Mayor Fends Off Personal Attacks

Steve Dicterow
Steve Dicterow

By Andrea Adelson and Jean Ardell | LB Indy

 Candidate Judie Mancuso and four others accused Mayor Steve Dicterow of a lack of transparency over his troubled personal finances during the Laguna Beach City Council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 16, allegations Dicterow refuted in measured tones from the dais as well as in a later interview.

Mancuso was one of several speakers who alleged Dicterow had failed to comply with election code disclosure rules for those who hold elected office. “As a resident I think it is critical that we know what everyone’s financial situation is,” she said.

Mancuso also pointed out that Dicterow, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2014, wields influence in making decisions over city finances. “If he has chosen bad, wrong decisions, then maybe those same bad, wrong decisions might transfer over to his management of city finances.”

Generally, council members refrain from replying to comments made during the public communications portion of the meeting. In this instance, with the consent of his colleagues, Dicterow said he felt compelled to come to his own defense and point by point refuted each individual allegation raised by a handful of people, including some who appeared to be Mancuso supporters.

Specifically, Mancuso and others said Dicterow had improperly completed Form 700, a statement of economic interest required by the Fair Political Practices Commission; failed to tell voters about his bankruptcy; and reported his sources of income inconsistently on candidate disclosure forms and to the bankruptcy court.

A reorganization plan submitted to the Central District U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Dicterow on Aug. 28, 2015, shows Dicterow’s sources of income. They include his work as an independent contractor earning $4,000 a month from American Computer Optics of Irvine and $8,000 a month from attorney Gene Goldsman of Santa Ana, respectively.

Dicterow maintains that he is complaint with FPPC disclosure rules, which do not require disclosure of income sources that originate outside of the political jurisdiction where an elected official serves.

“The court monitored me for a year to make sure my payments are being made,” said Dicterow. “If I fail, the creditors go back to court.” Court records show that Dicterow’s unsecured debts amounted to $283,170, including $72,861 in credit card bills, a $13,289 business credit line and $194,068 in students loans incurred on behalf of his daughter, Taryn.

In an earlier interview, Dicterow said he sought the bankruptcy court’s protection because of a foreclosure threat from his lender, who had refused to negotiate with him over 20 months despite his entreaties. Income from his $500,000 investment in a motorcycle racing circuit, underwritten by a $1 million mortgage in 2006 on his Holly Street house, had dried up. Another venture, a 10-year mold remediation franchise, didn’t pan out. He said he refused to sell his home of 30 years out of devotion to his wife, Catrina, who is blind. “It gives her comfort,” Dicterow said.

At the council meeting, Martin Edens and William Levin both were dismissive of the accusations. Edens, who said he has worked with Dicterow, called him a “reliable business partner,” and called the criticism of him “a smear kind of thing.”

Levin, who established a law partnership with Dicterow in January, called the criticism “an extremely opaque attack.”

An email from a faux sender that outlined the allegations that were raised at the City Council meeting began circulating as early as September. The sender was [email protected]. Readers of the writer J.K. Rowling will recall that Barry Fairbrother is a character in her first adult novel, “A Casual Vacancy,” whose sudden death leaves an open seat on the parish council. The true originator of the email remains a mystery.

Mancuso denied she had a part in its origin. When Mancuso read it, she said, “I hit forward, and sent it to others in town as an FYI. Others said, ‘Wait, this matters,’ and they decided to run with it.”

The morning after the council meeting, Dicterow said that he fielded dozens of telephone calls and email messages, “all of them in support,” he said.

Dicterow said he remains open to conversation with the voters of Laguna Beach. “But there will be no retaliation. My only issue is to make sure I’m not smeared.”


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  1. With Donald Trump breaking all sorts of election, civil, and criminal laws, I feel that Manusco is using these canards for political attacks
    against her opponent, just like Trump does.
    Let me quote a few of her charges against Dictrow, compared to what the unethical, bigoted Republican candidate for President, Donald,representing his Bigoted party,has done and said.

    “alleged Dicterow had failed to comply with election code disclosure rules for those who hold elected office.” Multiple FOREIGN officials from many countries have received requests for political donations from Donald, which is illegal.

    ““If he has chosen bad, wrong decisions, then maybe those same bad, wrong decisions might transfer over to his management of city finances.” Isn’t that one of the many insults that Donald throws at his Democratic opponent? Has as much credibility here as the pathological LIAR Donald saying it. How great a businessman can Donald be if he personally bankrupted four different publicly traded companies
    while including his own debt on their balance sheets. Don’t try to disgrace Dictrow with what is ok for the Donald.

    “reported his sources of income inconsistently on candidate disclosure forms and to the bankruptcy court”

    It is well known that Donald uses different values when looking for foreign loans( most, if not all major U.S. banks won’t loan him money anymore) and when valuing them on his “secret” tax returns to the U.S IRS and local property assesors and tax authorities.

    “Others said, ‘Wait, this matters,’ and they decided to run with it.”
    Sure sounds like Donald’s BS canard of “People are saying” when he is the one leading the false allegations.

    If the unethical,Republican Party can stand(bow) to their threat to democracy candidate, who are these people to judge a candidate for city council?

  2. I didn’t say that, although being Hillary is better than being Donald.
    I just said that Manusco is using the same themes as Donald does, and
    that is not a good thing.

  3. Eli, you have this all wrong. Mancuso is registered democrat and is politically endorsed by the Democratic Party along with fellow democrat Verna Rollinger.
    Dicterow is a registered Republican who is District Representative working for Dana Rohrabacher. Private sector employers refuse to hire employees when credit score isn’t within acceptable limits. Private sector considers a poor credit employee as a potential liability, possibly executing poor judgement and unstable, all matters that pose a potential risk to company.
    I and many others will amend our ballot since we were unaware Mayor of Laguna Beach has claimed bankruptcy for his own privately owned law firm. I thank the speakers for their willingness to come forward to offer citizens an opportunity of transparency of financial status of our government officials during an election season. This information made my ballot easy to cast.

  4. I also consider Steve’s connections to the traitor and Bigot Taliban Dana Rohrabacher to be a blight on Steve. I am a big believer of “birds of a feather flock together”, and both the Traitor and the Donald are representative of what Republicans stand for this election year. Another paid (previously, if not currently) fanboy of Taliban Dan is Howard Hills, who is running for school board. I sure hope he doesn’t try to make Laguna Beach school board imitate the Dover, Pa. school board.

    Again, I was only commenting on Mancuso’s statements. Since that disgusting Homo Sapien Donald decided to run for his party of hatred, all political rules of the past are now voided.

    Regarding: “Private sector considers a poor credit employee as a potential liability, possibly executing poor judgement and unstable, all matters that pose a potential risk to company.”, we are talking politics, and Republicans have no problem selecting what you just described for President!

    Political parties ideals are not stagnant; they are fluid and represented by who leads said party at said time. That is one of the many reasons I consider most Republicans haters and Bigots; Donald is their current leader. Republicans who support Donald have put loyalty over ethics and morals, and that is a big defect of character; although many, including white supremacists, do naturally, and Proudly, think like that biped TURD. Donald doesn’t represent any America that I believe in, or else America is doomed as a guiding light and THE example of what democracy is supposed to look like.

  5. This is NOT a political rant on presidential election. You simply spoke without knowing the REPUBLICAN connection of MAYOR DICKterow working for his nemesis Rohrabacher. The article is MEDIA BIAS that would never occurred when owned by former owner who gave publication to his employees. Rohrabacher has a pony in the race with DICKterow who is a MAYORial contributor to the Indy. Just saying. This recent article isNOT what we should expect as unbiased reporting of events and circumstances.
    Don’t be a STUPID PUNDIT for the right or left~YOU of all people should know better….. after using the pulpit to run your personal assault against City Council 2 years ago.

  6. “after using the pulpit to run your personal assault against City Council 2 years ago.”

    What you incorrectly call a personal assault against our city council 2 years ago, I ran on a platform of a corrupt,unethical and bigoted city council, City manager, Johnny, and police department. Do not use your faulty memory to mischaracterize my campaign.

    Rob Zuhrman proved me right by voting for more consultation money after telling our citizens he wouldn’t, and Johnny proved me right by hiring LYING Laura as HIS new BIGOTED police chief. Laura would rather be a DOG, than the Public Servant she was hired to be by smiling while LYING to me consistently to my face, playing Favorites and having her Unethical Keystone Kops keep lying and selectively ticketing me, and prosecuting me because I had the GUTS to call them who they really are, which is a pack of MUTTS instead of the Public Servants they swore an oath to be. There is trickle down in government, and it trickles down from Herr Johnny to who he hires in his own image, and what illegal activities he has his governmental acolytes do for his own petty reasons because I called him the BIGOT he is and wears as a badge of honor. Think of the Donald and his lying, paid surrogates as an example. Herr Johnny is worse because he is using government employees to do his bidding!

    What BABIES Laguna Beach has as leaders(LOL) and some citizens.
    Have you complained about Taliban Dan’s other pony, Howard Hills?
    Just ASKING.

  7. Thank you Lolena.. My position is: All public officials agree that their personal and professional lives are open to the public (via mandatory transparency reporting) and they agree to comply. It’s the trade off for becoming decision makers that weld influence and power. Furthermore, transparency by candidates is critical as it divulges information related to their financial status and holdings and partnerships that have the potential to create conflicts of interest as business is being done on behalf of constituents. I hear stories every day about the special treatment that only some get in this city and I have personal experiences that support this accusation. It merely shows how important transparency is to the public and if left up to elected’s, city manager and the high paid contract city attorney it will never happen. And not all cities practice transparency until they are forced to do so. Yes, they say they do but like Laguna Beach – they don”t. Quite frankly from what I have seen, and compared to other cities, the City of Laguna Beach ranks very low if at all. This is why we need a change of leadership. We need to elect Judie who will address the lack of transparency at City Hall and address the current city culture and special interest and corruption concerns everyone is talking about.

    Additionally, the vetting process should be done on all individuals considered for public office by every resident/voter as it allows one to determine if the people they are considering for office have the integrity, personal conduct, competency and financial stability suitable to serve. Personally I feel that those that aren’t doing their due diligence before voting someone into public office should consider refraining until they do so to fully analyze the information and facts. Remember, you are hiring someone to work for you and sometimes its for their entire career. Be thorough and select only the best and brightest.

    In vetting Mayor Dicterow’s financial stability, I was shocked to find that he was in such dire financial straits and that he had chosen to hide this from residents; except for the other CC members and a few of their friends which is appalling to me that they support this type of deceit of the public. This speaks volumes about him and those we have representing us. Endorsing someone who has such irresponsible financial habits and poor decision making (and has a background and expertise in bankruptcy law, estate planning, commercial real estate no less!) is unacceptable. It begs the question- who do they really represent and are they more interested in looking out for themselves and their co council members over the residents they were elected to serve? I ask myself, who in their right mind would consider turning over the finances and investments of our city to someone who has shown such failure in his own life? I have seen his personal Bk and filing information and can tell you there is no way I would ever vote for Steve Dicterow to handle city business or represent me on any financial related issues. I will be voting for Judie Mancuso and thank her and the other speakers profusely who came forward to ensure that the residents of this city are informed. The rest is up to them. I hope voters will not continue putting our city in such volatile hands.


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