Guest Opinion: Give Blake the Boot

Billy Fried

It’s a sad day for Laguna and society at large when politics has become so riven with partisanship that we subordinate decency for heartlessness, kindness for vitriol. 

I hosted Peter Blake back in 2018 on my radio show on KXFM. It was his first time publicly airing his bile (I mean grievances). I didn’t have to say much, as it was a lengthy and frothy diatribe. He didn’t hold back, and I’m shameless enough to admit it was good radio. But it’s not good politics.

The attention was intoxicating enough for Peter to declare his intention to run for City Council on a campaign of angry, scorched earth reform. Good for him, but very, very bad for us. By now, those of you scoring at home have witnessed his ongoing, squirm-inducing meltdowns.  

His constant interruptions and verbal attacks are his trademark “bad boy” behavior, not only to the public exercising their right to free speech, but to his colleagues as well. This is a man who, without a medical degree, told Councilwoman Toni Iseman, “The next step is for you to resign. If you’re not willing to, then provide a recent and comprehensive medical report detailing your medical condition and the nature of your tremors. Include all medication as well. I know that you’re not legally bound to do so but let’s face it, your cognitive impairment has progressed, and you are no longer fit to serve.”

Or how about this from your elected official: “When I referred to Tony as a sycophantic slag, I referred to her as a bootlicking, compromised politician. I never intended for it to be said that I was calling her a slut.”

How would you like to be subjected to this kind of public shaming? Any idea how many minutes it would take to escort him out of any other building besides City Hall? 

This is insanity. Questioning someone’s mental health in public is cruel and beyond the pale.

Toni and I have been at odds for years on policy, but she’s always been respectful and courteous. She’s as caring and decent a public official as I’ve ever known, rarely missing a meeting in her 25 years of service. She doesn’t deserve this. 

And then there’s Peter’s disdain for the public, you know, the people he’s elected to serve (despite his proclamation of only serving the people who voted for him). Rather than engage in thoughtful or spirited debate, he taunts and intimidates his foes with blather like, “I’m a bully. I got elected as a bully.” “The rules apply to you – they don’t apply to me.” And, “You can censure me a hundred times between now and the day we meet back at the ballot box. It means nothing to me.”

Is that really toughness? Ask him, and he’ll say he’s a victim. He once wrote me, “Try walking a mile in my shoes.” Yeah, must be brutal up there on the dais, lording over the peons, the power to shout over them with his microphone. Peter’s personal Vietnam.

Is this the kind of behavior you want modeled for your children? That its permissible – or even admirable – to bully and shame people in the public forum? That if you are loud and obstreperous enough, the rules won’t apply to you? This isn’t Stalinist Russia! What other public or private forum would tolerate this bellicosity, except maybe prison? 

It’s certainly not being tolerated in Los Angeles, where City Council President Nury Martinez was recently forced to resign after a tape was released of her disparaging remarks about several racial and religious groups. And these remarks were made in private! Can you imagine the things Peter says when not on mike? Well yes, I can. Because in a private voice message to former Council candidate Lorene Laguna, he said, “You fxxxing bitch, you know damned well those were fxxxing lies. Bring it on bitch, you’ll see what happens.” Peter seems to have a special penchant for abusing women, as most bullies do.

And finally, there’s Peter’s recent lame attack on his rival Ruben Flores, insinuating he’s not fit for office because, wait for it, he posted a shirtless picture on social media. I’d take a shirtless Ruben on the dais (loosening up with an adult beverage), then a clothed, scowling, Blake any day. 

Sadly, there are still those who will subordinate their better selves to support Peter, because of their hatred towards their opponents. Or their desperation to get what they want. Come on people, we are living a charmed life here. Are we that desperate to prevail on issues that have little life or death consequences that we will abandon our moral compass to support someone who so glaringly lacks the temperament for the job? 

Even the Los Angeles Times recently weighed in: “The community is struggling to find any level of civility, as its City Council meetings are often rank with rancor,” Councilman Bob Whalen added, “The acrimony has made conducting meetings difficult and unpleasant.” 

We deserve better. We are better. And we have better. Sue Kempf, Alex Rounaghi, Louis Weil, and Mark Orgill would all make excellent council people. Four years of a hostile workplace is enough. As George W. Bush famously said, “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, um, can’t be fooled again!” Don’t be fooled again. 

Billy hosts Laguna Talks on Thursday nights on KXFM radio. He’s also the CEO of La Vida Laguna, an E-bike and ocean sports tour company. Email: [email protected]

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  1. Billy, you are clearly gaslighting, really expected better from you, but your letter is no more than a political ad / hit piece. In general, you and Peter seem to agree on a lot, but it seems to me that this spite you have is based on ideological issue and not the merits on what he or you support/vote for. You don’t care how he votes, you just don’t like the guy, while me, my priorities in my delegates are focused around how they vote. You’re a logically guy, use your logic and don’t be driven by your just your feelings.
    Let’s start with you calling Peter attention starved, as you are volunteering to write a letter in a local paper, you’re one the radio (you think everyone should or wants to know your opinion) you writing a political hit piece right before election! Are you sure you are not the one dying for attention? Free speech is both ways, other people can say anything (if it doesn’t incite violence, or like yell fire in a theater.)
    Since when can you not question a public officials mental or physical health? While I do think if someone has a problem it should be treated gently, we are talking about public office, not the same rights as a private citizen. Toni is a shell of who she once was, she sadly but clearly was having problems. She might have been nice to your face, but she caused havoc in this town (pretty much voted against everything you support), she is just being a politician, nice to your face but in general a snake in my opinion. I know you think orange man bad, but you don’t think Biden’s mental fitness has a right to be questioned? They sure as hell did question Trumps, both took test. Even Mark Orgill, I think it so sad that he has do deal with having caner and wish him the best, that does not for one second make him qualified to do the job of city council member, it takes away from his abilities no matter how sad it is. In my experience when I underwent radiation treatment, I made decisions very similar to someone that has been sleep deprived or is delirious. So yes, physical and metal fitness matter and the public has a right to know as it is a demanding role and a lot more than just you and your families life are effected by the decisions.
    As far as Peter calling himself the names that are rudely thrown at him, it’s his intelligent way of deflecting. For example, “You want to call me a piece of crap, okay whatever you say I am a piece of crap…whatever crap I am I was crappy enough to get more votes than everyone else” It’s actually a very high-brow way of owning the foul names other people try to throw on him. A victim doesn’t spend 40+ hours a week working on policies that improve our community, policing the beach, running for election. A victim, would be on his computer at home (or one of you many vacations) typing about how he got his feelings hurt and lost the big game, while a winner wins elections and gets the prom queen.
    I do agree with you that fascism shouldn’t be tolerated, but the only fascism I see is coming from Village Laguna, Peter is just fighting it. Regan didn’t prevail in the Cold War by not being anything less than firm. I do want my children not to take crap from anyone, I certainly don’t want them acting like a bunch of spoiled and entitled trust fund babies.
    You are comparing the racism that happened on the LA City Council to anything Peter said is just crazy, now you’re grasping for straws. Other than Ruben, tell me what diversity do we have running? Heck do any of them even have a partner that isn’t white?? Oh, wait Peter, is in an interracial relationship yet he is the racist?! As far as the attack ad on Ruben, did Peter have anything to do with that? Did he take credit for it or publicly support it? Unless I see evidence otherwise Peter had nothing to do with the ad you are referring to, so stop making false statements. Ruben is his own worst enemy, and what it looks like a lot of other people’s enemy too. So back to model behavior for children, do mothers want their kids to see Ruben’s partially nude photos, or what looked like him drinking alcohol in public and during a debate. I doubt it.
    That wasn’t the LA Times, it was the Coastline Pilot (which is great) but you’re trying to make it bigger than it is, nice try. What the article was referring to wasn’t solely focused on how the candidates have been getting with each other, but rather how petty the citizens of this small beach town have become vicious keyboard warriors. Your article is a perfect example of the petty behavior outlined in the article.

  2. B. Fried. While we may not be in-sync on city council choices and some other city issues, I want thank you for stepping up publicly to denounce the behavior of Peter Blakein his capacity as our city council member. For those of us (mostly women) like Toni Iseman who have pushed back against his verbal abusiveness and intimidation early on, it has been four long years of regular harassment in public and personal emails and encounters. Just the other day, I received one of his emails calling us PIGS.

    Prior to 2018 when Blake was elected, i didn’t know him nor knew many of his supporters or his enemies from Village Laguna. And I did not vote for Peter. I’m happy to say that today, I have relationships from these two groups that I never would have had if Peter Blake hadn’t shown us what human destruction look like. I am grateful for their friendship and ability to put what’s important to our city ahead of everything else. They are proud women (and men) and I am proud of them. I know it has taken it’s taken its toll on many of us.

    I personally will never accept the smut politics put out by Blake PAC supporters Laguna2022 on candidate Ruben Flores. And I hope our gay community pushes back on them too and we all stand by them.

    As we look to an improved Laguna, who’s soul, spirt and environment is protected and preserved, I know there are several candidates that can help us get there. Together and with the considerations and respect we all deserve. Please voters, let’s move on and let’s leave the Blake turmoil and chaos years behind us and work together. It’s time. Thank you.

  3. Billy you and I rarely agree on anything but on this I totally agree with you about Peter. I was there Tuesday night to let the City Council know of all the insults, slurs and abusive words I’ve been subjected to including walking by his store and him calling me a stupid bitch last Saturday. My son read an email in response to my husband’s email saying that the Laguna Beach Republicans were NOT endorsing Peter, not sent to Peter btw, where he totally trashes my husband for not endorsing him. It was vile. The next day Peter sent me a hostile email telling me that my son needed a safe space to recover from his response to my son reading his email to my husband at the CC meeting. What is wrong with this man??? He needs help is all I can figure. I don’t agree with your choice for City Council though – I believe Jerome Pudwill, Mark Orgill and Ruben Flores would make far better council members who will listen to residents and look out for us versus the cabal at City Hall.

  4. Well said Billy. I’d add another point…Who is ‘Peter Blake’ really? Every other Council candidate shares their past: where they grew up, their education, careers, etc – except Mr. Blake. Nothing, nada, zip before “Arriving in Laguna in 1995”. Lot’s of rumors running round that ‘Peter Blake’ isn’t even his real name, and about what he dealt besides art when he first hung out his shingle. (The reason for his F-bomb threats to Lorene Laguna.) Besides all that, doesn’t Laguna Beach deserve to know who this guy really is? Especially when he boasted at Council just a week ago: “if I have to, it’ll get 10 times uglier in my next term.” Yikes? NO As Billy said: give Blake the Boot.

  5. The writer is acting out like a child isn’t he? From Sir Winston Churchill: “The Best Case Against Democracy is a Five Minute Conversation With the Average Voter”, or “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life”, or “I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals”, or “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” Finally, “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

  6. This long diatribe is proof of the backward mentality in Laguna, because I recently read a book titled “Difficult Men” which is the story of how HBO had “The Sopranos”, “Sex and the City” and “Six Feet Under” in award winning production AT THE SAME TIME. His critique of Blake is a personal attack on a businessman who stood up and ran and won. There will be more successes from ‘Difficult Men” due to their successes, not free internet opinions from a “radio host” broadcasting to four listeners, who doesn’t earn any money for their media. As the saying goes Opinions are like . . everyone has one. The low barriers to entry on His Column are worthless.

  7. Perhaps the most popular meme floating about in polite society today is the contention that any hint of challenge is tainted as “Incivility.” It is so popular, in fact, that Laguna Gadflies and Minority politicians present themselves to the Office of Acceptable Propaganda each day to confirm they are ‘Nicer”. They collect their allotted quota of different ways of ridiculing and dismissing those imprudent enough to suggest that, as a matter of fact, there are solvable problems. Blake is a problem solver and speaks the truth which as you can see greatly upsets his opposions manufactured consensus and rhetorical gambits.

  8. Mrs. Monda – Blake’s right — You’re thrashing about because you and your husband are the RINO’S we’re getting out of our world. You two (as Laguna GOP lol) have done nothing for Capitalism. Blake needs ‘help?” It’s your weird need to be loved that’s the illness du jour here in Laguna, and because you’re not loved by Blake you’re angry. Now, go give your money to ‘the arts’ and be nice. As the saying goes “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of The Way”.

  9. Clark Collins for your information Sir, as property owners in Laguna we don’t have to explain anything to you. We’re just voting. If your values are for progressive liberalism, I can understand why that is making you very sad.

  10. !Fried’s a mess! Why? Because if he’s so heavy with his radio & ‘column’, being THEE Laguna Experience Specialist, using the logos of corporatations for team building on his website, he can’t raise the money to run or sponsor anyone with any guts to stand up for his agenda because it’s all Mickey Mouse. Bill, it’s costs nothing to write these “opinions”. If you had money you would put it where your mouth is like we have.

  11. Also, Brian Hoffman, you seem to know so much about the personal and professional lives of those you condemn, despite never having heard your name before, or seeing you anywhere in public. Since you’re so keen on transparency, what did you change your “very complicated foreign name” from? And did you do it just for these comments?

  12. Billy, I was able to drive a Mack truck through your weak arguments. All you can say is, “what is your name?” This has been my legal name for over 35 years.
    I get it. You are a wordsmith. You have an excellent grasp of the English language. All that makes you is a great fiction storyteller. All I did was speak the truth. Did I say anything false? When it was my opinion, I said it was my opinion. You want to know everything about me, so what, come to my house, email my work, cancel me? And so, what if English is a second language? If someone makes an effort to speak the same language as you to be able to relate to you, do you want to make fun of them? I’m not sure, but that sounds racist to me.
    The only boot I see is the one you are trying to take out of your mouth.

  13. As a wordsmith, I only parse my words with people who matter, who don’t lurk in the shadows, providing shade for their overlords.

    Normally around this time Peter comes at me with the “Spare me the…” speech. Clearly his handlers have put a muzzle on him, knowing that he will only dig himself deeper in a hole. Boy it must have been hard for him to hold back.

    So he dispatches phantom surrogates (most of whom are clearly the same person) to attack, in a desperate attempt to defend the indefensible. No wonder none of his supporters with any stature in this town try to defend him publicly. They know they are wrong and are only acting out of craven self interest. But that’s what we’ve become.

    This foul, violent belligerence isn’t tolerated in any corner of the civilized world, and we shouldn’t either. Somewhere along your journey, not only did you lose your name, but you lost your way.

  14. I would challenge every person on this thread, with the exception of MJ Abraham, Michele Monda, Chris Prelitz and Armando Baez, to verify their identities. Interesting that every individual that is pro-Peter Blake doesn’t show up when you Google their name and “Laguna Beach”. I find it humorous that Peter Blake might need to hire people to say positive things about him. Either that or people that are pro-Peter are so ashamed that they feel the need to hide behind a fake name. Please just email [email protected] and prove to her that you are who you say you are. Ask her to post that she’s verified your identity. It should be quick and easy. Until then…

  15. Reading these comments is prime example of just how “quaint little Laguna” simply “aint” anymore, and hasn’t been for a long time. That’s not proper English, I know, and don’t care. The comments of Brian Hoffman above are spot on – 100%. The true bullies in this town are Village Laguna, now calling itself Laguna Residents First, pushing Measure Q. The bullies in this town (and crybabies) are the likes of Billy Fried, MJ, Armando and Michelle Monda, etc. They throw rocks and then are shocked when the rocks comes back their way. Although I’m not on the cesspool that is NextDoor, people send me screen shots and the true nastiness and bullying comes from those pushing Measure Q. One would think these people have nothing better to do all day then spend their time as keyboard warriors/bullies on ND. You are not allowed to have an opinion other than one supporting Measure Q – they will attempt to tear you apart. So much for civility and being “nice” lol. At the last city council meeting, where Michelle Monda whined yet again about being a victim of Peter Blake’s purported bullying, Michelle Monda herself turned and called me a b * t c h after leaving the podium – it’s clearly on the video. Hilarious! The pot calling the kettle black. It shows you exactly who she is, certainly not a victim.

    As a strong independent professional woman, I’m supporting Peter Blake because he accomplished what he said he would accomplish when he was elected: get tough on crime, get transient homelessness off our street, reform DRB and PC, and streamline overburdensome regulations. I respect that, and as a resident I appreciate that. Peter Blake doesn’t “hate” women, he just doesn’t put up with women, or men for that matter (yup, there are only 2 genders) that are vipers pretending to be innocent puppy dogs. He calls balls and strikes like he sees them. Feel free to verify my name. I’m in the book.

  16. Another observation…. All of the pro-Blake nutbars on this thread – in addition to drawing a big blank when you Google their names along with “Laguna Beach”, when you search the tax records for 92651 and the names that all (7) have used it yields zero results. I typically think of a pro-Blake voter as a me, me, me property-owner, so while I’m sure they will claim that they own their Laguna mansions in some sort of generically named trust, the evidence points to fake names being used here or even sadder that Peter is paying people to support him. Both are bad for Laguna… Be kind people and vote for civility! There are (6) City Council candidates that are smart, well-qualified and eager to do right by Laguna.

  17. Billy, please spare me your self-righteous BS!

    I do not have handlers and no one puts a muzzle on me. I’m more than happy to “dig myself into a hole” especially with a woke hypocrite like yourself.

    I dont “dispatch phantom surrogates” to take out my trash. I’m happy to do it myself. I’m amazed that anyone would even consider stepping up to defend me given the probability that you and your leftist sheeple will try and cancel them.

    The “foul, violent, belligerence,” you speak of is tolerated anywhere in the world where peoples liberties are threatened by the likes of you.

    Please stop kidding yourself. No one gives a shit what you think.

  18. Thanks Clark for addressing this. FYI- the Nextdoor community platform is also experiencing a record number of fake names popping up with political venom and personal attacks. Blake’s account was cancelled for this reason. Don’t believe those who say they don’t participate though. Like here, they just aren’t using their real names.

    The personal attack remarks here wreak of the Peter Blake tactical playbook; tear down anyone who gets in your way by spreading inaccurate and false information. Looks like several people have drunk the PB kool aid and are doing the job for him. Sad.

    As for Jennifer Zeiter of the Greater Laguna Beach GOP/far-rights who endorsed Blake for council, here’s a recent fact. She insulted women speakers at the recent council meeting addressing bullying telling them to “grow a pair”, name-called a young man for speaking against Peter Blake’s email bullying of his parents and later in the meeting had several “yelling from the audience outbursts” at a councilman during his time to speak. This council member finally gave up after four attempts to speak because she wouldn’t stop her outbursts and the Mayor couldn’t seem to stop her. IMO, it was disturbing adult behavior. So why would anyone listen to her accusing others of bullying? No thanks!

    This cancerous behavior surfaced in our city when voters foolishly fell for a PAC’s big money campaign rhetoric and elected the unknown Peter Blake. We know what he’s about now.

    HEAL Laguna. Choose ANYONE but BLAKE!

  19. Hey Brian, or Petra, or whatever your name is, the question isn’t, “what evidence do I have that you are a phantom surrogate?” It’s, “What evidence do I have that you’re not?”

    If you want to engage in thoughtful debate, send me an email.

    And Peter, right on time with your “Spare me…” speech. So now you are a defender of people’s liberties? Thank you, Nelson Mandela!

  20. Gee MJ, so nice to see you trolling on these pages. So kind of you to come to the defense of little Ms Michele Monda, who claims to be a victim of bullying, when, in fact, it was she who was being the bully, cussing people out at City Hall after they speak at the dias? Shall I post the timestamped video link of her doing so? You know, just to provide the hard evidence? Sorry, but having her visiting adult son (in his 30s) take on the victim roll of his mommy was just a bit pathetic. You see, you and Monda and all the VL folks show up at every city council meeting to whine, ring your hands, play the innocent victims, blame Peter Blake for all the woes of this world. Then you get back on NextDoor and start slinging mud at your neighbors. Certainly there must be better things to do with your time?

    Oh, and MJ, did you forget to mention that I was calming telling council member George Weiss at the city council meeting that he was repeatedly slandering her from the dias? Shall I post the timestamped video link so others can see for themselves how it really went down vs. your twisted narrative? Happy to do so, just say the word. Sorry, but I never back down from bullies like George Weiss and yourself, and yes, all the adult whiners do need to “grow a pair” (I love that line) and quit pretending to be victims when they are vipers themselves, including yourself MJ. Man up, woman up, whatever up. George Weiss might be sorry when he is served with a defamation lawsuit….probably not a smart idea to publicly slander one who knows the law.

    It is you Yes on Q folks that attack anyone who dares to speak otherwise on ND. Doug Vogel, who spoke at the last city council meeting right after me, confirmed exactly that – that the bullies are the Yes on Q folks. Sad.”

    Now here’s a man whose got a pair!

    BTW, Brian Hoffman, smart idea using LLCs to protect assets and privacy, especially in this day and age. Lots of folks do that. But it may be beyond the comprehension of some of the folks on this thread.

  21. Great column. Happy to send screenshots of curse-laden disparaging messages Blake has sent me, a private citizen, simply for disagreeing with him. He’s not good for the town.

  22. It’s no accident that Blake’s black banners hang from all the largest commercial projects in town. He is primarily supported by developers and business owners, betting on him for less restrictions, more entitlements, and higher profits on projects.

    The questions we need to ask are:
    Do we allow our basic democratic rights to be suppressed by a bully councilman that has zero respect for residents he disagrees with, interrupting and intimidating any opposing views, a Machiavellian justification for gains in entitlements for developers, business owners, and others that support him and his ‘fighting’ for their interests?

    Is fueling the divisiveness between residents & business owners helping or hurting our Village?

    Which do we value more?
    Democracy and Tolerance, Acceptance & Inclusion where everyone feels the freedom to openly participate in the democratic process of shaping Laguna’s future; or do we value our own self interests more?

    Do we compromise our values about things that we know that are wrong,
    for the pursuit of the almighty dollar for a few?

    Laguna Beach has a history as a leader in civil rights and tolerance. (The first openly gay mayor, and more.) As well as a history of strong public participation in Laguna Beach’s future. (Vision 2030, Dedicated Greenbelt & Bluebelt)

    The collateral damage of Blake’s combative behavior has led to less participation in our democratic process, resulting in a loss of the best and brightest ideas coming forward for Laguna’s future.

    At a time when our nation is extremely divided with the ‘other’ being labeled as the enemy, and mutual respect and the rule of law at town halls having all but disappeared; do we continue to support semi-dictator and semi-fascist behavior by elected officials?

    Laguna beach is a rich tapestry of souls and everyone that loves Laguna deserves to be here, and be heard.

    I’m a strong supporter of everyone having the freedom to exercise his/her 1st amendment right of freedom of speech. A right we are all are entitled to in America under the Constitution. It’s time to take away the Microphone from anyone that seeks to divide us and stifle those rights.

    We can’t allow a bully to remain in a leadership position and continue to intimidate and interrupt opposing views. Even our local Laguna Beach police have had enough of his ‘bad behavior’ and are ‘Not’ endorsing him.

    Do we choose to keep Laguna Beach a safe space where democratic freedom is celebrated and saved by Giving Blake the Boot – My family certainly will be! And I know many more families that voted for his ‘straight talk’ in 2018, have had enough of his BS.


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