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Laguna Beach

Reasons why Laguna Beach High School’s honors course grade weight policy should be reinstated and why it matters

Many parents and students would like to see the honors course grade weight policy reinstated. The board voted 3-2 in 2016 to pull honors course weight from all except maybe one or two classes. The information offered at the presentation on the night of February 9, 2016 was loosely based on managing student stress levels, students gaming the system for class rank, creating an equal playing field for all students, and choosing a standard by which to align our honors level courses (UC).

We combed through the data trying to understand that fateful evening and how the data was used to make their decision. What we have found are a lot more questions than answers. Questions concerning the UC standards for an honors course – are our existing honors courses approved by the UC system? If they are not now were they ever UC approved? Why were classes considered rigorous enough and given weight but now suddenly need a new standard and are therefore unweighted? How does the board intend to ensure that this standard will be implemented from here on out? Will they reinstate the weight after the UC standard is applied since the weight will be sanctioned by the UC system and is already accepted by private and other non-UC schools?

Laguna Beach High School is a public school, not an elite, private academy. We may have a good reputation amongst colleges, but we cannot compare with small, exclusive, private high schools that impose a vigorous application and testing process just to gain entry to the school. These elite schools don’t need to weight anything because colleges already know that all students have been vetted as high performers and achievers. LBHS on the other hand, must provide a comprehensive offering for all types of students and above all, we must provide every opportunity for students to thrive and excel.

I have two children that have graduated and have gone on to a great school. They had the benefit of weighted honors course grading and acknowledge that the rigorous honors coruses offered at the high school helped prepare them for the rigors of college. Allowing the grade weight motivates students to take academic risks and seek a challenge without worrying that it will affect their overall GPA. GPA does matter. Standardized test scores also matter (look at all the expensive programs out there for students taking the ACT and SAT). It all matters.

Amy Kramer

Laguna Beach

Fire safety is more important than ever in Laguna Beach

Kudos to Ray Lardie of our fire department, in charge of weed abatement. Despite proliferation of grass and other vegetation due to the lucky gift of nature of lots of rain, he has been making tremendous progress. I noticed that in the notorious canyon the weeds along the road have been cut down as the first line of defense. As I ride the trolley into town and back home I have seen many yards greatly improved with dead trees cut down, bushes cut back (we need to do more to improve the safety of pedestrians), yards cleared of weeds and unwanted vegetation. I am greatly relieved that many homeowners have responded as well to the request to rid their property of Pampas Grass and Arundo Grass (bamboo). Both are defined as unwanted vegetation in Laguna Beach and rightfully so. 

With this in mind, I noticed that our local water department has created fairly comprehensive, easy to read literature on making our homes/yard fire safe. Most of us probably do this anyway, but these brochures are free and I think provide vital information. There is a holder by the entrance to their office. I suggest everyone take one and double-check your home.

To reinforce the notion of fire safety – I just found out my insurance company is raising my homeowner’s insurance by 10 percent – I am one of the lucky ones, as a real person from the insurance company does a walk around my house every couple of years. Every time I get a gold star for having passed the test for vegetation/home safety. I also found out that some areas are having their insurance rates increased by 600 percent – not something I would like to see happen here as a result of a repeat of 1993. I still agree with undergrounding wires. Hope we can all come to a conclusion soon about making our town a bit safer – especially by replacing many of the diseased, dying, and dead trees including eucalyptus. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Vilification of Village Laguna

Recently, Liberate Laguna and others with similar views launched campaigns that feel to me like they are trying to intimidate Laguna residents into boycotting the Village Laguna Charm House Tour. Suddenly, ads claiming that Village Laguna’s Charm House Tour is a way to raise “dark” money appeared in local publications. Letters to the Editor with similar charges were sent. Coordinated?

The hypocrisy behind these smears obscured the fact that Liberate Laguna raised $150k+ from just 9 individuals to urge voters to vote for a candidate who would support their initiatives on the council. Based on comments made on the record so far, Liberate Laguna’s elected council member advocates: 

--Taking away existing residents’ ocean views and giving them to developers

--Restricting the right to privacy in our own homes when impacted by new construction

--Allowing developers to buy and then demolish our heritage buildings 

--Allowing large scale, short-term rental operations in our single-family neighborhoods

--Firing all board and commission members and starting from scratch, which seems to me like a plan to appoint development friendly replacements

--Allowing replacement of our varied downtown businesses with restaurants

You get the drift! 

Did Liberate Laguna’s expensive campaign ads and flyers last year tell voters these were their true intentions? When developers back a candidate, the candidate often backs the developers. At a point in our community’s life when so many large-scale projects are up for review, it is clear to many of us why Liberate Laguna has started a campaign to vilify the only real opposition to the over-commercialization of our neighborhoods and our unique downtown.

Elections have consequences. I am worried for the Laguna Beach we love so much and we all enjoy. If you are also concerned about the proposals Liberate Laguna has for our future, join us in this critical struggle. Come to the Charm House Tour to experience firsthand what we want to protect and discover the reasons why Liberate Laguna supporters seem to fear nonprofit volunteer groups like Village Laguna. 

Armando Baez

Laguna Beach

American pride not tyranny

Councilmember Toni Iseman needs a history and linguist lesson, it seems to me. While over 90 percent of us in the City Council chambers on April 16th saw hope, love, and respect for our country, Toni Iseman saw tyranny. Unbelievable. Shameful. Patriotism has become the newest epithet in the left’s continued destruction of American values, it seems to me. Tyranny is defined as a cruel and oppressive government or rule. I saw people, not government, that night, speaking out passionately and overwhelming in favor of the American flag design on our police vehicles. Nothing cruel or oppressive about it. It was beautiful, moving and spontaneous, and heartening to hear people speaking about their love of the flag, what it stands for and those who sacrificed all to preserve it. I didn’t see Genghis Khan, Henry VIII, Ivan the Terrible, Maximilien, Stalin, Hitler or Pinochet, but apparently Iseman did. 

In my opinion, cruel and oppressive is what the left is doing to divide and destroy this country. What I see are people twisting facts to fit false narratives, hatefully labeling anyone showing patriotism and respect for our laws as racist or other “progressive” favored derogatory labels. In my opinion, Iseman’s the queen at twisting facts and false narratives. Her gang of leftists started the flag debate, using terms like “too nationalistic, “ultra right wing zealots,” “symbol of hate,” “symbol of intolerance,” “too MAGA,” “too Trumpish,” “too Republican,” “threatening and intimidating,” etc. I’ve seen the emails, outnumbered by far in favor of the flag. I’ve seen the post by Chris Prelitz urging residents to “RESIST” (his emphasis) the flag logo. People booed him because they believe he was twisting facts. People are entitled to their opinions, but not lies. These few politicized the flag design, making Laguna a laughing stock to the rest of the nation. They were soundly defeated by hundreds of people, locally and nationwide, who refused to let the US’s definitive symbol be beaten down by those who can’t see past their political motives to appreciate that the flag stands for all. Iseman knew she was on the losing end, so I believe she attempted to twist the facts, falsify the narrative. She refused interviews! Those who opposed the flag were victims! Free speech was being denied! She told people to stay away because it might get ugly! How many people? Three of her buddies on the losing side? Nice try, not buying it. Just because you have the right to free speech and an opinion, doesn’t make what you say or do right. On this issue, you and your ilk were clearly wrong. In my opinion, you weren’t victims, you were the anarchist agitators, and you were defeated. That’s called democracy. To me, the only “tyranny” was by the few who tried to push what I believe was a hateful rhetoric on the rest of us. Likely they also supported Colin Kaepernick when he refused to stand for the national anthem. It’s been awhile, but people are finally starting to wake up and fight back for America. It’s about time.

Jennifer Zeiter

Laguna Beach

For some reason, the flag became the issue…

Peter Blake and Steve Dicterow both made this observation on Fox News. But there is no mystery, as far as I’m concerned, about what led up to the chaotic Council meeting on April 16. At the previous meeting, Jennifer Zeiter asserted that anyone who did not like the new police car color scheme or the flag-themed decal was blinded by hatred of the President. That became a featured quote in a story that ran in the Daily Pilot, which was quickly picked up by Fox News, where they know a “War on Christmas” opportunity when they see one.

When Blake and Dicterow were interviewed by Fox, they had a chance to stand up for a community that is clearly and overwhelmingly patriotic and pro-police. They had a chance to point out that no one – including those who found the decal design “aggressive” – was anti-flag or anti-cop. That kind of leadership would have spared us from a trumped-up spectacle that held us up to national ridicule and further divided us from one another.

If you thought the evening jumped the shark when a piercing, anonymous soprano from who knows where burst into The Star-Spangled Banner, you’re forgetting that Jim Gilchrist showed up to speak his piece. Remember him? It’s been 13 years since he and his Minutemen tried to sue their way into the Patriots Day Parade. Hometown heroes like my brother Charlie stood firm against this attempt to hijack our annual celebration of patriotism for political purposes. The vigilantes lost in court in 2006. On April 16, they won and our community lost. 

Chris Quilter

Laguna Beach

Let’s get toxic products out of Laguna homes and businesses!

Earth Day 2019 was about doing something instead of staying home. My goal was to help people learn how to clean up their homes and stay safe while protecting the planet. In 1970 I had the first Earth Day in Laguna Beach right here in the same spot! In front of the Lifeguard Tower that I saved from being torn down on Main Beach, which I also saved from being a Laguna City Council approved parking lot!

Letter Leeds

Submitted photo

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Each and every one of us can make a big difference!

The first step is willingness to have a healthy home. Learning what you are using and what the industry says are safe is important, not just reading labels anymore. The FDA doesn’t require low integrity companies to disclose many items like formaldehyde…and sometimes fragrances are actually chemicals...but not always. The company I shop from uses essential oils for fragrance. Sunscreens and other common body products and especially makeup have horrible items in them such as lead in the lipstick of some of your most popular fancy brands! Just swipe it on your palm and rub a gold ring in it. If it turns black, that company is poisoning you with lead! Another example – if you have bleach or other cleaning products made with highly caustic chemicals under your sink, this is not only a deadly hazard for children, but it actually offgasses and causes enough pollution inside your home as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day! Get rid of those items and shop differently. That is what I show people how to do. Many families are plagued with asthma, eczema, autism, migraines fibromyalgia, and alopecia. It is amazing to find out how the immune system and inflammation correlate to all these issues. Once the toxic products are removed from the home and our bodies, then health often returns very quickly. 


Beth Leeds

Laguna Beach

This Sunday’s Grapes for Grads event promises to be the biggest ever

On behalf of the City Council of the City of Laguna Beach, I would like to thank the Rotary Club for hosting the 14th Annual Grapes for Grads event! The Grapes for Grads Scholarship Fundraiser has enabled many local students to pursue their college dreams and aspirations.

This year the 14th Annual Grapes for Grads event will be at the beautifully remodeled Festival of Arts grounds from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 28. With live music and an LCAD Art Exhibition, this year’s event promises to be the biggest ever and will benefit even more students. Your support of Grapes for Grads will ensure that students at LBHS can afford to attend the college of their choice and LCAD students can continue their work to become the artists of tomorrow! 

Thank you for your generosity and your continued support of Laguna Beach and our local students. 

Bob Whalen

Mayor City of Laguna Beach

Village Laguna is proud of its mission to “promote and protect” our town

Heavens! How scandalous! Village Laguna uses the funds raised by the Charm House Tour to further its mission, “To preserve, enhance, and celebrate the unique village character and cultural heritage of Laguna Beach.”

Isn’t it appropriate for an organization to use the funds it raises to further its mission, including letting the public know which candidates support that mission?

Why are antagonists criticizing Village Laguna and the upcoming Charm House Tour and not the recently organized PAC “Liberate Laguna,” which operates on over $150,000 donated by local real estate developers and which was behind the election of Councilmember Peter Blake?

Village Laguna and most Laguna Beach residents treasure our city, its charm, history, its creative and community-oriented spirit.

This is what Village Laguna strives to promote and protect – in contrast with the proposed damaging policies, divisiveness, and harsh attacks that have characterized our Council since the “Liberate Laguna” candidate Blake has taken office.

Village Laguna is a grassroots, resident-oriented organization that participates in our community. Village Laguna is not developing properties. It seeks no real estate profits. Its operating budget comes from resident donations and broad-based events such as the Charm House Tour. Its financial reporting has been reviewed and complies with state law.

Your interest in Village Laguna is appreciated. The Charm House Tour, “A Century of Laguna Charm,” welcomes you to experience the warmth and creativity of our town as expressed in homes from the early 1900s to the present day. See Village Laguna’s website for tickets and further information. 

Ginger Osborne

Laguna Beach

The April 16 City Council meeting

I really appreciate Carey Strombotne’s letter in the last issue of Stu News, in which she describes the atmosphere inside the meeting last Tuesday night and the shouting down and dismissing of anyone who had the courage to express a negative opinion of the new police car design.

I didn’t attend the meeting, to my discredit. I haven’t felt like engaging in a fight on this issue, because I’m too preoccupied with what’s going on at the national level. But for the record, I consider myself a very patriotic person. I regularly cry during particularly beautiful renditions of the national anthem. But I think the new design is garish. I object on aesthetic grounds, not because I dislike of the flag. A community that prides itself on being an art colony is using an image whose design looks like something more appropriate for an ad screaming “CLEARANCE. EVERYTHING IN THE STORE MUST GO.” Tasteful it isn’t.

Glenna Matthews

Laguna Beach

It is time to adopt civility in Laguna Beach

The newspaper coverage of the recent decision by the Laguna Beach City Council to adopt a color scheme for our police cars was excellent, and I thank you and your colleagues in the press for it. However, I find parts of what were reported to be quite disturbing. Laguna Beach is a wonderful place that is diverse in its opinions and people.  We all enjoy it, no matter what our beliefs about the larger world problems.

That said, we have both a right to express our opinions to our elected leaders and the obligation to listen courteously to those who hold opposing views. Reports suggest that did not happen in this case, and thinking people need to consider whether that is what we want in Laguna Beach.

Those who booed and disrespected opposition speakers at Tuesday’s meeting might argue that they are booed and bullied on the national level and at the state level.  I would not disagree – we have seen case after case of both intellectual and physical violence over impassioning issues. But that violence is not something of which one can be proud, and it is not something we should emulate in Laguna Beach. “They did it to us first and we got even” is not an argument we should make, and certainly not one worthy of respect.

I agree with the sentiments of those who wanted to have a patriotic display on our police cars. But I also recognize that the very patriotism we seek to anoint mandates that those who are not in the majority be heard, even if not agreed with.

It is time to adopt civility and a willingness to listen to others in our small slice of the world and in our political meetings. It is good for all concerned – whether you “win” the fight or go home having lost it, everyone needs to be given the chance to express their ideas.

Can’t we all just get along?

Michael Kinsman

Laguna Beach

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