By Sam Hall Kaplan
The independent investigation funded by Malibu prompted by former City Manager Reva Feldman claiming harassment by Councilperson Bruce Silverstein apparently has exonerated him, stupefying the City Council majority.
But out of embarrassment, fealty to Reva for whatever reason, or discomfiture with the discerning Silverstein, councilpersons Karen Farrer, Mikke Pierson
and Paul Grisanti apparently bonded together not to release the report, a public document paid for by the city and completed six months ago.
It is obvious that the report apparently finding that Silverstein’s interactions with Feldman were reasonable requests in the pursuit of city business and not harassments (as defined in the city’s Administrative Guideline No. 3.4.6), had backfired on Reva who not coincidentally then was seeking a lucrative payoff from the city. She did eventually receive it, gratis the council.
The flawed argument for not releasing the report has been that it violates Reva’s departure agreement with the city, which includes a non-disparagement clause.
However, upon readings by learned attorneys and informed others, the agreement specifically (clause 10.2) does not prevent “either party from referring to or republishing the official findings of an agency.”
When questioned, the city’s attorney, John Cotti, replied that he did not have authority to unilaterally release the report. To do that apparently would take a majority of the Council, which to date has declined to do so.
It did however recently release the flawed disparate report investigating alleged corruption, as well as its damning 472 page Appendix of Interviews, that included litany of self-serving and spurious comments by Farrer and Pierson.
Another feeble argument against releasing the report concerning Silverstein is that Feldman would sue the city.
This presumed threat was dismissed as highly improbable by experienced attorneys and knowledgeable others, who noted not only that such a suit in the course of mutual discovery would expose Feldman’s questionable tenure as City Manager, including possibly corruption, but also how her suing her former employer might stand with possible future employers.
And besides the ignorance of municipal protocols, the City not releasing the report itself was seen as a clear indication of Farrer, Pierson and Grisanti’s petty hostility to Silverstein, and an abuse of transparency and public trust.
To that end, the city should then also consider releasing the 17-page complaint plus 100 pages of exhibits filed against Feldman by Silverstein that triggered not an investigation and a conceivable censure or worse, but rather an irresolute letter from her personal attorney claiming “harassment,” and threatening litigation while also proposing a payout.
It was that presumptuous letter that prompted the woeful majority to request the investigation that now haunts them, and whose intransigencies if anything prompt censure.
Hopefully, the municipal costs and embarrassments the inept trio has caused Malibu will be remembered if they arrogantly dare run for reelection.
But enough of high school politics. It is time Malibu residents look forward to an adult Council.