Don’t Like the Message? Destroy the Messenger
Usually, I do not reply to guest columns or letters to the editor, but for former Village Laguna president Johanna Felder, I am making an exception.
It begins with her first sentence: “Just because Michael Ray writes something in his column, doesn’t make it true. Given Ray’s track record, you can assume its (sic) not.”
That is a prime example of how Village Laguna works. It constantly makes personal attacks aimed at destroying the other person’s reputation. Don’t like the message? Destroy the messenger.
Second, she claims Village Laguna (VL) supports the downtown promenade. If so, why did VL’s very own City Council acolyte, Toni Iseman, lead a group of people down Forest Avenue to drum up opposition to the Promenade on the day before the City Council vote?
Then she argues “process:” “Village Laguna asked the City to do an anonymous survey… to be sure residents approve this initiative…”
This is another VL tactic: study the problem to death; make it move sideways until everyone gives up. The promenade has been studied for years. Enough is enough.
She states VL supports outdoor dining, not the opposite. “Too ridiculous an accusation to even merit a response to this canard.” This is a misdirection and shows you how clever VL is. For there to be a permanent promenade and outdoor dining, more parking will be required (by the Coastal Commission). VL opposes building more parking as though it is a fatal infectious disease. So yes, VL supports the promenade and outdoor dining, just not what it takes to get there. Ipso facto, they oppose it.
Then: “He and other developer members of Liberate Laguna Political Action Committee (LL) must be upset…[their efforts] to elect another pro-development candidate to City Council failed.” The City Council candidate LL supported was Larry Nokes, a well-known local attorney who supports Laguna’s special lifestyle; hardly an extremist bent on turning Laguna into Huntington Beach (as claimed by VL’s candidate, George Weiss, who won by pushing this lie to death).
Then Felder states, “Now he attacks the community nonprofit member organization [Village Laguna] every chance he gets.” Another VL tactic: play the victim while simultaneously going for the throat.
Further, her paragraph seeks to continue VL’s biggest bit of propaganda: that it is a nonprofit organization; it is not. VL is a duly organized Political Action Committee (PAC) and has been since it was first formed.
Finally from Felder, “Laguna residents have heard this before. Laguna has opposed developers who look to destroy Laguna for their profit and turn it into Dane Point, Laguna Niguel or Corona del Mar. For this, Ray and other developers are out to smear Village Laguna’s good name.” This combines two old tactics: 1. Misdirect by using fake analogies (Dana Point? Please); and 2. Accuse the other side of doing exactly what it is doing, in this case, smearing names.
And the last one: LL seeks to “profit” from destroying Laguna? How so? Getting entitlements to build a duplex? Doing the same to build a house? Working for a decade for approval to build rooftop dining in a restaurant in downtown Laguna? Is she on Mars?
But I have a way of airing our differences: stage a debate at the local radio station. Invite a duly-appointed spokesperson from VL to debate the opposite member of LL. So far, many invitations have been forthcoming from LL; always, VL has declined.
That is the biggest deception: do not allow the light of day to penetrate your organization. Hide your true facts.
So this is a challenge. Show up. We will.
Michael is co-founder of Orange County School of the Arts and The Discovery Cube.