Mailbag: Election a chance to vote for change

I have not paid as much attention to local politics as I should have until recently when I became familiar with the proposed social host ordinance. Whatever your opinion on whether such an ordinance is right for our community, we should all be greatly concerned about the process in which it has been brought to council and our school board's involvement in it.

Few residents had heard of this proposed ordinance at its first hearing in June, and the petition opposing SHO, which was circulated at the beginning of October and obtained over 320 signatures in less than one week, shows that few still know about its implications on our kids' safety, our constitutional rights and the city's budget. Yet Councilwoman Toni Iseman is the only one on the council who has expressed an interest in hearing opposing points of view before the planned Nov. 13 hearing.

School board says they endorsed a concept of a social host ordinance. I have searched the board agendas and meeting minutes and have not found a record of any public discussion of ordinance. The Laguna Community Coalition has now stepped up as the proponent of the social host ordinance, yet the coalition lacks representation from Laguna residents and parents.

While trying to uncover the board history on the social host ordinance, I found claims that challengers for the school board are "highly funded single issue candidates" whose "…primary goal is to take control for [sic] the board and push through agenda spending increases for their own financial benefit." After asking for an explanation, I was told that the "single" issue refers to the Thurston Outdoor Classroom and Teaching Garden, a waste of taxpayer money. I have since found out that no district money was to be used for implementation of this project, and that the plans for this facility were developed by a parent who spent many hours — pro-bono — incorporating teacher and PTA input in the design, before the project was abruptly dropped by the district, though I could not find reference of this project on the district website, either.

More telling, however, is that neither of the two challengers running for school board — Tammy Keces nor Dee Perry — appears to have involvement in this "single" issue and would have no financial gain from its implementation, and neither has received "heavy funding" as implied in the statement above.

Unfounded claims against board candidates, general lack of public discussion and record, and unwillingness to move forward with innovative projects sponsored by the community raise serious questions about the current School Board's transparency, their ability to be progressive and to adapt to our kids' needs. The social host ordinance process exposes the willingness of our council, without much understanding of potential consequences, to adopt a law that is being directed with very little public scrutiny or input, even though it will affect the entire community.

I have concluded that decisions in Laguna are being made by an insular group of people on our council and school board, who represent a myopic viewpoint on any given issue. Input from the community is sought only after someone "on the outside" exposes an issue to be controversial. Candidates are endorsed by school board and council incumbents to promulgate the same old ideas and to minimize discourse.

Wouldn't we and our children be better served by school board and council members who welcome community dialogue, are challenged by new ideas, and consider all aspects of a given issue to determine what is right for Laguna? The opportunity to strengthen our community is ours. Vote for a change at both the school district and council level on Nov. 6.

Tijana Hamilton

Laguna Beach


Measure CC is preserves the future

Martha Lydick in her letter to the editor attempted to discredit me and the facts I put in my letter. Over my 26 years in Laguna Beach, Lydick and I have agreed on very little, but what is undisputed is that the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. never had the vision to imagine a greenbelt around Laguna Beach as Jim Dilley did in the 1960s. They never had the vision to replace the gas stations and dilapidated buildings on Main Beach with a park and a window to the sea instead of high-rise buildings or the vision to prevent 3,500 homes from being built in Laguna Canyon. So it's not surprising that they don't have the vision today to support Measure CC, the Open Space Initiative.

I realize that in today's political climate it has become a common tactic to repeat an untruth as many times as possible in the hopes that it eventually is believed as true. Unfortunately, this deceitful behavior sometimes pays off. Perhaps that is what the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. and Bobbi Cox hopes to pull off by repeating the falsehood that in 1990 it supported Measure H, the Laguna Canyon Bond Measure. The association did not support the Laguna Canyon Bond Measure. I have no doubt that Bobbi Cox supported the measure but the association never supported that bond measure, which eventually passed by nearly 80% of the vote, prevented 3,200 homes from being built in Laguna Canyon, and added thousands of acres of open space for all to enjoy. Those bonds are now paid off and its property tax increase has been eliminated.

I invite you to join me now in voting yes on Measure CC, the current Open Space Initiative, and 20 years from now you can truly say you voted for open space and not have to join the revisionists in any false claims.

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach


Vote NO on Measure CC

Vote NO on the scam Measure CC. Here are a few questions to think about: Why would you vote for an unfair flat tax on anything? A flat tax on property causes a poor or middle-class property owner to have to pay the same amount of money as those who have expensive property and great incomes.

Why would you vote for some scheme that increases your taxes and gives you nothing in return that you don't already have; do you like being scammed? Why vote for something that is presented to you in expensive fliers as open space that needs saving, when in fact it is for the most part just vacant land around town that people have bought and left open for their own reasons like investments, to preserve their views, privacy, or whatever?

Why would you vote just to suit a power group that wants control of the $20 million dollars this tax will rip off from us? Why would you vote to buy, with your tax money, privately owned vacant land that is already open, all or most of which can never be built on; land the owner must pay taxes on and take care of in accordance with city regulations?

Why would any sane person vote to increase their own property taxes, simultaneously taking someone else's property off the city and county tax rolls? This all sounds like a giant scam where the power group is trying every trick to get you to vote their scheme. A scheme that benefits nobody except them and maybe some rich property owners some of who may want to unload, at top dollar, their unbuildable, unsalable property; property they have to pay taxes on and maintain. Look at the property tax bill you or your landlord will receive this week. Note all the little items that add up to big bucks. Don't be fooled by expensive misleading fliers and signs. Save your money for something your family really needs. Vote no on Measure CC.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach


Voters suffer when candidate skips event

Editor's note: Author is the president of the League of Women Voters of Orange Coast.

The League of Women Voters of Orange Coast feels compelled to respond to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's statement as quoted in your article ("Candidate a no-show at forum," Oct. 25): "Years ago, I participated in several forums by the League of Women Voters and found them to be dishonest and biased, and I decided I would not ever be involved in the League of Women Voters again."

The forum was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Orange Coast, the American Assn. of University Women of Laguna Beach and the Woman's Club of Laguna Beach and scheduled to be held at the Laguna Beach City Council Chambers.

The League of Women Voters never endorses candidates but does take stands on issues. The forums we conduct are intended to allow voters to hear candidates' stands on issues of importance so voters can make informed decisions on whom they plan to vote for. Recently, the League of Women Voters of Orange Coast and the American Assn. of University Women jointly conducted a forum for all of the candidates for Huntington Beach City Council, as we do for every Huntington Beach City Council election. Both the candidates and the audience found the forum to be fair, unbiased and informative — always the goal of the League of Women Voters.

Two other well-received city council candidates' forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Orange Coast were held this fall, one in Laguna Woods and one in Laguna Beach.

The league has a long history of conducting nonpartisan candidates forums and has always taken very seriously its role in helping voters get the information they need. That's why we are particularly concerned when candidates refuse to show up and debate about the issues that are so important to our families and our communities.

When a candidate decides not to attend, it's the voters who miss out. This is a lost opportunity for all voters and denies them their right to hear directly from the person seeking the vote. Skipping a debate is like skipping your own job interview. Don't the voters who are hiring you deserve to hear what you have to say?

Armida Brashears

Huntington Beach


Let's not attack candidates

Election Day is upon us. As we collectively ponder the wisdom of the various candidates, it is important, I believe, to remind ourselves that without their effort and dedication to public service it would be a sad state of affairs in communities such as Laguna.

It is important to acknowledge that despite political differences, each candidate is most certainly motivated by a desire to do the right thing. I do not believe that any of the candidates are evil, that their motivation is anything less than honorable. While I may differ in an approach to a community issue, I respect the ideas of others and always take the position that different is neither bad nor wicked.

There are no bad candidates; there are difficult issues over which people disagree.

And it is important to stand up when a candidate, any candidate, is disparaged by inaccurate accusations. While I may, (or may not), agree with or vote for Bob Whalen — it is not relevant — it is not relevant, I do believe that careful review is necessary when history is cited as a disqualifying issue. Specifically, the issue of MTV and Artist/Breakers has fallen upon Whalen's shoulders as a heavy burden carried to this day.

After careful review of the available documentation, it is clear to me that whether one agrees or disagrees with previous policy, the school board members were motivated by a desire to do the right thing. It is OK to disagree. It is OK to choose to vote for someone else. It is OK to voice one's opinion, but I prefer that we attack the issue, not the person.

Thus, if I desired to speak against a candidate on an issue of importance to me, I would do it by suggesting, for example:

"In the past the school board member's motives were laudable. I simply disagreed with his/her position. I understand that some preferred a change from Artists to Breakers, I did not. And here is why."

Attacking the candidate weakens your argument. And for those who know Mr. Whalen, the criticism is unfounded and denigrating. All of the candidates are dedicated to doing what they believe to be right for Laguna. They are all worthy. Disagree over issues, but not Bob Whalen's motives. I consider him an excellent candidate.

James Selevan

Laguna Beach


Consider Vickers, Landsiedel for school board

As we head toward Election Day, I urge voters to strongly consider Jan Vickers and Bill Landsiedel for our school board in Laguna Beach.

Jan Vickers brings constructive calm to the board. She has proven able to dissect and evaluate complex, divisive issues without compromising wide and responsible district leadership responsibilities. She is willing to function independently and with objectivity, while maintaining consistently respectful regard for colleagues and constituents. They avoid polarization and stridency, setting a tone of acceptance, cooperation, and productivity which benefits the district as a whole.

She has many invaluable years of experience on our board, bringing her wisdom and broad perspective as a parent and certificated teacher to bear on local school governance. She is widely accessible, both formally and informally. I've been able, through many issues and across many years, to speak with her by phone or, as is so common in a small community such as ours, to enjoy substantive, constructive conversations when we casually ran into each other about town.

Vickers' resources include a long-term understanding of our schools. She knows how programs or situations have evolved and brings that depth of perspective to new issues. I am continually impressed with her recognition of our schools' diversity and her determination to serve each aspect of her constituency — students and families, educators, and school support staff — in a non-adversarial manner.

Vickers' colleague Landseidel also deserves re-election. He balances Vickers' lengthier experience on the board with his own experience as an attorney and community service. He has volunteered in his children's classrooms, and has a unique view of instruction and school management as the husband of a former teacher and current administrator in another nearby district. He is able to evaluate issues with clarity and insight, and works to bring responsible and broad-based advancement to the district.

We need reasoned, responsive, non-reactive voices guiding our schools in the times ahead. Laguna Beach schools need and deserve the continued outstanding leadership of Vickers and Landsiedel.

Carol Nilsen

Laguna Beach


Clarifications to some accusations

I was deeply saddened after reviewing the video interview of Bill Landsiedel and the page on his election website, that he has now taken down. Not only were there complete inaccuracies in his statements but also misleading ones. To be categorized as a single issue candidate who is funded by special interest groups is disheartening and outright wrong.

I chose, after much consideration, to run for school board, as I was continuously asked to consider it, in order to bring a fresh perspective to the board, as well as serving as a voice for our wonderful parents and students. I have not asked, nor accepted any donations, from our parents, students, special interests or whatever, as I do not wish to be beholden to any one person nor group. My goal is to be free of any monetary influences, in order to make the best decisions for our schoolchildren.

As a newly retired teacher of 35 years within the Laguna Beach school system, I now have the time and full commitment to devote to this important position. My hesitancy to run, was my reluctance to participate in political games. My motivation to run was to bring to the school board an awareness as to where they have failed our children. Although the board states it considers the whole child, the emphasis is on raising test scores and there is very little time left for anything else.

I am not in any way a single issue candidate as portrayed by Mr. Landsiedel. Some of my many goals are: to develop better writing skills, more critical thinking and increased exploration of the arts for our students; and for parents and students to be able to learn more about the issues that our school board faces. As it is extremely difficult for parents to attend the 6 p.m. school board meetings, the option of streaming video of these meetings should be a consideration and making the agenda available to parents, on line, 24 hours prior to meetings, should also go into effect.

Technology is an important component within our classrooms, yet, as it continually changes, it should not be the end all for helping our children learn about the world around us. Yes, one of the many issues outlined in my platform was concerning the Thurston Outdoor Classroom and Teaching Garden, a wonderful project that would have been beneficial to students, parents, teachers and our community, as it not only used technology for it's weather station and solar garden, but also allowed our students to reconnect with nature. This project was to be 100% privately funded, at no cost to our school district.

Even more disappointing is the way the school board and district have handled parents' great ideas and concerns, which have been constantly dismissed; whether it be about the Thurston Garden, nutrition and school lunches, behavior and bad language on the buses, or bullying.

I do not wish to bash nor criticize the incumbents, as I fully understand the commitment needed to serve on the school board, yet I do need to stand up for my values and goals when false and accusatory quotes are ventured forth.

Dee Namba Perry

Laguna Beach

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