It is important in life to have a good exit strategy. When all the signs say it is time to take a new road in life, we need to read the signals, turn in the right direction, seek new horizons.
Mayor Elizabeth Pearson showed us how it is done. In a dignified way she let us know she would not seek another term. No drama, no surprises, a class act.
As a result, Pearson leaves intact a strong legacy, including her truly inspired and unsurpassed leadership as our mayor during the Bluebird landslide crisis. Despite the national media spotlight, she stayed focused on coordinating policy and programs that not only enabled a full recovery, but averted costly lawsuits and facilitated relief to victims in need of a helping hand in the face of real hardship.
Elizabeth generously shared credit for what was accomplished on her watch with the City Council, city staff, Resource Center, Board of Realtors and all who contributed. That is why it seemed more than a little desperate for Toni Iseman to pat herself on the back for the Bluebird slide as a success story for her at the Village Laguna candidate forum.
Toni has done good in our community that she can point to in her campaign. Why embarrass herself by exaggerating her role just to inflate her resume? If she does not think she has enough to show for her 16 years on the City Council and needs to embellish her record to go for 20 years, maybe she should have taken the last turnoff before the point of no return.
Now her record must be put to the test. Fortunately, there is time for us to do that in a respectful but clear and accurate way before the election. The voters of our town deserve no less.
Rob, Toni and Village Laguna are the big money ticket in 2014. If you could buy an election, they win! But VL spent 10 times over the opposition in 2012 and lost both the $30 million parcel tax and VL stalwart Verna Rollinger’s council seat.
Trouble signs for the 2014 VL ticket include Toni’s embarrassment over her 2002 “floodgate” vote. Next shoe to drop was Rob’s admission at the Firebrand Media-Chamber of Commerce forum he paid to appear on a slate mailer labeled in large bold letters “Republican Election Day Voting Guide.”
Rob’s stunning excuses were “everyone does it,” “just political marketing,” “outreach to Republicans.” Then on radio he tried “seeking name recognition,” “voters should not rely on mailers,” and “read the fine print at the bottom.”
If voters should not trust or rely on mailers, should they trust or rely on candidates who send fake mailers? $30,000 in yard signs, media ads and glossy mailers aren’t enough name recognition for Rob?
Rob claims to be an “independent nonpartisan” reaching out to Republicans, but he does it by tricking voters to believe he is a partisan Republican. Rob wouldn’t explain why he didn’t “reach out” to Democrats with fake mailers.
Rob’s confession he thinks the fine print disclaimer justified deception only proves he understood bold lettering on front targeting Republicans was meant to deceive voters. Do we really want a City Council member who tells us to “read the fine print” to find out the truth is the opposite of what he told us?
A lot of our good friends who were all in for Rob saw this as his chance to be the transformational “Big Tent” consensus leader he has promised. Instead of candidly admitting his campaign manager used fake mailers in 2012 and it worked, but he now realizes it was a mistake, Rob tried to talk his way out.
Career bureaucrats think they can talk their way out of anything. Elected leaders can’t blame voters for being too stupid to read the fine print. Elected leaders can’t fall back on the fine print like subprime mortgage brokers blaming underwater homeowners for taking too much risk.
Nor can they blame honest questions for less than convincing answers, especially when the person asking the question is not the one misrepresenting his party affiliation.
Toni Iseman recently demanded intensification of enforcement under new parking restrictions for construction workers, ostensibly to protect parking and road use rights of neighbors living near building or remodeling project sites.
Yet, a week later Iseman held a gala fundraiser in a residential neighborhood that left driveways blocked and roadways congested by luxury cars parked illegally for the convenience of her high-end donors. Neighbors complained and got stonewalled.
In the Laguna Beach that Toni wants, local builders can have their businesses shut down if workers don’t comply with administratively determined parking prohibitions, but politicians are not responsible for parking violations by their hired commercial valets and wealthy contributors.
Toni is the poster child for excessive regulation and local government mission creep leading to officious inter-meddling in our lives. It is not just the building trades. Go down and try to get a city permit for any business and you’ll find out City Hall is a quagmire of politicized bureaucracy. The city staff is demoralized and the political appointees are all wannabe mini-mayors, micromanaging our city employees and the private lives of our residents. This is the government culture Toni has promoted on the City Council for 16 years.
Toni claimed last week that she is “seasoned but has fresh ideas,” yet her policies reveal a stale mentality and obsolete agenda. Her record is one of political stunts that do not even sustainably redeem the values of her own supporters.
We wish her well personally, but elections are not about personal privilege or prerogative. Elections are about what is best for our town. We need wise mentors and the next generation of people who love our town to become its new stewards.
Surely after a round of gratuitous candidate bashing (“Political Briefs,” Oct. 10) the Indy is going to give equal time to actual rather than fabricated discrepancies in what Rob Zur Schmiede and Toni Iseman claim about their records.
For example, Rob Zur Schmiede claims he will be open, listen, practice fiscal responsibility. But he won’t tell voters if he supported or opposed the 2012 parcel tax ballot initiative. Voters rejected the new city agency controlling a $30 million, 20-year add-on property tax funding stream, regulating use of randomly acquired public domain in private residential neighborhoods.
Similarly, in 2014 Rob claims he would have voted against a village entrance revenue bond and City Hall parking garage, but won’t tell us if he supported it or opposed it in 2013, when it mattered. The 2013 village entrance project and the 2012 parcel tax were the two biggest fiscal issues of the decade, but Rob is keeping his position secret, telling supporters “if I answer it will be used against me.”
Non-disclosure on village entrance leaves us with Planning Commission podcast of June 8, 2011. Chairman Pro Tem Zur Schmiede offers no questions or comments when staff recommends a resolution supporting a finding that the village entrance project will have “insignificant aesthetic impact.” After a seven-minute hearing, visibly distracted, inattentive Rob votes yes to adopt the resolution sending the village entrance report to City Council.
Perhaps knowing it could be “used against” him is the real reason, when asked to defend his record on the Planning Commission, the candidate who promises to listen blurted out “I resent that question.” If Rob acts like that as a candidate, how will he treat dissent and criticism if he is on City Council?
Then there is Toni’s campaign, claiming she “stopped the village entrance” revenue bond to build a multi-story garage next to City Hall. Go to video podcast at LagunaBeachCity.net, City Council Agenda, March 26, 2013. At 53:10-53:50 Toni pleads for Council approval of three-story garage, 500 cars, $30 million, plus $30 million debt service.
City Council rejected Toni’s plan, adopted Pearson’s plan. Toni voted no June 11 out of spite. But go to 37:11 on March 26 video, Toni tells us “If you had an overlay of Elizabeth’s plan and my plan, there is a tremendous amount in common.”
So please give Rob and Toni the equal time they deserve.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach
Anne Christoph frequently intervenes in city building code enforcement to oppose even small changes in exterior aesthetics. Yet, in an Aug. 28 column (“Big Plans vs. Small Adjustments”) she praised unattractive metal hardware for storefront barriers downtown merchants must install to mitigate flooding.
Insisting unsightly floodgates and sandbags are a “small” solution somehow preserving village charm, Christoph cites a storm drain upgrade proposed in 2002 as an undesirable “large” solution, too “big.” This obviously was a clumsy attempt to inoculate Toni Iseman from criticism for her 2002 vote to give a $10 million federal flood control grant back to the U.S. Army Corps Engineers (USACE).
Toni claims to be a federal affairs expert, but the first rule is never miss a chance to recapture federal dollars. After decades moving up the USACE project list, that $10 million immediately went to another city. Flood control experts shook their heads, neglecting disaster prevention is just not a rational way to preserve a village.
Iseman’s surrogates will remind us a storm drain upgrade wouldn’t protect against worst case scenarios, the business community feared loss of customers during construction, and there is always the ubiquitous soil contamination scare tactic.
Iseman clearly learned nothing on annual taxpayer funded junkets to Washington. She has no clue how the city could have forged an interagency alliance with USACE, EPA and Department of Commerce to manage any federal or state soil remediation and commercial zone impact issues.
Predictions of overdue major flooding made a first stage upgrade the very least the Council needed to do. Yet, only council member Cheryl Kinsman voted to use federal dollars for local needs.
Killing the first phase project precluded grants for drain filtering systems to prevent ocean pollution. A second backup storm drain for major 20 or 50 year floods is now out of the question.
Meanwhile, flood losses for village merchants in 2010 far exceeded commercial impact of the cancelled project. Climate change may bring more floods, but federal and state disaster relief is underfunded, less reliable every year.
Worst of all, floods coursing through streets and alleys since the 2002 project was scuttled have discharged tons of garbage laced with toxic waste into the ocean.
The certainty of future catastrophic water pollution and loss of sea life like we saw after the 2010 flood is Iseman’s true legacy to our village’s shoreline. Christoph reminded voters just in time.