By Anne Caenn, Village Laguna President
The Feb. 17 edition of the Independent is not the first time Michael Ray has harshly and unfairly attacked Village Laguna, but it demonstrates an escalation in his abusive accusations.
Village Laguna is a 50-year-old community organization dedicated to the preservation of the village character of Laguna Beach. We work in the public interest. Our board members are volunteers who are dedicated to keeping Laguna Beach the lovely, exceptional place that residents and visitors love.
It is time for the Laguna Beach Independent to stop publishing these attacks. It is time for positive messages. Instead of lobbing accusations and falsehoods, let’s work together to solve problems and make our community even better.
Ray’s column has damaged Village Laguna’s reputation by accusing the organization of causing the home of Laguna Beach city manager Shohreh Dupuis to be defaced. Ray claims, falsely, that Village Laguna made public comments at a Feb. 7 city council meeting about a traffic citation issued to Ms. Dupuis and that those comments led to the defacing of her home. A cursory investigation would have shown that Village Laguna never made comments at the February city council meeting, public or otherwise, about Ms. Dupuis’s traffic citation.
At the Feb. 7 meeting, three Laguna Beach residents commented on the city’s handling of the traffic citation issued to Ms. Dupuis. While Village Laguna fully supports the rights of Laguna Beach residents to address the city council on matters of public concern, the persons addressing the council at the Feb. 7 city council meeting regarding her traffic citation did not do so on Village Laguna’s behalf. The speakers are not members of Village Laguna. No one authorized by, or representing Village Laguna, spoke at the city council meeting about Ms. Dupuis’ traffic citation. Despite this, Mr. Ray stated in his column that the statements made at the council meeting were “VL [Village Laguna] verbal attacks from Feb. 7.” He also identified two of the speakers as Village Laguna members, which is false.
Mr. Ray then used his false statements to damage Village Laguna’s reputation by explicitly linking the statements and the attack on Ms. Dupuis’ home. Not only is there no proven link between the comments regarding Ms. Dupuis’ traffic citation and the vandalism at her home, but it’s also entirely false to attribute the statements at the meeting to Village Laguna.
The true story is Village Laguna president Anne Caenn responded to the attack on Ms. Dupuis’ home by mailing a personal, supportive note to her on Feb. 11. Village Laguna published the following statement in a message to members on Feb. 16.
“The heart of our organization is preserving and creating the community that we want to live in. Village Laguna deplores the defacing of the home of our city manager Shohreh Dupuis. Hate and violence have no place in our community, and we sympathize with her in this trying moment.”
Our members, and residents not members of Village Laguna, have expressed their concern about Ray’s attacks, even terming them defamatory.
The Independent should not accept columns without fact-checking. In the interest of operating a publication with high journalistic standards should refuse to accept columns that are, at best, repetitive and often attempt to generate hateful attitudes about others in the community. If you want to protect and enhance the village character of Laguna Beach, Village Laguna invites you to join us at VillageLaguna.org and attend our online meeting on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. We are featuring the newest council members at our meetings. Last month, we heard from Alex Rounaghi. At this meeting, our guest will be Mark Orgill. Even if you don’t attend our meetings, we invite you to join us in working for positive and productive community discourse.
Anne is president of Village Laguna, Inc.