New Employee Receives Special Perk – Updated

Story Update – Guess who earns more than the Governor of California?

The excessively high salaries of city managers is a troubling California epidemic. Our City Manager and Assist City Mgr/Dir public works both earn far more in total remuneration than the GOVERNOR of California.
Pietig: $359k
Dupuis: $330k (est)
Newsome: $278k

Review City Agenda Bill forms here
Review City Housing Agreement here

LB is 48th out of 567 cities in California, in terms of the total remuneration given to the City Manager. Tiny LB ranks high in terms of tax-payer largess.

The ever escalating remuneration packages that California cities are handing out to City managers is an epidemic problem. City managers are quick to play one locale off against another and exploit the relative lack of sophistication of the City Councils that set their pay. The attached article makes for eye opening reading on the overall problem and possible legislative solutions being proposed.

Read Stu News’ Story – Council raises the ante in Dupuis sweepstakes – here


By : 
Courtesy of the Laguna Beach Independent Newspaper

In her dual job titles as the city’s new assistant city manager and director of public works,

Shohreh Dupuis

Shohreh Dupuis

Shohreh Dupuis knows she’ll encounter the unique challenges of a popular beach town. Experienced at working with regional transportation agencies, her first task will be the utility undergrounding project in Laguna Canyon and the growing traffic congestion on the city’s small streets, she said.

With at least one hurdle that confronts most residents, she will receive help. Dupuis is one of four City Hall executive administrators getting assistance from their employer to buy a home in town, said Gavin Curran, director of finance and information technology.

And that’s a big help, especially in a city that ranks second highest for median home prices in Orange County, according to Core Logic property information company and Oscar Wei, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors. Corona del Mar ranks first.

For more of the story click here

81-Year-Old Tax Payers’ Watch Dog Uncovers County Misspending

An article in the Voice of OC shows local activists bring attention to County’s mishandling of Tax Dollars. The article reports on a complaint that Ms. Shirley Grindle filed with the FPPC against OC Supervisors Andrew Do and Lisa Bartlett (who is OUR district 5 supervisor and current Chair of the OC BoS). According to the allegations, Do spent almost a quarter of a million of taxpayer dollars to send out campaign flyers disguised as District 1 resident outreach. Do is in a tight race to retain his seat on the BoS.

Similarly, Ms. Bartlett (from Dana Point) spent $137k of taxpayer dollars sending out District 5 flyers which broke the rules and amounted to taxpayer-funded campaign materials. I’ve provided a link to the Voice of OC article and the actual complaint that Ms. Grindle filed with the FPPC. Shirley is a treasure and every OC taxpayer owes her a debt of gratitude for her >40 years of dogged attempts to minimize political corruption in OC. She’s 81 years old, and slowing down a little but still every bit as feisty as in years gone by.

Read the full article here

South Laguna Resident Speaks Up In Community Forum

Local South Laguna Resident posted letter in the South Laguna Neighborhood Nextdoor forum.

Posting October 2016:

Steve Dictorow’s financial situation is sad and personal – leave him alone about that.  Why do you think that involves his commitments to the City Council?  If there were dubious issues regarding the City, then okay but there doesn’t seem to be so let him deal with it.  He has shown to be a dedicated public servant and I think that is very good.

However, as MJ Abraham said, us residents (and taxpayers – yes, we own our homes) have complained to the City and then demanded police presence and trash cans when the crowds got out of control down here and nothing was done.

I actually called Mr. Dictorow’s cell phone at the height of the madness and he answered!  And he was driving through South Laguna at the time.  His words to me were “Gee, I have not been down here for a long long time, where did all of these people come from?  Oh wow, they’re running across PCH. This used to be such a sleepy little section of town.”

I told him about the parking debacles, people using our yards as urinals and worse, drunk drivers.  He promised that he would look into it and then nothing was done.

I have completely lost my confidence in our City Council, the City Manager, the Laguna Beach police department (who we have called many times for help), the County of Orange and their Supervisors.  What does it take to get this part of Laguna Beach on their radar. Sure, they love the tax dollars but they don’t give a shit about the residents.  that’s why I made my own “No Parking Signs” (

We live on a private street and the Parking Patrol lady told me that I had to have the City’s towing code number on my signs, even on a private road. I told her to go fish. But in an effort to keep the peace, I grabbed a pencil and in the smallest type I could write, I wrote it out and then asked her if she was satisfied that I complied with her ridiculous request. She just scowled at me. I told her that the next time some stranger from the IE pulls over, throws out their Taco Bell bag and takes a dump in your flower bed, you will know what I am going through.

We need somebody who cares about this section of town.

Dicterow Taps His Home For Cash

A recent letter to the editor in the LB Indy addressing the Bankruptcy Filing of Mayor Steven Dicterow. Find the original letter here.


Last month several people came to a City Council meeting voicing concerns about Steve Dicterow’s financial difficulties. The response from the public was compassion, “everyone has tough times.” Laguna has a history of caring for one another. That’s who we are. But it can’t be left at that. How did Mayor Dicterow get there?

Mayor Dicterow bought his home in 1988 for $340,000. Since that time he refinanced his mortgage seven times: $368,000 in 1995, $440,000 in 1999, $547,000 in 2003 with an additional $50,000 second, $500,000 additional borrowed in late 2003, $1 million in 2006, and $271,000 in 2007 as a second.

Granted, many people refinanced to reduce their mortgage rate during the roaring housing bubble of pre-2008. It was tempting to pull out ready money as the value of a home increased during this period.

However, it was always a gamble to risk the family home particularly as Mayor Dicterow did to finance new business ventures, such as a motorcycle circuit venture and a mold and water restoration venture, both of which unfortunately failed. Since he had accumulated another $281,000 in unsecured debts by 2014, he used the bankruptcy option to protect his home. The bankruptcy option seems reasonable in this set of circumstances, but the multiple refinancings of the family home at such a level seems unwise.

We can (and should) feel compassion for anyone in danger of losing their home. It is a tough and sad situation for anyone to experience, and thank the government that there is a bankruptcy option for protection of the home.

The real question is the soundness of Mayor Dicterow’s decision to refinance at increasingly larger amounts. It makes one wonder about his abilities to make sound decisions over Laguna’s $70 million budget.

When Mayor Dicterow supported building a four-story garage at the village entrance, which was eventually blocked by a residents’ revolt, he stated at the City Council that a $65 million dollar bond is like a mortgage, “you never expect to pay off your mortgage”. For him that’s unfortunately true.

George Weiss, Laguna Beach

Monarchy or Democracy?

A recent letter to the editor in the LB Indy addressing the lack of real questioning at the local city candidates forums. Find the original letter here


A friend recently told me he never believed in democracy, and that a benevolent monarch would be a better choice any day. No, he is not a Marxist or fascist.

What do citizens need from candidates that reflects our love for our city?

The six forums that I witnessed were all similar. Every candidate elaborated on their special projects. Even when asked about the future, the answer was about their projects implemented then. The rest was reiterating status quo issues or political pawns like the village entrance or low cost housing with more intangible solutions. Can’t we work on these endless issues after the election anyway?

Where is Laguna’s charm and its preservation? Many leaders of this town delude themselves with outdated memories of what this town once was. They are calling it charm, art town and preservation of the good old life, which all seem to be only real in our minds. When I walk downtown, I see a town that does not seem to care for itself, not charm or anything to preserve. Similar, the canyon and much of Coast Highway looks like they have little juice left before they turn Laguna into a ghost town. Don’t look at their form, but what Dana Point and Corona del Mar have done recently, shows that they care about their town and how fast one can implement restoration. Why can Laguna’s leaders not adapt revamping the city in the same vein as they did with Heisler Park and the Montage?

The reason why we are stuck in our minds as in our traffic is that our opinions are reactive instead of proactive. Everyone in this town has an opinion, which is good, but without defining what one would like instead, those opinions are mostly duds. Yes, it is easier to focus on what we don’t want, but it keeps us relying on a memory of a Laguna whose time has past.

Citizens look to have something in common with the leader they vote for. It is even better when a leader has a vision that captures a future that the voter desires and wants to see implemented.

That’s why we have to start proactively start thinking about our future or get a benevolent monarch that makes decisions for us.

Michaell Magrutsche, Laguna Beach

Newspaper reports on Hedge Claim Lawsuit

Headline Reads – Tree-Killing In Laguna Beach

The majestic trees surrounding one 10th Avenue oceanview Laguna Beach home perched above Pacific Coast Highway were planted the same year Elizabeth Taylor, Edward Kennedy and Johnny Cash were born—in the months before Adolf Hitler ruled Germany, Japan occupied Shanghai and Franklin D. Roosevelt toppled President Herbert Hoover. At 80 years old, the trees have outlived Taylor, Kennedy, Cash, the Cold War and the New Deal, and on a recent afternoon, they showed no outward signs of looming natural death. But these trees have startlingly selfish and relentless enemies, including an Orange County Register reporter, determined to kill them.

Read the full story here