It is a brand new year, but before we plunge into it, let me share some thoughts for the past year, 2012, may it pass blissfully into our shared consciousness.
1. The political pundits told us the presidential election would be too-close-to call. The polls had them neck-n-neck, then on Election Day, it was over by 7:30 p.m. in a near landslide. Karl Rove wandered Fox News headquarters looking for his lost secrets.
2. A week after the election, I was invited to a post-election “debriefing” in Los Angeles. Our guest speaker was the lead Obama pollster, Phil Benenson, who was appropriately prideful and full of laughter. He told us the campaign could not believe its good luck every time a “birther,” especially Donald Trump, went on a rant. Each one meant greater voter turnout for Obama.
3. The Electoral College has 538 voting members, or electors, who are the only people whose votes matter. I was appointed to be one. They met on Monday, Dec. 17 to cast their ballots. The California meeting took place in the State Assembly chamber in Sacramento. The process was boring. We sat in Assembly seats and signed a bunch of forms. But I felt really, truly patriotic. This is how America works.
4. In Laguna, the restaurant French 75 closed. So did The Cottage. I always loved both. Umami Burgers in north Laguna opened. It is over-priced and hideous.
5. The social host ordinance passed in Laguna and we officially became a Nanny City. Our civic forefathers, artists and free thinkers all, turned over in their graves.
6. Emerald Bay wanted the city to place a stoplight at its entrance. Emerald Bay legally is not part of Laguna Beach. It is part of Orange County and its residents cannot vote in Laguna Beach elections. The stoplight issue was hard fought but lost. People who cannot vote do not have power.
7. The open space initiative in Laguna lost, proving once again that a well-funded negative campaign almost always wins.
8. The day after the horror in Connecticut, with 20 children gunned down, a man wandered to Fashion Island and fired 54 shoots into the air. He does this, he said, when he gets angry. He is a licensed security guard, albeit not at Fashion Island.
9. The local real estate market finally gathered some steam. Well-priced homes sell quickly. Commercial vacancies no longer last forever. The smell of real recovery, if not prosperity, is in the air.
10. The no-fishing conservancy zone went into effect at the beginning of the year. It bans all fishing along the Laguna coastal zone. It means that within about three years, once again you can see mature fish by the thousands when snorkeling or scuba diving off Laguna. It also means that fishing boats, with their very precise GPS systems, will be able to float just off the zone and once again reap big catches. It is a win-win.
11. A diving trip to the British Virgin Islands in May, anticipating seeing all the beautiful fish in their local splendor, was shocking. The fish were gone. They had been fished out. It was a desert.
12. Local artist Jorg Dubin was named artist of the year in our Patriot’s Day Parade. Of course, he did something radical: he re-enacted the car tableau prior to President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, complete with two Jackies. He said two seemed better than one.
13. The warm water this summer seemed to last even longer than last year. It was a delight, but scary too. Global warming? Here? I chose not to think about it.