Letter: Can’t we all just get along?


Can’t we all just get along here? Rodney King’s words seem to echo throughout City Hall, with calls from the council to put past contentiousness behind us and move forward to solve the city’s problems collegially. I fully understand and fervently agree with the sentiment. I wonder, however, whether we can put the past behind us if we ignore it. Which, like it or not, seems to linger like the proverbial elephant in the room.

Somehow, somewhere, we took a wrong turn. Everyone knows something is wrong. We live in a toxic culture of secrecy, mistrust and uncivil discourse. We seem to be long on problems and short on solutions. 

Why did we have to wait for four years for voters to address the issue of a council member who regularly berated residents from the dais? Where was council leadership, and why did they let the situation fester?

How did the Mo/MOM issue escalate to where we are today, with armed gunmen appearing in our hotels and our city seeming to be handcuffed? How did it get to where the residents must be kept in the dark?

How did we get to the point where the city manager suddenly and unexpectedly retires, effective immediately, with a handsome settlement, after years of hearing from the dais how wonderful she was?

Why do we continue to hear of allegations of hostile workplace environment claims but are left to wonder about the underlying cause and what, if anything, is being done to remedy the alleged problems?  

We have a chance, with some new council members and a new city manager, for a new start. Nature abhors a vacuum, so city leaders should not be surprised if rumors fill the void created when they don’t level with the public. 

But rumors aren’t a solid foundation for progress. Residents will be ready to move on once they know how we got here. They believe steps are being taken to ensure we are moving out of our toxic culture with plans never to return.   

Mary Locatelli, Laguna Beach

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  1. Thank you Mary. Such good points. Yes, examining how we got here and the depth of the problems is important for sure.

    I firmly believe that the most negative impact to our City was the calculated organization of the 2018 “Liberate Laguna” Developer PAC led by Michale Ray, Sam Goldstein and Cindy Shopoff (and $20,000 seed money from Mo Honarker) with a mission to control our local government via funding elected’s and influencing our city administration and boards and commissions installations. This is the root of five years of community turmoil.

    It’s taken residents all this time to recognize and start unraveling the deep-damage. This prompted necessary changes in our government which are underway and will help get our City back to a more peaceful, balanced and positive community. I have faith in Laguna voters!

  2. And so do I, MJ. And that’s why Measure Q was so roundly defeated, because residents want their city government to make development decisions, not you and your cabal of complainers that would bring progress to a halt. And to be clear, your small minority did not get Peter Blake unelected. That was the majority of residents who, despite some of his favorable policies, did not agree with his methods. Score another for the majority, who also repudiated your other anti-progress candidates, Pudwell and Flores. We now have 4 sensible, civilized, pro progress council members who will move Laguna towards the future, no matter who our City Manager is. So enjoy the ride.

  3. I voted against measure q – but not because I didn’t agree with its intent but because of how it was written. Please don’t assume that Measure Q was defeated because the voters agree with your and Michael Ray’s view, which misses a huge part of the picture because of narrow interests. Billy you are making a causal statement without evidence. Please don’t speak on behalf of me as a voter. This is not about progress, this is about the process of progress vs backroom deals that have gone on for too long instead of open and transparent communication. The sad truth is that Measure Q was put on the ballot because the supporters and enough voters could not see any other way. It takes an honest and informed council, not a council that blindly follows the direction of staff or city attorney but a council that really questions if in fact the code and policies that have been vetted and adopted are truly being implemented vs a cherry pick that only supports one view.

  4. Karen Martin,

    I appreciate your comment. Measure Q brought up some great points. It became devisive. There may have been a better way to address the issues, but it is definitely a wake up call for current council members.

  5. ? Should Council member Weiss be held accountable for his actions? “Hostile work environment “! Over $ 1/2 million dollars!
    Resign? Recall? Censure at the very lest? Or just act like “it” never happened?


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