I just returned from a month-long trip, which is the very best way to appreciate how good we have it here in Laguna. No snow to shovel. No humidity to swelter in. And now the rains, glorious rains. Is there anything more refreshingly beautiful than Laguna after a rain? Well, yes. Laguna after several rains. The mentholated, crisp air, gushing green canyons, overnight explosion of flora, the roiling, whitecapped waves of a winter swell, and the electric cloud-shrouded sunsets. I can’t even conjure more accolades to express how special it is here.
And now we are in for a delight of spring wildflowers, those dormant seeds finally primed to pop and spread their glorious pedals. If you get up in the hills, you’ll already get a sneak preview: Encelia’s, deerweed, monkeypods, lupines… all peaking from behind the curtain before it is raised on a symphony of colors.
Then there are the improvements to our town itself. Never have we birthed more tantalizing dining options. There’s Kebab Kurry, Finney’s Crafthouse, The Taco Stand, Laguna Fish Company, and the about-to-open Red Dragon. Even our nightlife has improved with lounges like Ahba and Seahorse and electronic dance nights at Suenos and Brussels Bistro. Like minnows swimming upstream, we’re tempting young people back to our ossified environs.
We continue to master our destiny, buying St. Catherine’s school, taking over our library and southern beaches, and have thus far avoided catastrophic fires and floods. We did all that and still generated a budget surplus of $17 million. That alone would be reason enough to shower City Manager Shohreh Dupuis with accolades. After all, it’s her number one responsibility. Instead, she gets a heinous attack on her home and continues to get abused by the Cabal of Complainers, who, instead of celebrating their good fortune living here, spend their days wallowing about how miserable it is and how corrupt our leaders are. Sheesh!
This time it’s the ridiculous waste of oxygen expended on whether or not our city manager tried to use her influence to wiggle out of a $20 violation for holding a cell phone while driving. Holy Hunter’s laptop! Bend over Benghazi! Hold the pepperoni, PizzaGate. This must be the most wicked, over-the-top abuse of power since Watergate.
The animus towards Shohreh seems to be because of her competency. And perhaps gender (no one ever dared challenge her male predecessor). When three members of council vote to do something, she gets it done. Pedestrianize Forest Ave overnight in the face of looming economic disaster caused by the Coronavirus? Check! Help businesses open to fill our empty storefronts or rescue struggling restaurants with outdoor dining? Check! Expedite the hasty purchase of Ti Amo without a proper appraisal at the behest of two council people who developed amnesia after their South Laguna constituents turned on them? And then let Shohreh take the heat? Check and check!
One of those council persons, who finds himself time and again on the wrong side of the majority, now wants to punish our city manager by disgracing her, having the temerity to accuse her of a crime, and most petty of all, ignoring her while carrying out his responsibilities as a public official. In every meeting Shohreh has attended with him, she’s been completely ignored. He won’t even look at her. In his present term of over two years, he hasn’t spoken a word to the chief administrator of our town. This is like a board member of a corporation pretending their CEO doesn’t exist. Does this sound like a mature, stable person fulfilling their obligation to the community?
Now he is the lead prosecutor in a campaign that is designed to get rid of her on something so trivial it boggles the mind that anyone could believe this was worth the public’s time. At last week’s council meeting, he began his public comments by saying, “I’m not vindictive. I think the law was broken — an attempt to obstruct an officer. We still don’t know what the facts are. I’m going to press on to see it on my own.” Excuse me? Vindictive? About what? Is there a tell here?
While he “presses on,” he abrogates his oath to serve the public good by mitigating the threat of fire and floods, making our streets safer in the face of ongoing pedestrian deaths, devising a more progressive and sustainable transportation grid, upgrading our failing infrastructure, and on and on. But yes, let’s focus on what happened in those two minutes of ticket writing.
“Transparency is rule number one in government,” he said. But wait, wasn’t he sanctioned for violating the Brown Act by secretly meeting with perpetual litigant-against-the-city Mark Fudge? How does that square with transparency?
And then there’s his angry citizen supplicants, the Cabal of Complainers, who somehow believe that Shohreh is beholden to developers (as opposed to the three council votes that dictate her actions). Perpetually outraged Michele Monda publicly insisted on knowing why the city has thus far spent $12,468 on legal fees to defend Shohreh after Michele’s relentless campaign demanding the release of information and phone records. That’s like an arsonist asking why the fire department came after setting fire to a building. To see her parse theories of when Shohreh called whom and why is to see a real-life Columbo in action.
This is a nothing burger. It has no merit or impact on our daily lives. So I propose we heal the Complainers by gathering them together in our open space, stripping off our clothes, and dancing ecstatically while being soaked by yet another rain storm. This will wash away all that misplaced anger. Followed by a sumptuous celebration at one of our tasty new restaurants.
It’s great to be home.
Billy is the CEO of La Vida Laguna, an E-bike and ocean sports tour company. Email: [email protected].