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For the third time in two weeks, the Malibu City Council met behind closed doors Thursday to take up what to do about City Manager Reva Feldman.
The agenda for each meeting included two items: significant exposure to litigation; and public employee performance evaluation of the city manager and public employee discipline/dismissal/release.
Like the first two, Thursday’s meeting ended with no action to report to the public.
Feldman has come under intense scrutiny from first-term council member Bruce Silverstein, who campaigned in his successful November 2020 run on a platform that included removing Feldman. He’s filed numerous records requests and has described Feldman’s response as an effort to “conceal evidence of malfeasance and wrongdoing.”
At a recent council meeting, Silverstein said, “A number of residents have express to me that they would love to come here and speak publicly, but they are fearful of retribution and retaliation. I don’t know if that’s a valid concern, although I have seen evidence to support why people would feel that way.”
“That is a problem,” he continued, “and we need to do something to address that, because the ability to speak out publicly and to speak out against your government is a fundamental right in this country.”
Feldman has publicly defended her performance — and has told the city she’d like an amicable breakup.
Through her lawyer, in a five-page letter laying out the terms of such a departure, including a contract and benefits buyout of $375,000, Feldman asserted that the new council member “should show deference and respect for those who can teach him the rules and procedures” for getting city business done.
But Silverstein, according to the letter, “has flatly refused to listen to anyone, especially Ms. Feldman. Moreover, he is, without cause, hostile, volatile, and unprofessional in his encounters with Ms. Feldman, city staff, and other council members.”
Silverstein allies have framed the letter as an admission, according to him, “that we have a city manager who claims through counsel that she’s not capable of performing her job, threatens to sue the city and yet carries on as if it were business as usual.”
“Many people have expressed to me that that is a very odd combination,” Silverstein said.
Karen Farrer is among the council members and members of the public taking issue with Silverstein.
After Silverstein’s summation of the Feldman letter on Monday, Farrer said, “I’ll just address one thing Bruce said: ‘The city manager has claimed to not be able to do her job.’ I didn’t see that.”
“She’s claimed harassment,” Farrer continued. “It’s very clear. The letter from her attorney is public. So, I don’t know why he would say that.”
Feldman, who has been with the city for 16 years and whose contract expires in May 2022, says she would like to “amicably part ways” and is even willing to help find a successor, assuming she and the city can agree on a departure date in early May.
The first three meetings on the matter don’t appear to have resolved the issue, and as of today, the City Council meeting of Feb. 23 includes no mention of a closed session.