Los Angeles Times

Election 2012: Forums for council candidates winding down

Four down, one to go and the City Council candidates will be done with scheduled forums for 2012.

City Council candidates will have had a week and a half off between last week's forum and the upcoming forum, sponsored by Top of the World Neighborhood and Temple Hills Civic associations and set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council Chambers.

At last week's forum — held Oct. 12 by the League of Women Voters, Laguna Beach Woman's Club, the American Assn. of University Women and the Susi Q — questions were taken from the audience and screened to avoid duplications. Huntington Beach league member Grace Winchell moderated.

"Our goal is to have a non-partisan, fair and impartial forum," Winchell said.

Questions that were not asked at previous forums included:


"What should be done about unfunded employee pensions?"

The city pays all, retired filmmaker Robert Ross said.

Rollinger, an incumbent and retired city clerk, said the city has negotiated with employees to pay a share.

"Explore the two-tier system," said Dicterow, who stated during the forum that he has been a pension attorney for his entire legal career.

Dicterow has previously identified himself as a small business owner.

Egly, also an incumbent and a retired law professor, responded to the question with: "New employees now contribute more [known as the two-tier system]."

Robert Whalen, a planning commissioner and municipal finance attorney, added, "It will be a problem in the future if we don't get a handle on it today."

On the topic of reappointing incumbents over other qualified candidates:

"If someone is doing an excellent job, we allow them to do it," Rollinger said. "If someone is not appointed this time, we encourage them to apply again."

Dicterow added, "Vote for the best."

Egly said she doesn't accept the question's premise.

"We have nepotism here as well as in Hollywood," Ross said.

As for expanding the 36-foot height limit, all five were against the idea.

On the topic of the council appearing to be putting bikes ahead of pedestrians:

Whalen said he doesn't want bike lanes to have an adverse effect on traffic, but they can be done right.

"Take care of parking first," Ross said.

Rollinger said the council implemented a piece of a proposal to convert Glenneyre Street to a Complete Street for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Complete Streets is a state mandate, Dicterow said, but he wants them to also accommodate skateboards.

"Studies show that Complete Streets enhance patronage at stores as well as life," Egly said.

"Why does the city have more employees when the population has declined?"

Ross opined it might be because of business failures and foreclosures.

Rollinger and Dicterow said they were not convinced the population has declined.

The question is, Egly said, "Is the city well served? And last I looked, yeah."

Whalen said over-staffing is a common perception even when a city is well served.

"Is undergrounding a priority?"

All five said undergrounding was very important and very expensive.

Ross said Edison should pick up the tab, while Whalen said he would look to the state to require Edison to underground all poles.

On whether San Onofre Nuclear Generating station should restart units 2 and 3:

Four responded no.

Ross said nuclear power is here whether we like it or not.

"I like it next to the ocean; there is lots of water to cool it," he said.

On recycled water:

All five were in favor, but "It is a hard line from the toilet to the tap," Egly said.

The candidates were asked to prioritize the Village Entrance, undergrounding, water conservation and sewer reconstruction.

The Village Entrance came in last with all five, but Whalen, Rollinger, Dicterow and Egly said all could be worked on simultaneously.

"There are four different funding sources," Whalen said.

"Why is financial information 18 months old?"

Most of it isn't, Egly said. Quarterly reports are provided to the council, at Egly's request, she said, and are on the city's website. Budgets come up for review annually.

However, the last audit was in 2011, Whalen said.

All candidates said no to the idea of election by district.

Next up is a City Council candidate forum hosted by the Top of the World Assn. and Temple Hills Civic Assn. at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave.

One-minute questions will be taken from the public, with responses limited to 1 1/2 minutes.


Obama Fundraiser

A fundraiser held Saturday at the Laguna Beach Woman's Club raised almost $10,000 for President Barack Obama's reelection.

Peggy and John Wolff, Kris and Jim Thornton, Sue Kempf and Cheryl Sykes hosted the event to energize support for the Obama campaign.

"I originally had this event with the intention of inviting my parent-type friends who do not go to the Laguna Beach Democratic Club stuff," wrote Peggy Wolff. "I was trying to reach busy volunteer parents who I happen to know are all democrats.

"That was why I had my 2008 event. This one expanded to include just great democrats of all ages."

Jason Feddy entertained for free. Company 77 Firetruck Pizza and caterer Jock Stalker donated food. Dede Westgaard-Pike donated bartenders and wait staff.

Among the attendees: council candidates Egly, Bill and school board member Theresa O'Hare, Bill and Cindy Landsiedel, Lin and Ken Steinhoff, Jeff and Melissa Cavanaugh, Ank Syuyfzand, Brendy Michael, Aliz Jarrad, Susan Hunt, Marv and Anne Johnson, Laguna Beach County Water District Commissioner and Planning Commissioner Whalen, Sara and Adam Markman, Patricia Twitty, Barbara and Ken McMurray, and Maile and Gunther Gee.


Republicans HQ reminder

The Laguna Beach Republicans want to remind citizens that its headquarters is open every day and people can come and volunteer or pick up a bumper sticker or yard sign.

Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday, noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and noon to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

A victory party is set to be held Nov. 2 at a private home. For more information, visit lagunabeachgop.ning.com.

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