Money, Endorsements Arrive in the Final Hour


electionbannerWith just a few days remaining before the fall election, Laguna Beach City Council incumbent Bob Whalen received the blessing of the city’s police employees as well as a first-time endorsement by the newly established police and fire department management association.

Bob Whalen seek re-election.
Bob Whalen seeks re-election.

Whalen, a lawyer who specializes in public finance, also leads in contributions in the four-way race for two council seats. His campaign has received $43,297 in donations as of Oct. 22, the latest disclosure report filed with the city clerk.

Verna Pollinger
Verna Pollinger

Challenger Verna Rollinger also received approval from the police rank and file and commands the second largest campaign war chest in the council race with $31,807 in contributions.

Even so, the local campaign treasury reaping the greatest influx is the $59,900 taken in by proponents of Measure KK, a local initiative that would repeal the city’s 2009 ban on medicinal marijuana dispensaries. If voters approve KK, it would allow the operation in town of two dispensaries, which could also sell to recreational users 21 and over if the statewide legalization measure, Prop. 64, passes.

Costa Mesa-based companies controlled by local resident Houston Durand chipped in another $8,500 on Oct. 31 in support of KK, bringing his total contributions to $29,900. Laguna Beach Joint Ventures, of Woodland Hills, more than matched Durand’s contributions. Durand said the remaining contributions are from a former resident, who does not want to be identified out of fear his Laguna Beach retail business will be stigmatized by controversy over the measure.

The better-organized KK opponents, while not as well funded with just $40,292 in contributions, have received backing from many of the town’s establishment organizations, including the unexpected political bedfellows Village Laguna and the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assoc.

The late-in-the-campaign endorsement last week for Whalen and Rollinger from the city’s police rank and file came as a surprise to both City Council candidates.

Neither candidate was subjected to an interview by the association, which had been its past practice when they both received a similar endorsement in 2012. Association President Zach Martinez did not return calls seeking comment.

The six-members of the Laguna Beach Police and Firefighters Management Association also did not formally interview everyone in the running, President Joe Torres said.

Whalen received the group’s backing because of his track record supporting public safety, he said.

Whalen alone among the four candidates supports local ballot Measure LL, a hike in the bed tax that could support more public safety funding, and has campaigned against Measure KK, Torres said.

“I was thrilled to get that as well,” Whalen said of the command staff’s endorsement, which he thinks could sway some voters. Public opinion surveys show respect for the opinions of the local fire and police departments, he said.

Steve Dicterow
Steve Dicterow

Notably, incumbent Mayor Steve Dicterow’s record on the two measures of concern to the fire and police command staff reflect the opposite stance. Dicterow was the sole vote against putting a tax hike on the ballot and in July recused himself from a vote on a marijuana dispensary measure.

“If that cost me their vote, so be it,” he said. “That doesn’t change my position; public safety is still my No. 1 priority,” he said.

That stance as a fiscal conservative when it comes to the city’s finances seemed to contribute to Dicterow’s receiving the Orange County Register’s endorsement this week. Last month, questions about his own personal finances, business losses and income sources put Dicterow on the spot, though he publicly answered each of the allegations.

Dicterow said he thinks it inappropriate for either employee group to issue an endorsement even as labor contracts are under negotiation.

Neither Whalen nor Rollinger said the endorsement would make a difference in their future consideration of a labor agreement.

First-time City Council candidate Judie Mancuso.
City Council candidate Judie Mancuso.

Challenger Judie Mancuso criticized the endorsements as “favoritism and cronyism” by the police groups for failing to consider all candidates. “Inclusiveness and transparency is lacking throughout the city; it’s not a level playing field,” she said.

She alone among candidates questioned why Laguna Beach spends twice per capita on public safety compared to Dana Point, which contracts for its services from the sheriff’s department and county fire authority.

Among council candidates, Mancuso trails with $18,396 in contributions. Dicterow’s contribution tally of $30,750 falls close on Rollinger’s heels, disclosure records show.

And Rollinger’s push to return to public office is receiving an assist. Village Laguna, whose mission is preserving village character, has stockpiled $25,000 in contributions and is spending on behalf of Rollinger and the incumbent treasurer, Laura Parisi. An additional $3,000 contribution to Village Laguna was made Nov. 1, an infusion from former resident Audrey Prosser, according to a late-arriving report.

Anne McGraw
Anne McGraw

Anne McGraw, a first-time challenger in the hard-fought treasurer’s race, is outspending the incumbent. McGraw has raised $8,005 compared to Parisi’s $5,244, which includes a $1,594 personal loan. As of Oct. 22, Parisi had $6 left on hand, while McGraw had $1,991.

Laguna's Treasurer Laura Parisi
Laguna’s Treasurer Laura Parisi

Supporters of a hike in the bed tax also collected $4,532 in contributions, disclosure reports show.

Share this:


  1. “Challenger Judie Mancuso criticized the endorsements as “favoritism and cronyism” by the police groups for failing to consider all candidates. “Inclusiveness and transparency is lacking throughout the city; it’s not a level playing field,” she said.

    She alone among candidates questioned why Laguna Beach spends twice per capita on public safety compared to Dana Point, which contracts for its services from the sheriff’s department and county fire authority.”

    When I ran for city council in 2014, I ran on the platform that we needed to replace our corrupt, and unethical police with the Orange County Sheriff. The muckety mucks controlling the local citizens simply laughed! Things have only gotten more unethical and unprofessional since the BIGOT John Pietig hired LYING laura farinella
    as his new DOG. I am happy that Judy understands the money Laguna Beach is wasting on a bunch of amateur and unethical Keystone Kops.

    Before I came to Laguna Beach in 2005, I had never known the name of one of my local Policeman. Sadly, I now know the faces or names of most of the BIGOTS populating LBPD. I have conversed with Zach Martinez many times, and have found him to be a good Public Servant, who has ethics and integrity, unlike the majority of LBPD.

    The California Peace Officers Association states in their ethics guide that DOGS are loyal to their master, and Public Servants are loyal to the Constitution they swore to uphold, and the citizens they are supposed to protect.

    Pg. 30 ” According to an Asian proverb, there is a difference
    between dog and cat loyalty. Dogs are loyal to their master; cats are loyal to the house. Peace officers swear an oath to be loyal to the house (the Constitution and the public).

    Loyalty to one’s agency and coworkers is important, but such allegiance must never be used as an excuse to violate the higher loyalty owed to the community and the badge.”

    Like lying laura, JOE TORRES is a MUTT of the worst kind; in a position of power that he uses to lie about and Batter those he is prejudiced against. I speak this from personal experience with the many reports to the District Attorney he has lied in, and the multiple times he has Battered me at the Police station. Lucky for Torres, and unlucky for our citizens, Torres is the rule at LBPD, rather than the exception that the ethyical Zach Torres is. Like city councilman ROB, most of LBPD has NO concept of the meaning of integrity, which is a consistency in actions or statements no matter who you talk to. So so sad in such a beautiful community, with so little integrity in it’s governmental

    On a side note, Laguna Beach is lucky that Placentia decided to make the MUTT Darin Lenyi it’s new chief. I predict darrin’s name will be in the news within a couple of years for all the wrong reasons. GOOD RIDDANCE!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here