The construction crisis in Manhattan Beach stems from the failure of prior Manhattan Beach City Councils (MBCC) to promote the public interest rather than the interests of the real estate lobby (i.e., developers, architects, contractors, and realtors). Instead, it has resulted in development conflicting with MBCC’s mission to “preserving our small beach town character” – but rather destruction in our quality of life (See, “Increase in residential construction has neighbors shaken up,” The Beach Reporter, August 8 and “Council addresses shoring, building issues, Easy Reader, August 8).

The failure to promote the public interest generates voter apathy and lack of civic involvement resulting from a sense of impotency. An antidote is employment by the present MBCC of public engagement interventions to empower residents in the deliberation of public policymaking along with the ownership and commitment to make those policies successful.

A resident significantly impacted by a major neighborhood construction project appeared before the MBCC pleading for its intervention. Yet, the same resident rejected the responsibility of the MBCC to promote civic engagement writing to me stating:

“… [A] few weeks ago you wrote of voter apathy and seemed to blame it on City Council's behavior. I believe our local voter apathy is based on self-centered APATHY…Our residents are too interested in throwing parties in their mcmansions, earning money to pay for their mcmansions, showing off their BMW's and designer duds, taking Johnny to soccer practice, etc. Think about how many garages you pass with the Beach Reporter lying outside all week. City Council's fault?”

The resident is not alone. In a survey of elected officials, 87% viewed the public as disengaged but overall valuing yet cautious of deliberative processes. Therefore, are we in a “chicken or egg” quandary? How do we ensure the MBCC is meeting its governance responsibilities to promote our overall community’s public interest?

Perhaps the answer is inherent in approximately only 20% of those registered voting in our municipal elections meaning each member of the MBCC did “not” receive votes by over 80% of registered voters. Representative government? No way!

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

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November 15, 2013

City Council of Manhattan Beach Manhattan Beach City Hall 1400 Highland Avenue Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Greetings!

Is the departure of City Manager Carmany an absurdity of illogical actions by the Manhattan Beach City Council as epitomized in the novel, “Catch 22?” The senselessness begins by the City Council hiring Carmany as city manager in December 2010 under a contract that renews automatically yearly unless non-renewal is noticed12 months in advance; or, if the Council dismisses Carmany for cause.

During the next three years, the City Council, in closed session, conducts 13 performance reviews of City Manager Carmany but never finalizes his appraisal or establishes cause for dismissal that would result in no severance pay and benefits. In addition, the City Council contracts a consultant for $13,500 to advise it on finalizing Carmany’s appraisal but to no avail.

Last week, the City Council dismissed Carmany without cause. Under the contract, his severance includes a year’s salary of well-over $200,000 plus benefits plus payouts of accrued vacation and sick leave, and a portion of increased equity in his home financed in part by city residents.

It now appears that former City Manager Dolan, fired due to alleged and then admitted sexual misconduct, and now former City Manager Carmany, fired under pleasantry euphemisms shadowing his incompetence, are competing for who walks away with the highest severance jackpot of over $250,000 of our tax dollars.

We deserve a better explanation from Councilmembers Lesser, Howorth, and Powell (at the helm during most of Carmany’s tenure) than “the Council has decided to move in a new direction,” hopefully not further “Catch-22” absurdities.

Sincerely,

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.

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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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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

Re: “MB needs to better manage its meetings” (Daily Breeze, Editorial, July 11, 2013)

Dear Editor:

Strengthening the public policymaking process is the key to improved Manhattan Beach City Council meetings. Presently, the process does not meet the fundamental criteria of effective policy analysis, problem solving, and decision making including a clear understanding of the issues; construction of and criteria for selection among alternatives; and, establishing measurable outcomes to ensure accountability.

The council compounds these process failures by not demanding comprehensive staff reports and not establishing requirements to ensure they receive agendas and reports in a timely manner to allow for thoughtful comprehension. Further, this lack of timeliness generates anger and confrontation in meetings by residents caught by surprise and wanting their voices heard on critical issues.

As noted in your editorial, “An effective council is one that gathers input and deliberates efficiently and effectively.” Instead, shamefully, our second-class council meetings generate more rancor than rationality; more heat than light; and, more delays than results.

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The Agenda is Posted. Why Isn't the Opportunity Available for Public Comment on the Agenda Items for the Closed Sessions?

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

“Manhattan Beach has been nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the South Bay’ for its beauty and desirability.” (Wikipedia) Further, we deservedly have pride in our volunteer and philanthropic organizations whose generosity and contributions illustrate our characteristics as an ideal community defined by Stephen Covey (“7 Habits of Highly Effective People”): principled-centered goodness; being of one heart with a common vision and direction; and, one mind with an approach to problem solving that is synergistic, not adversarial.

However, the flawed iridescence of our “Pearl” is inadequate resident participation in our city’s governance – a flaw not sufficiently addressed by city council candidates. In the previous election, 21.41 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Perhaps only 50-100 residents actively attend city council meetings and organize to shape our city’s mission; challenge councilmembers when their policy decisions are imperfect; or, praise their gems.

The main culprit for the flaw are 15 past years of city councils directed by a former city manager and city attorney to minimize engagement of residents in public policymaking – allowing only comments at council meetings to pacify the “gadflies,” the civic activists often denigrated by councilmembers.

To magnify the iridescence of our “Pearl” requires “public engagement” by councilmembers, i.e. delegating authority to residents through education, outreach, dialogue, and empowerment in the public policymaking arenas such as strategic planning, labor relations, budgeting, community development, and in the often stated but neglected goal of “maintaining our small beach-town character.” Then our “Pearl” will attain the metaphor of it being something truly rare and admirable.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

“Manhattan Beach has been nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the South Bay’ for its beauty and desirability.” (Wikipedia) Further, we deservedly have pride in our volunteer and philanthropic organizations whose generosity and contributions illustrate our characteristics as an ideal community defined by Stephen Covey (“7 Habits of Highly Effective People”): principled-centered goodness; being of one heart with a common vision and direction; and, one mind with an approach to problem solving that is synergistic, not adversarial.

However, the flawed iridescence of our “Pearl” is inadequate resident participation in our city’s governance – a flaw not sufficiently addressed by city council candidates. In the previous election, 21.41 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Perhaps only 50-100 residents actively attend city council meetings and organize to shape our city’s mission; challenge councilmembers when their policy decisions are imperfect; or, praise their gems.

The main culprit for the flaw are 15 past years of city councils directed by a former city manager and city attorney to minimize engagement of residents in public policymaking – allowing only comments at council meetings to pacify the “gadflies,” the civic activists often denigrated by councilmembers.

To magnify the iridescence of our “Pearl” requires “public engagement” by councilmembers, i.e. delegating authority to residents through education, outreach, dialogue, and empowerment in the public policymaking arenas such as strategic planning, labor relations, budgeting, community development, and in the often stated but neglected goal of “maintaining our small beach-town character.” Then our “Pearl” will attain the metaphor of it being something truly rare and admirable.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

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Holding Community Meetings without posting detailed agendas in advance gives the community absolutely no chance to provide cogent and meaningful input. This has been discussed many, many times, yet the practice continues unchanged. Is the intent merely to hold a community meeting for the sole purpose of being able to then claim prior community involvement in subsequent staff decision making ... or is the intent to actually engage the community in that decision making? You have the information -- share it already! (C'mon folks -- this is public engagement 101, and you're not only failing miserably, you insist on continuing to so fail, even when such simple yet critical corrective action is repeatedly brought to your attention. For just the latest in a looong series of such blatant failures, see http://www.citymb.info/city-services/city-calendar-month-view/-item-27625 )

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

Forces against open government

The ironic, but on-point, article headline, “City Council imposes 15-minute rule while embracing transparency” (The Beach Reporter, Oct. 3), illustrates the continued hypocrisy of the Manhattan Beach City Council’s commitment to open government by imposing duplicitous measures to gag the voices of residents.

Specifically, under the guise of improving meeting management, the time limits reinforce other actions to silence opposition (e.g. via limiting residents to one three-minute comment by grouping numerous policy issues under one agenda item). Further, the council failed to address strengthening required speech protections under California’s open meeting laws, but rather trampled the spirit of these laws to silence speech and redress of grievances. In addition, in an act of cowardice, it reneged on a commitment to allow public comment on policy decisions made at its meetings prior to their conclusion.

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.”

Edward Caprielian

Manhattan Beach

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 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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