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


“…a re-awakening in my values and thinking.”

For me, president elect Donald Trump brought a re-awakening in my values and thinking. 

His disregard for Hispanics reminded me of the wonderful people who are friends and workers all over our town and the U.S.A., some of whom have come from south of the border in recent years. The U.S. Catholic Bishops called on the Trump transitional team last week to ask them to be considerate of Latino immigrants. Without Hispanics, our town would come to a grinding halt. 

His attacks on Muslims made me realize how many Middle Eastern people own businesses in Laguna, work in our town, are active at our Community Center and Susi Q and feel comfortable visiting our town. Many have picnics at my favorite city parks, Heisler and Treasure Island and enforce our decades old values of maintaining a totally open society. If any one place reflects this value, it’s our boardwalk. 

His mean words for FOX news person Megyn Kelly regarding her bleeding from here and there and his actions and insults against women are embarrassing for me as a American and his plan to take away a woman’s choice is hard to believe, especially in 2016.

With L.G.B.T. suicide prevention hot lines overwhelmed, millions of young people including school children living in fear of Mr. Trump and dozens of other concerns, I believe he is already destroying our fragile society. 

What do you think? 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, deserves credit

As an unabashed Hillary Clinton supporter, it’s time to give credit to the victors, especially Kellyanne Conway.  She is the first woman to run a winning presidential campaign. In doing so, she reached a height no other woman in U.S. political history has: On Tuesday, she successfully broke the second highest glass ceiling in the land.

I don’t suggest Conway think about running for president herself, but it’s clear she knew how to market Donald Trump to the voters.  Given her success, I don’t think it will be long before the highest, toughest glass ceiling in America is shattered.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Congratulations

Congratulations to Steve Dicterow for extolling Laguna’s Rustic Charm and unique Village character. Keeping focus on Laguna’s essential attributes and values on which you campaigned must be ensured-Thank you!

With the re-election of incumbents, their combined experience, commitment and thoughtfulness will be greatly appreciated and tested in the years to come.

I hope each will work diligently to find thoughtful resolution for the    urgent and far-reaching issues, be it traffic, water, services, public transportation, tourism, cleanliness, improvements for safety and better communication as well all important environmental mandates.

I encourage City Council to expand public involvement, develop more citizen oversight, demanding greater transparency in city affairs and managing public funds responsibly while highlighting and supporting Laguna’s unique cultural and physical qualities through meaningful debate and decision-making.

A star example of local environmental success and model of how expansive goals merge with rustic charm in an environmentally sensitive location was highlighted at the Art Hotel this week honoring the late Rose Ekeberg DVM, Jim Stauffer and John Cunningham who initiated and developed Friends of the Sea Lions, now the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Congratulations to Bob Whalen for his important work to secure nuclear waste, Laura Parisi as our valued city Treasurer and Laguna Beach School Board elects, Peggy Wolff and Jan Vickers for their tireless commitment to future generations.

To Verna Rollinger, my great admiration and appreciation for her continuing efforts and involvement keeping Laguna beautiful, relevant and unique.

To all who campaigned, greatappreciation for your efforts and my very best for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach


Are public beach accesses a city liability or a public asset?

A design for rehabilitation of the public beach access at the end of Agate Street is currently up for City Council appeal on Tuesday Nov 15th. It 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.

Reasons for the Appeal:  1) the approved plan reduces the upper viewing platform’s usable area by over half, down to the size of a large parking space. This new 10x16 ft space is further restricted when one includes the access pathway through it, as well as the new seating.  The existing view platform now accommodates about 15 people, which has been reduced to about 6 people.  2) Seating needs to be wooden benches and not hard cold concrete seat walls.  3) Wheelchair access ramps have been eliminated to this new viewing platform.  A very small area streetside, amongst a new bike rack and garbage can, has been created as an after thought.  4) No view studies on the remaining views have been performed.  The view of the Arch from the bench is in jeopardy despite being preserved in perpetuity by past Conditions of Approvals.

This is a Public Works project, being paid for with our public tax dollars.  Why is it the public’s opinion is not being valued and utilized to make this into more of an asset for the public’s usage? It appears the design focus is to minimize the overall size and to reduce the liability of loitering rather than to enhance the currently enjoyed assets of these gateways to our beaches.

City Council needs to grant this appeal and send this poor design back to the DRB with specific guidance to make this a more palatable design for the public who can then enjoy it for a very long time. With just a little effort and openness to small changes, 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 contacting our City Council or attending Tuesday’s meeting and supporting the Appeal.  Let’s preserve and enhance, not reduce and restrict Laguna’s public assets.

Peter Mann

Laguna Beach


After the Trump victory

Now that the election is over, it is time to get on with the peaceful transfer of power from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.  

I know the mere mention of Trump’s name makes some people’s blood boil; however, what’s done is done.

Democracy thrives because we are a nation of laws.  Going forward, my wish is those who voted for Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson or Jill Stein (or didn’t vote at all) work within the system to make the U.S. a more perfect union. The best way to get there is peacefully and thoughtfully.  

By definition, this means no civil war in the streets and no more congressional dysfunction.   

It is clear to this sixty-something father of three the character of our neighbors and fabric of this nation will be tested between now and inauguration day January 20, 2017.  Which means there is one more vote to tally. I’m counting on people’s better angels to win out.   

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


1/4 mile Arc looked like “…a crappy fence blocking the ocean view”

I love art and wish we had more public art pieces in Laguna. However, the 1/4 Mile Arc installation on Main Beach by Phillip Smith is a major fail. I feel bad saying it, but it just is. 

Why anyone would think its “artistic” to put what looks like fence posts across the beach and block the ocean view at Main Beach makes me question their actual artistic abilities. 

I sincerely thought it was new construction on main beach and was sad that the view of the ocean would once again be blocked. The view of main beach was obstructed by construction fencing for years while the new lifeguard HQ was built. 

Please no more “art” that looks like a crappy fence blocking the ocean view.

J. White

Laguna Beach


Is Mayor Dicterow’s house an ATM machine?

Last month several people came to a City Council meeting voicing concerns about Steve Dicterow’s financial difficulties. The response from the public was compassion, “everyone has tough times”.  Laguna has a history of caring for one another. That’s who we are. But it can’t be left at that. How did Mayor Dicterow get there? 

Public records disclose that Mayor Dicterow bought his home in 1988 for $340,000. Since that time he refinanced his mortgage seven times:

$368,000 in 1995

$440,000 in 1999

$547,000 in 2003 with an additional $50,000 second

$500,000 additional borrowed in late 2003

$1,000,000 in 2006

$271,000 in 2007 as a second 

Granted, many people refinanced to reduce their mortgage rate during the roaring housing bubble of pre-2008.  It was tempting to pull out ready money as the value of a home increased during this period.  However, it was always a gamble to risk the family home particularly as Mayor Dicterow did to finance new business ventures, such as a motorcycle circuit venture and a mold and water restoration venture, both of which unfortunately failed.  Since he had accumulated another $281,000 in unsecured debts by 2014, he used the bankruptcy option to protect his home.  The bankruptcy option seems reasonable in this set of circumstances, but the multiple refinancing of the family home at such a level seems unwise.

We can (and should) feel compassion for anyone in danger of losing their home. It is a tough and sad situation for anyone to experience, and thank the government that there is a bankruptcy option for protection of the home.  

The real question is the soundness of Mayor Dicterow’s decision to refinance at increasingly larger amounts. It makes one wonder about his abilities to make sound decisions over Laguna’s $70,000,000 budget.

When Mayor Dicterow supported building a four story garage at the Village Entrance, which was eventually blocked by a residents’ revolt, he stated at the City Council that a $65 million dollar bond is like a mortgage, “you never expect to pay off your mortgage”. For him that’s unfortunately true. 

George Weiss

Laguna Beach


Mancuso will take the lead

Had enough of campaign literature? This year I got a shopping bag full; I got more “Vote for Dicterow” flyers than Tootsie Rolls in my Halloween candy.

Ever feel like Laguna politics is like sales hype to buy advice you don’t need? The first 3 bullets in Mayor Dicterow’s campaign literature are for police services, downtown and neighborhood patrols but no Lollipops. Our town must be at war. “Vote for Measure LL a Vital Services Measure” to provide more money for increased Police and ER calls, but eyed for tourist way-finding signs.

Meanwhile the LB Planning Commission hired city parking consultants IDI to figure out how to park 5700 cars in a town with good intentions - in the space for 3000 (October 18 City Agenda Item 12). IDI are experts in the analysis of 1970 parking requirements when Laguna had three car dealerships. Naturally IDI were selected to preserve Charm and Character because they use bigger computers.

Given their record with planning consultants will re-electing city council incumbents yield different results next year? Enough paper consultants, why don’t we hire local expertise and test our own ideas, that way we could sue ourselves if a Parklet goes bad.

We have had enough job programs for city staff, city delay and denial, join the Judie Mancuso campaign and let’s get the job done.

Stop the shenanigans at city hall: let’s have honest city government.

Stop obstructions by the city manager: start modern city policy, update the General Plan.

Stop pedestrian injuries at PCH: start traffic calming at Hip District, Broadway, The Urth Cafe.

Stop the pooping panhandlers: enforce our city ordinances or stop inviting irresponsible vagrants.

Stop professional public surveys for political agendas: start public education.

Unpack the Trojan horse: a “Welcome Entrance” means a modern transit depot, not a parking lot.

How about finishing Laguna sidewalks so residents are allowed car-free access to shopping? No more mobile phone dropouts. I don’t call Abu Dhabi so complete our phone network so that it friggin’ connects Laguna to itself. How about digital infrastructure that provides 50Mbps broadband?

Laguna Beach civic service is not a jobs program nor a retirement plan, that’s why Judie Mancuso has a 100 day Action-Plan to get the job done in Laguna Beach. She is ready to take the lead, give her your vote on November 8.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach


OC Register and Mayor Dicterow

For anyone seeking a public position where responsibility and judgment matter, it is especially applicable to Laguna’s current Mayor up for re-election.

It is a matter of public record that Mr. Dicterow filed CH11 Bankruptcy in Sept ‘14. Approximately 6 months later the Bankruptcy trustee was back before the judge with a motion to force Mr. Dicterow into Ch7 (liquidation) because of his failure to follow-through on his commitments made during the Ch11 filing. Unsecured creditors getting 32 cents on the dollar over 5 years? 

Yet Mr. Dicterow tells the Editorial Board of the OC Register that the City should live within its means and they accept that and use it for grounds to endorse him and state: “Mayor Steve Dicterow has proven to be a true fiscal conservative”. 

The OCR Editorial Board has lost a good measure of its credibility and appearance of non-partisanship.

Your Vote tells much-it matters.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach


Howard Hills tells Tyler:  Let audience decide

Tyler Russell’s selective written “highlights” regarding my FX 93.5 interview last Sunday assumes Stu News readers are unable to judge for themselves. 

It speaks volumes that the radio station manager wants the Stu News audience passively to accept his editorial filter and political spin on my interview as a School Board candidate instead of listening to the actual interview podcast.  

Instead I am the one who wants readers to hear the live radio interview. Apparently he believes Stu News reaches a larger audience than he can reach on FX 93.5. But going from radio to print makes it harder to get away with his misleading description of the interview.

Contrary to Russell’s false narrative, I had no difficulty answering the FX 93.5 co-host’s question about common core curriculum, I nailed it. But I was not about to be bullied by a cub reporter trying to bring religion and national party politics into a school board race, especially when he had not pulled the same cheap stunt on the other candidate.

If your readers listen to the actual show they can decide whether it was me or the co-host who became “frustrated” and could not “effectively answer.” When it became clear from his amateurish questions he is not a professional journalist, I simply turned the tables and interviewed him about his political agenda.

So let me invite the Stu News audience to visit www.kx935.com and go to “Podcasts” click on “All Shows” then scroll down to “Laguna Round Table” and click on “Howard Hills – Jan Vickers.” 

My interview begins at Minute 42:00. I have supported FX 93.5 events and programming as a volunteer guest on several programs, but credibility in public affairs programming requires respecting journalistic standards and focusing honestly on issues rather than personalities.   

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach


Supporting Vickers and Wolff

The School Board sets policies to protect and enhance our local public schools. As former board members, we undertook this responsibility, and we care deeply about the future of our schools. 

In considering the current school board candidates, we look for the following attributes: (1) Will the candidate work collaboratively to foster and create a supportive and productive education system? (2) Is the candidate knowledgeable about our schools? (3) Will the candidate show up prepared, courteous, open-minded, and committed to merit-based decisions that serve all students in Laguna schools? 

Based on the above attributes, we believe the best candidates for the job are Jan Vickers and Peggy Wolff. Jan Vickers offers a depth and breadth of knowledge about our schools that serves our schools well. She has worked effectively for our community for the past 20 years, and that experience is invaluable. Peggy Wolff offers practical knowledge as a community volunteer to the district, having given generously of her time and talents at our schools in many ways over the years. Wolff also has experience as a public classroom teacher and relates well to parents, students, teachers and staff.

Both of these candidates have been engaged with our public education system for many years and have taken the time to invest in our schools. They are knowledgeable and are hard working. And they both work harmoniously with school staff, parents and students. We endorse Jan Vickers and Peggy Wolff for the two open positions on the Laguna Beach school board. We encourage you to cast your vote for the real-world experience and levelheadedness of Peggy Wolff and Jan Vickers on November 8.

Betsy Jenkins

El Hathaway

Laguna Beach


Peggy Wolff shows up

Being present is a respectable and admirable trait for a school board candidate. Through my various volunteer positions, I have consistently seen Peggy Wolff not only show up and be involved in, but also take on leadership roles for, the schools, PTA, and SchoolPower. She is always present in body...and mind, not easily distracted from the task at hand. She is fair, non-exclusive, follows the rules and dedicated to providing the best learning environment for our kids. I feel that she would be a tremendous asset to our community as a school board member.

Sharael Kolberg

Laguna Beach


The role of City Treasurer

As your City Treasurer I’ve been privileged to serve my fellow citizens for the past 17 years. I’ve never forgotten that I serve at the pleasure of the voters, and that those votes must be earned.

I’m disappointed by the mean-spirited, misleading campaign waged by my challenger in this election, and would like to set the record straight.

Neither my opponent nor her supporters have suggested I’m unqualified, have performed poorly or acted unethically or inappropriately, instead claiming my professional credentials and experience are unnecessary for the job. This betrays a troubling lack of understanding of the responsibilities involved.

The Treasurer’s office isn’t a bookkeeping position. The City has a separate Finance Department, Director of Finance and bookkeepers to handle routine tasks like paying the bills and keeping the City’s books.

The Treasurer, however, is an important steward of the City’s fiscal health, operating within a complex regulatory framework of federal and state laws and an investment policy developed collaboratively by the City Manager, Department of Finance and Treasurer, and approved by the City Council. The Treasurer provides the check and balance that every government needs and it’s important that they have the advanced education and expertise to administer these complicated responsibilities.

As Treasurer I manage the City’s portfolio of $75 to $100 million in investments, depending on the time of year, which generated almost  $900,000 in revenue last year. I’ve performed CPA-caliber work for tough projects assigned by the Council.  As Administrator of Laguna’s assessment districts I’ve succeeded in saving Laguna taxpayers $1.4 million. These accomplishments reflect the value of my qualifications as an experienced CPA, Certified California Municipal Treasurer and Certified Fixed Income Practitioner.

While there have been no complaints about my performance it’s been claimed the City is paying too much for its Treasurer. But of Laguna’s entire $44 million budgeted 2016 payroll, the Treasurer’s office including administrative costs, salary and benefits represents only $160,000. The Treasurer’s hours and compensation are determined entirely by the Council, which for the past 16 years has rewarded my performance with Exceptional Performance Pay.

This challenging work is different every day but I always approach it with the goals of efficiency and Best Practices. I never forget that the ultimate goal is protecting the fiscal assets of Laguna’s citizens and producing excellent results for our City. I’m proud of my track record, and respectfully ask that you honor me with your votes so we may continue this good work together.

Laura Parisi

Laguna Beach

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

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