Letter: Personal interests have no place in leadership

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The well-researched article in the Nov. 10 Independent by Clara Beard did a great job of reporting the facts: 

1. Shohreh Dupuis claimed that council member George Weiss created a toxic work environment and used personal harassment to intimidate. 

2. Among the seven complaints was that Weiss “became aggressive, intimidating and agitated. In an angry moment, Weiss displayed anger and pounded his fists on the city manager’s desk.

Fact: The city hired attorney Barbara Raileanu to investigate the facts based on testimony from city employee witnesses. Her report confirmed the allegations to be true.

Bottom line: The city council met in closed session and chose to protect Weiss. 

Question: Why did the council take this path, retaining the root problem- while not dealing with the unacceptable behavior of an out-of-control council member?

Mayor Whalen said, “To engage in a lawsuit would have been a huge distraction.”

Conclusion: Weiss is out of control. Why didn’t the council just censure him and attack the real problem as they did with council member Peter Blake? Was it concerns about being re-elected, offending Village Laguna, who Weiss represents, and offending this powerful voting group?

Ann Christoph wrote, “Dupuis’s claim, not the merit of her accusations about George, was the reason for council’s settlement and her leaving.” Christoph further makes the case that George Weiss should be our next mayor.

Tom Osborne also wrote an article in the Independent, “By George, Laguna needs an environmental leader as mayor.” 

Perhaps selecting a proven toxic council member to be mayor will only perpetuate more conflict and dysfunction that Mayor Whalen wants to avoid. Weiss was the cause of our original problem. His actions caused the disruption of our city government and a significant expenditure of wasted taxpayer public funds.

The council now wants us to tell them what to look for in the leadership qualities of a new city manager. It may be time for a big dose of introspection and honesty. Personal interests have no place in leadership. A special trust is given to our elected officials to do what is best for the greater good and all residents. 

Eric Axel Jensen, Laguna Beach

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1 COMMENT

  1. Mr. Jensen, the statement that, “the City Council met in closed session and chose to protect Weiss” is naive. The City Council denied George Weiss any opportunity to address the allegations against him. The denial of this right by CC was a blatant attempt to deflect evaluation for their culpability for hiring of the “unqualified” CM.

    The fact that You open Your LTE with the statement, “the well researched article in the Nov. 10th Independent by Clara Beard did a great job reporting the facts”. Then, “after” making this opening statement You go on to disregard the preponderance of the findings. Incredulous!

    Let’s go over the findings again, for those readers wanting the “unabridged” information, rather than the “inadequate” version that You have supplied. Below are the exact words from the “well researched” article of Nov. 10TH INDEPENDENT. Of course, You unmistakably omitted these observations in Your LTE.

    “Out of the seven claims made toward Weiss, the city-hired attorney, Barbara Railenau, who led the investigation, found “NO DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF SEX OR NATIONAL ORIGIN,”

    “The investigation DID NOT FIND THAT Weiss’ behavior towards the former city manager during the summer of 2021 meeting to be BASED ON DUPUIS’ PROTECTED CLASS”

    “The memo also FOUND DUPUIS’ CLAIM that Weiss said the Feb. 9 vandalism of her home was an “inside job” to distract from the release of records regarding Dupuis’ receiving a traffic ticket TO BE UNSUBSTANTIATED”

    “The investigation REJECTED DUPUIS’ ALLEGATION that Weiss encouraged the public to make demeaning, hostile or unprofessional remarks about Dupuis in public forums, including social media”.

    There were additional ALLAGETIONS MADE BY DUPUIS THAT WERE DENIED” in the findings that do not merit repeating in this thread.

    Mr. Jensen, the toxic City Council that You speak of is not the product of City Councilperson Weiss. Many Laguna Beach residents agree that we have a certain toxicity in the Council, true. The toxicity is derived from Mayor Whalen and CC Member Kemph hardhanded control of the Mayoral gavel. The “retention of the root problem” is not CC Person George Weiss it is in fact, Mayor Whalen and CC Person Kemph’s attempt to dominate CC decision making.

    CC Person Weiss is the voice of the Residents of Laguna Beach. Weiss is the only CC Member who showed the insight, and courage to stand up to the Developers, Real Estate, Retail, Parking Structure advocates that are and continue to act in defiance of what Us the residents of Laguna Beach need from our City Council. Quite simply a “Residents First Agenda.”

    Our current CC has an opportunity to bring this discourse to an end with the selection of our next Mayor. Will our CC continue the “Gavel Toss” or will our CC break the stranglehold that Whalen and Kemph have perpetuated and abandon their attempt to asphyxiate fairness in our Council Chambers. It is time that Council Members, Orgill, Rounaghi, Kemph, and Mayor Whalen achieve the appropriate outcome and install 4 Year Councilman Weiss as our next Mayor. We will soon see if our Council adopts fairness over paltriness.

    Place Your Bets!

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