Letter: Bully for George

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When Billy Fried’s column first outed George Weiss’s conduct towards our former city manager, Shohreh Dupuis, several months ago, I concluded that it was time for George to go.

I privately shared my opinion with some of George’s core supporters. They asked me not to rush to judgment. One even supplied me with a long creed of why George should stay, which included, among other things, the thought that if Ms. Dupuis were a man, we wouldn’t be confronted with this problem of George’s conduct towards the city manager.

Well, now the facts are in, and, in my opinion, George acted like a bully.

Going into someone’s professional office, yelling at them and pounding the desk is bullying. The city-hired attorney Barbara Raileanu’s investigative report makes it clear that George did this at least twice.

Many of you may know me from a column I had in this paper or my service as both an appointed public official on the Design Review Board and an elected member of the Water Board, where I became President. The most important thing I learned is that no one elected official is ever tasked with supervising the staff or the manager of the agency they were elected to govern.

The City of Laguna Beach sets policy by a majority vote of the city council conducted in a public meeting. That policy is then carried out by the city manager. No one council member ever has the right or the power to privately “supervise” the conduct of the manager by harassing them or berating them when they become disenchanted with the manager’s performance, no matter what.

This type of conduct is the essence of a hostile work environment. Ms. Dupuis was factually correct in her perception of George’s conduct, and Attorney Raileanu’s report validates that fact. Nothing else matters.

All the other alleged issues are unimportant to that one central fact. We are now confronted with a crescendo of cries from George’s supporters for more transparency. They want the names of the brave city employees who truthfully testified to what they saw or heard. Is this so they can shame and harass those brave folks?

Then there are protestations that Ms. Dupuis’s allegations can’t be that serious because she settled for so little. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that she simply wanted to put this whole tawdry episode behind her and move on with her life.

We owe her a debt of gratitude for moving on. George’s actions could have ended up costing the taxpayers of Laguna Beach a whole lot of money.

Lately, we’ve been hearing from some folks to let George do it, become mayor, that is. It’s clear to me that George did it, and it’s time for him to go, home that is.

JJ Gasparotti, Laguna Beach

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5 COMMENTS

  1. JJ, I could not disagree with You more in Your assessment of George Weiss. Here is an appraisal of City Manager Dupuis’ IMO shakedown of the taxpayers/citizens of Laguna Beach.

    1.) CM Dupuis threatened the Citizens of Laguna Beach with a $ 3,000,000.00 law suit if her
    demands for 33 months of salary, attorney fees, and retirement from the City were not
    met. In the letter from her attorney CM Dupuis demanded 2 Years 9 Months of Salary!
    Even though She was on the job just over 2 Years!

    2.) CM Dupuis listed 7 separate “claims” against CC Member George Weiss

    3.) 1 claim was substantiated according to the “City Hired” attorney * He raised his voice
    and pounded on her desk. Should this be worth $ 3,000.000.00? Really!

    4.) 6 claims were “denied”, so over 85% of CM Dupuis’ claims were found to have no merit.

    5.) The City Council (without the vote of George Weiss) saw fit to pay the former CM a
    substantial pay out even before the final determinations were concluded by the City
    hired attorney. I do not think we the citizens should be thanking the former CM for her
    service, quite the contrary. We should be asking her to Pay Back the City of Laguna
    Beach the monies paid out by for threatening a meritless law suit.

    Many residents of Laguna Beach can identify a squeeze/hustle when it bashes them in the face. The Council in an embarrassing attempt to save their own necks capitulated to this bamboozle, attempting to lay the blame at George Weiss’s feet. This is why the only two Council Persons voting for transparency were George Weiss, and Mark Orgill. Thanks to Mark O. for standing up to the nefarious behavior of the balance of our City Council.

    It is time to put an end to this conversation, George Weiss had the tenacity to stand up to the multiple shortcomings of the former CM. Please stop blaming CC Weiss for all of the failings of the CM. We should be laying blame squarely at the feet of our own CC Members who willingly overlooked the weakness of her claim and attempted to redirect blame away from themselves. Good luck trying to sell this JJ.

  2. Claude,

    I agree with you for once. It’s time to put an end to the conversation and instead vote George out.

    JJ doesn’t have to sell it. The residents of Laguna Beach appear pretty tired of the bullying that goes on by a CC Weiss and his few vocal supporters in the same way that they may have been tired of Peter Blake from how he was portrayed.

    I have no doubt that Mr. Weiss will not receive a second term on council. Our community needs to heal, and they cannot do so with this type of behavior on council. There is a difference between transparency and demolition. I actually believe that the latter is what Mr. Weiss and his supporters want. What they don’t understand is that when tourists stop coming to this town and their housing values go down, they may find themselves underwater on their HELOCs.

  3. Sorry Doug, as You should well know, drawing any comparison between George Weiss and Peter Blake is implausible. The question is why do You and Your group keep trying to draw this moronic comparison?

    So now all of the “Let’s have transparency” advocates are suddenly changing their tune, no longer wailing for transparency. You should be careful what You ask for?

    What is needed in Laguna Beach is a City Council focused on the Residents of Laguna Beach, period. It is time to bring the curtain down on the Developer/Retailer/ Tourist/Parking Structure Advocates that has been the mission of our past Council majority.

    Let’s start by ending the passing of the Mayoral position back and forth between Whalen and Kemph, that would be a great beginning.

    You should have learned by now that there are a lot more than a “few” in this town that are aware and engaged in bringing an end to the current City Council’s endeavor to retain control through their “Majority”.

    So, Doug, we will see if in the next election cycle if the Residents wish to continue with the Whalen/Kemph/Rounaghi, <(the kinder gentler Peter Blake) or do the residents install a Resident First Council and bring thoughtful development to Laguna. We will have to wait and see.

  4. Does JJ ever have it wrong.

    One has to wonder what ever motivated him to just suddenly pop up out of nowhere after years of hibernation with so much misdirected vitriol.

    Let’s dissemble some of the overcharged claims that he’s posed as a self-appointed judge, jury and executioner.

    First and foremost, the charges of fist pounding. Funny thing, JJ is so darned positive this happened. Or did it?

    Since the City Council refuses to release any information in the investigator’s report, no one knows who supposedly corroborated these charges which Councilman Weiss denies. Much speculation is that it was former Assistant City Manager Ken Domer . . . a known Shohreh Dupuis acolyte. He owed Dupuis a big one after she threw him a career lifeline when she hired him despite the fact that Fullerton’s City Council had just thrown him out of his office as their City Manager.

    So just how trustworthy were the testimonies? Were most of them from employees recruited by Dupuis from her direct reports? Most probably. And if so, wouldn’t there be some biases or some intimidation?

    Without the ability to cross-examine the testimony, no one knows what’s valid. But boy, does JJ ever claim to know!

    Indeed, his blind belief in the accusations of guilt are all predicated on the fact that no one is allowed to see it or question the report.

    Fact: Mayor Whalen, a political rival of Councilman Weiss, and the new, temporary City Attorney selected the same legal firm that defended Dupuis’ attempt to stonewall the release of her traffic stop body cam video. (Whalen and Council member Sue Kempf were the only ones who voted to not release that footage.) That law firm in turn selected the investigator who looked into Ms. Dupuis’ claims. Interestingly, contrary to JJ’s loaded implications, the investigator’s response rejected all of Dupuis’ legal claims. A little something JJ neglects to mention.

    JJ’s bellicose accusation that Councilman Weiss’ supporters want “the names of the brave city employees who truthfully testified . . . so they can shame and harass those brave folks” is loaded with so much rubbish, one doesn’t know where to start.

    Those brave city employees were just as apt to tell distorted stories because of biased allegiances, coercion, or fear of retaliation at their own jobs. Again, since their testimony isn’t being allowed to be seen or cross-examined, who knows what’s true?

    Besides, at the 3:35 point of the November 7, 2023, City Council meeting, even Mayor Whalen said that releasing the report without names would not have jeopardized those interviewed – but nevertheless, he too refused to release a single word of the entire report. Apparently transparency is something Mayor Bob and Council members Sue Kempf and Alex Rounaghi aren’t interested in.

    As the Indy’s very own straw poll has indicated, 68.9% of the respondents were dissatisfied by the City Council’s release of its closed-door session’s information . . . which is a code word phrasing for failure to release the report.

    Yet JJ is fully willing to convict Councilman Weiss without allowing the report to be made public or allowing Weiss to defend himself. And JJ’s the one who wants to talk about bullying?!

    With JJ’s letter, I’m reminded of the old Josh Billings quote, “It ain’t so much that people are ignorant, they just know so much that ain’t so.” Most apropos.

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