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.  

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

Travel August 16, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Dear: Mr. Dr. Ms. Caprielian, You may have some valid points, but your rants have turned off a boatload of people here in MB. You are not relevant. If you have issues, please try to be constructive, not destructive. Tell the powers to be what would you believe would fix things (in a real world). Be a positive influence. I, for one, am very tired of your "doctoral" essays. You have become a bore.
Travel August 16, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Upon further consideration of your latest rant, I am thinking that since you are so critical of everything our Council is/has done, why don't you run for Council yourself instead of just complaining? If you win, then you can help correct these things you find so distasteful. If you choose not to run, but just to complain, then who cares what you think? Put your person where your mouth is.
Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. August 16, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Dear Travel: Thank you for your comment. Having a constructive dialogue between our residents is a goal which we should achieve to ensuring the best city government. I would appreciate more specific information on which of my points are valid and contructive; and, which are destructive, and why. Of most importance, please indicate which of my points are factual and which you believe are not. In addition, please indicate why my requests for the "truth" are not constructive and what further information I can provide to document my statements. In addition, please refer me to any of your comments or letters that have provided your assessment of our city government - both our strengths and where we can improve. My final requests: Constructive dialogue requires mutual respect. Please share with me how your salutation is respectful. In addition, constructive dialogue requires accountability. I have provided my actual name. My telephone number is listed. Please share with me why you are not willing to do the same. My primary goal is to strengthen open government in Manhattan Beach and to increase the diversity of opinions and dialogue in a manner that empowers our residents. We are the government. You and I. Let us make that happen. Thank you. Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach
Cathy August 16, 2012 at 10:27 PM
What would fulfill your primary goal to strengthen open government in MB, Edward? Reveal the names and sordid details of Dolan's sexual harassment crimes? You can't make arrests based on allegations (from root word allege, in legal terms means innocent until proven guilty). How did Dolan "threaten" City Council? Please explain. Reprehensible to attend a longtime city employee's going away lunch? Nick Tell's "Gold Standard" comment was over the top, but at that point he hadn't confessed. That so called payout was a condition of his original employment (document was printed in full here on Patch).
bob johnson August 17, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Why does Patch publish this guy's mean spirited rubbish? This guy is nuts.
Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. August 17, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Hello Ms. Cathy, Thank you for your comments and questions and opportunity to respond.. First, the details of Dolan's sexual assault were revealed in the "Anonymous Letter." Second, as to his arrest, we do have his confession but we do not have the victim calling for his arrest.although the evidence in total might lead the District Attorney to call for his arrest and the arrest of the MBCC. The victim's name can be redacted. Third, the threaten actions by Dolan were reported by then City Attorney Wadden in the newspapers and, I believe, court documents. Fourth, if the investigation into Dolan's sexual misconduct documented his actions, Councilmember Tell knew of this three months prior to attending the celebration and referring to Dolan as the "Gold Standard" of city managers. However, the MBCC have reneged on a commitment to release the document. Fifth, the Separation Agreement contained provisions that protected both Dolan and the MBCC from the revealing their actions (e.g., threats, blackmail). Sixth, the Restated Employment Agreement stated conditions under which Dolan would or would not receive a severance. Section 4 indicates that severance pay, "does not include separation due to his termination for cause, inability to perform his duties due to health reasons, his conviction of any illegal act involving the use of his position for personal gain or moral turpitude, or his death." Thank you for your commitment to strengthen open government.
Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. August 17, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Mr. Johnson: Thank you for your comment. Manhattan Patch, as a responsible member of the press, provides an opportunity for civic and civil discourse based on its commiment to freedom of speech. Although you have not had the strength of your convictions to submit your own letter, a review of your comments of those who have, reveals you take joy in a mean-spirited denouncement of others - and - that your remain a Johnson of little stature. Your above comment, "This guy is nuts," is another example of "your" mean spirited rubbish" that falls extremely below the threshold of civil discourse. What aspect of your mind-set leads you to disrespect rather than engage others? Why? Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach
Travel August 17, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Couldn't agree more. I still think he needs to get himself elected and then see if he can effect the kind of changes he believes are needed. Does anyone remember Bill Eisen?
bob johnson August 18, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Mr. Caprielian: Your "Johnson little stature" comment is rude and inappropriate. Patch should delete you immediately!
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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