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Letters to the Editor:

Beware of the “Growth Machine”

The question is who to vote for in November’s City Council election? I know who I’m voting for because actions speak louder than words. Forums are good introductions, but often don’t do much to differentiate one candidate from another. All candidates say they “love” Newport so, once again, we need to examine actions, not words.

There is one type of action I discovered that sums it up for me. Some members of the current City Council are wittingly or unwittingly part of the “growth machine” which is well ensconced in Orange County. Of course it is – because there is lots of money to be made here through decisions about big, lucrative development – the sky’s the limit. There are political futures to be furthered as well. 

Here’s one case in point. In 2017, then Mayor Muldoon (with Duffy as Mayor Pro Tem) wrote a letter on behalf of the City Council and City of Newport Beach (that’s us), at the behest of the City of Irvine Mayor and the Irvine Company, saying that we would all love it if Amazon would locate its second headquarters in Irvine – with 50,000 new high paying jobs along with other associated jobs and families. This never appeared on our City Council’s agenda for the public to see. And what would we have said? We would certainly have wanted to know more about the sheer volume of development, density and traffic that would mean. What would 50,000 or more new families do to the already too expensive housing market? However, the letter said, and I quote, “The City of Newport Beach is pleased to support a collaborative proposal of the City of Irvine and the Irvine Company to secure Amazon’s second headquarters. We are proud civic leaders of one of 34 cities in Orange County – America’s sixth largest county, greater in population than 21 states in the Union…Each of our cities presents unique opportunities and strategic advantages to accommodate all that Amazon seeks for its next headquarters.”

As it turns out, Amazon went elsewhere and subsequently we read of the impact of its first headquarters in Seattle, of its loss of “soul” from the building boom primarily by Amazon’s impact. An article in the New York Times by Timothy Egan reads, “I live in the city that hit the Amazon jackpot, now the biggest company town in America. They have 40,000 employees here, who in turn attracted 50,000 other new jobs. They own or lease a fifth of all the class A office space. But median home prices have doubled in five years, to $700,000. This is not a good thing in a place where teachers and cops used to be able to afford a house with a water view.” This article ended with, “To the next Amazon lottery winner I would say, enjoy the boom – but be careful what you wish for.”

17 of the 34 City Mayors wrote such a letter as requested by their growth machine cronies. Laguna, for one, did not. Laguna has a soul it has steadfastly tried to preserve, and, like Laguna, I hope we would choose to keep our charm and character as well. As a start we can elect people who by all indications will choose to put the Newport Beach citizens first. Three people running for our City Council want to know what we think, and I’m voting for them – Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks, and Roy Engelbrecht.

Sincerely,

Jean Watt

Newport Beach

Apparent conflict of interest

As a Newport Beach resident, I am very troubled by the fact Mayor Duffy Duffield has skipped the recent Speak Up Newport Candidate forum and along with the other incumbent council members, has not confirmed their participation in the Feet to the Fire Forum. If they will not appear publicly and answer the public’s questions, they should not be reelected.

I am also concerned that Scott Peotter and Duffield refuse to answer the question regarding Duffield’s employment of Peotter. As residents, I think we have the right to know if Peotter’s vote is compromised by his employment with Duffield (or vice versa).

The behind the scenes ouster of City Manager Dave Kiff, the phony ballot measure, the refusal to answer questions from the public and the insulting comments by Bob McCaffrey have convinced me it is time for a change. I’ll be voting for Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks.

Craig B. Smith

Newport Beach

Yelsey has the needed experience to help our kids

Parents and teachers expect our school board candidates to have backgrounds in teaching or volunteering in their schools. This often will include serving on the School Site Council, PTA Board, Boosters or Foundation Board, or The Superintendent’s Parent Council. This important background not only forges relationships between parents, teachers, and administrators, but it also builds knowledge of the school’s unique characteristics, legacy programs, and future directions. This foundational knowledge is a critical expectation of those who are seeking the office of Trustee for the NMUSD School Board. 

Karen Yelsey has a challenger who one day may be prepared to be a viable Trustee, but with no experience in the NMUSD schools, it’s difficult to imagine that she is now. It is imperative to look closely at a challenger who seeks to serve our 22,000 students and manage our $300 million budget. It is not for the faint of heart, the inexperienced, or the out of touch. For these reasons, those of us in Area 4 feel so strongly that the experience, commitment, tenacity, and school/community engagement of Karen Yelsey overshadow her challenger. That challenger, according to her social media history, has lived in Newport Beach for less than a year. It appears that her focus is on political endorsements with the goal to launch a political career using the NMUSD election as her starting blocks. The problem is, those starting blocks are our kids, in our community. 

I welcome new parents to our community and to our schools. Our schools need volunteers seeking to serve our students and teachers. The volunteer opportunities are plentiful, and I’d love to have coffee with any parent who desires to get plugged in to our schools. For now, a Trustee who has demonstrated strong and tenacious leadership, working for the very best policies, programs, and services to provide an outstanding education in a safe and healthy school environment is who gets my vote. That Trustee is Karen Yelsey. 

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi 

Newport Beach 

Was McCaffrey’s fundraiser the right event to choose?

I am disappointed to hear that City Councilman Scott Peotter and our Mayor Duffy Duffield are willing to attend a fundraiser at the home of Bob McCaffrey. McCaffrey referred to Joy Brenner as a “drooling Dog.” Brenner is running against Peotter for a seat on the City Council. McCaffrey’s comment is offensive. By accepting an invitation to obtain money for his re-election, Peotter is condoning such childish behavior. Peotter will not get my vote. 

Dortha Wells

Newport Beach

Need to stop overdevelopment and improve traffic

In the past four years, traffic in Newport Beach has become much worse. Over-development is aggravating traffic problems, just look at the Fashion Island apartments and the Uptown Newport project. 

The increase in traffic and overdevelopment coincides with the takeover of our city by the Team Newport and the voting block of Scott Peotter, Duffy Duffield and Kevin Muldoon. With their backroom maneuvers and their uncivil behavior, this “team” has changed the character of City Council for the worse. 

To move the city in a different direction, where the views of residents are respected, its members are non-partisan, and council actions are transparent, we need different council members. I’m voting for a change.

Caroline Taylor

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor:

Seven Newport Beach Mayors Say it’s Time for a Change

As former mayors, we are very concerned about the direction of our city during the past four years. We have seen the city council majority make rash and partisan decisions that are not in the best interests of the residents. For example, the council refused $485,000 in traffic improvement funds to make a political point. They voted to approve the largest property tax increase in 40 years for a new development without a vote of the people.

The tone of discourse in our city has changed for the worse. Some council members seek to demonize our public employees and civic facilities. Tom Johnson recently called out Scott Peotter specifically for his abusive and condescending remarks to city employees. 

There has been a disregard for our campaign laws, open meeting laws and conflict of interest restrictions.

We are most concerned with the classless and outrageous way our outstanding City Manager Dave Kiff was forced out early, and we are very disturbed that a politician, not a professional city manager, was a leading candidate to replace Kiff.

The council majority simply does not represent the values of our city. You would expect the mayor to set a tone that avoids these abuses, but Duffy Duffield has failed our community and must bear responsibility for his decisions. In addition to Duffield, one councilman in particular, Scott Peotter, has been at the center of all of these problems. Peotter even voted against the city Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy and twice voted against the accelerated pay down of our pension liability. 

We believe it is time for a change if we are to protect the quality of life and restore our civic values in Newport Beach. We are supporting Tim Stoaks in District 3, who is running against Duffield, and Joy Brenner in District 6, running against Scott Peotter.

Tim and Joy are longtime community activists who have worked for decades on projects like OASIS, the Corona del Mar Library/Fire Station, Santa Ana Heights improvements like the Fire Station, trails and parks and our new animal shelter. They have been in the lead on reducing airport noise and they will represent the interests and values of residents, not politically connected donors.    

Join us in demanding a change for the better in Newport Beach and reject the machine politics of the past four years. Vote for Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner.

Former Newport Beach Mayors:

Evelyn Hart      Rush Hill      John Cox

Keith Curry       Mike Henn    Don Webb

Jan Debay

Neighborhood events bringing residents together

Sometimes they say it takes a village to support the growth and development of an individual. In the case of Newport Beach, it is going to take a “village” to restore the City to its full potential.

During the past few months, the community of Newport Beach has been at the forefront of embracing change in our government. This has formed organically through many neighborhood events, in which each of the candidates, Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner, has factually focused on bringing the residents together again.

These candidates have successfully brought thousands of Newport Beach residents together in just a few months. Both Stoaks and Brenner have worked around the clock to educate and inform like-minded people as to why we need to transform our City on November 6, 2018.

This has been a call to action, in which the community has literally been taken “off-line” and become united. Residents across the City have walked away from each event with a strong feeling of good, with new friendships being formed and citizens being energized with optimism.

If two honest and principled Newport Beach residents can collectively listen and bring thousands of people together for the common good of our City (especially, without self-serving and conflicting interests), then both Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner can bring common sense back to Newport Beach in the most conventional way. 

Why? Because Stoaks and Brenner have the pulse of the people.

Lu Baker

Newport Beach 


Guest Column

Grace Leung

An insider’s look at what’s going on in and around City Hall

Grace Leung

Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung   

Greetings to the Newport Beach community!

I must confess, with four days on the job, I feel a little strange calling this the “insider’s guide” so I hope you bear with me as I get to know the City and all that is going on in this active community. And there’s no better way than to just start diving right in to the City Council agenda.

For the next meeting, on Tuesday, September 11, the following are items that may be of interest. Following Dave’s caveat, this is not a summary of the entire agenda, which can be viewed here.

Study Session begins at 4 p.m., when the Library Foundation will present a check for $153,125 to the City. This will help fund valuable library resources, programs and cutting-edge library enhancements. Then Public Works staff will present an update on traffic signal system technology, a critical element to managing traffic circulation that is continually evolving. 

The Regular Session at 7 p.m. has these items of note:

On the consent calendar is the award of landscape architecture and civil engineering services for rehabilitation of Grant Howald Park. This will kick off much needed renovations for this park. A key part of this contract will be to begin the community engagement process for design features as it relates to the fencing around the park. Community outreach and design is estimated to go through Spring 2019 and construction to then start early 2020 (following the Fall 2019 soccer season). We are hopeful to complete this project summer 2020.

On for public hearing is an update to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance. This update amends the City’s Zoning Code and Local Coastal Program to conform with new state requirements that took effect on January 1, 2018. Our current code only allows ADUs in single-family residential zoning districts. In order to conform with state law, the code will be amended to allow development of ADUs with single-family homes in all residential districts.

In my first week with the City, I am so impressed with the pride and love that people have for living and/or working in Newport Beach. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work for Newport Beach and feel a deep sense of responsibility to serve the community and the organization well. I know transitions can be challenging and I hope to make it as smooth as possible. As part of that effort, I will be evaluating how we as a City communicate with the community. Don’t worry, I will continue this Insider’s Guide, but it may evolve in the future as I look to ensure we are communicating as effectively as possible. 

Thank you for reading. I hope to get to meet and know you over the coming months. To that end, please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 

 

Grace K. Leung, City Manager

City of Newport Beach

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

949.644.3001


Letters to the Editor:

Conflicts of interest...Newport Beach deserves better

It is widely believed that Councilmember Peotter has been retained by Mayor Duffield to assist in the relocation of some of Duffield’s boat manufacturing facilities to Utah. The refusal of Duffield and Peotter to answer the simple question, “Does Peotter work for Duffield?” is very troubling.

Duffield refuses to voluntarily answer the question, and Peotter calls it “rumor”.

This is not some political “gotcha” issue. Residents have a right to know if Peotter’s vote can be influenced by compensation Duffield pays to Peotter; or affect a vote over resource allocation between Duffield’s and Peotter’s districts; or is it just plain illegal.

Duffield is required to recuse himself on most harbor issues. However, Peotter votes on these issues, some of which may financially benefit Duffield. Is it allowable under conflict of interest laws? Should Peotter also be recusing himself because Duffield is a source of income to Peotter?

What about the City Council’s duty to police itself? Both Peotter and Duffield are already the subject of multiple complaints regarding campaign law and conflict of interest violations, none of which the Council has directed the City Attorney to review. Yet again Council shirks its duty, by not directing the City Attorney to look into this employment issue. How long will Council ignore its duty, as ethical issues pile up with Duffield and Peotter? This is politics at its worst, and confirms voter skepticism about the ethics of government officials.

What about the City Attorney’s independent duty to assure that Council is acting lawfully? When asked, the City Attorney reportedly said, “trying to find answers to these types of issues is not possible given the ethical rules related to the performance of your duties”. Really? This “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude is disingenuous and disrespects his office as well as the citizens of Newport Beach.

I think it is entirely possible to find the truth. Duffield and Peotter should be asked directly, under oath, if necessary, so City business can be conducted in the open without fear of conflicts of interest. And then, depending on the answers, Councilmembers should conduct themselves in a lawful, transparent way without even the appearance of a conflict.

Open and transparent government in Newport will not begin until these kinds of egregious cover ups are stopped.

Mike Henn

Former Mayor, Newport Beach

Time to cancel the Team Newport Show in Newport Beach

The Newport Beach City Council has been on vacation for nearly a month, but like a TV series finale, they left us with a few cliffhangers.

On July 30, the council issued a statement designed to embarrass Jeff Herdman, but failed to reveal the three councilmembers who advanced the name of Shawn Nelson as City Manager. In response to a Public Records Act request, the city said they did not have any “relevant documents.” Really? Why don’t you just admit who it was? You were there.

It was revealed that Scott Peotter is apparently employed by Duffy Duffield to plan the relocation of part of Duffy’s business to Utah. This raises some significant conflict of interest issues for both councilmembers. At the West Newport Beach Association forum, Duffield flat out refused to answer the question, “Does Peotter work for you?” It’s time for Duffield and Peotter to stop the cover up and answer the question.

On August 14, the council approved $600,000 in contracts to four firms to provide maintenance services in the harbor. Only four firms submitted proposals and all four got contracts. Duffield declared he had a “source of income” conflict of interest on this matter. Exactly which firm or firms is a “source of income” for Duffield and how much is it? Looks more like Duffy is a source of income the other way. In addition, if Peotter is working for Duffy, shouldn’t he also have recused himself?

A court ruled that the public cannot compel the city council to appoint a special prosecutor, only the council can make that decision. Alright, what is the council going to do about the campaign finance and conflict of interest violations that have been piling up against Peotter and Duffield? So far they have done nothing. I thought Muldoon was running on “law and order?”

Finally, Peotter announced he was going to hold a fundraiser at the home of Bob McCaffrey. McCaffrey wrote a rambling and incoherent opinion piece in which he compared Peotter opponent Joy Brenner and other women leaders to “drooling dogs”. Will Peotter have the moral courage to move his event from McCaffrey’s home? If he does not, will the other members of the council attend and validate McCaffrey’s remarks? At West Newport, Peotter defended McCaffrey and Duffield was silent.

I am looking forward to the fourth, and hopefully final, season of Team Newport Follies.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

The future of Newport

The key concern which unites Newport Beach residents now is overdevelopment. Most of the other problems engender from this one main problem – traffic, pollution, safety issues, expansion of Pacific Coast Highway, code and General Plan noncompliance and lack of civility and trust between residents and City Council. As a result, Newport Beach is losing its vibrant personality.

For those who live in West Newport, the number one overdevelopment issue is the expansion of Pacific Coast Highway. This has been a concern that dates back to the early 1970s by a group who were called the “Freeway Fighters” and included the father of one of our current Council members. If expansion takes place, this area of Newport Beach which is considered by most residents as the heart of our city, will lose that “small town” feeling, and safety issues for students crossing the Highway to reach the three schools in the Newport Heights area will become a major concern. Already the lack of crosswalks and the dangerous speeds frequently maintained by people passing through the Heights have led to unfortunate and even tragic accidents.

Overdevelopment in other areas of Newport Beach has also impacted public views and tranquility. For instance, the development planned for Koll Center deviates from the character and guidelines for buildings in that area. Fortunately, concerned citizens have been able to stop plans for some of the other proposed structures and private homes whose sizes have violated code and General Plans. But it has been a constant struggle for residents who want to maintain the character of Newport Beach which is being violated by unwise development.

We have a chance to change this lack of communication and transparency by electing Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks and Roy Englebrecht to City Council! They will work to preserve the quality of the city that we all love.

Tim Stephens

Corona del Mar


Letters to the Editor:

It’s time for a change in our City Council

Most residents agree that it’s time for change in our Newport City Council, we envision our future to include new and responsible developments along Mariner’s Mile, reduced speeds and lanes along West Coast Highway.

The surrounding communities of Lido Isle, Bayshores, Newport Heights and Cliff-Haven have been working together to make certain that we “Make Newport Beach Great Again” and this includes looking at those developments that have become an architectural “gem” (Lido House), and those that have failed to an extent that the iconic Crab Cooker must be torn down (The Vue).

We have set goals, met new friends and neighbors, who have come together for the common good of our community, we care deeply about our bayside town and most everyone shares this same vision.

Simply, adjusting our sails could be the best thing that has happened in our town since the “Freeway Fighters” who led the battle in 1971 against PCH becoming a 10-lane highway. It will also allow those current city council members to follow their passion and their heart by protecting our precious harbor.

We need to work together, to preserve the tranquility and character of Newport Beach and this means making difficult decisions on November 6th that will influence our future now and for generations to come.

Luke Dru

President Cliff-Haven Community Association

Newport Beach

Time for a change to the school board

I supported and encouraged my friends to vote for Karen Yelsey 12 years ago when she ran for a NMUSD trustee position. She had an excellent background; I felt she might bring some new ideas to the school board and she promised to stay on the board for only 12 years. After a twelve-year tenure, she is running for another 4-year term. (She also voted “yes” on the amendment that the trustees approved to limit term limits to 12 years.)

As a trustee, she represents the entire district. One example of her leadership is that she voted for the failed Swun math program which cost the district four million dollars. As a result, in 2017, 50 percent of all NM students failed to meet state math standards. (83.3 percent of Estancia students and 36.38 percent of CDM students were not proficient in math.)

For the last 12 years she has voted “yes” on all issues. I want a trustee that will speak up and do some real critical thinking for the entire district, not just CDM!

You are knowledgeable about school issues, why haven’t you found someone to represent trustee area 4 that might provide new ideas and perspectives?

Martie O’Meara, Retired Teacher

Newport-Mesa Unified District resident


Letters to the Editor:

Activist disagrees with future Uptown Newport tax

The pressure must be getting to Newport Beach City Councilmen Scott Peotter and Marshall Duffield because their surrogates have taken to the press to attack their opposition.

Their first surrogate Greg Sullivan posits that there are only two choices regarding the funding of the park and utility undergrounding required for 200 condominium units at Uptown Newport. One alternative is to have the new residents pay a stiff special tax, up to $4,500 per year, on their property tax bill to support $8.8 million in bonds for thirty years. The new residents, of course, did not get to vote on either the taxes or the bonds.

He suggests that the only alternative is for all other residents to pay for these improvements through the general fund. But this is really a false choice. The real alternative is for the developer to pay for the improvements as he is contractually obligated to do and then build the cost into the price of the units. In this alternative, there are NO new taxes. In fact, until the Team Newport council came into power, prior city councils required millions in developer fees to fund infrastructure improvements throughout the city. Mr. Duffield and Mr. Peotter are quick to abandon their anti-tax rhetoric in order to benefit their developer donors. That was the real choice, but one conveniently overlooked by Mr. Sullivan. Interestingly, they put the deceitfully titled the “Taxpayer Protection Act” on the November ballot to make it look that they opposed taxes at the same meeting that they were jacking taxes up with the highest property tax increase since Proposition 13. Apparently, Mr. Duffield and Mr. Peotter lack a sense of irony.

There is really nothing to say about Team Newport’s surrogate Bob McCaffrey and his weird, incoherent and childish rant. It is interesting that Mr. McCaffrey doesn’t even attempt to defend the sorry records of Mr. Peotter and Mr. Duffield. He just calls people names. With friends like that, who needs enemies.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Nice to remember Rosalind

When I read your mention of Rosalind (Williams) today, it actually gave me a chill, but a good one. Talking about someone who truly made a difference here, wow. It was nice to see it. I hope all is well.

Steve Bromberg

Newport Beach

Tumultuous election season is upon us

These are not quiet times. A tumultuous election season is upon us at both the local and national level. At the national level, there is some concern that our democracy is being tested. The divisiveness that is being played out currently in our country affects the relationships that we hold not only with our fellow citizens, but with our families and our friends as well.

But what does a challenge to democracy look like at the local level? Do you see the same kind of turmoil among factions in Newport Beach that you do at the national level? At the local level, democracy would play out with a city government that is responsive to the needs of its citizens. Council members would have open and frequent communication with the residents of their districts. They would express and represent the views of the majority and they would follow the rule of law. 

Ask yourself if this is the kind of government that we now have in Newport Beach. 

If it isn’t, you will soon have the opportunity to make some important changes. It’s time to get involved.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

McCaffrey letter attack on all women

Words cannot express the disgust I felt, as a woman and Newport Beach resident, reading Bob McCaffrey’s letter last week in which he compared council candidate Joy Brenner and community activists Susan Skinner and Lynn Swain to drooling dogs. 

All three women are longtime Newport Beach residents, successful professionals and mothers. Joy’s grandkids go to our local schools. What did they do to draw Mr. McCaffrey’s ire? They’ve dared to express concerns about the direction his hand-picked council is taking the city we love. 

I share their concerns and believe enough residents are paying attention that we have a good chance of taking back our city in November. Many voters now see how toxic Mr. McCaffrey’s “Team Newport” is and how much we need independent candidates, not his slate, in City Hall. 

It’s possible that Mr. McCaffrey is escalating simply because he’s reading the writing on the wall the same way I am. But still, that’s no excuse: There’s no place for this kind of openly misogynistic rhetoric in our public sphere. 

Bob McCaffrey’s attack on these women is an attack on all women. And the candidates who are endorsed and bankrolled by him are complicit if they remain silent. As are all those who contribute to his causes and attend his events. 

Mayor Duffield and the rest of Team Newport should publicly repudiate Mr. McCaffrey’s views. Scott Peotter should move his September 13 fundraiser to a location other than McCaffrey’s home. If the venue doesn’t change then council members, elected officials and all those who respect women should boycott it. 

We’ll soon find out who has a sense of decency. 

Jennifer McDonald

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor:

Uptown Newport project good for housing needs

My name is Greg Sullivan and I have been a lifelong resident of Newport Beach and a career real estate professional. I remember getting ice cream at Wil Wrights (corner of PCH & Dover), the development of Shark/Linda Isle, Promontory Point, Spyglass and more. 

Some changes have been good and some not so much, but I feel the Uptown Newport project is good for our city’s housing needs and a place I could see my children live. To me, it appears that Susan Skinner’s complaint against a CFD (addressed below) is a thinly veiled complaint to fight against a project that provides an alternative housing solution and was processed within the parameters of a well vetted General Plan Update. I realize that this project has already been approved, but I disagree with Susan’s tactics and it is irresponsible to not share in some of the burden to provide housing for our growing population. 

In her latest complaint, she attacks the approval of a Community Facilities District for a new development (Uptown Newport) off Jamboree. But let’s get real: CFD’s ensure that the future homebuyers at Uptown – not existing Newport residents – pay for their own park and utilities. 

Would Ms. Skinner rather have existing residents fund these costs? I certainly hope not! 

The Uptown CFD provides for a new public park for all Newport Beach residents. It also funds the undergrounding of unsightly overhead power lines above Jamboree. All of this is done at the expense of future Uptown residents and not existing Newport Beach residents. 

Personally, I find this complaint confusing, without merit and wrongly addresses this development and city finances. 

This is a good deal for Newport Beach and the Council was right to approve it. Sincerest regards,

Greg Sullivan

Newport Beach 

Activist turns to science to explain local political frenzy

Almost 130 years ago Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov was studying how digestion worked in mammals. He noticed that when he entered the room wearing a lab coat his dogs began drooling. They thought it was dinner time.

Pavlov then started ringing a bell while feeding Fido. Fido slobbered all over the place.

Then he started faking-out Fido by withholding food while ringing the bell. Poor Fido started to drool.

With Newport Beach elections on the horizon, Pavlovian Theory is playing out in our sleepy little beach town.

Decked out in his Tommy Bahama’s lab coat, former councilman Keith Curry rings the bell with wild allegations causing his Pavlovian dogs to start to salivate.

Psychiatrist Susan Skinner slobbers all over herself on Nextdoor. 

Lynn Cuckovich Swain spits up all over social media. 

Candidate Clyda “Joy” Brenner becomes a Bernese Mountain Dog with a dishtowel draped around her neck collecting drool.

Councilman Jeff Herdman starts dribbling all over himself then calls Curry to ask for permission to stop.

It’s quite a site. Pavlov’s classic conditioning is alive and well in Newport Beach.

Bob McCaffrey

Volunteer Chairman, Residents for Reform

Balboa Island

The question is, who might attend?

Thank you for letting us know about the upcoming fundraiser for Scott Peotter at the home of puppet master Bob McCaffrey. It got me thinking about who might attend.

I can’t imagine that any women will attend since Peotter voted against the city Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy.

Republicans won’t go because Peotter voted in favor of the largest property tax increase since Proposition 13. New taxes of up to $4,500 per year on the new homes in Uptown Newport.

Democrats? Forget it, Peotter is a far-right political extremist.

City employee representatives won’t be there, given the abusive and condescending way Peotter treats employees.

Those residents who think traffic is a top Newport issue have no reason to go, Peotter voted against accepting $485,000 in tax dollars earmarked for traffic and road improvements.

If you live in the John Wayne Airport takeoff corridor, well, Peotter has been missing in action on airport issues for four years.

I guess Bob and Scott will have a small intimate gathering to talk about high-rise growth together.

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach

Sweet remembrance of Blaze

What a sweet and sad letter from Lily Williams – thank you for publishing it.

Brenda L. McCroskey

Corona del Mar


Letters to the Editor:

Asking for a little civility until November comes

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Our recall didn’t work. So, we’ll do our best to bully intelligent people and demand they do things our way RIGHT THIS MINUTE. 

Shoot, then let’s demand we are involved in selecting the next city manager because we are now pontificating the current manager. We will never find a replacement as good because the NB elected officials can’t possibly do the right thing. 

So, we’ll go to the meeting, act like immature thugs and chant “vote them out.”

Oh darn! They selected the best available candidate. Darn it. 

But in the meantime, we are supported by former mayors. Now we will get our way.

Shoot, I forgot that one exceeded spending on city hall and then called all questioning the costs “mediocre.” Got trounced in his next election for higher office and blamed it on the winner coming from a larger populace. Nope! We wanted a solid candidate. 

One of the other mayors was soundly defeated because voters did not want him in office. 

Imagine that. 

So, now it looks like the Three Musketeers who started all of this noise are more like the Three Stooges. 

The rest of us know the council needs reworking. We will do so at election time. Like civilized ladies and gentlemen. The Newport Beach way. Quietly and efficiently. 

Mark Adams

Newport Beach 

Stoaks is long-time friend to Newport Beach

Friends and Neighbors,

Together, we have worked with Tim Stoaks on John Wayne Airport issues for more than a dozen years, which is why we are excited that he has decided to run for Newport Beach City Council.

Tim has been a reliable, consistent voice for the goal of controlling growth at JWA.  Over the years we have had many people drop in and out of our meetings, proposing one solution or another. However, Tim has been steadfast in working with the City, the County and Newport Beach residents in order to help make our uneasy alliance with the Airport work.

Because of our relatively long relationship, we know that while working full-time as an architect and raising his daughter here in Newport Beach, Tim has involved himself in many other aspects of community life. His activities include participation with the Santa Ana Heights Project and the Newport Harbor Educational Foundation. He and Evelyn Hart worked closely together to see to it that the Oasis Senior Center was built. 

Until recently, he served on the Board of Directors of Line in the Sand, resigning from the Board in order to run for the City Council. Tim was not only one of the founders of Friends of the Newport Beach Animal Shelter (FONBAS) but is currently serving as president.

We believe that because of the actions of Tim (and many other community minded folks like him), Newport Beach is a great place to raise a family. We know from our past experiences, Tim will work hard as a council member to help KEEP Newport Beach the great city we all love. 

Melinda Seely and Nancy Alston

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor:

Joy Brenner wrong to lie about crime

Shame on Joy Brenner for using a fear campaign as she runs for Newport Beach City Council. She used her position with the Corona del Mar Residents Association to send out a message recently that there is a “plague” and “rash of burglaries” in the area. 

This forced our hard-working Newport Beach Police Department to issue statements that essentially called Brenner’s claims false. Property crime in Corona del Mar is actually down compared to last year. Specific to burglaries, a whopping four additional investigations over an 8-month period have been investigated. 

Our Police Chief, Jon Lewis, reported recently that serious crime is down 15.7 percent, burglary is down 14.5 percent, and overall arrests are up 3.1 percent. 

A rash? A plague? Hardly. It’s just a scare campaign from a City Council candidate and it disrespects our Police Department.

Debra Walden

Corona del Mar

Kudos to council on city manager hire

Great job Newport Beach City Council. They have unanimously selected a well-qualified person to move our City forward. It took sustained leadership from Mayor Duffield and his fellow council members to push forward over unfounded rumors and baseless accusations.

It is curious that Council Member Jeff Herdman made a motion to wait until after the elections when he knew that this qualified candidate was available. He could not have realistically believed that she would still be available if his political stunt had worked. 

Either way, the city council should be commended. Bravo. 

Respectfully, 

Peter C. Pallette

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor:

Argument against Team Newport proposed ballot measure 

On Friday (Aug. 17), the real opponents of the ballot measure being advanced by Team Newport will go to court to displace the phony arguments filed by Team Newport supporter Bob Rush. The following is the ballot argument Team Newport is trying to keep residents of Newport Beach from reading:

Don’t be fooled, this measure may sound good, but consider that no other city in California has adopted this restriction. That should tell you that it is not a good idea.

Lease obligation debt by definition does not increase taxes. A special election could cost over $350,000, project costs will be increased as projects are delayed and politics, not fiscal analysis, will decide which projects are sent to the voters and which are funded with cash.

This measure will require projects be submitted to the voters without going through a competitive bidding process, alternatively, bids will be padded by as much as 30 percent due to election delay. 

This law is so bad, the authors have tried to exempt all of the projects such as sea walls and disaster repairs that might actually fall under these provisions. Sea walls may still need a vote if they are not in imminent danger of failing. Do you really want to vote on a new police headquarters building or vehicle replacements? Do you want to have to raise campaign funds to get a new park near your home?

City staff did not recommend this, our financial advisors did not recommend it, the City Finance Committee did not recommend it, and no “best practice” supports this. It’s just a cynical effort by some members of the city council to give them an issue to run on in the absence of any real accomplishments.

They will use the ballot measure campaign to raise funds in excess of the contribution limits to augment their personal campaigns. They do this without regard to the impact of the future ability of the city to maintain its essential public infrastructure. 

Don’t buy this con. Vote No on Measure ___ and restore good government to Newport Beach.

Mike Henn, Former Mayor

Rush Hill, Former Mayor

Keith Curry, Former Mayor 

Jean Watt, Former Mayor Pro Tem

Toerge will not enter council race

I have chosen to withdraw from the 2018 Newport Beach City Council election. Words cannot express my appreciation for those that supported me in my effort to bring experienced independent leadership to our City. While I feel I am uniquely qualified to serve as a City Councilman, the divisiveness of team politics renders the election process anything but enjoyable. There is greatness in our future and I am looking forward to the years to come. 

Mike Toerge

Corona del Mar

Michael Toerge originally announced he would run for the District 6 City Council seat during last year’s recall effort of incumbent Scott Peotter. Following the failure of that effort, Toerge kept active on all financial filings for the position.

Toerge is “my hero”

Now that the window of opportunity has closed for candidates to declare themselves for the Newport Beach city council, I would like to share with you the real hero of this process: Mike Toerge.

Mike was heavily involved in the recall of Scott Peotter and would certainly have run if the recall had been successful. When it was not, he left the door open as to whether or not he was going to run. Most people felt that he was going to do so, creating quite a bit of angst among those of us who recognized that Peotter would clearly win a three-sided race. He fooled me, too. When the window of opportunity closed last Friday, Mike had not submitted papers to be a candidate.

I can assure you that this was not because he was not passionate about our city nor because he felt that he couldn’t do a bang-up job as a councilman. He took that bullet knowing that if three people were in the race, Scott wins, and he wanted what was best for our city.

To do this, he had to convince people that he was likely to run. This meant getting beat upon regularly by just about everyone trying to talk him out of running. It meant filing financial forms showing that he had lent himself 60K to keep up the appearance of being a viable candidate. Doing so also meant that he fooled Scott and Dave Ellis into thinking that he was going to run and kept them from running a decoy third candidate in the race.

Mike is my hero for this. We all want Peotter thrown out of office, but Mike had to take the slings and arrows that have been thrown at him for literally months while putting up a convincing front in order to keep the race a two-person race. For this, he deserves every accolade that can be given.   

Thanks, 

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor:

And the audience chanted, “Vote ‘em out!”

The week that was...

It seems like rarely a week goes by without the news of some kind of controversial, hot-button issue being introduced by the City Council. Be it developments which do not meet city codes, declarations of refusing funds from the gas tax, the attempt to make Newport a port city, the debacle over Museum House, the on-again, off-again discussion of adopting a new General Plan, the questionable and greatly unpopular move to terminate the City Manager’s contract: These are just a few of the developments that make residents in Newport feel like they are on a perpetual roller coaster. 

Most recently the Council set up a meeting at 9 a.m., Monday morning (evidently they think that no one in Newport Beach works), to privately interview candidates for City Manager by phone. They had narrowed their choice down to three candidates, one of whom was rumored to be a political pick because of his lack of managerial skills. Amazingly they went from over 70 applicants down to three finalists and after their closed-door session, allegedly just two in a very short period of time. 

All residents who got up to speak last Monday had lots to say about the hiring process and what they said was not very complimentary. In fact, when one of the concerned residents, and candidate for council, Roy Englebrecht, suggested putting the process on pause until after the November election, only one council person, Jeff Herdman, sympathized with the frustrated residents by making a motion to that effect – but he was unable to get a second from the other council members.

Among the approximately 50 people in the audience, no one seemed to be supportive of the Council, often applauding as 14 impassioned speakers criticized the Council’s constant lack of transparency, as well as their present hiring process of a City Manager. However, no one was prepared for what happened as the Council was leaving the chamber to go into closed session. The usually staid audience at council meetings erupted into catcalls and a chant of “Vote ‘em out,” which lasted just long enough to become a popular topic of conversation in Newport Beach the following day. This spontaneity at the meeting just might become a more formalized plea for residents who have had their fill of city council politics: VOTE EM OUT!

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor:

Wait…Peotter didn’t give you the full story

Scott Peotter recently sent out an email taking “credit” for various “accomplishments”. Incredibly, one of them was the pay down of the city’s unfunded pension obligations. Peotter had actually voted against this twice. That he should try to take credit after opposing it speaks to his integrity.

But Scott sold himself short. He has actually done much more than he claimed. For example:

Peotter voted to support the 22-story Museum House high-rise. He voted to impose a thirty-year tax of up to $4,500 per year on Uptown Newport residents for improvements that would have otherwise been provided by the developer. He voted to reject $485,000 in funds to improve roads and traffic in Newport Beach. He led efforts to spend tens of thousands of tax dollars on the now abandoned “Port Plan.” He proposed spending $200,000 for audio visual improvements at city hall to make himself look better on cable TV.

He opposed efforts to fund more police on the peninsula and in our schools. He was involved in the ouster of our outstanding City Manager Dave Kiff, and he publicly defended the qualifications of politician Shawn Nelson to be the replacement.

He has managed to yet again put himself under investigation for violating our campaign contribution limits and reporting requirements. This year, he added an investigation for conflict of interest violations.

Peotter should take “credit” for his full record. And the public should not forget it on Election Day.

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor:

Councilmember Herdman attempts to clear the confusion

First, a most sincere thanks to those of you who were able to rearrange your schedules this past Monday morning in order to attend the special meeting of the City Council. 

An honest display of concern and democracy on your part. I wish it would have been so on the part of the remainder of the Council in not seconding my motion to delay the hiring process of our city manager until after the November election. Without a second the motion failed, and we immediately adjourned to Closed Session. I was honestly amazed by the intense chanting that then took place, “Vote them out”, by those in the audience. It appears to me that a revolution has been launched!

Second, it is important to me that without breaking the Brown Act, I explain my situation, and deal with the accusations that are being leveled at me by my colleagues on the Council. What is being said is that I broke a confidentiality agreement by releasing the name of one of the three finalists. This is flat out not true. The other implied accusation of my being supportive of this individual as a finalist, is true. I was one of the council members who supported this candidate moving forward as a finalist, but let me explain…

Going into the interview with this candidate, I knew absolutely nothing about him other than what I had read on his resume. He did an outstanding job in the interview and moved to the top as one of my three most qualified candidates. Based on his performance during the interview I did vote to place him in the top three for a second interview.

Then the name of the candidate was “leaked”, and absolutely not by me.  As a result of this leak I began receiving emails and face-to-face comments from people encouraging me to not consider this individual for the position. I even did some fact checking myself and concluded that this individual was no longer a viable candidate. I had a responsibility to the community to do this. This left me with two very qualified candidates from which to select; candidates I was very comfortable with as finalists. 

With the above explanation of facts, I have not broken any confidentiality agreements, or the Brown Act. I have simply explained my situation and provided you with the facts. As you would predict, I have received several phone calls from the press asking for a statement. I have simply responded with, “It appears that the election season is upon us!”

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Councilmember

Newport Dodges a Bullet

This has been a wild week in Newport Beach. When it became known that an elected County Supervisor with absolutely no experience as a city manager was in the top three for consideration to replace Dave Kiff, the public became outraged. Over three hundred emails were generated to the city council after the “interviews” were moved up two weeks and notice given late Friday night for a Monday morning special meeting. 

Despite this effort to avoid public scrutiny, over fifty residents attended the meeting demanding that only a qualified city manager candidate be considered and requesting this decision be delayed until after the election. Everyone in attendance was shocked when the crowd began to chant “Vote Them Out!” as the council filed out of the room.

It was troubling to see the council issue a statement accusing Councilmember Jeff Herdman of leaking the name and violating some sort of “confidentiality agreement” by commenting on qualifications of one of the candidates without mentioning his name. 

As council watcher Jim Mosher has noted, this statement itself may be a violation of the Brown Act and it failed to mention all of the members of the council who had advanced Supervisor Nelson’s name to the finals. 

I know my source of the name was not Herdman and the community owes him a word of thanks for standing up for the community and calling for the public to attend this “special meeting.” 

Now council, tell us the names of everyone who supported this candidate. 

When Dave Kiff was ousted by Team Newport, many of us feared an attempt to bring in a politician as city manager to carry out the full agenda of the political machine running our city. That is almost what we got. Thank you Jeff Herdman for standing up for the residents.

From the bungling of the Kiff retirement, the tens of thousands of tax dollars spent on the foolish “Port Plan”, the phony charter amendment and even phonier negative arguments by Bob Rush, the subpoenas, putting Peotter on the finance committee, conflict of interest violations and the erosion of civility in our city, the fault lies with Mayor Duffield who has been involved in all these measures. 

It is time for a change. We cannot allow our city to continue to be embarrassed by the Peotter/Duffield special interest agenda. 

Keith Curry
Former Mayor Newport Beach

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