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.


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.


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.

Terry August 28, 2012 at 01:30 PM
this is just another attempt for laura rosenthal to control the decision making process. it is really not about skylar but it is a direct slap in the face to anyone who opposes her. the reason skylar got the most votes is because we a native son who will represent preserve malibu. laura rosenthal has done everything she can to make her vision of malibu as beverly hills by the sea a reality. she delayed actgion on the lagoon until it was unstopable, she ignored neighbor protests over 70 foot high lighting at the school football field, she removed landscaping on busch and created a parking nightmare, she refused to implement any recycling plan for the summer where residents receive cash for their recycleables, she wants the residents in the civic center to pay for a new sewer system that benefits commercial enterprise. we as citizens need to be really upset with her latest trick.
Bob Perkins DDS August 28, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Hey, I am a big supporter of Skylar but I don't see why this is creating such a flurry. "Steady and sure wins the race". Skylar has our support and he is not going away. At the same time, there is some controversy that is going to work itself out. The council is showing some caution, and why not? This won't stop Skylar from "focusing on our city and moving our community forward". These are just growing pains and they won't matter a lick when the dust has settled. Righteous indignation is only going to polarize things even more. I say, accept responsibility for the "caution", and move on. It's only first down....don't start throwing "hail mary's" just yet.....save them for when, and if, you need them. my opinions
Susan Tellem August 28, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Joan House's speech about our image is hysterical. We are a laughing stock in most articles in the press - we're portrayed as a a bunch of rich spoiled residents who hate visitors and get what we want because of being Malibu. While this is far from the truth, we have done nothing to change this image in the press since we hired a very expensive PIO who sends out press releases about aromatherapy, Tiny Tots, hoarding and offering piano lessons to seniors. It's is totally laughable and makes us look even more spoiled and foolish. This does noting to contribute to serious image overhaul. Slylar's episode added to the image problem. The City Council and City Manager need to set aside time to talk about how to actually solve Malibu's image problem and pitch media on who we really are.
Rory Calhoon August 28, 2012 at 04:43 PM
This was like Mayor Daly of Chicago walking into the democratic convention in 68 and having his cops beat up Dan Rather. This was the Barovsky machine making a show of force. It was lead of by her dirty trickster Lloyd Ahern and her "plumber" Ken Kearsley (the dirtiest politician Malibu has ever seen) asking for Skylar not to be elected with Sharon and Andy Stern standing right next to them. John Sibert showed courage defying them. Only 8% of Malibu citizens voted for Joan House (less that 50% of those who voted) and represents what is wrong with Malibu government (old ,tired and controlled by developers). What a shame. Lou LaMonte and Laura should be ashamed to be associated with the machine that has done much to destroy our way of life in Malibu. The puppet master was so evident in this that her minion Ken Kearsley even swore Hoiuse in. Shame Shame Shame Shame Shame on Laura ,Lou, Joan, Sharon, Lloyd, Andy,Ken.........
Andy Lyon August 28, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Lyon asked. "We're a big city. Is it mayor and mayor pro tem on the ends? I was pointing to Jim Thorsen and Christy Hogan , the forever Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem of this City. "As a doctor of clinical psychology..." Who the hell is she to publicly analyze/shame a fellow council member ? Why not just say she makes granola and can tell you're nuts ?? Disgraceful !!
Tom Hasse August 28, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I proposed in 1999 that the then-city council place a measure on the April 2000 ballot asking city voters to vote on whether to change the form of Malibu's city government to a Direct Election of the Mayor replacing the Council-elected mayor system. At the time, about 150 of California's 470 cities, towns and villages had that form of municipal government. The reason behind my proposal was (1) the voters should elect the mayor, who acts as spokesman for the city to the local and national news media; (2) the skills necessary to be a good mayor are not the same as the skills necessary to be a good city councilmember. (ie: chairing city council meetings and conducting intergovernmental relations with the Federal, State & County governments) and (3) too much history by that time over who was going to be elected mayor (June 1990, March 1991, September 1991 and April 1998) and for how long a term. A majority of my city council colleagues disagreed with me. As of August 1999, Malibu, because of its' population, was not eligible by CA law to establish a "strong mayor" form of municipal government, where the mayor is legally ceo and hires and fires city department heads. Instead, if a city with Malibu's population enacts the Direct Election of Mayor form of government, one of the five city council seats is "eliminated" and a mayor is elected instead (for either a two-year or four year term) thus retaining a five member city council. See August 1999 MT or MSN newspapers.
Pamela Duke-van Ierland August 28, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Laura Rosenthall , we will miss you. You stood up for the children at Malibu high School who need well lit playing fields. I am a resident who lives directly above the high school and I applaud her for the choice to chose kids and school over selfish neighbors. I think she did a terrific job and worked very hard at trying to do what was best for our community. I say shame on those people who lash out at a woman who has given so much of her time over the years to make Malibu a better place. Just in case you forgot, Laura gave of her time for years and years in Malibu, long before she was on the city council. She has worked tirelessly for the kids and schools in Malibu for as long as I can remember. So instead of thanking her for her time served, some of you are so eager to criticize.... I am certain those of you with the harsh words for her have not given back to this community like she has. So I offer Laura a hearty Thank You on behalf of so many residents for her service to our community. You deserve better than you are receiving right now...
susan saul August 28, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I am ashamed of Malibu City and Malibu City Council of how they handled themselves during this process. You sounded like a bunch of immature young children. John Siebert i applaud you for not getting involved in this mess. Whether skylar is ready or not for this position is not the question... he was voted in by the citizens of Malibu. You are all manipulative and hurtful people. No one should be treated as skylar was treated last night. YOu all owe Sklylar and apology! You all showed your true colors last night for all of Malibu to see! You think malibu had a bad reputation before , think what this has done! Didn't your mothers every teach you to treat people as you would like to be treated? I am truly disappointed in all of you!
Niles Akbar August 28, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Pamela, you realize, of course, that Laura Rosenthal is not deceased. Your missal sounds like a eulogy. I'm sure Laura will be around for a good long while doing what she can to serve Malibu. Having said that - and while there is lot's to like about her term as Mayor - she is wrong on the school playing field lights and she dropped the ball terribly on protecting the Malibu Lagoon from destruction, as did all other sitting council members other than Jefferson Wagner. Meanwhile the City's mechanisms and power are still clutched in the smokey fingers of Sharon Barovsky's efficient political machine.
James Sanders August 28, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Reading this story has confirmed the conjecture, Laura Rosenthal has officially claimed the lowly seat vacated by a S. Barovsky. This action regarding Mr. Peak was not conducted out of human concern or substantiated evidence but rather repugnant petty politics. This council's brand of mud politics, orchestrated by La Monte and Rosenthal, have now absurdly caused Mrs. Barovsky and her band of misfits to appear affable and mentally coherent. A preposterous feat. Given the known history of addiction, misconduct and violations within Malibu councils, a kettle of this hue has no authority calling any pot unfit. A gravely, ominous day for this city and its citizenry.
Jackie Robbins August 28, 2012 at 11:40 PM
"La Monte said Peak’s behavior has the potential to undo all the hard work of the city on serious issues." whaaat? That is a pretty weak comment about the work the city council is doing.... As a Malibu citizen I know the city council works very hard. Thanks Laura for a great job as Mayor, I appreciated you being so "reachable", thank you Joan for stepping in. You know, if this was Cannes, seeing a man in a speedo would be no big deal, give it up.
J. Flo August 28, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I attended City Hall last night, the word that comes to mind is - ugly. This city lost its dignity last night and in the terribly poor handling, one of our very own was harmed. Unconscionably in my opinion. Council talked about doing what is right for Malibu - Malibu is people, how about doing what is right for each other? Talked about their desire for world respect. Your citizens are losing respect for their own city. There were no winners last night.  I applaud John Sibert who stood up with integrity for what is correct. I left City Hall with such deep sadness and disappointment. I expected so much better.
Bob Perkins DDS August 29, 2012 at 01:50 AM
I think too many people are looking at the "trees" here. Skylar Peak is the de facto lone carrier of a big torch; A torch that represents a very large constituency in this town. There aren't similar pressures on any of the other four members of the council. Not even close. Let's start right there. Add to that the fact that Skylar has other significant issues that he is dealing with right now....why create an unnecessary path of broken glass for him to travel at this present time. I say it's a blessing to not have to carry that weight, now! His time will come ....wouldn't you rather see him at the full use of his powers? Let him go out from under the spotlight for a few months...and come back stronger than ever. Even JFK had a "Bay of Pigs".... after only 3 months in office. It got lots better from there on. This is dandruff, people. Brush it off your shoulders and be there for roll call. Let's give him the (best) chance possible to be the greatest success possible. He'll be Mayor Pro whatever as long as the canary doesn't die. Isn't it best to have low expectations for Skylar's first go around? Is it fair to expect him to white horse everything for everybody? I expect some are going to ask him to heal their sicknesses and upgrade their credit rating, or worse yet..."make it like it used to be".
Andy Lyon August 29, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Jefferson did NOTHING to help stop the lagoon project. Had he accomplished having his "alternative plan" included in the project you would see even more of a disaster than what is there now. They all failed on the lagoon !
Terry August 29, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Andy Lyon August 30, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I've attached a new photo to this article .
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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