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Council Bucks Precedence in Choice of Mayor Pro Tem

As the top vote getter in April's election, Councilman Skylar Peak was expected to be the next mayor pro tem for the City of Malibu. Instead, the council appointed Councilwoman Joan House, partly out of concern for an ongoing investigation into Peak.

In his first meeting as mayor, Lou La Monte chose to put aside tradition and nominated Councilwoman Joan House, not the top voter getter, Councilman Skylar Peak, as Malibu's mayor pro tem.

The council approved House’s nomination in a 3-2 vote, with Peak and Councilman John Sibert dissenting, drawing some boos from the audience and chants of “shame” and "no faith council.” Peak left the room for about 20 minutes after the vote, and later said it was because he had a cold and had been drinking lots of fluids.

Both La Monte and outgoing Mayor Laura Zahn Rosenthal said the ongoing into Peak's alleged behavior at a Malibu shopping center needs some time to work itself out.

“I know you have only been in office for four months, but you have been involved in so many incidents and now there is an active police investigation. There’s been TV news stories, headlines in the L.A. Times, as well as all the local papers, threats of lawsuits, conflicting stories about your behavior, and I don’t know any of this to be true or not to be true, but neither does anyone else,” La Monte said.

Peak, a 28-year-old surfer, fought to claim the title. In the April election, Peak received 1,658 votes, while Sibert came in second with 1,290 and House in third with 1,146. In the past, the Malibu City Council has appointed the top vote getter as mayor pro tem.

“I believe it is utterly ridiculous that you would reorganize this city council in a different manner than it has been done before and I think you should follow the precedent,” Peak said.

Just before the vote on mayor pro tem, the council voted unanimously for La Monte as mayor, with Rosenthal handing over the gavel.

“I have worked hard to try to provide the leadership that this City deserves and wants and I have really enjoyed my time as mayor,” Rosenthal said in her outgoing comments.

Nominations

Before the vote, Peak started off the discussion by nominating himself for the position of mayor pro tem. Peak is for accusations that he got into an altercation with a security guard while wearing a Speedo at the Point Dume Village shopping center in July. According to the L.A. County District Attorney's Office, the case has not been handed over to prosecutors for review.

In response to Peak’s self-nomination, Rosenthal recommended Sibert for a "five month interim term as mayor pro tem," which Sibert declined, instead throwing his support behind Peak.

Sibert said if Peak had not nominated himself, he would have recommended his fellow councilman based on precedence.

“The largest number of voters voted for Skylar Peak, and for that reason I think we ought to follow that rule of succession,” Sibert said.

Rosenthal said she came up with the compromise following lots of thought.

"You have an active police investigation right now. You’ve only been on the council for a few months. I think if we just waited five more months, I really think that you would have the chance. I think that you could then get those things behind you, step up and do a really great job for the city,” Rosenthal said.

She said the mayor pro tem fills in often as a mayor.

“I supported you and I still support you. As a doctor of clinical psychology, I know the effects of stress,” Rosenthal said, being interrupted with jeers from the audience. “I know how much stress you can have when you are mayor.”

In response, La Monte came up with an alternative.

“Since there is controversy about Skylar becoming mayor pro tem and John is declining to become mayor pro tem, I would like to officially nominate Joan House for mayor pro tem,” La Monte said.

House accepted the nomination with the stipulation that it was temporary.

"I just care about making the votes on the issues I care about. I don't really care if I am ever mayor or mayor pro tem, but I will do whatever the city needs to set it in the correct direction. We have to have an image that worldwide we can rely on. We have to have a steadiness that we can rely on. We have to have a thoughtfulness that we can rely on. We have to be very careful when we are out there, because everybody, every country, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, they know Malibu, and they carry what we have online,” House said.

La Monte said Peak’s behavior has the potential to undo all the hard work of the city on serious issues.

“It’s about Malibu, not about what some late night comedian thinks is a funny punch line. We’ve worked very hard to have Malibu taken seriously,” La Monte said before calling for the vote.

Reaction

Former Malibu Mayor Sharon Barovsky thanked the council for their hard work and chimed in on the decision.

"You're elected to council. You're not elected mayor. When people said the voters, vote, no, voters vote to elect the council person. For instance, if they knew they were electing a mayor ... it may have been a different result," Barovsky said.

Many also thanked Rosenthal for her service and her decision.

"I'm proud you are my best friend," Laureen Sills said. "I really respect you for taking that position. I know how much you struggled with it. It was very difficult."

Former council candidate Hamish Patterson criticized the council for the decision.

"All he did was wear a Speedo and you belittle him publicly? Shame on you," Patterson said.

Another former candidate, Andy Lyon also put the pressure on the council.

"Why even have the mayor-go-round?" Lyon asked. "We're a big city. Is it mayor and mayor pro tem on the ends? Let's have a real mayor."

After the meeting, Peak said he believes his leadership has been proven.

"I don't think that [decision] is what's best for the city," Peak said. 

The councilman said he believes the probe into his alleged behavior "will just stay as an investigation."

Peak said he is ready to move forward and offered his congratulations to La Monte.

"I'm focusing on our city and moving our community forward. That's what I'm focused on," Peak said.

Malibu Patch will have more on La Monte’s plans for his time as mayor soon.

Gwen Lucoff August 30, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I agree with Susan, I am totally ashamed by the Malibu City council, how dare they take it upon them selves to decide that the #1 vote getter in this past april's election was not the "image" that they wanted to portray for Malibu. Skyler has not been convicted of any crime, and he has done a great job of representing my points of view. that's why I voted for him, He's the ONLY person on the current city council that isn't trying to use his position for personal gain. Laura Rosenthal should resign especially after Lynn Norton's letter in the surfside news. Laura or should I just call you superintendant Laura, isn't that what and were you want to be. Laura I think your time would be better spent at the school picking up all the trash left by the students, at least then we can see what you are doing for the school, instead of your self serving behaviors, and your behinds the scenes wheeling and dealing!!!! And Joan, I can't believe that you would "take the office for the city's good" give me a frigging break, what happened to you Joan? Did someone offer you a deal to good to turn down too? All I can do is shake my head, what's happened to our city council!!!!! Must have been something in the cookies they have been eating, or?
Terry August 30, 2012 at 11:09 PM
i want to know how much we spent on the trip to china? how much did we pay in travel expenses for laura rosenthal last year. how much did we pay for laura rosenthalls healt insurance last year these questions need to be answered in public
John Trip August 31, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Peak should have voluntarily recused himself from the mayor pro tem card considering his recent controversies and ongoing police investigation. That would have shown respect for the office, and for the people of Malibu. Instead he let his ego get in the way and he made a fool of himself again causing a whole new fiasco. If he recused himself, we would all be saying what a noble young man he is. Instead you are all bashing the hard decision which Peak forced the council to make in the best interest of the city. Unfortunately, it was the right decision, and Peak should have known that. I suspect there is much more drama to come from this kid.
Terry September 01, 2012 at 05:02 PM
sorry. its the counsel that bashed the 1600 people of malibu who voted for mr. peak. everyone knew about skylar and his personality--its been in the news for 2 years before the election. we voted to go a new direction with skylar as our candidate. we didnt want a mayor that goes to china, we didnt want a city that has to negotiate with paradise cove to follow their use permits, we didnt want a city with no recyling and we didnt want a city with 70 foot high light posts destroying malibu park and we didnt want a city where the city counsel sat on their hands and watched the possible destrruction this next winter of surfrider beach. the greedy city counsel just wanted to keep their control for another 19 months no matter what.
Gary Taylor September 14, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Good idea Tom move back and run.

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