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Laguna Beach City Council to consider censure of Councilman Peter Blake

The Laguna Beach City Council will consider a request for censure of Councilman Peter Blake, left, at Tuesday's meeting.
(Courtesy of city of Laguna Beach)

The Laguna Beach City Council will consider a request for censure of Councilman Peter Blake on Tuesday night with respect to the city’s rules of decorum and civility policy.

The request for censure was filed by George Weiss, the newest member of the council, who argued in making the request that Blake has acted in an unprofessional manner on multiple occasions and that the council needs to intervene.

“This censure request is based on two categories of unprofessional acts that violate the City’s Rules of Decorum and Civility Policy,” the formal request reads. “First, insulting public communications directed to or about different Laguna Beach residents, which convey the (false) impression that community input is held in disdain by the City Council. Second, public derisive comments about fellow long-term Councilmember Toni Iseman.”

The Rules of Decorum and Civility Policy was adopted by the council on Sept. 17, 2019. The rules require city officials to treat members of the public with respect during public meetings.

It also forbids city officials from making comments of a “belligerent, personal, impertinent, slanderous, threatening, intimidating, abusive, profane or disparaging” nature toward members of the public or other city officials.

A handful of public communications — cited from public meetings and in an online publication — are included as examples of the alleged violations regarding decorum and civility.

The selected online communications included in the formal request show Blake repeatedly referring to Iseman as a “mouthpiece” for Village Laguna. On one occasion, he is reported to have said, “She can barely read her marching orders from her computer and then lip-synch them during council meetings. She’s a mess!”

In a phone interview Friday, Blake indicated that the request for censure would not increase his desire to work with those accusing him of misconduct.

“The censure holds absolutely nothing,” Blake said. “There’s absolutely no penalty to it whatsoever. All it does is it antagonizes me. It’s not going to change anything. I’m not about to change who I am or how I govern as a result of a censure, especially a censure that’s done under these circumstances.

“What they’re doing is they’re taking taxpayer dollars, they’re taking this situation, and they’re using it to take out a political opponent, and that’s all they’re doing. They’re wasting the time of the city attorney, the city manager and other people involved just to take out a political opponent.”

The censure hearing is not a judicial proceeding, the staff report said. A councilmember who is the subject of a censure request will have a chance to present a rebuttal, and public input will also be allowed.

A censure would represent an official expression of disapproval or criticism by the council. If there is to be a motion to censure Blake, the motion would require a majority vote from the council. Blake would be eligible to participate in the vote.

Tuesday’s city council meeting begins at 5 p.m., and it can be viewed over Zoom at lagunabeachcity.zoom.us/j/95505578235.

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