Laguna Beach City Council Votes to Censure Peter Blake

March 12, 2021 Updated: March 16, 2021

A Laguna Beach councilmember who was censured by city council says he’ll continue to attack the political colleagues when he feels provoked.

“I think it’s just a waste of time, and why bother censuring me, because all you’re going to do is make me angrier,” Councilmember Peter Blake told The Epoch Times. “Today I’m angrier than I am normally, so that just means that I’m going to attack you, even worse if you attack me.”

Blake’s comment came after his city council colleagues voted 4-0 to censure him for violating Laguna Beach’s civility and decorum policy.

The March 9 motion was the first agenda item Councilmember George Weiss brought forward since being elected last December.

The Epoch Times reached out to Weiss but did not hear back by press deadline. During the meeting he said city council members are “bound to represent all residents, including fellow city council members, and to hear them out.”

“It may not always be easy, or comfortable but public officials are held to higher standards of free speech than they are when they are in private conversation,” he said.

“If he could only be equally supportive of all residents that he was elected to represent, that would be great, instead his use issues public ridicule insults and threats when he disagrees with community members comments.”

The censure motion was based on two categories Weiss accused Blake of violating in the civility policy.

According to Weiss, Blake insulted public communication about different Laguna Beach residents, which conveyed a false impression that community input is held into disdain by the council. Second, he was accused of making public derisive comments toward city councilwoman Toni Iseman.

Some of those comments included Blake calling Iseman a “sycophantic slag.”

“I’m not proud of the fact that I called her even a sycophantic slag, I’m not proud of the fact that I said that she’s not fit to serve and that she has cognitive impairment, but I stand behind it, and I’m not apologizing for it––I firmly believe that this woman is not qualified to be running the City of Laguna Beach,” Blake said.

Iseman did not respond to The Epoch Times request for comment by press deadline.

Blake claimed he’s never initiated an attack against someone and that he only responds to comments made about him, which results in back-and-forth discord among residents and other councilmembers.

“It just keeps going. It’s like a vicious circle and keeps spinning round and round,” he said.

Blake said Village Laguna, which has “been running Laguna since the 70s,” are the ones coordinating public attacks against him in every meeting and accusing him of being owned by big developers.

Village Laguna, a long-standing advocacy group influencing local politics in the city, did not respond for The Epoch Times request for comment.

The council heard over an hour of public comments from residents. Some supported Blake, while others condemned Blake for his remarks and played a voicemail he sent to Laguna Beach resident Lorraine Laguna, in which he threatened her with legal action and called her an expletive.

Blake said he left the voicemail after the resident called him a cocaine dealer on the community app NextDoor.

“And I have been discouraged … I have felt threatened. I have gone to the DEA for a restraining order against Mr. Peter Blake, because I was scared. And that message that he left me frightened,” Laguna said.

Blake said he ran against Laguna in 2018 and the comment she made was during the election cycle, which was damaging for his campaign.

“Cocaine isn’t part of my program. The fact that this woman had the nerve to call me a cocaine dealer, during the campaign is beyond me,” Blake said. “So, the message I left to her was a clear message that this was off the table, I wasn’t willing to be called the cocaine dealer.”

Other residents called in to support Blake and disapproved of the motion to censure. India Hynes and Cindy Shopoff criticized Iseman and Weiss’s behavior in interacting with the public, though they did not give specific examples.

Resident Catherine Jurca, who was in favor of the censure, said “Peter Blake’s treatment of Toni Iseman has been disgraceful. And to be honest, I’ve been disappointed and embarrassed that her colleagues on council have previously taken no action against him.”

Blake isn’t the only councilmember in Orange County to be censured. Last November, San Clemente City Councilwoman Laura Ferguson was censured by three city councilmembers who claimed Ferguson disparaged city employees and released confidential government documents to the public.

“A lot of this is also obviously there’s a philosophical and ideological and political dynamic that’s going on here,” Blake said.

“For them, as they’re watching what’s happening throughout the country, with all this woke stuff and all this cancel culture, they feel emboldened to do it and even though I’m an independent, I’m a right of center independent.”

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jamiewritess