Letter: In Response To Billy Fried’s “We Can’t Handle The Truth” Column


I don’t know if we can’t handle the truth, as Billy Fried states, but I do know he sure can’t. His column reads like one toxic false accusation after another and one outright lie after another.  He speaks of “frothers in residence” and click-baiting, but as the spewing columnist in residence at the Indy, I suggest he should learn how to use a mirror.

He claims the Council never put forth an intention of move the library. Tell that to Peter Blake who openly spoke about doing just that—and even voted in favor of it. Read the preliminary lease agreement attached to the publicly posted Staff Report, Clauses No. 9 and No. 14—they specifically and blatantly state that after three years, the site could be considered for a parking lot. But Billy will have none of that! (Where I come from, that’s called lying by omission.)

I sincerely wonder where Fried dredges up his “facts.” He claims we have a working infrastructure. Really? How’s that sewer renovation going? Any more ocean spills lately? He says we have less traffic than many other tourist destinations. He must be comparing us to Disneyland—if 6.5 million visitors a year for a town of just 23,000 people isn’t too much, what is? (Well, since Fried runs a tourist business, apparently it’s impossible to have too many tourists. Definitely, pave the library, put up a parking lot.) And he says we are bike friendly.  Has he ridden a bike on Coast Highway? That’s delusional to think that the city is bike friendly because it’s not. Certainly not the canyon.

And he claims there isn’t a single large-scale development on the horizon. Then I guess his horizons don’t extend to the Dornin “affordable” apartment monstrosity in the canyon that we got sold a bill of goods on. And then there’s the 400+ seat Mozambique dinner theater that’s on the books to come up after the elections. And the Sweetwater complex on South Coast Highway. Plus the Red Dragon remodel that will create a parking nightmare for the entire neighborhood. Not to mention Mo Honarkar’s projects in the wings—a Holiday Inn redo and Museum Hotel—what’s he thinking??

There’s a lot of biased false information and intentional maligning going on here to satisfy Billy’s Laguna Businesses First, Laguna Residents Last narrative. Billy, you are the one who can’t handle the truth. Try it on for a change.

Michèle Monda, Laguna Beach

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  1. Michele:
    Being a carpetbagger from Baltimore, maybe BF hasn’t heard “You spot it, you got it?”
    And it only takes simple online search to procure the characteristics of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
    There are 4-5 acknowledged NPD types, his most closely fitting the outgoing “Communal Narcissist.”
    Have no doubt that he’s actually deluded himself into thinking that he’s trustworthy, has his finger on OUR pulse, deserves OUR praise and admiration because he’s helping his adopted community.
    And he’s not going to change, his ego demands that WE change.
    He truly believes that he’s inordinately important, seems to intentionally write to gain excessive attention and wherever he is, well, that’s Pope BF’s World, and it revolves around him.
    Keep in mind that he’s only here 6 months out of the year, the other traveling to upscale, trendy and toney places.
    Egocentric, his columns are a form of preening and primping online. He excoriates others because his personality type has serious lack of empathy issues, anyone critical of him represents a threat.
    View his “Le Poseur” profile foto: A vain attempt to portray himself as a deeply cerebral person, gazing into the future in a deeply meditative pose, a la the Rodin statue “Le Penseur.”
    “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
    He’s written that he lives rent free in the minds of his critics. Once again, narcissists cannot accept that we don’t, via confirmation biases they project onto us what they themselves suffer from: Insecurity. WE live rent free in his head.
    So when he’s cocky, manipulative (using the imperious “WE” reflects that covert, subliminal tactic), patronizing of his cronies and in a superior tone demands that the real WE kowtow and capitulate to his whims, he’s just acting out as a control freak, substantiating and validating his sense of entitlement.
    Sic Transit Gloria Mundi Billy.

  2. I seriously have to wonder how much of what Fried falsely writes is knowingly written just to p*** people off. He obviously loves bathing in the attention. Indeed, he writes so much that is patently false, inaccurate, hyperbolic and self-serving that I’d have to say he’s just trolling for attention and giddy with every bit of it he gets. Even posts like this.

    Butrow nailed it.

  3. Roger: Are you okay?

    Michele: You write about the library agreement: “they specifically and blatantly state that after three years, the site could be considered for a parking lot.” In fact, the document never says this, either specifically or blatantly, because no one has ever proposed tearing down the current library. Most of us hope it will get the restoration it needs and deserves. I am sure, given your high regard for the facts, that you will want to post a correction.

  4. Well it’s always refreshing to be acknowledged by the two warmest, friendliest, happiest people in Laguna.

    Michele, you seem nice. But you are spreading disinformation again. Section 9 of the proposed 3-year lease agreement states the following: “The Parties understand and agree the City is investigating the possibility of relocating the free County public library and related services to a new location within the City.” It goes on to say the County would have approvals of said location.

    Section 14 says, “In the event that an Alternative Library Location has not been identified within 12 months of the Effective Date of the Lease, the County and the City shall meet and confer and develop a capital improvement plan for the premises to be funded from the Library Purchase Price Principal.”

    This is a far cry from “specifically and blatantly stating that after three years, the site could be considered for a parking lot.” Words matter, specifically the words “parking lot.” Which was never mentioned in this lease agreement. A false flag if I’ve ever seen one. This is the exact kind of disinformation campaign my column was about. It acts as an accelerant to generate outrage, fear and emotion when the facts speak otherwise. Thank you for specifically and blatantly proving my thesis.

    One more thing: you attack me repeatedly for running a tourist business in a tourist town. That is our main industry. You must have known that when you moved here? I get people out of their cars and into nature on non-motorized, people powered craft (or on foot), sharing the wonder and beauty of nature in our little slice of heaven. I have pride in what I do. But I understand your husband made his money in fast food. What moral high ground does that give you to patronize my livelihood, and that of so many of your neighbors?

    You seem nice too, Dr. Butow. Thanks for your trenchant psychoanalysis. Would you accept an autographed print of my “Le Poseur” as compensation?

  5. Ahh and now Jerome Pudwill, the original perpetrator of the disinformation campaign, decides to weigh in. Jerome, I spared your name in my column as the person who originated the ridiculous screed on Next Door, “PAVE THE LIBRARY, PUT UP A PARKING LOT.” Did you coordinate this disinformation campaign with Michele and your overlord, George Weiss? Sorry to have to call you on your mendacity Jerome, but facts and words matter.

  6. Chris Quilter, thanks for asking, and yes, I’m fine. Billy nailed it: I am TRENCHANT, i.e., sharp-edged, vigorously expressive at 75 and after 25 years of community activism, and incisive in my straightforward style.
    Go back to 1998, when my NGO began to drive change, make a difference, stopped cursing the darkness and educated, made South OC residents aware: Out of the crucible of constant sewage spills, closed beaches, and the drip drip of toxic urban runoff, CLEAN WATER NOW was born.
    So we have high profile local and regional community involvement product, we haven’t just talked the talk for 25 years, we’ve walked the walk and still hold public agencies accountable.
    I do respect your opinions, Chris, yours and your relatives, I’ve only been here 50 years but know that you grew up here—so I read your input and grant it more weight as you have a much longer historical view.
    As for Vacation Holiday Billy, not so much.
    I doubt he’d run for any elected office as he’s not here often enough, off to some expensive, upscale, exotic place that none of us can afford. Hence my constant criticism of his use of the imperious “WE.”
    He’s not US, not a regular Laguna Joe Citizen.
    And anyone else notice that (to the best of my knowledge) he’s never offered let alone been appointed to a City committee, ad hoc or otherwise? You know, actually SERVE his community?
    If so, please would someone name that group, plus time and place he at least applied to serve?
    Maybe that too is a function of being a part-time resident, plus fear of rejection?
    Many psychologists purport that picking up crying babies out of their high chairs or cribs only encourages, reinforces their need for attention: Babies tend to think in their unformed brains that ANY attention is GOOD attention.
    My youngest sister and brother “arrived late,” were 10 and 11 years younger respectively in the mid-50s.
    So I got a lot of babysitting practice, including those long forgotten antiques, washable cotton diapers…and yes, those big metallic pins that invariably led to an occasional puncture wound: Not to my baby siblings, but me!
    And they did seem to enjoy crying, then being picked up, even if the diaper was empty.
    Dealing with someone who seems this infantile, who writes temper tantrum-like tirades that are the equivalent of noxious droppings, one is uncertain about noting his puerile comments, thus provoking his frothing rebuttals.
    Seeing as Vacation Holiday Billy is only metaphorically soiling himself (and us as subjects of his diatribes), perhaps ignoring, boycotting him, pretend he doesn’t exist might be a better strategy? Leave no comments, write no LTE. Let It Be.

  7. Roger, I find it humorous that you advocate ignoring me, while you seem rather obsessed. I don’t need to attack you back or accuse you of being unhinged because you’re doing a fine job of it yourself. You continue to attack me on my lifestyle, but never on substance or the actual issues I write about. Carpetbagger? Aren’t you from Long Beach? As for community service, how’s this: I started the Full Moon Drum Circle at Aliso Beach, the best free happening in town; I designed and implemented the Laguna Beach Bike Route (a perfect private / public partnership that has saved lives); I started and hosted the community ecstatic dance at Bridge Hall, a wonderful community experience; I brought kayaking to Laguna, advocated endlessly for the Forest Avenue Promenade (win); and sat on the Board of Transition Laguna for many years, when we planted edible gardens for residents, and educated the public on sustainability issues. Plus I write a newspaper column and host a community radio show. I saw your resume and it only had “tearing people down.”

  8. Billy Fried and Chris Quilter are too savvy to keep protesting that there wasn’t any intention for the City to move the library to a new site and use the current site for other purposes. It’s right there in writing and on video of a CC member’s own words. Let’s examine the evidence: 1-Two clauses in the City’s lease agreement (#9 and #14) with the County that referred to an “Alternate Library Location” in a 12-36 month period. 2-All the lease renewal terms in the library lease agreement crossed out. (See Terms #7 and #8 “intentionally omitted”). 3-Neither points #1 and #2 above were summarized in the Agenda item #8 recap from the City, which makes one suspect that the City didn’t expect anyone to read the 36- page lease agreement. 4-The library agenda item was put on a consent calendar during Spring break, perhaps with the expectation that no one would notice the library Agenda Item #8. 5-And, a video of City Councilmember Blake recommending the library being moved out to the Canyon and the current library site being used for parking and other purposes. https://youtu.be/UNdTtJOr6-I How much evidence do these people require that the intention was to relocate the library? Luckily, the Laguna community read and responded to keep our library the free community resource it has always been for all ages, and four of the CC members voted to keep it where it is for 25 years. Ben Franklin would be proud of our values.

  9. There was never any INTENTION to move the library. Those are misleading words. Was there consideration? Of course. Why wouldn’t we evaluate all options when we acquire it? It’s called best practices and good governance. Peter Blake did not vote for moving it. He voted against a 25-year, no bid giveaway to the County, instead of the 3-year lease city staff recommended, giving us time to evaluate the best path forward. But your husband created a disinformation campaign to scare people into believing a secret Council cabal was planning to replace it with a parking lot. Now we are stuck with an idiotic lease with the County, paying $2 million more a year than we get in return, with no guarantee of needed improvements. $50 million out the door! Could we all agree that was an unfortunate, unintended outcome, and that we should now reach across the aisle and work together to undue this mistake and create a modern, useful library for the future we can all use and be proud of?

  10. Oh, quit your whining, Billy – you’re such a crybaby when you lose.

    Facts do matter. And the fact is my post alerted residents (over 375 responses so far and still rolling along), they assessed the facts and spoke out in numbers. Mission accomplished: the library is staying. The truth will out, Billy, please learn how to handle it like an adult.

  11. Billy – Looks like my Nextdoor thread must have been effective – over 370 responses. Enough to alert residents and allow them to assess the situation, then turn out in the dozens to oppose the three-year clause in the agreement. The library’s staying. That’s the truth. Get used to it.

  12. Congratulations Pud. Well done. While you’re peacocking your dopamine hits with your disinformation campaign, you got everyone to vote against their own self-interests. Did you bother to inform them that the 25 year deal includes a $50 million giveaway to the County with no guarantees or leverage to make needed improvements? Now we’re stuck with an aging relic when we could have gotten so much more. But 350 validations. Must feel good.


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