Treasurer budget a surprise

I was surprised that the current city treasurer has an annual budget of over $6,000 for conferences, professional associations and reimbursement for her certifications required for maintaining her CPA. The elected, part-time treasurer position does not require a CPA, has no taxation duties and is budgeted 25 hours per week— a lot more than most cities with similar work loads. The elected city treasurer position was never meant to be a full-time career.

Instead, the position has been expanded over 17 years to the point that the council has had to vote to restrict the hours.  

It’s time for voters to assess whether to elect a candidate who has a proven ability to handle the investments, assessment districts and banking functions on budget. Anne McGraw has served the banking and bookkeeping needs of large, local clients for 18 years. Prior to that she was a bank manager and has years of experience working with regulators and small business people.  

Laguna Beach voters are financially literate and understand that the state-required annual audits and internal checks and balances of the city’s investments go beyond one elected official. Vote for Anne McGraw for Change That Makes Sense.

Beth Renner

Laguna Beach

Best paid part-time work

As a newer resident of Laguna Beach I have been intrigued by the treasurers race. I was frankly shocked to learn that the treasurer, a 25-hour/ week city staff position was making $150,000 per year.  

The current treasurer has asked, as recently as February of this year, to make this a full- full time position indicating the role had become larger and more complex. Upon further investigation, I discovered that she made the very same request in 2007. A consultant’s report provided to the city council on February 23, 2016 concluded:

1. The position of City Treasurer in the City of Laguna Beach should not be a full-time position.

2.The 2015-16 budget authorization of 25 hours/week should be more than sufficient to perform the required functions.”

He also made an additional observation - “Compared to other cities, the incumbent City Treasurer spends a great deal of time (80 hours per year) on continuing education/professional activities. The city’s current budget for these is $6,800, which is far more than the next highest reported amount ($1,180) of the three survey cities. Huntington Beach, a far bigger organization, budgets $3,600 For City Treasurer conferences and training. My experience is that such meetings are of little or marginal value to the individual cities.”

The current treasurer claims that a CPA is makes her more qualified to do this role. While a CPA is a distinguished designation, it is irrelevant to the treasurer role as the treasurer has no involvement with tax.  

The current city treasurer has also claimed she is a savvy investor and has provided superior investment returns. The California Government Code Sections 53600 seq. and California local agency investment guidelines prescribe where cities are allowed to invest. Security of the asset is the primary objective, so there is not a lot of savvy that can make a difference.

This is what happens when a role becomes more than it was intended. When someone holds office without challenge, the office can become a self-serving bureaucracy. The only campaign the incumbent treasurer has run in her tenure has been to campaign to change the role from part-time to full-time. Perhaps if she spent more time on being the Treasurer vs spending time on her outside education and professional activities she wouldn’t be overburdened in her role. This is an elected position  - not an entitlement.

For the first time in 17 years, the citizens of Laguna Beach have a choice to improve efficiency, transparency and to have someone who is accountable to them. In addition, a new treasurer would come in at a significantly lower cost.

Anne McGraw is an experienced professional with a long history of putting her clients first. She has a demonstrated track record of doing work on time, within budget and accurately. I think we need a change and that change is Anne McGraw.

Greg Mech

Laguna Beach

Will the Bush first ladies vote for Clinton?

Now that First Lady Michelle Obama has shared a stage with Hillary Clinton, several of my Laguna friends finally have decided to vote for Sec. Clinton next week. I think that’s a wise move, especially considering Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women.

Trump’s disgusting remarks have been met with a variety of responses from GOP elders, office holders, and rank and file voters.  

One of the most interesting is the one from Nebraska First Lady Susanne Shore. She’s now with Hillary, despite the fact her husband, the state’s governor, still supports The Donald.

Other women, like New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, Utah Rep. Mia Love and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, have called for Trump to step down as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. The two responses I am waiting for the most are from former first ladies Barbara and Laura Bush.

Former first ladies have a long history of involvement in presidential elections. The first was Lucretia Garfield, who endorsed Theodore Roosevelt’s third-party run in 1912. Then there was Edith Wilson, who refused to endorse any of Franklin Roosevelt’s four terms, although Teddy Roosevelt’s widow, also an Edith, surprised many when she came out for Herbert Hoover in 1932.

More recently, Mamie Eisenhower not only campaigned for Ike’s vice president Richard Nixon in 1968, she was featured in a campaign commercial in 1972. And Jacqueline Kennedy?  She supported then-Sen. Ted Kennedy›s (D-Mass.) run against incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980.

So the streets are littered with endorsements from first ladies. If Barbara and Laura Bush were to publicly break party ranks and vote for Hillary, daughters and granddaughters everywhere would have plenty to talk about for decades.

Like I tell my kids, “It’s best to be an American first and a card-carrying partisan second.” I hope the Bush first ladies take my message to heart.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Laguna’s radio station gets an earful

Tyler Russell here, founder of your friendly local radio station KX 93.5. 

This week, KX 93.5 became involved with local politics in a major way. We hosted an on-air, interactive forum for the four City Council Candidates, and we hosted a Q&A with Laguna Beach School Board candidates Howard Hills and Jan Vickers. As one might expect with politics, both of these segments were met with controversial opinions, so I wanted to take an opportunity to highlight a couple of instances and explain why it’s so important that the radio station be involved in election forums. 

Incident #1: During last Sunday’s School Board conversation, one of our volunteer hosts, Thor Erickson, asked candidate Hills to state his opinion on Common Core and explain whether his past record of donating to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher or his longtime political activism would influence his opinion or his ability to hold a non-partisan office. This led to Hills becoming increasingly frustrated and telling our host that he was out of line with his questioning, that his past politics had nothing to do with his current candidacy. 

Incident #2: During last Monday’s City Council forum, our moderator, Billy Fried, opened the segment by addressing what he called the “elephant” in the room. He asked candidate Judie Mancuso if she could point to a specific example of Mayor Steve Dicterow’s recently documented financial troubles causing him to not do his job as a councilperson effectively. After a bit of pressure, Mancuso responded that she wasn’t prepared to comment on that. Fried says he felt it was necessary to ask this question since Mancuso, the week prior, had expressed concern over Dicterow’s finances in public comment at a City Council meeting. 

Both of these incidents have caused backlash. Mr. Hills tells me he can’t trust KX 93.5 anymore. One Mancuso supporter tells me our moderator was “condescending, rude, and borderline sexist,” and that she no longer wants to support KX 93.5 and hopes we are short-lived. 

Ok, whoa. Let’s take a step back here. 

Our non-profit radio station’s mission is to “connect Laguna Beach with an open-door policy that allows the exposure of musicians, non-profits, and community interests.” We are not a mouthpiece for anyone. We do not have our own agenda that we are trying to impart. We are not targeting or witch hunting individuals. We know we are opening ourselves up to some controversy by getting involved in local politics, but we thought it was important to host live, unrehearsed conversations with our candidates. 

I defend both of our moderators’ questions. They were within their journalistic right to ask those, perhaps tough, queries. No ethics are in question, no FCC violations occurred, and I don’t think there was any evident bias. Our moderators did their homework, investigated the candidates’ backgrounds and recent activity, and asked questions that they thought the community would be interested in knowing the answers to. If a candidate can’t answer effectively, wouldn’t a voter want to know that? If a candidate is going to lose his temper on live radio, wouldn’t a voter want to know that he is capable of that? 

Radio is the only platform that would reveal those actions. Anger or unwillingness to answer would not be evident with the words “no comment” in a print story. So, for that, I am proud that our town has a medium that can host these types of unfiltered conversations during election season. It’s the beauty of live radio. 

And, as far as one listener not wanting to “support our station” after these occurrences, shame on you. We do not receive any monetary benefit from hosting these forums. Our moderators, who I think did an excellent job, are volunteering their time. And these forums are less than 1% of what our station has accomplished in our four-year history in Laguna Beach. I wouldn’t stop reading Stu News because I don’t like one line in one story. I would hope our listeners are mature enough to realize it’s OK to dislike one on-air occurrence but not judge our entire radio station as a whole, which I think is more engrained in this community than ever.

KX 93.5 will not be short-lived. Myself, our staff, and our 100+ volunteer hosts are committed to being a voice of our town, even if that can sometimes be divisive. 

Tyler Russell

Laguna Beach

Support Steve Dicterow for re-election

I am writing in response to recent articles related to accusations and innuendos pertaining to my friend and this City’s current Mayor, Steve Dicterow.

I have known and worked with Steve for over 30 years in numerous community capacities - including well before either one of us served in any position related to Laguna Beach city government. I have known him to be one of the most honest and decent people I have ever known.  

I find the comments and actions by a current council candidate and her supporters to be absolutely abhorrent.  Most of us in our lives have fallen on personal hard times at one time or another.  Why take something horrible that happened to someone several years ago, who was trying to do their best given the circumstances for their family, and who handled their situation within the letters of the law and with the upmost integrity - and drag it all out three weeks prior to a local election?  I’ll tell you why:  because some folks will stoop to any level to win.  If that means hurting another person or family and smearing their name in the most negative of lights all over town, then all the better, as far as they’re concerned

Now certain people in Laguna have sunk to the level of our national election. Who would ever want to run for office in our town again after this?

Don’t let them win.  Support Steve Dicterow for re-election.  He has been dedicated to this community for decades and has worked like a dog for our City.  Show these people that this is not how things are done in Laguna Beach.

Elizabeth Pearson

Former Laguna Beach Mayor

Vickers and Wolff “show up”

Have you heard the phrase; “the first secret of successful leadership is showing up”? It’s really no secret. Showing up enhances knowledge and perspective, and it shows one cares. 

I am reminded of this phrase when considering the school board candidates. 

Two of the candidates, Jan Vickers and Peggy Wolff, show up. Jan has been a thoughtful member of the school board for many years. Peggy has been a leader in PTA and SchoolPower. I have served with both Jan and Peggy on numerous education committees since my sons (the youngest is now a LBHS senior) were young. 

By showing up, it’s clear to me, Jan and Peggy understand the needs and goals of our schools, and they care deeply about our students and families.

Lynn Gregory

Laguna Beach

Grateful to Peggy Wolff

If you’ve been around our schools for the past dozen years, you may already know Peggy Wolff. She’s a tireless volunteer and respected by parents, teachers, administrators, and staff. 
If you’re familiar with our PTA, you know that with child advocacy as our mission, Peggy’s incredible leadership and organizational skills clearly support why she was elected president at both TOW and Thurston (twice). 

Families with children in our district value and trust Peggy as a leader.

If you’re aware of SchoolPower, and the critical financial support this organization offers our district, you would know that it is no coincidence Peggy had been asked to serve on its Executive Board as VP of Governance. If you’ve worked with Peggy, as I have, you already know she’s knowledgeable about our schools; she collaborates effectively; she comes prepared; she is professional; she is fair; and she has all children’s best interests at heart.

I am grateful to Peggy for all that she has given to our kids and appreciative that she is willing to continue her volunteer efforts on our School Board. 

Tammy Skenderian

Laguna Beach

“Outside interests don’t care about local concerns

Slick “Yes on KK” campaign mailers are carpet-bombing Laguna.  I received three in three days.  Television ads are running too.  And television isn’t cheap!  Where is all the money coming from?  The promoters of KK represent themselves as locals.  Their official name is, “Laguna Locals for...”  The mailers declare KK will, “protect our beach community from outside interests.”

In truth, this group is run by outside interests.  Los Angeles attorney, David Welch, wrote the measure.  Ron Fattal, from the San Fernando Valley provided major funding.  Its treasurer, Jen Slater aka JenEve Slater, is President of Campaign Compliance Group, an Irvine company.  Their phone number, (949) 342-0104, is also in Irvine.  They have a local address, a PO Box.  It seems one involved person has been living in Laguna, at the homeless shelter.  That’s not a crime, but this person appears to be a front.  I doubt this “local” is funding the campaign.

Their pre-election campaign statement filed with our City Clerk bears a startling signature purported to be that of the “Proponent or Responsible Officer of Sponsor.”  Think of the Responsible Officer as “the main guy.”  His signature is :-).  No, I’m not happy about the signature; the signature is literally a smiley face!  See this document in Laguna City records at:

Why are outsiders hiding their origins, and why does this matter to us locals?  Real locals are concerned about the impact of KK on our town.  Real locals want to know who would be operating these marijuana dispensaries.  Outside interests don’t care about local concerns; they’re pouring money into their campaign in order to get those lucrative marijuana dispensary licenses. 

Ask yourself, would you vote in favor of an ordinance that requires (not permits, but requires) the City to issue marijuana dispensary licenses to convicted felons, or to illegal drug dealers, or to money launderers?  Measure KK is worse.  

Its proponents wrote KK so if passed it would require the City to ignore any unsavory fact about an applicant for a marijuana dispensary license if the applicant is a corporation that just happens to meet a convoluted set of conditions.  

You might well deduce those who designed KK included convoluted terms they already meet to insure licenses will go to them, not to locals.  After all, how else will they recoup their investment in television ads and campaign mailers?

Tom Halliday

Laguna Beach

Bridge Park?

Another proposal for the “Village Entrance”… Since warmed over versions of the long delayed village entrance concept have not gained a lot of popularity, here’s an enhanced idea for this area.

Envision a complete separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic at the Canyon, Forest, and Broadway intersection. Utilizing the parking areas across from the Festival of Arts entrance, build a park that covers the entire Canyon Road, on both sides, from roughly Forest Avenue some distance towards The Art A Fair and create a pedestrian/public use park on the many acres that can be created above the current road and parking areas. Have ramps, stairs, elevator, soft and hardscape, seating, a small amphitheater, maybe a little retail or restaurant space, public restrooms. All of this in what is currently air space above congested traffic, pedestrian crosswalks, parking areas and the creek.

Having several pedestrian routes to connect various sidewalks would eliminate the need for at grade crossings. Views of the ocean will be created from several blocks away, where none now exist, and a built-out downtown would have a new landscape to utilize. The downtown has no other way to increase its land area and this idea could incorporate parking, the farmers market and small venues for civic events.

While such a concept, poorly executed, could be a hideous monstrosity, a well-conceived, well-planned version could be a work of art itself. Developed artistically it could inspire the traditions of Laguna and lean into a future that is, frankly, already here. Utilizing soft and hardscape elements to break up the large area, creating a hill to house an amphitheater, incorporating multiple seating areas, it could become the larger gathering space that our downtown doesn’t have. 

It could help alleviate the stress of where to meet, park and cross to several of our most popular landside attractions. With multiple uses it could attract locals to free concerts, visitors to our several festivals and, perhaps, more folks circulating and lingering in an area that is currently only something to pass through while heading somewhere else. 

Bridge Park, or whatever it might be called, rather than competing with existing events and venues would be an enhancement and a connection point. A place to meet and visit, an entrancing and interesting place to begin an exploration of the surrounding arts festivals and the greater downtown.  Food for thought. Peace.

John Walker

Laguna Beach

Mayor Dicterow and Measure KK

I am a long-term resident of Laguna Beach, who is concerned that Mayor Dicterow is out of touch with the best interests of all residents.

On March 24, 2016, the Registrar of Voters notified the City that Measure KK had qualified to be on the ballot for November election.

Since March 24, our Chief of Police and several Council members have expressed their opposition to Measure KK. This Measure would give the Bill’s sponsors the unregulated ability to open two medicalmarijuana dispensaries in our town. Our City would have no power to regulate these dispensaries, i.e., the location of them.

At a special City Council meeting, held on August 8, Mr. Dicterow recused himself from voting on the City-drafted competing ballot measurement, which would have given our city the ability to regulate the medical marijuana dispensaries in our town.

Mr. Dicterow gave us three reasons for his recusal:

He stated that he worked for Dana Rohrabacher, one of the most outspoken government officials on the issue of support for medical marijuana dispensaries. I heard Mr. Dicterow state “When you work for someone for a long time, there might be an inherent basis where I might not be able to approach the subject matter in an unbiased objective viewpoint, and that during my employment by Dana Rohrabacher, we had regularly met with a number of pro-medical-marijuana consultants.” He revealed during this Council meeting that he personally was approached, through Dana Rohrabacher, by a consultant who solicited his support on a “pro-voter-initiative campaign” Measure KK, but he rejected this offer.  Please read Mr. Dicterow’s entire statement, on our City’s website, under Meeting Agendas, August 8th, “Recap.”

I am very concerned that these decisions made by Mr. Dicterow clearly place his own financial issues above the welfare of the majority of Laguna Beach residents.

Mr. Dicterow, if you are a staff member of Councilman Rohrabacher, you most certainly have a conflict of interest regarding this ballot measure. You profess transparency, but after the fact. We need transparency before the fact. This is a serious violation to those of us who voted for you in the last election. Please do the right thing and resign. Please also refund the monies, which were collected by you for our current election campaign.

I value all of those councilpersons who acted responsibly regarding Measure KK, without regard for their personal interests, including our Chief of Police Farinella. I am hopeful that whomever we elect to City Council will be a leader we can trust.

Jahn M. Levitt

Laguna Beach

Malicious trick

Recently, Mayor Steve Dicterow’s personal finances, including the filing of a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to save his home from foreclosure, were highlighted by a candidate opposing Dicterow in the City Council election. 

Steve has worked diligently, along with the other council members, to create a conservative city budget with built in reserves so that Laguna Beach can weather the next economic downturn. The malicious trick of trying to humiliate and publicly shame Dicterow was a cheap ambush, made in a forum (public communication at City Council) where Steve would not ordinarily have an opportunity to respond. Fortunately, he did respond and did so admirably. 

I appreciate Steve’s time and efforts on behalf of our city. He has my support and vote.

Marshall Ininns

Laguna Beach

McGraw speaks up

As many of you may know, I am running for City Treasurer of Laguna Beach.  There have been many letters orchestrated against me during this process so I felt it was time for me to speak up.

The facts behind my run for office are very simple.  The job of the Part Time Elected City Treasurer has been expanded into something it was never meant to be.  The salary, extra billed reimbursed expenses, overtime and benefits now cost the city close to 160k per year according to  There is absolutely no need or benefit for the city treasurer to be a CPA, as there are No Tax duties involved in the position.  There is a reason why 4 out of 5 City Council Members are supporting me, as these are the people who know what is truly involved in the job.

My 14 years of operational banking and investing experience and 18 years of detailed bookkeeping and auditing experience consist of exactly what the real job duties are; Banking, Investing and auditing.  There are basically 20-25 investments, mostly CD’s and some fixed income assets that come due each year.
The only way to get this back to where it is intended to be is to make a change.  Money is not my motivation in running for this position. The reason this is so controversial is because since Laura Parisi was appointed in a 3/2 vote 17 years ago, nobody has challenged her-meaning she has never been elected by any other way then default.  When positions like this go unchallenged there is a lack of information that is made public thus allowing things to become something they should not be.  
As a citizen of this community, once I discovered all this information- I felt it would actually be irresponsible of me not to run.

So for the record- this is not personal, this is not about Laura Parisi- this is about fiscal and moral responsibility. This is about a part time elected position that has a term of 4 years. Don’t you think it is time to let it be what it really is?

Anne McGraw

Laguna Beach

Misleading information

Laura Parisi is honest, hardworking and capable of watching our tax dollars.

My family received four cards from Anne McGraw in the mail last week that stated a huge exaggeration of Laura Parisi’s annual salary. This number is a matter of public record and can easily be researched online at the city’s website.  

Somehow Anne either misread the numbers or did the math incorrectly, as she stated that Laura receives almost twice as much as she actually makes. I find it disturbing that someone running for city treasurer, a job that requires reliability and financial savvy can make such a gross mistake and then mail to the voting public, the taxpayers she is pledging to protect, such misleading information.

Martha Simkins Davis

Laguna Beach

Re-elect Parisi

I have always been impressed by the professionalism and obvious expertise of our City Treasurer Laura Parisi, who has consistently earned the confidence of Laguna Beach voters over her many years of public service.

But Laura’s reputation for excellence in the field of municipal finance extends far beyond our city limits.  She has been entrusted by regional and state leaders to serve as the Chair of the Revenue and Taxation Committee for the League of California Cities, Vice-Chair of the Orange County Treasury and Oversight Committee and Board Member for the Local Agency Investment Board for the State of California Treasurer’s Office.

Our community deserves nothing less than the best when it comes to managing and investing our tax dollars.  Laguna beach can do no better than re-electing Laura Parisi as our City Treasurer.

Carrie Joyce

Laguna Beach

Reminding of Vickers’ record

As an involved PTA mom back in 1987 when Jan Vickers was ousted from the School Board by voters, I was astonished to hear that bruising recall election referred to as a “tempest in a teapot.”  That’s historical revisionism at its worst, contrived to help Vickers’ bid for a seventh four-year term.

Vickers was recalled for supporting retention of a fired LBHS varsity football coach, after he first was arrested for illegal marijuana use, then felony cocaine possession and violently resisting police arrest. 

The bad-boy celebrity coach pleaded to keep working with impressionable boys as part of his recovery program.  Vickers chose enablement and codependency over consequences and boundaries.   

She now blames lack of “policy on addiction treatment.”  But as reported by LA Times in 1987 Vickers blamed racism by recall supporters because of coach’s African descent.  

Along with many others, I experienced Vickers’ attack as racial hate speech by a government official targeting citizens’ civil rights.  We’re still waiting for her apology.

Raising three grandchildren, a pre-schooler, one at TOW and one at Thurston, like many parents I stay informed from a safe distance, but civic duty once again requires me to remind voters of Vickers’ record.

In 2013 she voted to move school year start to August without public discussion, double central office senior staff, and 1,000% spending increase for costly outside consultants duplicating new senior staff duties!  

Vickers voted to hire Superintendent’s pals at inflated salaries, soon terminated for failure to perform, including personnel director reportedly fired to avoid sexual harassment charges.

In 2015 she voted to end geometry in middle school, limit science and math acceleration pathways in high school, and end AP honors grade weighting still widely considered for college admissions, hurting my grandchildren and all next generation learners.

Vickers voted in 2015 for $10 million raid on school rainy day fund for spending spree on campus build-out, touted as her legacy in current re-election campaign.  Some or all that funding should have been invested in teachers and students to develop better learning capacity under new curriculum standards for each campus.

We hear she voted herself gold-plated public employee health insurance for decades.  Nice perk.

For my three grandchildren and all kids in our town, in 2016 I am voting for change.

Michele Nelson

Laguna Beach

Vote no on KK

As a mother of multiple children in town, I fell it necessary to speak up about Measure KK.

I was actually somewhat indifferent to this proposition until recently. OC Weekly published an article about one of my favorite beaches, “Thousand Steps”. Apparently, its going to be a great place to get faded, watch blurs of light, pitch black skies and hear those crashing waves.

I look at Thousand Steps beach as a great place to exercise, swim, skim, and hang out with friends and family. But, get high? Is this what Laguna will be turning into if Measure KK passes? Our beautiful beaches have already been victims to carelessness and disrespect by many. Are we really asking for more? For those of you who are fighting to pass this measure, I urge you to sit down and really think about what this potentially could do our town.     

Please don’t say you deserve to have a dispensary in town. We have come so far already regarding marijuana and its use. Anyone with a medical marijuana card can drive to any dispensary to get whatever they want. Even easier, as simple as calling for pizza delivery, you can also have your marijuana delivered. Elderlies unable to drive, one Uber away will get you there safely and quickly! 

I know this as a medical marijuana user myself. It has helped me with some medical issues and I do believe in its use. I just don’t believe as a community we are ready for this, or should welcome it. I don’t see this Measure about helping us who need it, I see it as one that will harm us all. Please vote no on KK.

Melanie Rogers

Laguna Beach

Reaction to third and final presidential debate

Now that the third and final presidential debate is in the rear view mirror, it is a sprint to Election Day.  Some of my Laguna friends have characterized the 2016 campaign as the worst ever while others in town have said it is a watershed event in our nation’s history.

Back in August, I tried to explain the differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this way:  “I attended a meeting recently where ‘America the Beautiful’ was performed. While I listened to the choir sing, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The differences between GOP and Democratic nominees have nothing to do with politics. They have everything to do with how the two presidential candidates internalize the lyrics of this magnificent song.”  

No matter which candidate wins next month, my hope is we, as a people, can put our differences aside and begin the all-important process of moving this nation forward.  After all, isn’t this what the lyrics “God shed His grace on thee,” “And crown they good with brotherhood,” and “From sea to shining sea” really are calling us to do?  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

To the point

Just an idea for a larger Community/High School pool.

Install a much larger aquatic center in the district parking lot, (below Park Ave grade at the uphill end of existing lot). Put a parking deck on top as a roof. More swimming and water polo, keep the parking. Repurpose or maintain existing pool.

John Walker

Laguna Beach

Wolff negative tactics a blunder?

Howard Hills was urged not to “go negative” on Peggy Wolff by supporters of both candidates.  So he issued statements praising her volunteerism and pledging to work together if both are elected. 

Wolff and her campaign surrogates responded with a trumped up negative narrative accusing Hills of dishonestly intending an “implied” endorsement of his candidacy by the Superintendent of Schools.  Wolff and her surrogates used reckless, mean-spirited language calling Howard devoid of moral “scruples,” guilty of “bad form,”  “dirty” and “unethical.”  

A local reporter with an obvious agenda inflated this cynically fabricated narrative, forcing the Superintendent to confirm “neutrality” in the election!  That was gratuitous for anyone who passed Civics 101 in school.

Wolff’s “form over substance” logic is absurd.  Suppose the Hillary Clinton campaign issues a press release agreeing with Congressional testimony by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the need for new strategic priorities, with quotes from General Dunford and his official Pentagon photo.  Does anyone really believe that means the JCS Chairman is “endorsing” Clinton for President?

To the contrary, Hills’ ad was focused on the substance of the Superintendent’s call for new School Board governance priorities.  Indeed Wolff’s contrived accusations against Hills’ character revealed her lack of grounding in the very fundamentals of American civics first Hills and now the new Superintendent have urged the Board to address. 

Both Hills and the Superintendent used strikingly similar logic and words proposing governance workshops and training for School Board members and staff.  Hills wanted voters to know he is optimistic about working with the new Superintendent to enhance protocols and restore orderly user-friendly Board proceedings.    

In the real world a candidate for elected office does not want or need “endorsement” by a public employee.  If public employees go on record in an official capacity regarding policy issues, however, candidates are free to agree or disagree and do so often.  

That is one way to inform voters of what to expect from a candidate if elected.  No one understanding the roles of elected leaders and public employees should accept the warped logic of Wolff’s negative tactics or [a newspaper’s] “hit piece” targeting Hills.

Instead of a false “implied” narrative, Peggy Wolff should inform voters whether she agrees with Howard Hills and the new Superintendent about the need for new School Board governance protocols and priorities.

Frank Carri

Laguna Beach

The old pool – the new pool – the next pool

I am a long term Laguna Beach Community pool enthusiast with a long history of the Old and New pool in Laguna Beach.

I taught Swim lessons along with Slim and Swim classes for the Adult Education program in the Old pool, which was located on the Laguna Beach High School campus at that time.  When they built the new pool located across the street they originally needed to subsidize the reason for lap swimming by hiring me to teach “private swim lessons” through the Community Services Department (i.e.: Recreation Department).

The swim program began to grow to private swim lessons, lap swimming, American Red Cross Swim lessons, Recreation Swim and to the children’s swim team program.  At that time my daughter was about 5 years old and was swimming on the swim team which became a popular program!

When my daughter became a little older there was not a girls water polo team so she convinced a friend from Chad Beeler’s Junior Lifeguard program to join the Boys water polo team and they played together with the boys on Chad’s team! 

Because there was not a club team for girls to play water polo in Laguna Beach my daughter was forced to join other club teams outside of Laguna Beach. 

It wasn’t until High School that she could finally play Girls water polo!  Thanks to Chad Beeler and Ethan Damato the Water Polo Program has boomed in Laguna Beach.

Even though I am wrinkled from teaching in the pool and have aged, I would very much volunteer or subsidize my services for another Pool in Laguna Beach!

That is how much I believe in keeping this swim program alive for our children in this community! 

I have spent many years in the old pool and the new pool so why not next pool!

Thank you for your article on the Community Pool.

Nikki Duplisea

Laguna Beach

Voting for Vickers and Wolff

The Laguna Beach school board candidate forum last week was quite revealing. Incumbent Jan Vickers was clear and steady, demonstrating that she knows the job inside and out. I am told Vickers attends each school’s PTA meetings, back-to-school nights, open houses, elementary and middle school promotions. To me, that shows dedication. Former Orange County public schoolteacher Peggy Wolff proved an equally strong candidate. She demonstrated a command of district issues and the touchy subjects that can divide parents and administrators, succinctly explaining her logic. 

The third candidate, Howard Hills, confused me. He was against the use of consultants to help improve curriculum (calling it a waste of money), but he favored (and would spend heavily on) “security” consultants, suggesting our schools were somehow unsafe. He criticized past actions of the school board but had “no opinion” on the merits of the decisions at issue. He brought with him a thick sheaf of papers. It was the LBUSD budget, and he used it as a prop to dramatically wave it in the air and call it “useless.” And in response to nearly every question, Hills mentioned his desire to add “Civics” and “Governance” classes for grades 5 through 12 – without mentioning what courses he would eliminate to make room in the schedule. 

The candidates also differed in demeanor. Vickers and Wolff answered questions directly and cogently. They were thoughtful and courteous. Hills, on the other hand, delivered long answers that exceeded the agreed upon time limits, and kept trying to remake points in response to prior questions. He even argued with the moderator. I found him to be disrespectful.

For all these reasons, I’m voting for Vickers and Wolff.

Rachiel MacAlistaire

Laguna Beach

City’s unfunded pension liability is a serious issue

So the City wants an additional $2 million per year to, according to the City’s informational flyer, “protect beaches from pollution; provide fire and police protection and emergency response services; promote utility undergrounding to prevent fires and power outages; improve the cleanliness of public areas such as sidewalks and streets; and provide other services and improvements in Laguna Beach.  Are these “Vital Services” currently being provided at reduced levels due to budgetary constraints?

Not according to the City.  The home page of the City’s website on October 17 includes (right under the promo link to Measure LL) links to the Street Resurfacing Update (continuing until December), the Top of the World Trail Project (beginning October 24), and the Summit Drive Utility Undergrounding (also beginning October 24). The City certainly has planned well and has the funds for these projects and others.  

In proposing a Two-Year Budget on April 30, 2015, the City Manager stated, “The economic outlook for the City of Laguna Beach is optimistic with moderate growth expected for the next two years. The General Fund is doing well and the City finds itself in a relatively healthy position with many of the City’s revenues meeting or exceeding levels experienced prior to the recession. The revenue projections assume continued moderate growth and that sustained drought conditions will not have a significant impact on the local economy...Overall, the proposed two-year General Fund budget is balanced with revenues exceeding expenditures by $1.3 million in FY 2015-16 and $1.5 million in FY 2016-17.  The 20% reserve remains intact”.  

As late as March of this year, the Director of Finance stated that the “City’s overall financial position is strong,” with a General Fund Reserve of $11.6 million.

So why the need for an additional $2 million per year for the unrestricted General Fund?  Fortunately, the City has already answered that for us.  Back in 2015, the City Manager warned, “Unfunded pension liabilities still remain a significant concern. CALPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System) is forecasting that the cost of pensions will increase over the next five years, and possibly longer, as the CaLPERS Board continues to take steps to stabilize the pension plan.  In 2014, the City Council approved its own strategy to help stabilize the impact of increasing pension costs by augmenting the City’s contribution to the unfunded pension liability by $1.4 million annually. 

However, the City’s plan for safety employees must still be addressed. This will likely require another $1.4 million be added to the budget.”  Again earlier this year, the Director of Finance also warned that, “Long term financial issues include paying down the unfunded pension liability and personnel costs (salaries, benefits, healthcare)”.

Clearly, the City needs unrestricted funds to pay down its pension liability that it freely admits is unfunded.  In drafting Measure LL, it seems that the City Council targeted a small non-voting constituency, “local hotels and other lodging establishments,” and figured that voters would agree to increase someone else’s local taxes by 20%.  

The City’s unfunded pension liability is a serious issue that deserves proper attention, but its solution should not be borne on the backs of some of the City’s most important economic drivers and contributors.

James M. Lawson

Laguna Beach


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