Newport Beach councilman under fire for drinking wine at council dais
Newport Beach Councilman Noah Blom said he enjoys a glass of red wine with every dinner. There’s no problem with that, residents say, except when it’s during City Council meetings.
Blom said the issue first came up following the council’s last meeting on Nov. 16, when he said he dumped a nearly full cup of red wine into the trash following the meeting.
Residents Tuesday night condemned his actions and argued that a council member shouldn’t be allowed to drink while sitting on the dais and that it may affect his judgment.
Blom confirmed Wednesday morning that he has consumed wine at prior meetings and hasn’t hidden it, though he objects to being viewed as a role model.
“I’ve said oftentimes I’m not a politician. I will say that again. I am my own person. I vote my own heart, and I do so based on what I think is best and right for the city,” Blom said Tuesday night. “In doing that, I think that I am also in a very different position of a lot of people that I’m from a different fabric and from a different cloth.”
“I know based on the rhetoric that politics has produced that it is not the cloth I’m from,” Blom said.
“There’s very angry politics out there, and I don’t want to be part of that ever. I want to be up here to support everyone that wants to be positive and supportive. I fully recognize how that was not what we want to be doing up here as I’ve heard it from many people from different accords.”
“From this point forward, I think all you’ll ever see up here is some iced tea, maybe a beautiful cappuccino or a glass of water from me because it’s no longer in the decorum of what the public would like,” Blom said, thanking residents for their comments.
But some residents objected to Blom’s statements, with some describing his actions as improper and his apology as condescending.
One resident brought a glass of sparkling cider to illustrate her point, describing a monologue by Blom at the Oct. 26 council meeting about the “Elect Our Mayor” ballot initiative as incoherent.
Others called on other City Council members to prohibit drinking alcohol at public meetings.
Newport Beach city code prohibits the drinking of any alcoholic beverages in or on public streets, alleys, sidewalks, public or private parking lots, restrooms, piers, beaches, vacant lots or public parks.
It does not, however, include public buildings, including City Hall and the City Council chambers.
Councilwoman Diane Dixon suggested the matter be brought up for discussion at the next council meeting on Dec. 14.
“I think part of our issue in the city is that we probably need to clarify and define appropriate council decorum so people understand what it is because it has not been clarified,” Dixon said.
In an interview with the Daily Pilot Wednesday, Blom said he has read the city code and didn’t see anything explicit about decorum.
“I get it that the city and government is a different entity that takes itself more seriously, but sometimes I think we lose sight of who we represent, that this isn’t mob rule in the city,” Blom said.
“We have a lot of people that live in Newport Beach. If I listen to the thousand people on Nextdoor, who are paranoid about everything that comes up before the dais, but not to the thousands of other people, then I have a failing grade across the board. I’ve never pretended to be anyone other than I am.”
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