OUR LAGUNA:A Valentine for the ex-mayors

The Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach Club hosted a “twofer” at this year’s Mayor’s Luncheon.

Elizabeth Schneider and Steven Dicterow, who split 2006 in the mayor’s chair, were honored Feb. 2 at the club, the 10th anniversary of the annual event.

“When I talk to people outside the city, they always say Laguna is their favorite town and when I ask them why, they say because it’s not like anywhere else,” Schneider said. “Laguna is unique. A luncheon like this never happens anywhere else.”

Dicterow said the No. 1 reason he stayed on the council for 12 years was the people he met.


“I got to know all of you,” Dicterow said. “I don’t think there is a person in this room that I don’t know, and I don’t think I knew most of them before I ran for council.”

Dicterow showed off one of his dearest possessions: the “little black dress,” presented to him at a previous Mayor’s Luncheon in honor of his star turn in drag in “Lagunatics.”

Bree Burgess Rosen serenaded Schneider and Dicterow to the tune of “Thank Heaven for Little Girls"— changing the last word of the title to “mayors”.

While short in stature, they stand tall in the eyes of their admirers.


Luncheon chair Anne Johnson described the mayor’s terms as the most demanding volunteer job in town. Tasks outside the regular council duties include ribbon cuttings, attending the opening of new businesses, representing Laguna in and outside the city and presiding over the council meetings.

“Directing any meeting in this town is a nightmare,” Johnson said.

Former Mayor Kathleen Blackburn reprised her popular “Top 10 List of What the Mayor Might Be Thinking” during the council meeting.

10. Please don’t try to confuse me with facts: I’ve already made up my mind.

9. My know-it-all fellow council member once again is making a campaign speech up here.

8. Let’s see: You are the 12th person that’s said the same thing.

7. So you’re an attorney. That doesn’t scare us at all. We have two up here.

6. We council members are not as dumb as you people think.


5. Boy, I wish you would sit down. Apparently, your brain isn’t working, but your mouth is moving and making noises.

4. Wow! What a babe; when did she move to Laguna? Or, what a hunk! I hope he’s not another attorney.

3. This guy’s disparaging remarks and personal insults are definitely helping me make my decision.

2. I’m sick and tired of this meeting and I can’t wait to go home, or go to Cedar Creek for a wine.

1. Oh no! Not you again!

“Keep in mind, this is only speculation on what council members might be thinking,” Blackburn said.

She first came up with the list when she was honored as outgoing mayor, and it has become a tradition.

Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman, who served as election consultant to Schneider and Dicterow, said they have quite different personalities.


“Steve would say, ‘Do whatever you want,’ and Elizabeth would say, ‘What shade of pink are you using?’ ” Grossman said.

“The city is incredibly lucky to have them. They are friendships I treasure and intelligence that I admire.”

Mayor Toni Iseman was elected to the council after Dicterow and before Schneider.

“As I was getting ready to speak, I put on lipstick,” Iseman said. “If I didn’t, Elizabeth would tell me — and she’d tell me if the shade was wrong.

“If you are on a diet, she’ll tell you to watch the carbs. At the Seniors Luncheon, she told me not to eat the pumpkin pie.”

Schneider chimed in: “But you ate it anyway.”

That may be the secret to the success of their alliance. They can say what they want to each other, but not dictate the outcome.

As for Dicterow, “We have watched his daughter grow up from a little girl sleeping on the [council chamber] floor to a beautiful young woman,” Iseman said. “I congratulate your parenting.”

Councilwoman Jane Egly thanked Ernie Schneider and Catrina Dicterow for sharing their spouses with the community.

“We are so lucky in Laguna,” Egly said. “It is beautiful and we have good people who come and serve on boards, committees and the council.

“When Kathleen was going through her Top 10 and said, ‘We’re not as stupid as you think,’ Bree, bless her heart, said, ‘Well , you ran, didn’t you?’ ”

A droll Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman said she could tell in what esteem she is held by her placement as the last official speaker, just above “general public” on the program.

“I know the real reason Elizabeth ran,” Kinsman said.

“It was to get a man, so she was proposed to on television and given a rock that dragged her hand down to here.

“And she wanted to win by a landslide — so she got that, too.”

Kinsman presented Dicterow with a bottle of very hot sauce guaranteed to perk him up.

The Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. table sang “You are My Sunshine” to the honorees, but it was only a tribute, not a commercial for the windows and skylights added to the Community/Senior Center.

Guitarist John Heussenstamm, who will be performing at the 13th annual Laguna Beach High School fundraiser on Saturday, entertained.


The Debussy Chapter of the Laguna Guild of the Orange County Performing Arts Center hosted a luncheon Feb. 1 at Robilio’s Ristorante — reaching out to Laguna Beach residents.

Most of the Debussy members are from Laguna Niguel, some from Laguna Hills and Mission Viejo, but they would welcome Lagunans — who have not had a local chapter since the Chopin chapter disbanded.

Martha Lydick is a patron member of Debussy and she invited locals Peggy Ford, Renae Hinchey, Louise Buckley and Karyn Philippensen to attend the luncheon and meet some of the members, including Sandy Hovanesian, who lives in Mystic Hills.

Patrons are advised of chapter activities and urged to support fundraising projects. They are less active in chapter fundraising, but pay dues of $150 a year.

The dues for active members are $55 a year, of which $25 is forwarded to the center. Active members attend regular meetings and participate in and financially support all chapter fundraising activities, as well as center activities.

For more information, call (949) 831-9065 or (949) 458-8664.

  • OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; hand-deliver to Suite 22 in the Lumberyard, 384 Forest Ave.; call (949) 494-4321 or fax (949) 494-8979.

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