Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 9 years ago

The residents of Manhattan Beach need to recognize the recent and continued hypocrisy of the Manhattan Beach City Council’s so-called commitment to open government, in this instance by deceptive measures to gag the voices of residents.

Specifically, under the guise of improving meeting management, the City Council this month passed measures reinforcing its prior actions to silence opposition (e.g. via limiting residents to one three-minute comment by grouping numerous policy issues under one agenda item). In addition, in act of cowardice, it reneged on a commitment to allow public comment on policy decisions made at its meetings prior to their conclusion.

Further, the Council failed to address strengthening required speech protections under California’s open government law, the Brown Act, but rather trampled the spirit of this law to silence speech and redress of grievances. It also passed a protocol for implementing California’s Public Records Act on access to information but omitted a specific deadline for obtaining requested documents.

It has been nearly 100 days since the Daily Breeze editorial, “MB needs to better manage its meetings,” chided the Council on problems that still remain – late meetings; postponing of agenda items; lack of transparency; and how “council members themselves contribute to the interminable length of the meetings by each making extensive remarks before every vote.”

The measures to silence residents is antithetical to addressing the real source of these problems, namely, the City Council’s failure to address its deficiencies in holding itself accountable to policymaking roles and responsibilities; and, holding the city manager and staff accountable for policy implementation.

As the Daily Breeze stated, “Manhattan Beach is a first-class city. It deserves first-class meeting management,” not practices that “actually work against open government by dissuading regular citizens from attending.”

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Enough about "Open Government." The Manhattan Beach City Council is clearly moving to increase steps to gag residents into submission even as it, the City Council, falters more and more into irrelevance. At least it should have the decency to post a sign outside the MB Council Chambers, "Public Not Wanted!"

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.

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The following is a Letter to the Editor appearing in the November 14, 2013 issue of the Daily Breeze submitted by Nelle Overstreet, a Manhattan Beach resident in response to the DB October 31 article, “City facilities, parking structures need millions in repairs.”

Since we do live by the ocean, it is expected that Manhattan Beach structures will deteriorate over a shorter time than those inland.  Those conditions should have been taken into consideration before they reached their current state of disrepair.

The consultants reported 23 out of 43 facilities were in very poor, poor or fair condition.  The penultimate was to read that our 8-year-old police/fire department building was in need of $1.8 million in repairs over the next 10 years due to:  “The building was not built up to code; it was not inspected properly…”  This should be unacceptable to the citizens of Manhattan Beach who depend upon our City Hall denizens to see to our city’s interests.  Who OK’d this mess?  Who allowed it to be approved along the way?  The blame should not just be put on the contractor, but also on those in City Hall responsible for this fiasco.  Someone needs to step up to the plate and accept responsibility.  Citizens are owed an explanation from past and present City Councils.

Nelle Overstreet, Manhattan Beach

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The corruption in Bell is “American as apple pie.” It is typical in low socio-economic communities in Southeast Los Angeles County and in cities as Manhattan Beach with wealthy, highly educated populations.

The commonality is lack of citizen oversight. As emphasized in a recent Daily Breeze editorial (“Bell corruption closer than we want to know”), “You’ll never know unless you pay attention to what your electeds are up to.” (March 26)

Why the lack of “attention”? In Manhattan Beach, as across the nation, elected officials, by limiting public engagement, fail to see their role as servants not masters thereby generating public apathy and disengagement.

For example, Manhattan Beach residents can only sadly claim, “We’re no worse than Los Angeles,” because, recently, in both cities, only 21 percent of registered voters turned out on Election Day. Indeed, the turnout in our seven municipal elections during 2001-2013 has been 19.1, 21.5, 29.5, 22.5, 24.03, 21.41, and 21.84 percent. Voter apathy is a clear indicator that prior Manhattan Beach City Councils have consistently discouraged public engagement thereby failing to gain the attention and commitment of our residents to care about public policymaking. The current Manhattan Beach City Council needs to acknowledge these past failures and demonstrate by action, not only words, that it will “walk the talk” to gain that attention, commitment, and caring. Further, “We the People” (U.S. Constitution) must insist that in delegating authority to our elected officials, do not give up our right to decide what is good for the people.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach Resident

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Does the turbulence surrounding the proposed development of the Manhattan Village Mall symbolize a malady potentially culminating in the demise of our City Council’s stated mission “to preserve our small beach town character?”

Lapses by prior city councils – by failing to establish the necessary principles, parameters, and practices for our sustainable economic growth and land use development – are primarily responsible for this threatened outcome.

It is not an issue of “pro-growth” or “anti-growth,” but “smart growth.” Principles reflecting smart growth are if the mall modernization strengthens our distinctive unique community identity; protects our neighborhoods; recognizes the symbiosis between economic viability and quality of life; and, promotes our city’s commitment to safeguarding our environment.

Our Manhattan Beach City Council must provide the leadership to ensure incorporation of these principles into the various elements of a revitalized mall. Public hearings have produced more heat than light. (“Manhattan Village expansion project makes small progress,” ER, November 14)

Consequently, it will require extraordinary public engagement, deliberation, and consensus building by our councilmembers to generate the necessary innovative collaboration to produce win-win results rather than compromised principles ending in outcomes that are lose-lose.

Is the envisioned Manhattan Village Mall our “line in the sand” challenging our community’s integrity? If it fails, is it a point beyond which it opens up a floodgate of inappropriate business development inconsistent with the mainstream interests of our residents rather than narrow special interests? The effectiveness of the Manhattan Beach City Council’s principle-centered leadership will determine the outcome of these fateful challenges.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

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