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Barbara’s Column

Preaching to the choir 

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Congressman Harley Rouda knew he was speaking to the choir Monday night at the Laguna Canyon Conservancy dinner – and he received a standing ovation from the choir. 

Rouda, a Laguna Beach resident and a Democrat, unseated Dana Rohrabacher in 2018 to represent the 48th Congressional District. 

“A lot of credit for my election belongs to people in this room,” Rouda said. “It was a true team effort.” 

Rouda wasted no time in pursuing his goals as a member of Congress.

“I am proud of the fact that I have passed more measures in Congress than any other freshman,” said Rouda.

He has introduced 28 measures, 16 of which passed, and co-sponsored 279 measures.

Rouda sits on the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

He serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, for which he chairs the Subcommittee on Environment.

“It is rare for a freshman to have a gavel,” Rouda said. 

The subcommittee has oversight jurisdiction of global climate change, public lands, endangered species, air and water quality, the ocean, and much more, said conservancy President Harry Huggins in his introduction of Rouda. These are the issues dear to the hearts of conservancy members. 

Rouda made his position clear at the dinner on what he considers the administration’s disregard for the rule of law.

[Presidential advisor] “Kellyanne Conway, brought up the campaign while acting in an official capacity,” he said. “Ten times.” 

“That violation happened twice in in the Obama administration,” Rouda said. 

“One resigned and the other said it would never happen again.” 

He also cited ranking Republicans’ refusal to be questioned about the administration’s alleged flouting of the law.

“But we (House) still got things done, “said Rouda. 

He also disputed the administration’s declaration that climate change is fake news. 

The broad narrative on climate change has three parts, Rouda said: the past, the present, and the future.

In the past, he said, people built homes and farmed based on the weather. A switch in temperature and 200 million people were on the move to find a better place to live.

“At present, we are trying to determine the economic cost,” said Rouda. “But doing nothing is more expensive than doing something.” 

Rouda said a second question being asked is why America should do anything about climate if China and India don’t.

As for the future, he said the world has two roads: Apocalyptic and Nirvana. 

“We can get to Nirvana,” said Rouda. “The best way is having America leading the way instead of fighting it. 

“We are supposed to be leaders,” opined Rouda.

Rouda then invited questions. 

Asked about the storage of spent fuel at San Onofre, Rouda said there are actually places that are willing to take it and that is where it should go, not to Nevada which has no nuclear plants. 

He addressed the impact of climate change on rising seas with information about federal grants to fortify cities like Laguna against the encroaching depth of the ocean. 

Weaknesses of Democrats in 2020?

“Getting the voters out,” said Rouda. “Fifty-four percent will not vote. 

“In California, we could run a rock against Donald Trump and the voters would elect the rock. It is the swing states we must carry.

“We must register voters and get the right candidate for the right position.”

Asked who he would support as the Democratic candidate for the presidency, Rouda said, “The one who can beat Trump by the biggest margin.

“If it’s Biden (former Vice President Joseph Biden) then I want Biden. If the polls change, then I want that person.”

He opined in response to a question that the Electoral College will never be abolished 

“It’s an amendment to the Constitution,” he said. 

However, the states could reapportion the votes, from winner takes all to splitting the votes between the two candidates, based on votes cast for each of them. 

The conservancy dinner was the middle one of three events Rouda attended that night. He came to the dinner directly from a gathering at Skyloft.

 “He was wonderful,” said Betsy Jenkins, who attended both functions.

As Rouda headed out the door on his way to the third event, he took the time to shake some hands, including Barbara and Greg MaGillivray’s, founders of One World One Ocean.

But the dinner was far from over when he left.

Huggins had the sad task then of announcing the deaths of conservancy President Emerita Carolyn Wood, whose activities on behalf of the city and the environment are legendary, and June Neptune, who hardly ever met a nonprofit organization that she didn’t like, offering them a venue for fundraisers at cut-rate costs.

Huggins also announced that the conservancy is looking for a new place for its dinner meetings.

Diners were handed a flyer from Laguna Residents First that invited them to a meeting at 7 p.m. on November 13 at the Susi Q. Reservations can be made at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cox Conserves’ representatives attended the meeting to present a $10,000 check to Jinger Wallace for her campaign to clean up the runoff from of Aliso Creek to the beach. 

Preaching to group

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Cox Communications Public Affairs Manager Adriana Galdamez, Charlotte Masarik of Laguna Bluebelt, Jinger Wallace, state winner for Cox Conserves Heroes), Mike Beanan of Laguna Bluebelt, and Cox representative Casey Haack 

She was named the California 2019 award winner.

Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett stated that through Wallace’s efforts in collaboration with the supervisor’s office, new signage was installed at Aliso Beach warning the public about the toxic runoff.

Bartlett’s Community Relations Advisor Sergio Prince presented Wallace with a certificate of recognition for her efforts to reduce the runoff by 50 percent.   

“I am so honored and grateful to receive this award,” said Wallace 

Wallace was one of tree Gingers – well two Gingers and one Jinger – at the dinner: Besides Wallace, Ginger Osborne was there, as was Ginger Fitzpatrick

On the guest list: Councilwoman Toni Iseman, Joan and former Public Works Director Terry Brandt, former Councilman Neil Fitzpatrick and Bonnie Hano sans Arnold, who is recovering from a broken disc in his back.

Also on hand: Karyn Philippsen, Ashley Johnson, Anne and Ryen Caenn, Marion Jacobs, Johanna Felder, Eric Jensen, Sandi Caine, Charlotte Masarik, Trudy Josephson, and Leah Vasquez

Folks were greeted at the door by Janine Robinson, Jackie Gallagher, and Lorene Laguna, all conservancy board members, along with Carey Stombotne, Gayle Waite, Liza Stewart, and Gene Felder.

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading StuNewsLaguna.com. Contributions are welcomed.