City Council Member Under Fire for Drinking Wine During Meetings

Newport Beach is now considering a ban on alcohol consumption while the Council is conducting business.

Wine being poured into a glass
Photo: Ali Majdfar / Getty Images

If no one had gone near Noah Blom's trash can, we probably wouldn't be talking about a Newport Beach, California City Council meeting that was held almost a month ago. Blom spent the meeting sitting on the dais, drinking from his own cup — but when someone grabbed it out of the garbage, they realized that he'd been downing wine while discussing the city's recycling practices and its plan to build new pickleball courts.

Tom Johnson, who runs a local website called the Stu News Network, rang Blom up to ask if he was really drinking during the meeting, and Blom didn't deny it. "Yes, I often enjoy a glass of wine at the dais during a city council meeting," he told the outlet. "Do I apologize for it? No. I never apologize for who I am. And if people want to talk with me about my conduct, then fine I'm happy to do so with them." (Apparently, people have already been talking about Blom's conduct: he's previously been criticized for — horror! — choosing not to wear a tie to City Council meetings.)

Perhaps most surprisingly, Blom's choice of beverage wasn't against the law and it didn't break any city regulations. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Newport Beach city code prohibits the consumption of any alcoholic beverage on "public streets, alleys, sidewalks, public or private parking lots, restrooms, piers, beaches, vacant lots or public parks." But there aren't any restrictions on drinking inside public buildings, which includes the chambers where City Council meetings are held.

That might change in the near future, though. The City Council is now considering a formal policy that would prevent any member from drinking anything alcoholic during their meetings. The Voice of OC reports that Councilmember Diane Dixon has proposed an agenda item "to amend council policy regarding decorum and the city's municipal code." If it gets the OK to move ahead, it could be discussed at one of the Council's January meetings.

During last week's meeting, Blom addressed the backlash that has accompanied his choice of beverage. "As the world has discovered and it was discovered up here, sometimes after dinner, I do enjoy a glass of wine and I did so at a council meeting before," he said. "I fully recognize how that was not what we want to be doing up here, as I've heard it from many people from different accords." He also added that, in the future, the only things he'd drink during meetings would be water, iced tea or "maybe a beautiful cappuccino."

The public's reaction to Blom's wine cup seems to be mixed. Some of the comments that were submitted to Stu News Newport ranged from "Who does Noah think he is? King Henry 8th?" to "Sipping wine and not wearing a tie are irrelevant in comparison to the bigger picture of actively and creatively supporting the needs of his constituents."

If Blom does want to enjoy some after-dinner Barolo, he seems to have plenty of other opportunities (and other locations) to do that. He and his wife, Marin, are restaurateurs who co-own Arc Food & Libations in Costa Mesa, and Arc Butcher and Baker in Newport. Both establishments have extensive wine lists.

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