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Santa Monica, Malibu Separation Talks to Resume
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
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Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

April 27, 2016 -- Stalled talks regarding the separation of Malibu from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will soon resume following the replacement of a member who angrily resigned from the negotiating team a week ago, a key official said Tuesday.

The replacement on the panel will be Attorney Makan Delrahim of Malibu, according to Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen.

“I’ve known him 15 years,” said Thorsen, whose decision is final under the rules adopted for the Unification committee. “He’s an attorney, has experience on Capitol Hill and has political know-how. He’s a great choice and he’ll do great work.”

Thorsen said he also selected Delrahim for the Malibu Unification Committee, in part, to add his “calm, reasonable voice.”

Tom Larmore, a SMMUSD representative on the negotiating committee, told the Lookout that talks would begin again, possibly in a week, now that Delrahim has been selected to join.

Delrahim could not be reached for comment.

According to Delrahim's LinkedIn profile, he is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Pepperdine University, is associated with the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and formerly served on the Antitrust Modernization Commission, a federal panel, and for the U.S. Department of Justice and Senate Judiciary Committee.

The appointment comes nearly two weeks after negotiations came to an abrupt and acrimonious halt following the filing of a Voting Rights lawsuit that could have involved both the City of Santa Monica and the SMMUSD.

The lawsuit was filed April 11 by Kevin Shenkman, an attorney also on the six-member negotiation committee, which is evenly split between those representing Malibu (including Shenkman) and the SMMUSD ("Santa Monica Facing Lawsuit Over_At-Large Elections," April 13, 2016).

The panel’s next round of talks three days later was canceled when the three members representing SMMUSD asked that the process be halted ("Lawsuit Pauses Santa Monica, Malibu School District Split Talks," April 18, 2016).

Four days later, Shenkman announced he would resign. But he did not go quietly, making public claims of retaliation that stemmed from his litigation and contending he was such a tough negotiator that his rivals on the panel wanted him gone ("Key Negotiator in Santa Monica, Malibu Separation Talks Resigns," April 19, 2016).

Thorsen said Delrahim has been involved with Advocates for Malibu Public Schools (AMPS), as was Shenkman. AMPS was also part of the Voting Rights litigation, although Shenkman said it has decided to withdraw from the lawsuit.

SMMUSD spokesperson Gail Pinkser said the district had no comment on Delrahim or on future negotiations. Pinsker said the district is still awaiting official word that AMPS is no longer involved in the lawsuit.

After years of off and on debate, the idea of allowing Malibu to split from the SMMUSD came much closer to reality in December after members of the School Board publicly supported the move.

The Unification Negotiation Committee was set up to help navigate the separation. Talks started on March 7. Four sessions have been held so far.

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