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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Malibu Mayor’s Gavel Changes Hands

• Largely Ceremonial Post Rotates According to Formula


The outgoing mayor of Malibu handed over the gavel to the incoming mayor this week when the Malibu City Council conducted what is traditionally called its reorganization meeting.
Outgoing Mayor Jefferson Wagner stepped down so that incoming Mayor John Sibert could take over the largely ceremonial duties of the office.
The positions are rotated every 9.6 months and while there is an “official” vote, the top two positions mayor and mayor pro tem are usually rotated. Councilmember Laura Rosenthal was tapped as mayor pro tem.
Sibert said, during his incoming remarks, that he wanted his tenure earmarked by “reasonable people, who can disagree reasonably.”
He said that he thought collegiality is important for the conduct of the council, the public and the administration of the city.
Sibert ticked off a list of the accomplishments of “not just this past city council, but during the last few years.”
The incoming mayor said the city was able to build Legacy Park, Trancas Park, Las Flores Park, take on the remodeling of the library and purchase and remodel a new city hall, while at the same time keeping a double A bond rating and maintaining $9.5 million in reserves.
“However, there is a lot to be done,” said Sibert, citing the need for the proposed master plan for safety improvements on Pacific Coast Highway. He noted that safety issues are still foremost for the city.
Sibert said he thought the city was turning the corner on what he called the “dogma” that the city has been dragging its heels on water quality issues and environmental concerns.
“We are doing a better job that any other city in California,” Sibert said. “Maybe if we get past that we can work things out with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the folks that keep suing us, I think wrongly.”
The incoming mayor said another issue the city has to tackle is the “older youth of the city.” He said there is just not that much offered to older teens in Malibu.
“Having said all of that, there are clouds on the horizon. The state has a lot of red ink, which it will share with the county. The county will share the red ink with us. We may be doing well, but as [Los Angeles County] Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, ‘We are one disaster away from bankruptcy.’”
During the coming year, Sibert said he would take the advice of his Marine Corps drill sergeant, who said, “It is important to know when to charge, and it is important to know when to duck. I don’t think I have always done that. We need to learn to do that.”
Wagner agreed there is still much to do and said he hoped by the time he left office work would have started on a Civic Center wastewater treatment plant and that there would be a viewshed ordinance in place. “It is something you asked us for and the council is working on it,” he added.
“One proud moment after 10 years is a [finished] working trails map,” the outgoing mayor said.
Wagner said he also wanted to acknowledge the staff and the work they do at City Hall. “You do have a decent staff,” he said.
Wagner said he also learned a lot about the economy of the city. He added he thought there was a more relaxed feeling at City Hall. “Thank you for the honor of letting me sit here,” he concluded.
The 9.6-month term was changed to avert a potential political crisis several years ago when both former Councilmember Andy Stern and Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich thought they should be inducted as mayor.
A compromise was reached when then Councilmember Sharon Barovsky suggested that the time served as mayor be reduced from the traditional one-year term to 9.6 months. She offered to serve a shorter term in order to keep the time frame in sequence.
All parties agreed, with Conley Ulich rotated into the mayoral office first, then Stern assuming the post after 9.6 months, then Barovsky.

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