Three More Years of This?
By Billy Fried
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel
It didn’t take me long to come out of retirement, because I could not sit idly by, week after week, and watch Councilman Peter Blake engage in such contemptible behavior. After all, he credited my radio interview as one of the reasons he was elected to City Council. Now I want to make amends to the community for the egregious mistake of giving him that platform.
Peter positioned himself as a righteously indignant reformer. We were rooting for him, and hoping that the occasional displays of incivility during the campaign were just anomalies – theatrics to get elected. But none of us could have known that he would play the victim over and over again, raining bile on anyone who dared voice a different opinion. He seems to see every criticism as a personal attack that somehow must be vindicated with cruel insults and unbridled smears.
Let’s start with the police car flag graphic debacle, which he escalated to the national stage with his pandering on Fox News. Anyone who knows the “minimalist” Peter Blake knows that the over-the-top flag graphic is anathema to his aesthetic. But it gave him an opportunity to take down people who had challenged him in the past, and to smear our entire town, telling Fox viewers it was all because “Laguna is the most liberal town in the most liberal state.” Yeah, we’re just like Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco. Thanks for bating the left-haters, who came out in droves to besmirch our town and threaten residents who spoke against the graphic.
When I informed Peter that I was having Carrie Woodburn on my radio show to share her experience of being victimized by such rhetoric, he listened in, and then texted me, “This is complete f***ing bulls**t. F*** both of you!” I allowed him to call in, and he bombed the show with apoplectic profanities. I had to cut him off. He made it clear that Carrie wasn’t the victim. He was. It must be hard going through life with such a boulder on your shoulder.
But this pales compared to Peter’s regular attacks on fellow Councilmember Toni Iseman’s mental fitness, or wardrobe and face shaming members of the public who show up week after week to make their voices heard. They don’t attack back, because they know that criticizing others is just crying over unmet needs.
But there he is, trolling the pages of social media and this paper, week after bloody week, calling anyone who disagrees with him “radical extremists” of the left or right, as if members of Village Laguna or the Republican Taxpayers Association are flame-throwing anarchists. And that he is taking the town back from the dreaded hippies or activists, as if there’s something wrong with that. I know public service is brand new to Blake, but hippies and activists got us out of Vietnam, and got equal rights for blacks, gays and women.
But the most surreal display came at the Council meeting when a full agenda item was dedicated to reigning in Peter’s behavior. There he sat for an hour and a half, listening to the public and his four colleagues recount episode after episode of vile attacks and reprehensible behavior.
He was advised by each councilperson before the meeting to be quiet and listen, and he almost made it, but at the last second, instead of showing one iota of remorse, he went on the offensive, shouting “I take back nothing and stand by every word I said.” This was the tipping point for me that clearly revealed he is unfit for office.
Here’s the thing, Peter. You can do whatever you want in the private sector. But there’s a reason they call it public service, and that you are called a public servant. It means that you can be criticized. In fact, I’ve challenged every single veteran councilperson on the dais over one decision or another, and never have they hit back with an attack of any kind. Because it comes with the job. But you are clearly incapable of the high moral and ethical grounds required of such a position.
You continually say you are representing the silent majority. I don’t believe you are. You got 25 percent of the voting public, and many of them are now repulsed by your behavior. The ones who still support you, while well meaning I’m sure, are simply ignoring how civil society works and the damage you are doing.
Why have I waited this long to speak up? I guess I was somehow hoping you would change. But I’ve now seen that asking you to get your impulses under control is futile.
Even though I can no longer vote in this town, I can still use my voice to encourage everyone else to remove Peter Blake from office. We deserve so much better.
Billy Fried hosts “Laguna Talks” on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on KX93.5 and can be reached at [email protected]