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Laguna Beach City Council members decided to formally condemn their colleague Councilman Peter Blake for remarks and comments he’s recently made about the city government and council colleagues.
Some Laguna Beach residents said they’ve also been verbally attacked by Blake.
“I was myself from day one and I got elected and I got the most votes. It’s not like I played Mr. Statesmen and became Mr. Monster. I was Mr. Monster from the beginning,” Blake said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Newly elected Councilman George Weiss requested the censure as his first agenda item in office.
“Insulting or derisive public comments by a city councilperson violate the free speech rights of the community they were elected to serve. Unfortunately, Councilman Blake’s public written and spoken insults create a hostile environment for community members from whom the council requests input on agenda items,” Weiss said at the meeting.
Blake responded and said Weiss’ censure request was politically motivated.
“Let me tell you George Weiss has been the most ruthless person that I have dealt with,” Blake said. “This guy is a brutal, ruthless predator when it comes to politics.”
Some residents like Blake’s approach and said the other Council members are being hypocritical when they criticized him.
Blake — who recently said he doesn’t “take shit from anybody” — was formally condemned by his colleagues when the City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday night to censure him for his remarks.
Blake abstained from voting.
Included in the censure request are examples of some of the comments Blake has made to the media or at public meetings about the city council and city employees.
Weiss shared some of those examples at the meeting and called him an “equal opportunity insult artist.”
Blake, who was laughing at different points during the discussion, called the censure discussion a “Kangaroo Court” and said the condemnation is meaningless and a waste of time.
He also called Weiss a “joke.”
Blake said he’s also faced verbal attacks.
“I made it clear when I ran that I was not up for taking verbal attacks from anybody, and I made it clear that if attacked, I would attack back,” he said. “This means absolutely nothing to me.”
Blake is not the first elected official in a coastal town in Orange County to fall into the hot seat for the remarks they make and the way they behave.
In February, Huntington Beach Councilman Tito Ortiz — who netted the most votes in city history during the last election — came very close to having his largely ceremonial title as Mayor Pro Tem stripped from him by his colleagues for his refusal to wear a mask at public meetings, at a local burger spot and at Oak View Elementary School.
Roughly a couple months before that, San Clemente Councilwoman Laura Ferguson was censured for publicly criticizing the city’s government and releasing public records to the public.
Laguna Beach Councilwoman Toni Iseman — who has been the target of several of Blake’s insults — also spoke out against her colleague’s behavior.
“The things that Peter has said about me, I have never seen in writing about anyone else that I know,” Iseman said. “If we can give a pass to this, there’s nothing that we will ever be able to say is inappropriate.”
The censure won’t result in fines, penalties or a suspension, but serves as a formal expression of disappointment and condemnation by the majority of the council.
The city adopted a resolution in 2019 on a civility policy for city officials — something Blake’s council colleagues and several residents said he fails to do.
“The censure request is exactly right to observe how poorly Blake’s behavior, and the city’s failure to denounce it, has reflected not only on Council, but on all of us who live in Laguna. I fully support the censure motion. It won’t get rid of him. It won’t even shut him up, but it will allow the rest of you on council to let the community know that you support civil discussion and mature and thoughtful debate,” one resident said.
Some residents who spoke out against Blake said they were shaking as they addressed the council.
One resident played a recording of Blake calling her a “fucking bitch”.
Blake responded and said the resident called him a cocaine dealer and said he doesn’t do cocaine.
“However drunk she was when she made that comment is fine with me, but that is not acceptable,” he responded. “No one calls me a cocaine dealer and gets away with it.”
Blake fired back at several residents who criticized him.
Others applauded the councilman and called the censure a waste of time.
“The reality here is that the ballot box is the ultimate censure,” one commenter said “Some of the things that are said about Councilman Blake are extremely disparaging, to say the least.”
“I would hope that we would move past this and move on to the agenda items that we need to do between now and the next election.”
This is not the first time Blake has faced backlash for his comments.
He faced similar criticism in 2019.
Blake remained unapologetic at the meeting and said the censure would stain his reputation for life.
“There is zero chance this censure is going to stop me … how would that not remove what little restraint I have?”
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.