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Letter to the Editor: The Playing Field of City Government

A Manhattan Beach resident denounces the ways in which former and current City Council members and city staff have handled the separation and release of former City Manager Geoff Dolan after he admits to poor behavior.

Dear Editor:

In the baseball movie, “Field of Dreams,” actor Kevin Costner as a novice farmer hears a “Voice” that promises, “If you build it, he will come,” the “it” being a baseball field requiring him to plow under his cornfield. Subsequently, the “Voice” commands Costner to “Ease the pain.”  The film’s underlying theme is how people can overcome the regret of pain they may have caused, in this case, the pain inflicted on a father by a son’s immature remarks.

Last week, former Manhattan Beach City Manager Geoff Dolan confessed to a sexual assault on a staff member at a management team building retreat that ultimately led to his being separated from the city by the Manhattan Beach City Council with a severance of $195,000 (“Change In Management,” The Beach Reporter, August 9, 2012) – and, inflicting a “Field of Nightmares” on our community.

The cover-up of the truth by the prior and present MBCC and the revelation of the sexual assault in an “Anonymous Letter” inflicted enormous pain and suffering on the Manhattan Beach community, its city employees and the assaulted city staffer. Further, we are left with the possibility of the very common pattern of revelation of numerous incidents of sexual misconduct and intimidation as those inflicted now overcome the fear of being denounced and seek justice.

Did Dolan, by his confession, and the continual cover-up by the present MBCC, “Ease the pain” of the past three years? No! Dolan displayed no remorse for his actions but focused on blaming the MBCC for breaking an agreement designed to protect both from allegations of misconduct and malfeasance; and, his self-centered difficulties in getting reemployed. The MBCC still refuses to release the investigation into the sexual misconduct. If it revealed, as we can now presume is true, that Dolan was guilty of moral turpitude, the MBCC was legally mandated to fire him for cause and without a penny in separation. 

Apparently, Dolan was successful in threatening (blackmailing?) the MBCC who should now be held guilty of a crime (California Penal Code 424) and financially responsible for repayment of the $195,000 and the exorbitant costs in staff time and legal fees involved in a failed attempt to defend its actions in a lawsuit for violation of open government laws (Richard P. McKee v. Manhattan Beach City Council) but eventually acknowledging its guilt; and the immeasurable repayment for the pain and suffering they inflicted. 

The attempts of Dolan’s apologists are shameful, including a police chief who minimizes Dolan’s guilt as a misfortunate one night and who was present, aware, or both, of Dolan’s sexual assault and/or drunk and disorderly misconduct but failed to either personally arrest him or have him arrested by local law enforcement. Further, not one department head present at the retreat has ever step forward to tell the truth. Perhaps even more reprehensible is attendance of MBCC members at a celebration honoring Dolan three months after his separation knowing full well of his guilt and praising him as the “Gold Standard” of city managers. 

Dolan acted-out as a fraternity president to gain cooperation from his staff and city councils marked by one continuous Animal House-like party of soliciting gratitude by unsustainable rewards and benefits – all with the concurrence by prior MBCCs who pleaded only in return that residents remain impotent in the public’s business.

His “team building” included a men’s only motorcycle gang, “Metlox Hogs,” with workday excursions along PCH up to Pismo Beach (“Manhattan Hogs,” ER, June 14, 2007). The gang included Dolan (a.k.a. “Mastermind”); Finance Director Bruce Moe (a.k.a. “Big Dog”); Community Director Richard Thompson (a.k.a. “Hog Rich”); former Fire Chief Dennis Groat (a.k.a. “Fire Dawg”), former City Attorney Wadden, and, his strongest apologist, former Police Chief Rod Uyeda. His “fraternization” gained him a dogmatic loyalty even if his demands conflicted with the truth. He created a “symbiotic” management culture and to this day a desire for a return to the suckling past.

In “Field of Dreams,” Costner commits to the “Voice” to “Go the distance” and he is rewarded with an opportunity to “Ease the pain” of his father, reconcile his regrets, and achieve a sense of inner peace. Because of their lack of remorse, their failure to disclose the full truth, and their failure to accept responsibility, Dolan and the prior and present MBCC leave us to suffer in pain.  

Sincerely,
Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.
Manhattan Beach resident  

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. August 19, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Playing Field of City Government - Call for Truth in MB Government Mr. Johnson: Thank you for your polite salutation and refraining from further derogatory comments on my postings such as, "This guy is nuts" and "This PhD is a whack job." To further improve your stature, please consider providing substantive criticism rather than one-liners that contain a lack of specificity and substantiation. If you do, it will provide me an opportunity to provide more information for your consideration as I did to Cathy's comments (See Above). Manhattan Patch provides our community an opportunity for constructive and respectful dialogue. By strengthening not only the depth of your criticism but having the courage to present your own opinions contributes to that goal and the measure of respect you desire. Thank you. Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach
Rod August 20, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Dr. Caprielian: I believe your heart is in the right place and you are trying to do the right things, hence, I feel the need to address a point that you made that is not correct. Yes, I went to Pismo Beach as part of the Team Building exercise and I did go to dinner that night. However, I left right after dinner so that I could take my son to a very early hockey game the following morning. When I left, Mr. Dolan was not intoxicated to the point of being arrestable (Penal Code Section 647F). He was in the very capable hands of his friends and he was not driving. As to what happened after I left, I only heard rumors and third hand information...none of which seemed to rise to the level of a "sexual assault", but as I was not there, I cannot comment further. I know that Mr. Dolan visited all who attended the next work day and apologized for his behavior, including myself. As for my comments in the recent Beach Reporter article, I am only doing what I would do for any friend; trying to help them when they are down. I wish you well and will not banter in blogs. I respect you enough to reach out to correct something that I felt was in error. Take care. Rod
Local Native August 20, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Spoken like a true "good old boy," Rod.
Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. August 20, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Chief Uyeda: Thank you for your response including clarifying your exact presence during the incident of former City Manager Dolan's sexual misconduct. Further, I appreciate the high level you place on "friendship" on your scale of personal values and, perhaps, how that is in conflict with the value you place on the "public interest" and how this conflict generates ethical dilemmas. Based on the "public interest," do you believe the Manhattan Beach City Council acted correctly in awarding the $195,000 severance given the apparent veracity of Dolan's sexual misconduct? Do you believe that the MBCC should have honored its commitment in the Richard P. McKee vs. Manhattan Beach City Council settlement to release the investigation into Dolan's sexual misconduct? Do you believe it should do so now given Dolan's confession? Do you believe that the prior MBCC should be personally responsible for repayment of the severance assuming you believe there was sufficient cause for immediate dismissal without any severance? Do you believe that the decision of the prior MBCC to withhold the truth was in the best interests of the city? What do you believe the present MBCC, that includes three members of the prior MBCC, should do to heal the pain and suffering that Dolan inflicted on the residents, city employees, and the assaulted staff member? Chief Uyeda, you continue to have my respect and appreciation for forging MBPD's excellence. Thank you. Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.
Rod August 21, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Alas Dr. Caprielian, your questions, though intriguing, are better left for a wine and cheese discussion between friends, where little weight is given to a laypersons opinion on this particular subject of open government. My expertise is limited and focused on my former profession, which even now, grows stale from enjoying just being a Dad. Thank you for your compliment; though some didn't care for my tenure, I feel good about what I accomplished. Wishing you well, Rod (If feels good to have my identify back and not a title).

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