Setting the Record Straight



Having spent the better part of the holidays digging out from under the mud that inundated my canyon neighborhood, it’s time to deal with some more mud that a Village Laguna board member, Cindalee Penney-Hall, has thrown at me (Letters, Dec. 24, 2010). Here are appropriate corrections to her latest unguided missive:

1. I have never done an interview for Fox News. I am a regular CNBC contributor and have appeared on 60 Minutes (as one of the good guys) and am generally known in the media field as a straight-shooting economist rather than a right- or left-winged ideologue.

2. I am not a “right wing Ubercon.” I’m a registered Democrat – an environmentally sensitive, fiscally conservative Clintonite. Suggesting otherwise is just “reverse McCarthyism” and cause for yet more shame in the Village Laguna ranks.

3. Accusing me of wanting to “plunder” either historic structures or open space is counterfactual. I have a long political history of supporting environmental causes, plus my wife and I recently bought a 1927 house in Laguna, which we are working hard to preserve historically.

4. My book “If It Rains in Brazil, Buy Starbucks,” is not about “analyzing weather reports” but rather about stock market investing in a global economy. Try reading it, Cindy; it might save your portfolio a few bucks. And do engage your brain first before shooting off your poison pen.

5. My book, “The Coming China Wars,” is a sobering analysis of how China has cost the U.S. millions of jobs through its unfair trade practices – I do like to “think globally” but reserve the right to “act locally.”

6. My books have sold quite well, thank you.

7. To tar every professional hired by someone trying to improve their property as a shill is more “McCarthyism.” Laguna Beach is noted for an unusually gifted group of development community professionals; and one of my beefs with you Village Laguna elitists is precisely this high and mighty, “we are purer than everyone else” attitude, which you use to lord over people and denigrate local architects and designers. It’s beyond stupid and on the far side of arrogance.

8. Now let’s evaluate your most serious claim, namely, that Village Laguna brought “a true expert in historical preservation” to make its case at the City Council appeal of the 154 Pearl Street DRB decision.  The facts are these: The property owner hired a historical consultant, as did the City. Both said essentially the same thing and supported the project. As for your “true expert,” the primary focus of the lady in question has been on cultural landscapes and historical landmarks and a review of her qualifications certainly doesn’t support the claim she is any more qualified than the other two professionals you turned your nose up at. So, yet another “truth” set forth by Village Laguna is simply false.

Here’s my bottom line: After four public attacks on my character in six weeks by Village Laguna, I say keep throwing your mindless missiles, because with every sentence you write or speak, you just further discredit yourselves. Baez using Village Laguna power for his personal use, Penney-Hall distorting the truth, Hano being King Arnold.

And know this: The days when Village Laguna could operate behind the scenes rigging elections and votes on the DRB and City Council are now over. Your group, and your key servant Verna Rollinger, are under scrutiny precisely because your politics have become such a disruptive and dysfunctional force in the community. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Peter Navarro, Laguna Beach

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