Commentary: Steve Dicterow is 'a voice of reason'

Laguna Beach, it appears, has finally grown up. Karl Rove would be so proud.

We have in the Sept. 20 Coastline Pilot a "hit piece," titled "Dicterow seems so full of himself," worthy of the national campaigns at their most ugly — vitriolic, ignorant, based on half-truths, and, unmistakably, the work of a "Super PAC." It's not the work of the campaign itself, but an outside organization, which has tasked this vile hatchet man to write this bile to create the appearance that it is a citizen writing, and not a toady of another candidate's or group's campaign.

And who is this jerk who produced this piece of political filth? Obviously, he did not attend the event, but has excerpted a few sentences from Barbara Diamond's review about the meeting, from which he draws the offensive conclusions that were his goal in the first place.

As regular readers of the local Laguna Beach newspapers and online news sources will have noted by now, this is one of a series of letters, all full of invective about Steve Dicterow, clearly, part of an organized letter-writing campaign. By whom? Well obviously, by a group almost hysterical at the possibility that a voice of reason, possibly even two, will be elected to City Council, and will break the rigid control that Village Laguna, along with other civic associations and their minions have been able to exercise through the three-vote majority they control.

I lived in Laguna and tried to build a house between 1987 and 1992, when Village Laguna controlled City Council — and, therefore, the Design Review Board. It was a nightmare for anyone trying to build anything but a 1,700-square-foot cottage. Why 1,700 square feet? Because that was the size of the house in which the chair of the DRB lived, and if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for everyone. Many people, myself included, lost their life savings trying to build a reasonable home for themselves and their families. Dicterow's election – not alone, along with other sane councilmembers — righted the city's course and corrected many of the abuses that were so rife, just as he said on Sept. 11.

That is the control these groups still want to exercise — and the control they are hysterically afraid a rational person like Dicterow will destroy, and hence they assign members to write hatchet jobs like this one, maligning not policies or positions, but personality, associations, and even projections of Steve's thinking, in the evil terms in which they want the voters to believe.

If there was anything noteworthy about Dicterow's event, it is that what he designed as a small gathering of 50 to 60 personal friends and supporters grew on its own to more than 120 people as members of the Laguna Beach public just showed up to hear him speak and show their support.

The real question raised by Lee Otterholt's letter is whether we want to live in a city in which the City Council members are politicians who, or whose campaigns, use the same dirty tactics we so decry from the presidential campaigns and their so-called independent Super-PACs.

Keep watching the local papers, and counting the anti-Dicterow hit pieces. For me, I think Verna Rollinger and Jane Egly are lovely people; I just think the policies and associations that guide their votes are wrong, and that for that reason they should not be supported for City Council.

GENE GRATZ is a Laguna Beach resident.

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