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City rescinds limits on contributions

Barbara Diamond

City officials avoided being named in a Lincoln Club lawsuit by

rescinding on Tuesday an ordinance that put a $250 cap on donations

to independent expenditure committees.


The club last week followed up its successful challenge of the

Irvine city ordinance with lawsuits against the cities of Anaheim,

Fountain Valley, Orange and Huntington Beach.

“Laguna Beach was spared from being included in exchange for a


promise to revisit the ordinance and suspension of enforcement,” city

attorney Philip Kohn said.

Independent expenditure committees are those that support or

oppose candidates or the recall of candidates independently of the

candidate or the candidate’s election committee. The independent

committees have no spending limit.

Kohn described the Lincoln Club as a nonprofit organization with

two political action committees and financial resources derived from


annual membership fees of $2,000. He said he had invited

representatives of the club to the council meeting. None attended.

Provisions in ordinances are usually not enforced until 30 days

after the second reading and final council vote. That delayed

enforcement probably until Nov. 15, certainly after the Nov. 5


Kohn said before the council vote that if the present limits were

enforced in the interim or if the ordinance was not rescinded, Laguna


Beach would be added to the club’s suit. A limiting ordinance might

be reinstated if current law changes. If deletion of the ordinance

can be proved to lead to election corruption, that might be a basis

for reinstatement, he said.

“I don’t like any independent expenditure committees,” Mayor Wayne

Baglin said. “They are all bullies and they are on all sides of the

political spectrum. They are all crooked organizations that suppress

the public will.”

Candidates disclose contributions

Three City Council candidates met the Sept. 26 deadline to file

campaign disclosure statements.

Elizabeth Pearson disclosed total contributions of $16,370 and

expenditures of $11,053.33 through Sept. 21. Incumbent Toni Iseman

raised $14,115 and spent $6,395.20. Rookie candidate Melissa O’Neal

raised $2,874 and spent $3,155.30. leaving her with a debt of


Incumbent Councilman Steven Dicterow, who was verbally reminded of

the requirement on Sept. 26, had not filed a statement as of Oct. 2.

O’Neal listed 11 cash contributors, one non-cash contribution and

one loan.

Iseman listed $3,625 in contributions of less than $100, 58 cash

contributors of $100 or more and a $1,000 loan, which was paid off or

forgiven between Aug. 1 and Sept. 21.

Pearson listed $870 in contributions less than $100 and 79 cash

contributions of $100 or more.

Disclosure statements, which include the names of contributors of

$100 or more, are filed with the city clerk and can be reviewed at

her office.


Two forums down, at least four publicly announced to go.

About 30 people attended the Sept.26 City Council Candidates Forum

sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the North Laguna Community

Association and the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association. Questions

were prepared by the sponsors.

About the same number of people, perhaps a few more, attended the

forum sponsored Monday by Village Laguna, moderated by a

representative of the League of Women Voters. Written questions came

from the audience, but were filtered through a committee before they

reached the dais.

Both forums were cordial.

Today: The Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn., the Chamber of Commerce

and the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club will hold a luncheon forum for

School Board candidates at noon in the clubhouse, 286 St. Ann’s


Open to the public, but reservations to the luncheon are closed.

Monday: The Top of the World Neighborhood and Temple Hills

Community assns. will sponsor a forum for City Council and School

Board candidates from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber.

Public welcomed. Questions and opinions will be taken from the


Thursday: The Board of Realtors has invited the Board of Education

candidates to speak at the marketing meeting held at Wells Fargo

Bank. The meetings are not open to the public.

City Council candidates spoke at the Sept. 18 marketing meeting.

Oct. 14: Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. will present a City Council

Candidates Forum at the general meeting, set for 12:30 p.m. at the

Veterans Memorial Building, 384 Legion St.

Candidates will mingle and questions will be taken from the

audience. Light refreshments will be served and information on the

proposed Senior Center will be available.

The public is welcome. Reservations are not required. For more

information, call 499-3013.


Jim Palmer and John O’Neill will host a fund-raiser at their

Tuscan-style villa from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday for City Council candidate

Melissa O’Neal.

The public is invited. $60 per person, $100 for two. Reservations

required. For more information or to make reservations, call