Why a liberal Democrat is going to vote for Howard Hills for School Board

If someone had asked me yesterday “are you going to vote for Howard Hills for School Board”? I would have responded absolutely not. Having lived in town for 40 years, I knew of Howard Hills as a lifetime Republican; vaguely someone that had worked as a lawyer/ international negotiator in government in the era of the Bush Administration, not my favorite time in American history.

Yesterday, I was helping my daughter move into a new home on Tyrol Drive. Howard Hills walked up the drive, handed my daughter a “Hills For School Board” flyer and briefly explained to her why he was running for the position; he began to leave as I walked up and ascertained who he was. Knowing him as a devout local Republican, I jokingly said “Howard wait a minute, I know you’re a big Republican, I’ll make you a deal, I’ll vote for you if you don’t vote for Trump”. He immediately responded, “You have a deal”. At first I thought he was joking. However, he emphatically followed-up saying “the country can’t afford to have that guy as President, he scares me and he scares every Republican I know that has worked in government, people who understand how much damage he could do”. 

Wow, not the response I expected but happy to hear.

After we spoke about “Trump”, I asked him about the School Board, why he wants to be on it and specifically what his thoughts were regarding the “baseball field” e.g. the inherent danger of someone being seriously hurt by the fly balls that continue to sail over the fence into St. Ann’s Drive. He said that “in general the School Board is insulate and non-responsive to the community concerns and that if elected he hoped to establish a more community responsive approach”. 

A “community responsive School Board” is something I personally think is needed. Two years ago I attended a School Board public meeting about the baseball field; although promises were made to address the danger issue and also the removal of the newly planted Eucalyptus trees that will grow to 80 feet tall and ultimately block local resident’s views, nothing has happened except for some street signs that alert pedestrians that they’re in a fly ball zone. Evidently the School Board doesn’t care about resident’s views and they seem to think that if someone is struck by a fly ball those signs will shield them from a horrendous lawsuit. Just isn’t so folks, not only will the School Board get into an unnecessary law suit, the city will find themselves involved as well. 

It’s called “Murphy’s Law”. I was not surprised that Howard was of the same opinion, in fact he told me, “as a lawyer, I can say it’s a big liability issue for both the School Board and the city, one that could cost the taxpayers millions in damages not to mention the potential loss of life or damage to an unsuspecting person who happens to be on St. Ann’s at the wrong time.” We concluded our discussion I wished Howard well and told him he had my vote and thought to myself how I was wrong in assuming that all Republicans are Trump idiots.

Norm Marshall

Laguna Beach

No on Measure KK

Of the 16,000 voters in Laguna Beach, I’ll bet that less than 1% have actually been to a “Medical Marijuana Dispensary” in the surrounding vicinity.  And why might that be?  Because at the present time you have to have a Medical Marijuana Card for access, and only a holder of the card is allowed into these very secure shops that are protected by armed guards.

As a cancer patient, I was advised to get a card (I did) and try some of the remedies offered to reduce pain.  These cards are good for only a year and cost $100 from an issuing doctor.  The doctor may have been enjoying a mild high himself, but he did give me some interesting info about CBD (non-hallucinogenic) and THC (hallucinogenic).  The CBD is an oil extracted by commercial-grade equipment from marijuana plants, whereas THC is the hallucinogenic plant ground up into edibles, smoked, or vaped.

These pot shops are all around Laguna Beach in commercial areas, where they belong.  When you drive up, there is an armed guard in the parking lot. The inside entry is a bulletproof area for the receptionist, who checks your license and ID, and only the licensee can enter through a double door system for both the entry and exit, where you are greeted by another armed guard.  The staff inside appear to be pot users themselves, who can direct you to the products, which are pricey and somewhat of a crap shoot to try, since there is no control over the concentrations that are claimed for the edibles.   

I doubt that these young pot users have even sampled the edibles, which are intended primarily for medicinal, rather than recreational, use.  Payment is, of course, all cash.

The mixtures in the edibles vary from 100% CBD to mixes of CBD and THC with varying concentrations.  I found the edible concentrations varied within the products, so that one bite might be all CBD and another might be all THC.  Seems like kitchen-made products with little or no quality control.  Did they help my pain? Not really!

There are plenty of industrial areas outside the City for these shops, and we don’t need visitors coming to town to buy pot and get high if our state law changes and legalizes marijuana, thereby eliminating the need for a license.  Greed is driving this Measure, and passing it will bring more stress to Laguna Beach residents, our limited police and fire resources, which are provided at our cost.

I would urge you to think carefully about these issues and Vote NO on Laguna Beach MeasureKK.

Victor Opincar

Laguna Beach

We need Rollinger and Mancuso

I am voting for Verna Rollinger and Judie Mancuso for Laguna Beach City Council because we desperately need enlightened leaders. 

Mayor Steve Dicterow’s latest scheme to have OCTA busestransport visitors from the freeway to our bus terminal was a bust and I believe it cost $80,000 of your tax dollars. Dicterow’s latest statement “I don’t think people have a right to live in Laguna” reflects his skewed thinking process. 

Early on Dicterow wanted to build a skateboard park in Moulton Meadow’s park but forgot to askArch Beach Heights residents what they thought about it. Dicterow said the food at the Susi Q senior lunch was inedible, but no one had ever seen him at senior lunch. He voted to cut down trees downtown and said we needed more cops downtown until he went on a ride along with our cops and realized our cops are stretched thin as it is. 

He voted to build a huge 500-car garage at the city entrance and sat by while city department heads and other city employees got bigger and biggersalaries and pensions. He had the unbrilliant [sic] idea of painting our cop cars black and white. 

Bob Whalen and Dicterow sit by while the micro managing city manager causes an on going brain drain at city hall as a endless list of transit managers, department heads and other employees leave. They satby as a police chief from out of town was hired rather than promoting one of our cops to the position of chief who knows and respects our town and it’s history. They watched and did nothing as the bagel place onOcean Avenue tried to move 40 feet west in the same building and was harassed by the city for a year. They were never consulted when the city manager suddenly decided to strip the only park downtown of it’s public benches--the pepper tree and original playhouse park across from the Zinc and this was a destination point for downtown folk who wanted a cool place to sit. 

Whalen and Dicterow did nothing to encourage Smart and Final and/or Stater Bros to bid for the Albertson’s store and have offered no leadership to reach out to theLGBT travelers to continue to come as they have for decades to our internationally listed “gay” beach, West St and spend their travel dollars at our hotels, art galleries, shops and restaurants. 

We need Rollinger and Mancuso and we need to ask our micro managing city manager to retire and live comfortably on his $225,000 + annual pension. 

Now is the time for a change.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Art death-spiral reality at The Laguna Playhouse

Last Saturday, The Laguna Alliance for the Arts threw a candidate forum about the Arts in Laguna Beach at the Laguna Playhouse at 9:30 a.m. (an ungodly time for most artists and candidates).

This event was a real live play of everything that is wrong with the arts today in a city that still relies on its past and the hearsay of elders that Laguna Beach is still artistically relevant. Just because organizations believe that they do great work and politicians feel they did their due diligence with supporting them does not mean it is so. 

I must say beforehand that what I encountered was all in good faith, I work with governments, art organizations and artists but most seem blind. This forum had little to do about art and all about the working relationship between the City and art organizations.  

It appeared to me that the questions comprised by the 21 local arts where in the similar vein. The question of how many arts organizations the candidates support and belong to, made everyone cringe. As if one enjoys or understands the arts means one has to belong to an art organization. Does belonging to PETA proves that someone understands and loves animals? In my experience, people of arts organizations know about how to run a company but actually know the least about the function of the Arts or understanding artists and the creative process. The fact that the host built up her last question with the non-sequitur topic of nudity in art, just confirmed this disconnect from what is important.

What was not mentioned was that this City has only a handful of about 80 galleries that are doing okay. The rest is [a] month-to-month struggle for survival because people’s behaviors has changed and fewer and fewer buy art. Even though the recently signed Master Plan has forty plus sub-goals, it did not even consider galleries. Nor did the plan consider a digital strategy in a time where the only reliable connection to everyone is the smart phone.

Contrary to what the ruling parties say, working artists rather want to get paid instead of being treated like a charity case. Most artists want to express themselves and that is the priority of an artist’s process of conception, creation and exposure. Artists do not mind to drive into the City as long as have a venue to perform. If Laguna provides housing and Santa Ana has venues, artists will live here but perform outside our town. 

You keep artists if you keep creating opportunities to express themselves, not because you house them. The affordable housing is an illusion that serves only political means to make the city look like it cares. The average house in Laguna Beach is about $1.7 million, so, no more discussions about low income housing. Let it go.

Open Laguna Beach to international artists, because artists from all over the world are already side by side on the web. Allowing all artists to expose their art does not increase competitions but inspiration to expand an artist’s creative achievement. Artists that need to rely on being locally protected or shielded from other creatives have lost their way a long time ago.

No one mentioned Laguna’s music scene. Music has become more dominant in audience engagement than all the other arts without arts organizations and government. What did it? The passion of individuals like Nick Hernandez, Rick Conkey, Clay Berryhill, Beth Wood, and Mozambique restaurant are continuously having to reinvent the wheel with little to no support. To introduce new artists and keep the arts conversation going, Laguna’s radio station KX 93.5 with Jason Feddy and Tyler Russell McCusker built an important support community for musicians.

Bottom line, this event was a confirmation that the politicians are happy with the work that arts organizations deliver and want to keep continuing on this very muzzled path that will eat away the leftover of artistic relics that this city image still possesses. Veiled from the truth, this incestuous co-dependent way of co-existence only guarantees peace and the justification of doing art, instead of creating new opportunities for artists to express themselves. For example, repurposing the festival grounds. Even if it would only be for 8 months of the year to give up some power to artists and real creatives to express themselves without an organizations or commissions creative approval. Instead, allow creativity to grow organically with the help of artist’s leaders. Allowing the freedom to expose an artist’s expression is how you create a fertile ground for creative innovation.  

Think about all the private funds and government support for the Arts in the US, and still, 95% of working artists live around the poverty level. What holds this death-spiral of the Arts in place is that artists love what they are doing so much that they would do it for free. Everyone knows this and the fact that if an artist wants more money there are 10 in line that would do the job for the offered sum. Because of this, musicians get the same amount per gig in restaurants and venues to perform in our City since 1990.

My question is, similar to that for charities: What is the percentage per donated dollar that goes to the creative individual without whom there would be no art? Do you want to live in a future Laguna Beach that engages audiences with creativity and wonder next to its beauty, or do you want to keep pretending Laguna is an art town with lukewarm inspiration that loses out in its artistic attraction to the mobile phone.

The Alliance for the Arts refused to hand out its original questions to the press and individuals like they were details of a defense contract. Now that is powerlessness when done in the name of the Arts. If Laguna wants art that is alive, it needs to let go of its delusion of being an art-relevant city and the control that keeps this lie in place.

Michaell Magrutsche

Laguna Beach

Enough with the smoke screen

As election season nears, some will try to claim credit for the work of many.  Supporters of the incumbent city treasurer are perpetuating a myth that our elected, part-time treasurer is solely responsible for investing our city’s $100 million! A part-time, elected official?

Municipalities are restricted by law to very narrow investment choices for these funds; the finance department and the city’s financial consultants must be howling with laughter at these claims.

Earlier this year, the 17 year, unopposed incumbent proposed to the city council that her position be made fulltime. In addition, she claims that for the past 10 years she has actively sought a position that required her to “volunteer” hundreds of hours of overtime.  At staff’s recommendation, the city council voted 4-1 to limit the city treasurer position to part-time hours to try to rein in the excessive hours being billed to the city for banking and accounting services.  

Anne McGraw has run her own bookkeeping business with large, local clients providing the same services for over 14 years. Prior to that she had a 18 years of banking operations experience.  McGraw has students in our school district and I’ve personally worked with her on fundraising campaigns for education. She is honest, straight forward and a team player.

If the incumbent thinks she’s been “volunteering” her time without pay for 10 years, we should question her judgment or motivations. Enough with the smoke screen!

Julia Kelly

Laguna Beach

Alta Vista streets

The City of Laguna Beach and the City’s Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee and the neighborhoods will be conducting a meeting on Monday, Sept 12 at 6 p.m. at the Susi Q Community center to discuss a “proposed pilot program” for streets off of Alta Vista Way.  

If implemented, several other neighborhoods, especially the older neighborhoods in Laguna Beach, may have more restrictive parking or no parking in the future. Many of these older neighborhoods have older homes with only a one-car garage or no garage. And, many of these streets and neighborhoods were developed 70 plus years ago by City of LB engineers and were only partially paved, not paved at all and/or have steep topography difficult for access.  

Now, the committee has determined that these streets they developed are too narrow for Emergency vehicles and the parked cars. They propose to restrict parking on one or both sides of most of the streets in the areas.  The emergencies vehicles have been servicing these streets for the past 70+ years and spend no more than 4 hours per year on some of these streets, if that.  

We have been told that it means “no parking”, no parking for any vehicle at any time, including moving trucks, delivery trucks, etc. For example, for North Queda Way, it is proposed to have “no parking” on the whole street except the home at the end, no moving trucks, no delivery trucks; that is unreasonable. On these streets, the property values for older “historic” and non “historic” homes without a garage will decrease by 80%-90% and home values will decline on the other streets due to highly restrictive parking.  

Maybe the City should consider widening the streets to accommodate their trucks and the needs of the neighborhoods.  

If we, our friends, our gardeners, or our worker can’t park on our street, sorry, but we will be parking on your street which, most likely, has little parking to spare.  Keep in mind, that the majority, if not all, of the people implementing this proposal will not be affected and have more than adequate parking.  

Please attend the meeting to work on a solution that works for the property tax payers/ property owners, it may impact your neighborhood in the future.

Mary Ann Loehr

Laguna Beach

Build multiuse paths for pedestrians and bikes

Multiuse paths serve an alternative to the automobile roadway for connecting Laguna’s outlying communities with downtown. 

South Laguna, Canyon Acres, Sun Valley, and North Laguna neighborhoods would benefit from multi-use paths for pedestrians and recreational bikes.  

Every pedestrian or recreational bike rider removes a roadway car and frees-up one parking space for those of us who must drive. That is the strategy behind a Complete Streets serving a modality of roadway users. Lets test the concept; re-purpose the existing pathway from Canyon Acres to the Village Entrance as a multi-use path. 

Some Council members oppose multi-use paths citing inevitable collisions between riders and pedestrians because recreational bikes are misunderstood. Equipped with fat-tires they travel much slower that the Spandex variety and handlebar bells offer a pleasant warning on approach. Council members should recognize recreational bikes will serve day-trippers from Laguna neighborhoods with an alternative to the automobile and help relieve traffic congestion.

Build it and they will come.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

Our city government is a “…dark ages mess”

Historically speaking, I don’t know if Native Americans who lived in or near Laguna Beach smoked “weed.” Certainly some of the early 1900 bohemians did and as we should all know for a fact, hundreds did and still do starting with the hippie-love culture of the 1960’s to this day. One Orange County dispensary recently reported they have over 700 Laguna Beach clients. 

I urge every Lagunatic to vote in November and vote Yes on proposition 164, the statewide recreational marijuana proposition. 

We will wait for the local voters in relation to local dispensaries but we should be able to call and order “pot” delivered to our front door. A dozen people have asked me why we didn’t choose a new police chief from our department. Chief Farinella is a technocrat from the Long Beach police department who goes by the book, apparently doesn’t care of or know about our marijuana history and scares people with statements regarding pot delivery like -- “I am fearful of dispensaries at someone’s door step.”

Liquor is one of the most addictive, dangerous drugs in the world and yet we have more than fifty restaurants and stores where it is sold. 

People who have a medical marijuana card have had to pay and show medical records to get a card and they must renew it every year. 

Councilperson Robert Zur Schmiede and other city council members, and the police chief make these people sound like criminals. 

Marijuana is not a class A drug, no matter what the federal government says. A recent federal court ordered the DEA to stop harassing people who live in “pot states.” Pot is not a gateway drug. Marijuana is not comparable to the dangerous drug liquor is. 

It’s time for new progressive people to come forward and run for city council. People who believe in pensions and medical plans for city employees, including part-time year-round bus drivers, but take a hard look at huge city hall salaries and pensions, like the $241,000 a year our former city manager is paid. 

Our city government has become an elite, autocratic, dark ages mess -- telling our citizens what to do and not do. 

Laguna Beach needs new progressive leadership now. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

We need to be cognizant about candidates

Last Monday, I attended a Laguna Beach Candidate’s forum hosted by Village Laguna at the City Council Chambers.  For the first time in 17 years, our current City Treasurer, Ms. Laura Parisi, is being opposed in her re-election by Ms. Anne McGraw.

While competition and debate for political offices should always be encouraged, we need to be cognizant about who is investing the $100 million for Laguna Beach.

Ms. Parisi has demonstrated a consistently high investment return on our money while arguing for internal controls.  On the other hand, Ms. McGraw has not shown experience in managing Laguna Beaches’ large investment dollars.  With her 3-minute speech all she really did was attempt to attack Ms. Parisi.

This is what a candidate does who really does not have the experience or education to be our City Treasurer.   Ms. McGraw commented that we don’t need a Treasurer who is a CPA.  Well, Ms. McGraw, if you look around at the cities you mentioned, several are in financial and legal trouble because they did not have experienced or educated personnel as their city treasurer.

As stated, I will always encourage debate in politics.  However, I want my $100 million to be managed and invested by a proven and educated person (Ms. Parisi).

Jeffrey A. Miller

Laguna Beach

“…bad behaviors must stop…”

Ed. Note: This letter was sent to the City Council

While observing the council meeting last night, August 30, I noticed that two of the councilmembers talked back to the person at the podium.   Both times was because the speaker was Judie Mancuso who is running for City Council.   This response only makes the council look like they are worried about a council contender also, the strong response makes council members look unprofessional and like bullies.  That is not how I want to see my city council!  This is a form of bullying and it has to stop!  We need our council to be good listeners and not reactive to opposing thoughts or opinions.  

You who spoke out of turn have lost my vote!

Thanks to Kelly Boyd’s view ordinance professional Landscape Contractors now must deal with a hostile environment to do business in this town.  Several times while working in client’s gardens groups of neighbors have accosted my employees.  Example: they were moving existing “Dwarf Pigmy Date Palms” (plants were 3-4 feet tall) to a more appropriate location.  A group of neighbors came running down the street and were all yelling and waving a copy of the ordinance, saying we couldn’t plant these palms, they are not on the list.  

Because these people were so rude and mob like, we pulled all the plants and my crews because nobody deserves to be attacked for doing their job.  After encouraging the homeowner to hear the neighbor’s concerns new acceptable plant material was installed.  However, my company and employees were treated like criminals and will never forget that.  Had the neighbors introduced themselves to the new homeowners like respectable people do, they would have been able to voice their concerns then and there with a minimum of drama and ill feelings. 

These kinds of bad behaviors must stop!  What has happened to the Moral Compass of the world? People removing Political Signs from other people’s yards must stop.   It’s an attack on the First Amendment.   All parties are acting like spoiled children and big bullies.  

I look to the City Council to model appropriate behavior.  Your actions will go a long way towards improving neighbors’ relations and kinder commination, be the example not part of the problem. 

Liza Interlandi Stewart

Laguna Beach

Equal rights start in schools

I agree with a local mom’s observations about mainstream media’s stingy coverage of women in the Olympics.  In contrast, local media gave us inspiring coverage of our town’s very own Fischer sisters, leaders on the U.S. women’s water polo team in Rio.

As a dad and grandpa helping raise seven girls, I know there is nothing subtle about bias that can limit young women in full realization of their God-given gifts and creative potential.  Our public schools play a vital role in empowerment of girls at any early age to know they are second to none in pursuit of their own dreams and destiny.

As with other personal freedom and moral responsibility issues, students in Laguna Beach schools often have been ahead of our town, country, state and nation.  As early as 1969 Homecoming was democratized by student initiative to promote equality and true not token diversity.  In 1970 students broke the gender barrier at LBHS by affirmatively recruiting and electing the first female Student Body President.  A student government communications director ensured local media featured the milestone event (at lbstudentsfirst.com click “photos/growing/up/Laguna”).

Fast forward to 2002 when local students joined the cause led by my wife and daughters to raise $10,000 for Sima Wali, the heroic woman who defied Taliban rule in Afghanistan forbidding education of girls (at lbstudentsfirst.com click “photos/personal-family”).  Risking prison or death she ran underground schools where girls could learn to read and open the gates of knowledge, and our students became part of her noble cause.

Student driven civic empowerment through student government at LBHS has been allowed to wane.  Recent adult orchestrated “focus group” exercises fall far short of meaningful democratic student civics.  Our School Board does not even comply with its own bylaws enabling a student government representative to participate in Board deliberations and cast advisory votes.

Ten years ago I called for revival of more robust student government at LBHS under a new student ratified constitution.  We advocated student driven youth civics to bring students out of gadget dependent social isolation into face-to-face interconnectivity and a more vibrant campus life.  Collaborative computer based learning is vital but no substitute for on and off campus civic empowerment giving all students new leadership options, exemplified by the LBHS student recently appointed to the board of the community food bank.

We are selling our kids short by making community service too often a chore just to punch a ticket for graduation.   Local media reported California Department of Education Healthy Kids Survey findings of increased substance abuse at LBHS and “anguish” due to social disconnection.  An appropriately calibrated Grade 5 through Grade 12 student government program will help reverse negative socialization, create healthy social encounter, and give all students a new ladder to leadership.

Early development of American civics based on equal rights and responsibilities for all leads to good citizenship. It all begins in our schools.

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

Fond memories from Friday’s Laguna Beach Looking Back photo

Click on photo for a larger image


The Laguna Beach Post – Circa mid 1950s

Katy Weld (seated) and husband, John (to her left) held community gatherings long before StuNewsLaguna – and much more often!


I loved seeing the picture in today’s StuNews, from the holdings of the LB Historical Society, of the staff of the LB Post in the early 1950s.  

The distinguished looking man in the dark turtleneck is my father Glen Ingles, then the editor. Seated on the ground is a pressman, Gene Bergmann. 

The woman in the back row is Roberta Taylor. On the other side of the pillar is Skip Fickling, whose widow Gloria is still in town.

As an indication of our family’s history with journalism, my daughter Karen, a reporter with the AP in NYC, has this picture hanging on a wall in her apartment!

Glenna Matthews

Laguna Beach

Raise your glass for Joe…

Every day about 2 p.m., a dapper little guy named Joe would stop by the benches where we all sit at Main Beach and join our conversation for the day. Joe was always a welcome addition to the group with a smile and a distinctive high-pitched voice. We called him “Andy Capp” or “Dapper Joe”. He walked with a walking stick sometimes and always wore a cap and a bright pink or other loud colored pants.

At 78, Joe was more seasoned in life than the rest of us.  He worked in corporate real estate and then drove a limousine part time after he retired from real estate.  He would always be willing to help with a question about finances or just life in general.  He spoke about traveling and he loved to take cruises when he could.

Joe would walk three times a day, morning, afternoon, and evening from his small-refurbished garage apartment in North Laguna, where he lived for 24 years, to downtown Laguna.  Afternoons, he would go to the library and catch up on the news and read the papers.

Joe would stop and talk with many others along his route on the boardwalk and I’m sure had the same pleasant effect on all those he came in contact with. He never spoke much about his personal life.  He once told me that he didn’t have a great relationship with his kids and I could tell he wished that it was better.

One of my friends had mentioned that he hadn’t seen Joe in a week or so and I agreed with him and wondered where Joe had been.  Maybe he took one of his cruises to Tahiti.

One day while sitting at the beach we witnessed a police chase and a woman hitting 11 vehicles and she tried to escape from the police.  It was the talk of the town and we all were amazed by it.  There was also a small article in the paper about an elderly man who took his life in Heisler Park early Sunday morning.  Little did we know that the elderly man was our friend, Joe.

We were shocked to hear about it.  The paper said that he left a note and we all wondered what would make this dapper, spry little guy take his own life.  There was news that he was going to have to leave his garage apartment of 24 years due to some illegal housing code.  I would hate to think that this would trigger him doing such a thing.  There were many people that knew him that would have easily found a place for him if he had reached out to us.

I wonder how many people are asking the same question that we asked: “Have you seen Joe lately?” Whatever it was that troubled Joe, he is at peace now and in a good place.  

We will all miss his dapper little walk, his cheery voice, his smile and the loud clothes he used to wear.  The article in the paper said that no services had been scheduled for him and I thought, what a shame.  We all are thinking of him down at the benches at Main Beach and will always have him in our thoughts.  He will be missed by many. 

The next time you’re out with your friends having a drink, raise your glass for Joe and send him your best wishes.

Dennis Rooney

Laguna Beach

Clinton’s tax returns vs. Trump’s

So the Clintons paid more than $3.6 million in taxes in 2015.  What did Donald Trump pay?  The GOP presidential contender says he can’t release his returns until the Internal Revenue Service has completed its audit later this fall.  

Interestingly, the IRS says there is no problem with candidate Trump making his tax returns public now.  If this is political transparency, then I need to ask my optometrist for new glasses.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Boys & Girls Club board member cares about the Club

What’s Laguna’s best-kept secret for youth opportunity and development?

I stopped by the Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach, where I’ve been a volunteer and board member since I moved here from Japan almost six years ago. 

There’s a palpable excitement at the Club that you notice the minute you walk through the front door. I stopped to talk to a few of the people who are making things happen there. What were the top three things going on or coming up that they were most excited about? I decided to find out.

Scott Wilbur is the Senior Branch Director and oversees the Canyon branch. An energetic guy of thirty two, Scott told me that he’s most pumped up about the new partnership, which he helps maintain, continuing between the Club and the Laguna school district. Scott hopes that this collaboration will give more Club visibility to teens (high school age) and tweens (upper elementary grades through middle school) in Laguna. 

A project has been developed with Principal Herzfeld at LBHS to run a Homework Club on campus, and the lunchtime Club-led program for Thurston students has been well attended throughout most of the past school year.

Also on Scott’s list is the Club’s recent shift to digital management, which will eliminate paperwork for Club member families and allow them to pay program fees online through a convenient mobile app.

The popular Smart Moves program for tweens and teens, where boys and girls had single-gendered meetings once a week on issues most affecting them, has advanced to the next level. Scott described the new Positive Action as a pilot program for improving and enhancing social and emotional skills among teens and tweens. It comes recommended and evidence-based from the Boys and Girls Clubs’ national headquarters in Nebraska, and is co-ed by age group. It will be held on Mondays and Fridays at the Club. 

I wandered upstairs and into the office of Pam Estes, the Club’s most hardworking devotee and Executive Director. What were her top three?

Like Scott, Pam spoke of her anticipation of Positive Action’s success. She also had a lot to say about the new Youth Action Committee that will start in the fall for middle schoolers, giving a voice in the community for this often overlooked group.

Pam was also excited about the new crop of three and four year olds entering the preschool program in the fall, many from low-income families, who would develop a thirst for learning as they prepared for successful kindergarten entry.

Michelle Ray-Fortezzo is the Club’s Development Director and is a major part of the huge force behind the Club’s booming fundraising events such as Girls Night Out and A Night at the Ranch in September as well as the Gala at the Montage in May. The mailers for the Blue Door annual drive campaign will be coming out soon, and are designed this year by Steve and Leif, two Club alumni, and are likely to generate up to $200K for the Club. She’ll be welcoming a new face coming on board soon to join forces with her on development activities.

Cherie Andrade is the Club’s Behavioral Education director. She’s looking forward to a new school year full of even greater opportunities to impact more young lives, and those of their families, with the kind of conversations with and among them that happen every day at the Club through the programs offered. She wants to continue to get the Club name out there as she, like me, feels that the Boys and Girls Club is one of Laguna’s best kept secrets for youth development. She’s excited about the new partnership with the Capistrano Unified School District that could bring in an additional eighty kids at the Canyon branch alone, and up to two hundred names overall if new enrollment at Bluebird and Lang branches are included. Capacity at the Canyon branch is 275 children.

Cherie also mentioned a greater push toward attracting and retaining talented staff, focusing on longevity, succession planning and career advancement. Much of the Club’s success with its membership can be directly traced back to dedicated and creative staff members, and the Club is determined greatly reduce turnover and enhance the efforts of its staff by giving them more opportunity to be heard and valued.

So I guess the secret’s out. The Boys and Girls Club is where kids in our community want to be. The Club is restructuring and evolving. It’s directed by young, dynamic, wholehearted professionals who are passionate about our kids. Be part of the Movement yourself. Invest in the future of our seaside community.

Nancy Myers

Stand together to defeat the medical marijuana initiative

There comes a time in all of our lives when we must act to preserve the best of what we have. Whether that be fighting to save historical buildings, open spaces or our small town way of life. 

This November there will be such an opportunity for all of us to help preserve the community we know and love. The city where our schools win blue ribbons and commendations; the city where crime is at a minimum; the city where we have an annual Patriot’s Day Parade and almost half of the town is in it. 

This November there will be a ballot measure, which will creep into Laguna Beach and potentially create something that none of us thought could happen. 

This November a medical marijuana dispensary initiative will make its way to the ballot. Not just one dispensary, but two. Possibly more. In Laguna Beach. 

The pushers of this initiative will play the emotional hand and tell us that sick people need medical marijuana and how many of us are simply uneducated about the benefits of marijuana use and compare it to the same evils of alcohol consumption. 

But don’t be fooled. 

How many “clients”, “patients”, and casual purchasers will frequent these medical dispensaries for true medicinal use? Most of us know how easy it is to obtain a medical marijuana card, legitimate or not. Those who are ill and truly need the medicinal benefits offered by properties of marijuana already have access through prescribed drugs and delivery systems. 

The realities of a marijuana dispensary are increased recreational drug use in the community by adults and minors; increased crime; affected neighboring businesses; and the decline of what Laguna Beach, a slice of small-town-America has been. 

Allowing a marijuana dispensary in Laguna Beach will mark the pronounced decline of our way of life and will strip away the safe, small community we have been struggling to maintain.

Do not ignore this initiative. Now is the time to stand together and clearly act to ban any dispensaries in Laguna Beach. Preserve the beautiful place we call home and let’s defend the best of what we have.

Amy Kramer

Laguna Beach

The statewide marijuana initiative vs. Laguna Beach

Why not just wait for November 8th?Prop 64. 

Let the public decide!

Mike Richards

Laguna Beach

Think again about hotel tax

Paid parking for beach goers is not a bad idea.Currently they bring their own food, do not pay to park, do not pay to use our beaches and they create much litter (which we have to clean up). 

Instituting an increase in hotel tax where tourists pay premium prices to stay in Laguna seems unfair.Our tourists add so much to our economy by spending lots of money at our shops, restaurants etc.,so why not install parking meters on Coast Hwy especially from Aliso Beach south (and everywhere there isn’t one) instead of gouging our paying tourists who benefit us greatly?

Linda Humes

Dale Johnson

Former owners of The Tides Inn

Check out the cool Susi Q

The Susi Q Senior Center at the community center on Third Street downtown is a cool place for lunch, conversation, activities, reading and counseling. 

Every Monday thru Friday from 11:30 to 12:15, lunch is served.Vegetarian entrees include favorites including butternut squash soup, creamy macaroni, broccoli soup, sweet and sour cabbage, baked potatoes, and Caesar salads.Other popular entrees include Swiss steak, pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, southwest chicken chili, meatloaf and cheeseburgers. 

All city buses and city neighborhood trolleys from Top of The World, Bluebird Canyon and Arch Beach Heights stop at the front door of the Susi Q and the Sally’s Fund van(499-4100) picks up seniors from their front door. 

Some seniors arrive around 10 a.m. for coffee and conversation in the dining room or visit the beautiful library to read daily newspapers, many up-to-date magazines or one of hundreds of books. 

Bingo is a popular game with prizes at 10:30 on Mondays and Thursdays and theres a great movie every Monday after lunch at 12:30. Irvine Valley College offers unusual movies on most Tuesdays at 12:30 and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, there’s ping pong on three Olympic style tables. 

Meet new and wonderful friends, play bridge, talk about current events, practice playing the ukulele, get computer assistance, play numerous games with friends in the open game room, take tai chi or get personal counseling and learn many other skills in numerous other activities. 

L.G.B.T. people meet for fun filled meetings the first and third Fridays at 3 p.m. and believe it or not, there is a Persian Club and fabulous changing art displayed in the hallways and rooms of the Susi Q.

If you are a senior, consider checking out the wonderful, cool Susi Q. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Be clear with street addresses

So often new places in Laguna Beach are mentioned but no address is included. Lots of people who live here know where everything is, but not all. When I read abouta new restaurant the first thing I want to know is where it is but often the article doesn’t tell. Like the Royal Hawaiian Restaurant, for example, in Friday’s issue.

And I don’t want to have to read through the whole article to find the address. It should be presented separately and clearly at the beginning or end of the item.

And when I want to know the location of a place I don’t want to be told, “It’s next to so and so.” I want thestreet address so I can look it up on a map and be sure to find it.

Margot Rosenberg

Laguna Beach

Ann Coulter: Trump’s a victim of “media rape”

Poor Donald Trump.On Friday, self-appointed GOP spokesperson Ann Coulter said he is the victim of “media rape.”Wow, of all the crazy things Coulter has said over the years, this is right up there near the top. 

If anyone has been “raped” this election season, it is Hillary Clinton. Lest anyone forget, all 17 Republican candidates running for president repeatedly attacked her during their many televised debates. During one Laguna Beach watch party, I remember turning to a friend and saying, “This is like witnessing a gang rape. There is no way for Hillary to fight back.”

Donald Trump wants to be commander in chief.He knows the words he uses and the policies he proposes are fair game -- not only for Clinton, but thoughtful reporters and, yes, even disillusioned Republicans. 

Like Harry Truman once said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” 

Coulter, of all people, should understand this.She has a history of lighting people’s hair on fire just so the media will pay attention to her.Feeling sorry for Donald Trump is the latest example of Coulter’s shoot from the lip, crazy kind of journalism. 

Denny Freidenrich

[Self-appointed Clinton spokesperson]

Laguna Beach

Hedge height policy needs to be changed

Laguna Beach’s policy on controlling hedge heights is bad policy…it provides absolutely no incentive for hedge owners to keep their hedges trimmed, keep the City lovely, nor provide a simple resolution of complaints. To begin with, the Zoning Policy covering hedges (Municipal Code 25.50.012 (B)(3) states that “…hedges (shall be)…no more than 6’ in height…(but) may exceed the maximum …unless a Hedge Height Claim has been filed …and found…a safety hazard and/or obstructed view…”. 

This policy needs to be revised to reinstate a 6’ hedge height maximum with an appeal to the Hedge Height Claim Policy if the owner wants to exceed this level…this puts the burden on the owner where it belongs. 

The next issue is the Hedge Height Claim Policy (Municipal Code 12.14), which to begin with applies only to hedges that are in the “setbacks” on the side and rear of the property. The claimant must pay $630 (half of which is reimbursed if he is successful) and provide photos, a dimensional plot map, and pay ($200?) to notify all neighbors within 100 feet. Then there is a binding decision by the City staff, which is enforceable, and binding in the future…the loser pays the trimming cost. There is an appeal to the City. This Policy should be expanded to include hedges that are not in the “setbacks” and the costly and unnecessary notice to neighbors should be eliminated.  

If the hedge is not within the “setbacks”, then the View Restoration Policy (Municipal Code 12.16) must be used. Step 1 requires the Claimant to try to informally settle the issue with the hedge owner, then pay $500 (an increase to $650 is pending) to go through non-binding mediation with the owner who already would not settle during informal discussions. If there is agreement at this step, it is not enforceable currently or in the future by the City but only by private agreement. It is interesting to note that in the 18 months this policy has been in force, 12 of 27 claims were successfully settled at this step (44%). 

Step 1 needs to be binding and enforceable by the City with trimming provided and paid by the loser and with only an appeal to the View Restoration Committee.

If Step 1 is unsuccessful (which it normally is), then Step 2 requires the Claimant to pay another $690 to have a hearing with the View Restoration Committee. If the committee decides in his favor, the Claimant must then obtain 3 bids from certified arborists and put the cost of the trimming into an escrow account (this cost may be apportioned by the Committee later). The Claimant is also liable for any damage to the hedges for the next 2 years even though the trimming was done by a certified arborist and is being maintained by the owner. 

So at worst, under this policy the hedge owner only pays the cost of the trimming and the claimant pays $1190 plus possibly the trimming cost.

The City Council is reviewing the View Restoration Policy on August 30…it needs to change the whole process fundamentally.

Louis Leo

Laguna Beach


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