Malibu City Council releases findings on harassment allegations against mayor pro tem
Six months after the Malibu City Council ended an investigation into harassment allegations against Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein, city officials released their findings this week.
Silverstein was found to be unprofessional and hostile but not culpable of gender-based discrimination against former City Manager Reva Feldman, according to an investigation conducted by Ellis Investigations Law Corp., which contracts with the city. Councilmembers released the findings Friday. The investigation took place from May to July of last year.
“As an initial matter, it was the case that Mr. Silverstein’s communications and conduct toward and about Ms. Feldman were frequently hostile and unprofessional. Ms. Feldman and witnesses described Mr. Silverstein’s conduct as ‘harassment’ and a ‘hostile work environment,’” Leslie D. Ellis wrote in a letter to the city.
“Ms. Feldman had indicated gender as the underlying reason for Mr. Silverstein’s conduct,” Ellis continued. “If Ms. Feldman’s gender were a factor, then Mr. Silverstein’s pattern of hostile and unprofessional conduct toward her reflected ‘harassment’ and a ‘hostile work environment.’ The evidence, however, did not support that Mr. Silverstein’s conduct involved a gender-based animus toward Ms. Feldman.”
Conflicts between Feldman and Silverstein started in the aftermath of the devastating Woolsey fire in November 2018, according to the investigation. The fire swept through Los Angeles and Ventura counties, burning more than 96,000 acres, destroying 1,600 structures and killing three people.
“There was no dispute that Mr. Silverstein’s dislike of Ms. Feldman began before his election to the City Council and that he wanted her removed from her City Manager position,” the letter stated.
Silverstein had run on a platform that included trying to have Feldman removed as city manager. The two continued to disagree on various city matters after Silverstein was sworn in as a new councilmember.
“Mr. Silverstein’s conduct toward Ms. Feldman throughout these conflicts often reflected hostility and unprofessionalism,” the letter concluded. “His conduct, however, involved various disagreements over City business having nothing to do with Ms. Feldman’s gender.”
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