WAVE’s debate on women’s issues on February 7 will feature candidates for 48th Congressional District

WAVE (Women for American Values and Ethics), in partnership with Indivisible OC 48, PPGeneration Action at OCC, and the Community Action Fund of Planned Parenthood Orange & San Bernardino Counties, will host a debate on women’s issues with candidates running in California’s 48th congressional district at the Robert B. Moore Theater at Orange Coast College from 7 – 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday Feb 7, at 2701 Fairview Drive, Costa Mesa.

Three Laguna Beach Democrats are competing for the chance to challenge Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher – Harley Rouda, Dr. Hans Keirstead, and Boyd Roberts – however, only five candidates (to be determined based on their Voter Support Score) will be invited to this debate.

Four Laguna women serve on WAVE’s Advisory Committee

At this first of four topical debates in this exciting and informative series, the discussion will focus on topics related to women’s issues, such as women’s health, the wage and achievement gap, affordable child care and parental leave, reproductive rights, and sexual harassment and the #MeToo Movement. 

 Four Laguna Beach women serve on the Advisory Committee for WAVE, including Audrey Prosser. 

Becky Visconti, Laguna Ocean Foundation volunteer, ULN (Underground Laguna Now) Committee, Mission Hospital Foundation volunteer, WAVE Advisory Council, Fundraising Committee and Environmental Committee member – and she’s also an active member of OC Clean Power group; Rita Conn,leader in the community, Chair of Secure Nuclear Waste, Chair of Let Laguna Vote, WAVE Advisory Council, National Motivational Speaker, and tireless advocate for the underserved;and Toni Iseman, LB City Council, four terms as Mayor, Founder of Laguna Canyon Conservancy (and so much more).

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Photo by Chris Tebbutt

Audrey Prosser (seated to the left of Chris Tebbutt on the right side of the photo ) is on the WAVE advisory board

 “With the primaries just 90 days away, it’s imperative for voters from the 48th district to learn as much as they can about where their candidates stand on issues of vital importance to them,” said WAVE founder and president Joanna Weiss, who will serve as the debate’s moderator. 

“Particularly at this watershed moment in history, when issues around women’s rights and empowerment are in the forefront of American discourse and women are engaging in politics at an unprecedented level, this will be a significant opportunity for the candidates to share their positions on culture and policy with potential constituents.” 

Registrants may choose to make a donation to support the work of the event hosts. 

WAVE (Women for American Values and Ethics) is a federal political action committee made up of a diverse group of nonpartisan women that aims to educate its members and the community on important political issues, empower its members by providing advocacy training, and advance political candidates, organizations, and policies that support progressive American values and ethics. For more information, visit www.wave4all.org.

California’s 48th congressional district stretches along the Pacific coastline of Orange County from Seal Beach to Laguna Beach, including Seal Beach, Sunset Beach, Surfside, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Newport Coast, Newport Beach, Laguna Niguel, and Fountain Valley, as well as portions of Midway City, Westminster, Santa Ana, and Garden Grove. 

Incumbent Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R) currently represents the district in the House of Representatives.

All tickets to this event are free by clicking here.


Three LB Democratic candidates vie for 48th District seat: Who is best suited for the job?

Stu News asked Laguna Beach candidates for the 48th Congressional District one question (see below). We asked them not to send cookie-cutter “press release” answers.

Here are their unedited responses in order in which they were received. 

Question: Please name ONE major reason why Democratic voters should choose you to compete with Rep Dana Rohrabacher over the other Laguna Beach residents running for the office.

Boyd Robert’s response

The 48th Congressional District is a Republican district. The June 5, top two primary, is not limited to and will not be decided, solely, by Democrats. Democrats should vote for a Democrat with crossover appeal that can garner enough Republican and Independent votes to win in November.   

My campaign, Boyd Roberts for Congress, is the only campaign with the crossover issues that can appeal to all voters.  Democrats should support my candidacy because I have the best chance of winning.   

I am the author of two statewide ballot measures.

The first would – without impacting the taxpayer – create a new University of California Online (UCO). UCO would be self-funding (tuition pays for everything); have free and for credit divisions; lower costs dramatically; lessen the need for students to take on student debt; eliminate admissions gatekeeping; allow UC, CSU, and CCC students to take an impacted class or finish online; allow students to take courses at their own pace; create funding (from out of state fees) for: merit based in-state student scholarships, student food pantries, and need based in-state student housing.

The second would make the toll roads free after 20 years of total toll collection and require any new toll lane or road to be first approved by any affected city or local agency. It would make the 73, 241, 261, and 91 freeways. It would limit any new tolls on the 405 to just 20 years.

These measures will be transformative and very popular with millennials, students, parents, and drivers.


Dr. Hans Keirstead’s response

I grew up on a small farm in Uxbridge, Canada. I was one of six kids, and while my mom, who was a single parent, did her best, we didn’t have much. We ate whatever we could grow and made our own clothes.

I came to the US with nothing in my pockets but a ton of determination. I’ve been so fortunate to have been able to build my businesses by treating people with spinal cord injuries and cancer.

My story is a quintessential American story. But I look around today and I know that others especially women, members of the LGBT community, immigrants, and minorities are having the doors of opportunity being slammed in their faces. 

Congress has been warped to benefit ultra-wealthy individuals and corporations at the expense of the rest of the country. 

This is even true here in Orange County. Housing costs are too high. They’re being crushed by their student loans. They can’t afford childcare or health care. 

We can do better.

I am fighting to improve the lives of people around me. I will stand with the Dreamers, and support a pathway to citizenship. I will continue to fight Big Pharma, insurance companies because I have been doing it my entire career and I’ll fight back against Donald Trump and Dana Rohrabacher’s attempts to bring oil drilling to our home. 


Harley Rouda’s response

For too long politicians in this country have put party first and country second. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 was a wake up call that we all need to be more involved in our political process, and for me that meant stepping up to run and serve the greater good. We need political leaders that will work to move Orange County forward, but sadly we have a President that hides and a Congressman that divides.

I’m running to make Southern California a leader in clean tech and green energy, to protect our coastline and to pass Medicare for All so that everyone has access to health care. With my background as a business leader, technology entrepreneur, and attorney I will work to listen to all residents of the 48th and find solutions that move us forward. 

Since starting our campaign nearly a year ago our grassroots support has shown that we are the leader to take on Dana Rohrabacher. Just this week, our local chapter of Indivisible announced that our support from grassroots donors puts us in the lead based on their “Voter Support Score.” 

This, along with our endorsements from six labor unions, Laguna’s own former mayor Toni Iseman and other elected officials across the district show we have the momentum and support to flip the 48th.

Activist Ted Danson tells crowd protesting offshore drilling to “Keep love in your hearts & fight like hell”

Story and photos by LYNETTE BRASFIELD

The signs said it all on the Cobblestones near Main Beach last Saturday morning between 10 a.m. and noon: There is no Planet B; An Ocean is a Terrible Thing to Waste; Respect the Earth, and the blunt-force message Drilling is Killing (the latter poster carried by a number of members of the Surfriders).

An estimated 300 - 500 people were there to send a strong message to the Trump Administration, which advocates drilling for oil along America’s coastline, including recommending six new leases in California, two off So Cal: Don’t do it. We’re not going to let it happen.

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Ted Danson urges the crowd to tell people what’s at stake

Speakers ranged from the political to the practical to the lyrical – and yes, to the mythical, if you count the mermaid – but they shared one emotion: passion for the ocean and the creatures that live beneath its surface.

Lagunan Catherine Hall, who belongs to the Sierra Club and the Ocean Awareness Challenge, said she came because “we need to protect our coast – offshore drilling is old science, it ‘s not realistic, we need to preserve our precious resources.” 

Laguna resident Dr. Hans Keirstead and Newport Beach’s Laura Oatman, Democratic contenders to win the 48th District Congressional seat and upset Rep Rohrabacher, were among the crowd.

Democratic candidates for the 48th district attend the rally

Oatman told Stu News that her “number one” issue is the environment.

“When I was a kid, during the pre-EPA era, I remember the smog in LA was so bad we couldn’t play outside,” she said. “People fought for our planet and things got better.  Some people say it is too late to fight climate change. Not me. 

“I have five kids and I expect to have grandkids –I’m fighting for their future, I’m a middle class mom and I’m pissed off and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Harley Rouda had a scheduling conflict, but he emailed his position on the matter:

“I stand with our neighbors to oppose offshore drilling. Throughout my campaign I have pledged not to take a dollar from big oil. We must work to move Orange County forward by creating green tech and clean energy jobs here at home, not destroying our coast.”

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Dr. Hans Keirstead chats to Laguna resident Sue Stewart 

Keirstead, chatting to Laguna resident Sue Stewart, said, “This issue is fundamental to our destiny and you have to ask yourself why anyone would be for offshore drilling.”

(Laguna Beach’s current representative in Congress, Rep Dana Rohrabacher, is a supporter of offshore drilling.)

“The logical answer is that special interests are at work, Big Oil in other words,” Keirstead said.

“Here in California we’re a test bed for novel and progressive issues and the rest of the nation follows our lead. All the more reason to battle this here. And we need to be sure to enforce current California laws. We’re lucky in that respect, to have those.”

Former tide pool docent and scuba diver Sue Stewart agreed. “It’s so beautiful here. The ocean is life. We need to keep it clean.”

Ubiquitous former mayor and current councilmember Toni Iseman reminded the crowd to send their message directly to “Dana” and urged everyone to get at least 10 other people to fight against offshore drilling.

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Offshore protest against offshore drilling

Native American representatives spoke lyrically in their language and sang of their love of the ocean. 

Activists emphasized how important the health of the ocean is to everyone, from surfers to businesses – and one speaker asked business owners to visit the website www.defendthepacific.org

“Offshore drilling is not about more jobs,” he said, “no matter what you hear. It’s not good for our economy.”

Surfrider CEO Chad Nelsen and organizer Rich German, founder of Project O, were passionate about the need for everyone to “send a huge wave of activism across the country.”

“We own this coast and it’s not for sale,” emphasized mother/daughter activist team Olga and Arliss.

Two speakers were particularly impressive: ten-year-old “microactivist” Connor Berryhill explained why he was so dedicated to this cause. 

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Connor Berryhill (10) explains his love of the ocean

“My friend and I were walking along the beach and we came across this bird, about the size of a pigeon, all covered in oil, and he hopped into the rescue basket…I felt that he knew I would help save the ocean, and the ocean is like a home to me,” Connor said. 

“If we kill the ocean, everyone on land goes too, including us…and pigeons.”

Connor received enormous applause for his gutsy speech and his hard work in making a difference.

Sara introduced actor and activist Ted Danson, who had this to say: “Be passionate about the ocean, yes. But don’t be angry. Keep a light heart. Try not to be political. 

“Tell people what’s at stake, ask them what the ocean means to them, how it affects them, their heart, maybe their wallets. Be proud and happy [about how you feel about the ocean] – keep love in your heart and fight like hell.”

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Ted Danson applauds Sara Lowell for her work (see mermaid on the far right)

Danson also gave a big shout-out to Sara Lowell. “She’s important to this cause,” he said. “She’s making a big difference.”

The event, which also featured Oceana and Indivisible OC 48, wrapped up with Hands Across the Sand, a symbolic demonstration of solidarity by the ebullient crowd.

Just as people grabbed each other’s hands, a large, slick-black-backed sea lion (was it Cabo heading north from Aliso Beach?) hurtled into view and took a victory lap, dipping in and out of the waves before disappearing from sight into the beautiful blue.

Patriots Day Parade Brunch fetes 2018 honorees


The Patriots Day Parade Association first honored local heroes and worthy contributors to the community in 1967 – and have yet to run out of honorees. In fact, the Association has added a couple of categories.

This year’s honorees are Grand Marshal Gloria Fickling, Citizen of the Year Heidi Miller, Patriot of the Year George Ciampa, Junior Citizens of the Year Marisa Schatz and Joseph (Joey) Ravenna, Parade Program Essay Winner Alexandra Keyser and Program Cover Art Winner Jackson Blake Pihi. 

Among the newer categories, the Association recognized the Laguna Art Museum as the 2018 Artists of the Year and the Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation and the Girls 10-, 12-, and 14-and under Junior Olympic Champions as Athletes of the Year.

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Charlie Quilter and Christopher Tomlin

Brunch guests were greeted by association President Christopher Tomlin, who gave a special welcome to past honorees: 2017 Citizen of the Year Doug Miller, 2010 Patriot Dave Connell, 2003 Grand Marshal retired Laguna Beach Fire Captain Eugene D’Isabella, 2003 Patriot Don Black, 1993 Citizen of the Year Sandi Werthe and 1993 Patriot Charles Quilter, retired U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot and a participant in the annual parade ever since.

Quilter served Sunday as the master of ceremonies, presenting well-researched histories of the honorees’ contributions to Laguna and, in some cases, to the world.

Fickling and her late husband Forrest Fickling, better known as “Skip,” created a whole new genre of detective stories: Honey West, a female sleuth unlike any before, with lots to follow, in books and on television. 

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Gloria Fickling (seated to the right) is honored

“She was a young, bright and self-assured blond with the body of Marilyn Monroe and the skills that usually outmatched men who underestimated her,” said Quilter. 

Honey’s spunky personality was based on Fickling. 

A nonagenarian, Fickling attends local events dressed to the nines and ready to dance. 

Miller might be the prototype to be honored for giving of themselves in a significant way to the community. Literally. 

“Her selfless and heroic donation of kidney to a dying man last year gained her the admiration of all Lagunans,” said Quilter.

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Submitted photo

Heidi with her closest friends: Robin Woods (wearing a hat), Carol Lee (standing), and Kimberley Oswald (giving Heidi a congratulatory kiss)

It was not the first time Heidi had come to the aid of a dying friend. In 1991, she donated bone marrow to Terry Reisdorf, extending her life by 23 years.

Miller has lived in Laguna for 37 years and besides running two locally favored businesses, she has immersed herself in cultural and charitable organizations. She has served on the boards of the American Heart Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the City of Hope, the Laguna Playhouse, the Chamber of Commerce and Laguna Playhouse. 

She also rescued the iconic World Newsstand, which had closed.

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Ann Quilter raises the flag as Malcolm Warner, executive director, LAM, and Genny Boccardo, deputy director, LAM, get ready for a photo op

Ciampa, a World War II US Army veteran, was part of a small and unheralded group of quartermasters who were entrusted with the most sacred duty asked of a soldier: caring for the bodies of those who have died in combat. 

He served on the front lines from D-Day to the end of the war in Europe and was awarded five battle stars, the Meritorious Unit Commendation Wreath and the French Unit Croix de Guerre. He also was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest award for gallantry.

In 2006, Ciampa founded “Let Freedom Ring,” a non-profit foundation that makes documentaries to educate young people about the high price of liberty. 

Laguna Beach High School faculty members choose the Junior Citizens of the Year, based on achievements in academics, leadership, athletics and community service.

They picked a couple of corkers this year. Schatz has been active in Girl Scouts for 12 years, played varsity basketball for three years and maintains 4.0-plus grade point average in advanced placement classes. 

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Meredith Dowling, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, and Ellen Richard, executive director, Laguna Playhouse, enjoy the festive atmosphere 

Ravenna is the president of the 2018 senior class and the National Honor Society; secretary general of the LBHS Model United Nations, winner of the Best Delegate Award to the International Model UN Conference, and was Laguna’s American Legion Post delegate to Boys State. 

His GPA is 4.56, for which he has won numerous awards, including the Rotary Club’s Student of the Month.

The theme of the 2018 parade is “Waves of Freedom,” taken to heart by essay winner Keyser.

“Many people in our nation’s past have created ripples that spread across out nations to create a wave of movement when they fought for their rights to be equal,” she wrote. “Equal as people, equal as Americans, equal under our waving Star Spangled Banner.”

The late Emily Ross, whose dearest wish in 1967 was of a parade that “would instill in our youth love of country and respect for the flag’’ left a legacy which is renewed every year on the first Saturday in March, as Laguna honors its own.

Landscape(er)/Garden(er) of the Month

Historic Arabella Laguna is a lush hidden treasure 

of relaxing pleasure


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Arabella Laguna offers an enchanting hideaway rich in history and greenery. Situated under a canopy of trees, the lush inviting English style garden and courtyard provide a peaceful and relaxing setting.

Adding to the charming allure of the property, the four Garden Guest Cottages are met with stone pathways, avine-covered pavilion, and sitting areas surrounded by a lovely array of beautiful plants, trees, and flowers.

“I’ve owned this property since 1976. We just loved it back to being what it is today,” said Connie Maxsenti. “The property is comprised of two historic cottages that are very high on the rating, one’s K and one’s E. So in redoing this property in 2001, we restored these cottages and preserved them.”

Since the renovation, the cottages are primarily vacation rentals, but also used for occasional weddings and special events, including the Laguna Beach Garden Club’s biggest fundraiser, the ever-popular annual Gate and Garden Tour held in the spring.

Maxsenti has been a Garden Club member for years, including the last few as its membership director.

“They have started the tour here the last four years,” Maxsenti said. “That’s also how I got involved. They’ve decided, as long as I own it, they’re going to use it in perpetuity.”

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Connie Maxsenti’s Arabella Laguna offers a charming ambiance and setting

“In the spring, it’s really pretty. We have hydrangeas, these purple blooming plants, and this is a sage and it blooms pink. So when you’re in season you’ve got a lot color here,” Maxsenti said. “But right now, it’s pretty green. This yard is really a shady yard, so you have to go for those kinds of shade plants. That’s why we have a lot of ferns. And right now it’s pretty dormant because it’s February.” 

Before the renovation, the gardens did not exist. It was horrible, she said. They had to create the garden from the ground up. The first thing they did was to plant a hedge to block North Coast Highway, where the property faces. She calls the garden an evolving landscape and the evolution is quite spectacular.

Her gorgeous ferns are a brilliant green with arms stretching out wide, some are as big as four by four feet. She said they love it there because they get the right amount of light.

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Arabella Laguna is soothing and relaxing everywhere you look

As we walked along the peaceful pathway, Maxsenti showed me a variety of gorgeous plants and shrubs, from mockorange and pittosporum hedges to hydrangeas, day lilies, and tiny clusters of flowers, known as kalanchoe. 

“Those are geraniums and those are mulberries, that’s a tea bush, and above it are oleanders that bloom white. These are azaleas. They don’t bloom very much, but they are pretty when they do,” Maxsenti said, as she walked me around gorgeous grounds.

Her variegated vincas have finally taken off showing purple flowers. And her succulents have propagated throughout her garden. 

“All this is Boston ivy, they’re are attractive, climbing vines. This grows all along the wall and out in front. This whole thing is just green in the summer,” Maxsenti said. “Boston ivy is the one that turns colors and falls off and then it starts over again. It will start blooming now.”

A beautiful statue in her garden enjoys the company of Boston ivy. 

“It’s from Hello Dolly, it was part of the stage set, this structure. It is a fountain, but more decorative in nature. It’s really pretty when it starts getting green in the spring and lasts until October when it turns colors and falls off,” Maxsenti said.

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Enjoy rich accents and beauty that abound at Arabella Laguna, which is located very close to Heisler Park and the beach

But Maxsenti’s favorites are her trees. The trees are exquisite, especially when they’re all lit at night with twinkling white lights, which give it a magical feel, adding to the special nuance and charm of the property.

“I am a tree person for sure. I like the sheltering. The privacy they give you makes it feel much more intimate,”Maxsenti said. “The trees here are wonderful. These are all eucalyptus trees. They’re a different kind of eucalyptus. This is a Norfolk Island pine, which was this big when I planted it. It was my Christmas tree. I planted it maybe 20 years ago.”

It started out around four feet and now it towers over the two-story house, so she estimates that it’s over 30 feet tall. The same is true of a hardy redwood tree that now matches the pine in height.

“I like a freeform garden. I don’t like a super manicured garden. I just plant it and they’re all on their own,” Maxsenti said. “You have to play with different areas and see what will grow. Sometimes you plant it, it will make it, and sometimes it won’t.

Seemingly, the gardens have not only made it, but have thrived, as exemplified throughout the enchanting gardens at Arabella Laguna.

Nominees for the 12th Annual Art Star Awards on April 29 announced by Laguna Beach Arts Alliance 

The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance (LBAA) announces the nominees for the 12th Annual Art Star Awards to be held on Sunday, April 29, at 6 p.m., sponsored by [seven-degrees]. At this red-carpet event, the winners will be announced and presented with one-of-a-kind Art Star award sculptures, created by Louis Longi. These organizations, businesses and individuals contributed and shaped the arts and culture in LB in 2017. 

“Each and every one of this year’s nominees are well known contributors in our art community – everyone deserving of an award, making the selection committee’s award decisions a daunting task,” said Art Stars Committee Chair, Rosemary Swimm. 

“Members of the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance nominated exciting and deserving contributors to the arts in our community. It was very challenging to select the award recipients. However, in two categories, Individual Arts Patron and Corporate Arts Patron, there were some outright winners based on nominations.”

The winner of the Corporate Arts Patron award is Festival of Arts – Scholarship Program, and Lisa Hale will receive the Individual Arts Patron award.

The Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts will honor Tom Swimm with a special Art Stars Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his accomplishments as an artist in Laguna Beach.

Nominated for Best Arts Program: Laguna Outreach for Community Arts (LOCA) - LOCA Art Club; Laguna Playhouse – TheatreReach - Bringing Books to Life; Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) – Plein Air Invitational

Nominated for Outstanding Arts Collaboration: First Thursdays Art Walk & Laguna College of Art + Design – Professional Gallery/Student Mentor Program; Laguna Art Museum; Laguna Plein Air Art Association (LPAPA) & University of California, Irvine (UCI) – The Plein Air Project.

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Submitted photo

Art Star award sculptures, created by Louis Longi

For Arts Leadership: Festival of Arts Board of Directors, Toni Kellenberg, Sian Poeschl.

For Artist of the Year: Jason Feddy, Michael Matthews, Mike Tauber.

The winner of the 2018 [seven-degrees] of Inspiration Grant, will be announced during the event.

The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance was established in 2002 as the result of an exciting partnership among more than 20 Laguna Beach organizations. The mission is to serve as an advocate for the arts, promote collaboration and networking among the arts organizations of Laguna Beach, and to serve as a united voice for the arts in the city. 

To purchase tickets to attend the 12th Annual Art Star Awards, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Tickets are $100 each and include dinner as well as all the festivities.

For more information on Laguna Beach Arts Alliance, go to www.lagunabeacharts.org.

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