Laguna Beach City Council: A Classic Case Of Tyranny Of The Majority?

The Promenade, Term Limits, Mayors, City Managers, Needless Parking Structures: Will Council Stifle Any Opposition To Its Orwellian Vision?

Courtesy of the Laguna Beach Patch – view article here
By Roger Bütow

Tyranny Of The Majority: Laguna Beach City Council Is A Classic Case
“The tyranny of the majority (or tyranny of the masses) is an inherent weakness to majority rule in which the majority of an electorate pursues exclusively its own objectives at the expense of those of the minority factions. This results in oppression of minority groups comparable to that of a tyrant or despot.” John Stuart Mill (ON LIBERTY—1859).

Although the phrase “tyranny of the majority” is commonly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville as he pondered the emerging democracy in America in the mid-1800s, Founding Father John Adams had expressed a similar concern nearly 75 years earlier.

In fact, many of the arguments opposing “uni-cameral sovereignty” (singular body rule) led to our 3 Branches of governance, an attempt at ensuring that type of oppression and suppression of dissenting, minority voices did not ever evolve.

Check and balances that lasted until the general election in 2000. As the OC Grand Jury has no dispositive power, barring OC DA or California AG investigations or indictments, locally we’re pretty much stuck with Laguna voter’s bad choices.

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Perhaps Edmund Burke, a contemporary of our Founding Fathers, stated it more succinctly: “The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.”

In Laguna, many angry community watchdogs are outraged because they feel themselves to be a unique resistance movement, previously inured to the centralized excesses of power and corruption rampant elsewhere. Which we weren’t, we aren’t, and we won’t ever be.

Like typical cities having only 1 body, there’s nothing to moderate or buffer council dictatorship eras and regimes. Outcomes are inevitable, so yes, tyranny has, is and will happen here.

De Tocqueville rang the alarm bell, the core of this tyranny making decisions for an entire population bases its claim to rule upon majority numbers, not upon ethical correctness or democratic, rational excellence.

One need not go far to find this form of entitled mob rule in City Council Chambers. Personified by the dominance of gavel-hoarders BobySue Whalen and SueyBob Kempf, everything from committee, board and commission citizen appointments, to temporary committees on through delegated City Council member liaisons to said entities reflects despotism.

Which creates, actually guarantees a systemically compromised future.

By themselves, both Whalen and Kempf are pretty much gruel or grits—–bland, colorless and lack any pizzazz unless dosed with a condiment. Which is why they’re not the problem in and of themselves, they’re the pimply symptoms of a festering municipal malaise.

Orgill never did get beyond his developer-friendly mindset, i.e., his real estate roots self. Severing his Mo Money Honarkar relationship was in fact only a superficial not substantial sacrifice, didn’t change or alter him genetically. Look for Orgill to launch his own branded foundation or trust.

He fooled a lot of people who now distance themselves or keep praying that he can be lobbied into being a different guy due to electoral buyer’s remorse. He can’t and won’t.

Rounaghi was a glyph or cipherous gamble, intentionally unreadable, elected on some kind of vague hope for youthful invigorating change and had little scrutiny. You know, a child shall lead them. Instead, he’s the same old bossy personality type who concealed himself, cloaked in younger skin, that got us here via older candidates.

He’s neither new or phresh. He looks more like a lost kid who should be asking if you want to supersize that Mac with fries or produce his CDL to buy booze. His Ivy League schooling plus apprenticeships taught him to be manipulative, superficially appear reasonably neutral. Which he’s not.

The Promenade ad hoc is a prime example: Having appointed the Planning Commissioners who’d preside over possibilities or variations, i.e., a foregone conclusion, a pre-disposed bias has been in place these past 4 years. Who cares if the need is not there, if our dictatorial Council says it is?

Those hundreds of millions of dollars for multi-level parking structures? Ditto, first Planning Commission stops, then bogus, flaccid deliberation masquerading as oversight, then Council majority affirmation. Keep interviewing advisors (and spending OUR money) until the subsequent messenger brings back THE pre-ordained message.

The George Weiss transition of power scuffle and flawed passing of the mayoral gavel fiasco is another. Our Mayor Whalen and Mayor Pro Tem Kempf insulted us, refused to let go of the wheel. They gathered support from the other 2 willing accomplices (Orgill and Rounaghi), both with an eye to THEIR future, not ours, and made sure that Weiss’ path was blocked.

Which not only defied traditionally benign gavel-sharing but ignored the thousands who voted him into office to begin with—he was openly viewed and socialized as a long-awaited, ethical reformer. Which meant silencing or at minimum suppressing any empowerment—–possibly burying the audacious, grass roots, barbarians-at-the-gate rebellion indefinitely.

Being in such a 4-1 minority after Toni Iseman left, he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of even becoming Pro Tem. They held the perfunctory hearing with a pre-determined endgame—but insult to injury, all used that venue, couldn’t resist denigrating Weiss as unfit/inappropriate to hold either office, thus nullifying thousands of voters support.

Piling on was pro forma that night, as if any of them was more worthy. Face it, the current council cabal of 4 are “least or lowest common denominator” career politico types and not very bright either. Cunning people get that far gone, not really smart, morally purposed people.

Also arrogant and narcissistic (apparently required traits for politicians), they seem unable to believe that we’re not more accepting and pacifistic.

It might irritate many, but Weiss DOES represent something, he got 5,665 votes…..and that threatening something unnerves and jeopardizes, is a clear and present danger. They let Peter Blake openly excoriate anyone and everyone he chose, but in Weiss’ case they chose to punish him via unworthiness, open denigration and diminishment.

The eventual consequences if Weiss decides to run in 2024? He’ll be portrayed as such a blatant malcontent, a counter-productive extremist and leader of a small vocal group of saboteurs, that he’d be lucky to get re-seated.

The agenda is clear: Regardless if Whalen finally sits down, the fiscal puppeteers behind the rest will try to rotate in more malleable candidates. Kempf, Rounaghi and Orgill will still be tyrants.

Then too, not many first term council people hit the ground running for their first year or so as they observe, orient, decide and then act up, trying to fulfill empty campaign promises they knew were only manipulative tools to get in the door. A newbie will be a marginally not majorly effective agent of change.

“No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of power is power.” ― George Orwell, 1984

That the Big 4 forced us to witness their heavy handedness barely disguised as democratic, reasonable deliberation was just a sleight-of-hand ruse, for show. Fact is, many of us already knew the outcome: SueyBob as Mayor, replacing BobySue, with waiting-in-the-wings Alex The Man Child as Pro Tem.

A forgone conclusion foolishness which only an imbecile or supremely naive local media would swallow. Which the lazy media not only ingested but promulgated by repeating inflammatory insinuations without even cursory criticism or questions.

Allowing City Hall propagandists preferred, free column space to spew the kool-aid is injury hidden as community, public square dialogue and local outlets are guilty guilty guilty.

The OC Register and Daily Pilot reporters just mail it in, so they barely count. Excepting Voice of OC, investigative journalism has been dead for quite some time in SOC.

Things like those big ticket parking structures, along with term limits, reflect high levels of serious concern by residents. Who cares about these impertinent “Inner Circle Interlopers” as long as they’re in the political will short end?

The point is that like The Promendade, for those taking the WE, THE PEOPLE position, they should be allowed the dignity of some self-determination: By refusing to place these things on City ballots, power is sustained and extended.

Keeping these kinds topics off of Council agendas in the first place is preemptively working for the same power mongers. The majority turn these things into zero sum, winner-take-all scams, disenfranchising the thousands who would resist if they understood the insidious nature of the game.

Ex.: The August 2, 2022 Resolution No. 22.066 repealed Resolution No. 68.88 (passed in 1968) is revealing. Though this too was on the late February 2024 docket to be amended, it gives little with the left hand and takes lots from the right: Two (2) LBCC members needed to get a topic on the agenda but unless a 3 member majority supports that, there’ll be no staff report.

We went 54 years and this never came up, once Shohreh Dupuis & her tyrannical masters and flunkies seized power, something that was never broken suddenly needed fixing?

Without that critical element, by refusing to fund staff or 3rd party, independent consultant research, those 2 minority members are handcuffed and hobbled, hindered right out of the gate.

It’s all being hidden behind smoke and mirrors, false allegations that topics would unjustly require funding the City can’t afford. Public stakeholders expressing frustration at microphones won’t supersede or veto the Tyranny of the Majority.

Several million $$$ in surplus each year and the present tyrants claim lack of funds for deep dives and independent peer reviews of critical projects, policies, protocols, procedures or strategies?

These same tyrants are also trying to manipulate the council meeting consent calendar dynamics. A long standing tradition at all levels of governance here in California, of only placing “non-controversial” on that portion of the hearing was important. In the report from the City Manager at the February 27th hearing he describes these as “routine items.”

16 items (WOW!) were on that consent calendar docket. And about 1/2 were pulled, lending credence to the sense that the calendar is another realm subject to mischief. SueyBob and the CM decided to stack the consent calendar deck, clear the field and limit discussion, an anomaly that obviously for once failed.

The tyranny will continue for at least 2 more years: In December Rounaghi will move into the Mayor slot, Orgill into Pro Tem (classic “positioning”) and regardless of the 2024 election, with SueyBob, a majority will remain intact as a voting bloc.

Wunderkind Rounaghi obviously feels particularly entitled, and will probably be a “one off,” i.e., move on, run for higher office. Typical entitled Laguna-bred brat, his narcissism and sense of self importance is there for all to see.

I’ve sat with him casually, he’s a legend in his own mind already, I didn’t find him especially bright, but then let’s face facts: We’re just the first, the lowest rung on his political career ladder. Writing blank checks, supporting bonds or gross expenditures doesn’t faze him because he’ll be gone.

By 2026 some other pro-acquisition, pro-development, pro-commerce candidate will take his place. By then the majority Council tyrants will have buried us in even more irreversible debt: Purchasing the 133 (Laguna Canyon Road) and Pacific Coast Highway should pretty much drown us.

OTOH, we will have our own “Red Sea” of debt, the majority won’t let those pesky operation and maintenance costs, the additional burdens on our community service departments (more personnel, more $$$), or the insurance premiums for such monolithic, greatly expanded elements hinder or deter.

Oh, and of course the inevitable expenditures for litigation: Between the 133 and PCH, we’ll have not only our city attorney’s busy busy busy but probably outsourced firms to defend against ambulance-chasing personal injury/negligent death lawsuits.

Once the “table is set,” it’s not unreasonable to see several million $$$/year spent on that front.

By December of 2026 the building blocks of our house-of-cards, Ponzi Scheme demise will be in place: Now owning everything within our city limits, our LBPD will be “encouraged” to issue more traffic violation citations, parking enforcement more tickets, and of course those greedy little bastards, our parking meter’s rates will go up.

I’m sure there’s more I’m unaware of, all to pay for the additional encumbrances many of us never wanted.

The tyrants will choose the next City Manager very soon, look for that to close any vulnerability loopholes, any challenges proactively. He/she will be made to understand in advance who holds the whip hand, after all, they only need to be able to count to 3.

With assists come liabilities like the acquisition of South Laguna’s beaches and parks, but the tyrants never consider that it’s our future signing those IOUs. They like large dramatic gestures to ensure their immortality, hold some more ribbon-cuttings featuring their faces, place a few more plaques bearing their imperious names.

The biggest surprise of all? That the reformation-minded locals believe themselves capable of literally blocking the existing regime’s agenda, that they are shocked at the past 12 years of increasing majority oppression….It’ll be 2026 before the window of that counter-insurgency can possibly open again.

Seeing oneself as a martyr, a revolutionary or righteous mutineer, effectively triggering a general population uprising to overthrow despots seems ennobling. Any game plan by locals that isn’t a 3 year commitment will stand little chance of succeeding.

Harsh, highly publicized litigation could have effected this outcome, including here, but no one seems to be able to find the gumption or money for attorneys though the city has been constantly vulnerable via OC Superior Court.

Educating through public comments portions of hearings, via columns, emails, SM or whatnot have obviously been ineffectual as nothing has changed City Council’s mindset, their goals and objectives as “big money meat puppets” dominant.

Podiums and media instruments are now the equivalent of psychotherapy, for venting but not change. The revolutionaries can’t even agree upon a common, coherent agenda among themselves, lacking keen focus hence guerrilla, asymmetrical warfare efficiency. Movements need both clearly delineated planks and strong vibrant leadership, I don’t see either in place at present.

The Tyranny of the Majority has always been here in Laguna like everywhere else, expecting benign or benevolent dictatorships always a highly unlikely scenario. Like the movie “Network,” unless the insurrectionists can overcome both ignorance and apathy, stir up widespread righteous anger with folks manning the barricades at Council, then it’s game-set-match.

If the Council isn’t flipped by November 2026’s election, including tapping the brakes on development (slow growth) and the cessation of traitorous perks plus special benefits for commerce (both highly unlikely due to inertia), then residents will have become full-fledged train wreck spectators.

A crossed-fingers, frustration-laden attitude, praying through the graveyard of broken dreams, wishing for “deus ex-machina” criminal indictments of Council and staff (present & former) over the Mo Money Honarkar dispute is unlikely to occur.

And has everyone considered that we might have to pay to defend those corrupt officials? All so that we could become our worst selves: Homogenized, just like Huntington Beach or Dana Point.

Council hearings will go on featuring the tyranny of “Let’s Pimp Laguna,” and their enabler sycophants as they glamorize upscale bar and restaurant businesses, more wealthy visitors, quickening the demise and death of a once-upon-a-time special place.

Res ipsa loquitur and RIP.

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