Malibu buys City manager contract
Genevieve Finn, Malibu Times / SMDP Editor
Malibu City Manager Reva Feldman officially stepped down on Saturday May 1 in a deal that will avoid the threat of a lawsuit.
Malibu City Attorney John Cotti said the city will launch a nationwide search for Feldman’s replacement “very soon” and that Steve McClary, a former Ojai city manager, has been appointed interim city manager.
The terms of Feldman’s resignation were approved unanimously, 5-0, by Malibu City Council. She received a payment of $ 150,000 on May 1, with the possibility of another on August 1, 2021, if she has not found a new job by then. Cotti said the city’s insurer would contribute $ 150,000 of the total settlement amount.
The deal also stipulated that Feldman will not sue Malibu. Feldman and city council have also agreed to a no-denigration clause, which means neither party will speak negatively about the other in public.
Cotti said the resignation agreement should not be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing by the city.
Feldman’s resignation was announced after a long saga that came to a head in Malibu’s last election cycle, when then-candidate Bruce Silverstein pledged to work to remove Feldman if elected; Silverstein was then elected in November 2020, winning the most votes out of the eight candidates. On social media, Silverstein has often lambasted Feldman, calling her an “unelected fascist” and “tyrannical leader” and describing her leadership style as “opaque, irresponsible and unethical.” Feldman told council Silverstein had bombarded her with requests for files, making it difficult for her to perform her other duties as city manager.
Feldman has also been implicated in allegations made by former Malibu City Council member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, who, with help from Silverstein, shared an affidavit under oath last winter detailing a culture of town hall where “favors” were often made for “friends and / or supporters of [Feldman]. “Feldman’s attorney, Therese Cannata, dismissed Wagner’s allegations by emailing the Malibu Times.
After Feldman’s departure was announced, Wagner said he himself was interested in the CEO position.
Feldman, whose work has been championed by other council members present and past, was first criticized after the Woolsey fire, the response many residents believe botched.
Feldman, via Cannata, sent the council a letter in January 2021 saying she would accept a payment. “Because Ms. Feldman is constantly attacked by Mr. Silverstein, she lives in fear of reprisal for doing her job and exercising professional judgment in the performance of her duties,” Cannata wrote. “[Feldman] is extremely anxious and frightened by recent events, causing her sleepless nights and stressful days. Mr. Silverstein presents himself as someone who is unstable and unpredictable.
Feldman has worked for the City of Malibu since 2005; she was named city manager in 2016, according to the city’s website.
During her tenure, she increased the city’s general fund reserves from $ 7 million to $ 30 million, helped the city acquire a large parcel of vacant land, coordinated millions of dollars of issuance of debt and helped establish the city’s AA + / AAA bond rating – a measure that signifies a city’s high level of creditworthiness and plays a critical role in the city’s ability to secure financing for projects . She oversaw city staff in managing environmental programs, coordinated projects such as the $ 60 million Civic Center Water Treatment Facility and Malibu Town Hall Renovation, and led the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Feldman was recognized by his peers as CCMF City Manager of the Year and represented Malibu on several regional and national agencies, according to information shared by Cannata.
“Reva’s ties to Malibu run deep,” the statement said. “She raised her family in Malibu with her daughter who attended Webster Elementary and Malibu Middle and High School.”
Malibu outgoing mayor Mikke Pierson said he was grateful to Feldman during her remarks and that a farewell event was held for her on Zoom on Wednesday April 28 at 5 p.m.
Feldman’s original contract was due to expire in May 2022, according to the letter. Cannata requested that Feldman’s contract be bought out for $ 375,000, or about a year of his salary, meaning that Feldman’s final buyout, which totals $ 300,000 if everything is paid, was less than his initial request.
As Cotti read the terms of Feldman’s resignation, both Feldman and Silverstein expressed little emotion, remaining unmoved against their blue Zoom background. Neither Feldman nor any member of the board commented after the announcement.
“It has been an honor to serve the residents of Malibu and help the community of which I have been a part for almost two decades,” Feldman said later in a statement from Cannata. “I am very proud of all that the City has accomplished and I am grateful for the support of City staff, residents and council members with whom I have had the pleasure of working.
This story is published as part of a partnership between the Malibu Times and SMDP.