No fireworks at first candidate forum

Chamber of Commerce asked questions formulated in advance. Forum will be broadcast on Cox Channel 30 at 6 p.m. Saturday.

September 16, 2010|By Barbara Diamond,
  • City Council candidate and newcomer Emanuel Patrascu, left, reads notes while fellow candidate Toni Iseman, right, makes a point about downtown parking issues during Wednesday night's forum.
City Council candidate and newcomer Emanuel Patrascu,… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Voters who expected a knock-down, drag-out confrontation at the first City Council candidates' forum were in for a disappointment Wednesday night.

Seven scenarios were posited by the Government Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the televised forum in the City Council Chambers, with one to four questions per scenario. Candidates had two minutes to respond regardless of the number of questions and some were left unanswered.

"The questions were designed to draw out their philosophical differences," said committee member Norm Grossman. "I personally don't like 'gotcha' questions and ours were not designed to make anyone look bad — or good for that matter. They were based on issues important to the business community."

Challenger Emanuel Patrascu, who is on leave of absence from the chamber board, parted company with incumbents Kelly Boyd, Elizabeth Pearson and Toni Iseman on Question 5: the council's handling of the homeless population in Laguna and the establishment of the alternative sleeping site.


The incumbents said they were proud of the solution that gave a safe haven to the homeless and gave the beaches and parks back to residents and visitors.

"I disagree," Patrascu said, "I have spoken with business people and residents and it is still a problem in the day time."

Patrascu, who works for State Sen. Tom Harman, said Laguna is the only city that provides a shelter and the issue should be handled on a more regional basis.

Boyd would also like to see the county get involved, but due to the economy, regional shelters won't even be open until December, he said.

However, he disputed the contention that the daytime use of the parks and beaches by the homeless is still an issue because it is now hard to tell them from the general population — now that they have a place for personal hygiene and to store their belongings.

"I had a guy walk in the bar and ask what happened to the homeless who were all over the beaches last summer," Boyd said. "I said they are all around you, but you can't tell because they are taking showers and changing their clothes."

Boyd is especially proud that 13 chronically homeless moved into Friendship Shelter this past year, taking a step that could put them back into the mainstream.

There was also disagreement on Question 2: the issue of a Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, with Patrascu favoring the immediate formation. He said it would make the residents better informed about the city's finances.

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