Letter: Lack of Leadership Caused Council Incivility

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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

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Well put. While the source of the incivility has been rightfully cast aside, the “leaders” who could have done something to rein it in have not. Its always been a source of dismay to me that incumbents are seemingly never judged on their record, in Laguna politics. When running for re-election, it seems voters are only too willing to compare all candidates based on their positions going forward, as opposed to evaluating their past performance. Such focus on past performance would have precluded some incumbents from re-election, I believe. Going forward, I too hope that the previous system of rotation is resumed in the future, as all Lagunans benefit from this system.

  2. More sour grapes from folks whose vision for Laguna were rejected by a majority of the electorate. Why not own this failure and learn from it rather than continue to blame Bob and Sue for Peter’s outbursts and the voters for their choices? As for this talk about the “previous system of rotation,” it never states the obvious: it’s all about George being mayor. The problem is that he doesn’t have three votes because, in his own way, he is as temperamentally ill-suited for the job as Peter was. He hates the City Manager, he’s often at odds with his colleagues, he’s a serial violator of the Brown Act, and he was a co-author of Measure Q, which was defeated by almost a 2-to-1 margin. At least Peter stopped assuming he would get to be mayor. George should too.

  3. Mr. Quilter, sorry but the Mayoral Rotation is not about George Weiss wanting to be the “Mayor” of Laguna Beach. The traditional rotation of the Mayor’s office is or, in the case of Laguna Beach “was” a tradition. This “tradition” has been hi-jacked by Whalen and Kemph, please make no mistake about that. Mr. Quilter, hate is a very strong word, and I do not believe that Councilman Weiss “hates” the City Manager. I have had, however multiple opportunities to interact in discussions with “former” Councilman Blake and with Councilman George Weiss as well. I can assure you that your assessment of George Weiss being “as temperamentally ill-suited for the job as Peter was” is patently absurd. My last communication with Peter Blake was in email form and he wrote to me this: “F-You Loser, what have you done”? Peter did not bother to abbreviate the “F-Word” This email came directly from [email protected]. Blake actually sent this to me from his City Council email account. I did not respond. I can assure you that Councilman George Weiss would never say anything resembling that quote to a resident/constituent in Laguna Beach, ever. There is truly no way that a comparison to Peter Blake can be drawn between Blake and Councilman Weiss. Furthermore I do not believe that Blake could be compared to Teddy Roosevelt either as others have tried to portray. Absurd comparisons to be sure. You cannot “spin” Blake, he was a four year mistake, he is gone, and the council will heal and be better without him.

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