Examining Claims of Two Candidates
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
Christoph Revives Flood Control Debate
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.