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3:11 pm PST December 17, 2020

The Mayor of Malibu, Mikke Pierson, has issued a statement he has characterized as “City of Malibu Statement in Response to Recent Allegations.” The mayor lacks the legal authority to speak for the city without the advance approval of the City Council as a deliberative body, and the background to the statement also raises questions of conflict of interest and legal ethics.

I would have posted this commentary on the city of Malibu’s website, but I lack the authority to do so in my capacity as an individual council member — just as Mikke Pierson lacks that authority. I considered posting this as a comment to the “City of Malibu Statement” — but it actually is the individual statement of one council member, and the Brown Act prohibits a council member from posting comments on the post of another council member.

Accordingly, I am posting this independent information for the benefit of the public, which sets forth my views of the impropriety of the mayor’s unilateral act of purporting to speak for the city — without providing any comment about the substance of the mayor’s statement.

As I understand the law in Malibu, the mayor is a ceremonial position that designates an individual who sits at the center of the dais and oversees the orderly conduct of the meetings of the City Council. Otherwise, the mayor is just one of five council members on a legislative body that can act only at a public meeting that is properly noticed and agendized, and which acts by a roll-call vote.

As best I understand the law, the mayor lacks the legal authority to make public statements on behalf of the city of Malibu.

Additionally, the interim city attorney — who was hand-picked by Mikke Pierson and Karen Farrer in concert with the city manager and former city attorney — has been working with the city manager (who is conflicted based on the allegations in the affidavit of Jefferson Wagner) and Mikke Pierson (one of five council members) to craft the city’s response to the allegations in the affidavit. This raises substantial issues of legal ethics — especially when the law firm in which the interim city attorney is a partner also is potentially implicated by the affidavit of Jefferson Wagner.

The lawless manner in which the city of Malibu operates is both atrocious and surreal. When will the residents rise up and let their elected officials know that the residents expect the elected officials to act within the bounds of the law and with integrity?

I will have more to say in the days to come.

Bruce Silverstein, Malibu

Bruce Silverstein was elected to the five-member Malibu City Council on Nov. 3 and took the oath of office on Dec. 14.