The city council just finished a review of City Manager Reva Feldman’s performance and voted three to two to give her a raise. For those who are upset that it isn’t done in public, know that reviews of personnel performance are almost always done in closed session, not just in Malibu but pretty much everywhere. As you can tell from the vote, the decision was close and controversial and I’ve seen some of the reaction by some of the more outspoken on NextDoor. The matter is on the agenda for the city council meeting of Dec. 9. Before you go down to shout, I’d suggest you go to the city website, check the agenda and read the staff report first. I’d also suggest you all try to be objective and not just scapegoat Reva Feldman. There were many failures in this fire and we should fairly apportion blame if blame is due.

The fire rebuilding is proceeding and currently there are:

- 10 rebuild applications in planning

- 188 have already received planning approval

- 44 have pulled building permits

- 0 have yet to be completed

To keep up to date, go to the city’s website at malibucity.org/rebuild.

•••

President Trump is swinging through Europe on a tour that has taken him to France and Britain with more to come. The joint press conference with Trump and President Macron of France was very unusual in that it’s very clear that, as far as the Europeans are concerned, there is nothing to be gained by playing nice with Trump anymore and they probably intend to confront Trump at every opportunity. Tweaking Trump’s nose appears to be a popular posture in Europe and, since Trump is so unpopular with European voters, confronting Trump has positive fallout for European politicians. In rather blunt language, Macron told Trump he had his facts wrong on ISIS and when it came to dealing with the Russians he said Trump was naive. It’s not the kind of language you generally hear when two heads of state hold a press conference, but Trump was just as nasty back. It may not be good foreign relations, but it certainly makes for good television. The English appear to have Trump figured out and they put on a major pomp and circumstance for Trump with Prince Charles as the lead actor, just the kind of party Trump seems to like. Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, the vultures are circling.

•••

The census bureau did an analysis of migration patterns to and from California and the verdict is, as reported in the Orange County Register, 691,145 left the state last year. They left and the biggest gainers of Californians were Texas (86,164), Arizona (68,516), Washington State (55,467), Nevada (50,707) and Oregon (43,058). Don’t panic yet. On the other side of the ledger, 501,203 moved into California from other states, which was a five-year low for in migration to California. To put it into perspective, only 1.8 percent of the state’s population moved out last year and, when compared to all of the 50 states, we were third lowest in the nation. People moving in constituting 1.3 percent of our population is the lowest in the nation. This, of course, doesn’t count people immigrating into California from other countries. If you’re wondering why the Golden State is losing some of its goldenness, you merely have to look at the cost of housing rentals. According to the USC Lusk Casden forecast, the average asking rents in LA County in 2011 was $1,550 per month. By 2015, it had jumped to $1,900. By 2019 it had jumped again to $2,230. That means that LA rents jumped almost 50 percent from 2011 to 2019. I would guess that the kids are beginning to move out to places where housing is affordable. They know they can barely pay the rents, many are spending over 30 percent of their income for housing, so the choice seems to be move back with your parents or get out of California.

•••

San Diego Congressman Duncan Hunter finally threw in the towel and agreed to plead guilty to one count of misuse of campaign funds after months of proclaiming his innocence. Since 40 counts were alleged, and since he’s only pleading guilty to one count, I guess that’s a victory of sorts, but he clearly knows he’s going to Federal prison. 

Actually, he might have beaten the charges in front of a San Diego jury since he’s a popular multiterm congressman who inherited the family business of politics and his congressional seat from his multiterm congressman father and, in time, I’m sure intended to pass on the seat to his son, along with any unspent campaign funds, unlikely as that might be. But he was tripped up. Paying for the fancy clothes, family vacations, household expenses, video games, even the mistresses, with campaign dollars all might have been overlooked. But the final straw was when he air-shipped the family bunny across the country at a cost of $600 paid from his campaign funds. The poor guy got caught up in “Bunnygate” and now has to pay the price.

P.S. PETA should seriously consider giving him an award for his animal loyalty; however, the presentation will have to be made during visiting hours.

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