Woolsey Aftermath: HIPPA Law Violations Among Concerns Associated With Voter Intimidation in RECALL Efforts

By Cece Woods, Editor in Chief, co-authored by Dr. Amora Rachelle, J.D., Ph.D., M.D.R., ONE Peace and Restorative Justice Center

This is the second installment of a multi-part series where The Local Malibu exposes the corruption at City Hall that interfered with voters’ rights to recall two City Council members. 

Voters must now seek legal remedies against the City to reinstate the voters’ right to due process. Formal complaints have been filed with multiple law enforcement and government agencies.

There is no question the lack of leadership by City officials during the Woolsey Fire was instrumental in the initiation of recall efforts by community activists to unseat City council members Skylar Peak and Rick Mullen.

The complete disregard for the safety of residents, put in jeopardy multiple times during the disaster, including a failed evacuation plan and refusal to provide critical disaster relief, were among the monumental failures by City leaders before, during, and after the Woolsey Fire.

On November 9th, the poorly executed evacuation resulted in a traffic jam on PCH, with cars crawling at a snail’s pace, put many lives at risk as the Woolsey Fire barreled toward the coast. The fire at approximately 14 miles long, with wind gusts that hit up to 70 plus miles per hour, raged over the canyons toward PCH.

A member of LACOFD (stationed at Bluffs Park during the mandatory evacuations) was flabbergasted by the sequence of events that led to the 5 1/2 hour gridlock as panicked residents fled the fire zone. With complete amazement, he said “we’re lucky we didn’t have another Paradise on our hands”.

While residents were in a state of shock and desperate for information, there was absolutely no communication from the City.

Complete silence.

No information was dispersed by officials to guide residents during this critical time.

Once community members realized they were abandoned by the City, our publication who was boots on the ground reporting during the fire, along with residents, strategized and organized vital, up to the minute updates, and facilitated disaster assistance (as members of the press free to cross barricades with our press passes) to those in need, in the days and weeks in the aftermath of the fire.

The Local Malibu was the main source of information during the fire which resulted in over a million hit across all platforms.

Meanwhile, City leaders continued to deny emergency relief, including food, water medicine, and basic survival necessities. There was a complete breakdown in leadership control, resulting in City Hall closing for 3 weeks.

Skylar Peak “having a moment” at the Evacuee meeting after the Woolsey Fire with City Manager Feldman looking on. Photo: Daily News.

Furthermore, city officials abused their power by using resources for their own advantage, refusing to give help to residents, and interfering with disaster relief.

Council member Peak went on local news stations to caution residents not to access Malibu by boats with disaster supplies, at which time the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department stopped relief boats in the ocean just off shore at multiple locations.

The new Sheriff of L.A. County, Alex Villanueva, who was sworn in after the fire spoke at a recent Town Hall on May 22nd.  When the Sheriff was asked by a resident about the incidents in the water involving LASD if the same protocol would be in place during the next disaster, the Sheriff answered:

“That should have never happened, and it won’t happen again”.

Sheriff Villanueva at the May 22nd Town Hall at Duke’s Malibu.

Even more egregious, a city commissioner reported that City Manager Feldman “refused resources by land and water including first aid, food, and gas, because she said she did not want to put FEMA funding in jeopardy.” When in fact, FEMA funding was never in question when providing aid during a disaster.

Mitigation is critical to avoid the disastrous effects of any state emergency, and Feldman is guilty for not doing so.

Politicians interference during Woolsey was also documented in the L.A. Times article regarding L.A. City Fires after-action report.

Shortly after the Woolsey Fire, a petition was created by residents demanding the removal of the City Manager Reva Feldman and Public Safety Manager Susan Duenas. The petition, signed by more than 4000 residents and supporters was presented to City officials, along with public comment at multiple council meetings. Additionally, Council was inundated with emails from enraged community members supporting the dismissal of City Manager Feldman.

Council members Peak and Mullen ignored the appeals made by residents to replace Feldman, who runs City Hall dictator-style, doing whatever she wants, with absolutely no oversight from City Council.

With no options left and no resolution in sight, voters initiated the recall process as the deteriorated relationship between the community and the City, hit its peak after the disaster.

 Voter Intimidation and Harassment by City officials… including a family member!

On February 11th, 2019 council members Skylar Peak and Rick Mullen were served with the Letter of Intent to Recall.

Unwilling to accept the will of the voters who signed the Letter of Intent to Recall, council member Rick Mullen, immediately after being served, personally took it upon himself to make unsolicited visits to the proponents’ residences, some as late as 10 p.m. Mullen questioned most proponents in an intimidating manner, regarding why they signed the Letter of Intent to Recall.

Additionally, Mullens wife, a dental hygienist, used the patient database at her employers dental office, violating HIPPA laws and breaking patient confidentiality. Mullen’s wife contacted proponents she did not know personally, in order to question and intimidate them. 

One of the proponents reported these actions to recall organizers and quoted Mullens wife as saying: “Do you have any idea what you signed?”

Mullen and his wife, displayed such disturbing, inappropriate, and aggressive behavior demanding to know why proponents were recalling Council member Mullen, that it pushed some victims to take additional precautions against future interaction in the future.

A portion of the declaration submitted to authorities regarding voter intimidation by Rick Mullen toward one of the proponents of the recall.

Council member Peak also displayed similar conduct when he approached a resident who was vocal online regarding the firefighters lack of reponse during the Woolsey Fire. Peak approached him at a well known Malibu venue and said “Firefighters are really mad and I better watch out.”


This behavior from a public official is absolutely unacceptable, and it isn’t the first time we have heard reports of intimidation and inappropriate behavior from Peak.

These acts of voter intimidation are illegal and caused fear, uneasiness. and in some cases, panic in the proponents of the recall efforts.

State elections codes states the following:

“Every person who makes use of or threatens to make use of any force, violence, or tactic of coercion or intimidation, to induce or compel any other person to vote or refrain from voting at any election …is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to Section 1170(h) of the Penal Code for 16 months or two or three years. (§ 18540(a)”

Many burn-out victims of the Woolsey Fire expressed desire to sign the recall petition, however, were afraid of their permits being denied, and/or their businesses being impacted, as well as other possible revenge by the city council members and specifically city manager Feldman.

As if Woolsey burn-out victims aren’t suffering enough, those who expressed their frustration and spoke out on social media were subject of intimidation from City Manager Feldman. The City heavily  monitored chatter on all platforms post Woolsey, noting residents who were critical of the City and their performance during the disaster.

One resident reported to recall organizers City Manager Feldman told him directly, “If you go against us, we will make it harder for you.”

A whistle blower inside the City also reported “Feldman manipulates the order, and the granting of permit applications subjectively, based on who she likes and dislikes.” and residents are aware of and intimidated by this process, all of which interfered with recall efforts.

Declarations from the victims who experienced this intimidation, and who were brave enough to speak up, are now in the hands of law enforcement agencies.

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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