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Jon Coupal was among friends May 27 when he was the guest speaker at a Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. meeting.

Coupal is the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., founded by Jarvis and his wife, Estelle, to rein in property taxes in California. Proposition 13, which limits property tax rates and increases, was passed in 1978, by an overwhelming majority. Protecting it has been the statewide association's goal since the passage.

"Howard recognized that we couldn't just pass legislation and walk away," Coupal said. "It needs protection, and that's what we do."

Candidates for elected office and propositions are carefully vetted for their impact on Proposition 13.

The association has one major criterion for candidates — Coupal said it made no difference if they had a D or an R by their names: Will they support Proposition 13?

The association is endorsing Meg Whitman for governor.

Asked who has the best chance of defeating incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer in November, assuming she wins the primary as expected, Coupal said, "All of the above."

The "above" would be former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina, former Rep. Tom Campbell and Rep. Chuck DeVore, who are vying for the Republican spot in the primary.

"I think [Boxer] has problems against all three of them," Coupal said. "Carly may have an advantage because she is a woman, but some issues have been raised about Hewlett Packard.

"The gold standard is Chuck DeVore and if he debates Boxer, it will be no contest."

Orange County treasurer candidate Shari Friendenrich has been endorsed by the Jarvis association and by city Treasurer Laura Parisi.

The same criterion is applied to propositions.

Coupal's recommendations for Tuesday's ballot:

No on Proposition 14 — open primaries.

"It's a deal with the devil."

Definitely no on Proposition 15, which raises fees on lobbyists to fund public financing for the secretary of state starting in 2014.

"Not a big deal, but it's a foot in the door."

No position on Proposition 16, which would require two-thirds voter approval for government-operated utilities, supported by PG&E, the energy supplier for Northern California.

"My personal view is the message is good, but it's the wrong messenger."

Not sure about Proposition 17, concerning auto insurance company practices.

"Even the guy who wrote doesn't understand it."

Coupal said the association has repelled all but one challenge on the ballots since Proposition 13 was approved.

Proposition 39, also known as the School Facilities Local Vote Act of 2000, won despite opposition by the association.

"Do you think education is better now than it was then?" Coupal asked.

Voters are unhappy with their elected officials and the dire state of the state's economy, according to Coupal.

"But it's not for lack of money, it is for lack of spending discipline," Coupal said.

He affirmed that residents and businesses are being successfully courted by other states.

In his opinion, nothing will change until the voters or the elected officials stand up to public employee unions who control the majority party in Sacramento to the detriment of the state.

Fiscal conservatives must reach out to engage voters of all political persuasions, Coupal said, particularly "independents."

"It is incumbent on us fiscal conservatives to get to the Independents," Coupal said. "If we can explain it to them — they'd be on our side."

DEMOCRATS ALSO TAKE POSITIONSThe Democratic candidates haven't invested in much advertising because they are waiting for the November elections, said City Councilwoman Verna Rollinger, a member of the Laguna Beach Democratic Club.

"I think the reason is that there is no strong opposition to Jerry Brown or Barbara Boxer so we're saving our money for the next go-round in November," Rollinger said.

However, money is being raised locally for Boxer's campaign for reelection to the Senate.

"She will do well in Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and in Santa Ana," Rollinger said.

Boxer and Brown, both more popular in Northern California than in Orange County, are endorsed by the California Democratic Party.

The party has endorsed Beth Krom to represent the 48th Congressional District and Melissa Fox for the Assembly 70th District, both of which include Laguna.

"These are endorsed by the state and county Democratic Party, but not the club's official endorsements," President Debra Quam said. "We must have a two-thirds majority vote of the members to endorse candidates before the primary and we did not take that vote."

On propositions, the local club takes the same position as the California Democratic Party:

Yes on Proposition 13 — tax breaks for seismic retrofitting

No on Proposition 14 — open primaries.

Yes on Proposition 15 — increased lobbying fees.

No on Proposition 16 — utilities.

No on Proposition 17 — auto insurance.

The Laguna Beach Democratic Club meets at 5:30 p.m. on first Thursdays at Picayo Restaurant in Boat Canyon for a social hour to start the Art Walk.

General meetings are at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach, 429 Cypress Drive.

However, in July, the club will be barbecuing July 13 at the home of Quam and Realtor Audrey Prosser. Prosser is a past president of the club. She is due to be presented June 12 with the 2010 Harvey Milk Award at the Clinton Awards, hosted by the Orange County Young Democrats at the Four Seasons in Irvine.

Tickets are $25. Send reservations to ocyoungdemocrats@gmail.com.

For more information on the Laguna Beach Democratic Club, visit www.lagunabeachdemocraticclub.com or call (949) 683-9045.

CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONExpect to see an announcement by Wednesday on Emanuel Patrascu's political plans, so he said Monday at the annual Exchange Club Pancake Breakfast.

He certainly looked like a candidate volunteering his services at the breakfast.

The Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. has endorsed Mayor Elizabeth Pearson and Councilman Kelly Boyd for reelection.

Other endorsements are in the offing.

Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman has yet to announce. The deadline to file for the November municipal election is Aug. 6, unless one of the incumbents does not run, which would extend the filing date for five additional days.

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