City Council Regards Higher Seating as Way to Elevate Public View of Members
• Members Want Better Lighting and Camera Angles for Close-Ups
BY BILL KOENEKER
It seemed like a done deal. The Malibu City Council dais had already been moved from the floor up to the stage and the lighting had already been adjusted at the quarterly meeting, offering a new slant for council members' close-ups.
However, when it came time to discuss whether to allocate the funding necessary to make the change permanent, there seemed to be some debate between council members.
"I think we really need to spend less," said Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich. "I feel very strongly we should not be spending the $10,000 for the backdrop."
Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman had previously told the council the dais had been moved as a temporary measure for everyone to see if the new move was a good fit.
In her memo to council members, Feldman indicated the dais was originally situated on the floor in front of the stage and could be moved "in order to provide for additional seating in the theater."
Due to limitations with the camera equipment and site lines from the audience, the location of the dais is not optimal, she noted.
The alternate location was to move it onto the stage offering improved site lines from the audience and more appropriate visual angles for the cameras.
Feldman explained the move would require an additional floor box with electrical and audio visual connections, and backdrops would be needed to provide a contrast from the existing black curtain in the back wall of the theater.
But Conley Ulich was not pleased. "I don't need a backdrop to look more professional," she said.
That was in reaction to Councilmember Lou La Monte's explanation, speaking by phone from Albany. He said a more professional look was one of the reasons for the backdrops.
"It is not just $10,000 for the backdrops behind us. It is not designed just for us. It can be used by others," he added.
In her memo, Feldman said the proposed backdrops would be finished with an acoustical treatment similar to the treatment of the theater walls. The backdrops would interlock and could be used for theater purposes and city filming needs in addition to being used for the city council and the planning commission meetings.
The backdrops cost $10,000, the electrical and audio video connections $11,000. The city seal for backdrops' price tag is $1500 and the moveable staircases $2500.
The assistant city manager said the funding was already in the current adopted budget under media operations.
"We need to have something that looks professional," repeated La Monte.
"I respectfully disagree," replied Conley Ulich.
At that point, the other council members chimed in with their viewpoints.
Wagner said he deferred to La Monte because of his experience behind the camera. "Did we explore the drop curtain behind us?" he asked.
La Monte said it had been looked at, but the modular series of backdrops would allow uses for others.
"There is no place up in the ceiling to put something up there," added Feldman.
With all eyes up in the air, Wagner said, "Reva is correct. There is lighting up there. You would have to move the lighting track. I'm glad you explained that."
"Why couldn't we do something else? I don't care about a backdrop," said Conley Ulich.
"I have to respectfully disagree with you. We went with the least expensive way," answered La Monte.
Rosenthal, who was acting as mayor since Mayor John Sibert was absent, told her colleagues what convinced her.
"The thing that swayed me. This look is more professional. We can rent this room out. I think the $10,000 is for something we will use for many years," the acting mayor said.
Still unconvinced, Conley Ulich said, "I disagree. But we can agree to disagree."
Wagner said, "I don't think it will be the full ten grand."
The roll call was taken with affirmative votes cast by La Monte, Rosenthal and Wagner. Conley Ulich dissented.