The Woolsey Fire was a devastating disaster.
On Dec. 10, 2018, I attended the first regular meeting of Malibu City Council following the Woolsey Fire. I expected to witness the council members in full exigency mode, working to help the community in the aftermath of the fire. Instead, I witnessed 90 minutes of ceremonial platitudes and self-congratulations that were an insult to the community. I spoke out against the charade at that meeting, and I followed with an onslaught of public criticism (both constructive and negative) designed to generate a public discussion and reform.
Following the Woolsey Fire, I conceived, created, organized, and led the Lawyer Project of The Malibu Times’ Operation Recovery. Through the Lawyer Project, we were able to help hundreds of Malibu residents obtain superior legal representation at unprecedentedly discounted prices (all contingent on a recovery). I devoted hundreds of hours to the Lawyer Project, and I did so without any compensation of any sort—and with a promise that I would not accept compensation if offered to me.
When city council was considering the 2019 budget, the city manager initially projected $2.6 million in revenue from permit fees for Woolsey Fire rebuilds. Through The Malibu Times’ Operation Recovery, I spearheaded an initiative to prevail upon city council to waive those fees—which the city manager and some members of city council initially opposed (and now pat themselves on the back for approving).
I also fought “City Hall” on various environmental matters, including two matters I appealed to the coastal commission to prevent destruction of environmentally sensitive habitat. I also advocated various reforms, including pressing city council to exert greater authority over the city manager and city staff.
Because of my public activism, many Malibu residents—including current and former members of city council and city commissions—urged me to run for city council. Ultimately, and with more than a bit of trepidation, I agreed to throw my hat into the ring. I did so out of a sense of civic obligation and not because of any personal desire.
The current members of city council were elected before the Woolsey Fire “woke” us to the reality that they are ceremonial leaders, whose main qualification is that they are the friends of many voters. Making matters worse, the city manager, city attorney and almost all of Malibu’s city staff are non-residents, who lack the personal perspective of the residents of our small community. That is why city council rarely acts contrary to a “staff recommendation” that often conflicts with the wishes of the community. That is why many residents are dissatisfied with City Hall.
Today, Malibu’s unique environment, natural beauty and calming serenity are under assault by commercial developers, transient visitors and a growing homeless population. Crime, traffic, and littered streets and beaches are on the rise. The omnipresent threat of wildfire, earthquakes and other disasters looms large. And the double-punch of the Woolsey Fire and COVID-19 pandemic have left the city’s bloated budget battered and bruised. The ceremonial members of city council simply are not up to the task of dealing with these issues.
Before becoming a community activist for Malibu, I practiced law for more than 30 years and was once identified as one of the top 500 lawyers in the country. I have substantial experience drafting laws, construing laws and resolving complex disputes that require novel solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems—the same type of work required of members of city council.
Remarkably, city council has not had a member who is a lawyer for more than a decade. It is not enough that Malibu employs a city attorney. It is important for city council to have at least one member who is a lawyer to, among other things, (i) serve as a check and balance on the city attorney, (ii) ask informed questions of the city attorney or other outside lawyers, (iii) aid and assist the city attorney and other lawyers when the need arises. That is why there is at least member of city council who is a lawyer in Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Camarillo, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Oxnard, Pasadena, San Diego, Santa Monica, Thousand Oaks, Ventura, West Hollywood, Westlake Village and Woodland Hills, among other places.
I offer Malibu my 30 years of experience drafting laws, construing laws and resolving complex disputes. No other candidate for city council has this experience, and no other candidate for city council has a track record of “speaking truth to power.”
I Won’t Back Down!