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