Opinion: The George Problem

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Billy Fried

Every politician has a mentor, a sounding board, a guiding presence. Nelson Mandela had Walter Sisulu, Winston Churchill had Bourke Cockran, and John F. Kennedy had Ted Sorensen. When wondering about councilman George Weiss, only one name comes to mind: Yosemite Sam. Yes, the proud cartoon cowboy, the mean-spirited and aggressive gunslinger with the hair-trigger temper and an intense hatred of rabbits – whose “shoot first” efforts always seemed to backfire. Substitute common sense for rabbits, and we have our doppelganger.

You see, George came into office with a sworn enemy: developers. He produced an ad campaign with pictures of Huntington Beach high-rises and the headline “Think this can’t happen here? Think again.” Well, I thought about it. And it can’t. Nonetheless, his fear tactic succeeded, and George vowed to get business interests out of City Hall, fight for transparency and crusade for fiscal responsibility. 

Only, he wasn’t going to do it the normal way, through reason, persuasion and vote-getting. He would do it the Yosemite George way, with bombast and belligerence. Let’s examine the track record in the three years he’s wreaked havoc on city council. 

When he didn’t agree with the direction of a closed-door session to discuss the Hotel Laguna, he snuck surreptitiously to the office of the city’s prime nemesis – the litigation-as-sport Mark Fudge – and disclosed confidential information. A Brown Act violation. I guess he hoped Mark would ride to the rescue by suing our town for the umpteenth time. That’s like planting a bomb and then locking yourself in the room. City council didn’t take kindly and censored him. 

Then George was caught on a hot mic disparaging a resident and his permit application, essentially objecting to his wealth. This, of course, was met with a complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission. 

We all know about the debacle George caused with the purchase of our library from the County. George heard an offhand comment by his antagonist Peter Blake saying that, once acquired, we could do anything with the property. Even a parking garage, as an example. Well, George saw an opening to cast himself as a hero of preservation and started a mendacious “Save our library from becoming a parking garage” campaign that, much like his Huntington Beach deceit, was a pure fear tactic and moored nowhere near reality. This resulted in the signing of a beyond-dopey 25-year lease with the County to continue to operate it, thereby obliterating any opportunity to improve upon the tired, shoddy relic. A true loss to our residents. 

Finally, there was his anti-development baby, Measure Q, which would take all commercial development decisions away from council and into the hands of residents. Because he felt professionally trained staff couldn’t be trusted and were somehow in the pocket of developers. Anyone who’s lived here knows the opposite is true. And George, wasn’t that the job YOU signed up for? The Measure got demolished, and George needed a scapegoat to blame. So, he zeroed in on City Manager Shohreh Dupuis, knowing that as a public employee, she couldn’t defend herself from bullying. He could have pursued normal channels and waited for the end of her contract for a performance review. But no, George campaigned non-stop to smear her over a simple moving violation, with claims that she did something so improper (mentioning she was on the phone with the police chief to the citing officer) that it was a criminal act and grounds for termination. He even published a compilation of anti-Shohreh letters on his website that are still there. 

The cartoon irony is, of course, that, in the midst of all this, George himself was pulled over on Laguna Canyon Road for avoiding slow northbound traffic by riding his scooter down the middle lane. The officer recognized him and gave him a warning. But shouldn’t this pillar of righteousness have asked for the ticket since he violated the law as a councilmember? Instead, he fist-bumped the officer for letting him off. Wait, what’s that smell? Oh yeah, hypocrisy. 

George Weiss, self-proclaimed beacon of transparency, here’s your moment of truth. You fervently assert that you never bullied, harassed, or unjustly tarnished the reputation of our esteemed city manager. This is all one grand misinterpretation, correct? Well, let your actions speak louder than words. Advocate now for the public unveiling of those confidential sessions concerning Shohreh and her potential lawsuit against the city for a hostile work environment. 

Your very website proclaims, “Residents deserve complete and total transparency in their city government.” So, with the same vigor you applied to Shohreh’s traffic incident, rise to the occasion and demand transparency about the allegation against you. Shohreh, a leader who, in her budding tenure, garnered the respect and admiration of her team, deserves as much. Clear not just your name but the looming cloud of doubt. Let’s see the true George Weiss, unburdened by the shadows of Yosemite. 

Billy is the CEO of La Vida Laguna, an outdoor adventure company, and the host of “Laguna Talks” on KXFM radio – Thursdays at 8 p.m. Email: [email protected].

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Billy. Thank you for sharing this. I still wonder who was involved with the truck that had a sign of Shoreh and Mo in front of city hall during a meeting. The company who put it there said the person who had requested the disgusting sign was able to stay anonymous. Yet George admitted to doing this type of thing in a previous election. Harassment indeed. How has he benefitted the community in any way?

  2. Oh heavens, how do you have a column to degrade and humiliate people is beyond me, I see many problems with this paper, in giving certain people columns for constant derision of certain groups and now certain people, that really should not be warring with each other but coming together to work things out. How did it get this way? well, I think it was festering and then Peter Blake came on the scene, yes I helped elect him, now sadly finding that he pushed the City Manager on us and some of us know that was a deal made by her that if he supported her she would in return do whatever he wanted…sadly, in a narcistic way the city council changed dramatically..and the deal was to make views not important , change the protocols in the planning debt and cushion the DRB and other committees to get away from any property rights for those that were established or not..So finally the people got wise and VOTED in George Weiss..Mr. Weiss would take all your calls , send out a great newsletter to all residents and in a truthful manner say what was going on.He stood for Residents! NEVER did I see GW yell or scream at anyone as alleged in FRIED’s illusionary diatribes nor Michael Ray’s crazy allegations that are completely false. You can truly follow the whole thing if you are a somewhat local resident. So, we see FRIED ( i use that literally) a non resident but business owner in our town that would normally get anything he wanted with our now “gone” CM, swiping every group, every resident, and 1 council member with such BS and non-Truths that it is such a sad commentary that this is what Laguna has sunk too? Once again, as in our nation the media has destroyed our way of living, and we are now in that phase in our little town, where the media is giving hate talk and non truths columns to our citizenry. It is a sad omen to Laguna which used to be such a happy, carefree town..The fight for $$$/development to our detriment and having the Laguna that we wanted to make home. I think the whole Laguna Hotel fiasco showed what was going on, the complete favoritism by the city and the innumerable mistakes made unfortunately by the installed CM (Blake, Whalen, Kempf), cronies and deals have undermined everything we are about…Our media has to be non biased, certain letters are not posted, we need to have term limits and we need to have the truth from our city officials why we lost a good Police Chief , and why we had a police officer out on stress leave and why this City manager was basically let go and stop the crucifixion of a city Council person who was left to take the blame when he never was given any explanation or paper work what so ever, no complaint just like the 4 women that were publicly accused and let’s be direct, no feces’ ..no investigation…simply fish emulsion on front stairs but national attention….who is kidding who here??? and, yet the people that question are the problem? I hope we can all find our voices! Being active in truth is a privilege not to be shamed …those that shame do not want the truth…

  3. Billy Fried missed again, but this time he is describing Peter Blake. I understand why he is wrong once again he hasn’t been watching the council meetings because he sold out and moved.

  4. The philosophers printed here in the Indy, can do so for free, and battle for our minds, and if you don’t undertand their theories you are vulnerable to the worst among them. That’s the problem Barbara.

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