Nancy Hamm

 

Nancy Hamm PhotoLong gone are the days when mothers would open the front door and exclaim, “Go play!” When I was growing up our front door was essentially my ticket to the world. I could go anywhere on the block as long I didn’t cross the street. I would stay gone for what felt like hours, exploring the block and playing with the other kids. Life was much less contrived. Now, as parents, we’re not as trusting and are often left with the question, park or play date?

I came to favor play dates when my son, Fabrizio, and I were at a park that had a tire swing-fiendish invention! With my son in my left arm and the tire chain wrapped around my right I tried to perch my behind on its rubbery surface and fell. Yup, fell. The pain jolted straight through to the top of my head. After about five minutes of pain induced laughing I made a less than graceful recovery, brushed off the sand, adjusted my clothes (ignoring the new scuffs on my white pants) and kept playing.

I was feeling like a good mom until a very hot dad and his equally gorgeous spawn appeared. Of course, the nerd in me came out and I become flustered by all people beautiful, women included. The usual parental banter occurred - blah, blah, blah...hot dad “how old is your son?” me “21 months, and yours?” hot dad “15 months”...now this was when I get verbal diarrhea...me “yeah, he’s (Fabrizio) short” hot dad “that’s OK” me “yeah, I know”...and I walk away. Seriously, what’s wrong with me? Why am I apologizing for my son’s height? Fabrizio shot me a look only a toddler could produce and proceeded to have a royal fit. All I could think was, “Must leave park!”

By the time I got in the car I was sweating, my head and butt were throbbing, I felt humiliated and like a bad mom. I looked up into the review mirror to make nice with Fabrizio only to notice a streak of dirt that ran fully across my right cheek. At this point all I could do was laugh. Poor Fabrizio was just looking at me completely confused, while his dirty sweaty mom was practically bent over the steering wheel in hysterics. Yeah, if hot dad was watching he must have thought I was nuts.

I learned so many things on that outing; most importantly never feel like you need to justify your child. Needless to say that was the day I began to favor play dates.

That is until last week when one of my sons’ friends was dropped off for a play date at 9 a.m. I figured the boys could play nice for a few minutes while I dashed off to change out of my pajamas. That was where I was so completely wrong. After two hours of arguing, shoving, name-calling, tattling and pretty much all out warfare I was at my end. By 11, I was calling the kid’s mom to come pick him up. It wasn’t until 1 o’clock that she finally answered with the line of, “Oh, I’ve been sitting my phone all morning”. I’m thinking, “Yeah, and ignoring it!”

I was still in my pajamas when she came to collect her son. I’m glad that my friend had some time to herself but I’m not happy to feel like I’ve been made a babysitter.

While I’m ready to abandon both and set up a full park in our backyard and home school my son, the reality is I would crack in about a week. In the age of TV, computers and video games kids need social interaction as much as possible. I’ve learned that it is important not to have any preconceived ideas about what the play date looks like, or park time for that matter. It’s also important to set boundaries or at least let your expectations be known.

In light of our recent play date I’ve decided that when another child walks in the door I tell everyone, parents included, our rules. For example, in this house we share toys, talk nicely and keep our hands to ourselves. Most importantly don’t be afraid to enforce the rules. When it comes to the park or anywhere else my child is he knows that our rules aren’t limited to the house. If we are at the park and he isn’t playing nice then we leave.

Kids need boundaries and when they know what’s expected of them they adapt very nicely. The park and play dates can be lot of work for us parents but when approached with the right game plan it is pure joy.

•••••

Nancy Hamm is a wife and mother to a 4 year old with cerebral palsy. She is currently working on her first novel.


Today is Constitution Day

September 17. This is a day the kids are supposed to be taught about our Constitution.  This is the same date that has been designated as POW/MIA Recognition Day.

I wonder how many school kids will be taught about either or both of the patriotic days. Know a teacher? [Tell] them.

Visit: http://www.uchastings.edu/site_files/financial_aid/ConstitutionDay.pdf

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach


Amy Kramer

Banks Behaving Badly

 

Is it a sign of the times, when even the bank tries to take your money, or is it an age-old problem of people being neglectful of their many, many responsibilities? Lately it would seem a mix of both, but the banks have been difficult, if not downright damaging, and pleasing the customer is no longer the priority.

The bank has a duty to safeguard the hard-earned dollars of its account holders and act in the customer’s best interest. But it doesn’t. One would think that perhaps the massive taxpayer paid bailout would have actually accomplished what the administration set out to do - maintain a stable lending environment so that banks could negotiate rates with homeowners and continue to work with small businesses. Instead, the financial institutions have locked up the funds and carried on with their own monkey business.

Identity fraud, unauthorized fees, and refusing to work with customers are the actions of the day with most if not all banks.

My own bank charged fees on a no-fees account. However, when I pointed out that the bank had been taking money out the account for the past few months it was explained that yes, this was a bank error, but no, I would not be reimbursed for anything except the last two months. Unfortunately, I did not scour the bank statement each month because it did not occur to me that my own bank would be pilfering my account.

While I called the bank’s actions stealing, the representative called it an error. Certainly it fits at least into the classification of monkey business.

A friend of mine had a credit line secured by his home at a major national bank for emergency funds. Neither he nor his family members had used the credit line, however, he was notified by his son that large amounts of money had mysteriously been transferred out of the account. Someone was able to access his account using different business names and most of the money had already been sent overseas. The bank did freeze the line and reimbursed the account, as it is required to do so under federal law. But where is the security? My friend still feels vulnerable and uncertain about the bank’s ability to protect his money.

As for the current housing crisis we are in, the banks do have to share some of the blame. Yes, anyone who took out a no-money down home mortgage is culpable for facing the dangers of the market’s downfall. However, banks made little effort to assist their customers with loan modifications or revised mortgages. And why should they? They were bailed out, paid back for all the money they were going to lose, and would lose, on defaults. If the banks had not been bailed out they would have had to work with people and either modify loan rates or figure out new loan programs.

The banks are now borrowing their money for next to nothing - and they have been reimbursed by you, the taxpayer, for their losses.

The administration keeps insisting that if we just spend more taxpayer money the economy will turn around. With banks holding back, companies refusing to hire and unemployment skyrocketing it seems that maybe this November we need to see bigger change if we are to have any hope.

•••••

Amy Kramer is a wife, mom, president of Laguna Beach Republicans, and facilitates a conservative women’s group. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Saturday mornings at Main Beach

It’s amazing to walk or drive by Main Beach Park on a Saturday about 11 a.m. and see a small group of mostly seniors protesting our wars. We have been at war nine years and they have bankrupted us financially and morally. We were told we were going after the terrorists and 9 - 11 was our rational or irrational reason for two needless wars.

Think about this: 4,416 US troops and 141 journalists killed. 31,616 US troops wounded, 20% of which are serious brain and spinal injuries. 9,571 Iraqi police and soldiers killed. A UN-issued report dated September 20, 2006 said Iraqi civilian casualties have been significantly under reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to 100,000. Some informed estimates place Iraqi casualties at 600,000 +. Iraqi insurgents killed is estimated to be 55,000. Iraqis displaced inside Iraq as of May 2007: 2,255.000. Iraq refugees in Syria and Jordan – 2.1 million.

The typical US combat soldier is 19. Personally. I don’t think these two wars are worth losing one Mexican young man from downtown Santa Ana and  I hope more people join the war protests at Main Beach Park on Saturdays at 11 a.m.

Roger Carter

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An open letter from LBHS Principal Don Austin

“We are missing the boat in this country”

My name is Don Austin and I am the principal of Laguna Beach High School.

By all accounts, I work at a school full of advantaged students.  Our recent API score will earn us another perfect 10 in our current California system.  We are the only National Blue Ribbon High School selected from the high-powered Orange County.

We have only 1,000 students with an average family income of $97,000.  We have, however, failed to reach our potential because we have failed to lead others. This year is different and I believe it can be the way to move education in the right direction.

We have partnered with Winona Secondary School in Mississippi with an average family income of slightly over $25,000 near the Mississippi Delta.  I wish I could say that it was part of some masterful plan, but it was really the result of two guys meeting each other at a conference and having a professional discussion about our schools.

Through private funding (Hurley International and Balfour), Winona Secondary School is sending us their principal and four students on Sept 26 this year.  They will spend a week in a culture that they can barely imagine.

They will visit colleges, oceanography institutes, professional baseball games, and major businesses.  They will learn to paddle board and swim in the ocean.  They will live with our families and attend our classes.

In a few months, I will take four of our students to Mississippi to experience a month of life in their shoes.  We will visit the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina and see first-hand the disadvantages many students in America deal with daily.

This is more than a cultural exchange.  This is the type of two-way learning that is often discussed and rarely actually happens.

I am going to challenge the administration of Winona Secondary School to pick another partner next year and I will do the same. Their principal, Mr. Parkerson, and I hope to present at future conferences together.  Our message will be to quit learning about ‘programs’ and start learning about people.  It will be unique to make a presentation asking people to quit looking for answers at presentations!  Instead, we think people need to start sharing and working together.

Our challenge to this county is for every school to find partners.  It isn’t easy.  It’s easier to keep blaming the system, unions, and teachers.  It’s harder to put yourself out there and expose your weaknesses by asking for help.  Even the best schools in the country have holes.  In some cases, a lack of desire to help others is the hole.  Test scores are competitive.  Anyone who disagrees should think about how they read a newspaper.  As soon as they look at more than one school’s score, they have essentially just created a competition.

We are missing the boat in this country.  Programs, experts, and publishers aren’t the answer.  American problem-solvers are the answer.  Poverty doesn’t preclude intelligence.  Some of the smartest and most dedicated people I have ever met came from poor schools.  I believe we have a model.

At this point we are sure of a couple things.  An idea that can equally energize two such seemingly different communities must be on the right track.  My desire is to help schools solve problems through two-way partnerships and quit looking for Superman to save the day.

We have a national community of super heroes.

Sincerely,

Don Austin, Ed.D.

Principal, Laguna Beach High School


Obituary

Dr. Edward Fry, 1925-2010

Ed Fry PhotoEdward Fry died in his home in Laguna Beach on September 2, 2010 surrounded by his family. He was 85.

Ed was born April 4, 1925 in Los Angeles, CA, son of Eugene Bertram Fry and Francis Dreier Fry. He moved to Laguna Beach in 1937 and, at age 12, claimed that he was the first employee of the landmark Pottery Shack for 15 cents an hour. He attended seventh grade in bare feet and while at Laguna Beach High, he became editor of the school newspaper and graduated, along with 40 others, in 1942. World War II interrupted his studies at Occidental College. He served in the Merchant Marine, primarily in the Pacific Theater.

After the war, he graduated from Occidental College, married Carol Addison in 1950 and had two children, Shanti (1951) and Christopher (1953).

Ed became an expert in teaching reading. He authored the Fry Readability Graph, which is a widely used tool for assessing the readability level of almost any type of reading material. He was on the faculty of Loyola University in LA and Rutgers University in NJ where he became a full professor. During his twenty-two years at Rutgers, he was President of the National Reading Conference, the International Reading Association, and the New Jersey Reading Association. He is a member of the Reading Teacher Hall of Fame.

Among his more than 31 books and more than 100 articles are “How to Teach Reading” developed for the Peace Corps, “The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists” with Jacqueline Kress, as well as a video series for Time-Life narrated by Dick Cavett and Bill Cosby. Ed founded Laguna Beach Educational Books and sold it to Teacher Created Materials.

One of his major interests has been education in Africa. In 1960, he taught at Makerere University in Uganda as a Fulbright scholar.  Starting in 1994, he taught at the University of Zimbabwe also as a Fulbright Scholar and later developed the University Press at Africa University in Zimbabwe.

After retiring from Rutgers, Ed moved back to Laguna Beach with his second wife Cathy, whom he married in 1974. He was active in the Laguna Beach United Methodist Church, Village Laguna, the Laguna Canyon Conservancy, and the Democratic Club among other groups. He especially loved being a docent in the Laguna Canyon and making frequent trips to Santa Fe, NM for skiing and art.

Ed is survived by his wife, Cathy Fry, daughter Shanti Fry, son Christopher Fry, stepchildren Kim Rau and Kirk Boyce, and grandchildren Julia Zinsmeyer, Victoria Zinsmeyer, Jeremy Fry, Jeff Rau, Jamie Rau, Dustin Boyce, Brandie Boyce and extended family granddaughter Elizabeth Linn.

A memorial service will be at 1p.m. on Saturday, Sept 18, 2010 at the United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley Drive.

In lieu of flowers, please send a check made out to: Edward Fry Endowed Graduate Fellowship Fund (Rutgers University), Africa University or Laguna Canyon Foundation to Cathy Fry, 245 Grandview St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651.


Patrascu keeps tabs on Christy’s facts

In response to Mr. Christy’s letter to the editor (Keeping Patrascu Honest – August 27, 2010), I believe my neighbor needs to check his facts.  Mr. Christy asserts that the City Council cannot increase our property taxes and blames me for leading the Laguna Beach resident astray. 
The fact is that the City Council has the legal authority—and exercised the authority—to raise each and every property owner’s taxes on April 20th of this year.  How’s that for logic in the middle of a global recession?

Allow me to explain: property tax bills contain three different components.  The first portion is labeled General Tax Levy.  This portion is controlled by Proposition 13 and is limited to 1% of the assessed value of your home and cannot increase more than 2%, year over year.

The second portion is named Voter Approved Indebtedness.  This portion can only be used to repay bonds approved by voters.  Current law requires a 2/3 vote of the people to approve bonds, except for schools, which require a 55% affirmative vote.

The third and final component is labeled Direct Assessments.  This is the portion that the City Council partly controls and this is the part of the property taxes that our illustrious incumbents voted to increase.

The record speaks for itself, but don’t take my word for it.  Listen to the incumbents boast of raising our property taxes (their words, not mine) at a City Council meeting: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/meetings_agendas_and_minutes.asp

Emanuel Patrascu

Candidate for Laguna Beach City Council


The power of observation

When observing your surroundings, it is critical to pay attention to everything. Let’s suppose you do a good job making your observation noting every little detail. Now you’re ready to make your analysis, draw some conclusions and say something smart about what you have observed.
But let’s suppose you don’t fully understand your environment. You think you do but you really don’t. Consider this, you are living on a perfectly flat surface and you are a perfectly flat person. One day while observing your surroundings, you notice a circle suddenly appear nearby. The circle grows larger and larger then gradually the circle gets smaller and smaller and just as suddenly it disappears. You explain this phenomena by saying it is a fact of nature. It is what it is...unalterable.
Turning to Amy Kramer’s recent article in Stu News Laguna, Amy, in past columns, complains about causeless government regulations thwarting her beloved capitalism.  For Amy the universe is divided up into good and evil, black and white, government and business. In Amy’s Manichean worldview capitalist business is good and government is bad. Again last week Amy repeats the tired message that the government must get out of the way of capitalist entrepreneurs because government regulation holds back economic progress and that, of course, hurts everyone.
What Amy fails to fully comprehend is the free market she adores is nothing more than a two-dimensional rump representation of a far more complex three-dimensional economic phenomena.
Amy parrots the false distinction between the government and business. It is generally agreed that the economy is the basis of all civil society, but Amy fails to see that civil society includes government. Change the economy and you change the government. For example, reverting back to an agricultural economy would eliminate most industrial production wiping out the industrial working class, the middle class, factory owners, and the need for bankers, corporate lawyers, and stock markets. A government built on an agricultural economy would no longer need to manufacture consent but would rule by decree.
From Amy’s flat world point of view she therefore becomes blind to the fact that the government and big business (the oligopolies) are fraternal twins. Every branch of the American economy, and every market within each branch is dominated to the tune of at least 40% by a few corporations. These oligopolies profit from on again-off again government regulation because that regulatory flexibility guarantees their profits. These oligopolies compete in advertising only, never competing over price. The remaining share of each market is fought over by many small and medium size businesses, which must compete on price. Thus small business profit margins are slim because they do not benefit from the flexibility of government regulation.
For Amy’s free marketeers the wolf is always pacing back and forth before the front door. Government always bails out their oligopolistic brothers and, at the same time, disingenuously praises the virtues of free market competition where the small fry businessmen are forced to swim or sink. To put it another way, Amy’s flatworlders (including Tea Party types) are drowning in the deep end of the swimming pool yelling for help while the government lifeguard is watching over the oligopolies sipping cocktails in the hot tub.
Because flatworlders, like Amy Kramer, have a two dimensional perception, that’s why they can’t see that the appearing-disappearing circle is actually a sphere intersecting a plane in three dimensions. Moreover, Amy’s two-dimensional vision for Laguna Beach can never fully understand the problems facing business in our city. And if she can’t fully understand what she is seeing, then, at best, her proposed solutions might make sense on the flat world planet she lives on but on our spherical planet her solutions can never be anything but muddled headed.

T.C. Borelli

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The firefighter’s name is: Ian da Costa

Last Tuesday night I just got home from eating some pizza at Gina’s with my baseball team, Ganahl Lumber. We just lost 7-0 to a team full of “home run hitters”. My wife had just returned from her booth at the Festival of Arts, so we went upstairs to watch some news.

We had only been in bed for a couple of minutes when my wife said, are those flames over there in that tree. Sure enough, the tree was on fire. I called 9-1-1, threw on a pair of shorts, got into my flip flops and ran down St. Ann’s to Arroyo Chico. By the time I got to the house, the fire had spread into the house and the entire living room was on fire.

I yelled for my neighbors a half a dozen times as I ran up their stairs. Finally, they both appeared from their back door. By now, the flames were burning brighter and hotter as more of the house became involved in the fire. As we headed down the stairs, my neighbor tripped and hit his head on the concrete stairs. As hard as I tired, I couldn’t get him up on his feet.

Just when I thought I was going to have to drag him down the stairs, a fireman showed up. I yelled, “Man down, we need help!” The fireman put his hose down, came up the stairs, got my neighbor up and over his shoulder and carried him down the stairs.

Our firefighters in this town are here “To Protect and Serve: and they ROCK!! I don’t know who this fireman was, but he was a stud. Laguna Beach is so fortunate to have the brave men and women working in our fire and police departments. Let’s never forget to appreciate them.

John Campbell

Laguna Beach


Current Councilmembers have listened

As a resident and business owner in downtown Laguna for the past 30 years, I am offended by Mr. Patrascu’s recent e-mail blasts and comments in the newspapers that the current City Council has done too little, too late to help local business.

I have owned businesses in Laguna Beach for years and have never seen a more pro-active and responsive City Council as it relates to business.

Personally, I have worked closely for several years with the current council members, I call them with my concerns, and I know that they have listened to me and have helped in a number of ways.

Kelly Boyd, when he was Mayor, wrote a letter to every owner of retail space in Laguna Beach to encourage them to work with local storeowners on rents. Either to reduce rents or give rent free months, so that the stores could remain open during this recession and difficult economic time. My landlord listened, as he wants his tenants to succeed! I thank Kelly for that!

I called Elizabeth Pearson a few months ago, directly, asking her to add an agenda item allowing outdoor displays to our storefronts during the summer months.  The City Council voted unanimously to support this and it has been a tremendous help during a difficult summer. All of the merchants are grateful for this support and we hope it continues!

Toni Iseman has worked for many years to encourage the free trolley system, and parking lots located outside of the downtown area, thus reducing the number of cars that clog the downtown district.

The entire City Council voted to allow free parking for employees of downtown stores, allowing them to park in a lot next to City Hall.  This left hundreds of parking spaces available to Laguna residents and customers coming to Laguna to shop and dine.

Mr. Patrascu, I have some questions for you! You tell people you are a board member of the Chamber of Commerce.  How many times have you gone before the Planning Commission or City Council to help a local business? Have you led the Chamber in new directions to help our local businesses? And why, instead of wasting all of your energy complaining about the current council, haven’t you told us what you will do to help us?

I appreciate the City Council and the work that they have done.  We as storeowners need to follow the rules outlined in our business permits.  There are those that feel that rules are not made for them, and violators must be held in check. This Council gives business owners a voice.  If you follow the rules, and operate within the law, your voice is heard.

There is a reason why people love Laguna Beach! We are a unique community, and the City Council and Planning Commission help to keep our city a destination not like any other! During these difficult times, we need proven leaders!  We are blessed with leaders in our current council, and I am thankful for their leadership and dedication to our city.

Heidi Ann Miller

Owner - TIGHT ASSETS and The World Newsstand


One thousand feet

Cultural centers can do much to promote peace and goodwill on Earth.

Should there be a Christian cultural center in Poland? Yes, but not within one thousand feet of the Auschwitz death camps.

Should there be a Japanese cultural center in Hawaii? Yes, but not within one thousand feet of the Arizona memorial.

Should there be an American cultural center in Hiroshima?  Yes, but not within one-thousand feet of their ground zero.

And finally, should there be an Islamic cultural center in Manhattan?  Yes, but not within one thousand feet of our ground zero.

Richard Moore

Laguna Beach


Amy Kramer

Where History and Progress Meet

 

My husband and I were downtown on a warm summer Saturday night in Laguna Beach going from dinner to drinks with our friends from out of town and decided to stop in at the Hotel Laguna for a sunset view. The next day would be the memorial for Claes Anderson, a local hero of hospitality and philanthropy. He gave so much to this town, and although I didn’t know him personally, I have known him to be a good, warm-hearted person who gave back freely to the community he loved and served.

While walking through Hotel Laguna’s front lobby we looked at the old photographs lining the hall depicting the historical scenes of the hotel and downtown Laguna dating back to when the hotel was first built in 1886. Other photos showed the hotel after it was rebuilt and the landscape of old Laguna buildings. So much has changed, and yet, so much is the same. The nostalgia from all the old photographs and seeing Laguna in its early years made it even more apparent how important it is to our city’s heritage that we preserve the grandeur of these old buildings and bring them back to their original, beautiful presence for everyone, residents and tourists.

Restoring the historical buildings of Laguna Beach is imperative, not only for the glory of their notable context, but for the sake of the architectural interest and functionality that they provide, whether they be hotels, restaurants, golf courses or mixed-use. Instead of de-paving the local business district, and shunning the profitability that tourism brings to our little city, the focus should be on creating a welcoming, purposeful downtown turning historical value and financial success into friendly companions.

However, there are those who like to challenge any kind of progress when it comes to rebuilding older, significant buildings and instead, use them as political footballs. The Coast Inn is a perfect example of this.

The original Coast Inn was an idyllic resort where people of all walks of life came to spend some time by the sea. It was a place that brought the community together for food, fun and balmy breezes. As it sits, the building has come to near ruin. When Mr. Udvar-Hazy stepped in to buy the Coast Inn with intentions of remaking it into an elegant hotel, one would think our city stood to gain by this. The Coast Inn could finally be open for business again, entertaining tourists and residents alike, and put money into the city’s coffers.

Unfortunately, the processes employed by Laguna Beach and the Coastal Commission allow repeated appeals and unlimited access to a forum of complaint. For now, the Coast Inn project languishes on the Coastal Commission’s docket to be appealed once again as the merits of the entire development are argued over. Perhaps the opposition, with the quasi-sincere argument over room count would rather watch the entire project be dismantled or worse, abandoned. What a shame that would be.

The Coast Inn could be a jewel in an otherwise weathered section of our town, turning that part of Coast Highway into a cornerstone of historical importance and business success. Watching the drama unfold over the Coast Inn project and Laguna’s inability to provide business advancements, what potential entrepreneur would want to step into the middle of a city that shuns progress? It is near impossible to get anything done.

Many locals would like to see the older gems in town brushed up and shining again for all of us. We have seen the amazing repair and restoration of the Pottery Shack that now houses retail shops and a popular restaurant. Laguna needs to bring back the past with an eye towards the future, not leave these buildings, like the Coast Inn, to linger and deteriorate as the 3rd Street shacks, which are now crumbling in the canyon.

•••••

Amy Kramer is a wife, mom, president of Laguna Beach Republicans, and facilitates a conservative women’s group. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Patrascu: keeping him honest

For decades our national political discourse has been disturbing to say the least. Fortunately, for the most part, Laguna has avoided this kind of nonsense. In fact, the three City Council incumbents seeking reelection have actually signed each other’s nomination papers, despite the fact that they have widely varying political backgrounds and beliefs. Through mutual respect, they know that at least each enters the debate honestly with an open mind and a willingness to listen to all sides. Having already been through innumerable challenges together, they readily acknowledge each other’s commitment to do what they believe is right for the City of Laguna Beach and it’s citizenry.

This is why I find the recent email blast from candidate Emanuel Patrascu so disturbing.

His “Emanuel on the Issues” seems to embrace the prevailing “Let Truth and Facts be Damned” political trend of making baseless claims. His email (along with his website and candidate statement) asserts: “All of the (LB City Council) incumbents voted to increase our property taxes by 11%…which will set property taxes at the highest rate in Orange County...”

To quote the inimitable John McEnroe: You cannot be serious!

I’m confident that most Laguna taxpayers understand that raising property taxes is not even within the legal purview of our Council Members. The only way for property taxes to be increased is by the County Tax Assessor or by Laguna Beach voters in a general election. Perhaps Emanuel refers to the modest cost of living increases approved for Trash and Sewer fees, which though historically billed by the County as a relatively small line item on our tax bills, are not a part of the Property Taxes themselves. The candidate either knows this, which renders his false accusation inexcusable. Or he doesn’t know it, which calls his qualifications into question.

The reader can verify Laguna’s relatively low base Property Tax rates:

http://egov.ocgov.com/vgnfiles/ocgov/Assessor%20%20Webster%20Guillory/Docs/Press%20Releases/PR_10-11_Package.pdf

This cornerstone of candidate Patrascu’s platform is utter political fabrication and it is disheartening to see this kind of thing occur in Laguna’s elections. The real locals recognize that we won’t always agree. But Laguna is a small pond, so we try to show respect and common courtesy to the other inhabitants. After all, open-mindedness, honesty and tolerance are integral parts of our history and what makes Laguna so special.

Obviously, we face serious challenges, both locally and nationally. But while we’ll always have differences of opinion, if we cannot lay down the blunt weapons of political rhetoric and start pulling the rope in the same direction, we stand little chance of getting back on course.

Emanuel, if this misinformation tactic is indicative of how you plan on running your campaign, please…let go of the rope.

Mark Christy

Laguna Beach


Hundreds give last respects to Claes Andersen

Claes Services Photo 1

Staff photos by Cliff Getz

Georgia Andersen (with Dr. Jerry Tankersley looking on above) described her life and love with Claes to the many who attended his memorial service Saturday afternoon. She said he told her not to be sad for they would one day be together in heaven and that he would meet her at the wine bar. She told him don’t worry I’ll find you! In addition to a filled Laguna Presbyterian Church both inside and outside, more than 300 attended a reception celebrating Claes Andersen at his Hotel Laguna following the services.

Claes Services Photo 2

Claes Andersen - Laguna loses a very good friend

Claes Andersen, one of Laguna’s most benevolent persons and owner of Hotel Laguna since 1985, passed away at his home early Wednesday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 63.

There will be a service at Laguna Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Aug 21, at 2 p.m. A public reception will follow at Hotel Laguna at 5 p.m.

His wife Georgia, son Stefan of Boulder, Colorado and daughter Katie, a student at Laguna Beach High School, survive him.

Interviewed in 2005 by Laguna Life & People magazine, Claes commented: “Laguna is a giving community,” he says. “It has always been that way; everybody helps everybody.”

The article went on to add, The Andersens lost their home during the 1993 firestorm. With it went a treasure trove of early California Plein-Air paintings and Claes’ cherished wine cellar that, he says, just blew up in the inferno. Yet, keeping his loss in perspective, he opened the hotel to neighbors in similar straits and offered the premises to firefighters, to eat, shower and sleep whenever and wherever they could. “There were firefighters everywhere,” he recalls.

•••

A telling comment by Charlie Quilter who was the President of the Patriot’s Day Parade Association in 2008 when Claes was the Citizen of the Year:

Born in a foreign country, I think he taught us all what it meant to be a real American.

Charlie Quilter

The biography from the patriot’s Day Parade Association:

2008 Citizen of the Year  

The Citizen of the Year honor is given to a person from Laguna Beach who has contributed significantly to our community.  As hotelier, master chef, and restaurateur, Claes Andersen needs no introduction to the people of our community.

He was born on September 10, 1946 near Odense on Denmark’s central island of Funen.  After completing high school, he underwent the rigorous six-year program of Odense’s Hotel- og Restaurantskolen (Hotel and Restaurant School), graduating with honors in 1969.  Imbued with a sense of adventure, he emigrated to America to embark on a career as an executive chef first at Taos, New Mexico’s Ski Valley and then in Los Angeles.

In 1985, Claes had been serving as the longtime general manager of the Westwood Plaza Hotel when he and his wife, Georgia, made the decision to settle here and buy the Hotel Laguna.  Since then, he has not only preserved the community’s iconic landmark, he has created within it three delightful and well-known restaurants and bistros, Claes, The Lounge, and The Terrace Café.

Over the years, Claes Andersen has been generous in providing venues for fundraisers to many of the civic organizations of the community.  His activities on behalf of the community are legion:  he founded the Laguna Beach Hospitality Association – now the Visitors Bureau – and has served as a trustee of the Laguna Playhouse and SchoolPower.  He has been active as well with the Laguna Art Museum, the Pageant of the Masters, and the Laguna College of Art and Design.

The Laguna fire of October 27, 1993 when 366 families lost homes, still sears memories here.  Many will never forget Claes’ gallant gesture in opening the doors of the Hotel Laguna to those who lost homes, even as his own home was being destroyed along with precious family heirlooms.  He repeated these unselfish acts in the El Niño floods of 1998.

He has also contributed mightily to the culinary profession by serving over 29 years as a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the international organization of gastronomy whose roots go back to 1248.  In addition to serving in various leadership positions of the organization, he has mentored young people coming into the profession by organizing and also serving as a judge in numerous cooking and sommelier competitions.  Claes also maintains memberships in other organizations promoting the culinary arts such as the Friends of d’Escoffier Society and the American Academy of Chefs.

One of the consequences of his passion in this field may be seen in the ever-rising level of excellence of the cuisine of Laguna Beach’s restaurants, which has brought much favorable attention to our community.

Claes Andersen’s awards include the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Gold Medal, L’Ordre Mondial Gold Medal, and a number of awards of merit from the Southern California Restaurant Writers group including its Humanitarian of the Year Award.

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This was received from the Laguna Canyon Foundation this week:

“Claes served on the 1991 LCF board of directors and then as part of the first listing for the Advisory Council.  We used to have our early board meetings at the hotel.  Claes is part of LCF’s history.”

Claes was much more than one of the leading businessmen in Laguna Beach; he was also a visionary that loved his adopted community and was front and center when it came to helping the nonprofit community.  As founder and president of the Laguna Canyon Foundation, I will always remember the many events Claes underwrote for our foundation, especially in the early years when we were just beginning.  In addition to the underwriting of events, including the celebratory affair at which we toasted an agreement with the Irvine Company that led to the preservation of our beloved Laguna Canyon, Claes also donated the use of a suite for the newly formed nonprofit Laguna Canyon Foundation.  He has been there for us, not only as a successful hotelier but as an individual who, with his wonderful wife Georgia, made a significant financial commitment to the fledgling Laguna Canyon Foundation that helped form the basis of our future financial success.  We will miss him dearly.

Michael Pinto

Lots of great memories of that larger than life person. My time at LCF when we used a hotel room overlooking the parking lot as LCF’s office gave me an opportunity to see his gracious and engaging ways. (We kept the filing cabinet in the shower.)  LCF’s beginning owes a great deal to Claes - he was always there for us. Michael sent me some notes, but he has many more.  He had lunch there at least once a week for many years.

Mary Fegraus


Amy’s home planet…

I am now thoroughly convinced Amy Kramer lives on another planet. In fact I looked through my telescope and found her living on the planet Terra Hypocritacus.

Earlier this week, in her new column in Stu News Laguna, Amy took umbrage with Michelle Obama’s vacation with one of her daughters and a couple of friends to Spain. Amy groused on and on about Mrs. Obama staying in five star hotels and flying around in $11,000 per hour jets on the taxpayers dime. Then ol’ Amy takes a right turn and starts grumbling about Al Gore living in a 10,000 foot mansion and flying around in a private jet while preaching, “...the sky is falling….” WTF?

But I’m not going to disagree with Amy because right here on Earth she is absolutely correct. Michelle, Al, Barack, Dubya, Boehner the Tan, Hillbilly Mitch, Reid, Cheney (the entire family) are all charlatans and frauds because they belong to the ruling class and that is what the ruling class does. That entire strata of people including their puppet masters in the corporate world lie, cheat, conceal, trick, steal, and two-time everyone around them.

The wanna be president Newt Gingrich repeatedly cheats on his wives before divorcing them. Bill Clinton doesn’t just smoke cigars and Meg Whitman molled for Goldman Sachs. So what’s new?

According to our extra terrestrial pal Amy, the good guys on her planet are “...rich corporate businesspersons...(because they) contributed to the overall big picture by providing jobs, livelihoods and future opportunity for many people. Yes, rich people are not so bad after all.” You’re killing me Amy! I need to move to your planet.

Back here on Earth, in the thirty years of Reagan’s Trickle Down Economics, the richest 10% own 70% of the nation’s wealth, the middle class shrunk in size, the national debt rose by 1400 percent, consumer debt rose from 2 trillion dollars to 14 trillion dollars while wages stagnated and the unemployment rate is officially ten percent but the real unemployment rate is closer to 20%. And let’s not forget, it’s the Earth bound businessmen who own that debt.

Conversely, we have some of the wealthiest Earthlings, including Warren E. Buffett, George Soros and Ted Turner, warning that such a concentration of wealth can turn a meritocracy into an aristocracy and ultimately stifle economic growth by putting too much of the nation’s capital in the hands of inheritors rather than strivers and innovators. Those rich Earth guys need to take a trip to Terra Hypocriticus.

A few nights later I got access to a radio telescope, which I pointed at Amy’s home planet.  As I listened to rich businessmen talking about being benevolent job creators, politicians bragging about the moral life they lead, and Michelle Obama swooning over her crown, I heard something that made my heart swell with pride and joy. The people of Terra Hypocritacus were referring to themselves as Republicans!! Amy, can you get me a ticket to your home planet? It really seems like a great place!

T.C. Borelli
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If you didn’t read it…

The…[column]…about Ms Obama going to Spain was so long and such a diatribe I refused to read it. George Bush left Obama an almost impossible bunch of problems. I am always suspicious when people rant and rave about Obama.

The writer of the…[column]…should join the Tea Party.

I believe George Bush is a criminal and should be tried by the world court in Holland for starting two illegal wars, which have caused harm to millions of people and the death and serious injuries to thousands of men, women and children.

Roger Carter

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Obituary Golda M. Lang

Golda Lang Photo

Golda M. Lang passed away in her sleep on July 31.  She was 91.

She operated the Lang Photo store on S. Coast Hwy for 40 years. She was a fixture in the Old Art Center with a nice word and a smile for everyone. Before that, she ran the lunch counter at the drug store on the old boardwalk.

She was preceded in passing by her husband of 63 years, L.E. Lang. They settled in Laguna Beach in 1958 with son Rick and owned and operated a motel.

Inspired by Laguna’s beauty, Golda Lang began photographing the area and doing postcards and brochures. She opened her little shop in 1970 with Laguna photos and gifts.

Rick and Cheryl, Laguna Beach, grandson’s Chris and family (Hawaii) and Josh and family (San Clemente) and four great-grandchildren survive her.  A memorial service for both Golda and L.E. will be held in December.


Amy Kramer

Paying for Spain

Just recently I traveled with my family to Mammoth Lakes for a summer vacation. The mountains are beautiful and the fishing, mountain biking and hiking are unbeatable. We have vacationed up in Mammoth for a few summers and this summer was one of the busiest I have ever seen. The spaces in the condo garage were completely full and the restaurants and stores were packed as well. That’s a good thing. But it’s also indicative of how people are spending their money: staying closer to home, no flying and less grandeur are part of the recessionary vacation experience these days.

 

But not for the first lady.

 

Okay, I realize that she is entitled to go on vacation. She should travel and experience different places as an ambassador of the White House and for a little R&R. But is a $200,000 plus trip to Spain really necessary especially in these tough economic times? From different reports it appears that she has paid for part of her expenses personally. But that’s only “part of” and the rest is paid for with your money and mine including fine dinners, 5-star hotel rooms and an entourage that only rivals Madonna’s.

 

Sometimes, when politicians try to go about their business as “normal people” it does not always go over well. Because let’s face it, when you are flying on a private jet that costs over $11,000 an hour to operate, that’s not normal. And yes, the Obamas did have their own personal wealth prior to entering the White House, but not that kind of wealth. Here’s the deal, people are losing jobs, the oil spill in the Gulf is monstrous and killing not only the environment, but jobs too. People are losing their homes, their savings, and their pride. So, does this trip to Spain deserve the criticism it has received - yes!

 

Recent headlines have dubbed Michelle Obama as a modern day Marie Antoinette and the New York Times’ Peter Baker and Raphael Minder wrote that perhaps her glamorous vacation was “ill-timed” considering all those struggling right now at home. Whatever happened to the whole campaign tone Obama preached about spreading the wealth and making the rich pay for their sins? Does this mean him or just everyone else?

 

It’s the classic liberal attitude of do as I say, not as I do. So while people like Al Gore go around telling everyone the sky is falling if we don’t stop driving, stop using plastic bags and stop ruining the earth, he’s out there in a 10,000 square foot mansion and flying on a private jet all over the world putting out more carbon emissions than most small states. As President Obama is berating the oil mavens and touting the great effects of his stimulus-cum-deep-water-deficit plan that ‘should’ be working by now, he sends his wife off to another country to spend even more of our hard-earned tax dollars. Hello! Does anyone get this?!

 

If a rich, corporate businessperson wants to spend his or her hard earned cash on a glitzy vacation, that’s fine. That corporate person has also contributed to the overall big picture by providing jobs, livelihoods and future opportunity for many people. Yes, rich people are not so bad after all. A rich person’s trip would be a vacation paid out of the pocket of a private person’s account, not the U.S. Treasury.

 

Aside from the fact that spending all this money during one of the worst economic times in our nation’s history is in bad taste, why would the first lady go to Spain? Seriously, right now we need to focus on America - land of the free, home of the brave. Where’s the American pride campaign? Why is there no emphasis on how great our country is and how much we have to offer when it comes to tourism, natural beauty and amazing sites? Could Michelle Obama not have settled for a few more trips to American cities and states? How about Alaska?! Better yet, what about Laguna Beach - the Montage is absolutely gorgeous and would certainly satisfy Michelle’s 5-star tastes.

 

When the rest of the country is struggling to get by, banks are behaving badly and Wall Street gets a bailout while American families get locked out of their homes and futures, I would think that perhaps Mrs. Obama could have waited until all those “shovel-ready” jobs had been underway and the economy was more stable before she set out on an expensive, taxpayer paid trip abroad.

•••••

Amy Kramer is a wife, mom, president of Laguna Beach Republicans, and facilitates a conservative women’s group. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A skateboard ban will never work in skateboard heaven

Laguna Beach is more than a  “skateboard park.”  It is a skateboard heaven. The whole town is up and down, and people have been skateboarding here from the beginning when a skateboard was a piece of wood with a pair of old skates screwed on the front and back.

Certainly we need some good ideas in relation to safety on the really steep hills, but a ban will never work. Like one writer said it’s part of our culture and it ain’t going away.

Walking is not only great for the body but good for the spirit. Laguna’s neighborhood gardens, public parks, beaches and more than twenty canyons are a walker’s paradise. Try walking through Diamond Canyon on Diamond St. At the top of Diamond, a verdant, green garden grows just before you take the turn north and downhill. The trails in the greenbelt and Victory Walk in Laguna Canyon are great too.

Some of our canyons [are] Hobo, Diamond, Bluebird, Laguna and Boat canyon. Great destination parks and beaches include Crescent bay, Shaw’s Cove, beautiful Heisler Park, Main Beach, Bluebird park, Thalia St.,  Brooks St., Oak St. overlook, Mountain Dr., the “grand staircase” to Wood’s Cove, Aliso beach, West St. beach, Secret Cove, the Village Green in South Laguna, and Thousand Stairs.

Eat, pray if you like, love – but whatever you do, consider walking and skateboarding. It’s a way of life in Laguna Beach.

Roger Carter

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Looking down…not out

The photo on the front page of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot of August 6, 2010 was shot in such a manner as to maximize the visual impact of my solar electric panels. It was taken by standing up close to the bedroom window, looking down at the panels, not out at the view.  Most folks, when in their own bedroom, are actually sitting or lying down.  In which case, the subject solar panels or not blocking any ocean view, as there is no ocean view in these conventional positions, as the bottom windowsill is chest high.

On three different occasions I personally tried to invite [a neighbor] to participate in the pre-planning process before moving forward on the solar electric panel project.  She was the only neighbor whose ocean view might be affected and only partially from one window in her upstairs bedroom area. None of her ocean view was affected in the downstairs bedroom/living/deck area. Every time I attempted to converse with her on the topic of the solar electric system, it ended up with her yelling at me, cussing at me, and telling me “to shove the solar panels where the sun doesn’t shine.” During the actual installation of the system, [the neighbor], or her mother…yelled at, cussed at, harangued and insulted the installation crew at least every other day

Regarding her use of the term “platform,” there is none.  The panels sit on a racking system, a series of joined and connected 1¼” steel pipes.  The bottom edge of the lower portion of the panels is 1’2” above the level of our tar and gravel flat roof, and the top edge of the highest portion of the panels is 2’2” above the level of our tar and gravel flat roof.  Of the five different racking systems that were thoroughly explored prior to construction, two of them would not work with our roof joist/rafter system, a third system was too heavy for our roof, and of the remaining two, we purposely picked the lowest profile one out of concern for the [neighbors]. This particular racking system was also most costly to install of the five racking systems.

[The neighbor] contends that a 15% pitch of the panels (their amount of slope) is unnecessary.  First, the optimum slope for this part of the world is 20 degree, anything less reduces the overall performance of the system.  Again, entirely voluntarily, our panels are set at a 10 degree slope, thus reducing their height impact by about 10” and concurrently causing about a 5% reduction in performance of the system. [The neighbor] made a statement to the City Council that she talked to a solar “expert” who said that these panels could have been laid flat on the roof and still accomplished the same energy results to the homeowner.  These statements are not correct, nor are many other of her assertions.  Laying the panels flat or reducing the slope further would eventually create zero energy after about three to six months, due to local airborne particulates totally attaching/covering the solar panels’ surfaces and blocking out the sun’s rays.  This proposed “solution” is the equivalent of a permanent cloud cover.

The Federal and State governments have both created significant financial incentives to get homeowners to participate in this type of solar electric system.  It greatly reduces the amount of carbon dioxide dumped into the environment, reduces the demands on the current electric grids, and reduces the overall electric energy needs of states, cities and local communities.  People of Laguna will have to decide if all of these benefits and incentives outweigh the partial loss of a view corridor from one bedroom of one resident.

Jim Mouradick

Laguna Beach


Obituary

Don Williams photoDon Williamson

Former Pageant of the Masters Director and noted architect

A memorial service to celebrate Don’s life will be held on Friday, Aug 6 at 11 a.m. at the Forum Theater on the Festival grounds with a following reception at Tivoli Terrace. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the Sawdust Festival Benevolence fund and/or the Festival of Arts Scholarship fund.

Photos courtesy of Sharbie Higuchi

Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters

click on photos to enlarge

 

 

A Memorial to her Dad – by JENNIE RIKER

In the fall of 1913, deep in the heart of the Mexican Revolution, my father, Donald McLean Williamson, was born in Mexico City. Pancho Villa rode down their street, hell-bent for the Capitol, singing songs of rebellion. Ten days later, my grandparents, Marjorie and Richard, took him to a local police station to be registered as an American citizen. My father and his brothers and the generations to come would forever be bound by history and by love to Mexico.

They lived in the Capitol until the boys were ready for college, which for my Dad was the University of Wisconsin. After a stint there in the frozen northland, he ventured into Texas and Rice University, studying architecture, which had become his life’s passion. (But he hadn’t met Mom yet!)  Destiny would take the family to Pasadena, and the City of Angels, where Dad reaffirmed his true calling and graduated from USC School of Architecture. The first home he designed was for my grandparents right here in Laguna on Arroyo Chico.

Grandma had accepted the position of managing director of the old Laguna Playhouse on Ocean Ave. While Dad was still at USC, she was directing a play called “Outward Bound.” She had cast a beautiful young actress, who was earning a living as a bank teller at the Bank of America. (Frank Cuprien had a crush on her and brought her small paintings!). Grandma convinced Dad to come down and meet her leading lady, Josephine, destined to be my mother. They were married in 1940 and lived in Eagle Rock. During the war, Dad’s training brought him to Lockheed where he worked on the design of the revolutionary jet fighter, the P-80 Shooting Star.

In 1949, Don and Jo loaded the Ford station wagon with me, my little brother, Doug, and everything a young family gathers around it. They hit the old Pacific Coast Highway, bound for the town that would become their destiny. When Dad arrived, there were only a three architects here! It was a young man’s dream, with everything before him. A landscape to frame beautiful homes, a town to be loved and well tended.

His first architectural job was the Security Pacific Bank on Forest Ave. Soon to follow were many private residences, the El Morro School, the stage building, administration offices and Forum Theater at the Festival of Arts. In 1957, Dad’s vision for the Festival of Arts dining pavilion (now Tivoli Terrace) featured a dramatic hyperbolic paraboloid roof. It became a soaring reality that embodied his dreams, solid like the concrete from which it was made, but seeming to fly.

During these years, Don served on the City Planning Commission, the Playhouse Board of Directors, and the Festival of Arts board. He and my Mom, often under the direction of my Grandmother, acted in many memorable productions at the old Playhouse. As events came to pass, it was inevitable that Dad would finally take the reigns of Laguna’s emblem, the Pageant of the Masters, which he produced from 1964 to 1978. Under his innovative direction, the legendary show evolved.  It kept its charm, but was on the road to becoming the stunning attraction that we know today.

After a lifetime of inspiration to the town and it’s citizens, it was no surprise that [in 1993] Mom and Dad’s home would burn along with the hundreds of others…after all, they were here when our town was a fledgling village, and would remain an integral part of her rebuilding.  After the fires, Josephine left us, and not long after that, my brother Doug’s untimely death saddened the community. Then in 2005 it was Dad’s great honor to be selected “Citizen of the Year.” Riding through his beloved town was indeed a splendid event.

And with the dawn on Friday, July 23, 2010 in the final beautiful home he designed, his mighty heart at last gave ‘way to the mysteries of paradise.  We miss you already Dad, but imagine the joy you bring to those who were waiting for you.

Dad is survived by me (Jennie), as well as four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

 

Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

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