Some people generally accept dirty tactics as part of the political process. Others even believe the most unscrupulous candidate wins. They engage in ugliness because they enjoy the game. Others use the process to lash out for personal reasons, and a few do both.
What most dirty tricksters and their supporters have failed to realize is that when they toss ugly accusations around, the reputations of good people are tarnished forever. We can all think of cases where this has happened.
However, here in Laguna Beach where we see each other at church, in the supermarkets, at local plays, music and art events, it is hard to believe anyone draped in a veil of lies they disseminated to pollute an election would ever want to face other members of our community once the election is over.
Usually, I just let things go and hope the intelligence of Lagunatics will prevail, but some of the recent defamatory remarks about Bob Whalen's character are so outrageous they cannot be ignored.
Whalen was not just a good school board member, he was a great one. He was instrumental in restoring the school district's finances and programs after a near collapse and leading the campaign to modernizing all four schools. When he got the basics in order, he urged the district to strive to match national best practices in each of our schools.
Moreover, he was absolutely not responsible for the MTV program based in Laguna nor was he responsible for changing the high school mascot from Artists to Breakers. These kinds of accusations were not true several years ago and they are still not true.
Those who worked with Whalen when he was on the school board will tell you that he was committed to public service. He took his responsibilities very seriously. He was never frivolous or self-serving; he listened to his public. He carefully read the backup materials for his meetings and made each decision based on the best interest of our schools.
This diligence and integrity has characterized Whalen's actions as a planning commissioner, as head of the Boys & Girls Club, and as head of School Power. We are exceeding lucky someone with his credentials has agreed to serve on our City Council.
Bob Whalen is exactly what we need in a city council member--a new, independent voice. In fact, we need more people of his caliber to run for city council — people with new ideas, not bound to the past and addicted to the rear view mirror. We need fresh leaders with the skills to move Laguna forward so that it can continue to be a glorious place to live.
Let's keep our elections clean. Let's ignore the abusive, defamatory rhetoric and get the facts. Our path to voting will then be clear.
Clarifying points of Measure CC argument
Concerning Sandra Werthe's response in the Coastline Pilot Oct. 26, "Carefully consider Measure CC before voting," to my letter in the Oct. 12 edition, "Taxpayers association 'never wants to pay for anything'" my argument about Measure CC would have been clearer if I had modified "unbuildable properties" in relation to Measure CC, my argument would have been clearer if I had modified "unbuildable by "currently."
Properties that are currently unbuildable because they don't have an access road that a fire engine can use, or they don't have access to utilities doesn't mean that they can never be developed. If developers or contractors have the money, access roads and utilities access can be installed. Hillsides can be made less steep, caissons and vaults installed etc. As coastal land becomes scarcer, there will be people ready to pay the money required to develop these properties. That means large houses, more cars; Laguna will become more crowded, and traffic will be more dense. The village atmosphere that brings the tourists and makes Laguna such a wonderful place to live will be in jeopardy. That's not good, for the same reasons that we voted 40 years ago not to have high-rise buildings on our beaches and in our town.
Dicterow is 'more about action than words'
When you first meet someone it takes mere seconds for your first impression responses to kick in, and in the case of meeting Steve Dicterow, I knew immediately that I really liked the guy. I had just recently moved to Laguna Beach, and I was taking photos at an event. Dicterow invited me to sit with him and his wife Catrina when he spotted me perusing the patio with a plate of food. By the time dessert was served, he had offered me his business card, and helped with information on opening my photography business here in town. He made me feel like I was a part of the community. Who was that masked man?
A few days later I realized he was a past member of the Laguna Beach City Council and three-time mayor. It was difficult for me to believe because he was so approachable.
As a photographer I've attended many Laguna Beach events, and as time has gone on, I've continued to run into Dicterow all around town. It didn't take long for me to realize just how passionate he is about this community. He truly does care about Laguna's future, and I guarantee you he will work harder than anyone to see to it that we keep our city alive and well. His work ethic, energy and devotion is unsurpassable.
We all know we live in a little paradise, and we truly are blessed. But the reality is that our future is still extremely uncertain. Laguna Beach is not immune to economic hardships, crime or any other difficulties that the rest of the nation faces. We can't afford complacency in this city and especially not on City Council. We need action. I believe that Dicterow is the one candidate who can get things done in this community, and assure that our future is strong and steady moving forward. He can bring "common sense for a change."
I believe that Dicterow's record speaks for itself with his strong fiscal management skills, crime reduction enforcement and youth safety, educational support system, and involvement and support of all the arts — including his seat on the board of directors at the Festival of Arts.
So the questions you should probably be asking yourself are what does Laguna Beach mean to you? Just how much do you want for this city to remain a place that everyone from all over the world wants to visit, and the place that you will never want to leave? Which nominee do you believe can accomplish all of the things needed to make this happen?
If you really do want what's best for Laguna, then you'll to show up on Nov. 6 and vote for Steve Dicterow, the candidate with the most passion for the future of Laguna Beach, and the candidate who's more about action than words.
Response to Carter's letter
In a letter to the editor Oct. 26 by Roger Carter, "Egly and Rollinger are part of a brighter future," he professes that he writes "provocative letters." Is "I respect the difficult job our fire and police personnel have, dealing with homeless people who are beyond the pale" mere provocation? Though his letter is open to different interpretations concerning who he is labeling, it seems to me that it is offensive whichever one applies.
Does he deem each and every member of our community who is homeless as "beyond the pale?" You know, if you're without a roof, you're ipso facto "beyond the pale?" Or, does he mean that only those members of our community who are both homeless and have dealings with uniformed city personnel are "beyond the pale?"
Of course, since the rule is that homeless citizens have regular contact with the police, that wouldn't really be limiting those he intends to label. Perhaps he means only some select part of the group who regularly encounter police and fire personnel are "beyond the pale?" Maybe only the mentally ill? Or epileptics? Or abused women? Or the recently fired? Or addicts? By the way, if he means addicts, perhaps he hasn't caught up with recent research, which I think can fairly be summarized as concluding that addiction doesn't result from sin or degeneracy but rather from treatable brain disease. Of course, that conclusion might raise admittedly difficult questions about the humanity of our current strict enforcement of the "drunk in public" and "open container" statutes. But that's another question for another time.
Back on topic. Should Mr. Carter elect to tell us how broadly or narrowly "beyond the pale" is to be applied, there is the further question of just what he means by it? Does he mean that those to whom it applies should somehow be restricted in their movement? Or, that they are uncivilized? Or, that tough on them, they just are not sufficiently like us? Is there an unexpressed reference to Jews? Irish? Gypsies? Japanese-Americans? Blacks? Hispanics? Catholics? Labeling and code words are such handy tools for the "ins" and have so often been successfully employed in history that it's often hard to grasp the nuance, if any, intended.
I'm hoping that my concerns are baseless and that the whole episode can be chalked up to careless drafting on Mr. Carter's part.
Keces will be a star board member
A vote for Tammy Keces is a vote for excellent school governance. I spent 12 years on school boards and thus have quite a bit of experience with school board members. I know what characteristics make a good board member.
Keces has the right combination of those characteristics, enthusiasm, education, experience and background needed by board members. Don't be fooled by all the mailers and yard signs of other candidates. Keces is not spending much money on the election campaign. If you wish to vote for those who spend a lot of money, then don't vote for her. But if you want someone who will be a star board member, then Tammy Keces is your choice.
Before voting, read about Measure CC
Laguna Beach Greenbelt Inc. and other supporters of Measure CC expect voters to accept a biased, self-serving interpretation of the ballot they wrote, using pretty pictures of uninhabited canyon scenes to say trust us to manage public use of open space in residential neighborhoods.
Instead of accepting anyone's interpretation of Measure CC, Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. The association urges voters to read the actual language that will become law if it is approved. The association correctly has informed voters that approval of Measure CC will give an unelected committee of political appointees in city hall unprecedented power over open space policy for 20 years.
This new body will have the power to approve ad hoc purchases of parcels scattered throughout town with a $1.5 million annual budget. The City Council's retained power of final approval is subject to legal and political encumbrances mandating that any deviation from plans of the Citizens Oversight Committee must be justified in writing by the City Council.
Measure CC also requires the City Council to revise the municipal code and property use regulations to conform with the committee's recommendations once adopted. Supporters want you to believe all this is part of completing the greenbelt, but Measure CC is not an inner greenbelt at all. It is a Trojan horse ballot proposal written deceptively to create the false appearance that the committee will merely make recommendations.
Since when does our City Council need to adopt recommendations or justify its actions to an unelected committee that it appoints? One Laguna Beach Taxpayer Assn. member correctly predicted the committee would be more of a political pit bull off its leash than a watchdog.
Supporters tout the volunteer status of unpaid committee members, but sponsors of Measure CC who will control the committee do not want a mere stipend. They want power over a $20 million stream of taxpayer dollars, exempt from any cutbacks on essential city services. Sure their meetings will be a very public political circus, but the committee's oversight of transactions with lobbyists for willing sellers and city staff required by Measure CC to support the committee's operations will not be transparent.
It is accurate that in 1990 the association supported funding the canyon open space purchase from other public and private sources instead of a new tax, but it also is true that LBTA members marched and campaigned for the canyon conservancy in 1990. LBTA members opposing Measure CC also knew Jim Dilley personally, and at his request worked with him closely as far back as 1969 to realize his dream of a greenbelt.
Dilley's genius was he understood how to balance social and economic issues on public use of uninhabited open space with distinctly separate interests arising from public use of scarce open space in inhabited residential areas. Dilley knew the difference between open space outside of town and public use of unused parcel space in town.
Measure CC supporters are wrong; the job of creating the greenbelt and Canyon Conservancy was substantially done by 1990. Laguna Greenbelt Inc. needs to refocus on stewardship of that legacy, instead of spending donor funds on political ads for schemes like Measure CC.
Going forward, purchase of unused parcels in town should continue to be done on a case-by-case basis and paid from existing revenues, as determined by our elected City Council. Democratic local government that respects property rights and understands the impact of public use lands in our neighborhoods is also a legacy we value, with the same dedication to sound civic principles that motivated association members to support Dilley and the greenbelt back in 1969.
Don't depend on supporters or opponents to help you decide how to vote. Read Measure CC for yourself.
Editor's note: The author is the president of the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn.
Solution to the Temple Hills pathways
A small group in Temple Hills would like to build a pathway using the narrow 5-foot strips of land that exist adjacent to or bisecting homes in Temple Hills for a pedestrian path for everyday travel and as an emergency exit. The City Manager's report discloses many problems if it attempted to build narrow staircases and concrete pathways on these strips of land. The City Attorney has stated that the city does not own these strips and will not accept liability for them. The most invasive obstacle being grading, paving, loss of privacy and protected views to the 12 homes on these easements. Building a path on and through existing homes is not a viable option.
If not on this strip of land, then where? There is a large parcel at the end of Thurston Drive in Temple Hills. Since 1980, the City Council has stopped every attempt by the owner to develop this property. Earlier this year the owner proposed to the council to build one huge home and donate the remainder of the land to the city as Open Space. Still the answer was no, probably due to its size and neighborhood objections.
A solution is to let the owner of this property build a modest, neighborhood compatible home with the condition of allowing the city to construct a pathway adjacent to this home down to Park Avenue. The remainder of his land would be given to the city as open space. This solution should please everyone. The parcel owner gets his home. The remaining land will forever be preserved as open space, without spending any taxpayer money. The neighborhood gets a safe pathway with steps, benches and possibly a mini-park. The city gets the property tax revenue from the new home.
The Open Space Initiative states on page 5, " No development .... including removal of vegetation, grading, paving, installation of structures, etc. shall be allowed on the property." This means, if Measure CC passes, acquired property can only be used for greenbelts, existing hiking trails and vista points. No paved paths, steps or benches can be built on any property purchased by Measure CC. This certainly means no parks or gardens either.
The Open Space committee behind Measure CC wants everyone to believe our hillsides are in danger of being developed with extended streets and dozens of homes. This is just not true. It is not necessary to impose an additional tax on land already protected under current city and California Coastal Commission regulations.
Think about the future when voting on Measure CC
As you're deciding how to vote on Measure CC, you may want to think about how you will look back on your vote 20 years from now. And what side of history you want to be on.
Back in 1968, when the city issued bonds to purchase the land that would become Main Beach park, a certain group in town opposed city ownership, and wanted the property to be developed with motels, a parking structure and a convention center. In 1990, a year after thousands walked to save Laguna Canyon, and voted overwhelmingly to issue bonds for the purchase, a small group that claims to represent taxpayers — they don't represent me or most of the people I know, and we're all taxpayers — argued against creation of a wilderness park on these lands. And today, we have the same small group arguing against Measure CC, the ballot measure to help preserve the remaining 400 acres of developable open space around town.
What side of history do you want to be on? The one created the spectacular window-to- the-sea at Main Beach that generations of Lagunans have enjoyed, or the one that wanted to clutter Main Beach with massive commercial development? The one that created Laguna Canyon Wilderness Park, or the one that preferred development of another cookie-cutter Irvine Co. "community" in Laguna Canyon? The one that supported Measure CC and preserved Laguna's remaining open space, or the one that saw those lands developed parcel-by-parcel over 20 years and lost forever?
Laguna Beach has a proud history of people coming together, regardless of political stripe, and making the right decision at critical moments. This is one such moment. Please join the majority of Lagunans and vote Yes on Measure CC. We need two-thirds to pass it, and every vote counts.
Why we are voting for Jane Egly
Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, "Leadership means getting along with people." If that is true, then Jane Egly was born to be a leader.
She has proven herself to be a leader during eight years on the City Council, including two terms as mayor, where she has successfully brought disparate sides of issues together to find consensus, a sorely needed quality in today's political climate.
This, of course, means compromise, something that used to be seen as the essence of governing in a democratic country, but has now come to be seen as something bad. It's ironic that our entire system of government was built on compromise, from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself, to all of the early decisions that created our successful country such as the Treasury and the Supreme Court — all of it was a compromise. Throughout our history we have distinguished ourselves, even from other advanced democracies, because of our built-in necessity for compromise.
Our three branches of government, our tradition of states rights versus federal power, all intentionally put a check on the power of any one branch or any one party or any one person to rule without compromise.
And yet today, the pressure from the extremes in both parties paints compromise as weakness or selling out. Unfortunately, this type of extremism, embodied by the Tea Party and Grover Norquidst on the right, seems to have infiltrated our local Democratic club, which has refused to endorse Jane Egly for re-election based on her willingness to compromise.
As former presidents of the club, we strongly object to this decision, taken not by the membership, but by the few who now control the Laguna Beach Democratic Club board.
They have accused her of cavorting with Republicans — is Jane leaping about with Republicans — and have even reported that some of her re-election campaign contributions have come from Republicans.
Egly spent 26 years as a practicing attorney, during which she was a forceful advocate for families and children, and she played a pivotal role in California mandating legal representation for children in custody cases.
She has spent the past 12 years as a professor of Law at the University of La Verne, until her retirement just this past June. She is also a board member of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties.
Egly is an environmentalist and former board member of Laguna Greenbelt, served on the city's Parks and Recreation committee, worked on "Save the Canyon" and on the Open Space Initiative, and was a facilitator on Vision Laguna 2030, our city's long-term planning process.
First elected to the City Council in 2004, Egly is dedicated to improving Laguna's city government. She knows how to promote much-needed collaboration and civility among council members. She knows how to listen carefully to the public, treat them fairly and respectfully, and address their needs.
She has led the council during difficult economic times and while other cities struggle financially, we have a balanced budget which includes a 10% reserve and $4 million set aside for emergencies.
She is a strong advocate of environmental sustainability with particular focus on reduction of water use. In the past few years, the city has reduced its water use by nearly 35%. Over the eight years that she has served, the city has added three new parks to our open space.
She did not do these things alone, but in cooperative collaboration with her fellow council members.
Please join us in keeping this smart, strong, capable woman on our City Council. Vote for the qualities that allow our democracy, and our city, to get things done in a fair and responsible way, and move forward.
Jane Egly is a leader who deserves our support.
Anne Cox, Maziar Mafi and Dave Schaar
Editor's note: The authors are all former long-term presidents of the Laguna Beach Democratic Club.
Egly, Whalen are right choices for City Council
It is with enthusiasm and pride that I speak out to share my endorsements regarding the current race for two seats on Laguna Beach's City Council — and to ask you to consider supporting my choices.
As most of the readers of this commentary know, I have served on the Laguna Beach City Council nearly 10 years now — and before that, on the Laguna Beach Planning Commission for six and a half years. I have been a registered Republican for most of my voting years — and have become more of a moderate one (fiscally conservative, yet socially moderate) because of my understanding and appreciation (and yes, in many cases, adoption) of the value systems of a good majority of the residents of Laguna Beach.
During my tenure of service to our city, I have learned that to get anything done, one has to develop the skill of compromise and to learn how to work with those whose political beliefs don't always agree with mine on a state and national level. It is my belief that only in this spirit can one truly make a difference in public service. I hope you feel that I have served you well and that, together, we have made a difference.
For the current City Council race, I am supporting Jane Egly, an incumbent, and Bob Whalen, a current planning commissioner.
I have served with Jane Egly for nearly eight years on council, and I personally asked Bob Whalen to serve on the Planning Commission in the hopes that he would, one day, run for City Council. He has performed exceedingly well for our city and now, in my view, his time has come to take more of a leadership role in policy.
Whalen and Egly are moderate candidates. As all Laguna Beach City Council candidates and representatives should do, these two have demonstrated that they put their personal political party ideologies aside and take positions, locally, that are representative of a majority of our residents. They are experienced — proven — candidates, having demonstrated, through their votes at City Hall, that they do the right thing as it relates to our city. In addition to being extremely respected and well-educated, they are fair and even-handed in their decision-making on the dais. They are great listeners and, most important of all, they both treat the public with respect.
Whalen is one of the most highly-regarded bond finance attorneys in the state of California — something that will be of great value on our council — and has served as president of both our school board and the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. Egly is a recently-retired college educator, is all about compromise, and has a congenial style that works, especially when it comes to building consensus for the greater good.
Serving on your City Council over the next several years with Egly and Whalen will mean we will be able to get things done in ways that have rarely been possible during my tenure as your public servant. I hope you will consider joining me in backing my two choices for Laguna Beach City Council.
As always, I am grateful to those who have not only supported me and worked with me, but also who have influenced my growth as a leader, during my nearly 17 years of service to this special community we call home.
Trust leaders to preserve open space
Paul Freeman, lobbyist for Village Laguna on Measure CC, has joined Johanna Felder and even Laguna Greenbelt Inc. in accusing Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. of opposing Measure CC because we are stingy, dishonest and lack vision. Was it something we said?
The association support was indispensable to voter approval of the last public school bond and the special tax for Bluebird Canyon recovery. And since we are revisiting events played out over decades, let's not forget the association was an indispensable stakeholder when we overcame entrenched and inflammatory opposition to the Montage Laguna Beach by Village Laguna.
Who lacked the vision on Montage? Today we enjoy public beach access, public parks and open space that would have been lost if Village Laguna had its way on that project. Because the association and our partners supporting Montage were successful, our public schools and city government receive critically needed revenues that benefit all of us every day.
Some current association members did support the 1990 canyon purchase, and some of us were far more far more involved in creating the greenbelt than most of those supporting Measure CC. When Jim Dilley came to me in 1969 and asked for my help rallying students at Laguna Beach High School to support the greenbelt, I didn't see Freeman or Felder around anywhere.
Support prudent parcel purchases of truly critical endangered open space from existing revenues by our elected leaders. Vote No on Measure CC.