The Laguna Beach City Council will consider a request Tuesday to censure Councilmember Peter Blake, marking the first time councilmembers will vote on whether to enforce a decorum and civility policy adopted in 2019.
Councilmember George Weiss formally requested a censure vote earlier this week, arguing the City Council needs to intervene in light of multiple statements by the art gallery owner that violate city law governing the conduct of elected and appointed officials.
“The censure request is based on two categories of unprofessional acts that violate the City’s Rules of Decorum and Civility Policy,” Weiss wrote in a letter. “First, insulting public communications directed to or about different Laguna Beach residents, which convey the (false) impression that community input is held in disdain by the City Council. Second, public derisive comment about fellow long-term Councilmember Toni Iseman.”
Among Blake’s statements cited in the letter, which include five comments he posted on lagunabeachindy.com, are disparaging remarks about his political opponents.
In a May 2020 email sent to Mayor Bob Whalen and senior city staff, Blake wrote Iseman is unfit for office due to a health condition and should resign.
Weiss also cited Blake’s response to a Feb. 5 letter to the editor on lagunabeachindy.com where Blake called Iseman “Village Laguna’s mouthpiece”, “sycophantic,” and a word that Merriam-Webster co-defines as “a lewd or promiscuous woman.” Blake has subsequently commented that he was referring to the other definition as “the dross or scoria of a metal” in light of his artistic background.
Blake said in a phone interview Thursday that he’s not apologizing for any of these comments.
“This is just Village Laguna trying to censor me,” Blake said. “They’ve been trying to censor me since the day I announced [my campaign]. They started with the code of conduct, they pressured the city staff to enforce Robert’s Rules, and now they’re moving forward with censure. What they’re really trying to do is cancel me.”
The censure hearing is not a judicial proceeding but a councilmember considered for censure is entitled to an opportunity to respond, according to a staff report. Members of the public will also be able to offer their comments on the proposed censure.
The City Council will meet via Zoom at 5 p.m on March 9.