The Fire’s Out, But City Hall’s Toxic Ash Remains

The City Observed by Sam Hall Kaplan

The holiday season is almost over, but sadly the daily reminders of the disastrous fire and an overpaid, under performing City Manager, her indulged entourage and oblivious supporters still remain, like the residue of toxic ash that lingers on our community.

In rendering the Malibu landscape raw and 500 homes ash, the disastrous Woolsey fire has disquietly exposed Malibu’s governance as inept, to the increasing exasperation of a growing majority of the city’s resident population. Time for a recall?

Also palpably changed as a result of the calamity is the conceit that is Malibu, its surviving citizenry more communal, more politically alert and frankly tired of the City Hall bullshit, and so I write in The Local and websites everywhere (nice to have a reach in the hundreds of thousands of new readers and journalistic integrity, at the sorry cost of a few radio listeners.)

And the ranks of the concerned are growing daily, as City Hall’s finagling and failures are exposed in the social media, even if some in the local media don’t see it. This has prompted more and more signatures on a petition calling for the resignation or firing of city manager Reva Feldman: https://www.change.org/p/malibu-residents-take-back-our-city

From my pedagogical perspective on the Point, philosophically also up in smoke from the firestorm is the enlightened Social Contract, the hallowed basis of democracy where citizens essentially obey laws and pay taxes in return for government providing safety and services.

That did not happen in the Woolsey fire, when as the flames raced toward Malibu and communications collapsed, and the mismanaged mandatory evacuation turned the PCH into a highway hell, putting the thousands fleeing at deadly risk. But you needn’t worry about Mayor Mullen, he defied the order so his teenage son could protect their home. And councilman Peak roosts in another county.

Meanwhile, confusion reigned in a neophyte City Hall where its emergency operation center was closed for the a critical period when canyons were scorched and street after street of western Malibu and the Point tragically burned.

And for whatever reason, the once but not-now heralded first responders were absent, or flaked out, only later to appear to further bungle the aftermath. It is personally painful to recall that time, as I broached barriers, ferried people, and saved chickens.

And where were and what were the city leaders doing then, other than congratulating themselves at every opportunity, as if their helloes and hugging would absolve them. Who do Reva, Rick and Skylar think they duped with their sham theatrics, in particular in a city where many in show business live. Check the charlatans on these YouTube videos interviewed by Malibu local John Watkin:



There is a popular political precept among governmental wonks that states  “A people hire A people, B people hire C people,. “ It is my sad observation that Malibu City Hall is a quagmire of Cs, sinking under the weight of a bevy of bungling bureaucrats, and two returning recalcitrant councilmen.

My initial hope was that an independent local task force of citizens aided by professionals would take a hard look at the city’s actions and inactions in the firestorm so that it be better prepared for the next disaster sure to come. But it seems the process was hijacked by a cabal of self serving city leaders, who are the most suspect of failing the city.

Now I’m wondering if the local task force is really needed, even if purged, and that the “comprehensive review” of the County’ s announced by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl will suffice.

Frankly, I feel the issue of the city manger, as well as councilmen Mullen and Peak are beyond the question of whether they failed the city. The harsh reality is that guilty or not, they do not have the confidence of most residence,  and should resign,  get out of the way of the cleanup and the need for municipal reform.

It would certainly save themselves and the city embarrassment, in the case of Reva being fired and Rick and Skylar recalled. Let’s think of it as a holiday gift to the city, other than the blackened coal they left on our steps.

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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