Silverstein/Uhring Effort To Regain $1.5 Million Rejected, Grisanti Says The Money Was Contributed To Extend Malibu Library Services During County Budget Squeeze

Written by on August 24, 2022

By a 2 to 2 vote last night … the Malibu city council decided not to pursue getting back 1.5 million dollars that previous city councils had donated to the county library system,

That left councilman Bruce Silverstein threatening to move to yank Malibu out of the county library system … assuming he has two votes of support after this fall’s election.

The contentious issue has been simmering for years … with some city watchdogs grumbling that Malibu was unfairly sending Malibu tax money to bail out the countywide library system.

Silverstein maintains the expenditures aimed at helping low income kids in inner city neighborhoods may have been well intentioned.  But … last night he charged that the city contributions violated the legal agreement made between the city and the county over the property tax money collected from Malibu taxpayers.


“$1.5 million has been authorized by the county to be distributed for countywide programs that are not in Malibu. $43,000 for special collections in other libraries in fiscal year 2015 to 16.

“This is for the benefit of low income communities which is an admirable cause. 

“But it violates the legal requirement that the money be spent exclusively in Malibu.”

Skye Patrick .. the county library director …. said the legal agreement could be read broadly…. And city councils over the past 8 years have voted to make small payments to the county fund.


“Both the county library and the previous council for Malibu acted in good faith and I understand that the memorandum of understanding states that the monies should be solely used for Malibu library… But again I stated earlier… that any ways in which we utilize services have changed. The way that we utilize services has moved towards technology and there is no real physical expression… other than creating a secondary library which the City of Malibu has not overtly had the appetite to do.”

Polite disagreement from some in the audience last night … inlcuign Jo Drummond.


“I hear what Skye is saying but I still don’t agree that the money should still be returned. It has to stay in Malibu. We have all wanted a western branch of the library in western Malibu … it just hasn’t been acting upon.”

But the contributions to the countrywide system were approved by the city councils in an effort to keep better services in Malibu … where the library is flush with reserved library earmarked property taxes. 

Former Malibu mayor Laura Rosnethal… last night … said serving on the county library board was an eyeopener between the hardscrabble inner city libraries … and the comparative luxury in Malibu.


“It was there that I learned of the great disparities in services between the different libraries in the county system this was due to the structural deficit that the system must deal with and that almost all of the library systems do not enjoy the extra hours collections and staff that we enjoy here even though it’s just a fraction of our residents use the library. I saw libraries with hundreds of visitors a day….”

All well and good … countered Silverstein. 

But he prefers to stick to the law.

NEWSCART A73554 BS 2222

“You know people make decisions that are good morally for wrong reasons all the time. And it may well be morally appropriate and and a good thing to do and a right thing to do — not in a legal sense — for Malibu to contribute funds to the county for less fortunate municipalities. But that’s not the way our law works.”

Mayor Paul Grisanti disagreed with Silverstein.  

And he pointed out that the city attorney reviewed each transfer to the county system … and said they were legal.  

Grisanti said the city councils at the time said they were legal expenditures to help the Malibu library … at the same time the county library system was getting badly-needed funding to keep inner city branches open.


“Each one of these each one of these times when money was appropriated the attorney for the City Of Malibu weighted in … and the County’s attorney signed off on it too… 

“And our representatives at that time in good faith made a decision to do something to get a benefit for the City of Malibu now instead of waiting for another library to be built in the future.”

In the end … it was a 2 to 2 vote .., with Silverstein left to threaten to work to remove Malibu from the L A County Library system in the future.

Council member Karen Farrer was ill last night.


Also last night… The city council acted on a proposed ordinance for auxiliary dwelling units… Granny flats. 

Will have that story tomorrow.

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