Much has been made in the local press concerning at the Malibu Democratic Club's annual meeting on Jan. 8.
Here is what happened: The bylaws of the club require that new members must pay their dues and register as members a month before the annual meeting, in this case Dec. 9, 2011. Persons who were members in 2011 can, under the bylaws, walk up on the morning of the meeting, pay their 2012 dues and vote. This bylaw prevents candidates from stacking the vote by having people arrive at the last minute, become members and vote. Another reason for this 30-day rule is that it allows time for the club to verify that the persons who become members are actually registered Democrats, which is required under the bylaws in order to cast a vote.
At the Jan. 8 meeting, Torie Osborn resonated strongly with the members, on a number of issues, especially her strong opposition to the destruction of the , which was supported by the other two candidates, Betsy Butler and Richard Bloom (who heads the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, which actually will run the bulldozers that ). He was actually booed when he stated his position, and Betsy Butler elicited gasps from the audience when she appeared to say that Malibu's growth was "too slow," a tone-deaf comment in Malibu if there ever was one.
The endorsement vote was 41 for Torie Osborn, 5 for Betsy Butler, 0 for Richard Bloom and 13 for "no endorsement." There were, by my count, over 80 people in attendance, and 59 voted. A number of others, including Council member Pamela Conley Ulich, could not vote because they were not club members in 2011 and did not register and pay their dues by Dec. 9. Conley Ulich raised a point of order, and asked for a show of hands as to how many in the audience were Malibu residents, and it appeared to me that a strong majority of those present raised their hands that they were.
In fact, the club's bylaws do not require members to be residents of Malibu, and the question also arises as to what is a resident of Malibu. Is it only city of Malibu residents? Residents who live in ZIP code 90265? Or any Democrats who are interested in Malibu and care to join the club? In fact, Ralph Erickson, the immediate past president of the club, lives in Sunset Mesa, which is not in the city but in the 90265 ZIP code, and no one has claimed he is not a true Malibuite.
After the vote, a club board member volunteered to a Los Angeles Times reporter covering the meeting that three quarters of those voting were not Malibu residents and would never come back for future meetings. This gratuitous, sour grapes comment was inappropriate and inaccurate. The LA times reporter admitted to me in an email that she was not present when the show of hands regarding who was a Malibu resident was taken, and she took the word of the person who characterized the attendees inaccurately.
Ted Vaill is the second vice president of the Malibu Democratic Club and a supporter of Torie Osborn for state Assembly.