City Council Members Do Their Gestational Rotation of Office
• Incoming Mayor Is Challenged by Speakers for Not Stating Position on Malibu Lagoon Project
BY BILL KOENEKER
It is called reorganization or rotation whereby the mayoral gavel changes hands—this time with the outgoing mayor John Sibert handing over the symbolic office to the incoming mayor Laura Rosenthal.
Rosenthal spoke briefly about what her goals and priorities will be during her term.
The mayor said safety is one of her top priorities. "That is important to me," she said.
Rosenthal also mentioned the arts and said she hoped the city would be able to take the ideas of the task force and implement them.
The incoming mayor said that during her term she wants to be part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the installation of lights at the Malibu High School football field.
The mayor also said communication was high on her list and also very important for her. She stated she thought the city was already doing a better job at it.
She said she thought her friends were actually more excited about her role as mayor than she was. "We talked about it for a very long time," she added.
Rosenthal quipped she was asking for forgiveness in advance for her errors and reminded those in council chambers that an "error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."
However, in a departure from the usual reorganization meeting, the public comment portion of the session was sparked with controversy as many of the public speakers took Rosenthal and the city council to task for its position on the proposed Malibu Lagoon restoration plan.
"I was surprised to hear you say the city has no role," said Marcia Hanscom, who heads up Wetlands Defense Fund. She stated that various letters issued by the city made its position equivocal.
Hanscom asked that the matter be put on an agenda after the first of the year for clarification of the city council's position.
Point Dume resident Mari Stanley asked for the same thing, complaining that the 2-2 votes on the matter, when it was at the council table, left the council essentially voiceless on the matter. "I'm requesting you take some position. I'm asking for it to be brought back on an agenda," she said.
Stanley said even if the mayor was not physically able to be at that meeting, she should phone in her appearance.
" We've had a surfer mayor, we have had a science mayor, we don't want to see a secretive mayor," Stanley said.
There were other speakers who took up their own issues to the point that it prompted one longtime council member to wonder, "When did the mayoral change become a venue for self-promotion?"
Earlier in the evening, Sibert had been presented a number of commendations from federal, state and county representatives and he spoke about his time in office.
The outgoing mayor talked about how Malibu had a "raucous youth over the past years," but had grown.
He described the success of the city when leaders realized it does not exist in a vacuum and it could learn to get along with other agencies.
He cited as an example how he and Councilmember Jefferson Wagner had met with California Coastal Commission members and how meeting them one-on-one has changed the relationship between the city and the commission. "We get along with the Coastal Commission," he said. "We are working with other surrounding cities and agencies."
Sibert spoke about the association of Malibu with its upstream cities, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills and Calabasas.
He said there was a certain amount of power derived when speaking with the voice of 90,000 citizens compared to Malibu's 13,000 plus citizens.
Sibert gave advice to others who want to enter into public discourse: "Leave the ego at the door when you walk in here. Have a civil discourse. Recognize we have differences, but one common goal," he said.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich said Rosenthal was the sixth female mayor of Malibu.
"We could count that number on one hand, but no more. It is kind of like having a baby," said Conley Ulich. The mayor replied, "Is it that painful?"
Conley Ulich said, "No, but it only lasts nine months." The mayoral term is not one year, but the aforementioned nine months.
The council member said there was a tradition that started when Sharon Barovsky was mayor. "It is the mayoral bling," said Conley Ulich as she passed over to Rosenthal a shiny metallic object, saying she was going to keep up the tradition.
Once the new seating was established—Rosenthal said she was thrilled she was sitting next to Councilmember Lou La Monte, who was tapped as mayor pro tem, the council got down to business.
Without comment, the members approved the upcoming municipal election specifics and set the date for April 10, 2012.
Next April, there will be three seats open. John Sibert is expected to run to keep his seat, as is Councilmember Jefferson Wagner. Conley Ulich is termed out of office. Her seat will be up for grabs.
The staff report lays out the procedurals including a resolution calling for the election, setting the date for Tuesday, April 10, 2012, establishing the hours of the polls and setting the fees for poll workers. It is estimated the election will cost approximately $65,000, according to the staff report.
Filing nomination papers is Dec 19. The last day to call election for ballot measures is Jan. 13. The last date to file nomination papers, an extension if an incumbent fails to file, is Jan. 18. The last day to cancel election for insufficient candidates is Jan. 26. The filing period for write-in candidates is Feb. 13 through March 27. Voters may request vote-by-mail ballots from March 12 to April 3. The last day to register to vote is March 26.