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Iseman takes the reins

Toni Iseman got the gavel. Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman got the


The City Council on Tuesday chose Toni Iseman to be mayor of the

city for 2003 and Kinsman to be mayor pro tem.


Iseman took the center seat on the dais after she and first-term

Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson were sworn in by City Clerk Verna


Iseman said her priorities this next year will be quality-of-life



“Our quality of life has been threatened before, and we have risen

to the occasion. We saved the museum and we saved the festival,” she


“Something else we need to save is the local economy. We are

seeing a reduction in revenue for local businesses. It’s urgent. My

motto is, ‘Don’t Leave Home to Shop.’ If we lose the individual

businesses, we lose the individuality of the Downtown. This is big.”


Iseman’s first official act as mayor was to present outgoing Mayor

Wayne Baglin with a ceremonial gavel, his third.

“I admire his leadership, the way he conducts crisp meetings and

his amazing focus,” Iseman said.

Baglin took the seat immediately to Iseman’s left, initiating the

annual game of musical chairs.

Kinsman moved from her end seat to the one just to Iseman’s right.

As mayor pro tem, Kinsman will operate the timer for public input and


serve as mayor in Iseman’s absence.

Councilwoman Pearson was seated next to Kinsman. Dicterow will get

the seat next to the city manager.

Dicterow missed the meeting because of work. He will be sworn in

by Rollinger before the Dec. 17 meeting.

Councilwoman Pearson was offered the customary opportunity to make

a speech after being seated.

“Let’s get to work,” she said.

Iseman is beginning her fifth year on the council.

When she ran for the first time for council it was against her

better judgment. 2002 was different.

“My four years on the council produced significant changes, but

there’s much more to do,” Iseman said.

She is proud of the success of the free summer shuttles, which

increased ridership by 90%, proving, she said, the viability of

peripheral parking at Act V, despite an increase in parking fees. She

strongly supports neighborhood compatibility.

Iseman fought for a Village Entrance plan that integrates the

corporation yard into the public amenities, negating the Village

Entrance Task Force recommendation to move the yard to ACT V, which

Iseman opposed.

“I have zealously protected ACT V for it most vital use -- keeping

cars out of our Downtown,” Iseman said.

This coming year, she looks forward to cutting the ribbon for the

Treasure Island Park.

“It will be a major party when it becomes our park,” she said.

She was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 5 election.

City Clerk Rollinger recited the certified results Tuesday of the

election that returned Iseman and Dicterow to office and put Pearson

on the council: 9,295 votes cast; 5,157 of them for Iseman, 3,023 for

Pearson, 5, 018 for Dicterow and 4,796 for Melissa O’Neal.

The numbers were certified by County Registrar of Voters Rosalyn

Lever and included in a resolution approved by the council.

-- Barbara Diamond

Freeman’s fond farewell

True to form, retiring Councilman Paul Freeman turned the mundane

business of roll call into a comedy act at his last City Council


“Here, but not for long,” he quipped when City Clerk Verna

Rollinger called his name.

“There’s no way we can truly accent the items Paul worked for,”

said Councilman Wayne Baglin, holding an impressive commendation that

honored Freeman’s eight years of service.

The creation of the Business Improvement District, the Vision

process, Music in the Park, summer trams, increased hiring and

training of Public Safety personnel and leadership during the 1997-98

floods were among the many achievements for which Freeman was cited.

However, what he’ll probably be best known for is his sense of


“As council meetings got long and boring, Paul’s sense of humor

was always there to help out the audience,” Baglin said.

Freeman thanked city staff, his fellow council members and made a

point to honor the commitment of the people who regularly attend the


“Their commitment to this community is amazing,” he said. “And

maybe they should be committed.”

He was candid about his disappointments, mainly the increasing

lack of civility in council chambers among the council and the


Apologizing for the times when he lost his temper, he said he

hoped that the trend to pit rumor against reality and friends against

former friends would reach its end.

Before he walked off the dais for the last time, Freeman ended his

parting shot with an anecdote. It seems that when acquaintances asked

which city he served as a city council member, he was more than happy

to answer.

“I took great pride in answering, Laguna Beach,” he said.

-- Mary A. Castillo

Smithcliffs path decision delayed

The City Council put on hold a Smithcliffs Homeowners Assn.

proposal to restore the pathway and view park the residents had

removed, and to maintain them for a $24,000 annual fee.

A delay until February will allow time for Smithcliffs residents

and users of the pathway to come up with a plan for the restoration,

which will depend on memory.

The problem is that memories vary. Some folks recall a winding

path, some a straight shot to the view park.

Ann Weisbrod, who frequently walked the pathway before it was

destroyed, said she remembered exactly how the walkway and park

looked. She has been on the warpath since the she discovered the

destruction of the pathway.

Weisbrod said the $2,000-a-month maintenance fee requested by the

association was exorbitant, an opinion shared by many in the audience

and some on the dais.

“Personally, I am not willing to pay $24,000 a year to anyone to

maintain this,” Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman said.

The wisdom of allowing the association to do the maintenance also

was questioned.

“I don’t know if we can trust the fox to guard the hen house,”

said Dale Ghere, who used to walk the pathway to the view park.

City Manager Ken Frank said that Smithcliffs had a vested interest

in keeping up the maintenance.

New estimates will be included when the Smithcliffs proposal comes

back to the council in February.

-- Barbara Diamond

Seven more added to Christmas palettes

Laguna Beach continued its 36-year-old tradition when the City

Council officially accepted seven new holiday palettes into its


“What you do will live on forever,” Mayor Toni Iseman said to the

six artists whose palettes are currently adorning light poles

throughout the city. “You add to our sense of community.”

The winning artists were Keith Randolph Swecker with two palettes

(a mermaid admiring a star fish and a sea lion bearing a gift),

Martha Chamitz Holmes (a fire goat named Esperanza), Eve Plumb (a

Christmas sandman at the beach), Devora Gottschalk (A crab looking

between the lips of a shell), John Newlander (a play on the Sistine

Chapel image of God touching a dove of peace) and Janet Fryer (A

little black dog with the words, “Got Bag?”).

The palettes are now part of a 200-piece collection that was

started by artist Earl Seacourt.

-- Mary A. Castillo

Rotary completes pledge to youth club

The Laguna Beach Boys and Girls Club announced that the Rotary

Club of Laguna Beach successfully completed a capital campaign pledge

of $30,000.

The funds have been earmarked to renovate the club’s game room.

“The Rotary has been a supporter of the club for the last 50

years,” said Kim Maxwell, executive director for the club.

“The proceeds raised from the Grand Prix really put us over the

top in reaching our goal,” Rotarian treasurer Kim Keturakis said.

The club plans to raise a grand total of $3.3 million to remodel

and expand the facility. According to Maxwell, the club is very close

to reaching that goal, though a timeline for actual renovation and

expansion has not yet been determined.

-- Mary A. Castillo

Blessing of the Animals offered

The 10th annual Blessing of the Animals will be held at

Neighborhood Congregational Church from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec.


“Each pet is blessed by pastors Teri Lennon and Kel Henderson,”

said Brett Jarvis coordinator for the event. “A Polaroid photo is

taken of the pet and pastor, and there are little giveaways for the

animals and treats.”

It’s a popular tradition: 60 to 100 pets are blessed, everything

from cats and dogs to hedgehogs and horses.

Neighborhood Congregational Church is at 340 St. Ann’s Drive.

Information: 494-8061.