Now, I am an activist

Thanks to the “Indy” for highlighting Carrie Reynolds’ new role as an activist.  I’ve never marched for or against anything – until now – now I’m an activist.  I’m joining 39 other women and men from Laguna to march in Santa Ana on Jan 21.  

I’m marching for equal treatment and respect for all religions, races, genders, gender identities, and the freedom for people to marry the person they love.  Very troubling remarks were made by the country’s president elect during the campaign and they continue to be tweeted daily.  It is vitally important that we stand for the principles and values our country was founded on and stand for human rights.  

I hope others from Laguna will join in making this important statement to our new government.  Here’s the information:  Saturday, January 21, 2017. Starting Point: French Plaza Downtown Santa Ana (Corner of 4th and French). Ending Point: Old Orange County Courthouse, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Meg Monahan

Laguna Beach


Trump will tweet from the White House

Last week’s news that Donald Trump, once he is sworn into office, will continue tweeting from the Oval Office is alarming.  Given there could be any number of unforeseen replies, will there be a White House filter?  

I can imagine President Trump sending the following 3 a.m. messages.  First to Russian President Vladimir Putin:  Hey, bro, next time you’re in town, lets take off our shirts and sauna together; second, to Chinese President Xi Jinping:  Watched you on TV.  Were you wearing one of my ties?  And last, to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un:  Would you like me to send my barber to Pyongyang?

Not that any of these tweets would set off an international firestorm, but they are instructive.  Namely, while most Americans are asleep, what will our next president be saying in the middle of the night?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Thank you, Barbara Diamond

Thank you Barbara Diamond for the lovely centennial story on Laguna Presbyterian Church. Although we weren’t Presbyterian, Laguna Presbyterian Church is forever etched into my life and soul. I recall the lovely song of her church bells, of being a pre-school student in the first class of 1961, of Boy Scout meetings in the basement in the early 70s.

Anna Hill’s 1921 vision for the church and for Laguna Beach, as Barbara stated, is exactly what I long for my beautiful hometown.

Jean-Pierre Garau

Gresham, OR


Homeless and cold nights

The holidays are upon us. Many still struggle with last minute shopping or writing those last holiday cards.  On the other hand, some of our poorest neighbors - 80% of whom are, according to the City, disabled - struggle with what most of us assume is a third world problem, viz, finding a safe place to sleep.  

For these, our poorest citizens, there is a conflict between the biological necessity of sleep and the City’s characterization of roofless sleep as criminal.  Laguna provides indoor space for 45 of our unhoused but, at least for the past ten years or so, on any given night there are about 70 persons needing such space.  Everyone involved in the decision to accommodate only 45 persons was aware that the decision would also establish a criminal subclass.  Anyone care to explain?

Having consciously decided to create the situation, the City continues its crusade to root out this most human conduct by having the police issue citations to the self indulgent souls who give in to their biological need.  In some sort of indirect recognition of the apparent cruelty of this enforcement program, the City absolves itself by noting that - despite the impact on mental health - the poor can simply stay awake all night and sleep during the day when sleeping is not illegal.

In the pending lawsuit brought by some locals experiencing homelessness, the trial judge wrote back in February that a “…community’s moral and ethical values may be best reflected in how it treats its most vulnerable.”  Which sentiment embarrasses you: that expressed by the trial judge or that demonstrated by the City’s enforcement?

If a further hint is sought, isn’t the kind treatment of the vulnerable a value recognized by all of the religious and philosophical systems that contributed to Western ethics?

In closing, thanks St. Mary’s for finding room in the inn for some of our poor on two recent nasty nights.  I hope that the City will take inspiration from your example and end its obscene enforcement campaign. 

James Keegan

Laguna Beach


Is the city stepping on Agate beach access?

A design for rehabilitation of the public beach access at the end of Agate Street was postponed and is currently up for City Council Appeal on Tuesday December 13th.  This is a widely used access and viewing area where the public enjoys coveted views of the unique surf break, Catalina sunsets, Pearl Rock and the famous Arch.

Basic reasons for the Appeal:  1) the approved plan reduces the usable area of the viewing platform by over half, down to the size of a large parking space.  2) Seating needs to be at least wooden benches, if not art benches, similar to those approved for Mountain and Oak Street.  3) Wheelchair access ramps to the viewing platform have been eliminated.  4) No view studies on the remaining views have been performed.  The view of the Arch from the bench is in jeopardy despite past Conditions of Approvals.

Why is this Public Works project not utilizing more public input to preserve this asset rather than being treated like a liability?  It appears the design team’s focus is to minimize the overall size and aesthetics, and reduce the liability of loitering, rather than enhance these public gateways to our beaches.

The City Council understands the issues at stake after physically walking the site and feeling the impacts of this poor design.  Granting this Appeal will allow Council to mandate specific modifications to make this a more palatable design.  With just a little effort and openness to small changes by the design team, this can be achieved, and the existing million dollar public views will be preserved.  Please help save the assets of this public beach access by supporting the City Council’s vote to Appeal.  Let’s preserve and enhance, not reduce and restrict Laguna’s public assets.

Peter Mann, Ocean Way 

Laguna Beach


Remembering Sandy Hook

Four years ago tomorrow, 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  I vowed then I would never forget that day and I haven’t.  I still grieve for the brothers, sisters and parents whose hearts were broken that terrible morning.

Despite President Obama saying Dec. 14, 2012 was the worst day of his presidency, one could argue that virtually nothing has been done since then to prevent unstable individuals from getting their hands on the kind of weapon used in the massacre.  

Make no mistake about it, if a shooting like the one that occurred at Sandy Hook ever happens here, it would be tragic.  But, given that the White House, Congress and state lawmakers have failed to reach a compromise on gun safety issues, it would not be shocking.

I hope you will join me in a moment of silence tomorrow.  It’s the least any of us can do to remind the families of the victims we still care, even if we live 3,000 miles away.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Run again, Howard

Add my name to the list of people who know and love Howard Hills for his integrity and commitment to Laguna’s youth. Howard would have brought intelligence and true love of governance and community to Laguna’s school board.  

This was not to be, but I hope he will run again and also continue to speak out for the best use of resources to insure the highest quality educational opportunities for Laguna’s schoolchildren.

Hedy Buzan Williamson

Laguna Beach 


A lump of coal for the police volunteers

Laguna Beach rolled out the Yuletide cheer last Friday for Hospitality Night.  The cold temperatures didn’t put a chill on the crowds of happy friends, families, and visitors who enjoyed seeing Santa, the ice rink, two Wish Fairies, the carolers, the band, decked out local businesses, and consuming tamales and hot cocoa.  

The city of Laguna really pulled out all stops to make it a special night.

The only crimp in the festivities were the roving groups of police volunteers, scowling back when greeted with a “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” and asking to sniff or look into people’s cups of hot cocoa.  I even saw them stop one of the Wish Fairies, get right into her face and have her pour out a cup of warm milk. Who trains these people? I thought the idea of public service meant you serve the public—not snarl or accost them. 

I’ve been planning to volunteer for the next Citizen’s Academy for Police Volunteers, but question whether I can work with uncivil people. The Police Volunteers deserve a lump of coal in their stocking for increasing the chill on Hospitality Night.  

George Weiss

Laguna Beach


LBPD Citizen Academy possibilities

On Thursday, December 8, 2016 the twenty-third Laguna Beach Police Department Citizen Academy graduated. The graduation ceremony was held at Tivoli Too. Eighteen citizens graduated from the program and have joined the Citizen Academy Alumni, now 447 strong. Attending the graduation ceremony were family members of graduates and representatives from the Laguna Beach Police Department.

This is a great civic program, especially for local youth and seniors.

A number of practical applications could easily be added to augment and improve the much-appreciated traffic enforcement and also enhance the participant’s community communication skills.

Residents and visitors will benefit from a non-confrontational neighborhood ambassador trained in laws and local codes. These “Ambassadors” would be visible all year, especially weekends and summers both on foot throughout the village, in neighborhoods and on beaches as well offering their more visible help with traffic circulation.

Additional emphasis and training could provide important public emergency information, educational and code compliance flyers to residents, business and the public as well as handing out warning slips (not tickets) to help mitigate scofflaws further promoting safety, cleanliness and appreciation of this beautiful city.

The program can offer much needed help and consistency to improve a myriad of community concerns including nuisance and reporting dangerous behaviors. Involvement and alert eyes and ears help us all.

I applaud Laguna’s police department for providing a public opportunity to further improve safety and code compliance.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach


Hills’ 47-years as a School Board advocate

I was disappointed to readTom Hinmon’s letter to the StuNews editor (Nov. 30), admitting he “never met” Howard Hills, but feels free to call him a “hateful” person. Hinmon’s choice of the word “hateful” expressed what was in his heart, not Howard’s. Howard is the least hateful person I know.

Judge for yourself if hate-speech against Howard is justified. At the first School Board after the election Howard publicly congratulated the successful candidates and made two public comments at LBUSD.org(Nov. 15 Board Meeting - 9 min. 40 sec. and 38 min. 10 sec.) At that same meeting LBUSD PTA Council President Tammy Skenderian recognized Howard for his commitment and “passion” as a candidate. Well done, Tammy.

Without any evidence, Hinmon also asserts Hills covets a seat n our City Counicl. Howard was Navy JAG and a constitutional lawyer in the White House and Congress. Considering his experience, Howard was often asked if he was“over-qualified” for School Board; his typical answer was “Governance of local schools is a lot more important than what happens in City Hall, Sacramento or Washington.”

What is remarkable about Howard is that he had no need, much less ambition to hold office, no kids in schools who might benefit, no business interests in town. School Board advocacy simply continued a forty-seven-year record of volunteering as a student, parent, and grandparent in our local schools. Howard ran at the request of many in our community who have observed how the School Board has functioned over a long period.

Missteps by the School Board over the past ten years include budget and staffing fiascos, excessively delayed and costly renovation of the tennis courts, an aborted decision to start school before Labor Day without noticing the public, inappropriate involvement in the Social Host Ordinance, and reluctance to have recordings of School Board meetings made available to the public who couldn’t attend in person (finally rectified - with no little effort - by Howard).

Howard is openly critical of the School Board failure to perform its role under state law more effectively and independently, and his candor about these issues was taken personally by some. Still, five thousand voters embraced Howard’s platform for enhanced school governance.

His pledge to bring knowledge, consistency, and standardization in policy-making by the School Board would have been a great gift to our community. Howard worked hard for our kids, feels good about his campaign, and accepted the outcome in good spirits that showed respect for the democratic process. Those who were afraid to have someone with different ideas and skills than the rest of the School Board, should now do the same.

I wish the new School Board well, hope its members will address the issues that Howard highlighted, and thank them for their service.

Tijana Hamilton

Laguna Beach


True sportsmanship begins with coaching direction

ED. Note: This letter was sent to the principal of Boron High School from the football sideline crew 

Dear Principal Wiggs,

I am a member of the Laguna Beach High School varsity football homegame “chain gang” (first down chains, and downs marker). The current four volunteers have 32 years (combined) on the gang. We work on the “visitor” side of the field, putting us in close contact with every visiting team.

In our post-game discussions, we agreed that the coaches and team fielded by Boron on November 18 demonstrated the best features of competitive high school sports, team spirit, and sportsmanship we’ve ever seen. Throughout the game, regardless of circumstances, they demonstrated excellence.

Despite the heat of the game (and the outcome of the CIF playoffs being on the line) your coaches provided positive guidance to players regardless of how plays evolved. Coaches interacted strongly with the officials and the team, but without the negative actions and language we often see and hear.

Players were both competitive and aggressive, but at the same time showed respect for officials, coaches, and the opposing players. Boron team members maintained their excellent demeanor beyond the final play, saying thanks to the officials and other participants.

It’s obvious that more than just football is being addressed by the Boron school, coaches, and football team. Please commend your coaches and players for a job well done.

Brad Martin

Laguna Beach Chain Gang


No Red Ribbons on World AIDS Day?

Feeling very disappointed in Laguna today. In years past World AIDS Day was something special. Almost 200 former residents were remembered by having red ribbons placed on trees throughout the downtown area. 

We just got back from our morning walk. With the exception of the World AIDS Day banner across forest nothing. Not one ribbon.

Scott Alan

Laguna Beach


Disappointed

Saw the article in the LA Times on the citations issued for lack of [liquor] license [to Art Walk galleries]. Really too bad Laguna PD has stooped to this level. Warnings would have been more than sufficient. Going undercover to “bust” small gallery owners who are barely making it is an embarrassing mark on Laguna Beach and our way of life.  

The Laguna PD needs to be better than that, it’s not Serve and Protect it’s becoming Harass and Collect. Just my $.02. They could have accomplished the same results in a very different and more community friendly way. Shame on them.

Phillips R. Sweet

Laguna Beach


Guest Column – City Manager & Chief of Police

City responds to questions regarding Art Walk

The City has received questions regarding recent enforcement efforts during Art Walk. The Police Department has been working with the Art Walk Board to address issues related to the event.  

While some notices were provided to participating businesses, they clearly did not convey the necessary information to the right people and, unfortunately, citations were issued that exceeded the intent of the cooperative effort to gain compliance with all applicable laws.  

In the spirit of working with Art Walk participants, the City reached out to the District Attorney’s Office, who will not be pursuing those citations, and the recipients have been notified.

The City values the Art Walk program and how it celebrates our community’s heritage and culture. The Police Department will be working with the Art Walk organization over the next several months to establish an appropriate program that respects the purpose of the event while ensuring that a safe and legal environment is provided for all. In the meantime, the event will continue while solutions are developed.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through the issues.  

Respectfully,

John Pietig, City Manager

Laura Farinella, Chief of Police


No view is worth cutting even one tree

I have lived in Laguna Beach for more than sixty (60) years. Dolores and I have raised our eleven children to respect nature and laws.

From the damaged I observed, the person or persons who made the cuts do not understand how trees grow. They clearly are individuals not of California nor have a love for Laguna Beach.

I have spent a lifetime trying to improve and beautify the environment and this makes me sick. No view is worth cutting even one tree to gain a greater view.

I am sorry for our community.

Honorable Alberto F. Treviño

Laguna Beach


“…step in [if] you witness harassment, discrimination or a violent attack…”

As people, who live and work in Laguna Beach we are concerned about the safety of our fellow humans in town. While most of your readers experience Laguna as a friendly little place, which has no room for hate and bigotry, unfortunately it is not always friendly to everyone. In the last two weeks since the election, we have seen an increase in violence throughout the country, including the use of Nazi symbols, racist language or images as well as harassment of and violent attacks on individuals because of their racial, ethnic, religious, sexual or gender identity. Our place has not been spared. 

A member of our community shared her personal story of strangers directing hate speech at her (and, sadly, it has to be assumed that this was not the only incident). People passing by made statements such as “go back to where you came from.” We know that the majority of people, who live and work in town, find this type of hurtful, threatening behavior unacceptable and would agree that each individual, who lives, works or visits has the right to be safe in Laguna Beach. And yet, no one intervened during this incident. The community member, who had the courage to come forward and talk about the experience of being harassed, specifically said that it would have meant a lot to her to have fellow citizens stand with her. 

We therefore appeal to each individual’s sense of justice and human decency to treat each other with kindness and respect and to step in in case you witness harassment, discrimination or a violent attack, wherever it occurs. 

(This link leads to an article that includes helpful recommendations to deescalate tense situations. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/science/donald-trump-billy-bush-offensive-speech.html

We also suggest that the city, the business community, churches and other groups active in the community take a public stance against bigotry and violence. One model to adopt could be the Joint Statement from California Legislative Leaders from Nov 9, 2016, which states that “California is – and must always be – a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations – regardless of how you look, where you live, what language you speak, or who you love.” 

We leave it to your kind and creative spirits to come up with ideas to keep this place livable for all of us. In civil society, silence cannot be an option. Let’s stand up against discrimination and work together for true peace, equality and community in Laguna Beach - and beyond.

Annette Schlichter, Laguna Beach

Robin Pierson, Laguna Beach

Yasuko Bush, Laguna Beach

John Bush, Laguna Beach

Scott Alan, Laguna Beach

Valarie Gabel, Aliso Viejo

Linda Brown, Laguna Beach

Karen Feuer Schwager, Laguna Beach

Greg Taylor, Laguna Beach

Robert Koster, Laguna Beach

Carrie Pohlhammer, Laguna Beach


Guest Column

Proposed changes to Historic Preservation Ordinance could impact your rights as a homeowner; but there is a solution!

By LAURENCE P. NOKES

If you own a property in Laguna Beach built before 1955, you must be concerned about the impact of the new proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance on your property rights. Simple remodels to homes of that age are now potentially “historic” by City standards. You may have to hire an historian to prove to the City that your 1955 house is not “historic.” 

This new rule augments the already onerous standard faced by the 500 or so owners whose homes are listed on the City’s “historic inventory.” This inventory has been debunked as neither having been prepared or maintained in accordance with California or Federal law. The proposed ordinance seeks to “reanimate” this legislative corpse by simply deeming it valid, erasing consequences of failing to prepare and update the inventory according to the law. Simply ignoring the flaws that plagued the inventory from the beginning – that the homeowners were never informed of the consequences of being included on the list before they were deprived of important property rights – the new ordinance ratifies the old illegal inventory. After 36 years, owners of inventory homes have yet to have a hearing in which to challenge their rights to remodel their homes according to their tastes, subject to valid City zoning standards.

This much is clear: Whether through an inventory listing or because of age alone, a declaration by the City that your home is “historic” may thrust your renovation plan into an extra layer of expensive scrutiny, beyond the already onerous process of design review and City Council appeals. 

Retention of the Historic Register in the new ordinance is positive. The Register provides significant financial and site development incentives to those willing to provide a voluntary commitment to preserve their homes. The incentives encourage a willing, voluntary participant to nominate his or her home for inclusion on the Register. 

The inventory, on the other hand, is a list on which homeowners never asked to be included. They were never told of the stifling impacts that inclusion would have on their property rights and, after they were listed, they were never given a way out. The City treated inventory homes as “historic resources” which could only be remodeled pursuant to strict federal standards under the watchful eye of a paid historian. Your right to remodel your inventory home investment belonged to the City.

In addition to creating a new 1955 threshold for historicity and raising the inventory from the dead, the new proposed ordinance retains the mushy rating structure introduced in conjunction with the 1981 inventory. Simplified, if your inventory house is deemed to be “very historic,” you get an “E.” If it is “sort of historic,” you get a “K.” If it isn’t historic at all but contributes to the neighborhood vibe, you get a “C.” I have simplified these ratings, and they are mentioned in Laguna Beach Municipal Code Section 25.45.004, which refers the reader to the General Plan.

Here is the conundrum. People with homes on the inventory hate the fact that their homes are listed. Their property rights were stolen without a chance to object. Others, who in good faith believe that the inventory is necessary, are concerned that the inventory homes will be lost forever if control is left to the discretion of the property owner. The proponents of the inventory argue that allowing change will make it so that Laguna is not Laguna any more. The rights of the owner are lost on these pro-inventory advocates.

I offer a solution: Recognize that the inventory is invalid and it needs to be scuttled. The current inventory may still be used as a reference for proposing structures for inclusion in a new and valid inventory to be created in accordance with the law. The amorphous “E,” “K” and “C” designations must be eliminated. Evaluate every house in Laguna Beach and propose for each house a specific California Historic Preservation Status Code. These Status Codes are well established, objective statements for designating the historicity (or not) of a building. 

Upon assignment of accurate Status Codes by competent architectural historians, notify each homeowner of the Status Code assigned, explaining the impacts of the code designation. Notice a public hearing for each home. Provide every homeowner, after proper notice and after being fully advised of the burdens and benefits of the Status Code assignment, the opportunity to present substantial evidence at the hearing as to the designation given to his or her home, and the impacts to his or her ownership rights. 

At the public hearing, each publicly elected or appointed official will be required to look each affected homeowner in the eye and personally justify the taking of these important property rights.


Happy with the school board election outcome

In response to some letters praising Howard Hills, I want to say that his defeat was the best outcome of the elections, in my opinion. I have never met him, only have read his letters to StuNews and his campaign mailings. 

His attacks on current school board members over the years have proved him to be a very negative and hateful individual. I say, let him aspire to City Council (his real agenda), and let the school board keep our schools outstanding.

Go Breakers!

Tom Hinmon

Laguna Beach


Battle over OCMA site in Newport Beach

It is fascinating to see the Irvine Company opposing the planned commercial development on the site of the current Orange County Museum of Art.

The two-acre site was donated by the Irvine Company to the City of Newport Beach on the condition that it would be used for purposes of cultural development until at least 2055.

The developers apparently feel that naming the new 25 story luxury condominium complex “Museum House” fulfills their obligation to cultural development. 

Apparently the nonprofit that owns OCMA feels that the parcel is already a lost cause. The museum located on that parcel had already closed. According to an article in the Daily Pilot, this space is only used for storage and administration now. I wonder what there is to administer if there is no actual museum. Perhaps it is the nonprofit that is a lost cause, and the space should be given over to some more worthy non-profit. If OCMA can’t make it in the shadow of Fashion Island, they probably can’t make it in South Coast Metro either, the intended new home of OCMA.

Orange County Museum of Art is the nonprofit that tried to bully their way into acquiring all of the assets of the Laguna Art Museum some years ago by packing the board of directors under cover of darkness. While they ultimately failed thanks to a vigorous uprising by south Orange County art lovers, OCMA won half of the Laguna Art Museum permanent collection anyway in a 2009 court decision. Those holdings were comprised of many early Plein Air paintings created by the founders of the Laguna Art Museum. Immediately the settled portion of the collection was sold to an undisclosed private collector for millions of dollars. So now no one knows where they are.

As OCMA is no longer an extant art museum then, I wonder what has become of their ill-gotten gains. Did they spend it all on lawn maintenance, private wine tastings and a giant sculpture of a dog urinating on their building?

Ownership of the parcel of land on which OCMA sits should immediately revert to the Irvine Company so that they can use the acreage for cultural purposes, as was the original intention of the gift to Newport Beach in 1977.

Jim Rue

Laguna Beach


With sincere gratitude

I’m writing with a heartfelt thank you to Detective Ashton, Officer Hernandez, and Detective Gensemer for presenting a PTA Coffee Break lecture about social media safety to our community. With nearly 200 parents and children in attendance, it is obviously a topic that our community is concerned about and interested in. 

The officers did an amazing job presenting the information to both children and adults, not an easy task considering the age differences and the content. I feel that one of the best take-aways from the night was that hopefully it opened a line of communication between parents and kids about the real inherent dangers of social media. It is not just fun and games. 

The officers did an excellent job at outlining steps parents and children can take to stay safe on social media, not only from predators, but also how to protect their reputation, and possibly college and career opportunities, as well as how to stop engaging in online behavior that can ultimately lead to depression or suicide. In this digital age, our children are exposed to so many negative influences. If we can provide parents with the tools to protect their kids and ban together as a community to stick by those rules, we can change the course our kids’ futures in such a positive way. 

I honestly feel that the presentation might have saved one or more of our kids from becoming victims! That is powerful. 

An outline of the presentation will be posted on GoToCoffeeBreak.com

Sharael Kolberg

PTA Coffee Break Chair


“…let’s get on with moving forward…”

Congratulations to all the successful candidates up for election or re-election in our fair city, and a big thank you to the other candidates who threw their hats in the ring to allow the residents an alternative to the incumbents.  My admiration goes out to you all, as campaigning for any office is no easy task and sometimes the mud can get pretty thick.  

I did want to say something about one particular candidate for school board who was unsuccessful in his quest, but who put up a noble campaign and a lot of hard work.  In my opinion the failure of the voters to elect Howard Hills to the school board is a missed opportunity to have someone of his caliber, intelligence, knowledge and experience serving our school board.  

His resume reads like a “Who’s Who” of experience that few in this life ever achieve.  His election to the school board would have provided for greater transparency and public involvement, and assurance that rules of order were properly followed.  He didn’t need this position, but he put his hat into the ring as a candidate who wanted to get things back in order, and then be content to ride off into the sunset, or in his case, paddle back into the next set of waves.  

I’m sure the two other candidates who were elected will do a fine job, it’s just that Howard Hills provided a skill set that cannot be duplicated.  Besides that, he’s just a really good guy and an asset to our community, and I hope he will stay involved.  

Now, let’s get on with moving forward and supporting our newly elected (or re-elected) leaders, on a local, state, and national basis.

Jennifer Zeiter

Laguna Beach


School election delays reform

School Board candidate Howard Hills got over 4,000 votes.  That’s a solid constituent base for reform candidates to build on in 2018.  

Sad to say, but reform is overdue because the quality of our School Board’s decisionhave been in continuous decline since our children attended here from K to 12. The District and high school administration were in dire need of reform then, and history has proven many disaffected families correct in their assessment of how abusive and dysfunctional it had become.

Unfortunately, this continues to this day with a defensive and often inept School Board that too often must be coaxed or badgered into simply being faithful to the state education code. Parents who dare to question or criticize are still being demonized.  

When it counts most, our School Board is unable to act independently of bureaucratic senior staff, entrenched special interests, and policy imported by the education industry from Sacramento.  Recent “governance workshops” by consultants glossed over abuses and revealed embarrassingly weak School Board management.  

Because he saw real wrongs that needed to be righted, Hills answered the call from others to run.  The goal was simply to see if someone with successful governance experience could get elected instead of the usual PTA presidents and former teachers who gravitate toward School Board elections. 

The Hills campaign triggered the same regimented block voting by defenders of the status quo that has persisted for well over a decade confirming that powerful influencers in our schools culture don’t want a diverse high-performing School Board - just a compliant and predictable one. 

Frank Carri

Laguna Beach

 

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