Opinion: Musings on the Coast

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What We Know Now

By Michael Ray

This is my last column prior to the election. I promise, sugar on top. It has to be. The election arrives this Tuesday. 

I will not bother about the Federal or State elections. Let someone else go nuts about them. Nope, this is Laguna only.

As a community service, here is what we know now:

Two weeks ago, out of more than 18,000 voters registered in Laguna Beach, about 6,000 locals already had voted with more coming, according to county officials. It portends a huge turnout.

For more than 30 years, one entity, call it a political party, ruled Laguna.  It is called Village Laguna (VL). As usual, with one-party rule, it went too far and caused a rebellion. That rebellion’s biggest advocate is Liberate Laguna (LL).

VL had a simple election strategy: relentlessly attack LL—as though LL itself was running for office. This is a tried and true tactic when one’s own candidates are so weak there are no other good choices. It also tells you how angry VL became when confronted by an institutional rival.

VL became so angry, its real DNA emerged. It is not pretty. VL is not a bunch of well meaning little old ladies and men.

Evidence of above: in a recent official VL email sent to its list, it falsely accused Liberate Laguna of: (directs quotes from VL)

“Using resident’s money to subsidize visitors.”  [lie]
“Abuse of the Parking fund.” [lie]

“Shifting responsibility for providing parking from commercial property owners to residents.”[lie]

“More visitor parking in our neighborhoods.” [lie]

We also know Village Laguna misrepresents and lies about Liberate Laguna via paid advertising. All below direct quotes are from ads in this newspaper.

“Liberate Laguna threatened a Councilmember running for re-election and promised to ‘ruin his life’ if he did not drop out of the race.” [lie]

“If Liberate Laguna candidates… win, the push will be for large chain stores. Commercial rents will skyrocket, forcing out our current businesses.”[lie]

And VL continually states Liberate Laguna supports:

Raising the downtown height limitation [lie]

Turning quaint residential streets into McMansions [lie].

We at LL do wonder why VL has taken some of its positions. For example, VL supports one particular truly weird city regulation: if your downtown shop sells something, the city can ban other downtown shops from selling the same item.

Why? It creates a blatant monopoly for existing downtown businesses. It is a huge windfall. Why does VL promote their economic benefit? Are they funneling untraceable monies to VL’s many arms?

Then there are VL’s actual candidates—both of them middle-aged men who in my opinion are of low business accomplishment, low involvement in the community, and of low election qualifications. In one of VL’s ads (in this newspaper last week), it even stated voters should elect them because they have “the vision, talent and experience to be the best “gardeners” the city has ever had.” Yeah, I know it is a metaphor, but really? That is the best VL can state about its two candidates? Good gardeners?

Which leads to the questions: why couldn’t VL come up with better candidates? Has its brand become so diminished no one wants to touch it?

There you have it. My observations. Here’s hoping everyone votes.

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

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  1. The writer of this column founded the developers super PAC “Liberate Laguna.” Liberate Laguna is a group of 5 wealthy developers who were sick of the little people at city hall, so they decided to buy our local government.
    During the last election Liberate Laguna spent a fortune elevating the mind-numbing stupidity that is Peter Blake to our council. Now they’re spending a fortune to elevate Larry Nokes to our city council.
    These developers do not care about you and they do not care about your family. They are spending a fortune to takeover city hall because it is in their interests to takeover city hall. When you cast your vote this election, please ask yourself if you’d like a government run by real estate developers.

  2. Agree 100% Jessica. Sadly, the Indy has given LL PAC developer Ray a platform to promote his group that are blatantly buying seats on our city council and influencing public officials. They were successful in 2018 and look what we got:Two pro-builder city council members. One actually professing to having been elected to be a bully. This pretty much sums up the LL PAC. LL founders are not a bunch of well-meaning little old developers by any means. These conniving oldsters know well how to get what they want. They have openly bullied Village Laguna for years now. Their strategy to demonize VL in the community was so they could take-over our city without organized opposition from locals who care about protecting it. With VL out of the way and basically a pro-building city council in place, LB will be just another built-out, cookie-cutter tourist town with little character or uniqueness. Hopefully LB residents won’t be fooled or accept their agenda.

  3. It’s slightly ironic to read Michael’s Ray’s claims about Village Laguna (VL) in the same issue of the Indy as John Thomas’ letter appeared with the actual statistics of how many times a VL candidate has served on Laguna’s City Council since 1996: Two in 24 years. Would you bet on a baseball team with that poor a batting average? This entire false narrative about VL’s “one-party rule” is nothing but a fiction—that is unless the claim is that those two CC members were the most influential and powerful in Laguna’s last 24 years. Michael Ray is just doing a little early Halloween trickin’ to celebrate the holiday.

  4. And just like a gang the Weiss groupies jump to the attack! We already know Jessica is not a real person, so the coward behind that false persona continues to put out lies to steer the votes towards “her” preferred candidates. Then there is good ol’ MJ, doing her regular spreading of misinformation and fear-mongering. Lastly we have Deborah, George Weiss’ wife, another coward that hides behind her maiden name to make readers believe she is unbiased. Looks like neither of them read Mark Christy’s LTE. Their hatred towards anyone that is against Village Laguna is apparent across all their comments, especially on Nextdoor.

  5. “Charles Johnson” to the LL PAC rescue again. Guess residents are not entitled to disagree with Mr. Ray’s timely political opinion and his LL PAC vitriol, motives and political history as well as using the INDY to promote his big spender group. Nice try in discounting other opinions but nothing I stated was mis-information or false. You might want to provide specific next time? While you’re at it, maybe provide “facts” on your accusation that a poster here is not a real person. Isn’t this an INDY issue?


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