Malibu City Council Members May Act to Formalize Dissociation from Mayor’s Paparazzi ‘Project’
• Agenda Item Is Considered that ‘Undoes What Wasn’t Done’
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
Prompted by a public comment by a local real estate agent who said his clients were calling and “asking what the hell is going on with [all the media coverage] of the paparazzi ordinance,” several Malibu City Council members reiterated their contention that none of the statements that have been made by Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich on the controversial issue has official sanction.
Those comments notwithstanding, Mayor pro tem Andy Stern, who was chairing Monday night’s meeting in Conley Ulich’s absence, said he is considering whether to take action to “put an item on the agenda of the council’s next meeting—when the mayor will be present—to eliminate whatever it is we did.”
Appearing stymied by the public confusion that ensued during the media blitz over the mayor’s views on the issue of paparazzi regulation, Stern said, “ I don’t know what to do [but] I want out of something that doesn’t exist.”
Stern’s comment about the “something that doesn’t exist” is a reference to what Conley Ulich intermittently calls her “task force of one” or her “one-person committee” that is unofficially exploring the feasibility of drafting an ordinance to curtail what she thinks is “reckless and dangerous” paparazzi behavior in Malibu.
Stern said, “If there’s a task force to eliminate, I’ll put it on the agenda to eliminate it.”
Councilmember Sharon Barovsky agreed, saying, “We are looking very silly out there...I wish people would think before they talk [but, in any case,] these are not the city’s views.”
That there is a perceptual problem regarding the officialness of what the mayor is doing has been evident in international media reports that have the city “contracted” with Pepperdine Law School Dean Ken Starr, controversial in his own right and a narrow constructionist of free speech rights, to draft anti-paparazzi legislation.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has gone on record, stating that any new and unnecessary paparazzi constraints will not pass legal muster because of the free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The council members’ comments may reflect the kind of complications that can result from the dissonance that occurs when someone with the title of mayor is using that title when participating in an activity that is supposedly being undertaken as an individual citizen—the individual’s words and actions can have the appearance of official imprimatur.
The city council is now on summer hiatus. It will hold its next meeting on Monday, Sept. 8.