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Norton Zitkus Penney

Obituary Norton Penney

Courtesy of the Penney Family

Norton Zitkus Penney

We are heartbroken to share that Norton Penney has passed away at 70 years young. Nort died peacefully in his sleep living in Marina Del Rey, just a few blocks away from his favorite people – his grandchildren, Marco and Löwen.

Nort lived in Laguna Beach for more than 20 years and coached countless baseball, soccer and softball teams for his two youngest children, Holden and Nort Jr. He served on the LBLL board for years. He loved reading a mystery novel at El Morro, surfing at SanO, playing “old man” softball at Riddle Field, cheering on any LBHS team and debating which restaurant in town made the best chile relleno. He was happiest laughing with his children, Erin, Holden and Nort.

The family will be hosting a beach gathering and paddle out at Castle Rock Beach in Santa Monica on Saturday, Sept. 16. If you’d like to share a memory or picture of Nort, please email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Letters to the Editor

It’s time to move on and end the divisiveness

It’s time to end the divisiveness in Laguna.

We have a new City Council. A new City Attorney. And a new City Manager is coming.

There are fewer reasons for divisiveness in Laguna, yet we still have columns in the paper and letters to the editors by people trying to drive wedges in our community.

It’s time to start a new page.

One way the city government can help is to be truly open with the community. Whether it’s good news or bad news, we can handle it.

In the absence of facts, some people make up their own truths. It’s okay to have opinions, but it’s not okay to make up facts.

The recent retirement of the City Manager is a case in point. We really don’t know the whole story. We don’t actually have the facts. In fact, we have very few facts.

While the public release said, “Her decision comes as a result of a mutually agreed-upon separation agreement that was negotiated in response to a hostile workplace claim filed by (Shohreh) Dupuis following a period of conflict with a City Councilmember,” the actual Separation Agreement says, “…EMPLOYEE represents and warrants that she has not filed any complaints, charges, grievances or lawsuits against the CITY, its officers, employees, agents, affiliates, and attorneys with any governmental agency arising out of her employment with and separation from the CITY and that she will not do so at any time hereinafter….”

That sounds like there was no actual complaint filed.

The public release also makes vague reference to “legal and financial exposure to the City…” But from whom? Or what? A review of the last six months of Closed Sessions agendas alone includes 1) significant exposure of City to litigation by MOM investment group relating to May 2, 2023 incidents at Hotel Laguna and 14 West, 2) potential Brown Act violation issue claims made by Councilmember (George) Weiss, 3) litigation between the Laguna Beach Company and the city and 4) tort claims against the City from a citizen.

Could the reference to “exposure” be related to one of these issues? Without more information we just don’t know and people speculate which feeds the divisiveness.

Let’s get past the blame game and do what the Mayor suggested in the public release: “…move forward with finding a new City Manager and prioritizing the public’s business.”

We are all so fortunate to be able to live here, let’s move on. And let’s see that the city government provides the community in the future with the full transparency it should provide.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

     Has the issue that caused our City Manager to leave been alleviated?

When I became an officer in the United States Navy, I was admonished that having been granted this position of authority, the Congress of the United States was conferring on me a “special trust and confidence” to carry out my duties in a fair and ethical manner. I believe this “higher standard” applies to all elected public officials, regardless of position.

The citizens of Laguna Beach have lost a city manager. After a number of Special Closed Sessions by the City Council it was announced that The City Manager Shohreh Dupuis would retire. This announcement came in the form of a mutually agreed upon separation agreement between the City of Laguna Beach and our city manager. The background to this action came in the form of a press release by the City Council which explained that this was the end result of a complaint by our city manager alleging the conduct of Councilmember George Weiss and his alleged continuing harassment and creation of a hostile work environment.

This is a very serious matter and not to be taken lightly. The city press release explained that this separation agreement allows the city to resolve all claims without costly and time-consuming litigation and represents a “responsible stewardship of public funds”:

The bottom line is our city manager will get a separation package consisting of:

1. Nine months of severance pay and,

2. $223,077, and

3. Health insurance of nine months, and

4. Reimbursement of legal fees up to $10,000

The city manager makes a compensation package of $292,600 in salary plus $57,029 in benefits. Added together and doing the math this equates to $349,629 a year or a separation pay of $262,221.75. Adding in the legal expenses of $10,000 this is $272,221. The press release also states that Dupuis will get an additional settlement of $223,077. Sum Total: $495,298.

If we look at history, City Manager Dupuis was appointed city manager in June 2021. We had a municipal election fairly recently on November 8, 2022. That election added Alex Rounaghi and Mark Orgill to the council. That means the legacy councilmembers were Mayor Bob Whalen, Sue Kempf and George Weiss.

My questions are as follows: Why was this situation allowed to go on to the point of a formal complaint being made by City Manager Dupuis which resulted in legal action?

–There was no mention of any censure of Councilmember George Weiss. Will the toxic environment alleged by Dupuis continue to exist?

–Efforts will go forward to find a new city manager with the question mark that a toxic work environment may exist within the City Council.

The legacy city council consisting of Mayor Bob Whalen, Sue Kempf and George Weiss purported to act in “responsible stewardship of public funds” while in my opinion perpetuating the root cause.

There is a saying: “Act honorably.” You will be held personally accountable if you act improperly, and concurrently your colleagues and organization will also carry the burden of your shame. These actions have a direct impact on the City of Laguna Beach and we as its citizens.

Eric Axel Jensen, Captain

U.S. Navy, Retired

Laguna Beach

Village Laguna supports Sensible Laguna’s request for needs assessment at LBHS

Given its mission of helping to preserve and enhance Laguna’s village character, Village Laguna is concerned about the scale and scope of the changes the school district is proposing for the high school area. In particular, we support Sensible Laguna’s position on the pool size. The organization’s outreach to aquatic sports consultants has shown that a 50-meter pool is simply not needed for high school aquatic sports, unless the proponents envision Laguna as a hub for Olympic-sized aquatic events.

Furthermore, there is no room for a 50-meter pool without completely altering the character and look of the surrounding area and negatively impacting an already tight traffic area during construction and during years of large events for which, by the time of completion, the proponents’ children will have already graduated from the high school.

We support Sensible Laguna in asking, as taxpaying citizens, that LBUSD do a professional needs/use assessment by a qualified unbiased professional organization as to the need for this very expensive remodel. The public deserves transparency and clarity on why the school district is proposing this excessive use of taxpayer dollars. We deserve a cost/benefit analysis for a 35-meter pool. We also deserve an impact report on the noise generated by huge events on the surrounding neighborhoods’ right to peaceful enjoyment of their homes.

Let’s be sensible and find a common ground that supports students’ aquatic sports activities with respect for neighbors and without causing overuse of the existing property and the potential for emergency and everyday traffic issues.

Anne Caenn, president

Village Laguna

Turning 75…who knows what’s planned, other than I intend to live it!

This coming Thursday I will be 75, so I know I’m in the 4th quarter of my life. What I don’t know is this: Do I have 15 minutes left on the play clock or just 2?

No matter which it is, I am determined to make the best of growing older. Here are five truisms I’m committed to living by now:

First, with age comes wisdom. Considering this is my new mantra, what’s the smartest thing I’ve done? I no longer seek approval from others;

Second, with age comes selection. I’ve stopped trying to change people. Instead, I’ve begun letting go of people who are toxic, bitter and unhappy;

Third, with age comes reality. I don’t party much or stay up late any longer. Instead, I wake up at 5 a.m. anxious to write my letters, op-eds or blog posts;

Fourth, with age comes purpose. If action is the antidote to despair then count me in – especially when it comes to a Camp David gun summit; and,

Last, with age comes legacy. I’ve raised three great children and now I’m a grandfather. I know the world is far from perfect, but it is when I hold my grandchildren.

So happy 75th to Moi. I may be in the 4th quarter now, but I’m going to give the game of life 110% until the final whistle blows.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Open letter to Councilmember George Weiss

Mr. Weiss:

Now that the matter of your (alleged) misbehavior as a city councilmember has resulted in a potential lawsuit against the city, and has now been made public, this is the right time for you to consider your options. I’ve lived here since 1970 and have never seen this kind of (alleged) misconduct by an elected official directed toward anyone in city government, much less a City Manager. This is a first and, with your cooperation George, it should be the last. Your (alleged) transgressions are costing the taxpayers of Laguna close to a half million dollars when all the component parts are tallied. The cost likely would have been much greater had the city chosen not to negotiate a separation agreement with the City Manager. Clearly the city and its attorneys knew the merits of the potential lawsuit against it were incontrovertible.

Here are two options you should consider now – I recommend you choose both:

–Your immediate retirement from City Council; a resignation letter would work.

–A substantial reimbursement from you to the city for triggering this liability.

Jerry Immel

Laguna Beach

(Stu News Laguna editorial has added the three references of “alleged” above until said guilt is determined.)

There are a lot of folks to thank for keeping this neighborhood sparkling

Victoria Beach, like most of our city neighborhoods, has a great deal of maintenance work that is required to keep the area feeling like a well-kept and comfortable home, regardless of it also being a major tourist destination.

I am writing to specifically acknowledge and thank some of the many people that make up that (maintenance) department. Mark McAvoy is the director, the people I usually work directly with are Reza Jafari (assistant director) and Wayne Chintala/Todd Henry (supervisors). All these guys have been very responsive to helping put in place programs that give us at least some of the necessary resources to deal with the constant impact of tourism as well as the general wear and tear.

In addition, the real, main motivation for this letter is to sing the praises of some of the workers on the front line of all these efforts. They have consistently shown a superior level of commitment to doing the various jobs whole heartedly and with a great deal of care – they deserve some recognition:

–Graffiti removal: Gilbert Aguirre is the usual guy for that. If you see some graffiti, just call the non-emergency police number and it is usually taken care of within hours. I don’t know how many of you saw the rather extreme graffiti that was all over the Victoria stairs the other week or painted all over the bluff by the Pirates Tower this weekend, but it was gone within hours of the next morning. Some other guys from Public Works that have also been called are Elias Campos and Jose Torres Ballinas. This is sometimes very difficult work, and they don’t stop until it is gone.

–Stair Sweeping: Jose Cortez 

–Planter area entrance to Victoria: Sergio Lopez. That is a lot of maintenance to keep on top of and he has quite a bit of other areas to care for as well.

There are always times when they may not have enough time to get everything done due to various demands beyond their control, but it is really apparent that they truly care about the contributions to the city and to our neighborhood. No way they could work that hard otherwise.

So, take a moment of appreciation when you see them out there!

(Diver) Dave Forsyth

Victoria Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Maui fire is a lesson we need to heed…NOW!

The Maui fire really makes us mad! To us, Lahaina was like our Hawaiian Laguna Beach and now it’s ashes: 115 confirmed dead, more than 800 still missing and losses somewhere between $8 to $10 billion. All this death and destruction was most certainly caused by sparking utility lines on wooden poles – much like we have through most of Laguna.

Back in 1970, one area of Laguna was wise. The Portofino and Alta Vista neighbors undergrounded all of their utilities. For us, at our building situated on three lots, it cost about $1,000 per lot, per year for 30 years, but that worked out to only $33 rent raise per month on each of our nine residential units. All the tenants agreed that $33 was a bargain. The added safety, view enhancement 

and loss of disruption of service was worth at least 10 times that cost.

As reported in the NY Times, the Maui Utility Company was warned five years ago that “above ground power lines that fail, short or are low-hanging, can cause fire ignition (sparks) that could start a fire, particularly in windy and stormy conditions.” That warning should be a call to action for all of us in Laguna. Some of our City Councilmembers have warned us for years about the high risk we face, especially in our Canyon Road.

Can’t we all be as smart as those in the Portofino and Alta Vista area? Maui has learned their lesson. Do we have to learn the same devastatingly hard way those on Maui did? WE HOPE NOT!

Barbara and Greg MacGillivray

Laguna Beach

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In Loving Memory

Emily Amanda Normandin-Parker

March 12, 2000 – Aug. 12, 2023

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Photos courtesy of the Normandin-Parker Family

Emily Amanda Normandin-Parker

Emily Amanda Normandin-Parker of Laguna Beach passed away on Saturday, Aug. 12. She was 23. Emily was anything but ordinary. She was beautiful, empathetic, brave, smart, interesting, hilarious and extraordinary. She was a bright light, our Emily, and her life had just begun.

Emily was an exceptionally talented writer and lover of all of the arts. She loved being with family, writing, drag shows, books, the ocean, animals, driving, concerts, music festivals, plays, musicals, movies, painting, drawing, the outdoors, baking with her dad and gardening with her mom. She loved gaming with her friends. She also loved learning new things, whether it was about bridge engineering, aviation, plants, animals, or the intersection of the arts and democracy. She would wakeboard or snow ski if mildly cajoled or massively bribed.

In Loving Memory Emily child sitting pose2

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Emily grew up in Laguna Beach. She graduated from the Orange County School of the Arts in 2018, where she focused on creative writing and from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television in 2022.

She was at her best when helping friends and others, which she valued above all other things, even herself. During the pandemic, she started an online academic, emotional and social support group, ultimately providing support to more than 150 elementary, middle and high schoolers. Emily was a proud supporter of LGBTQ+ rights; she was proudly bisexual, but would have been an ally regardless. She had strong beliefs that people had the right to be themselves.

Emily loved her brothers, Cole and Josh. She was so proud of them and would do anything for them. She always put them before herself, and that’s just how she was. She was excited to see Josh head off to college this fall and see Cole graduate from college this May.

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She is survived by her parents, Carol Normandin and Ken Parker, her brothers Cole (21) and Josh (19) Normandin-Parker, and her grandmother, Suzanne Parker. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Lareine Normandin, Roland Normandin and Gerry Parker.

In lieu of flowers, her family asks that you never be ordinary, be yourself, and always stand up for others’ rights to do so. They ask that donations be made in Emily’s name to her favorite charities: The Trevor Project, No Square Theatre in Laguna Beach, the Fisher House and Planned Parenthood.

To listen to Emily’s song “Beam Me Up” with her brother Cole, click on the link below.

Information regarding celebration of life will be coming. Please send any pictures of Emily or memories about her to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Letters to the Editor

If we’re going to protect our “Art Colony” future, we need to start now

I am writing you today in regard to our well-established cultural heritage and a situation that has occurred to me over the weekend. As you all are very aware, we, Laguna Beach, have a rich cultural past that has endured for 100 years. In recent decades the ranks of well-established artists and creatives has dwindled due to many factors: affordability, lack of studio spaces and death.

When I came to Laguna in 1976, I was in my early 20s. I could afford a place to live ($325 a month) and a nice studio in the canyon ($175 per month). When most people, residents and visitors alike, think of Laguna Beach, they think mostly of two things. Our beautiful environment and our culture. Our beautiful environment remains intact; however, it is our cultural future that is in jeopardy.

I was reminded of yet another loss over the weekend as I attended the memorial for Sukhi Dail, another long-time established artist here in town. It got me thinking about how many artists and creatives have left our world in recent years: Sukhi Dail, Ken Auster, Bruce Linder, Terry Thornsley, Mark Chamberlin, Jerry Burchfield, John Gardiner, untold numbers of artists and crafts folk from the Sawdust and the FOA. There are many more. These were all long-time resident artists who carried the torch of our cultural heritage forward from those who preceded them.

When I came to Laguna, there were thriving art and craft studios all over town. It seemed like every other home had a studio in their garage or backyard. Those days are long gone due to new regulations and policies put in place by those in city hall past.

The point of all this is the big question we all need to ask ourselves, “What do we want Laguna Beach to be going forward?” If we are to maintain the “Art Colony” moniker, we need to recognize that the much-needed younger generation of artists can no longer afford to live and work in our town. There are no young artists filling the ranks as the older established artists are moving away or passing on. The Sawdust Festival is dying under the weight of its own rules about having to live in Laguna to be in the show. It is “aging out.” Students graduating from LCAD cannot afford to stay here and become part of the future of the art colony.

Do we believe in our creative community enough to deem it a valuable asset to our hamlet? If your answer is yes, then it is high time to recognize that if we do not proactively change course, then in 10 or 20 years there will be no more full-time working artists left to maintain a thriving and healthy creative community who will carry the “art colony” into the future.

I hope that we as a community that prides itself on our environmental standing, as well as our cultural heritage, will take this situation very seriously. The time is now to act before we lose more of our cherished creatives and our great community becomes a hollow shell of its creative past that was established by the very artists that drew so many of us here in the first place.

Jorg Dubin

Laguna Beach

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In Loving Memory

Marija Miletić Dail

Sept. 6, 1934 – Oct. 9, 2022


Sukhdev Singh Dail

Nov. 23, 1941 – Aug. 7, 2023

In Loving Memory Hollywood 1968

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Marija and Sukhdev Dail – Hollywood, 1968

Many lives have been enriched through their friendship with them and our blended family wouldn’t have the love we have today without them. Marija met Sukhi at Hanna-Barbera Studios in Hollywood in 1968, when he was assigned to be her animation assistant for Scooby Doo. They married in 1974 and joint ventures had them traveling the world, creating art and endlessly hosting guests throughout their 48-year marriage.

Marija was born in Zagreb, Croatia. She sketched anywhere and everywhere – if fresh paper weren’t available, then newspaper margins and even the dust on the road was used. Her professional life began as the first woman hired as an animator at world-renowned Zagreb Film in the 1950s. Fleeing communist Yugoslavia, she emigrated first to Canada, where she initially worked as a night-time worm-picker (fish bait!) on a golf course. Once she learned English, she gained employment at Mort Lesser’s animation studio. Later settling in the United States, after being personally invited by Bill Hanna to work at Hanna-Barbera Studios, he tasked her with inviting colleagues from Toronto to come to work in Hollywood. This was serendipity indeed, as one of those animators then invited Sukhdev to be part of the group! Working at a number of famous animation studios over the years, she rose through the ranks before retiring from Universal Studios as a director and producer with an impressive IMDB filmography. She created several short films as a solo artist, including her award-winning film Why Not?. Marija was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since the 1970s; she thoroughly enjoyed voting for and attending the Oscars over the years with family and friends. She and Sukhi lived in both Carmel Valley and Laguna Beach for many years before their health led them to make their permanent home down south.

In Loving Memory Oscars 1987

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Photo by Ana Miletić

Marija and Sukhdev Dail – at the Oscars, 1987

Sukhdev was born in Rehana, India. An inveterate globetrotter, his creative drive and wanderlust led him to dangerously traverse the Middle East so he could study art at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium. After becoming fluent in French, he flew to Toronto, Canada and learned how to animate. However, this was only a seasonal job in Hollywood, making it difficult to earn a living wage. After a few years juggling other side jobs, he decided to go back to school and become a chiropractor, thereby finally fulfilling his father’s dream of continuing the family legacy of practicing medicine. Incredibly health-conscious, he kept himself fit playing tennis for many years. Travel was another great joy. In the fall, he and Marija would relax in Croatia before he continued on to Punjab alone, helping his family maintain their centuries-long legacy there, celebrating it via his artwork. Taking early retirement from his chiropractic practice, he was able to return to that first passion, art. He left many creative works for others to enjoy all over, via exhibitions of his paintings and sculptures in L.A., Carmel and elsewhere. He was proudest of his contribution to the final community where he lived – the sculpture Seabreeze located on the southern end of the Main Beach.

In Loving Memory Seabreeze

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Photo by Sukhdev Dail

Marija and Sukhdev Dail with Sukhdev’s “Seabeeze” sculpture in the background at Main Beach, 2022

Blessed with a large, blended family, Marija and Sukhdev are survived by his son, Mavi, and his grandchildren, Mali and Siraj; her daughters, Mirna (Brad) and Vera (Dave), as well as her grandchildren: David, Christopher, Brina, Dawson, Adric and Cailin. Also grieving their loss are Sukhi’s siblings, Jagmohan, Rita and Bindu, and their children and grandchildren. Many other family members and friends were loved and entertained by this cosmopolitan couple. They have both gone now, but we are all the happier for the years that they were with us and the legacy they left behind.

To send flowers or cards, or plant a tree in remembrance, visit and

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Letters to the Editor

Heed the warnings from Maui

(The following letter was sent to the Laguna Beach City Council and the City Manager.)

Our city is one tsunami away from a Maui, Hawaii-type disaster as we have yet to have an effective emergency warning system. Testimonies are streaming in from Maui survivors that they had no warning. Cell service was not functioning.

So, is it a good idea to plan our tsunami warning system solely on a working cell system without an audio system as well…NO.

For years I have pressed this project, but it is not functioning yet. There is no sense of urgency! Not good.

I pray for your attention in this matter.

Brian Ouzounian

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

There should be no place in “Stu News” to promote animal cruelty

I have lived in Laguna Beach since 1994 and value Stu News for keeping me updated on all things Laguna.

I am disgusted that you gave accolades to a 6-year-old who participated in a form of animal cruelty – “Mutton Busting.” This sick practice will soon be banned at California rodeos (I have signed numerous petitions to support said ban). Her parents should be ashamed of themselves for encouraging a child to participate in animal cruelty.

I have spent much time with sheep on animal sanctuaries, many of whom have been rescued from rodeos. They are gentle, inquisitive and intelligent animals. They are profoundly stressed at rodeos from the transport there to the blaring noise to humans jumping on their backs.

Would we subject Golden Retrievers to this for entertainment?

You can do better.

I am disappointed that you gave animal cruelty a positive spin in your publication.

Tracy Keys

Laguna Beach

Remembering Jimmy Otto

Laguna lost an original and legend with the death of Jimmy Otto. The Sound Spectrum that Otto created decades ago was an oasis for music fans, who got to hear stories of their favorite rockers from the Master, and discover the CD, vinyl, or rock gift they needed. He championed reggae and introduced new artists we might not have known. He found just the right person, Wave, to run the store when he retired from daily operations, so that this bastion of true Laguna and great music could continue to be our happy place to visit.

Condolences to his wife, Edith, and all Jimmy’s fans on his loss. Rock on.

C. Deborah Laughton

Laguna Beach

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