The local political campaigns are underway, marked by the first flood of endorsements. Just checking them out, you can get some idea of the daisy chain that has been clinking glasses and comparing local real estate prices while dangling their beach keys and seldom hearing a disparaging voice. Such is Malibu’s cult of amiability. 

To be fair, when they ran for office pre-Woolsey and pandemic days, our present feeble council of smiling laypersons probably did not expect to contend with a hardening of the city’s bureaucratic arteries and a more critical public. If anything, the disastrous fire followed by City Hall’s continued mismanagement have been wakeup calls. 

Previously, being a council-person had been candidly looked upon as something honorific, like being elected president of a college fraternity or sorority, except for the occasional transient grifters and the ever-present piggish Realtors and developers for whom Malibu is a Monopoly board. 

Meanwhile, in the past, many residents rarely followed the local aging adolescent political scene, Malibu as a community having a reputation of being modestly libertarian, with more than a few outlander surfer and environmentalist types protective of their privacy and prerogatives. Thorny me has always felt at home here. 

But this election year is different, with the council facing an abused budget, mounting civic complaints, hints of staff malfeasance and a call for their elected representatives to confront manipulating city manager Reva Feldman and guileful city attorney Christi Hogin. 

If there is a theme resonating among self-described reformer residents, it is to take back Malibu from a mercenary City Hall and hustling special interests. 

Concerned voters want to know who among the eight candidates for the three open council seats, a potential majority, will have the confidence to wade into City Hall and call to task Malibu’s dictatorial duo. 

Since presumptuously assuming the title of local pundit based upon 70-or-so years of jumping from rock to rock in the media, I already have eliminated two candidates from the eligible list: incumbent double-dipping, pension-padding Rick Mullen, for whatever reason Reva’s prime champion, and long-time off-putting, Realtor personified Paul Grisanti. His signs already are everywhere, on very private property, of course. 

A third on the do-not-waste-your-local-vote list is the less obnoxious but still questionable Lance Simmens. Judging by his derivative writings, he is a decidedly progressive Democrat, and, judging by his five short years on the local scene, an irresolute bumptious presence. This already is his second run for Council.

In particular, his brief tenure as president of the Adamson House Foundation raised some doubts about his discretion, as well as queries of how senior is his sundry claimed “senior” government experiences. And while the snaps of him and Washington politicos do dazzle, less so are several of his glib proposals for a more livable Malibu. 

But, hey, he and others can be excused, for after all, this is election time in Malibu. Have to keep your mouth and nose covered for the pandemic, and hearing filtered for the politics. 

Sam Hall Kaplan

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