I know a bully when I see and hear one. Peter Blake’s actions are that of a bully, plain and simple. At the July 9 City Council meeting, Blake called members in the audience “liars,” “Temple Hills liars” and “unprofessional” when they disagreed with his version of some of the agenda items at the meeting. This is unacceptable.
The city erred by putting the issue of massive development projects at the end of the agenda. Because of the late hour (after 12:30 a.m.), the public was allowed only one minute each to speak on this vital issue.
The scene at 1 a.m. at the Council was disgraceful, and I was embarrassed by the Council itself. Name-calling by a Council member should never be an acceptable part of the public hearing process. Speakers who disagreed with Councilman Blake were loudly referred to as “unprofessional” by him. As a resident, I can take just so much disrespect. I disgustedly left the Council meeting at 1 a.m.
Here are some solutions to improving the conduct at Council meetings:
- Have Mayor Whalen, as leader of the meeting, say to Councilman Blake during his name-calling outbursts, “Stop. That is not appropriate.”
- Ask the Mayor to contact the police chief for a sergeant at arms to attend the meetings if he cannot get Councilman Blake to be respectful. A sergeant of armskeeps order during a meeting, and if other board members or meeting attendees are disruptive, a sergeantmay warn them and, in extreme cases, eject them from the meeting.
- Schedule contentious issues early on the agenda. On issues of major interest, 12:30 a.m. is never a good time to begin a public hearing. Don’t limit speaking on a major issue to one minute, ever. Allow three minutes for public comments because of the importance of the issues to residents. There should be more, not less time.
- Prioritize issues, such as massive development projects or increasing the density in Laguna Canyon, that will be contentious. Limit the total time on a topic and schedule another time for a continued discussion when needed.
- Advise Councilman Blake to resign if he can’t control his outbursts. The City Council is not an appropriate venue for bullying tactics.
Karen Dennis, Laguna Beach