Letter: Council Candidates Owe Voters Transparency



With so many candidates vying for the available seats in November, it is very difficult to scrutinize them all. Recalling the 11th hour revelations that rocked the Council campaigns in both 2014 and 2016, it would be a service to voters and a nod to transparency for each candidate to answer basic questions upfront.

After attending nearly all of the 2016 candidate forums, I came away questioning the value of these sessions. Incumbents were rarely (if ever) asked to defend their voting records from previous years. Too little was done to try to match past experience/accomplishments with current promises. I’m unsure whether the civic organizations are too polite to ask tough questions about voting records, or whether they are too focused on their pet issues to care about the bigger picture. This voter found that overall, the forums had very little value with some asking downright embarrassing questions.

Voters need to know basic facts that go to each candidate’s background, character and fiduciary history. Questions such as (with details where appropriate):

  • Please provide your full legal name. If you have used an alias or other name within the past 15 years, please provide those names, too.
  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime (misdemeanor or felony)?
  • Have you or a business for which you serve as a director, ever been indicted?
  • Have you or a business for which you serve as a director, ever filed for bankruptcy?
  • Have you ever been disbarred, censured or disciplined by a professional organization of which you have been a member?
  • Has a restraining order ever been filed against you?
  • Are your property tax payments up-to-date (if renter, are your rent payments up-to-date)?
  • Are you or a business for which you serve as a director, up-to-date on your state and federal tax payments?
  • What is your highest educational achievement?
  • Degree/certificate?
  • Institution/year?
  • How many postal codes have you lived in over the past 15 years?

Answers to these questions are not necessarily disqualifying but will help voters to better assess the person they might offer their vote. I urge all candidates to provide answers to these questions on their social media sites. Likewise, I urge voters to ensure each candidate answers these questions during forums or private discussions.


Michael Morris, Laguna Beach

Share this:


  1. Michael, I’m running on transparency so here are the answers:
    My legal name is Peter Blake and has been for the last 15 years.
    Ive never been convicted of a crime.
    I’ve never been indicted nor has a business that I’ve ever been involved in.
    I’ve never filed for bankruptcy nor has any business that I’ve served as a director filed.
    I’ve never been disbarred, censured or disciplined by a professional organization of which I’ve been a member.
    I’ve never had a restraining order filed against me.
    My rents are current on my gallery, my residence, my wife’s art studio and gallery storage facility.
    The Peter Blake Gallery is up to date on all State and Federal tax payments.
    My highest educational achievement is high school.
    I’ve lived in the postal code of 92651 for the last 15 years.

    There you have it Michael.
    As long as we’re on the transparency issue shouldn’t you be transparent and reveal the fact that you’re the treasurer for a candidate running for City Council (Judy Mancuso) This request for information could be misconstrued as an attempt to expose competing candidates flaws in an attempt to gain an edge for your candidate. Perhaps you could have started with her answers. I’m assuming those answers would be perfect otherwise you wouldn’t have requested this information of other candidates.

    Peter Blake

  2. Michael, your letter has some sound ideas but seriously the questions, Degree? School? Restraining orders? I think at this juncture in a candidates life, you already know if they are a business owner or what capacity they are in at this point. How many have contributed to society in this great country that don’t have a degree? from my research on the candidates this is pretty transparent.I think in all fairness you should be candid and upfront that you are a campaign manager for one of those running for council. Is this an unveiled attempt to discredit others? I don’t see any questions regarding issues here in Laguna? Just trying to understand the point.

  3. Hi Barbara: as i mention in the piece, none of the candidate answers are necessarily disqualifying. But recall the upheaval that happened in 2014 when at the 11th hour, it was revealed that Jon Madison had “doctored” his educational qualifications. His campaign collapsed and all the hard work & money his supporters contributed was wasted. Jon probably would have won a Council seat WITHOUT claiming the degree he didn’t actually earn. Then of course we have the 2016 incident with Mr Dicterow’s hush-hush bankruptcy which again threw voters and more importantly, his supporters for a loop. Voters and more importantly SUPPORTERS deserve this base information early-on before they become too invested in any particular candidate. Its only fair.

    As for Judie Mancuso’s candidacy, I am not nor have I ever been her campaign manager. I accepted the role of Treasurer, which I publicly disclosed in several places (NextDoor, FPPC filings, http://www.lagunabeachchat.com). Also, to be clear, the role of “treasurer” consists of properly filling-in the FPPC forms for reportable donations and campaign expenditures. It is a bookkeeper’s job. Regards,


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here