By Andrew Tonkovich

Google it, Don!

Library of the Canyons marks its one-year anniversary on July 18 with an open house celebration. Stalwart library booster and book group member Jean Chapman of Modjeska encourages your attendance, lauding her fellow group members, who “bring great insight when we discuss books, as well as wonderful camaraderie.”  She appreciates Librarian Pam Chesney-Algar and staff, whose monthly selections Chapman looks forward to. August’s title is the nonfiction account, "Nomadland," by Jessica Brude.

Even Irvine Mayor Don Wagner is invited. The former assemblyman pretended recently not to know that the facility, once Silverado Elementary, was an active OC Public Library branch, part of his fairly transparent strategy to con Judge Carter and provoke the supervisors into voting against a homeless shelter there, thus buying time to do even less to address the crisis. 

Who speaks for the trees?
The library celebration offers an opportunity to check out a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax,” the classic 1971 environmental fable featuring the prophetic Lorax who begs the greedy Once-ler not to fell Truffula trees and offers the warning: “Unless.” Happily, Janet Wilson, Inter-Canyon League president, spoke for the trees at a special ICL meeting, where polite and professional county administrators from OC Development Services attempted, unsatisfyingly, to respond not so much to the apparent discrepancy (three inches) in protected tree trunk diameters between the Sil-Mod Plan and the proposed new policy but confirmed, Lorax-like, the historic failure of the county to prosecute local Once-lers who’ve cut down trees within our own existing site-specific jurisdiction.  

Attendees wondered if a new “Orange is the New Green” zoning code, while not preventing, say, the monstrous Saddle Crest development, might in future allow for more enforcement since the more restrictive Sil-Mod Plan always lacked specific penalties for noncompliance. Alas, the county doesn’t actively look for violations, simply relying on complaints while otherwise administering permit applications. Meanwhile, Silverado-Modjeska Recreation and Parks signed on to a late May letter by Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, which offered specific suggestions regarding more vigorous, broader enforcement of arboreal protection. Public review and comment ended June 26, with many locals hoping the potential prosecutorial authority of the county (misdemeanor fines, jail time) might finally inspire county enforcement because, per Dr. Suess, “Unless someone…cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Meanwhile, Saddleback Canyons Conservancy and Rural Canyons Conservancy Fund persist in a lawsuit against the county for its approval of Red Rock Gardens. 

“How now, spirit! Whither wander you?”
Madame Modjeska’s cheerful ghost applauds as Mid-summer Shakespeare Camp for Kids arrives July 23-27 at her famous digs for daily 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shakespeare camp for budding thespians, ages 9-12. Featuring costume-making, juggling, and lessons in California, U.S. and Shakespeare history, as well as instruction in acting, the week culminates in a performance showcase of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Registration is open at 

SMRPD’s board reported dramatically its delight at the success of the recent chili cook-off fundraiser, proceeds boosted by the donation of beer by Left Coast Brewing Company of San Clemente, and all money from sudsy sales. Attendance at June’s meeting was startlingly low, despite this good news and often entertainingly vigorous debate among officers, with Children’s Center enrollment holding at a solid 37 kids.  The pre-school currently employs three full-time and four part-time teachers, with programs such as local recycling (thanks, Scott Breedon), Friends of the Library (thanks, Fran Williams), MOD Pizza night and rattlesnake aversion classes supporting the facility. President Tara Saraye reported donations of nearly $800 from the recent dog training (who knew?) held in Modjeska Park, which might need not so much mountain lion aversion as awareness classes. Sightings of the big cats have been reported lately with Treasurer Francesca Duff lobbying for an SMRPD community education event on the apex predator. Three board positions open soon, with potential candidates needing to file between July 10 and Aug. 10 for seats currently (and heroically) occupied by retiring Director Debbie Johnson and Secretary Phil McWilliams, and VP Kevin Topp, who’s running for re-election.  

In other news of local, if low-energy civic participation, 45th Congressional Democratic challenger Katie Porter beat primary candidate Dave Min in both canyon precincts, with Republican incumbent Mimi Walters topping their combined support, if narrowly. Hugh Nguyen defeated Steve Rocco in the primary for OC Clerk Recorder, but fun (if bewildering) fact, Rocco nonetheless received nearly 20 percent of the vote. Unfamiliar with candidate Rocco’s bizarre platform? You may be one of those 50 canyon voters. The Lorax reminds us that the November voter registration deadline for those who failed to vote at all is Oct. 22.

July 2018

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