It was a pleasure to watch the first full meeting of the 2023 City Council on Jan. 10, where speakers were treated respectfully, and the Council had congenial discussions at the dais.
For the past four years, what was allowed to occur at each City Council meeting was a failure of leadership, and that lack of leadership falls to the mayor and mayor pro tem.
We are all aware that the fear of losing that third vote prevented them from imposing legal disciplinary actions. Many of us will not easily forget the part they both played in not maintaining civility. Sadly, this was perpetuated by rotating the mayor and mayor pro tem positions between them for years and not allowing for the long-standing council tradition of rotating those positions through the Council.
What we were put through during those four years is painful to remember. It’s especially painful for me because I was a target just about every time I spoke.
It was painful for Village Laguna, the nonprofit civic organization whose primary mission is to Preserve and Protect the Village Atmosphere and, without a doubt, it was painful to the residents of Laguna Beach.
We all endured the abuse for the last four years regardless of whether we were the target or not.
The mayor’s and mayor pro tem’s responsibility should have been to protect citizens from the perpetrator instead of protecting the perpetrator.
It’s evident that during these years, the mayor and mayor pro tem had little comprehension of what it took to return to council meeting after meeting after being verbally abused time again and knowing to expect more of the same but nonetheless, some stood up to speak their truth despite the abuse. But sadly, many did not.
Hopefully, this chapter is behind us, and come next December, the mayor and mayor pro tem will give up their tight grip on the Council and allow the regular rotation to resume.
Johanna Felder, Laguna Beach