Opinion: Musings on the Coast


You’re Darn Tooting This Ain’t Chicago

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated the job titles of donors to Ann Christoph’s and Toni lseman’s 2018 campaigns for City Council. The Indepen­dent regrets the error.

This column is a direct response to last week’s column by Ann Christoph entitled “This Ain’t Chicago.” In her column, she goes straight to the jugular, “Are the main principals of Liberate Laguna (LL) just concerned residents…? No. They are not spending all that money just to help out. There is money to be made. When the City, under their influence, opens the floodgates to national tenants, rents, and real estate values will skyrocket at least that is what they hope.”

Hmm, interesting. Only one problem: it ain’t true. LL no more supports flooding the town with national tenants than the man in the Moon. Nor do we wish to change the downtown height limitation.

Further in her column, Ann talks about how much money was spent by LL versus Village Laguna (VL) candidates and using her numbers, LL did spend a great deal more than VL, almost twice as much, but only if one throws in LL’s original organizational & legal expenses. 

What Ms. Christoph does not state in her column is where each side got its money.

The vast majority of LL’s money came from the three principals—me, Cindy Shopoff and Sam Goldstein—and none of us have any developments whatsoever in town.

I certainly understand Ms. Christoph’s anger about LL, for under Village Laguna’s 30 years of iron control, Laguna became a one-party town like Chicago. Such control eventually gave them the same feeling all one-party towns (or states or countries) sooner or later attain: the feeling of invincibility—more, of entitlement.

I find it ironic that in the final analysis, Ann Christoph is correct about stating “This Ain’t Chicago,” but for the wrong reason. Under Ann and Toni’s Village Laguna (VL), this city used to be a one-party controlled joint. No more. Now VL has valid competition (LL), and boy, are she and her VL cohorts are as mad as a shaken hornet’s nest. 

How dare anyone challenge them.

We at LL support current Mayor Bob Whalen for re-election because we think he truly wants to streamline Laguna’s processes, and he is doing a darn good job guiding contentious City Council meetings—not to mention bringing more than a bit of class to the proceedings.     

We support Larry Nokes because he is intimately familiar with the myriad of conflicting & confusing local laws and regulations; and both wants and knows how to fix them. Plus, like Bob, he is extraordinarily thorough and thoughtful, the kind of person we need on the City Council.

We support Mariann Tracy for City Clerk (a very complicated job) because she is so passionate about the position she is halfway through a 120-hour series of classes to become a Certified City Clerk, which is the nationally accepted standard qualification for city clerks (not Laguna because it is an elected position). Her opponent has not done the same. Her opponent does not care. Her opponent skates. Tracy works.

These are the candidates LL supports. Please contrast them to the candidates VL supports.  I think you will agree that Bob, Larry, and Tracy are head and shoulders better qualified both professionally and in their demeanor.

And they are that most magic of words, civil.

Michael is Co-Founder of Orange County School of The Arts and The Discovery Cube.

Editor’s Note: Ray is seeking entitlements for a major remodel of his duplex at 337 Hawthorne Road. Councilmember Toni Iseman requested the City Council review the Design Review Board’s decision on Oct. 1 to approve a coastal development permit.

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  1. Another great column, Michael. Let’s see how Village Laguna is going to try and get out of explaining what you just brought to light! They only support those that donate to their campaigns. I pray their regime’s time comes to an end soon. Their attacking of anyone that speaks against their ideals is disturbing and far from civil.


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