Mancuso will take the lead

Had enough of campaign literature? This year I got a shopping bag full; I got more “Vote for Dicterow” flyers than Tootsie Rolls in my Halloween candy.

Ever feel like Laguna politics is like sales hype to buy advice you don’t need? The first 3 bullets in Mayor Dicterow’s campaign literature are for police services, downtown and neighborhood patrols but no Lollipops. Our town must be at war. “Vote for Measure LL a Vital Services Measure” to provide more money for increased Police and ER calls, but eyed for tourist way-finding signs.

Meanwhile the LB Planning Commission hired city parking consultants IDI to figure out how to park 5700 cars in a town with good intentions - in the space for 3000 (October 18 City Agenda Item 12). IDI are experts in the analysis of 1970 parking requirements when Laguna had three car dealerships. Naturally IDI were selected to preserve Charm and Character because they use bigger computers.

Given their record with planning consultants will re-electing city council incumbents yield different results next year? Enough paper consultants, why don’t we hire local expertise and test our own ideas, that way we could sue ourselves if a Parklet goes bad.

We have had enough job programs for city staff, city delay and denial, join the Judie Mancuso campaign and let’s get the job done.

Stop the shenanigans at city hall: let’s have honest city government.

Stop obstructions by the city manager: start modern city policy, update the General Plan.

Stop pedestrian injuries at PCH: start traffic calming at Hip District, Broadway, The Urth Cafe.

Stop the pooping panhandlers: enforce our city ordinances or stop inviting irresponsible vagrants.

Stop professional public surveys for political agendas: start public education.

Unpack the Trojan horse: a “Welcome Entrance” means a modern transit depot, not a parking lot.

How about finishing Laguna sidewalks so residents are allowed car-free access to shopping? No more mobile phone dropouts. I don’t call Abu Dhabi so complete our phone network so that it friggin’ connects Laguna to itself. How about digital infrastructure that provides 50Mbps broadband?

Laguna Beach civic service is not a jobs program nor a retirement plan, that’s why Judie Mancuso has a 100 day Action-Plan to get the job done in Laguna Beach. She is ready to take the lead, give her your vote on November 8.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

OC Register and Mayor Dicterow

For anyone seeking a public position where responsibility and judgment matter, it is especially applicable to Laguna’s current Mayor up for re-election.

It is a matter of public record that Mr. Dicterow filed CH11 Bankruptcy in Sept ‘14. Approximately 6 months later the Bankruptcy trustee was back before the judge with a motion to force Mr. Dicterow into Ch7 (liquidation) because of his failure to follow-through on his commitments made during the Ch11 filing. Unsecured creditors getting 32 cents on the dollar over 5 years? 

Yet Mr. Dicterow tells the Editorial Board of the OC Register that the City should live within its means and they accept that and use it for grounds to endorse him and state: “Mayor Steve Dicterow has proven to be a true fiscal conservative”. 

The OCR Editorial Board has lost a good measure of its credibility and appearance of non-partisanship.

Your Vote tells much-it matters.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

Howard Hills tells Tyler:  Let audience decide

Tyler Russell’s selective written “highlights” regarding my FX 93.5 interview last Sunday assumes Stu News readers are unable to judge for themselves. 

It speaks volumes that the radio station manager wants the Stu News audience passively to accept his editorial filter and political spin on my interview as a School Board candidate instead of listening to the actual interview podcast.  

Instead I am the one who wants readers to hear the live radio interview. Apparently he believes Stu News reaches a larger audience than he can reach on FX 93.5. But going from radio to print makes it harder to get away with his misleading description of the interview.

Contrary to Russell’s false narrative, I had no difficulty answering the FX 93.5 co-host’s question about common core curriculum, I nailed it. But I was not about to be bullied by a cub reporter trying to bring religion and national party politics into a school board race, especially when he had not pulled the same cheap stunt on the other candidate.

If your readers listen to the actual show they can decide whether it was me or the co-host who became “frustrated” and could not “effectively answer.” When it became clear from his amateurish questions he is not a professional journalist, I simply turned the tables and interviewed him about his political agenda.

So let me invite the Stu News audience to visit and go to “Podcasts” click on “All Shows” then scroll down to “Laguna Round Table” and click on “Howard Hills – Jan Vickers.” 

My interview begins at Minute 42:00. I have supported FX 93.5 events and programming as a volunteer guest on several programs, but credibility in public affairs programming requires respecting journalistic standards and focusing honestly on issues rather than personalities.   

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

Supporting Vickers and Wolff

The School Board sets policies to protect and enhance our local public schools. As former board members, we undertook this responsibility, and we care deeply about the future of our schools. 

In considering the current school board candidates, we look for the following attributes: (1) Will the candidate work collaboratively to foster and create a supportive and productive education system? (2) Is the candidate knowledgeable about our schools? (3) Will the candidate show up prepared, courteous, open-minded, and committed to merit-based decisions that serve all students in Laguna schools? 

Based on the above attributes, we believe the best candidates for the job are Jan Vickers and Peggy Wolff. Jan Vickers offers a depth and breadth of knowledge about our schools that serves our schools well. She has worked effectively for our community for the past 20 years, and that experience is invaluable. Peggy Wolff offers practical knowledge as a community volunteer to the district, having given generously of her time and talents at our schools in many ways over the years. Wolff also has experience as a public classroom teacher and relates well to parents, students, teachers and staff.

Both of these candidates have been engaged with our public education system for many years and have taken the time to invest in our schools. They are knowledgeable and are hard working. And they both work harmoniously with school staff, parents and students. We endorse Jan Vickers and Peggy Wolff for the two open positions on the Laguna Beach school board. We encourage you to cast your vote for the real-world experience and levelheadedness of Peggy Wolff and Jan Vickers on November 8.

Betsy Jenkins

El Hathaway

Laguna Beach

Peggy Wolff shows up

Being present is a respectable and admirable trait for a school board candidate. Through my various volunteer positions, I have consistently seen Peggy Wolff not only show up and be involved in, but also take on leadership roles for, the schools, PTA, and SchoolPower. She is always present in body...and mind, not easily distracted from the task at hand. She is fair, non-exclusive, follows the rules and dedicated to providing the best learning environment for our kids. I feel that she would be a tremendous asset to our community as a school board member.

Sharael Kolberg

Laguna Beach

The role of City Treasurer

As your City Treasurer I’ve been privileged to serve my fellow citizens for the past 17 years. I’ve never forgotten that I serve at the pleasure of the voters, and that those votes must be earned.

I’m disappointed by the mean-spirited, misleading campaign waged by my challenger in this election, and would like to set the record straight.

Neither my opponent nor her supporters have suggested I’m unqualified, have performed poorly or acted unethically or inappropriately, instead claiming my professional credentials and experience are unnecessary for the job. This betrays a troubling lack of understanding of the responsibilities involved.

The Treasurer’s office isn’t a bookkeeping position. The City has a separate Finance Department, Director of Finance and bookkeepers to handle routine tasks like paying the bills and keeping the City’s books.

The Treasurer, however, is an important steward of the City’s fiscal health, operating within a complex regulatory framework of federal and state laws and an investment policy developed collaboratively by the City Manager, Department of Finance and Treasurer, and approved by the City Council. The Treasurer provides the check and balance that every government needs and it’s important that they have the advanced education and expertise to administer these complicated responsibilities.

As Treasurer I manage the City’s portfolio of $75 to $100 million in investments, depending on the time of year, which generated almost  $900,000 in revenue last year. I’ve performed CPA-caliber work for tough projects assigned by the Council.  As Administrator of Laguna’s assessment districts I’ve succeeded in saving Laguna taxpayers $1.4 million. These accomplishments reflect the value of my qualifications as an experienced CPA, Certified California Municipal Treasurer and Certified Fixed Income Practitioner.

While there have been no complaints about my performance it’s been claimed the City is paying too much for its Treasurer. But of Laguna’s entire $44 million budgeted 2016 payroll, the Treasurer’s office including administrative costs, salary and benefits represents only $160,000. The Treasurer’s hours and compensation are determined entirely by the Council, which for the past 16 years has rewarded my performance with Exceptional Performance Pay.

This challenging work is different every day but I always approach it with the goals of efficiency and Best Practices. I never forget that the ultimate goal is protecting the fiscal assets of Laguna’s citizens and producing excellent results for our City. I’m proud of my track record, and respectfully ask that you honor me with your votes so we may continue this good work together.

Laura Parisi

Laguna Beach

The facts about the Treasurer’s salary

There has been a lot of misinformation floating around about the City Treasurer, including the gross error of attributing the entire departmental budget to the Treasurer’s salary. There is publicly available documentation showing that of the $160,000 budget for the department, the salary is $77,400 – less than half.

The department will have expenses and benefits regardless of whom we elect, and voters deserve accurate facts to make a fully informed decision next week. Misstatements like this should not happen. I also know Laura as a Rotarian. She has always been an active participant in many of our fundraisers and other activities like our dictionary program, Thanksgiving dinners we put together for 90 well deserving families and other projects.

In this election there is only one person who is qualified: sitting Treasurer Laura Parisi, CPA. Under her 17-year stewardship, City funds have grown and there has been consistently accurate, transparent reporting to the City and its taxpayers. Laura has always served us very well and I have no doubt that she will continue to do so.  

The caliber of the treasury professionals who have endorsed Laura is further proof of her superior qualifications. They include former County Treasurer (and current State Senator) John Moorlach; former state treasurer Bill Lockyer; the Orange County Superintendent of Schools;  Al Mijares, Ph.D.; Orange County Auditor Controller Eric Woolery, CPA;  Andy Dunn, Ed.D.: Gary Capata, CPA, Chairman of the Orange County Treasury Oversight Committee, and of course Retired Laguna Beach Treasurer Susan Morse.  

These professionals have endorsed Laura. I am voting for Laura Parisi, CPA for City Treasurer and I encourage you to do the same.

John L. Campbell, CPCU

Laguna Beach

Why we are voting for Laura Parisi, CPA for City Treasurer

We are voting for Laura Parisi because she is a CPA and has SEC and industry experience.  Rather than viewing these credentials as negatives for the city, we view them as positives.  Not only has Laura been professionally trained, with the experience and expertise to perform the duties required, she also brings independence and integrity to the treasury position.  

The cost of the treasury function has been questioned in campaign materials and we agree it is always good civic duty to question the compensation of our public servants.  We would like to know how much of a savings would result from a change in personnel at the position and at what cost to the City in terms of experience and expertise?

We are aware that in December 2015 Laura was awarded additional pay by the City Council for professional services she was asked by the City to perform that were outside of her normal responsibilities and duties.  Our understanding is that the work related to changes required to be made to certain mandatory disclosures the City previously had made to the SEC that were discovered to be in error.  The City wisely obtained the Treasurer’s expertise at a rate of $60 per hour, which is considerably less than it would have paid for outside consultants.

At the City Council meeting awarding the Treasurer the additional pay, council members made various relevant observations about the process.   One council member asked what we believe are the pertinent questions—why was the Treasurer asked to do this work and how did the errors happen?  To our knowledge, those questions (and we would add another, what has been done to ensure the City does not get into a similar position again?) have yet to be answered in a public forum.

Campaign materials being distributed cite Laura’s expertise and experience as negatives.  In our opinion, Laura’s expertise and experience have proved critical to the City of Laguna Beach in the past and are two of the reasons we are voting for her.

Mary Locatelli, CPA

Robin K. Hall, CPA

Laguna Beach

A question of risk: McGraw or Parisi?

I just received a slick postcard in the mail, urging me to vote for Anne McGraw for City Treasurer.

On the card, Ms. McGraw asked if I realized that we’re paying nearly $160,000 annually for the current Treasurer of Laguna Beach. Frankly I don’t think anyone realizes how much any City employee makes, but it inspired me to go to the City’s website to check out the big picture. 

Turns out that what we pay our City Treasurer, including benefits is a minuscule portion of the City’s entire payroll, which is budgeted at over $44 million dollars a year.  

Ms. McGraw went on to promise that she would do the same job as our current Treasurer at a much lower cost. The savings in the context of the City’s payroll would be virtually nothing. But the cost in experience and security would be far higher, and a big risk! 

If we replace our existing treasurer, Laura Parisi, a CPA and Certified Municipal Treasurer with many years experience in government finance, with a bookkeeper who’s never worked in the public sector, we should absolutely pay less. But we’d get what we pay for, which would be someone with zero experience in the complex management of almost $100 million of our – the citizens – money.

Thanks for the postcard – you’ve convinced me that voting to re-elect Laura Parisi as City Treasurer is the only way to go.

Rick Gold

Laguna Beach

CPA qualification important for Treasurer position

Obviously Laura Parisi’s opponent for City Treasurer does not know what training is involved with a CPA designation. She keeps on insisting that all a CPA does is taxes and that is why we do not need a CPA as treasurer in Laguna Beach. If the position of City Treasurer’s duties was only to do the bookkeeping, why is it an elected position?  

Our City currently has a bookkeeper on staff. I believe the intent of an elected treasurer is to be able to audit and watch over the people of Laguna’s money. This means that that a Treasurer should be able to audit financial records from our City Finance and Accounting department.  

Although I am not a CPA, I currently work for a CPA and my sister is a CPA. Laura Parisi as a CPA has consistently found errors with our Cities “non-CPA” City Finance and Accounting staff. That is why we need a CPA and not a bookkeeper. Please join me in voting for experience. For the record, this is not personal, Ms. McGraw, this is about qualifications and experience. Don’t you think it is time that we let Ms. Parisi know what a great job she has done for the last 17 years for Laguna Beach?

Nancy Miller, CPM

Laguna Beach

Uber not welcome in Laguna?

I live in Laguna Beach and recently started driving for Uber. I like driving and enjoy meeting many of my fellow Laguna Beach citizens as they often need rides from work and from many of our local businesses they enjoy. Among these local businesses are our restaurants and bars. Lots of times we get crowded parking and streets full of cars looking for parking and so we have what many of us appreciate, the free trolleys, taxi cabs and of course Uber and Lyft drivers. 

These all help us as citizens of Laguna Beach reduce the inconvenience of having to find parking and most importantly avoid drinking and driving and maybe to a lesser degree, parking tickets. Many of our fellow Orange County residents also enjoy these amenities for the same reasons when they come to our city. I’d say 50% of my passengers are from out of town and trust me, I get a lot of people who we should be grateful are not trying to make it home on our streets driving on their own. 

That’s why I’m wondering as a Laguna Beach resident and UberX driver why I’d be given a “double Parking ticket without so much as a warning or “move it along” when picking up passengers from our famous Sandpiper Lounge. A Traffic Accident Investigator on our police force has taken it either upon himself or following orders from his superiors to stand on the corner of Brooks and PCH and write “double parking” citations for drivers who have arrived to carry home those who need a ride. 

My question is, are revenues so low, are DUI and traffic accidents so infrequent that the officer has been reduced to scaring away taxis, Uber and Lyft drivers out of town? The reason I ask is because when I pulled up to the corner of Brooks and PCH, he was there standing in the crosswalk walk causing many motorists to become confused on whether he was going to cross the street or not. Many other police vehicles were at that intersection too so I felt safe enough to pull up and wait for my passengers and look for any guidance and assistance from our police as to where I ought to go if I’m not supposed to be waiting where I am. I made eye contact with him and I was relieved that he was coming to help me...but no such luck, he told me to stay there so he could do the “I’m going to write you a ticket”. I asked as my face went from a smile to a bewildered dolt “what for?”, he said “double parking” as if he was writing them all night for Uber and Lyft drivers! My passengers had just arrived at that very moment and climbed in. They were not very happy with the officer either. They laid into him pretty good while I asked them to please not make things any worse. Who knows what he’ll find wrong with my car next or maybe bump my citation up to “Impeding traffic”?

So now of course I’m forced to wait at the very spot I’m violating as he writes me a parking ticket. He asked “so you’re Uber” and I said “yes” and he nodded finished the final touches on my ticket in which I’ll be forced to pay $43.

Is this what we should come to expect from now on? No friendly warnings from a police department I’m proud of, well up til now? Are revenues and traffic accidents at such a low that we as Laguna Beach citizens are now treated like flies caught in a spider web of “gotcha”?

What happened to the “friendliest cops in the world” I always bragged about? Don’t get me wrong, the officer was not in any way disrespectful or mean. He just wasn’t helpful to me and I think message was, Uber isn’t welcome in Laguna Beach.

Greg Randall

Laguna Beach

Be kind after Tuesday

Now that we are entering the final weekend of the presidential campaign, I am urging my friends, whose anxiety levels are reaching all-time highs, to remember this: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”  

It’s a great concept to keep in mind as we head toward election day. It may prove even more meaningful after Tuesday’s results.  

As far as this sixty-something father of three is concerned, we Americans are going to have to make a sobering choice. We will either put our differences behind us as generous, thoughtful and respectful citizens or stoke the flames of discord as selfish, mean and disrespectful people.  

One calls for immediate triage while the other encourages prolonged confrontation. I’d like to think one is healthy and the other is not. After such a long and negative campaign, it will be time to begin the healing process.That, my friends, will take kindness.  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Setting the record straight about Parisi

Misrepresentations are circulating about compensation paid by the City to our treasurer, Laura Parisi. Let’s set the record straight. Your vote should be based on truth, not exaggeration and misinformation. 

Laura’s base salary is $6450 per month ($77,400 per year), plus the benefits other City employees receive. For the last several years the Council granted her exceptional performance pay, up to 5 percent, and Laura has also taken the additional responsibility of reviewing our hotel bed tax, the Transient Occupancy Tax. 

In 2015, the City chose Laura to resolve a complex accounting problem. She spent hundreds of hours correcting an error the City (not Laura) made on a document submitted to the federal government.  Neither the City or the outside auditor caught the error. It was discovered by our new auditing firm. Regardless of the responsibility, it had to be addressed. Laura had the skill set and we asked her to complete the task.   

The Laguna Beach City Council selected a subcommittee to determine appropriate compensation for Laura’s work.  Steve Dicterow and I, as the subcommittee, recognized that we did not have the expertise to understand the complexity of this task and what was necessary to correct the errors. We sought a respected local CPA to determine whether Laura›s request for compensation was appropriate.  He confirmed that her request was appropriate.  And he added that if we were forced to use an outside firm, the cost would have been much higher.   

Other comments have surfaced in an attempt to malign Laura’s reputation and integrity. Remarkably she’s been accused of being overqualified. Doesn’t Laguna deserve the most qualified to serve us? Not only is Laura a CPA, she is the only CPA working at the City. She has the training to be a Watchdog for the City and the Public.

Cities without this independent and qualified oversight run increased risks of improper handling of funds. Recently millions of dollars were embezzled  from the City of Placentia.

What a shame it would be to lose Laura as our Treasurer.

Toni Iseman

Mayor ProTem

Laguna Beach

Duties of City Treasurer have grown

Having served as Laguna Beach’s City Treasurer for 18 years, I can confirm that the duties and responsibilities of the position have grown significantly. With the growth that we enjoy, comes increased responsibility for the Office of the Laguna Beach Treasurer.

Laura Parisi has managed these increases very well with few resources. According to her Personnel Action Form, she has 25 hours per week at a monthly salary of $6,450 ($77,400 annually) to complete the investing, banking and assessment district administration responsibilities. Councils have voted to give her Exceptional Performance Pay this year and for many prior years. She receives the same benefits as other management employees at the director level.

The misrepresentations by her opponent were misleading as was the 2016 report by Mr. Flannery that ignored the critical role of the treasurer to serve as an internal control for our money. This point was sadly proven in an incidence of embezzlement that occurred only a couple of months later in one of the three cities cited that had a nominal role for the elected treasurer.

Because this is an elected position, it is very important that the City Treasurer have the knowledge and experience to carry on the duties of the office without interference from others. If an inexperienced person were to be elected, they would need to rely on the City Manager for advice and the independence, so critical to this position and the checks and balances, would be lost.

Laura Parisi has the experience, excellent qualifications, and takes her duties extremely seriously.

I urge you to vote for her.

Susan Morse

Retired City Treasurer

Laguna Beach

City treasurer more than a bookkeeper

Obviously Laura Parisi’s opponent for City Treasurer does not know what training is involved with a CPA designation. She keeps on insisting that all a CPA does is taxes and that is why we do not need a CPA as treasurer in Laguna Beach. If the position of City Treasurer’s duties was only to do the bookkeeping, why is it an elected position? Our City currently has a bookkeeper on staff. I believe the intent of an elected treasurer is to be able to audit and watch over the people of Laguna’s money. This means that that a Treasurer should be able to audit financial records from our City Finance and Accounting department.  Although I am not a CPA, I currently work for a CPA and my sister is a CPA. Laura Parisi as a CPA has consistently found errors with our City’s “non-CPA” City Finance and Accounting staff. That is why we need a CPA and not a bookkeeper. Please join me in voting for experience. For the record, this is not personal, Ms. McGraw, this is about qualifications and experience. Don’t you think it is time that we let Ms. Parisi know what a great job she has done for the last 17 years for Laguna Beach?

Nancy Miller, CPM

Laguna Beach

Treasurer budget a surprise

I was surprised that the current city treasurer has an annual budget of over $6,000 for conferences, professional associations and reimbursement for her certifications required for maintaining her CPA. The elected, part-time treasurer position does not require a CPA, has no taxation duties and is budgeted 25 hours per week— a lot more than most cities with similar work loads. The elected city treasurer position was never meant to be a full-time career.

Instead, the position has been expanded over 17 years to the point that the council has had to vote to restrict the hours.  

It’s time for voters to assess whether to elect a candidate who has a proven ability to handle the investments, assessment districts and banking functions on budget. Anne McGraw has served the banking and bookkeeping needs of large, local clients for 18 years. Prior to that she was a bank manager and has years of experience working with regulators and small business people.  

Laguna Beach voters are financially literate and understand that the state-required annual audits and internal checks and balances of the city’s investments go beyond one elected official. Vote for Anne McGraw for Change That Makes Sense.

Beth Renner

Laguna Beach

Best paid part-time work

As a newer resident of Laguna Beach I have been intrigued by the treasurers race. I was frankly shocked to learn that the treasurer, a 25-hour/ week city staff position was making $150,000 per year.  

The current treasurer has asked, as recently as February of this year, to make this a full- full time position indicating the role had become larger and more complex. Upon further investigation, I discovered that she made the very same request in 2007. A consultant’s report provided to the city council on February 23, 2016 concluded:

1. The position of City Treasurer in the City of Laguna Beach should not be a full-time position.

2.The 2015-16 budget authorization of 25 hours/week should be more than sufficient to perform the required functions.”

He also made an additional observation - “Compared to other cities, the incumbent City Treasurer spends a great deal of time (80 hours per year) on continuing education/professional activities. The city’s current budget for these is $6,800, which is far more than the next highest reported amount ($1,180) of the three survey cities. Huntington Beach, a far bigger organization, budgets $3,600 For City Treasurer conferences and training. My experience is that such meetings are of little or marginal value to the individual cities.”

The current treasurer claims that a CPA is makes her more qualified to do this role. While a CPA is a distinguished designation, it is irrelevant to the treasurer role as the treasurer has no involvement with tax.  

The current city treasurer has also claimed she is a savvy investor and has provided superior investment returns. The California Government Code Sections 53600 seq. and California local agency investment guidelines prescribe where cities are allowed to invest. Security of the asset is the primary objective, so there is not a lot of savvy that can make a difference.

This is what happens when a role becomes more than it was intended. When someone holds office without challenge, the office can become a self-serving bureaucracy. The only campaign the incumbent treasurer has run in her tenure has been to campaign to change the role from part-time to full-time. Perhaps if she spent more time on being the Treasurer vs spending time on her outside education and professional activities she wouldn’t be overburdened in her role. This is an elected position  - not an entitlement.

For the first time in 17 years, the citizens of Laguna Beach have a choice to improve efficiency, transparency and to have someone who is accountable to them. In addition, a new treasurer would come in at a significantly lower cost.

Anne McGraw is an experienced professional with a long history of putting her clients first. She has a demonstrated track record of doing work on time, within budget and accurately. I think we need a change and that change is Anne McGraw.

Greg Mech

Laguna Beach

Will the Bush first ladies vote for Clinton?

Now that First Lady Michelle Obama has shared a stage with Hillary Clinton, several of my Laguna friends finally have decided to vote for Sec. Clinton next week. I think that’s a wise move, especially considering Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women.

Trump’s disgusting remarks have been met with a variety of responses from GOP elders, office holders, and rank and file voters.  

One of the most interesting is the one from Nebraska First Lady Susanne Shore. She’s now with Hillary, despite the fact her husband, the state’s governor, still supports The Donald.

Other women, like New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, Utah Rep. Mia Love and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, have called for Trump to step down as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. The two responses I am waiting for the most are from former first ladies Barbara and Laura Bush.

Former first ladies have a long history of involvement in presidential elections. The first was Lucretia Garfield, who endorsed Theodore Roosevelt’s third-party run in 1912. Then there was Edith Wilson, who refused to endorse any of Franklin Roosevelt’s four terms, although Teddy Roosevelt’s widow, also an Edith, surprised many when she came out for Herbert Hoover in 1932.

More recently, Mamie Eisenhower not only campaigned for Ike’s vice president Richard Nixon in 1968, she was featured in a campaign commercial in 1972. And Jacqueline Kennedy?  She supported then-Sen. Ted Kennedy›s (D-Mass.) run against incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980.

So the streets are littered with endorsements from first ladies. If Barbara and Laura Bush were to publicly break party ranks and vote for Hillary, daughters and granddaughters everywhere would have plenty to talk about for decades.

Like I tell my kids, “It’s best to be an American first and a card-carrying partisan second.” I hope the Bush first ladies take my message to heart.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Laguna’s radio station gets an earful

Tyler Russell here, founder of your friendly local radio station KX 93.5. 

This week, KX 93.5 became involved with local politics in a major way. We hosted an on-air, interactive forum for the four City Council Candidates, and we hosted a Q&A with Laguna Beach School Board candidates Howard Hills and Jan Vickers. As one might expect with politics, both of these segments were met with controversial opinions, so I wanted to take an opportunity to highlight a couple of instances and explain why it’s so important that the radio station be involved in election forums. 

Incident #1: During last Sunday’s School Board conversation, one of our volunteer hosts, Thor Erickson, asked candidate Hills to state his opinion on Common Core and explain whether his past record of donating to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher or his longtime political activism would influence his opinion or his ability to hold a non-partisan office. This led to Hills becoming increasingly frustrated and telling our host that he was out of line with his questioning, that his past politics had nothing to do with his current candidacy. 

Incident #2: During last Monday’s City Council forum, our moderator, Billy Fried, opened the segment by addressing what he called the “elephant” in the room. He asked candidate Judie Mancuso if she could point to a specific example of Mayor Steve Dicterow’s recently documented financial troubles causing him to not do his job as a councilperson effectively. After a bit of pressure, Mancuso responded that she wasn’t prepared to comment on that. Fried says he felt it was necessary to ask this question since Mancuso, the week prior, had expressed concern over Dicterow’s finances in public comment at a City Council meeting. 

Both of these incidents have caused backlash. Mr. Hills tells me he can’t trust KX 93.5 anymore. One Mancuso supporter tells me our moderator was “condescending, rude, and borderline sexist,” and that she no longer wants to support KX 93.5 and hopes we are short-lived. 

Ok, whoa. Let’s take a step back here. 

Our non-profit radio station’s mission is to “connect Laguna Beach with an open-door policy that allows the exposure of musicians, non-profits, and community interests.” We are not a mouthpiece for anyone. We do not have our own agenda that we are trying to impart. We are not targeting or witch hunting individuals. We know we are opening ourselves up to some controversy by getting involved in local politics, but we thought it was important to host live, unrehearsed conversations with our candidates. 

I defend both of our moderators’ questions. They were within their journalistic right to ask those, perhaps tough, queries. No ethics are in question, no FCC violations occurred, and I don’t think there was any evident bias. Our moderators did their homework, investigated the candidates’ backgrounds and recent activity, and asked questions that they thought the community would be interested in knowing the answers to. If a candidate can’t answer effectively, wouldn’t a voter want to know that? If a candidate is going to lose his temper on live radio, wouldn’t a voter want to know that he is capable of that? 

Radio is the only platform that would reveal those actions. Anger or unwillingness to answer would not be evident with the words “no comment” in a print story. So, for that, I am proud that our town has a medium that can host these types of unfiltered conversations during election season. It’s the beauty of live radio. 

And, as far as one listener not wanting to “support our station” after these occurrences, shame on you. We do not receive any monetary benefit from hosting these forums. Our moderators, who I think did an excellent job, are volunteering their time. And these forums are less than 1% of what our station has accomplished in our four-year history in Laguna Beach. I wouldn’t stop reading Stu News because I don’t like one line in one story. I would hope our listeners are mature enough to realize it’s OK to dislike one on-air occurrence but not judge our entire radio station as a whole, which I think is more engrained in this community than ever.

KX 93.5 will not be short-lived. Myself, our staff, and our 100+ volunteer hosts are committed to being a voice of our town, even if that can sometimes be divisive. 

Tyler Russell

Laguna Beach

Support Steve Dicterow for re-election

I am writing in response to recent articles related to accusations and innuendos pertaining to my friend and this City’s current Mayor, Steve Dicterow.

I have known and worked with Steve for over 30 years in numerous community capacities - including well before either one of us served in any position related to Laguna Beach city government. I have known him to be one of the most honest and decent people I have ever known.  

I find the comments and actions by a current council candidate and her supporters to be absolutely abhorrent.  Most of us in our lives have fallen on personal hard times at one time or another.  Why take something horrible that happened to someone several years ago, who was trying to do their best given the circumstances for their family, and who handled their situation within the letters of the law and with the upmost integrity - and drag it all out three weeks prior to a local election?  I’ll tell you why:  because some folks will stoop to any level to win.  If that means hurting another person or family and smearing their name in the most negative of lights all over town, then all the better, as far as they’re concerned

Now certain people in Laguna have sunk to the level of our national election. Who would ever want to run for office in our town again after this?

Don’t let them win.  Support Steve Dicterow for re-election.  He has been dedicated to this community for decades and has worked like a dog for our City.  Show these people that this is not how things are done in Laguna Beach.

Elizabeth Pearson

Former Laguna Beach Mayor

Vickers and Wolff “show up”

Have you heard the phrase; “the first secret of successful leadership is showing up”? It’s really no secret. Showing up enhances knowledge and perspective, and it shows one cares. 

I am reminded of this phrase when considering the school board candidates. 

Two of the candidates, Jan Vickers and Peggy Wolff, show up. Jan has been a thoughtful member of the school board for many years. Peggy has been a leader in PTA and SchoolPower. I have served with both Jan and Peggy on numerous education committees since my sons (the youngest is now a LBHS senior) were young. 

By showing up, it’s clear to me, Jan and Peggy understand the needs and goals of our schools, and they care deeply about our students and families.

Lynn Gregory

Laguna Beach

Grateful to Peggy Wolff

If you’ve been around our schools for the past dozen years, you may already know Peggy Wolff. She’s a tireless volunteer and respected by parents, teachers, administrators, and staff. 
If you’re familiar with our PTA, you know that with child advocacy as our mission, Peggy’s incredible leadership and organizational skills clearly support why she was elected president at both TOW and Thurston (twice). 

Families with children in our district value and trust Peggy as a leader.

If you’re aware of SchoolPower, and the critical financial support this organization offers our district, you would know that it is no coincidence Peggy had been asked to serve on its Executive Board as VP of Governance. If you’ve worked with Peggy, as I have, you already know she’s knowledgeable about our schools; she collaborates effectively; she comes prepared; she is professional; she is fair; and she has all children’s best interests at heart.

I am grateful to Peggy for all that she has given to our kids and appreciative that she is willing to continue her volunteer efforts on our School Board. 

Tammy Skenderian

Laguna Beach


Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

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