Letters to the Editor: Forget taking a selfie, this passerby will gladly photograph you

Visitors to Corona del Mar State Beach hike the rocks to see the sunset.
Visitors to Corona del Mar State Beach hike the rocks to see the sunset.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)
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I walk from my home down to the Corona del Mar Beach a lot, usually several times a week. I like taking photos of people there — the endless supply of folks, mostly from Orange County, but often from around the world. They come to enjoy the fantastic beauty of the place, where the sparkling sea, beach, bluffs and sun meet.

But these are not normal photos, they are all taken with the targets’ cameras to enable them to take a piece of what they’re enjoying home with them. They frequently pull out their phones to get themselves in the picture, extend their arms and go into selfie mode. I detest selfie mode — inevitably the wrong angle, faces distorted, and the fantastic view compromised or missed entirely.

“Can I help take the picture?” I ask hopefully. The answers are very often, but not always, “Yes, thanks.” Sometimes a polite, “No thanks, we’re good,” comes along — and that’s OK. I quickly move on.


Now I’ve been walking this area for 10 years at least and have taken a lot of photos. At 100 a year, that’s maybe 1,000 pictures into my mythical album that resides only in my mind; photos I don’t have, of people I don’t know.

Dec. 10 was one such morning walk. Ever ready to spot targets of opportunity, I noticed a young couple, maybe mid- to late-20s, standing at Inspiration Point, a high bluff looking over sand, sea, sun and sky well below — a terrific view that encompasses the full curve of Big Corona Beach and out to Santa Catalina Island some 31 miles away. Nice.

They were talking intently, close together and then a kiss and a hug. Whoa, way too private a moment for me to mess with. But then it happened — out came his phone, and they tipped their heads into selfie mode. I was done waiting.

“Can I help take the picture?”

Simultaneously they both turned to me, huge smiles, “Oh yes, please do,” they both said at the same time — like synchronized swimmers.

Slight pause.

“You see,” she clarified, “he just asked me to marry him!”

Wow. Now this was a new one.

I stumbled a bit looking for the proper comeback.

“So,” I asked her, “what did you say?”

After the obligatory “Yes of course,” I borrowed his phone, snapped a couple of photos, offered my sincere congratulations and walked on with a new-found bounce in my step.

In this season of giving, I’ve thought a lot about this exchange. About the amazing life arc that put the three of us in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time. But more about the meaning of, “It’s better to give than receive.”

My conclusion is that, although the old saying is true, it falls short of pointing out a more profound truth, an improved perspective. When a giving moment comes, and is recognized for what it is, and is executed properly, the event leaves everyone happy, yet a bit confused too.

Exactly who has given what to whom?

Fred Forster

Corona del Mar

Does superintendent really need a bonus?

As a former teacher of 29 years and a taxpayer in Newport-Mesa, I was scandalized by the $34,450 tax-sheltered annuity contribution to school Supt. Fred Navarro, as a bonus for excellent service.

The average California teacher’s salary is $67,872, according to USC Rossier Online. The Daily Pilot reported that Navarro, pre bonus, received a 2.5% raise, elevating his pay to $282,844, in 2017.

But that’s not all. Transparent California records his 2016 salary as $275,945 and total compensation with benefits as $366,051. Wow!

My overriding question is: How can trustee Karen Yelsey, as quoted in the Daily Pilot, say Navarro did a, “great job” deserving of a bonus?

In 2014, I read the Daily Pilot’s coverage of a complaint by the district’s former director of human resources, John Caldecott, about pension payments under Navarro’s leadership.

More recently I read of teachers’ struggles with the $4-million SWUN Math program. Navarro recommended and strongly supported SWUN Math, which has been replaced at added cost to taxpayers.

In 2017, the Pilot reported that trustees spent up to $60,000 for consultants to monitor “sewer gases or sewage emanating from walls, sinks and floors.” Staff illnesses have been cited as possible results of seven-year inattention to staff/student safety at Estancia High School.

At Mariner’s School, staff asserted that their former principal misquoted their activities on a Blue Ribbon application. Later, teachers were vindicated by the principal’s removal.

Four years after Sandy Hook, some schools lack security fencing.

Yet trustees find money for Navarro’s bonus, while failing to fund necessities for students and staff. Based upon my reading of the Pilot’s coverage, NMUSD trustees should not rate this superintendent’s performance “exceptional.”

In the upcoming 2018 election, I will look for new school board members who are prepared to hold the superintendent accountable.

Carrie Luger Slayback

Newport Beach

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