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Letters to the Editor

We are fortunate to have our arts community

I can’t be the only one who sees the “12 Angry Men” picture through the Pageant of the Masters’ lens, another Laguna Last Supper.

Beautiful story about another pillar in our Arts Acropolis.

David Powers

Laguna Beach

Replacing the tiles at Brooks, really?

Maybe I’m nostalgic, but the tiles are just fine and beautiful, and do they really need replacing? Thinking about walking/climbing down to go to the beach before the awesome stairs were even designed and built. A new mural? Too much time on someone’s (our) hands or minds? Committees and subcommittees...I respect the decision-making process, but I think it’s just the concrete that is getting old and needs replacing.

Marisa Parker

Laguna Beach

It’s hard to find good help, but definitely worth it

(On October 27, there was a medical emergency at Las Brisas restaurant. The following is a list of thanks to those who quickly responded with “5 Stars/Most Excellent” assistance.)

–The Las Brisas wait staff who helped lead the 88-year-old female (Janet) to the ground, as she had fainted in the chair and I needed help lowering her to the ground. (The man) answered by hand signals to assist and was very caring with the task at hand.

–The Las Brisas management who handled calling the Laguna Beach Fire Department and the (obtaining of) information from me for the incident report. Our waitress, Josie S., was kind enough to bring a pillow for Janet, freeing my purse to access my phone and call Janet’s daughter to advise her of the events.

The Laguna Beach Fire Department and ambulance team were so good with the recent widow, whose husband was a firefighter for the Garden Grove Fire Department back in the day. Now alert and sitting up in a chair, vitals and reports were all completed, the LBFD medic listened and conversed with Janet and it was heartwarming to say the least. 

The care and compassion with all involved was commendable and so appreciated. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Jan Stapler (took Janet to lunch)

Huntington Beach

City Council to vote on DA offer to settle Brown Act compliance case

A letter to the DA from the City Attorney dated September 29 admits the City Council did not notice both of the exceptions to the Brown Act Open Meeting Law that the City Attorney asserted at the August 10 meeting of the Council, at which the majority censured Weiss for disclosing reasons he was challenging the legality of a closed meeting conducted on June 29, 2021. What follows is my opinion about all this, not that of Stu News or anyone else, obviously.

The Mayor and City Attorney accused Weiss of violating closed meeting confidentiality rules, without citing any specific law allegedly violated. The September 29 letter from the City Attorney answered the DA’s September 21 notice (that) it was the City that clearly had Brown Act compliance issues, Weiss not so much. 

The City Attorney’s June 29 letter to the DA was essentially an accounting of the DA’s offer of a plea agreement, asking for leniency that the City Attorney has never shown to anyone else as far as I know. The DA was satisfied with the remedial program the City Council proposed, which was to have careful certified minutes made in all closed sessions until compliance with the Brown Act rules are restored. The DA had proposed recording the closed meetings, but apparently decided the City was chastened enough to allow the Council to get its house in order without more restrictive sanctions. 

The DA also requires that members be educated on their right to challenge legality of meeting closures under Brown Act protection, so members are not silenced by the Council majority even when it is acting unlawfully. At the November 2 meeting, the Council will approve the plea agreement under Agenda Item 9, based on the City Attorney’s allocution to the rehabilitation terms the DA accepted.

The moral and ethical question the Council must now answer is whether the Council majority would have censured Weiss on August 10 if, instead of assuring the June 29 meeting had been closed in strict compliance with the Brown Act, the City Attorney had told the Council what he now has told the DA about deficiencies in the meeting closure.     

If the City Attorney had revealed that he and the Mayor had agreed the closure was not “best practices” and closure proceedings needed to be tightened up as he told the DA, would Councilmember Kempf still state on the record that Weiss acted to “subvert the law,” as if a judge had found him guilty?

CA Gov. Code Sec. 54963(e)(2) protects the right of Councilmembers to disclose factual and legal grounds for challenging the legality of meeting closure. Contrary to the City Attorney comments on August 10, the right to challenge meetings permits public statements, not just pleading behind closed doors.

Similarly, Sec. 54956.9 requires specific compliance with narrowly drawn exceptions to the open meeting law to lawfully close a meeting. In its September 21 letter, the Prosecution Unit of the DA’s office reached an initial conclusion that the June 29 meeting was not lawfully closed, thereby rejecting the August 10 findings of the Council majority against Weiss, based on the agenda report from the City Manager and City Attorney calling for censure. 

If the DA’s prosecutors had a good faith belief the meeting was not lawfully closed, then clearly Weiss reasonably could have reached the same conclusion. 

Accordingly, the Council’s conversion of political censure into quasi-legal proceedings finding Weiss guilty of violating law should be rescinded to dispel the appearance of political slander without proof or justification. 

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

Obviously, Gene Felder and I have a difference of opinion, let me explain

In last week’s Stu News, Gene Felder attacked me again and several other residents for making political contributions to a local PAC. He claimed that my donations were to make “big developments easier by changing long established city standards.”

His only proof: I secured land entitlements to make the “E” Rated Historic Heisler Building ADA accessible. Is Gene Felder really against our city creating equal access to facilities for elderly and disabled people? It shouldn’t be a surprise when you read Felder’s political beliefs below.

I will not apologize for my 43 years of efforts to improve Laguna Beach because I’m proud of my work to establish the two percent hotel bed tax. Since its passage in 2001, over $18 million in funds have been directed toward the arts. I was also the activist who after 38 years, got an orchestra and music program in all our Laguna public schools and am co-founder of Laguna Beach Live. I have also continued to fight against the corrupt TCA toll roads. And now I am working as a member of the Housing and Human Services Committee to promote affordable housing – something we have not done for more than 20 years and which you and your group have done your best to shut down.

I have fought against entrenched groups that you espouse that are desperate to maintain the status quo. I value and I donate to political candidates who want to move forward. They don’t ask me to; I know my own mind and support those who know we need fresh ideas and aren’t afraid to implement them. I know a dangerously small-minded candidate when I see one and unfortunately for our community, a pair have seats on our council.

Here’s another attack on me that Gene Felder wrote in Stu News (March 9, 2021): “One wonders what vision and development plans Sam Goldstein has for Laguna Beach; in his testimony he described our beloved Laguna Beach as a ‘dying, decaying, totally fragmented city right now with most of our businesses closed.’ Yikes!”

Gene, I wonder what you have done with your life in Laguna? All I see is your blind support of your wife and her group who have stifled all growth in Laguna Beach since 1974. Only two (2) new commercial buildings have been built in Laguna for the last 47 years – the Susi Q/Community Center and the Montage. All other commercial projects in town were simply remodels.

Now, more about you…according to FEC data, in 2020, Eugene (Gene) Felder donated more than $4,700 to Donald Trump and Republicans. What was his motivation? Was it Trump’s attacks on the environment? Mismanagement of the pandemic? The January 6 insurrection? I’m curious to know…because all I see with the writings of Gene Felder is the same negative and degrading approach that Donald Trump uses on people. Gene, you make a perfect Trump clone!

I know one thing: Trump donor Eugene (Gene) Felder, and the rest of the proponents of this ballot initiative share a total disregard for the truth…just like Donald Trump!

Thankfully, the residents of Laguna know better and will soundly reject this bogus initiative…AND YOU!

Sam Goldstein

Laguna Beach

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