Who is responsible…?

Who is responsible for property that is for sale/in foreclosure and/or up
for a short sale?

The property next to my home has been on the market for years now. Every
spring, the dates from the big tree that is on that property fall by the
hundreds on to my patio and in my flowerbeds. This spring the dry palm
fronds were not trimmed nor were the huge clusters of dates removed.  The
owner did not respond to a request for trimming.

I’ve seen rats run down the tree onto my fence and one of the tenants on the property had them running past her front door.  Dried fronds have been hanging over the chimney on the top of the back apartment.

I called the listing agent at Coldwell Banker to see if she could contact
the owner to deal with this situation.  The day of the big rain this week,
several 12-15 ft fronds fell into my patio along with more date pods.  I was
told that the owner wasn’t interested in keeping up the property (although
he still collects rent from his tenants), that the bank was in charge now
and that Coldwell Banker couldn’t do anything since they are not property

So...just who is responsible for this property?  Is there a city or county
department that can enforce any applicable codes relating to this type of
situation?  Fortunately no one was on the patio to get whacked on the head
when the fronds fell - and they are heavy with the potential for physical
harm.  The mess is still there.

Safety hazard; fire hazard; I sense that I am not the only property owner in Laguna faced with a similar dilemma.

Would love an answer!

Carole Zavala

Laguna Beach

Nancy Hamm

Nancy HammWe’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. I’m certain this is true but raising one with additional needs is more like running a corporation. It requires a team of experts of which I am the CEO and our product is my son and family.

I’m pretty certain that most mothers can identify with this role. It is one that has been forced upon us and although we lacked a lot of choice it is one that we take on with great seriousness. We become expert micromanagers balancing the kids, house, husband, pets and ourselves. I’m often left wondering how on earth it all gets done.

Just a month into the school year I get the feeling that most mothers are breathing a sigh of relief that their children are settled and adjusted. They can finally have a moment to catch up on a life they put on hold over the summer. I on the other hand have yet to find my rhythm. The first month has not gone as smoothly as I would have liked, although maybe it is naiveté that leads me to believe that once my son is in school I should feel a sense of relief. Each day has been nothing but nail biting stress trying to assess my child’s unique set of needs while devising strategies with teachers and therapists. So now a month into the school year I am addressing department heads to figure out what needs streamlining, where glitches may be occurring and where reinforcements are needed.

While I focus all of my energies on this one tiny human I am neglecting all other aspects of my life. I can never take away my child’s disability but I can sure as hell make sure that he has every opportunity and leads the fullest life possible. It is a rare person that is able to effectively compartmentalize each aspect of life. More likely when one thing gets bumpy everything else follows suit. I am no different.

However, it is on days like today when I am up before dawn and am just able to catch my breath late in the evening that I know my life is full.  Yes, at the moment full of a lot of stress, commitment and obligations but also full of creation. Watching my son grow and develop in spite of the challenges he faces is my motivation. Everything I do today is to make tomorrow brighter not only for him but for everyone in my family. I have dreams for me too and though it is often a struggle finding time for them, each day is a step in realizing them. However small it may seem it’s all an effort to bring us forward.

But now is my time to rest, my time to give to my soul. While my husband is at a seminar and my son is asleep in his bed, I will have time with a friend. We will laugh, talk and share our week’s worth of news.

For now I will ignore the cat drinking from my water glass, the smell of urine emanating from the couch (potty training mishaps) and the laundry piled high in the corner of my bedroom. For now I will lay back and relax and most definitely flight the urge to sleep.


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

Educating skateboarders on safety

I read with interest Carey Strombotne’s letter about a skateboard close encounter. Being the parent of a downhiller, I would like to let you know I agree with many of your issues.  I would first like to let you know, as you will read in this week’s local papers, that we addressed the “over confidence and emboldened” issues (Friday), at a safety and etiquette meeting at my own home, with over 25 of the town’s most prominent skaters.

As a parent, I regulate where my son rides, and all of the original proposed banned streets get a thumbs down for our son to ride. At the safety meeting we really tried to stress caution, traffic rules and behavioral etiquette. The kids have told us that they are talented and “know what they are doing”. But I also agree that having these minors make life-altering decisions is disconcerting.

The answer is; there really is no answer.  If you ban skateboarders, than why not other wheeled vehicles?  If we ban one hill, than why not another?  If we ban all slopes, we create an outlaw mentality that will tax our police force and make the activity even more dangerous.  It really is a slippery slope. As far as your liability questions, I am not a lawyer and cannot comment.

My son belongs to two racing clubs IGSA and SDDRL.  In private talks, with some of the more aggressive riders, we encouraged them to practice cautiously here on our public streets, and let it all hang out on closed course, controlled environments, that these racing leagues provide.  I am only one dad.  I coach my own son on safety every day, and try to include as many of the other riders as possible.  Nobody is allowed to ride outside my house without a helmet and all are encouraged to stop at stop signs.  I spend endless hours driving them to competitions and safe environments to perform their passion.  I can only encourage that other parents and mentors get involved to help teach these kids how to use the roadways responsibly.  Please continue to be alert behind the wheel of your car. Your “Share the Road” mentality is much appreciated.  I just wanted you to know, there are concerned people on the other end, spending a lot of energy to help prevent a catastrophe from happening.

Chad Gibbs
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Police Employees Assn endorses the incumbents

I am pleased to announce the endorsement by the Laguna Beach Police Employees Association of Mayor Pearson, Pro-tem Mayor Iseman and Councilman Boyd for City Council.

Over the past four years I have had the limited opportunity to work with these three incumbent Council Members and feel confident that each of them supports its’ Public Safety employees.  From Kelly attending the retirement of one of my members who served the City and its residents, visitors and businesses for over twenty-five years, to Elizabeth publicly commenting recently that the Public Safety employees do an outstanding job in customer service to Toni and her commitment to Public Safety, the LBPEA sees no other people who can serve the community of Laguna Beach and my members better.

As a thank you to their support and to show our future support for Kelly, Elizabeth and Toni, the LBPEA will be hosting a meet and greet from 4-6 pm on October 20th at Ristorante Rumari in Laguna Beach. There will be a light dinner and a no-host bar.  All are welcome to stop by, say hello to the LBPEA and City Council candidates Pearson, Iseman and Boyd.  Any questions about the event contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Larry Bammer

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”

This is an open letter to all Americans, please watch the 1939 Classic movie, “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” before voting. Thanks to TCM for showing it again. This movie exemplifies the recurring state of our Nation. It is so full of current analogies and truths that it could have been yesterday and today. Hey Oliver Stone, what are you waiting for?

Once Jimmy Stewart is appointed Senate Nominee and is being sworn in, I would suggest it made into Law that all Senators be sworn in yearly, to remember their sworn words, ‘to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic... and to refrain from evasion of...’

While watching, please keep in mind which party of today is represented by which characters and to judge for yourselves the value of the Laws of America and the Art of deception.

Consider please who today reminds you of the ‘bought’ Claude Rains, or the Media mogul character James Taylor, who owns all Media, or who reminds you of Jimmy Stewart, a new, honest, ideological new Senator, hmmm, I wonder what could have happened if he didn’t win the Presidency...and maybe listened to a James Taylor, character a little too much...

Or how about Jean Arthur, Clarissa Sanders, doesn’t she remind you of the ones that stood by the Senator, helped coach and catch the flack, with no official title other than Aide? Wasn’t she one of the grassroots organizations that all the people that helped the ‘regular’ people to understand Hope and the importance of the vote?

Then the Boys, the Boy Ranger’s, wow, aren’t they the innocents, who were working for all, fighting for something better, ‘Loving Thy Neighbor’.

Which party today represents whom? Even when Taylor’s gangs started crashing trucks into the boys and dominating the news and sending phony Telegrams to the Senate, does it sound familiar? Darn right it does.

Jimmy Stewart almost believes it when the phony Telegrams were delivered, but ‘Bucks Up’ and stands up for his belief and his oath of office, then Claude Rains breaks down and confesses his corruption. I don’t expect any contemporary Senator to have that much Class, but I can hope.

Please watch Mr. Smith goes to Washington. It’ll do you some good, maybe the Country too.

Mark L. Miller
Laguna Beach

Disgusted by the negativity

Regarding this year’s City Council election: I am disgusted by the negativity and arrogance that Emanuel Patrascu has brought to Laguna Beach’s campaign season.  A newly arrived, 29-year-old, self-described fan of Sarah Palin, “Tax Hike Mike” Huckabee, and Paris Hilton who has apparently voted in Laguna only since 2008, he believes he is better qualified to serve Laguna Beach than our three current incumbents.

Where did he come from?  How has he helped Laguna Beach?  What has he accomplished in our community?  Mr. Patrascu has scant qualifications for office and a nasty habit of making up his “facts” as he goes along.

The centerpiece of his campaign is to attack the entire City Council, whether his attacks are factual or not.

First, he sent out an e-mail with the false accusation that our current Council raised property taxes in one year by 11%.  They didn’t and couldn’t since the passage of Prop 13 in 1978.

His next generation of e-mails (and a postcard left on our doorstep) claimed that the uptick in Laguna’s crime rate is unacceptable.  According to Police Dept. data, Laguna’s crime rate declined in 2009 vs. 2008, and even more dramatically so far in 2010 vs.’09.  His accusation is an insult to our fine police department.

He has compared our $580-per-month Council Members to the Council Members in Bell because they obtain healthcare benefits in their additional role as Board Members of the Laguna Beach County Water District.  (I checked; they do not receive any other pay for serving on the Water Board.)  This is an interesting tack for Mr. Patrascu to take, especially as a politically appointed California public employee compensated with taxpayer dollars, who also receives a generous suite of benefits that most of us can only envy.

Another inaccuracy:  he attacks the City for 70% of its annual budget being for salaries and benefits, when the number is actually closer to 50%.

He says that he is a “small business owner”, but his business is in Newport Beach, not Laguna Beach.   His small business is a political consulting firm whose website describes Patrascu and his two partners as “heavily engaged political operatives” and one of his business partners even claims that he is a “political and social media hired gun.”

Mr. Patrascu’s big-city political dirty tricks and deliberate untruths might work in Sacramento but they don’t play well in Laguna Beach.

Let’s re-elect Kelly Boyd, Toni Iseman and Elizabeth Pearson.  These public servants have proven they’ve “got our back” and we need them to continue to work on our behalf.

A concerned Laguna resident

Tracy Brink

Laguna Beach

Re-elect Pearson, Boyd and Iseman

I want to encourage all Laguna Beach voters to re-elect Elizabeth Pearson.  I worked closely with Elizabeth during the past 5 years as the City undertook the Bluebird Canyon landslide recovery project.  The landslide threatened to have a major impact on the City’s ability to provide services and fiscal stability.  Under her leadership, the City restored the public infrastructure – and the neighborhood – with no general fund expenditure, no impact on services and a substantial disaster contingency fund to help the City weather any future disaster.

During the 5-year recovery project, Elizabeth proved that she is more than a fiscally prudent and responsive Council member who cares deeply about our City and is willing to work tirelessly with her colleagues and the community to maintain the City’s charm and its strong financial footing.  Elizabeth also demonstrated her compassion – forging close, lasting and genuine relationships with many landslide victims as she personally worked to help them put their lives back together.

We have a great City Council, and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Kelly Boyd and Toni Iseman for their hard work on the Bluebird Canyon landslide, the homeless issue and the Community Center – to name just a few of their achievements.

Please join me in voting for Elizabeth, Kelly and Toni…they deserve our thanks and our support.

Robert Burnham

Laguna Beach

Close call – too close – on Temple Hills Drive

It’s not that I dislike skateboarding, or even skateboarders for that matter. It’s just that I do not want to hurt or kill anybody. I don’t want my husband, my teenage sons, my neighbors or friends killing or hurting anybody, either. But something terrible could happen to one of those downhill skaters if something isn’t done to stop them.

Yesterday [Wednesday], driving up Temple Hills Dr around 5 p.m., I had just come around the hairpin turn and was continuing up the hill. Right past Cerritos Drive, two downhill skaters came screaming around the corner. No joke, I’m sure they must have been going about 50 mph. They were going so fast, that when they passed me, the wheels of their skateboards made a sickeningly weird whizzing sound as they went by.

Luckily, I was not distracted, and was driving fairly slowly, because suddenly one of the boys swerved into my lane, right in front of me! He then reached for his buddy’s hand to help pull him back to the other side of the double yellow lines. His friend could not grab hold, but somehow he veered back into his own lane. I was able to stop and wait until they got back under control, but with a car right behind me and a car following the two downhillers at a very close distance, the whole event had me pretty rattled. There are so many things that could have gone wrong. In that split second, there could have been many lives that might have been changed. Forever.

So, this brings up several questions in the case of an accident where one of these kids are hurt, or, I hate to even say it, killed. Am I, as the driver liable, even though there is nothing that I could have done differently? Is the city liable if they vote not to place a ban on downhill skating? And, these parents who allow and even encourage their kids to fly down our hills, do they know how unsafe it really is? I mean they are kids, and kids don’t always have the ability to make rational decisions. Do the parents of the kids I had my encounter with yesterday know how close a call their sons just had? And, after the recent win at the last traffic and circulation meeting, are these kids feeling overly confident, even emboldened?

I truly believe that we have got to place a ban and/or firm restrictions on downhill skateboarding. The combination of cars and these kids traveling on the same streets at the same time just doesn’t work. It’s not about depriving the kids of their fun; it’s about protecting, and keeping our kids safe.

Carey Strombotne

Laguna Beach

South Laguna’s attractions

With the possibility of warm days ahead, West St Beach in South Laguna will be busy as usual. Three volleyball courts, restrooms, Laguna’s largest expanse of sand and nearby cafes, a golf course and Aliso Creek Inn offering specials on the largest hotel rooms in Laguna. West St is the internationally listed gay-lesbian beach just south of Aliso Beach, which has a new cafe, the Sands, 100 feet from the ocean.

Parking is usually available on Coast Highway and nearby cafes include Cafe Vienna, Papa’s Tacos, the Coyote Grill and, at the Third St. signal, a good Thai cafe. One block east and one block north of Eaglerock, the Village Green park offers BBQ braziers and intimacy for couples and small groups for picnics and gatherings.

West St is also on the OCTA bus route #1. Just get off at West St, walk down the green stairway and north to the gay beach.

Bounce bar and the popular Koffee Klatch are open seven nights a week and Andree’s Patisserie on the alley behind Bounce offers the best bakery items daily til 3 p.m. except Sundays. Andree’s also has sandwiches made with fresh bread baked on the premises and nearby breakfast, lunch and dinner places include the French 75, the Surf and Sand, Subway, Wahoo’s, Jack in the Box, the popular Penguin Cafe and Natraj Indian food.

Roger Carter

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Why the fuss about government regulation?

When the writers of the Constitution penned the Preamble with their ideas about what this new democracy should hold as the responsibilities of their government, they included, along with “provide for the common defense,” “establish justice,” and “insure domestic tranquility,” the important phrase, “promote the general welfare.” And since that time national, state, and local governments have acted for the safety of We, the People.

We have laws protecting children from lead poisoning.  We have laws to forbid children from purchasing alcohol and tobacco.  Manufacturers who develop hazardous waste in the process of producing goods are prohibited by law from disposing of that waste in a way that poisons ground water.

Recently, inadequate laws, coupled with the lack of funding for enforcement have harmed many citizens.  Salmonella in eggs, the gulf oil spill and our financial debacle are examples of shirking responsibility.

I encourage those who say, “We don’t want government to control our lives,” to think about it. The people of these United States should demand of those we choose to represent us that our government has as its mandate the protection of all citizens.

Jean Raun

Laguna Beach

OC Taxpayers Association endorses Pearson

Dear Ms. Pearson:

The Orange County Taxpayers Association Political Action Committee (OCTaxPAC) is proud to support your campaign for election to the Laguna Beach City Council.

We know that you share OCTaxPAC’s mission: to ensure that “taxes and tax-supported programs are fair, understandable, cost-effective and good for the economy.”

OCTaxPAC hopes that this endorsement will encourage other elected officials and candidates for office to follow your example of taxpayer-friendly leadership.

Reed I. Royalty, Secretary

Amy Kramer

Surprising the Mechanistic Empiricists

The mechanistic empiricists just might be wrong about what’s going on in America. Have you ever had a gut feeling that may not be quantifiable but turns out to be right? All across America number-and-statistics driven Republicans and Democrats are shaking their heads at what’s happening in politics right now.

The recent primary victory of Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and other competitive candidates around the country like Brian Murphy (R) in Maryland and Ron Johnson (R) who is going after Russ Feingold’s (D) seat in Wisconsin, are only the tip of the massive avalanche that may well ensue this November.

It doesn’t matter if the incumbent was a life long Republican or fierce Democrat, anyone who has not shown that they are willing to fight for the people are being shown the door. Finally!

And it’s the numbers-minded politicos who might be the most surprised.

Everyone is tired of politics as usual. Even Obama’s now infamous campaign line of ‘hope and change’ has proven to be just another political hoax that has definitely changed the outlook of our citizens. It’s time for any candidate who wants to beat the odds set against them to stand up, put on your body armor and start talking truth, not trash. Statistics mean little when put up to the angst and ire of working class America. It’s the emotion and the pathos of the fight that will bring out more conservative voters this election and elect those they believe will bring back our national pride and send out the politicians who have abused the system for too long.

Just recently, Carl Rove had a hissy fit when Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell (R) took the primary away from long-time republican Mike Castle (R-Delaware). Rove could not move away from the numbers, the statistics or the analytical breakdown of whether O’Donnell will be able to win the seat in November against the Democrat incumbent. Maybe she won’t, but why should Delaware put up with a Republican who has proven that he completely misses the point of conservatism? What Rove does not understand is that people are not numbers, we are fickle and we can move against the tide just as easily as with it. Americans are making human choices with their families, jobs and futures in mind.

Americans are fed up with being humiliated by a president who bows down to our enemies; they are done with the constant barrage of criticism of our nation for being the best; and many are starting to realize that our wealth as a nation is not such a bad thing after all. All of the pessimism that pulled our country through the last presidential election cycle is no longer welcome.

We need as a city, as a state and nation to start pulling our heads out of the spread-the-wealth fog and start making serious changes. If we are going to pull this country back into shape we need real candidates unafraid of the unions, unafraid of actually fixing the healthcare system (and no, I don’t mean social healthcare), and unafraid of changing the way we spend billions and trillions of dollars on public projects, people and problems.


I sat at the local candidate forum last week, which was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and listened to the question and answer session for our local politicians. I think Laguna Beach is doing a good job moving towards making the hard decisions and realizing that there’s more to be done. It’s time that everyone pay attention to what’s going on and stop believing that more public spending will change our lives for the better and be ready to stand up for the values that actually made this nation great.


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.

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.


Don Austin, Ed.D.

Principal, Laguna Beach High School


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

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

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