City Manager Contract Under Review

The SHAKE-UP RUMORS ARE GETTING LOUDER Could change be in the air at City Hall?

Over the past year, there has been a continuous cycle of disturbing changes at City Hall, which continues to struggle to get its bearings under the guidance of City Manager Reva Feldman who took over the position last May.

The growing lack of clarity surrounding the day to day business of running this City is now being scrutinized, at length, as the City Manager’s contract is currently undergoing a review by City Council.

Now approaching its second month of the process (which is highly unusual), it appears that Feldman could be finally be losing her grip on the “what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors” strategy she used to run the City over the last year. Her lack of transparency and inability to be forthcoming is being highlighted as council digs deeper into the discovery process.

Could they be getting close to finding out where all the bodies are buried?

Before the new council took to the dais in January, it appears the City manager and staff functioned with no real oversight. Council allowed them to slide on virtually every discrepancy.

But now that the (presumably) pro-preservation slate,who campaigned on cleaning house at City Hall, has taken office, we’re hopeful Feldman has lost her golden parachute.

Recently, when speaking with council member Rick Mullen about Feldman’s particularly poor job performance, he said: “Give me an example.”

Well, here you go.

Emergency Disservices

From the moment Feldman stepped into the position as City Manager, the slow motion collapse of City Hall began.

It’s no secret that Feldman is prone to forcing out and shuffling around her staff which has resulted in long-standing, devoted employees departing their posts with very real and detrimental effects on our City.

The City’s first big loss under the new Reva regime, was Brad Davis, Emergency Services Coordinator. Davis was in charge of training and certifying resident volunteers as Emergency Responders (C.E.R.T), sending out emergency alerts to residents and other emergency services duties.

Shortly after Feldman took over the role as City Manager, she put Davis on what was reported to be a forced “medical leave” with no second in command in place for this important public emergency position.

Six months later, on December 22, 2016, Davis turned that “medical leave” into his official resignation. Immediately after his announcement. Davis landed a plum position in Foster City where they will undoubtedly benefit from Davis’s invaluable experience our city was fortunate to have for well over a decade.

Unfortunately, Davis’s untimely “medical leave” happened to coincide with Malibu’s most dangerous season for weather conditions, and Feldman, to our knowledge, had no trained replacement for Davis’s position on staff, leaving the city in a very vulnerable position.

Noticeable deficiencies were evident almost immediately.

Emergency alerts sent out through the City’s Nixle system were untimely or not sent out at all.

On November 9, 2016, a fire broke out in Corral Canyon. This was a very hot night and any change in weather could have led to a devastat- ing outcome. Although the re was contained in approximately 20 minutes (thanks to L.A. County Fire Department) no alert was sent to residents from the city. Furious at the complete disregard for the safety of the residents of Corral Canyon, I contacted council member Peak. He assured me he would follow up with Feldman as to why the City alert was not activated. Feldman issued no apology, instead calling the fire “brief,” making the excuse it was “outside the city limits.” In other words, and in Feldman’s mind, the residents in unincorporated 90265 are not her concern, nor did she take into account that Corral Canyon has only one access road that runs through Malibu city proper. This fire was one wind gust away from potential disaster inside the city limits, similar to the 2007 re that destroyed over 50 homes.

Yet Feldman told the community she “had it handled.”

Instead of hiring an interim replacement for Davis to keep the Emergency Preparedness and CERT programs operational until she could find a permanent replacement, Feldman chose to take care of her needs first. She created a new position placing more burden on the city’s budget, by hiring yet another personal assistant, Assistant to the City Manager. She continued to leave the post of Emergency Services completely unmanned for the last six months.

That’s right, six months.

Of all the things a city manager could overlook, none touches in intensity and consequence as much as the absence of an Emergency Services co-ordinator, especially in a disaster-prone community like ours. The disconnect between the City Manager and her responsibility to protect the community was crystal clear with the city’s failure to participate in October 19th’s Great Shake Out exercise. This annual opportunity is for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes, and to improve preparedness. Shakeout.org reported that 10,667,89 Californians participated in this year’s life-saving drill, yet under Feldman’s rule, Malibu was a no-show.

Protecting the public is the FIRST responsibility of government and the City Manager and, at this point, there is no question Feldman has been severely derelict in her duties with regard to the public safety of our town. This kind of city managing is undeniably dangerous.

At press time, The Local learned that Feldman had passed over Malibu-based applicant David Saul for Public Safety Manager (which is now re-placing the Emergency Services Coordinator position). Having a local resident in charge of Emergency Services would have been the best decision for the community. This makes the most sense because of Malibu’s history of becoming isolated by weather-induced landslides ,earthquakes or other natural disasters. Saul received more than 30 letters of recommendation and is well respected in the community. He also intimately understands the local landscape and has close ties to emergency responders. This is not the first time Feldman has passed over a qualified resident in favor of an outsider for a city staff position.

How long will it take for this department to run at full speed as it did when Brad Davis was at the helm? Only time will tell, but it doesn’t look promising based on Feldman’s track record. It is increasingly important to this community to have it running effectively and increasingly frustrating knowing that Feldman is in control.

Conflict of Many Interests

Feldman, who has been with the City since 2005, is no stranger to procedure and protocol. Yet city hall has become increasingly conflict-ridden under her supervision and this decision maker is making decisions that don’t seem to be in the broad public interest.

Employee Turnover – Along with Brad Davis leaving his post as Emergency Services Coordinator, Barbara Cameron, Grants Acquisition Coordinator, Lisa Pope, City Clerk and Victor Peterson, the City’s longest employee, all suffered a similar fate under Feldman’s rule.

Selective Code Enforcement – This is a big problem and has resulted in 4 lawsuits, so far, all currently in litigation with potentially disastrous outcomes. As long as the city staff continues to operate as they have under Feldman’s guidance, litigation will be ongoing and the city will be hemorrhaging money on legal fees.

Failure to Review City Contracted Services – If city staff is enabling the contractor to get the work, how can they effectively audit the work? Where is the oversight by unbiased auditors reviewing outside vendors for performance quality assurances?

Paying Contractors In their Personal Name – The City’s Warrant Register, the tabulation of payments the City makes twice monthly which is reviewed by and certified by Feldman, with the checks written to the business owner’s personal name (?) instead of the contracted business entity.

The list of deficiencies is staggering.

The Holy Grail of Non-Compliance

Nothing screams derelict of duty more than staff being forced to admit the city hasn’t performed a performance audit for over ten years. In the Agenda posted on March 29, 2017, city staff requested $9,800 for two department performance audits, with no actual admission of lack of fulfilling requirements as per the Council Policy Handbook. At this rate of two performance audits per year can we expect compliance within another 10 years time?

This issue only came to light after concerned resident, Ryan Embree addressed the Council directly during public comment. Embree exposed the ongoing violation ignored by the City Manager, forcing Feldman to comply.

For many years, Feldman headed the Finance Department – during which not a single performance audit occurred.

While most of the performance audits that were not conducted took place under Jim Thorson’s direction, Feldman held the position of assistant City manager and should have been well versed in this policy.

It is high time that Council admit they have a serious problem employee on their hands. The professional negligence is staggering.

If Feldman is not replaced, only failure and gridlock await.


By Cece Woods

Cece Woods

The Current Report Editor in Chief Cece Woods started The Local Malibu, an activism based platform in 2014. The publication was instrumental in the success of pro-preservation ballot measures and seating five top vote-getters in the Malibu City Council elections.

During the summer of 2018, Woods exposed the two-year law enforcement cover-up in the Malibu Creek State Park Shootings, and a few short months later provided the most comprehensive local news coverage during the Woolsey Fire attracting over one million hits across her social media platforms.

Since 2020, Woods was the only journalist reporting on the on-going public corruption involving former L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington. Woods worked with Political Corruption expert Adam Loew, DC Watchdog organizations and leaders in the Capitol exposing Washington which ultimately led to the withdrawal of his nomination to head the FAA.

Woods also founded Malibu based 90265 Magazine and Cali Mag devoted to the authentic southern California lifestyle.

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