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Town hall meeting to facilitate discussion about MHS contamination

Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
3:18 pm PDT August 18, 2014

On Thursday, Aug. 21, a town hall meeting to discuss the ongoing contamination issues on the Malibu High School campus will be held at Malibu City Hall.
City Council members Laura Rosenthal and John Sibert spearheaded the efforts for the organization of the meeting after receiving several requests from MHS parents and community members seeking more information on test results and clean-up methods for PCBs on campus.
“The goal is really to be able to disseminate information so that the people have the information they need to make informed decision,” Rosenthal said. “It’s not about one side or the other.”
The City has hired a professional facilitator, Karen Orlanksy, who was recommended by Pepperdine University’s Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, to oversee the communication between all the groups involved in the meeting. Orlanksy has been working separately with all the stakeholders in the issue: Malibu Unites — a Malibu nonprofit focusing on the health of local schools — the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and the State and national agencies.  
Rosenthal and Sibert have invited members of Environ — the firm hired by the District to execute testing and clean-up plans on campus — officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, along with members of Malibu Unites and their panel of experts.
“We’re hoping that everyone will be there and will be willing to participate,” Rosenthal said. “We want it to look like what the people want and need it to be.”
Rosenthal, who was a member of the BB district committee and who is still a member of a BB site committee, and Sibert, who has been on the City’s taskforce for the environmental issues regarding the MHS campus, have been “spending almost 20 hours a week on this issue,” Rosenthal said. The pair began the process of compiling the community’s concerns several weeks ago. They plan to create an email address or point of contact for the public to submit questions meant for the panel who will be present at the town hall meeting.
While the public is welcome to attend the meeting, Rosenthal does not anticipate there will be enough time for a public community segment during the panel discussion.
“This is something people have asked us to do,” Rosenthal said. “It isn’t about anyone’s agenda. It’s just about getting information for everyone to make their own decisions.”