,” Drummond said. 

Parks and Recreation commissioner Suzanne Guldimann also spoke during public comment stating Goldfarb is being abruptly dismissed just months before the end of her four-year term because of her age, gender, and fertility. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that yes, commissioners serve at the council’s pleasure and can be dismissed at will, but the discrimination based on sex and age is morally and ethically wrong and under the California Fair and Housing Act, it’s also illegal,” Guldimann said. “Volunteers and also employees are protected from discrimination. You cannot legally dismiss someone for being a senior or having or not having children.”

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Guldimann said Goldfarb was being replaced by a younger man and that the decision was being made specifically because her replacement has young children. 

“While she is older and a grandparent, that’s a textbook example of unlawful termination, sexism, and ageism in California, in government and society,” Guldimann said. “Men have always greatly outnumbered women on the council and commissions; we currently have two city commissions with no women on them at all and one with just one.”

Guldimann said Goldfarb has attended every meeting of her commission for nearly four years, has done research, and committed countless hours to city projects. 

Goldfarb said she has not experienced disagreements with Pierson on projects and issues.

“I would like to state that I have not resigned as a Parks and Rec commissioner, and I wish to continue to serve,” Goldfarb said. “I would also like to state that during my tenure, councilmember Pierson has not expressed dissatisfaction with my service.”

Next the council moved on to the Chair of the Public Works Commission, Lance Simmens who provided an update on the Westward Beach improvement project and said the joint meeting on Feb. 23 between the Public Works and Public Safety commissions reached many aspects of the conclusion and have taken public suggestions, public safety and environmental concerns into consideration. 

“This is the second meeting in a row that we have done a joint meeting, we accomplished a lot and there was a very good report between the two commissions and it’s something we want to continue to move forward on as we deal with issues that involve multiple commissions,” Simmens said.

Interim City Manager Steve McClary provided an update on COVID-19 rates, mask mandate updates and upcoming meetings. McClary said he attended the mediation discussion on Saturday, March 12, for the SMMUSD separation. McClary said there will be a special City Council meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 24, at 3 p.m. with the Homeless Task Force regarding the Alternative Sleeping Location. The regular March 28 meeting will be addressing the Westward Beach project. 

Sheriff’s Lt. Joseph Fender provided an update on the accident that occurred on Monday morning and a report on the citations over the weekend.

Fender said they issued 87 citations for rigeous speed violations in the city. Forty-one citations were in the canyons, 32 for speed alone, 30 miles over the coastal speeding limit.

“We’ve taken a zero-tolerance posture in Malibu and some of the other cities and we’re going to be addressing the speeding and the racing as well as the pedestrian and bicycle safety that affects PCH and those neighboring communities off PCH,” Fender said.

“It’s great to hear so many citations have been issued,” Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein said. “You’re taking [it] so seriously; obviously, the goal is to have no citation issued because people are actually following the law.”  

On the issue of gender equity, Silverstein said March 8 was International Women’s Day, and said Pierson is attempting to replace Goldfarb on the Parks and Rec board and highlighted the letters to the editor that were published in The Malibu Times last week.

“Next week, I’ll be appointing Jo Drummond to the Public Works Commission to replace James Palmer, who has graciously volunteered to step down from that position in order to help with that gender equity divide,” Silverstein said.

Silverstein encouraged the council to appoint at least one woman to be on the Planning Commission, the only commission left without a woman. There are currently five members: Kraig Hill, Dennis Robert Smith, Jeffery Jennings, John Mazza and Mark Welton.  

There were 11 speakers for item 7b for the City Council facilitator. The agenda item states, “At the request of Councilmember Pierson, direct the City Manager to solicit proposals for an outside facilitator to assist the City Council by conducting a team-building workshop or retreat for City Councilmembers, the City Manager, and key City staff.”

Councilmember Steve Uhring voted against 7b. Councilmember Pierson said after discussion he would like to withdraw the proposal.

Councilmember Karen Farrer provided her report and announced her position as the president for The Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Government Board. 

Councilmember Pierson responded to the charges of sexism, ageism, anti-semitism and racism, saying they are unfounded and that he has spoke to Goldfarb briefly and hopes to speak to her again.

Councilmembers motioned to move approve item 3.b.5 on the agenda to, “authorize the Mayor to execute Professional Services Agreement with NV5, Inc. in the amount of $1,072,404.14 to perform construction management services for the Pacific Coast Highway Median Improvement Project and PCH Signal Synchronization Project.” The motion was passed by all council members.

Clean Power Alliance provided a presentation regarding electricity service provided to Malibu, including customer participation, rates and billing practices.

Farrer provided a report and opposition to the letter from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and its plan to relocate secure track juvenile offenders, youth found to have committed serious offenses, from Barry J Nidorf Juvenile Hall to Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu.

After speakers shared their perspectives, Silverstein said rather than sending a letter to oppose this proposal, to craft a letter that explains the other letter. 

Farrer said the COG meets once a month, and met on Tuesday, coincidentally the same time the Board of Supervisors met and there was no opportunity to address the letter. 

“Malibu was not given the opportunity, none of the cities were, and again this is not restoring justice versus punitive,” Farrer said. “This is about a facility that was never designed or built for this type of vendor.” 

Farrer said the letter was dated March 10, but was received on March 13, the day before the City Council meeting on Monday. 

Silverstein proposed to wait until the COG and Board of Supervisors discuss the proposal so they can revisit the issue. Uhring asked Farrer if she could emphasize the fact that they had no advanced notice. Farrer said the vote already took place on Sept. 15, 2021. Farrer opposed and motioned to relocate juvenile offenders to Camp Kilpatrick. Grisanti seconded the motion. Grisanti and Farrer voted yes on the motion, Silverstein and Uhring voted no, and Pierson abstained. Motion failed.

The next city council meeting will be held on March 28.  

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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