Fair Game



Abrupt change of Director of Community Development announced at City Hall

On Wednesday (Jan. 24), Interim City Manager Sean Joyce announced to city employees through an internal email that Community Development Director Marc Wiener “has decided to leave the city effective immediately to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Wiener had been in his position since December 2019.

“I wish to thank Marc for his contributions these past four years and to wish him well in his future endeavors,” Joyce said.

Joyce then wasted little time in appointing Public Works Director Mark McAvoy as Acting Director of Community Development while the city conducts a recruitment for a permanent replacement.

According to Joyce, throughout this interim period McAvoy will work closely with Assistant Community Development Director Matt Schneider to provide continuity of department leadership that provides services upon which so many residents rely every day.

He also reiterated that McAvoy “is not a candidate for the Community Development Director position.”

To backfill his position for the interim, McAvoy assigned City Engineer Mark Trestik, a 23-year veteran of Laguna Beach, as Acting Public Works Director.

The two will remain in regular communication to ensure no disruption of operations in Public Works and to facilitate a seamless transition upon McAvoy’s return to Public Works. “I am confident that the depth and breadth of talent in Public Works will allow for Mark McAvoy’s temporary absence without reducing service to the public,” added Joyce.

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Courtesy of the City of Laguna Beach

Mark McAvoy

The search for a Community Development Director will be added to a list that also includes the City Council search for a new City Manager.

In Joyce’s internal email he also updated that subject by stating that “the Mayor and City Council will conduct interviews this weekend with two remaining city manager candidates to determine who is best qualified to achieve the lofty ambitions of the City Council, community, and organization. I know, first-hand, that the City Council seeks an individual that truly deserves to lead this proud organization.”

• • •

Laguna Beach Mayor Pro Tem Alex Rounaghi began his day early yesterday morning (Jan. 25) at 4:30 a.m. to participate in the Point-In-Time (PIT) Count. After gathering instructions, Alex was assigned to team with Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer to report on an area of Laguna Beach.

According to Mayor Pro Tem Rounaghi, they paired well.

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Submitted photo

Mayor Pro Tem Alex Rounaghi (standing) and Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer (kneeling) talk with unsheltered person during their Point-In-Time Count efforts

The PIT Count is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night during the last 10 days of January. The sheltered count must occur on an annual basis, and include clients in Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing and Safe Haven projects. The unsheltered counts are conducted every other year.

Kudos to both Rounaghi and Spitzer for making the effort.

• • •

We probably all remember when we were young and had questions about our future. What am I going to do for a living? What do I need to do and learn to get there? Who do I talk to? How do I get experience? Etcetera, etcetera.

Well, now there’s an opportunity for you to help our local high school students facing those same dilemmas.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) is inviting local businesses to participate as exhibitors at their upcoming Career Roundup. According to a district spokesperson, the Roundup will “provide a unique opportunity to engage with students and offer valuable insights into potential career paths, internship opportunities and entry-level requirements.”

The event is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12 from 5-7:30 p.m. in Dugger Gym at Laguna Beach High School.

The aim is to provide a platform for businesses to actively contribute to the development of the next-generation workforce. By signing up as an exhibitor, local organizations can connect with motivated, bright students who are just starting to explore their career options. This is a chance to build relationships and identify potential interns or future employees before they enter the competitive job market.

“Building strong connections between our schools and local businesses is fundamental to the success of our students,” said Superintendent Jason Viloria, Ed.D. “As we collaborate to shape the future workforce, we believe that by working together, we create pathways for our students to thrive and contribute meaningfully to the community they call home.”

So, here’s the deal…it’s FREE for all exhibitors and LBUSD will provide tables, chairs and power needs to ensure a seamless experience. To sign up or for more information, contact LBUSD Coordinator of Career Education Kellee Shearer at kshearer@lbusd.org.

• • •

Speaking of the School District, a couple of things from their latest release of It’s A Wrap:

–At their board meeting earlier this week (Tuesday, Jan. 23), LBHS Principal Jason Allemann, Ed.D., shared that “the school’s chronic absenteeism rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels. This significant accomplishment reflects the school’s dedicated initiatives to cultivate a positive and engaging campus culture.

“The data underscores the impact of these efforts, revealing a remarkable 7.7% decrease in chronic absenteeism at LBHS, dropping from 18.6% in the 2022-23 school year to an impressive 10.9% in the current academic year. This positive shift translates to more students attending classes regularly and enjoying the holistic on-campus experience, which extends beyond academics to encompass daily student activities centered around various areas of interest.”

Dr. Allemann attributes this success to the school’s unwavering commitment to fostering a sense of belonging and purpose among its students. He emphasized, “We want students to feel like they’re missing out when they’re not on campus.”

–Also, LBUSD is considering a program that would provide an incentive to eligible senior staff who choose to retire by June 2024. The plan will go to the board for action at its regularly scheduled meeting on March 14.

• • •

Peter Navarro, 74, was sentenced this week (Thursday, Jan. 25) to four months in prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Select Committee investigating what many regard as the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. Navarro, a former Laguna Beach resident and UCI economics professor, had been a trade adviser to former President Donald J. Trump.

This past September (2023) Navarro was found guilty on two counts of misdemeanor criminal contempt of Congress, after failing to cooperate following a subpoena he had been issued.

Navarro previously resided in upper Victoria Beach in a home he sold back in early 2021.


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