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LBHS students petition School Board to rehire gifted teacher

At the School Board meeting of November 12, a group of exceptionally articulate LBHS students delivered extemporaneous remarks movingly honoring a teacher who had “a special way of breaking through to students” struggling with difficult coursework.

The students described a seemingly gifted teacher in an extended assignment as a substitute teacher, getting good results in college admission-critical calculus and statistics courses. Substitute teacher status also may explain why he seemingly was fired summarily without adequate due process, for what his students insist was an easily explained misunderstanding.

Students came forward concerned in part he was fired because a classmate’s phone video on social media created a “negative” public relations issue, rather than the truth as they saw it. Seeking reinstatement of their teacher, students praised his mentorship and cogently explained the need to sustain continuity and progress students were making going into final exam period.

What made the public comment period even more remarkable was the profile in courage presented by the last student to speak. He stood up and took responsibility for his own role in what he saw as an end-of-class prank unfairly blamed on the teacher. The students collectively expressed a belief the teacher was not in on the joke, so to speak, when two students “pretended to hold their breath until they fainted.”

To me this seemed not an adult teaching moment for students, but a student teaching moment for adults. It was a call for civic justice by eye witnesses who seemed to have a clear sense of social and personal responsibility to right a wrong.

There were no moments of adult clarity or integrity, starring Kevin Klein in a reprise of his Emperor’s Club movie role, at the November 12 meeting. Board member Dee Perry alone exercised her prerogative under state law to respond after comments about matters not on the agenda, thanking students for making their understanding of what occurred a matter of public record.

The silence of other Board members was consistent with their frequent public pronouncements that I understand to mean actions of the Superintendent defined as “operational” are “down in the weeds” beneath the “district wide rather than individual focus” of a Board that has been said to govern “from 30,000 feet.”

Yet, CA Ed. Code Sec. 35161 states the Superintendent and all other school employees have no independent powers, and the Board retains full authority and responsibility for all actions of Superintendent and all employees.

There is one major problem with a “hands off” governance philosophy. If the Superintendent holds teachers, students, parents, and school employees to his own seemingly selective standard of accountability, who holds the Superintendent accountable, and how is the public ever to know?

For example, LBUSD recently touted awards and rankings that recognized the efficacy of curriculum developed during the tenure of a recently departed Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum. But instead of being recognized for her contributions to our success, she seemingly left quite suddenly amid what many are saying were adverse circumstances.

The highly successful principal at Top of the World school has been appointed head of curriculum. In that new capacity, the former TOW principal was directed to fire the substitute teacher at LBHS, whose right to a fair investigation and due process the students came to advocate for at the November 12 meeting.

The fired substitute teacher got the highest award an educator can earn, the trust and admiration of students. Whether his firing was justified probably will never be known due to what many feel is a lack of transparency.

Instead all we know is a principal who was a success story at one campus has been transferred to the central office due to the seemingly unplanned departure of a senior staff member. Meanwhile, there seemingly is no public record of why the head of curriculum disappeared, including whether any payment was made to settle a possible formal complaint.

Why seemingly is there a different standard of accountability and transparency for a classroom teacher, fired for cause that is now disputed by the students and parents? Yet, seemingly there is no record of termination for an Assistant Superintendent, seemingly at both the discretion as well as in the personal and professional self-interest of the Superintendent?

Howard Hills
Laguna Beach


Collaboration, Transparency, Deliberative Analysis Keys to Public Service

The South Coast Water District Board of Directors held a meeting recently at which a comprehensive update was provided by our General Manager and the consultant team tasked with analyzing the technological and economic viability of the proposed Doheny Desalination Project. This facility, if it becomes reality, would be located on property owned by SCWD and built in phases, with the first phase yielding five million gallons per day of potable water, which would meet demand for roughly 35,000 residents and 1,000 businesses in our service territory, as well as the two million-plus annual visitors to the area.

Much was made in media reports and social media posts of the revised cost estimates presented at this meeting. Our consultants shared with the Board that the timing of construction and other factors combined to increase the estimated cost to ratepayers by several dollars per month.

The SCWD Board has, from Day 1, approached the Doheny Desal Project in a completely open, transparent, and iterative manner. The proposed slant well technology has been roundly applauded by the environmental community, but we are mindful that this technology has not yet been widely deployed here in the U.S. and as such we continue to ask questions regarding its efficacy here in Dana Point.

Further, we have always been stalwart stewards of our obligation to our ratepayers and the byproduct and impacts of any financial commitment made by SCWD. Our most recent meeting, and upcoming workshops and other meetings where this project is discussed, are absolutely the most appropriate forums for Board members to ask questions and raise any concerns they may have about the project and if it is the best solution for our constituents. As President of the Board, I applaud each of my fellow Directors for the thoughtful and diligent approach they have brought to this extremely important subject.

It is important to remember that South Coast Water District, like our fellow agencies in south Orange County, does not sit on the Orange County groundwater basin and as such is almost entirely reliant on water imported from northern California and the Colorado River. The cost of this imported water has and will continue to increase. As a District, we absolutely must examine any and all potential projects that can enhance our reliability and self-sufficiency to prepare ourselves for earthquakes, wildfires, or other natural disasters that could greatly reduce or eliminate imported water for weeks or months. Loss of water supply of this magnitude would cause extreme stress to our residential community, along with significant and lasting economic impacts to our businesses and resorts.

We invite and encourage SCWD ratepayers and members of the public to participate in the dialogue and closely monitor our progress as we continue to examine not only the Doheny Desalination Project but other regional water projects that, individually or cumulatively, can benefit our residents.

William Green is President of the South Coast Water District

Degree in Civil Engineering, Past California Regional Water Quality Control Board Member (San Diego), Senior Vice-President of RBF/ Michael Baker International (Engineering Firm) and Past President of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)

William Green, President

South Coast Water District Board of Directors


Coast Film Festival

The new Coast Film Festival last week was a huge creative addition to Laguna Beach’s art scene! Thanks to Ben Warner, Enich Harris, and all the sponsors, it was a huge success, with thousands attending. Our art colony is now richer and more vibrant.

Greg MacGillivray
Laguna Beach


Response to “Counting down to the 2020 election” by Denny Freidenrich

I agree the next year is going to be fascinating. What I am curious about is why omit Bernie Sanders’ name as one of the top Democrats to watch?

Bernie Sanders has consistently been one of the top three candidates surpassing Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

Lori Werstein

Laguna Beach


Sen. Graham says he has made up his mind

On Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this to CBS affiliate KCCI in Des Moines about the current impeachment inquiry: “I’ve made up my mind. There’s nothing there.”

Clearly the senator has a right to his opinion; however, if he said this to a trial judge anywhere in America during the all-important jury selection process, he immediately would be disqualified. So why isn’t this the case on Capitol Hill?

If the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, those 100 lawmakers will decide if President Trump is to be convicted or not. Given Graham’s declaration over the weekend, I don’’ believe he should be allowed to vote if it comes to that.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Mayor Whalen has not responded to our letter

The following letter was sent October 10 to Mayor Bob Whalen and a copy to the City Attorney. To date, we have not received any reply. We believe residents and taxpayers should have a timely response to our concerns.

Mayor Bob Whalen

City Hall

505 Forest Ave.

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

October 10, 2019

Dear Bob,

Since Councilman Peter Blake owns property across the street from the Village Entrance project, we were surprised when he participated in the recent vote on the next phase (September 24, 2019, Item #10).

He has also been attending the recent Planning Commission hearings on the Downtown Specific Plan, sometimes sitting with staff and speaking directly to the commissioners after the public hearing has been closed.

Could you please check with the city attorney and find out what degree of participation is appropriate for him as both a councilmember and a private citizen and then provide that information to us and, if necessary, to Councilman Blake?

Thanks,

Arnold and Bonnie Hano

Cc: City Attorney Phil Kohn

Arnold and Bonnie Hano

Laguna Beach


Just another Saturday in Laguna Beach

Saturday morning I walked down to Coast Highway to catch the big OCTA bus, because it runs hourly on the weekend before the trolleys. I got on and at the next bus stop, the bus driver stepped out of his seat, pointing to a man in the back of the bus, and said, “This is your last stop, get off.” The man questioned him, and the driver repeated his request. A lady up front pointed to a second man and told the driver he should be asked to get off too. The driver said, “I didn’t hear him.” The man got off. Since I had just got on the bus, I assumed the man who was told to exit was using course language, which is not tolerated because of children and a certain good behavior expected by OCTA.

 I got off and went to the to read the morning newspaper at our downtown county library. I sat down at a table and within a few minutes, what appeared to be a homeless man sat down at the table. I wondered why, since there were four empty tables around me. He seemed really out of it, so I moved to another table.

After my visit to our wonderful library, and I mean that seriously, I walked over to the trolley stop on Beach Street and caught a trolley going south. When we stopped at Main Beach, the driver didn’t open the door exactly right away and a man in a red baseball cap hit the door with all of his might. He got off with me at the stop near Taco Bell, where I was going. I was eating my nachos and soft taco and looked up and the same man in the red baseball cap was standing at the counter arguing with the manager near the front door. All the sudden he came around with his fist hitting the wall right near the managers’ head and kicked the front door with a mighty kick and exited. I got up and told the manager I had seen him on the trolley and he was bad news. The manager said he had called the police about him twice. Later I called the police and told them about the man in the red hat, and by that time they had arrived at Taco Bell to talk to the manager.

 The three incidents in one morning really didn’t surprise me. I don’t have a car and so ride the buses, trolleys, and am on the streets quite a bit.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


Counting down to the 2020 election

As of Sunday, we are a year away from electing the next President of the United States. Because 2020 is a leap year, that is 366 days for those who like to count.

So what can we expect from Democratic candidates like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, or the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, between now and election day?

First, despite their current poll numbers, I don’t believe either Biden or Warren will end up as my party’s standard-bearer next fall. Second, while it hardly is going to be a coronation for Trump, he probably could go on a three-month vacation soon and still win the GOP nomination.

If history teaches us anything it is this: Most front-runners at this stage of a presidential campaign see their numbers drop as the first caucus or primary state approaches. If this holds true for 2020, then look for Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg to upend Biden and Warren. (Sorry Kamala. In my opinion, it’s not your time.)

Political pundits want the public to believe they can predict the winner of a presidential election months in advance. If you think they can, then guess again. In the summer of 2007, John McCain, who eventually became the Republican nominee for president, had been written off as roadkill. Insiders were quitting his campaign and donations had all but dried up. Despite the odds, McCain hung in there for the slow slog back to the top of the heap.

I’m not saying this will happen again in 2020, but it is possible. It’s a fact the Biden fundraising machine has been working overtime; but, money doesn’t always translate into victory. If his vision for America’s future isn’t supported by more primary voters soon, the former vice president could become a political asterisk.

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m glad the presidential campaign season is in full swing now. It’s going to be a fascinating 366 days until next year’s election. I know I’ll be counting the days. How about you?

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach


Breast cancer prevention by Dr. Anita Wang

Hidden Risks of Mammograms

Though the media and medical community focus on mammograms as the primary means of screening for breast cancer, I would like to also consider the risks. Important to note is that mammograms don’t prevent cancer – they detect it. And in some cases, they actually may cause more harm. Consider the following known issues with mammograms:

--Increased exposure to radiation, which increases the risk of cancer.

--Mammograms cannot distinguish between fatal and harmless breast cancer, often leading to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of breast cancer.

--For women with dense breast tissue, ultrasound is effective in detecting cancer in cases where mammogram cannot. Ultrasound also does not expose you to radiation.

--Compressing a cancerous breast may rupture the encapsulation of a cancerous tumor and cause metastasis.

My goal is for patients to be informed about what is being done to their bodies, so they can be informed about whether conventional medicine or alternative methods are right for them.

For example, ultrasounds are used in detecting breast cancer but is not typically a conventional first step. Many times, especially for women with dense breast tissue, doctors will send patients to get an ultrasound after the mammogram. Why not just skip the mammogram altogether and do the ultrasound?

The Truth About Breast Cancer’s Root Cause

The true root cause of breast cancer is estrogen toxicity, which affects both men and women. Instead of only promoting mammograms, I wish the medical community would encourage people to understand how their bodies metabolize estrogen and genetic mutations. Two gene mutations, MTHFR and BRCA1 in particular, can be addressed with micronutrient supplementation. I see the importance of nutrition to balance certain behaviors in the body. 

MTHFR Gene Mutation

It looks like a curse word, but MTHFR is actually an important acronym to know as it relates to your health. In recent breast cancer research, scientists found a high incidence of breast cancer patients with a mutation of the MTHFR gene, which helps neutralize the metabolites (metabolism byproducts) that can be harmful to us. This can be corrected by taking 5-MTHF (5 methyltetrahydrofolic acid), which is a form of folate.

BRCA1 Gene Mutation and Breast Cancer

Another gene mutation found in breast cancer patients is the BRCA1 gene. For these cases, it is important to ensure adequate selenium levels to prevent cellular damage that lead to breast cancer.

Other Vitamin Deficiencies and Breast Cancer

Another study published last year suggested that Vitamin D plays an important role in breast cancer prevention. In this study of more than 5,000 women aged 55 and older, those with Vitamin D levels of 60ng/ml or greater had an 80 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those who were deficient.

Additionally it was found:

--If Vitamin D was initiated within six months of diagnosis, breast cancer mortality was reduced 49 percent.

--Even when initiated more than six months after diagnosis, patients’ mortality was reduced 20 percent.

--Patients with breast cancer were also found to be deficient in Vitamin A, B1, B2, B12, C, and selenium. Having adequate Vitamin B6 is vital because it detoxifies estrogen and lowers risk of invasive breast cancer especially in postmenopausal women. 

Breast Cancer Preventative Foods

Preventative foods are those high in carotenoids (squash, carrots, grapefruit, oranges, and apricots), cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts), onions and garlic, and lignan-rich foods (flax, whole grains, berries). These foods reduce risk by 15 percent. Other preventive nutrients with aromatase-inhibiting effects are:

--Zinc

--Selenium

--Magnesium

--Turmeric

--Resveratrol

--Chrysin

--Passionflower

--Ashwagandha

Bottom Line: Measure your Micronutrient Levels

Breast cancer awareness is not about getting your mammogram, but about proactively checking your micronutrient level. Did you know that micronutrients: assist the body in repairing cellular damage that leads to cancer, prevent genetic mutations, and maintain a healthy hormonal balance.

It is incredible that just one nutrient deficiency may compromise your ability to fight cancer at the cellular level. Several nutrients are critical in maintaining healthy breast tissue, in addition to overall health and energy.

Test, Don’t Guess

One of my mantras is “test, don’t guess.” Do you know your micronutrient levels? Please come and see me especially if you have a higher risk for breast cancer so we can balance your diet with the nutrition that is right for you.

Known Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Many risk factors for breast cancer are completely within your control. Knowing these risks factors and taking active measures to reduce those risks will help you live a long life with vitality. These known factors include:

--Overweight

--Diet poor in fruits and vegetables

--Diet high in fat

--Lack of physical activity

--Alcohol consumption

--Smoking

--Stress

--Age over 50

--Genetic mutation

--Menstruation before age 12

--Menopause after 55

--Dense breast tissue

--History of breast cancer

--Family history of breast cancer

--Previous radiation therapy

--Exposure to estrogen 10+ years

--No childbirth or later aged childbirth

--Having taken diethylstilbestrol (synthetic estrogen for miscarriage prevention) or women whose mothers took it while pregnant

For sources, click here.

Dr. Anita Wang

Laguna Beach


Planning Commission ought to check California auto stats

The Planning Commission is relying on erroneous data regarding the Downtown Specific Plan, it seems. One Commissioner even went so far as to say that, “as cars get smaller, parking spaces can get smaller.”

The number one car in California last year wasn’t a car at all. It was a truck. Car sales are down more than 10 percent while light truck and SUV sales are up. In Orange County, truck and SUV sales are even higher. “Consumers generally buy the largest vehicle they can afford,” according to California New Car Dealers Association President Brian Maas.

In fact, the state remains on track to exceed two million new vehicle registrations for the fourth consecutive year. If it seems like all of them are parked downtown during the summer, just wait until the commission waives or modifies parking requirements. 

Trish Sweeney

Laguna Beach

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