The facts about the Treasurer’s salary

There has been a lot of misinformation floating around about the City Treasurer, including the gross error of attributing the entire departmental budget to the Treasurer’s salary. There is publicly available documentation showing that of the $160,000 budget for the department, the salary is $77,400 – less than half.

The department will have expenses and benefits regardless of whom we elect, and voters deserve accurate facts to make a fully informed decision next week. Misstatements like this should not happen. I also know Laura as a Rotarian. She has always been an active participant in many of our fundraisers and other activities like our dictionary program, Thanksgiving dinners we put together for 90 well deserving families and other projects.

In this election there is only one person who is qualified: sitting Treasurer Laura Parisi, CPA. Under her 17-year stewardship, City funds have grown and there has been consistently accurate, transparent reporting to the City and its taxpayers. Laura has always served us very well and I have no doubt that she will continue to do so.  

The caliber of the treasury professionals who have endorsed Laura is further proof of her superior qualifications. They include former County Treasurer (and current State Senator) John Moorlach; former state treasurer Bill Lockyer; the Orange County Superintendent of Schools;  Al Mijares, Ph.D.; Orange County Auditor Controller Eric Woolery, CPA;  Andy Dunn, Ed.D.: Gary Capata, CPA, Chairman of the Orange County Treasury Oversight Committee, and of course Retired Laguna Beach Treasurer Susan Morse.  

These professionals have endorsed Laura. I am voting for Laura Parisi, CPA for City Treasurer and I encourage you to do the same.

John L. Campbell, CPCU

Laguna Beach

Why we are voting for Laura Parisi, CPA for City Treasurer

We are voting for Laura Parisi because she is a CPA and has SEC and industry experience.  Rather than viewing these credentials as negatives for the city, we view them as positives.  Not only has Laura been professionally trained, with the experience and expertise to perform the duties required, she also brings independence and integrity to the treasury position.  

The cost of the treasury function has been questioned in campaign materials and we agree it is always good civic duty to question the compensation of our public servants.  We would like to know how much of a savings would result from a change in personnel at the position and at what cost to the City in terms of experience and expertise?

We are aware that in December 2015 Laura was awarded additional pay by the City Council for professional services she was asked by the City to perform that were outside of her normal responsibilities and duties.  Our understanding is that the work related to changes required to be made to certain mandatory disclosures the City previously had made to the SEC that were discovered to be in error.  The City wisely obtained the Treasurer’s expertise at a rate of $60 per hour, which is considerably less than it would have paid for outside consultants.

At the City Council meeting awarding the Treasurer the additional pay, council members made various relevant observations about the process.   One council member asked what we believe are the pertinent questions—why was the Treasurer asked to do this work and how did the errors happen?  To our knowledge, those questions (and we would add another, what has been done to ensure the City does not get into a similar position again?) have yet to be answered in a public forum.

Campaign materials being distributed cite Laura’s expertise and experience as negatives.  In our opinion, Laura’s expertise and experience have proved critical to the City of Laguna Beach in the past and are two of the reasons we are voting for her.

Mary Locatelli, CPA

Robin K. Hall, CPA

Laguna Beach

A question of risk: McGraw or Parisi?

I just received a slick postcard in the mail, urging me to vote for Anne McGraw for City Treasurer.

On the card, Ms. McGraw asked if I realized that we’re paying nearly $160,000 annually for the current Treasurer of Laguna Beach. Frankly I don’t think anyone realizes how much any City employee makes, but it inspired me to go to the City’s website to check out the big picture. 

Turns out that what we pay our City Treasurer, including benefits is a minuscule portion of the City’s entire payroll, which is budgeted at over $44 million dollars a year.  

Ms. McGraw went on to promise that she would do the same job as our current Treasurer at a much lower cost. The savings in the context of the City’s payroll would be virtually nothing. But the cost in experience and security would be far higher, and a big risk! 

If we replace our existing treasurer, Laura Parisi, a CPA and Certified Municipal Treasurer with many years experience in government finance, with a bookkeeper who’s never worked in the public sector, we should absolutely pay less. But we’d get what we pay for, which would be someone with zero experience in the complex management of almost $100 million of our – the citizens – money.

Thanks for the postcard – you’ve convinced me that voting to re-elect Laura Parisi as City Treasurer is the only way to go.

Rick Gold

Laguna Beach

CPA qualification important for Treasurer position

Obviously Laura Parisi’s opponent for City Treasurer does not know what training is involved with a CPA designation. She keeps on insisting that all a CPA does is taxes and that is why we do not need a CPA as treasurer in Laguna Beach. If the position of City Treasurer’s duties was only to do the bookkeeping, why is it an elected position?  

Our City currently has a bookkeeper on staff. I believe the intent of an elected treasurer is to be able to audit and watch over the people of Laguna’s money. This means that that a Treasurer should be able to audit financial records from our City Finance and Accounting department.  

Although I am not a CPA, I currently work for a CPA and my sister is a CPA. Laura Parisi as a CPA has consistently found errors with our Cities “non-CPA” City Finance and Accounting staff. That is why we need a CPA and not a bookkeeper. Please join me in voting for experience. For the record, this is not personal, Ms. McGraw, this is about qualifications and experience. Don’t you think it is time that we let Ms. Parisi know what a great job she has done for the last 17 years for Laguna Beach?

Nancy Miller, CPM

Laguna Beach

Uber not welcome in Laguna?

I live in Laguna Beach and recently started driving for Uber. I like driving and enjoy meeting many of my fellow Laguna Beach citizens as they often need rides from work and from many of our local businesses they enjoy. Among these local businesses are our restaurants and bars. Lots of times we get crowded parking and streets full of cars looking for parking and so we have what many of us appreciate, the free trolleys, taxi cabs and of course Uber and Lyft drivers. 

These all help us as citizens of Laguna Beach reduce the inconvenience of having to find parking and most importantly avoid drinking and driving and maybe to a lesser degree, parking tickets. Many of our fellow Orange County residents also enjoy these amenities for the same reasons when they come to our city. I’d say 50% of my passengers are from out of town and trust me, I get a lot of people who we should be grateful are not trying to make it home on our streets driving on their own. 

That’s why I’m wondering as a Laguna Beach resident and UberX driver why I’d be given a “double Parking ticket without so much as a warning or “move it along” when picking up passengers from our famous Sandpiper Lounge. A Traffic Accident Investigator on our police force has taken it either upon himself or following orders from his superiors to stand on the corner of Brooks and PCH and write “double parking” citations for drivers who have arrived to carry home those who need a ride. 

My question is, are revenues so low, are DUI and traffic accidents so infrequent that the officer has been reduced to scaring away taxis, Uber and Lyft drivers out of town? The reason I ask is because when I pulled up to the corner of Brooks and PCH, he was there standing in the crosswalk walk causing many motorists to become confused on whether he was going to cross the street or not. Many other police vehicles were at that intersection too so I felt safe enough to pull up and wait for my passengers and look for any guidance and assistance from our police as to where I ought to go if I’m not supposed to be waiting where I am. I made eye contact with him and I was relieved that he was coming to help me...but no such luck, he told me to stay there so he could do the “I’m going to write you a ticket”. I asked as my face went from a smile to a bewildered dolt “what for?”, he said “double parking” as if he was writing them all night for Uber and Lyft drivers! My passengers had just arrived at that very moment and climbed in. They were not very happy with the officer either. They laid into him pretty good while I asked them to please not make things any worse. Who knows what he’ll find wrong with my car next or maybe bump my citation up to “Impeding traffic”?

So now of course I’m forced to wait at the very spot I’m violating as he writes me a parking ticket. He asked “so you’re Uber” and I said “yes” and he nodded finished the final touches on my ticket in which I’ll be forced to pay $43.

Is this what we should come to expect from now on? No friendly warnings from a police department I’m proud of, well up til now? Are revenues and traffic accidents at such a low that we as Laguna Beach citizens are now treated like flies caught in a spider web of “gotcha”?

What happened to the “friendliest cops in the world” I always bragged about? Don’t get me wrong, the officer was not in any way disrespectful or mean. He just wasn’t helpful to me and I think message was, Uber isn’t welcome in Laguna Beach.

Greg Randall

Laguna Beach

Be kind after Tuesday

Now that we are entering the final weekend of the presidential campaign, I am urging my friends, whose anxiety levels are reaching all-time highs, to remember this: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”  

It’s a great concept to keep in mind as we head toward election day. It may prove even more meaningful after Tuesday’s results.  

As far as this sixty-something father of three is concerned, we Americans are going to have to make a sobering choice. We will either put our differences behind us as generous, thoughtful and respectful citizens or stoke the flames of discord as selfish, mean and disrespectful people.  

One calls for immediate triage while the other encourages prolonged confrontation. I’d like to think one is healthy and the other is not. After such a long and negative campaign, it will be time to begin the healing process.That, my friends, will take kindness.  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Setting the record straight about Parisi

Misrepresentations are circulating about compensation paid by the City to our treasurer, Laura Parisi. Let’s set the record straight. Your vote should be based on truth, not exaggeration and misinformation. 

Laura’s base salary is $6450 per month ($77,400 per year), plus the benefits other City employees receive. For the last several years the Council granted her exceptional performance pay, up to 5 percent, and Laura has also taken the additional responsibility of reviewing our hotel bed tax, the Transient Occupancy Tax. 

In 2015, the City chose Laura to resolve a complex accounting problem. She spent hundreds of hours correcting an error the City (not Laura) made on a document submitted to the federal government.  Neither the City or the outside auditor caught the error. It was discovered by our new auditing firm. Regardless of the responsibility, it had to be addressed. Laura had the skill set and we asked her to complete the task.   

The Laguna Beach City Council selected a subcommittee to determine appropriate compensation for Laura’s work.  Steve Dicterow and I, as the subcommittee, recognized that we did not have the expertise to understand the complexity of this task and what was necessary to correct the errors. We sought a respected local CPA to determine whether Laura›s request for compensation was appropriate.  He confirmed that her request was appropriate.  And he added that if we were forced to use an outside firm, the cost would have been much higher.   

Other comments have surfaced in an attempt to malign Laura’s reputation and integrity. Remarkably she’s been accused of being overqualified. Doesn’t Laguna deserve the most qualified to serve us? Not only is Laura a CPA, she is the only CPA working at the City. She has the training to be a Watchdog for the City and the Public.

Cities without this independent and qualified oversight run increased risks of improper handling of funds. Recently millions of dollars were embezzled  from the City of Placentia.

What a shame it would be to lose Laura as our Treasurer.

Toni Iseman

Mayor ProTem

Laguna Beach

Duties of City Treasurer have grown

Having served as Laguna Beach’s City Treasurer for 18 years, I can confirm that the duties and responsibilities of the position have grown significantly. With the growth that we enjoy, comes increased responsibility for the Office of the Laguna Beach Treasurer.

Laura Parisi has managed these increases very well with few resources. According to her Personnel Action Form, she has 25 hours per week at a monthly salary of $6,450 ($77,400 annually) to complete the investing, banking and assessment district administration responsibilities. Councils have voted to give her Exceptional Performance Pay this year and for many prior years. She receives the same benefits as other management employees at the director level.

The misrepresentations by her opponent were misleading as was the 2016 report by Mr. Flannery that ignored the critical role of the treasurer to serve as an internal control for our money. This point was sadly proven in an incidence of embezzlement that occurred only a couple of months later in one of the three cities cited that had a nominal role for the elected treasurer.

Because this is an elected position, it is very important that the City Treasurer have the knowledge and experience to carry on the duties of the office without interference from others. If an inexperienced person were to be elected, they would need to rely on the City Manager for advice and the independence, so critical to this position and the checks and balances, would be lost.

Laura Parisi has the experience, excellent qualifications, and takes her duties extremely seriously.

I urge you to vote for her.

Susan Morse

Retired City Treasurer

Laguna Beach

City treasurer more than a bookkeeper

Obviously Laura Parisi’s opponent for City Treasurer does not know what training is involved with a CPA designation. She keeps on insisting that all a CPA does is taxes and that is why we do not need a CPA as treasurer in Laguna Beach. If the position of City Treasurer’s duties was only to do the bookkeeping, why is it an elected position? Our City currently has a bookkeeper on staff. I believe the intent of an elected treasurer is to be able to audit and watch over the people of Laguna’s money. This means that that a Treasurer should be able to audit financial records from our City Finance and Accounting department.  Although I am not a CPA, I currently work for a CPA and my sister is a CPA. Laura Parisi as a CPA has consistently found errors with our City’s “non-CPA” City Finance and Accounting staff. That is why we need a CPA and not a bookkeeper. Please join me in voting for experience. For the record, this is not personal, Ms. McGraw, this is about qualifications and experience. Don’t you think it is time that we let Ms. Parisi know what a great job she has done for the last 17 years for Laguna Beach?

Nancy Miller, CPM

Laguna Beach

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

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