By Martin Henderson
Saying “Lake Forest is no longer the city it was 10 months ago,” councilman Peter Herzog resigned Tuesday at the conclusion of the regular meeting of the City Council.
Herzog, a six-time mayor with 19 years of experience in city government, cited a number of reasons in his regularly scheduled public comments, including cronyism, partisan politics and gamesmanship.
“Self-interests overrule the will of the people,” Herzog said.
Herzog made his comments from the dais in the presence of Mayor Pro Tem Kathryn McCullough and councilmen Dwight Robinson and Adam Nick.
Mayor Scott Voigts was not present.
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Herzog, whose final comments were spoken as if to the people of Lake Forest, said it was an "honor and a privilege to have served you on the City Council. Your support and assistance over the years is something I shall always remember and cherish."
Herzog said he had "done everything in my capacity as a council member to try to bring reason and logic back into council decisions and return city government back to you."
"It is now painfully obvious Voigts, Nick and Robinson will not allow that to happen," he said, adding later: "I believe you can restore this community to its citizens by rising up and fighting to make sure the era of outside influence, laundered campaign money and politics comes to an end."
Herzog said he didn't see his resignation as an ending but as a beginning. He said his decision was effective at the adjournment of the meeting “so I can rejoin you, and serve you, by standing with you.”
Nick, who has been Herzog’s biggest rival on the dais—they have often gone off on each other during meetings—was surprisingly emotional. He spoke immediately following Herzog and went so far as to say he respects him and wished he didn’t resign, although a few meetings ago Nick said outright from the dais how much he disliked Herzog.
McCullough, too, was emotional. Like Nick, she needed a few moments to collect herself, and she agreed with Herzog that the council was broken but said she would prefer to do her work “from the inside.” She also confessed that she, too, had considered resignation in recent months.
The source for their exasperation was the concessions made to developers Brookfield and Trumark allowing them to build on the Foothill Ranch Auto Centre site.
Earlier in the meeting, Herzog, who is an attorney, called city attorney Scott Smith an embarrassment who had misguided the City least three times.
City manager Robert Dunek said he would talk with Smith on Wednesday and determine how the position would be filled, but it appears the council has a certain number of days to appoint someone or the seat goes to a special election.