Malibu Planning Commissioner’s Motives
Council Candidate Doug Stewart seems to be a smart, friendly guy. But several weeks ago, he did something that made me question his integrity. In a public forum, he impugned my motives as a planning commissioner based on false assumptions. When I heard about it, I phoned him and set him straight. He apologized personally and said he would do so publicly. But then he sent me a draft of his letter, and it wasn’t an apology; it was a “we agree to disagree” statement. In effect, he accused me of lying about my own motives—as though he knew them better.
I had recused myself from deliberations about a permit for demolition of Juan Cabrillo School because the staff report had come out only three days before the hearing, over a weekend, rather than the usual ten days. If I couldn’t adequately read the hundreds of pages of technical information in that short time, certainly the public would not have had time to read it, let alone be aware that a matter of public interest was scheduled.
Doug claimed that I was trying to delay the school project for a year by preventing a quorum from being present in the hearing; that I was making a “shallow excuse” and offering “lawyer spin.” The fact is, I had double-checked with the City Attorney in advance of the meeting to confirm that my recusal would not result in a lack of quorum and that nothing would be delayed. I stand by my decision not to have voted on a matter for which neither I nor the public could have been adequately informed.
Candidates for public office should be held to a higher ethical standard. We might expect hypocrisy from national politicians, but we can demand that those who represent our community be straight-shooters. What does it say of Doug’s character that he would apologize to my face but refuse to make a public correction? His claim that I lied is itself a lie. He still owes the truth to the whole community.
Kraig Hill, Chairman Malibu Planning Commission