Missing In Action – Abandoned and Left Alone in Our Hour of Need

We made it through the 11/9 Woolsey Fire thanks to God, first responders and our garden hoses, but I am still emotionally scarred and feeling abandoned by our elected representative.

Who went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Paul Simon about 6 months ago and posted live about that? Our 3rd District Supervisor Shiela Kuehl. https://www.facebook.com/sjkuehl/videos/we-are-live-at-the-hollywood-bowl-to-honor-legendary-singersongwriter-paul-simon/1623663171081864/

When it comes to the Arts, Supervisor Kuehl is a great supporter, but disasters – not so much. Indeed, has anyone seen our Supervisor in Malibu since the fires on 11/9? It’s a sad day in LA when the the President of the United States visits to help us and to show he cares before our own elected representative.

During my 5 days and nights helping in Point Dume during and after 11/9, everyone in the neighborhood kept putting out flare ups and helping others around the clock. I was humbled to witness so many people who never abandoned Malibu or neighbors in need.

On Monday 11/12/18, many Malibu locals sprang into action and began a Point Dume Relief Center at the Point Dume elementary school. I stopped by around 2 p.m. and saw a neighbor who had stepped on a nail and needed a tetanus shot. I gave him a ride to Urgent Care and when we got there we were greeted by Dr. Jill Ferguson who explained she had been detained at a check point for 2 hours and now had no electricity because their generator ran out.

I learned that the LA County Board of Supervisors would be meeting on Tuesday 11/13, and many of my friends asked if we could go there to ask for more support since we were abandoned. People were literally risking their lives to deliver supplies via boat to people who were still fighting fires in Malibu.

John Duran, the Mayor of West Hollywood, never abandoned us. He offered to go the Board of Supervisors and plead our case for help. I was afraid to leave Point Dume to testify because I was needed there to help. On 11/13/18, after sitting through many hours waiting, Mayor John Duran read the following into the record:

LETTER TO LA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS 11/13/18 FROM FORMER MAYOR PAMELA CONLEY ULICH

“In 2007 when we had a tragic fire governor Schwarzenegger and Supervisor Yaroslavsky and the Sheriff were in a Malibu helping us fight the fires immediately. They walked through the devastation, and they stood up to help us in our hour of need. It was a tragedy, but the State, County and City worked side by side to help all affected.

Today, we are alone. Where is everyone?

Yes, we did have some heroic first responders who helped and we are forever grateful for their service; however, many were given orders to leave and not help.

Many have said this is not the Woolsey fire but the Yo-yo fire because “you are on your own. “
Armed only with garden hoses and a mighty heart, many of us saved our neighborhoods from total destruction after we were abandoned by LA county.

Today, we need you to stand by our sides and to partner with us to protect and serve but most importantly we hope and pray you will take actions and treat us like you would want to be treated in your hour of need.”

It’s time to learn from the mistakes of the past and to do what we can, when we can to do better.

The next disaster may not be in Malibu, it could be any where in LA County. I hope and pray our Supervisor will do a better job next time and will be just as willing to be there to support those affected as she was to meet singer Paul Simon.

A Thanksgiving State of Mind in Malibu: A Time to Give Thanks, Help and Love

The week before Thanksgiving is usually filled with planning for a big Turkey dinner. Not this year.

This week, the only thing I am concerned about is living in a state of Grace.

I will be thankful for fresh air, clean water, family, friends and the chance to live out another day. I will check in with loved ones and give those I encounter a smile today. I will chose to live with compassion for those who have lost homes and family treasures. I will stay connected with my community and get curious and continue to ask “How can I help protect my community better in the future?” I will be courageous to question authority when necessary and have the confidence to bring truth to power. I will ask for clarity to identify how we can win battles in the future.

In the past, we could rely on others to protect our lives and homes from destruction, but the paradigm has shifted. With climate change, drought and resources being stretched to the limit, we must reflect. We must be disrupters who think differently. We need to practice self-reliance and responsibility. We can no longer think we are going to be ok because someone will save us.

Most of the us are out of touch with nature. We forget the natural ebb and flow of life. We don’t have to go to bed after the sun sets because we have electricity. We don’t have to notice which way the wind is blowing because we can shut our windows and close our doors and not have to worry.

Not in Malibu. In Malibu, we live a “way of life” that is far different. In Malibu, yo-yo! This means “you are on your own”. We live with nature, we try to protect our homes fiercely with all our hearts, but we know that we are at the mercy of the wind and of nature.

My heart aches for so many friends who have lost everything. The devastation is horrible. I have heard reports that nearly 600 homes are gone near Malibu. Point Dume and Malibu west were hit hard.

Today, I thank God however for the many lives saved. The first responders put their lives on the line and I am grateful. I am also so grateful for the many Malibu locals who took a “calculated risk” and protected their neighborhoods armed with mighty hearts, garden hoses, shovels, and wet rags. I am grateful for the way our community and many others around the country have come together to help those in need.

I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but I know in my heart it’s going to take a community and collective action to save homes and lives in the future. It may take years for us to heal and recover, but no matter what, we will stay #malibustrong!

Success Is Turning Off A Burner or Two

Imagine your life is a stove with four burners for a second. According to a New Yorker article written by David Sedaris in 2009, “One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work.” The gist, she said, was that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/08/24/laugh-kookaburra

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (ranked #17 in Amazon list this week), also wrote an article espousing the four burner theory. James Clear elucidates this theory further and explains, “The importance of your burners may change throughout life. When you are in your 20s or 30s and you don’t have children, it can be easier to get to the gym and chase career ambitions. The health and work burners are on full blast. A few years later, you might start a family and suddenly the health burner dips down to a slow simmer while your family burner gets more gas. Another decade passes and you might revive relationships with old friends or pursue that business idea you had been putting off.”

“You don’t have to give up on your dreams forever, but life rarely allows you to keep all four burners going at once. Maybe you need to let go of something for this season. You can do it all in a lifetime, but not at the same damn time. In the words of Nathan Barry, “Commit to your goal with everything you have—for a season.” https://jamesclear.com/four-burners-theory

I experienced four burner “burn out” first hand, and wish I had heard about this theory way back in 2001. I had a demanding career as litigation supervisor at The Screen Actors Guild, was trying to raise a my 2 year old daughter and was pregnant with my second child and working on trying to stay healthy after weighing in at over 200 pounds. I had not seen many of my friends and had to repeatedly pass on many reunions over the years – so my friends burner was indeed out for all intensive purposes.

I struggled to keep my career on high, raise my children and keep my husband happy and to keep healthy, but I physically and mentally was exhausted and knew deep down I could not keep burning these three burners on high.  

I asked to turn down the career burning by gong Part-time, but the Union refused saying it was a “dangerous precedent” to let me go part-time so I had to make a choice.  My family or my career.  I took the leap into the unknown and chose my family (and community) and my health burner and have kept those two burners on high for the past 17 or so years.

In retrospect, I am still trying to come to terms with giving up my career as a lawyer.   I wrote a book, which is really more like a love letter to my children, outlining my struggles with going from a working mom to a stay at home mom.  It needs more editing, but at least it’s done.  

Transitioning from Working to Stay At Home Mom

In 2013, I read, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” which calls for women to “lean in” to their careers. I felt bad about my decision to lower my career burner.  After I watched Serena William’s new HBO series which also shows a full burner career, full burner health and fully burner family dance of Serena Williams, I also felt bad about turning down my career burner.   https://www.hbo.com/being-serena

Today is different.  Why?  The Four Burner Theory makes me feel a bit better.   I now try to look at as my career as a “season in my life” that was great, but that was turned off so I could devote my time and energy fully to my family (and community) and to being healthy (competing in over 13 triathlons, 2 1/2 Marathons, 1 Marathon and working out with a Tribe of warriors three days a week for many years.) 

My daughter is now in college and my son is a Junior in High School.  I am feeling the urge to reignite my third burner again and find myself writing this today.  I am hopeful that this article will promote more dialogue and reflection.  What’s on your stove?

Wisdom, Courage, Serenity and the 2018 Senate Hearing

What will you take away from the 9/27/18 Senate Hearing regarding the appointment of the next US Supreme Court Nominee?

I will remember the wisdom from Judge Kavanaugh’s 10-year-old daughter, who said her family should pray for Dr. Ford - the woman who accused her father of sexual assault.

The courage of Dr. Ford, her request for caffeine and her trembling voice.

The tears and the beer remarks and the anger and fury of Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh.

The furious red-faced screamer Senator Graham.

I must breathe. I must turn off the talking heads on Fox, CNN and NBC who keep rehashing the testimony and now the one-week FBI investigation.

Instead of watching our democracy crumble into negativity and despair, I will walk the dog today. I will read. I will write. I will say my prayers. I will let go let God, and ask God for serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, the wisdom to know the difference and the grace to judge less and to love more.

Break Records Not Racquets!

A Letter To Serena Williams From A Tennis Mom

Dear Serena:

When your baby was born, just like all moms, I knew the world and your life was forever changed – for the better.

You are blessing to the world and to all you meet. You are kind, intelligent, compassionate, caring, curious, and simply one of strongest women the world has ever witnessed.

We are all proud of you, and that you chose not just to serve big, but to serve your daughter and all children and to help them transform – so that they can believe they can accomplish anything if they put their mind, body and soul into a dream.

This past week, we witnessed what appeared to be a referee treating you differently than others. The ref rebuked you and warned you against being “coached” during the US Open Finals Match. Do other coaches coach? I think there is a consensus that many do; however, players are rarely, if ever, penalized for it.

You had every right to feel angry that you, and not male counterparts, were penalized for this. Your anger, like a fire, grew and festered. It did not serve you. It’s hard to get over unfair treatment. This is not the first time that referees interfered and inserted themselves into matches while you played on the court. You have every right to feel angry about unequal treatment, and many other Moms and women and others, especially in these times, feel angry and upset when we witness prejudice and inequality.

Did this anger serve you? It appears that it may have triggered the rage we witnessed when you later violently broke your racquet. As a tennis mom, unfortunately I have witnessed many 14 year olds break racquets and/or throw them over fences. It hurts me to see this, and it is simply not acceptable behavior. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should break things in fits of rage. I hope you can make a vow to yes continue to break records, but never another racquet no matter how angry you feel (this includes during practice). This action alone would give us Mom’s another argument when trying to convince our own children that breaking rackets is bad.

I am sorry that the ref treated your badly. I am also sorry that he denied Naomi, you and the tennis world of the joy of watching just one more game at the 2018 US Open Women’s Final.  I hope you find comfort in realizing that the ref, like so many others who get in the way of justice, will not be remembered.

I will remember the way you stood up for Osaka during the awards presentation. I also hope that because of that day, you will take an oath to never let your anger get the best of you or another racquet.

May you continue to break records, not racquets, and may your savor every second of being a mom – explore nature, help others, soak in the sun shine and remember the world is full of goodness and grace. Lastly, I hope that you will always remember you are loved and are truly magnificent and that you have the power to inspire others to simply be their best. You are a fine young mom and you can be and do anything your heart desires. You will bring so much light to those you help in your life.

Love and gratitude, A Tennis Mom

“From what we get, we can make a living. What we give; however, makes a life.” 
― Arthur Ashe

T

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Regardless of whether you are in jail, homeless or the subject of a search warrant, you deserve to be treated with dignity in my humble opinion.

It is tragic to see people tossed aside and treated poorly, and if we stay silent, then are we complicit?

I just read a local paper and was horrified to read the first-hand account of what happened to Zuma Jay earlier this week. If it is true that Zuma Jay was handcuffed and put on display outside of his home with no socks, shoes or shirt and only a pair of jeans, then I am deeply disappointed and sad that our justice system did not treat him with dignity, and perhaps forgot that he is innocent until proven guilty.

I served with Zuma Jay on the Malibu City Council for four years from 2008-2012. We didn’t always agree, but he was always agreeable, decent and treated others with dignity.

I remember my first impression of Zuma Jay way back around 2000. He sent a hand-written note to me thanking me for my legal help on a case I worked on at the Screen Actors Guild. In the many years I served as counsel, thank you notes were not common. Gratitude and grace are in Jay’s DNA.

In the coming days, weeks and years, I hope that Zuma Jay and his family will be treated with dignity and that truth and justice will prevail.

Is it Time for Guild Member’s to Find Their Own Super Powers – The Case for Guild Inclusion Riders

Brava to Frances McDormand who left with her Oscar and two words: Inclusion Rider. Do we need a take 2? Should the phrase include the Guilds?

The “Inclusion Rider” concept was originally suggested by Stacey Smith in a 2014 Hollywood Reporter article and is a great start, but with all due respect, I ask that you also consider including one additional word – Guild.

Yes – A list talent should demand an inclusion rider, but let’s face reality. In this day and age, even A listers can and will be replaced by an up and coming person who is hungry to work and will not make any demands. There are many instances where producers have put A list talent on “ice” when they ask for more or stand up to producers. Why were the Guild’s born in the first place? Because the is real power is in a Union.

Don’t understand the power of a Union or solidarity? The next time you are in Starbucks, take a wooden coffee stirrer and try to break it. (It’s pretty easy to do). Now grab a hand full of those pieces of wood and try to break it. I bet you can’t – or at least it is very difficult to break.

There are big 3 Unions in this town, Director’s Guild, the Writer’s Guild and Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA. Why can’t all three Hollywood Guilds – DGA, SAG/AFTRA and WGA, stand up and demand inclusion riders for all productions?

How can they do this? Currently the Guilds require Security Agreements to insure payment of residuals prior to the commencement of production. They could also require Inclusion Riders if they had the leadership in the Guild that demands this.

Indeed, SAG/AFTRA already contains an example of a rider in it’s collective bargaining agreement. Paragraph 43 of the agreement with Producer’s requires a “The Nudity Rider” when any nudity or sex acts are required of a performer in the role they are playing.

There is one small issue – the Guild Collective Bargaining Agreements with major Hollywood producers will not expire until July 2020. What does this mean?

Until 2020, the Guild leaders and executives will be able to say that they can’t do much to change the rules and the burden will rest on the shoulder’s of the A list talent to make changes.

What can be done in the meantime? Members of the Guild also have a major role to play in turning around Hollywood. They have the power to elect Guild President’s and Board members (who will hire Executive Directors) who can insist that the Inclusion Rider be included in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

To date, no major Hollywood Union has ever had a women Executive Director. The DGA had one women President, SAG/AFTRA has had 4 women Presidents including President Gabrielle Carteris, and WGA has had one female President.

The power is in the vote and hands of the Guild members who can decide who will represent them and whether an inclusion rider will be on the table in the next round of negotiations. Let’s hope the #metoo momentum is still a force in 2020; otherwise, it may be business as usual in Hollywood.

Malibu – Is it Time to Give a Dam?

I am grateful the City of Malibu will be considering issues surrounding the removal of the Rindge Dam on Monday, February 26, 2018. The million dollar plus plus public project appears to be on the track to approval by the California Coastal Commission.

“Although this project would restore approximately 8.5 miles of aquatic habitat connectivity between the Pacific Ocean and Rindge Dam in Malibu Creek, there are potentially serious environmental issues that have yet to be resolved.” See Malibu City Staff Report at: https://www.malibucity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/3126?fileID=3867

I agree with the Malibu City Staff report. I am concerned that the removal of the Rindge Dam will be a man-made disaster. I hope everyone will consider this issue now and join me in taking a stand to protect Malibu.

I am not a scientist, but common sense tells me that if you remove the 100 or so foot dam, more than a foot of water will be allowed to submerge parts of Malibu- including Cross Creek area and Serra Retreat. Yes, the steel head trout may be able to swim a few more miles up stream, and I am all for swimming up stream, but we must consider safer alternatives to protect the people who live and visit Malibu.

I have witnessed the flooding in and around Malibu at the foot of the creek in the past, and I can’t even imagine the damage that will follow when the dam in removed. In addition, the trucks going up and down our one of our only ways in and out of Malibu are certain to cause problems for residents and visitors alike. Remember it will take YEARS, if not a decade, to haul out the tons of debris. Try to imagine the hundreds of thousands of trucks and trips added to our only arteries in and out of Malibu. Is this cost worth the benefit of a few extra miles to swim?

Here are some humble thoughts:

1) There are more pressing issues that should be addressed and better ways to use tax payor money – like fixing the dam up north. Why not use our resources to address those more pressing issues?

2) Why aren’t alternatives being considered? Why can’t the government consider fish ladders or other cheaper and effective ways to allow the trout to keep going up stream a few more miles?

3) I can almost guarantee an earthquake will happen, and with that mother nature may surely find it in her power to remove the dam at no cost to the tax payor. What’s the rush? Who is pushing for this issue, and how will they benefit from the project?

If you want to read the California Coastal Commission (“CCC”) Report for the February 7, 2018 agenda, it can be found here: https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2018/2/w11b/w11b-2-2018-report.pdf.l Please note: the California Coastal Commission hearing on February 7, 2018 was postponed. Based on the information in the report, it appears the CCC staff are backing the project.

“The project’s two primary objectives, restoration of steelhead habitat in Malibu Creek and its tributaries and restoration of sediment supply to downcast beaches, are both consistent with the intent of these Coastal Act policies.” CCC Staff Report at p. 35.

“The project holds the potential to create two types of geologic hazards: slope instability during and after excavation of the impounded sediments behind Rindge Dam, and increased downstream flood risks after removal of the dam and impounded sediment.” CCC report at p. 38.

“The Commission agrees with the Corps’ conclusion that the proposed project would not lead to a significant increase in slope stability hazards adjacent to the impounded sediment reservoir with implementation of slope stabilization measures; or (2) increased flood hazards downstream along Malibu Creek over the flood hazard that currently exists with the dam in place” at p. 42.

Please consider this issue now, before you are scratching your head and asking how did this happen in the years ahead.

If you are inspired to take action please:

1) Email Malibu City Councilmembers asking that they send letter to CCC outlining concerns.

Mayor Mullen: RMullen@malibucity.org
Mayor Pro Tem Wagner: JWagner@malibucity.org
Councilmember La Monte: LLamonte@malibucity.org
Councilmember Peak: SPeak@malibucity.org
Councilmember Rosenthal: LRosenthal@malibucity.org

2) Attend the Meeting on Monday February 26, 2018 and speak on the item.

Malibu City Council – If Not You, then Who?

I was fortunate enough to be able to see Malibu City Hall at work this week, and I am happy to report the state of the City is more than strong, it is also great in my humble opinion.

On Tuesday, I participated in Library task force meeting and was happy to see that the City will be working with LA County to do another needs assessment to insure community needs and wants are being met. I believe there is great news on the horizon and that we will have the funds necessary to have cutting edge services and opportunities to learn and grow. (If you are interested in getting involved on the library, please email the city and let them know so you can attend the next meeting.)

On Wednesday, I heard from a friend that the Malibu Library Speaker series featuring local Director Rory Kennedy and surfer Laird Hamilton was incredible, and that they were so impressed with the speaker series. (I was simply blown away when I got to hear Glass Castle author Jeannette Walls a couple of months ago).

On Friday afternoon, I was in City Hall working with staff to get neighborhood watch signs designed after the City Council approved the signs on January 22, 2018. The staff was friendly and professional. While I was there, I asked a staff member why the City seems to losing many employees from the planning department? The staff member replied, “Three reasons – commute, pay and work load.” Los Angeles traffic has gone from bad, to unbearable for many. Most staff can not afford to live in Malibu, so they are forced to commute literally hours for work. Life is about balance and I respect that some people may value their family so much that they want to have some quality time to have dinner etc.

Later Friday night, I stopped by the incredible Dan Eldon art exhibit opening at City Hall. I was so grateful to see many friends, neighbors and our community there to celebrate the life, and the art of an extraordinary citizen who is an inspiration, along with his mother local Kathy Eldon. I would urge everyone to stop by your City Hall to take in this moving exhibit. Both Dan and Kathy are the ultimate positive artist activists who ask questions, not just throw stones.

This morning, I just read another scathing commentary by a Malibu citizen who is known for throwing the proverbial stones at our elected City Council and staff. This inspired me to write about what I saw this week and also to ask that everyone who is questioning the City of Malibu, to get involved –
to step up and participate.

It’s easy to write and complain, but hard to roll up your sleeves and come up with solutions to the problems we all encounter on a daily basis in our lives – and in the City of Malibu.

This November, two seats are wide-open for the Malibu City Council. Will you roll up your sleeves and run? If not you, then who?

How Can the City of Malibu Step Up to Address Our Homeless Crisis?

SOS Response to City of Malibu

In life, the only thing that matters are people – those you hurt, and those you help.

I was sad to hear about an alleged request from Malibu City Council members that a local church stop feeding homeless, and that crime relating to homeless has gone up. The City of Malibu will be addressing homeless issues on Monday, November 13, 2017. The Malibu City report can be viewed here: Malibu City Agenda Report

I respectfully urge the Malibu Mayor and City Council City to step up in the following ways:

1) Contract with The People Concern to deliver services that will insure homeless are given help to get off the streets. MTFH entered into letter of commitment with The People Concern that runs through 2018. I believe it is the responsibility of City, not volunteers to insure this is done correctly. Indeed, I believe it is just as important as paying for Sheriff services, and the homeless efforts done by City need to have transparency and accountability – these are things that volunteers simply can not provide.

2) Expand the duties of the Emergency Services Department to oversee, to coordinate local entities who provide homeless services and to report back to Council and public efforts to address both homeless and community safety concerns. I commend the City of Malibu for addressing this issue in public today, but hope it will hold another Town Hall meeting on homeless. I also believe a roundtable with stakeholders from non-profits, sheriff and concerned citizens could be coordinated and hosted at Malibu City Hall at least once a month.

3) Provide a permanent location for food distribution and services. The City of Malibu is well equipped to coordinate with LA County to open up the old Court House to give local churches and non-profits a safe place to serve food and to have a place to meet with clients to provide services. Shuttle bus times to shelters can be coordinated with food distribution. Please note, City of Malibu has already used Library set-aside Funds to hire a public safety officer at the library. Please understand, this is not a permanent solutions, but it is a good short term solution, until another safe location can be identified.

4) Create merchandising program to help fund efforts to address homeless and other city priorities (e.g. public safety and the arts). Under the Malibu Lumber Lease, the City is entitled to pop shop which has never been opened for various reasons (no staff, merchandise). I respectfully request City of Malibu again consider working with Artifact Tree and/or Arts Commission to raise additional funds to support City priorities through merchandising.

My experience with Malibu Homeless began in October 2015. As I was dropping my kids off at a school bus stop next to Point Dume elementary school playground, I noticed a van with out of state plates and drawn curtains. My Momma bear instinct kicked in, and I took a picture of license plate with another concerned mom, just in case a child was abducted from the playing ground later that day. The homeless woman who was sleeping in the van woke up. Our hearts melt when we heard her story – from Colt’s cheerleader to homeless with mental health issues and a simple dream to live in California.

A short time later, local heroes and community activists Carol Moss and Sandy Liddell began meeting at Malibu Methodist to discuss homeless issues and CART (Community Assistance and Resource Team) was born. CART first looked at hiring professionals to help on the street, but also had many other goals like delivering food, and providing services such has eye clinics.

The Malibu Task Force on Homelessness (MTFH) was formed in January 2016 with volunteers who had one goal – to raise money and to enter into contract with professionals who could help Malibu’s homeless. Thanks to support from community, the Hilton Foundation, and the City of Malibu, MTFH raised money to hire 2 full time workers which has grown to team includes doctors to address needs of community and to provide housing and wrap around services for homeless.

I am grateful to see that so many in our community care and whole heartedly believe we can find a path forward together.