Musings on the Coast: Village Laguna’s Response to the Hate Crime

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By Michael Ray

After Laguna Beach’s City Manager Shohreh Dupuis’ home was smeared with what was reported to be feces, I wrote a column stating that: 1. It was a hate crime. 2. Hate crimes occur when hate has been created.  3. Village Laguna (VL) members and/or their followers (by whatever name) had repeatedly and openly criticized, denigrated, and questioned the character of Ms. Dupuis (frankly, as a proxy for the entire city council, which they no longer control).  

Such a verbal attack on Ms. Dupuis occurred at a council meeting one night before her house was smeared. Was the next night’s assault a coincidence? I think not.

What ensued is what kept Village Laguna in power for 30 years. They attacked (and called for my censorship).

At the next city council meeting, more than one person wanted a personal apology from Ms. Dupuis because she was inappropriate in her response.

Others attacked former council member Peter Blake, even though he lost the last election and several attacked me.

Then, in the next edition of the Indy, the attacks continued.

Kiku Terasaki wrote to the editor, “Ray’s longstanding personal animosity toward Village Laguna is galloping directly toward libel. It is time for the Indy to stop this nonsense….” And, “it does not speak well of the current city manager that there have been so many instances of conflict and concern.” 

Letter writer Paul Holmes wrote that I slander “VL by implying without evidence that the group had something to do with the vandalization of the city manager’s home.” and “Better yet, just terminate it [my column].”

From a column by Village Laguna President Ann Caenn: “Ray claims, falsely…Village Laguna made public comments at Feb. 7 city council… that….led to the defacing of her home.” And, “it is time for the Laguna Beach Independent to stop publishing these attacks.” Finally, “Mr. Ray used his false statements to damage Village Laguna’s reputation by explicitly linking the statements [VL supporters made at the Council meeting] and the attack on Ms. Dupuis’ home.” 

Former Mayor and VL Chair Ann Christoph wrote, “It turns out the substance [smeared on Dupuis’ home] seems to have been fish emulsion fertilizer…. It smells bad…but it’s harmless.” Also, “Next, what to do with the culprit? How about six months of heavy weeding?” 

Get it? The whole thing is a joke.

Dear reader, before I go further, please stop here and put yourself in the city manager’s shoes. In the early morning, you smell something terrible; it is outside. You venture out in your pajamas and look. It is cold and something that looks and smells like feces is smeared all over your front door, front porch, in your mailbox and on your exterior walls. 

What would you think? Would you be horrified? Terrified? Would you sleep in that house? Would you sleep at all? Would you ask, what will they do next? (Will they escalate?) Would you buy a gun? 

Or would you call the whole thing a joke?

Not one person admitted VL or its followers held any responsibility whatsoever. Not one person stated that maybe, just maybe, VL and its followers had gone too far in creating a combustive atmosphere.  

In short, dear members/followers of VL, your actions and words are uncivil. You preach civility, but you do not practice it. 

In the meantime, stop attacking our city manager and/or other city employees. As we now know, it is dangerous.  

In general, gang, stop threatening. Stop attacking. Stop your incivility

And stop making jokes out of a terrifying incident. Enough is enough.

Michael is a Laguna Beach resident and principal officer emeritus of Laguna Forward PAC.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Michael thank you for being that voice. Next Door is where this incivility went toxic. I asked this group if they would stop with the attacks after they succeeded to have Peter Blake not re elected, as they clamored the incivility was all his fault. I asked after they won, will you now be civil? My post was removed and of course no answer. They started to attack the City Manager, they had an obsession to get her removed next. I saw the anger brewing and I warned Next Door to no avail. My concerns silenced their anger grew. Then it happens, she was vandalized, then the theories that it’s not real, or that it’s a fish substance to downplay the assault. No responsibility for the anger they fed to result in this vandalism. And when I point fingers to the bad behavior, they manage to have me censored or they coordinate an attack. It is Village Laguna members and their friends. George Weiss Supporters. They also are moderators on Next Door so are happy to get a comment silenced. And they are trying to silence you. This incivility is here to stay unless we stand up to it! Miss Peter Blake yet? I do.

  2. Ms. Hynes: If you would listen to all the facts and also to one of the moderators of ND you should conclude that she was not cyber bullying nor could there be a hostile workplace environment since the four women are not city employees. As for missing Blake that’s like asking most residents if they miss a toothache that has now stopped. The fact that Blake came in second to last missing dead last by a few votes in spite of his benefactor spending lavishly to get him re-elected should give you pause. I’m sure some miss Village Laguna members as well as anyone else having the hutzpah to disagree with him being called “pigs” and “idiots” obviously such as you, Michael Ray, (compares him to Mt. Vesuvius lol”, and others who would love to see him back but we have moved on from that.

    As to the current situation with the $20 parking ticket, looking at what the City released to Michelle Monda one hypothesis could be made that pressure may have been applied to officer Gregg by his superiors. There is some evidence to support this hypothesis. Quoting from an email by Captain Nichols to Chief Calvert sent on November 29, 2022 “I had the opportunity to review the body worn camera footage involving the traffic stop of the City Manager and the issuance of the citation. Officer Gregg called Chief Calvert and explained that he had stopped the City Manager. Officer Gregg asked Chief Calvert if he was on the phone with the City Manager. The body worn camera does not record Chief Calvert’s response. Officer Gregg said he was going to issue the City Manager a citation because she was “lying””. Captain Nichols was referring to his review of the body cam. Although the answer by the Chief of Police is not recorded why did the officer say she was lying? The police chief surely did not tell officer Gregg she was talking to him when she was stopped. Yes, there may be another explanation but unless all requested information is released we will not know what the real facts are. And to make matters worse if any pressure was put on officer Gregg or if records were changed that do not comport with the data then Captain and the Chief of Police and the City manager could have more problems. That is why I really hope the CM will release all requested documents and that there was only a communication problem. That would be a very certain way to put this whole thing to bed. So the question is why the hiring of a lawyer to prevent a simple public record request? We have enough distrust without having this.

  3. Michael Ray, you somehow have selective memory. Any fair minded resident that has endured your acolyte, Blake would say that the incivility has decreased by an orders of magnitude. No more calling residents liars during council meetings. No more getting emails and being called idiots and pigs by your acolyte. No more screaming at a fellow council member that “ You’re full of s**t. Like your acolyte Peter Blake you seem to have no sense of irony.

    Strongly disagreeing with giving building owners (who are the actual beneficiaries) of parking spaces for monthly lease rates of less than the price of a dinner or buying property in such a hurry that no appraisal is made or with your acolyte leading a lease agreement with the Presbyterian Church that is so favourable to the Church that IMO it was an egregious lapse of fiduciary responsibility and again no independent appraisal as required by, I believe, city regulations. And then totally disrespecting council members with whom the CM disagreed and of course IMO showing favouritism to a developer by allowing several instances of unpermitted work to be completed and then making after the fact permits. That These are but a few instances that some residents feel that with the CM rules only apply to those who are not in the elite group.

    That is not incivility it is the basis of our democracy. In fact if one looks at you columns in the Independent a logical conclusion could be made that you are the most uncivil resident since Blake was soundly and definitively defeated. If you are attempting to perpetuate this poisonous atmosphere that both you and Blake mired in let me say you are doing an admirable job. Again you like your defeated acolyte seem to have no sense of irony

  4. My comments were about a woman’s house being smeared with what looked like feces in the middle of the night.

    Nothing like that has occurred ever in Laguna

    Why now?

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