Two and a half months ago our home caught on fire and burned with our beloved pets and treasures inside. Luckily our lives and those of our pets were spared, but two-thirds of our home was lost. During the night of the fire and in the weeks that followed we were overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of family, friends, neighbors, clients, establishments and strangers. These wonderful people came to our rescue with help and support, services, donations, dinners, opened homes, hugs and prayers.

Thank you one and all, for each of you in your own unique way made this life challenge just that much more bearable for us! There are so many to whom we are grateful, and we'd like to mention some of them.

The Laguna Beach Fire Department, Laguna Beach Animal Control, the Red Cross, State Farm and their Emercon crew, the two motorcyclists who first spotted the fire, Marc Began, Gina Kantzabedian and Animal Crackers Pet Rescue, Helen Evers and her friend Sharon Jones and all of Helen's other friends, Susan Davis and the Aliso Beach Animal Clinic staff, Joy and Craig Butterfield, Stephanie, Susaan Aram, Cris Hamilton, Sherry and John Bullard, David Wilson, Bill Powers, Bill Miller, Draggo and his Mom, Luci Berkowitz, Kit Youngstead, Jan and Peyo Wing, Lorraine Horney, Sarah Kelly, Claudia Sanchetz, Louisa, Stacey and Ron Brettin and their family and friends, Joe Baker, Sharon and Drew McCright, Pam and Alan Psarutanond, Yavita and Peter Harmon, Whole Foods Market, The Sawdust Festival, and CVS.

Thank you so much for all you gave, we will never forget all you did, and we will be forever grateful!

Marlene T. Dantzer, Dave Stoermer and "family"

Laguna Beach

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Village Laguna has undue influence

Village Laguna Board Member Cindalee Penney-Hall has compared me to Stalin for pointing out gross irregularities in the voting process for the Design Review Board. This reveals three basic truths that every city resident who embraces moderate politics needs to understand.

First, Penney-Hall finally expresses what has thus far been unspoken: It is the official policy of Village Laguna to prevent architects and other design professionals from serving on the Design Review Board. In taking this position, Village Laguna clearly reveals its extreme nature. Anyone familiar with this design review process knows that it is a critical part of the fabric of our city. Given the complexity of proper design review, having one or more design professionals on the DRB greatly enhances the process.

Second, in leaping to the defense of Verna Rollinger's vote-rigging, Penney-Hall likewise reveals the political control Village Laguna has over a City Council member they often boast "they elected." Memo to Village Laguna: Laguna Beach voters like their council members to be independent and to serve the broad interests of the city, not special-interest groups. With Rollinger up for reelection in 2012, it's useful for voters to know that she has aligned with a group that is neither left or right of center but simply far out of the mainstream.

Third, when anyone has to resort to the "Stalin" card, clearly they feel they cannot win the argument on its merits. The fact remains that by refusing to follow the direction of the mayor in her voting for DRB, Verna Rollinger strategically gamed the system and thereby did harm to the process — and no amount of red-baiting by Penney-Hall can alter that fact.

The one thing that Penney-Hall and I agree on is that the DRB voting process needs to be clarified by the City Council. Right now, current rules allow groups like Village Laguna to exert undue influence on the process through vote rigging conducted by council members they help reelect.

We deserve better in a city like this. So does every applicant that comes before the Design Review Board and gets judged not by the city zoning and building codes but rather by the arbitrary and capricious extreme views of Village Laguna-sanctioned board members. It's time for the City Council and City Attorney to clean this up — not perpetuate it through flawed elections.

Peter Navarro

Laguna Beach

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A proud but worries football mom

Having grown up back east, football was our daily dose of fall sports. Tradition was hanging out with our high school friends, playing touch football through neighbor's yards covered with crackling leaves. We would host Sunday night parties in front of the TV set, coffee table laden with nachos and Pepsi while rooting for our favorite quarterback to throw that Hail Mary. Back then there weren't as many tattoos covering the player's arms, their hair was limited to long sideburns and the team's names never seemed to change.