Letter to the Editor: Dolan, Wadden, City Council and Vigilance

Manhattan Beach resident Ed Caprielian weighs in on city council, city government and city politics in the wake of the handling of former City Manager Geoff Dolan's abrupt departure from the city in Dec. 2009 and subsequent city actions.

Dear Editor:

Who is to blame for the debacle in Manhattan Beach leading to the ignominious departure of our City Manger Geoff Dolan and City Attorney Robert Wadden?

Is it the prior Manhattan Beach City Council’s (MBCC) misdirection in the “mutual agreement” resignation of Dolan and his receiving a $250,000+ total severance/compensation package? Alternatively, was it misjudgment by MBCC in trying to do the right thing but now claiming victimization by Dolan and Wadden?

Is it the “Anonymous Letter” accusing Dolan of sexual misconduct at a team building retreat? If true, it should have supported the dismissal of Dolan for “moral turpitude” without any severance. Alternatively, is it the failure of the managers at the retreat for not confirming or invalidating the accusation?

Does Wadden shoulder the blame for his ineptitude in the lawsuit against the city for open government violations leading MBCC to lament his “advice of counsel” and to justify his termination? Alternatively, was Wadden the “good soldier” in carrying out his masters’ mission?

Should we now blame current city officials for reneging on the city’s lawsuit settlement commitment to release all documents including the investigation of Dolan’s misconduct that could provide justification for the decisions made by MBCC or demonstrate its malfeasance? 

There is certainly enough blame to go around. Nevertheless, who ultimately shoulders the blame? None of the above. The blame and responsibility fall in the hands of the 80 percent of registered voters who failed to vote and residents who insufficiently participate in civic affairs – including my lack of vigilance.


Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.

Manhattan Beach resident

bev April 14, 2011 at 05:32 PM
yep, more's the pity and the folly.
Gary Osterhout April 15, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Ed: We are generally on the same side, but I think your assertion that the blame falls on M.B. voters and those who "insufficiently participate in civic affairs" is distractive and misplaced. Any significant improvement is not going to come from voter or resident participation. This would just have resulted in more votes for the same candidates. More civically active people saying the same thing aren't going to make a difference in how those that serve perceive their responsibility to the electorate. There were plenty of "civically active" people telling council years prior to this action that the City Manager and City Attorney had reached the point that change would be better. There were plenty telling council that the closed meetings sounded pretty fishy, so the council had more than enough impetus to seek better advice. What I see is to "blame" is the orientation of City Hall developed through 15 years of a city manager who furthered the principle that if the ends are good, the means will be forgotten. City Hall embargos information, and then asserts authority because its the only body that knows anything. Developing community concensus in decision-making falls by the wayside. The test of a good decision is no longer whether it results from sound policy based on sound analysis, but is based merely on whether it results from good intentions alone. Change this orientation, and we'll get more voters and more civic participation.
Eleanor Feiner April 15, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Too bad Bev Morse is a Redondo Beach resident and doesn't have a clue what she's talking about. Please state actual information, not baseless blather, or stay off Patch!
Janet Prossman April 15, 2011 at 09:01 PM
Possibly the fact that the current Mayor tags those who speak out Gadfly may be the reason some are reticent to go to the podium. His anticipatory threats to have anyone escorted out by the seat of their breeches by the Chief of Police if they don't comply with his rules doesn't foster any comfort given the all too prevalent fear of speaking in public. We'd agree that it would be in the city's best interest to see a number new faces at every Council meeting speaking their mind, taking up even more of Council's precious time. Those who do speak out might concentrate on being informative and factual and avoid coming from a purely emotional place. Albeit it is not easy to be informative when information has not been forthcoming from leaders. If City Hall can not make themselves clear, maybe they need a community liaison department. Or committee. Sometimes 'many civically active people' are impaneled in certain hearings with the purpose of supporting a particular outcome. (two examples are Strata Bar and Vitality City). A very auspicious tactic, but also a very successful one. Perhaps if citizens were more aware of the success of this maneuver, they would show up. How to convince the Media to inform us so we can become more productive. Basketball scores are nice, but these decisions affect our lives in important ways, such as our purses. Clearly, transparency has not been immanent in the past, hopefully it will be more so as changes are made down at City Hall.
Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. April 21, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Gary, Thank you for your comments. As usual, you are very incisive. Please do not misunderstand. I deeply appreciate the long-term efforts and vigilance of residents such as Gerry O’Connor, Esther Besbris, Faith Lyons, Michelle Murphy, you, and others. As I noted, I am chagrined at my own lack of vigilance. The challenge you present is significant and complex. It has been a challenge to move previous city councils to take efforts that would empower residents and create the ownership that would lead to our needed level of civic activism. I am hopeful that the recent election is the start of a council membership that will achieve that result. I am also hopeful that those, like yourself, who are activists, are able to organize in a manner that synergizes our energies and our potency to promote and achieve the measure of public engagement and collaborative governance we deserve. Thank you for your good works. Ed
Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. May 30, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Ms. Possman, Thank you for your comments. Mayor Montgomery is a bully and behind every bully is a coward. Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., Library Community Room, a City Council Subcomittee of Councilmembers Lesser and Howorth will provide residents an opportunity to formulate a Request for Proposal for generating applicants as our new city attorney. In addition, the Subcommittee will establish a process for the establishment of a public forum consistenting of residents which will provide its recommendation to the City Council for its final selection of the City Council. It will alow residents to be proactive rather than reactive as you suggest. Please come and bring others who are interested. If you have any questions, please email me at eccphde@aol.com or better, call me. I am listed. Thank you. Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach
Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. May 30, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Ms. Possman, On May 10, I sent the following email to the Manhattan Beach City Council including the Mayor and the press. If you and others have similar concerns, please express them, especially to Councilmembers Howorth (ahoworth@citymb.info), Lesser (dlesser@citymb.info) and Powell (wpowell@citymb.info). Greetings! You must take the initiative and meet your responsibility to stop the misuse of power by Mayor Montgomery... I view [him] as a cancer within the Manhattan Beach City Council. He is a bully and behind every bully is a coward. He bullies residents and he bullies his colleagues on the council. [You] must confront this coward now before the cancer further destroys the viability of this elected body. Specifically, it is necessary to clarify the boundaries of acceptable behavior and confront him when he crosses those boundaries. The City Manager, the City Attorney, and the City Council must meet with him to discuss his offending behaviors and the standards for meeting his roles and responsibilities... Without that frank and open personal communication...[you] are doomed to failure – while confronting him and ensuring his compliance to professional standards will create a better environment for all. Left unchecked, the Mayor’s mean-spirited and destructive behavior, especially characterization, affects the residents’ credibility and trust in the City Council. Please! Stop the abuse. Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Resident
Janet May 31, 2011 at 12:43 AM
No thanks, you're weird.


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