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Laguna Beach


Jette Rea Anderson

March 21, 2021

Obituary Jette Rae Anderson

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Jette Rea Anderson

Jette Rea Anderson, 77, passed away peacefully on March 21, 2021, at her home in Laguna Beach. She had family ties to Laguna going all the way back to her childhood summers spent on Victoria Beach. Jette was married to mortgage banker A Gary Anderson for 19 years, and they had two children: Erik Kjell Anderson and Erin Jette Anderson. 

Jette went back to school and completed her J.D. at Pepperdine Law School, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Jette went on to become a senior partner attorney at Covington and Crowe Law Firm in Ontario, Calif., for 21 years. She was the first female partner at this firm and specialized in estate planning, probate, and general business. 

The last few weeks of her life she was comforted at home with loving family members, close friends, and her treasured dogs, Bo and Maggie. Jette leaves her loving family with many detailed wonderful memories. Surviving her is her son Erik (wife Samantha) of Newport Beach and daughter Erin of Yorba Linda.

Jette was blessed with seven grandchildren: Kal, Gunnar, and Mary Grace Anderson, and Austin, Brady, Parker, and Morgan Lastinger. Also missing Jette is her brother Jim Rea (wife Linda) of San Francisco and niece Suzanne (wife Hanna) and their son Julian of Boston. Jette also has a large number of very close cousins that live in the surrounding area that she grew up with in Burbank and Glendale.

The family will be having a “Celebration of Life” to honor this wonderful woman who will be dearly missed. Donations can be made to Tony’s Treehouse in lieu of flowers:


Thomas Fredrick Price

June 19, 1937 – March 24, 2021

Obituary Thomas Fredrick Price trees

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Thomas Price

Laguna Beach friends and classmates of Thomas Price were deeply saddened to learn of his recent passing in Ashland, Oregon.

Born in Salt Lake City in 1937 to Thomas William Price and Caryl Brown Price, Tom moved to Laguna Beach with his family in the early 1940s and went all through school here, graduating from Laguna Beach High School in 1955. A brilliant student and precociously talented in theater arts, he, rather than a teacher, directed the Junior-Senior play that spring, You Can’t Take It with You.

While he was in school, his parents divorced; his mother would remarry the well-known plein air artist Robert Wood (a man whose work has been especially prized for the seascapes of Laguna).

After Laguna Beach High School, Tom went one year to community college and then transferred to Pomona College, from which he graduated in 1959. A doctorate in theater arts from Stanford University represented his next educational achievement.

Obituary Thomas Fredrick Price school

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Tom Price – Laguna Beach High School senior picture

But from 1970 on, the academic job market has been hypercompetitive, and people with newly-minted Ph.D.’s have had to make tough choices. For a time Tom drove a taxi in San Francisco before deciding to seek employment outside the United States. He moved to Taiwan, teaching English at Tamkang University for decades and receiving a distinguished teaching award there.

While in Taiwan, he met and married Yi-Rung Lin, and the two of them moved temporarily to Southern California so that Laura, as she’s known here, could obtain a degree in English literature from Claremont Graduate School.  After Laura completed her doctorate, they moved back to Taiwan. Ten years after their return – Tom had been teaching at Hua Fan University – the marriage ended, and Tom returned to the States, where he remained until his death.

His publications were all in the realm of his special expertise. For a period before his first departure for Taiwan, he worked on cataloguing the library of a man who was a collector of material on the pioneer of modern stage design, Edward Gordon Craig. Out of that work came Edward Gordon Craig and the Theater of the Imagination. Tom also published a theoretical work, Dramatic Structure and Meaning in Theatrical Productions, and a critical edition of The Jealous Wife and Polly Honeycombe by George Coleman the Elder, 1732-1794.

He is survived by his former wife Yi-Rung Lin, by two children from a previous marriage, and several grandchildren.

His friends remember him as a true son of Laguna Beach in his devotion to the arts, especially theater and the music of Mozart.

Laguna needs to get this right

I strongly believe that the new city manager must have a master’s degree in finance and commensurate experience running a city similar to Laguna (or larger) in order to properly manage our budget and provide innovative solutions to our problems.

Special interest projects seem to be favored over infrastructure plans that benefit everyone. As the effective CEO of Laguna, a strong city manager would balance competing interests and present evidence-based plans in an open, transparent way. Ensuring our municipal codes and laws are properly enforced would be a given.

Time after time, I’ve seen consultant reports and city-administered surveys that are simply not data driven. In February, I asked the city clerk to forward 25 questions about a questionnaire done last summer to staff. I was given a link to a document where just three of my questions were answered. This response – along with the survey – was wholly inadequate and should never have been provided to the council as such.

18 months prior, staff provided the council a study that concluded there was ample parking downtown. Under questioning, it turned out that the study was done in the off-season, during off hours in the middle of the week, included paid and private lots, and so on. Now, barely two years later, the city is doing yet another study for a parking structure because apparently, we don’t have enough parking after all.

Leadership comes from the top down. If resident requests are not the priority at city hall and weighty decisions are being made on the basis of deficient surveys, we are in trouble. It is crucial that we get strong financial policies and better systems in place from a leader with critical thinking skills, one unafraid to reprioritize.

When considering candidates, Laguna needs a big picture thinker who knows how to lead and work well with others. A problem-solver who makes others better by their presence. City managers are in the hiring business, so it is important that, after spending so much time and money to attract talent, that we keep recruits.

Trish Sweeney

Laguna Beach

“Police Beat” poetry

Did anyone else notice this Laguna animal awareness in “Police Beat” last Friday, April 9, 2021?

Turtle found on RP’s deck,

Rattlesnake by a palm tree

On the road

around the back

of Riddle Field.

Coyote walking up

from the dead

end of the street

near the water tower,

Baby rattlesnake

near the tires

of a vehicle,

Seagull at the bottom of the stairs,

Fishing lure in its beak,




laying at the bottom 

of the stairs

call made to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Two birds

with fishing hooks

stuck in their beaks

in the sand,

Just north

of the Lifeguard Tower.

I wish I could take authorship, but it was all there in the “news.”

David Powers

Laguna Beach

Caltrans takes traffic counts in Laguna

Caltrans is taking traffic counts in eight locations around Laguna Beach. The purpose of these measurements is to adjust vehicle speeds and signal timing to reduce car trip delay, and to update the traffic accounting system known as the Caltrans Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) system.

The counting methodology is intended to move more cars faster and safer than ever before. Every so often the result of this approach is revealed spectacularly on Laguna’s arterial highways, PCH and Laguna Canyon Road.

In 1959, Los Angeles took extreme measures to expand a freeway interchange from South Los Angeles through Boyle Heights. The expansion demolished and segregated the existing mixed racial community of Boyle Heights (LA Times).

Gilbert Estrada writes in the Southern California Quarterly (2005):

“If You Build It, They Will Move

The Los Angeles Freeway System and the Displacement of Mexican

East Los Angeles,


Why should Laguna Beach and San Clemente residents prescribe to a similar freeway policy forced upon East Los Angeles? There are much better written policies already prescribed in Caltrans mandates above. They should be followed.

Les Miklosy, Laguna Streets

Laguna Beach

What Laguna residents want to see in their next City Manager

I was impressed with Sara Hall’s careful recap of the three City Manager Recruitment Listening Sessions regarding what residents want to see in their next City Manager. It’s not easy to listen and code close to three and a half hours of tape that is available under “video” in the City Council archive minutes for the sessions held by the recruiter on March 6, March 11, and March 16.

I would like to echo and augment Ms. Hall’s work with a listing of the six most popular “wants” that came out of these sessions. The first place for wants was tied with two-thirds of the residents’ votes:

Transparency: Residents would like to see a City Manager (CM) who keeps residents informed on his or her decisions/actions and city staff’s actions. Some residents felt that reports from outside consultants and city staff were biased toward what the CM wanted them to say.

A positive work environment for City Staff: Callers wanted a CM who was adept at developing staff for higher positions so that the City didn’t continue to be a place where staff left to get more training at another city. For example, the current Assistant CM, Shohreh Dupuis, has been mainly responsible for public works and the arts commission, and it would have been useful for her to have been trained on infrastructure (sewers, utilities, safety) and finance. Callers said Laguna should also look for a CM that people want to work for.

The second place for the skills most wanted in a City Manager was just one vote less than the first two, and was also a tie vote:

Opposing factions: A City Manager who could navigate and mediate between the town’s opposing factions versus the appearance of aligning with one faction in town.

Fiscal responsibility and accountability: A City Manager who is adept at finance and can come up with creative economic plans that don’t depend on tourism as the main economic model. Some callers also emphasized a CM who could effectively manage the costs of visitors so that residents and the City don’t have to bear all the costs.

The third-place winner for skill sets to seek in a new CM was also a tie, and received only two less votes that the first-place winners:

Trustworthy: Callers want a CM with a commitment to caring for the community and all stakeholders in the City with respect and diplomacy. They wanted to see a balanced focus on all neighborhoods, not just downtown.

Laguna’s unique environment: Residents want a City Manager who appreciates the unique character and environment (canyon, beaches, creeks) of Laguna. They would like to see a City Manager who loves Laguna as much as the residents do versus someone who just sees the CM position as a job.

It was wonderful that the City Council encouraged the recruiter for a new City Manager to reach out for residents’ input on what skills we should be seeking in a new CM. It provides the Council with a blueprint to get off-the-cuff brainstorms from each candidate about how they can fulfill these wishes – and specific examples in which they’ve demonstrated some of these skills. 


Deborah Laughton

Laguna Beach

Making honest talk on race safe 

Stu News does a public service as a safe forum for honest talk about race, including Dr. Debby Bowes’ commentary “Committee on Race” in your April 9 edition. We appreciated encouraging words of black college professor Carol Swain affirming, “In this country, where you start out in life does not determine where you end up.”

Swain’s optimism is reminiscent of Michele Obama’s expressed hope that in America, “The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” Former NBA star Charles Barkley’s upbeat sloganeering about black self-reliance is a similarly well-intentioned narrative to shift the focus of young black people from fixation on race victimology to identification with achievement and success.

It is true that whatever one’s race, being an American is a winning ticket in the global existential lottery, but there is no nation or society that is both racially diverse and post-racial. Clearly, the U.S. has entered a new phase of self-awareness about racial irresolution. In that context, Dr. Bowes questions the School District’s hypothesis for anti-racist education.

None of us want students in local schools indoctrinated in misdirected white guilt ideology. That risks beguilement by the easy idealism of a post-racial society and white absolution that merely relocates the comfort zone for more nuanced rationalization of white privilege.

However, Bowes seemingly puts words in Professor Swain’s mouth asserting “systemic racism” is “nonsense.” Again, seemingly in her words not Swain’s, Bowes insists “systemic racism” narratives lead “black youth into a dead end of self-pity and despair” and “use of race as an excuse for why they are not performing.” In the view of many, Bowes wanders into “generalities” as she admonishes the Superintendent’s Anti-Racism Education Committee” to avoid.

True reckoning about race justice isn’t about taking sides. At one extreme racial inequality is blamed on surrender by black Americans to race victimology, and at the other extreme white incomprehension and denial of white privilege are equated to active intentional racism condoning white supremacy and race hate. 

We still struggle to find common ground and shared truth in a broad bandwidth discussion of unrealized need for reconciliation of race equities. It remains a reality equal rights and opportunity are denied to black Americans and other people of color, preventing realization of full potential no matter how hard a person works to succeed.   

That’s why for every Professor Swain, Charles Barkley, or Michelle Obama who rightly celebrate rights enabling all Americans to succeed, there are black Americans who do not want their success and high achievement to be used to rationalize discrimination. Racism still disproportionately denies access to the American Dream for too many black people and black communities.

Overcoming unfairness, prejudice, and injustice is part of the American character and heritage, and from childhood people of every race and ethnic identity must overcome justice denied. But for black Americans it remains true that the index of discrimination and unfairness is higher than it is for fellow citizens who are white. 

Many Americans forget racial segregation ended in our lifetime. Reconciliation obviously falls somewhere between extremes of black racial despair and wishful white thinking that the civil rights movement in the 1960s ended racism. We even had a black President, so get over it, right?

It’s true the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that federal and state laws segregating races were unconstitutional racial discrimination. After a bloody and murderous decade of domestic terrorism by white supremacists, Congress finally passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 enforcing the court’s 1954 ruling. It wasn’t until 1967, after the Beatles released the Sgt. Pepper album, that courts ended enforcement of state laws making interracial marriage a crime punishable by prison.

Dr. Bowes seemingly insists optimistically that in half a lifetime the social effects of a century of post-Civil War race segregation are sufficiently mitigated and there is no “institutionalized” or “systemic” racism. Perhaps the real question is whether we’re talking about economic, political, legal, cultural, educational, or other “systems” in our social order.

Right here in “progressive” coastal California, one example of institutionalized and systemic racism implicates local, county, and state governments, acting in systemic synergy with local community. Anyone benefitting from use of the public commons and LA County Lifeguard Headquarters on prime ocean front real estate in Manhattan Beach is part of the legacy of past racism and current systemic white privilege.

The country lifeguard building and property were confiscated illegally by the City of Manhattan Beach in 1924 after eviction of Charles and Willa Bruce, the black owners of a successful racially integrated beach resort. This was how the city and community dealt systemically with black business owners, after members of a local Ku Klux Klan chapter committed acts of violence against the resort and guests.

Decades later the city transferred the property to LA County, despite city and county knowledge it was acquired through acts of institutionalized and systemic racism. Only in 2021 did LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn lead efforts culminating in a State Legislature bill to return the property to descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce.

Did those descendants alive today suffer discrimination directly resulting from institutionalized and systemic racism? Was the loss of equal opportunity to work hard and prosper greater than challenges or setbacks faced by white children and adults in white society? If so, should children and grandchildren of the Bruce family be paid restitution and reparations by the city?

What monetary value would any of us place on unlawful denial from 1924 to the present of the benefit of owning the land where the Main Beach tower or the newer headquarters are located?

Perhaps the Bruce family saga would be a good case study to include in curriculum being developed by LBUSD “Anti-Racism Education” committee.

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

Memo to our next governor: Name a Water Czar

Kudos to Mayor Bob Whalen and everyone in town who is publicly encouraging Laguna’s residents to be “water wise” and prudent this month. 

Because California’s hopes for a wet March did not materialize, I am afraid we are on the cusp of another drought only a few years after a devastating 60-month dry spell that left water wells empty and farmers idled. 

Which brings me to topic Number One in my book: No matter how the current recall effort turns out, my hope is the next governor will make naming a Water Czar a top priority.

What powers would a Water Czar have? He or she needs to be able to make decisions that transcend geographic boundaries, water district politics, and partisan gridlock. Think of him or her like the director of the FBI or Homeland Security, only for water. Appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, these crime and terrorist fighters operate at a unique level in Washington.

With the appropriate checks and balances in place, California’s Water Czar could be given similar powers in Sacramento. Yes, he or she would consider scientific, environmental, legal, and political arguments before making decisions impacting the state. But once those decisions are made, the czar would rely on local leaders and agencies to quickly implement them. Not unlike the way governors, judges, and police chiefs have to react after receiving news from the FBI or Homeland Security.

Fighting crime or terrorism is not the same as fighting Mother Nature. Still, we have a model in place that allows certain, key people to operate on a level unlike most everyone else. It is time California finds that person.

Bob Whalen knows water is key to our survival. The way I see it, a state Water Czar will play a critical role in being part of the solution to California’s water woes and not the problem.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

City Manager hire in final stages

Earlier this year, I wrote to our Council encouraging an open recruitment and a survey to gather public input before hiring a new City Manager. The letter was published in Stu News:

I want to thank the Council for allowing resident input. Their search firm posed two questions: “What fit characteristics/qualities do you feel are needed in a city manager?” and “What are the current issues, challenges, or opportunities you feel the new city manager will need to be prepared to address?” 

Public feedback included serious concerns regarding our current city managers and requests that the Council look outside to find a new, untainted city manager. Concerns about trust and transparency at City Hall, the ability to listen/work with citizens, need for creating a positive workplace, ongoing community divisiveness, the ability to work with California Coastal Commission, prioritizing our history and art, and focusing on Laguna’s neighborhoods were among the top issues expressed.

If our Council and Mr. Phillips/Murray & Associates listened, they should have heard loud and clear the high level of dissatisfaction with the performance of our current CM and ACM. These two were hired to manage city services, spend our revenue wisely, and to protect our property, environment, and quality of life. The fact is, residents can cite years of poorly planned and implemented city projects that have left us with overwhelming traffic, parking, sewer, crime, neighborhoods and beach deterioration, staff turnover, business turnover, increasing public discourse, excessive spending, and legal issues with lawsuit threats cropping up at a red flag alert level under their direct supervision. It’s clear they both have had ample time to resolve the serious concerns of LB residents. 

Which brings me to the current candidate “fit and ability to handle issues” criteria and qualifications. Based upon the feedback, there should be ample support for the City Council to move forward with hiring a new high-level, experienced city manager that has overseen all city departments (not just one or two) with a proven track record of dealing with and warding off potential issues to address and help us conquer today’s mounting problems and prepare for our future. 

This council has the opportunity to move our city forward led by an experienced city manager with outstanding professional qualifications and accomplishments and a personality that fits our community, or we can go backward by selecting the status quo and continuing doing business as usual. Think about where this has gotten us. I am hopeful that our Council listens to its residents in order to promote community harmony. I believe locals support hiring an individual that places value on a government culture of transparency, staff accountability, and fiscal conservancy and would welcome a new and bold individual that engages sincerely and works cooperatively and in sync with the entire community. That would be a refreshing change. 

MJ Abraham

Laguna Beach


Darwin Francis Black 

April 21,1929 - December 20, 2020

Darwin Black closeup

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Darwin Francis Black

Dar always remembered his Midwestern roots. Even after he moved to California in the 60s, for many years he drove back to Iowa to visit for a few months in the summer. He also visited England to see relatives and a castle owned by his ancestors.

He lived a full life to the end, sharing his time between his home in Laguna Beach and a place in Palm Springs. He was very sociable and had a large circle of friends who will always have fond memories and really miss him.

Like Johnny Carson, you can take the boy out of the Midwest, but you cannot take the Midwest out of the boy.

Darwin Black cigarette

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Darwin Black in his younger days

In memory of Darwin, loved ones will be gathering on what would have been his 92nd birthday, Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

Join together on the corner of Beach and Ocean in Laguna Beach anytime between 8-10 a.m. Pick up a coffee and join together in remembering our friend. If you’re still distancing, drive by and give a honk. 

Come join and celebrate what would have been Darwin Black’s 92nd Birthday. Loved ones are meeting at the corner of Beach and Ocean from 8-10 a.m. on Wednesday April 21, 2021.

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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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