The Night, Night, Night, Night, Before Christmas © 2010


By Moore & Livingston - Revised by: Mrs. Claus


‘Twas the night, night, night, night,

Before Christmas, when all through the Clouds;

The tornadoes were stirring and the thunder was loud.


The sandbags were stacked by the galleries with care,

In hopes the Pineapple Express will not come here.

The homeless were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of latte’s danced in their heads.


And me in my wet suit and papa in his cap,

Had just settled down for a paddleboard nap.

When out on the ocean there arose such a clatter,

I stood on the board to see what was the matter.


Away to the boardwalk I flew like a flash,

Tore open the Guard Station and threw up the sash.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

A storm that would scare everyone till New Year.


The rain was a comin’ like never before,

Our Forest Avenue house had mud to the door.

The Palm trees thrashed, and the mud rushed in,

I knew in a moment it wasn’t St. Nick.


His reindeer were in the canyon almost floating away,

But then he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of Act V! To the Top of the World!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”


With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too,

No Way was he gonna let our kids cry boo hoo!

And I heard him exclaim, as he dropped off the toys,

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!


Mrs. Claus of Laguna Beach

Santa House Photo

Anneliese Schools launches flood relief campaign

Anneliese Schools announced an official launch to an urgent community outreach fundraising initiative, with the objective of raising $1 million in capital and building supplies within 30 days. The school is scheduled to re-open on Monday, January 3.

The Willowbrook Campus, one of the three, has been severely impacted by the recent floods. This well-known five-acre property houses not just two-year-olds through sixth graders on a daily basis, but is the home to an astounding aviary, as well as a pasture for goats, pigs and miniature horses.

This is the single worst event to impact the campus in its history. No children have been harmed, however their environments are devastated. Regrettably but surprisingly, only four exotic birds have been lost amidst the hundreds that that are housed on the campus.

As a legacy in the Laguna Beach community for 40 years, Anneliese Schools has served and provided the educational foundation of many of our community leaders.  This outreach program is hopeful that those that once supported the Anneliese program will rise to the occasion to do so again.

Nine learning classroom centers have been decimated including the new computer lab and the recently installed teaching kitchen for the children. The designated per grade gardens were also destroyed.

Although the parent and staff volunteer initiative is actively underway, the rebuild of the campus will require more than the current resources available. Governor Schwarzenegger ratified a state of emergency declared by the City of Laguna Beach and initial contact has been made with FEMA. It is not likely that those funds will be made available with the immediacy required.

The Anneliese School is in dire need of immediate action from parents and corporate partners.  To make a donation or for more information please visit The school is firmly committed to re-build, re-open, and re-affirm its place in the community.

Your support is deeply appreciated.

Terry Herkimer, Executive Director


This must be applauded

Thanks to the City for downtown flood response.

I’ve heard of trial by fire, but trial by flood is something new. The ink of freshly minted City Manager John Pietig’s business cards had barely dried when our little Hamlet was inundated with one of the worst floods I have ever seen here.

I was downtown at around 5 a.m. on Wednesday and witnessed, front row, the City’s response. Pietig and Public Works Guru Wade Brown orchestrated a spectacular clean up effort, which literally saved the Christmas retail season for downtown merchants.

Seeing the scope of the devastation at sunrise, I felt certain that there was no chance downtown Laguna would be functional for a day or perhaps two. But the symphony of work by Pietig, Brown and dozens of City workers, private contractors and nameless volunteers had the town up and pretty much running by early that same afternoon.

Many businesses were open by 1 p.m. and, inexplicably, there were actually customers. Given that the storm hit three days before Christmas, perhaps the most important three days in a retailer’s year, this must be applauded.

The calm coordination and effectiveness of their efforts was, in a word, incredible!

Mark Christy

Laguna Beach

Bush tax cuts will save the day

President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are Keynesians.  John Maynard Keynes encouraged deficit spending during economic downturns to increase aggregate demand.  This is a hard theory to resist particularly for politicians who address every problem or potential problem with the same solution, to increase the power and size of the government. Keynes postulated that the multiplier effect would boost the economy.  President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have stated many times that government money going to people who would immediately spend it was best, that is propensity to consume.  So the candlestick maker gets some government money, and spends it promptly buying items from an Indian Chief, who promptly makes purchases from the baker, and on and on.  The theory is that the economy grows.

Unbelievably, there is no consensus if President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Keynesian policies worked.  Roosevelt took office March 4, 1933, and five years later the country still had 15% unemployment.  Prior to the Great Depression, the U.S. economy suffered numerous financial panics and recessions.  Despite little Federal Government intervention, the economy bounced back more quickly.  So many economists believe that Roosevelt’s Keynesian policies prolonged the Depression and delayed recovery.

More recently, Japan embraced Keynesian policies, primarily “investing” in infrastructure. A 2.4% budget surplus in 1991 turned into a deficit of 4.3% by 1996 and 10% by 1998, with the national debt to GDP ratio reaching over 200%. The Keynesian policies did not work and the two decade period is referred to as Japan’s lost decade.

Of course, if Keynesian theory worked, the government really does have to make payments, it could just drop money from helicopters and the economy would grow.  Or the government could hire half the unemployed to dig ditches and then hire the other half to fill the ditches back up.  The formerly unemployed having a high propensity to spend would then have the candlestick maker, Indian Chief, and baker’s businesses booming. If Keynesian theory worked, Zimbabwe would be a wealthy country.

During the 1930s depression, President Herbert Hoover and Roosevelt kept on increasing tax rates.  Roosevelt kept on increasing regulations.  Without certainty and a stable tax and regulatory environment, businesses cannot plan and determine which business expansions or new business enterprises will pencil out.  President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have continued these practices.  Imagine you have a business idea, and are using a spreadsheet to forecast your projected revenue and expenses.  What do you put down as your expenses for taxes, health care costs, and thanks to proposed cap and trade legislation, energy costs?

The Bush tax cuts have been in place for nearly a decade.  Some progressives have referred to this as Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich.  However, President Obama said in his December 7, 2010 press conference “A typical working family faced a tax increase of over $3,000 on January 1st”.

Congress and President Obama have agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years.  Hopefully, the Keynesian policies are at an end, and the government has now provided some certainty to taxpayers so entrepreneurs can consider expanding their current business or to start a new business.  Let’s hope so.

Gene Felder

Laguna Beach

With a strong heart and a greater appreciation for the force of nature - we will recover

This past week has been extremely challenging and has tested our very souls. The mud and floodwaters took our studios, art work and everything we had work so hard to accomplish.

We would like to thank our friends and family who have arrived at our property with a shovel in their hand: Bob Bonn, Patty and John Enfield, Edward (The Stand), Sharbie Higuchi, Lisa and John Mansour, Kit and Gary Poeschl, Jan Sattler, John and Phalen Slowsky, Mike Tauber and all of you who have called and offered your help and support.

A special thanks to David Sheperd at the Inn at Laguna Beach and the Aliso Creek Inn for housing the Dominguez family.

To all effected by this storm of destruction, with a strong heart and a greater appreciation for the force of nature - we will recover.

Wishing us all a better 2011.

Sian and Troy Poeschl

Larry and Maggie Spencer

City and Red Cross were quick and caring for our homeless

On behalf of the homeless people who call the City of Laguna Beach ’s Alternative Sleeping Location home, I am writing to express our profound thanks for the quick work and caring approach that the City and the Red Cross took in ensuring appropriate shelter was available for our residents during the recent flooding.

The ASL was rendered inaccessible due to the storms and flooding overnight on Tuesday, December 21.  The City efficiently, effectively and safely evacuated all residents very early Wednesday morning to a Red Cross – operated shelter at the high school.

The Red Cross volunteers were helpful and accommodating to our residents and the City staff was effective in returning us safely to the ASL when it was safe to do so on Friday morning.

In a time of leadership transition for the City government, from our perspective all responses to the storm and its aftermath worked smoothly and effectively.  Special thanks to City leaders, City staff and the Red Cross.

We are grateful!

Dawn Price, Executive Director

Friendship Shelter

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Ken Anderson

Long-time Laguna resident

Active in arts community

Ken Anderson PhotoGeorge Kenneth (Ken) Anderson, who moved to Laguna Beach from Detroit, Michigan with his wife Bette in 1987, died Saturday, Dec. 18 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. The cause of death was septic shock, following partial recovery from an ischemic stroke in November 2008.

Ken served as a B17 pilot in England in World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and two Battle Stars. He was a B29 pilot instructor and flew in the Michigan Air National Guard, remaining in the Air Force Reserve as an Academy liaison officer until his retirement in 1971 as a Lt. Colonel.  His civilian career included management positions in marketing and sales with the Ford Motor Company until 1987 and his educational background included a BBA from the University of Michigan, an MBA from Wayne State and (his “favorite”) Associate Degree in Fine Arts from Saddleback College.

After relocating to Laguna Beach Ken was able to pursue his life-long interest in art.  He was a gifted photographer who also studied and created watercolors, sketches and sculpture. He supported and/or became active in a number of local art organizations, including CAP, LOCA, Orange County Art Museum (as a docent), the Festival of Arts and the Laguna Art Museum. He served on the City’s Arts Commission and was a board member of both LANO and Neighborhood Watch. He was a member of Village Laguna and active in the DFC Society. He loved Laguna and had many friends here.

Survivors include Ken’s wife, son Merrill and grandsons Aaron and Evan (Iowa), his sister Marion (Florida) and a number of extended family members in Michigan. His final wishes included cremation and burial at sea. In lieu of flowers, any contributions can be sent to Laguna’s Friendship Shelter, Community Clinic or R.U.F.F.

Love it when readers like us

Appreciate the letter about cyclists and motorists. I thought cyclists were under the CVC but seems they don’t operate that way. Now I know.

Also - got one of the bags Saturday at Vons. They are really cool! Attached pouch with caribiner clip to keep it portable and handy. Good size and can fit over the shoulder for carrying. Neat!

Keep up the good stuff. I like the Tuesday update along with the Friday edition.


Charlie Ferrazzi

Laguna Beach & Huntington Beach

Fish and Game Commissions “X-mas” gift

Protection of our new Marine Reserves and enforcement of the Fish and Game regulations will be easier than people would think.  Already, many of our residents are aware of the importance of restoring our marine habits.  Likewise, tourists to Laguna share a desire to see our marine life rebound.

Not only is the public better educated and sensitive to the need to restore our fisheries due to precipitous declines, but Laguna has it’s own resources that will be helpful. In addition to our Marine Protection Officer, we have lifeguards, animal control officers and even the police that can write tickets. We have substantial community resources to aid enforcement officials like Laguna Ocean Foundation’s Tidewater docents and educators. Finally, the general public can easily understand the meaning of “No Take” and can alert enforcement officials when necessary. We no longer have to remember all the different fish you can or can’t take and what size they have to be or whether it is the right season - it’s simple, No-Take of any species.

I look forward to the new Laguna State Marine Reserve and think it will bring restoration of the marine habitat and an increase in the local eco-tourism industry.  Many thanks to our City Council and all the local groups and individuals who made this happen by writing letters and attending the numerous public meetings over the last two and half years.  Thanks to the Fish and Game Commissioners for this “X-mas” gift to Laguna!

Sandy Dildine

Laguna Beach

Compared to Dana Point and Corona del Mar, Laguna is years behind on bicycle routes and lanes

In support of “Give Bikes a Route” by Justin Gresh: The new policy for mobility from our Federal Department of Transportation gives equal consideration to pedestrians, bicycles, buses and private automobiles. Adopting this policy into the LB City General Plan would be the first step to bringing bike lanes to Laguna. If adopted, approved and implemented by the City, the new policy would construct a mixed mode transportation system in Laguna Beach and relieve the traffic congestion we experience in our automobile saturated town. For every commuter you accommodate safely by walking, biking, and busing, you eliminate one car and free a parking space. Optimally, imagine if 75% of the commuting traffic in Laguna began walking, biking or busing across town, auto congestion and demand for more parking would vanish. For the remaining commuters and contractors who must drive, the relief from traffic congestion would be refreshing.

Our Department of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood took a progressive stand in May of this year, he said “People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized. We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”

At the state level effective January 1 2011, AB-1358 is legislation that mandates equal consideration be given to four modes of mobility for cities and towns in California.

At the local level, Long Beach appointed a committee to advise their city council on urban planning issues. On December 1, 2010, the Sustainable City Commission for Long Beach voted unanimously to support Class I separated bicycle, pedestrian and ADA (American Disabilities Act) access on the new Gerald Desmond Bridge. In Dana Point the city has adopted traffic calming as city policy. Evidence of their work are the bike lanes in town, in the harbor and on PCH but stopping at the Laguna boundary.

In Laguna the Task Force for Complete Streets advises our city council about balanced mobility, the same mobility infrastructure Long Beach and our neighboring cities have already built. Compared to Dana Point and Corona del Mar, Laguna is years behind on implementation.

For Corona Del Mar and Newport Beach their city council take advice from a Bike Safety Committee formed by local residents. At their motto is “a new vision of urban life where people matter more than motor vehicles”.

Last week the city of Newport Beach declared they intend to become the most bike-friendly city in all of Orange County. Mr. Gresh already knows how Laguna Beach ranks on that score.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

Council Members have our backs and deserve our support

Council should be commended for protecting our 24,000 residents and $15-20 billion in residential property by enacting some prudent rules regarding decorative tiki torches and fire pits, similar to our long-standing restrictions on fire works.

Since the devastating 1993 fire that consumed the homes and hopes and dreams of nearly 400 Laguna Beach families, we are fortunate in not having had any repeats.  But we dare not forget that most of us live only “one spark away” from a similar disaster.

While there may not be documented cases of fires in Laguna Beach caused by tiki torches and fire pits, the potential risk from these purely decorative open flame amenities far exceeds any conceivable benefit in our fire-prone residential neighborhoods.

By demonstrating the City’s leadership position on fire safety, these new rules also help encourage major fire insurance carriers to keep doing business in Laguna Beach. With insurance companies getting more selective, many local homeowners have experienced great difficulty in keeping their private fire coverage.   It could well diminish the value of our homes if the only fire insurance option in Laguna was the very limited, very expensive “last resort” coverage offered by our fiscally challenged state government.

Our Council acted responsibly to prevent a serious problem, in stark contrast to the federal government’s failures of foresight that led to 9/11, the Katrina flood in New Orleans and the BP oil spill.  The Council Members have our backs and deserve our support.

Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy, Fire-Safe New Year.

Matt Lawson

Laguna Beach

Amy Kramer

Design Review: Re-Do Part Deux


City Council recently re-appointed three incumbent members to the Design Review Board completely ignoring the one highly qualified incumbent who happens to be an architect and a new candidate who also happened to be  highly qualified with structural, architectural and design knowledge, experience working in the field, and the ability to read blueprints. The results?

The same old, same old.

Many times I have witnessed the baffling re-appointments of DRB members each time a position opens on that board. Instead of selecting from the experienced pool of possible candidates, council simply throws the same people back into the mix. Instead of the professional real estate person or architect or structural engineer, the same people are re-appointed each and every time. Why even publicly notify residents that positions are coming up for availability when council obviously has predetermined their selection?

Unfortunately, the effects of DR authority tend to render some of its members a little power drunk. Agendas, ideology and personal vendettas are carried out on the dais as residents come in to have the fate of their personal, financial and time-sensitive investment decided for them. And whatever happened to professionalism?

Understandably, some of the DR members may not be fully able to understand plans and blueprints, but surely they should be held accountable to the highest, if not mediocre, standards of professionalism.

Talking down to applicants, eye rolling and making non-verbal cues to fellow board members, or at fellow board members, is simply unacceptable.

The issues with DR are a thousand-fold but it all comes down to this: people who sit on this board should be experienced in reading blueprints and site plans, understanding what the process means to applicants and neighborhoods alike and have the ability to remain as objective as possible without interjecting their pet peeves, personal grievances, etc. into their decisions and discussions.

With that in mind perhaps the whole Design Review process should again come under examination. DR needs another makeover - an extreme makeover. The Design Review Task Force did it’s best to move the process of DR in a more efficient and amicable direction, but in reality the changes have put all of the burden on the applicant and created a culture of complaint for anyone within earshot of any targeted project.

The current state of DR makes the applicant responsible for all notifications and meetings, they must provide the compromises, they are responsible for making the neighbors “happy” or at least satisfied (because are they ever really happy?), and the applicant pays for all revisions, changes and corrections. The applicant also has the pleasure of being put on the spot or targeted as the enemy. Maybe DR members should just start with the same idea of due process: innocent until proven guilty.

Laguna Beach deserves a Design Review Board with members who are professional, understand architectural and site plans and understand the need for objectivity. Hearing each project one by one in a conference room setting or having staff work through neighborhood compromises, something different, can also help create more agreeable outcomes and compromises.

And most importantly, DR members should only be allowed to serve two terms on the board. That way we don’t have members throwing tantrums about being picked as alternates and threatening to leave. They would have to leave anyway.

Sometimes that’s a good thing.


Amy Kramer is a wife, mom, president of Laguna Beach Republicans, and facilitates a conservative women’s group. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Kathryn Harrod “Kitty” Smith


After more than a decade of combating immune suppressive health problems from Myasthenia Gravis, Kathryn Harrod Smith (Kitty) succumbed to cancer on Dec 1, 2010. She was 55.

Kitty was a generous, loving, giving Mother, Sister, Friend and Wife. An accomplished sailor, talented chef, impromptu party planner, design guru, crossword aficionado, and passionate animal rescuer, Kitty was so much to so many.

Kitty, daughter of Jodeane Collins Harrod and Ron Harrod, was a native Californian raised in Corona del Mar graduating from Corona del Mar High School in 1972.   She then attended ASU as an Interior Design Major.

Kitty Smith PhotoAfter her marriage to Robert Smith of Indiana they moved to Laguna Beach converting a tiny bungalow to a multi-story home for family and friends to gather for good times.  Everyone thrived on Kitty’s embracing hospitality and open door principle. Time with Kitty was always abundantly filled with great food, good wine, lively conversations and much laughter.

Her days were full; running errands for the disabled, taxiing kids to n’ fro events, cooking up great meals for family and the neighborhood, caring for the animals; and making life better for everyone around her.

Kitty is survived by her husband Robert Smith, son Collin, daughter Cassie, home in Laguna Beach, her sister Janeanne Rinaldi and husband John in Santa Barbara and father Ron Harrod in Corona del Mar.  In lieu of flowers Kitty’s family would appreciate donations to your favorite Animal Shelter.

Memories recounted, glasses raised, laughter and tears shared for Kitty will be ongoing; daily, weekly and forever by all whose lives were so enriched by having Kitty a part of them.

No date has yet been set for Kitty’s Celebration of Life get together.

Loved by many, missed by all, Kitty is once again with her Mom and many beloved family members, pets and friends who preceded her.

Will Emerald Bay ban tiki torches?

I read with interest in the local papers that the Laguna Beach City Council adopted a new fire ordinance - despite the fact that none of the devices now planned for extinction have ever been known to cause a fire in Laguna Beach.

Talk about a “nanny state!”  Are we next going to outlaw sidewalks because they could crack and someone could trip?  Or how about ice cream:  a known health hazard in that eating it too fast can cause one hell of a headache - and eating too much of it can make you obese.

Firepits, tiki torches, wood burning pots and outdoor barbecues no more cause fires than spoons caused Rosie O’Donnell to be fat!

And the topper is that this idea was floated by a carpetbagger, David Horne from Emerald Bay, who does not have to live by the same rules he promulgates for the citizens of Laguna Beach.  Why is that?  Because Emerald Bay is not part of the City of Laguna Beach (but that is another story).  Horne, chairman of an organization (The Greater Laguna Coast Fire Safety Council) with one member (David Horne) demands this of our city, but does not ask it of his own private enclave.

I suggest that this ordinance be repealed until either Emerald Bay becomes part of the City of Laguna Beach or Mr. Horne brings a copy of the CC&R’s from Emerald Bay showing that they have adopted similar regulations.

I have lived in Laguna Beach for nearly thirty years; and, as I recall (the ultimate irony in this situation) the fire from the canyon started the Emerald Bay fire, which then spread to Laguna Beach.  If our neighbors to the north don’t think these rules are necessary, why should we?

David Wilson

Laguna Beach

El Moro Beach

I completely agree with you regarding the lifeguard tower at El Moro.

It’s not at all in keeping with the surroundings.

Judy Upton

Laguna Beach

Bicycle rights and responsibilities

Both cyclists and motorists forget the details from time to time, so here is a review of the most common rights and responsibilities of Cyclists and the California Vehicle Code where it appears.

Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. CVC 2120
That includes stopping at stop signs.

Roadway: Bicyclists traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as safely possible, except when passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, or if the lane is too narrow. CVC 21202 Bicyclists should take the entire lane where the pavement is too narrow or risk being “mirrored” by a daydreaming motorist (happens all the time, near misses at Aliso Bridge, Temple Hills, Park Avenue).

Direction of travel: Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. CVC 21650
Motorists should share the road here, this is the space cyclists are given, so show some patience and slow down.

Sidewalks: Individual cities and counties control whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. CVC 21206
In Laguna Beach riding on sidewalks or the Boardwalk is illegal MC1002020

Brakes: Bicycles must be equipped with a brake that allows an operator to execute a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. CVC 21201(a)
It makes just plain good sense to have brakes when riding around Laguna.

Lights: At night a white headlight visible from the front must be attached to the bicycle or the bicyclist. CVC 21201(d) and CVC 21201(e)
To be visible to motorists sharing your lane, a taillight is more important than a headlight.

Reflectors: At night bicycles must have the following reflectors:
Visible from the back: red reflector
Visible from the front & back: white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe or ankle. Visible from the side: 1) white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle and 2) a red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike. These reflectors are not required if the bike has reflectorized front and back tires. CVC 21201(d)

Helmets: Bicyclists and bicycle passengers under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on a bicycle. CVC 21212

Alcohol and drugs: Bicyclists may not ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. CVC 21200.5
If you’re drunk, you’re busted.

Pedestrians: Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Bicyclists must also yield the right-of-way to totally or partially blind pedestrians carrying a predominantly white cane or using a guide dog. CVC 21950 and CVC 21963

Parking: Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their sides on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians. CVC 21210

More bike racks would help here.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

Guest Columnist

Preventing Trauma Accidents during the Holidays

By Dr. John Shaver, M.D.


As the holidays quickly approach, we begin to fill our days with seasonal activities.  Soon we will be hanging lights on our homes and attending holiday parties. Despite this joyous time of year, it is unquestionable that the holiday season brings a spike in trauma accidents, most notably drunk-driving accidents and falls from ladders. Whether it’s driving home tipsy from a holiday party or simply hanging lights on your home, serious injuries can occur if we’re not careful.

With all the celebrations that the holidays bring about, it’s important to avoid finding yourself in a situation where you will likely drive home under the influence. In fact, according to a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report drunk driving related fatally crashes rise significantly in the two-week period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. On average, 45 daily fatalities are experienced on American roadways during Christmas and spikes to 54 on New Year’s Eve. This is an increase of 18 deaths per day compared to the annual average.

At Mission Hospital, 34 percent of all trauma incidents during the winter months are from automobile accidents.  Whenever possible, have a designated driver with you at the party. Or, arrange to have someone you can call to give you a ride home.  Even the small amount you would spend on a cab fare is a small price to pay to avoid placing lives in peril. However, driving under the influence is not the only action that contributes to the rise in automobile accidents. Distracted driving – such as texting, talking or listening to a hand-held device or changing the radio – delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. Dialing a hand-held device can in fact increase the risk of a crash or near-crash by almost three times.

Of course, it’s not just automobile accidents that see a rise during winter months. Falling accidents account for 23 percent of injuries we treat during the holidays, often a result of falling off a ladder or roof while hanging lights on homes or Christmas trees. It’s a good idea to have someone hold the bottom the ladder for you when you install your lights. Never anchor a ladder on shaky ground. And if you have a helmet, wear it when you’re on the ladder. You may feel silly doing so, but it is far better to feel silly and be safe than to injure yourself in a fall.

Falls off a bike or skateboard can also lead to very serious head injuries should individuals fail to wear a helmet. When shopping for your loved ones this holiday season, remember to always purchase a helmet with that new bike, skateboard, scooter or razor and help protect those you love.

It’s important to know that the risk of these accidents is more than just a bump on the head. The real danger lies in causing severe damage to the brain. Head traumas caused by incidents like automobile accidents or a fall can lead to a very serious if not fatal injury if gone undetected or untreated.

Since head injuries can be so devastating when not treated properly, be aware of how head injuries can occur and be aware of the symptoms. Common symptoms to look out for include nausea, headaches, blurry vision, dizziness or unsteadiness. Should you experience any of these symptoms following a head trauma, it is important seek medical care immediately.

Because of the rise in traumatic injuries around the around the holiday season, it is important for individuals to be extra cautious at this time of the year. We need to remind our loved ones to drive home responsibly from their holiday events and take precautions when hanging Christmas lights. Most importantly, we all must choose to make responsible decisions. Especially at a time when we come together to celebrate each other’s company, we want to make sure we protect ourselves and our loved ones by being aware of the risks that surround us during the holiday months.


Dr. John Shaver is the Medical Director at Mission Regional Trauma Center at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. Mission Regional Trauma Center is one of three Level II trauma facilities in Orange County.

I have a blue Christmas tree

Nancy Hamm

Blue Tree Photo

Yup, that’s right, blue!


It was just before Halloween and I was wondering the aisles of a well-known mega store with my family when we happened upon the section devoted to all things Christmas. It seemed harmless enough until out of nowhere my husband, who is typically a man of good taste, proclaimed that the fake 3 1/2 foot baby blue tree at the end of the aisle was perfect. In fact he went as far as saying it was, and I quote, his “dream tree”.

He began telling me that when he was a kid he would beg his mother to get the blue flocked tree (who knew they even made blue flocked trees?) but she never would (I can’t imagine why).  At this point I am doing my very best to keep all taunts and howls of laughter to a minimum. Instead, I opted for the obligatory nods and sighs of sympathy.

That day a little seed was planted in my husband’s head. For the next few weeks this tree was all he could talk about. Had I been of sound mind I would have continued to nod sympathetically, understanding he missed his childhood dream, all the way to the tree lot where we would have picked out a real tree. I know he would have continued to reminisce about the little blue tree but it would have just become a happy memory. Here is where the trouble lies; the more he talked about its benefits the more I warmed to the idea.

After all, it was enticing to not have to worry about the cat drinking from possibly chemically treated water. No worrying about it bursting into flames because I forgot to water it. No dead needles falling to the ground only to be found well into July. And at just 3 1/2 feet tall it wouldn’t take over our living room. Yes, the benefits of this little tree were starting to grow on me.

Last weekend we battled crowds back to the mega super store only to find that our perfect little blue tree was sold out. Sold out! Our anxiety was palpable as my husband spent part of Sunday calling around to all the stores within Orange County to find that the only one within 30 minutes that had our tree was in San Clemente.

It’s hard for me to say this but on Sunday we drove down to San Clemente to buy a 3 1/2 foot blue Christmas tree. It’s not exactly how I imagined my son picking out his perfect tree but from the look on my husband’s face and the excitement our son had as we loaded the boxed tree into our cart it is the perfect tree.


Nancy Hamm PhotoNancy Hamm is a wife and mother to a 4 year old with cerebral palsy. She is currently working on her first novel.

Pot talk

The President of the Laguna Beach Police Employees Association, Larry Bammer, says the marijuana proposition #19 is dangerous and talks about illegal sales of marijuana from storefront dispensaries.

You can get a medical marijuana card if you have any one of over 200 medical conditions. The 1997 law passed by the people allows those people not only to grow marijuana but also purchase it at dispensaries.

In spite of marijuana being smoked all over Laguna Beach, even by young family parents and hundreds of citizens who have medical marijuana cards, Laguna Beach has no marijuana dispensaries. More hypocrisy by our city council.

Bammer sounds like he would like to raid the dispensaries and goes onto to say 21% of traffic fatalities involved drugs, but he never mentions the legal drug that accounts for a large part of these fatalities – alcohol.

Bammer also fails to mention a new law the Governator signed months ago that allows any citizen to have in their possession – one ounce of marijuana with you in your car or on the street and if questioned by a cop, the most the cop can do is give you a ticket (a misdemeanor) which can be cleared for $100. If you have more than an ounce, you can choose a diversion program and have the ticket taken off your record. If you have a scale, baggies or anything in your car -- beware because the cops will claim you are selling marijuana & that’s a felony.

Roger Carter

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A suggested use for parking revenue

Mark, I love your letter. Our current state of mind [SNL 12/10/10]

One of the reasons our city likes parking is because the city earns about $5,000,000 per year. What some cities are doing is to plow parking revenue directly into, as mark said “walking/biking and other non-congestive modes of transportation.”

To see examples go to

Michael Hoag

Laguna Beach

Everyone loves a parade!

Remember me? Robin Wethe Altman…you put my article in your online paper about “Focusing on the Pageant Binocular Concession”? [StuNewsLaguna 8/3/10]

Grace Wethe Photo

Patriots Day Parade co-founder Grace Irene Wethe in 1967

I wanted you to know that because of your publishing that article, the Patriot’s Day Parade Committee found out that my grandmother was one of the two gals who started the parade in 1967 and they have asked me to ride in the parade this year with the president of the parade in honor of my Grandmother Grace Irene Wethe. She was a DAR member.

Thank You Stu for doing what you do!

Robin Wethe Altman (Laguna local artist)

Our current state of mind

I read with interest Mr. Frank’s interview.  How sad that his biggest disappointment is more parking.  This is not intended as a statement of Mr. Frank’s tenure (which can be described only as most professional) but as a reflection of our current state of mind. “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”.

We fancy ourselves an “environmental” city yet we refuse to do what is appropriate to diminish driving and encourage walking/biking and other non-congestive modes of transportation.

Mark O’Connor

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillespie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc