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Letters to the Editor:

Too much has happened in the last year to forget

One year ago, a grassroots effort was launched to recall Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter. Ultimately more than 10,000 residents would sign petitions demanding Peotter be removed from office. The recall effort froze the Gang of Four (Peotter, Duffy Duffield, Kevin Muldoon and Will O’Neill) from pursuing their agenda. 

When the recall fell 106 signatures short, The Four proceeded to demonstrate why the recall effort was so necessary.

We said that, if Peotter remained in office, they would move to replace our outstanding City Manager. Beginning in February, the Four conducted secret negotiations to force Dave Kiff to leave early. They negotiated in secret, even keeping their plans from the rest of the city council.

We said that they would continue to disregard the civic rights of Newport residents. So, it was no surprise in February when the Gang, who tried to undermine the Museum House petitions, voted to issue subpoenas to harass their opponents. 

We said that they place themselves above the law. Today, Peotter and Duffield stand accused of, yet again, violating our campaign contribution limits.  Rather than enforce the law, the Gang of Four is spending taxpayer dollars to defend the accused. Where is the commitment to law and order? The Gang has also been charged with violating the Brown Act in their efforts to oust Dave Kiff.

We said that they would direct tax dollars to special interests and donors. In March they voted to spend $16,000 per month to lobby for a “Port Plan” to make us like San Pedro. The Coastal Commission called this plan “laughable” and the only oblivious beneficiary was Duffield’s boat business.

We said that they would gut programs important to residents to fund their special interest objectives. They have already spent $200,000 in unnecessary severance and legal fees, paid $150,000 in discrimination settlement payments due to our conflicted city attorney and hundreds of thousands to expand staff for Duffy’s “harbor plan” to give him complete control over the water. Peotter even proposed $200,000 in Audio-Visual improvements to “make him look better” on cable TV. Now, watch the budget as they cut arts, recreation and park services.

We can stop this chaos. Vote for change in November. Reject the divisive, financially reckless, and costly policies of the Gang of Four.

Kristin M. Cano

Newport Beach

Shopoff Develops Bad Business Practices in Newport Beach

There are good business practices that benefit the business and the community, and bad practices that harm the community. An example of good business practices is the Oyster Point Development in San Francisco, where a developer withdrew their application for a housing project in a local business park. Lack of transportation and services, incompatibility with existing uses, and significant traffic congestion all contributed to local opposition to the residential project. The developer acted responsibly by listening and putting the housing project on hold for the foreseeable future, working with members of the community on a mutually beneficial solution.  

Next up, bad business practices. Shopoff Realty Investments is planning to supplant parking and green space in Newport Beach’s Koll Center business park with three high-rise, high-density condominium towers. Despite vehement objections from business owners, Shopoff refuses to amend their development plans. The location for the proposed development is not suitable for housing, is not in a school district, will further congest roadways (I-405, Jamboree, MacArthur and Culver), and threatens the expansion of existing businesses (read: jobs).  

Obviously, Shopoff would do well to withdraw his proposed Koll Residences project from the Koll business park, if he values good business practices.


Best Regards,

Haley Detwiler-McDonald, PR Director

COMAC America Corporation

Newport Beach

In whose interest is our City Attorney acting?

Equal protection under the law is a basic Constitutional principle, but it is one that the Newport Beach City Council is trampling upon with abandon.

In 2014 and again now, Councilmembers Scott Peotter and Duffy Duffield were accused of violating our municipal campaign contribution limits. The city attorney and the city council did nothing. In 2016, their ally, Lee Lowrey, was accused of violating the same law. Again, the council and city attorney did nothing.

Contrast this with the aggressive way City Attorney Aaron Harp retained outside counsel (without city council approval), in an attempt to keep Jeff Herdman off the ballot in 2016. The courts quickly repudiated this effort. Today, the city attorney and members of the council are selectively leaking Herdman’s emails in an effort to discredit him and to prevent the appointment of a special prosecutor to pursue the charges against Peotter and Duffield.

It’s not just campaign laws, this council attempted to undermine the right to stop the Museum House by making the petitions more than a 1,000 pages long. They are using subpoenas at taxpayer expense to harass their opponents. They are systematically replacing our excellent city management with people loyal to them. The new proposed Harbor Department is an example. Testimony under oath is needed to determine the depth of the conspiracy to oust the city manager and negotiate a $200,000 severance without the knowledge of the other three members of the city council. Here again, the city attorney is working hand and glove with the four conspirators. The council refused to discipline Peotter for his misuse of the city seal.

Now we learn the city has been forced to pay $150,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit resulting from the actions of the city attorney.

The out of town political hacks on the city council are betting that the public is not paying attention to their actions and after November, free of the need to run again for reelection, they will be empowered to enact a new General Plan that reflects their high-rise vision. It is up to all of us to stop this insidious plan.


Liddy and Scott Paulsen

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

More opposition to Koll Center

This is to express my opposition to the Koll Center, an over-sized high-rise complex of luxury units.

When we residents of Newport Beach approved the new General Plan in 2006, we were promised a reduction of traffic and of building. The exact opposite has happened!

For instance, the Koll Center was described as a mid-rise building. Now it has morphed into an over-sized high-rise complex of luxury units! 

It is time for our City to keep its promises and say “NO!” to the Koll condos!


Jeanne Fobes 

Newport Beach

Thank you for sharing our story

(Following our Malawi picnic fundraising story in Stu News Newport)

Thank you so much for the article. I love Stu News!

Nancy Clark

Newport Beach

(A reminder, the community is invited to a Picnic Fundraiser for Mangochi, Malawi students on Sunday, May 20 from 2 - 5 p.m. at 2317 Private Road, Newport Beach. Proceeds benefit BEAM – Building Education Across Malawi.)

Letter to the Editor:

Gang of Four not fiscal conservatives

The Gang of Four on the Newport Beach City Council, Scott Peotter, Kevin Muldoon, Duffy Duffield and Will O’Neill go to comic extremes to pose as fiscal conservatives, but the numbers tell another story.

The Gang cost the city $200,000 in legal fees and severance in the classless way they forced our outstanding City Manager Dave Kiff to leave early. The four were willing to forfeit $480,000 in fuel taxes paid by Newport residents to improve our streets in order to make a political point. Only public outrage made them abandon this foolish action.

In 2015 Peotter, Duffield and Muldoon gave $355,000 in taxpayer dollars to major campaign donor Woody’s Wharf. Peotter proposed spending $200,000 in audio visual improvements at city hall so that he “doesn’t look like he’s asleep” during council broadcasts.

They spent $300,000 on the so called “City Hall Audit” which was never completed and quietly abandoned when it proved to be just a mistake-filled political hatchet job.

Duffield and Peotter refuse to put a price tag on their plans for our harbor, but buying fire boats, jet boats for lifeguards, a dredge and taking over public safety services currently funded and provided by the county will cost tens of millions. 

We do know that their ill-conceived “Port Plan” to make us more like San Pedro cost $16,000 a month in lobbyist fees for a proposal the Coastal Commission called “laughable.” The goal of the “Port Plan” would appear to be exempting businesses like Duffy’s from review by the Coastal Commission.

The meter is running on their abuse of the subpoena process and recently they voted to bring on a city manager search firm without interviews or price negotiation.  

There are many other examples of waste. I expect them to propose cuts to arts, recreation and library services to cover for their waste and mistakes.

The Four have cost taxpayers millions already. Peotter, Muldoon, Duffield and O’Neill are not fiscal conservatives. They’re just amateur political hacks, screwing up our city while desperately trying to posture for a run for higher office.

It’s time for a change at city hall.

Tim Stephens

Corona Del Mar

Letter to the Editor:

We believe Community Involvement is the name of the game

Thank you for covering our Annual Meeting this year and stressing our theme of Community Involvement. Nowhere is that more evident than in reading Stu News. I am continually amazed at the wealth of opportunities for our citizens to engage with a wide variety of organizations. We are an inspiring community and most it seems are living in gratitude while addressing problems and solutions. Our residents are not sitting back and complaining, they are taking action in ways that support others and ourselves. 

Joy Brenner, President

Corona del Mar Residents Association

Letters to the Editor:

Thanks for the help Nancy, we’re one of the best kept secrets in town

It was with delight I read Nancy Gardner’s story about the Follies that the Assistance League of Newport-Beach used to have as their fundraiser. Even though I’ve been a member of Assistance League for 40 years, the Follies were before my time!

Twenty-five plus years ago, needing more room for our Thrift Shop and Dental Center, we moved from our Lido address to Costa Mesa. 

We continue to serve the Newport-Mesa community through our Cheri Harris Dental Center, our Operation School Bell clothing program, our Scholarship program for High School Seniors and our Kids on the Block puppet program for young children. We raise money to fund these programs through our Thrift Shop and Consignment Shop and various other fundraising events. 

One event that we have done for 10 years is called Dancing for Tomorrow Stars. It resembles the old Follies in a way, by pairing local celebrities with professional dancers, based on the popular television series “Dancing with the Stars”. This event has raised considerable funds to help us continue to serve the community. 

Even though we are one of the oldest non-profits, having been in the community over 75 years, we seem to get very little press coverage for the children and families we serve. That’s one reason I was so happy to see reference to Assistance League in Nancy’s article.

We welcome anyone to become a part of this wonderful organization. We will continue to honor our vision of “A Better Tomorrow for Today’s Child”.


Ann Marie Alford, President 2000-2001, 2015

Newport Beach

Koll businesses opposed to proposed condo towers

Where Should Newport Beach Grow? Wrong question for a developer to ask in a glossy brochure mailed to Newport Beach residents. There is no mandate for Newport to grow and negatively impact its current residents. Koll Center Residences (KCR) is all about developer fees and not about quality of living or working in Newport Beach. 

I have had an office in Koll Center Newport since 1987 and am currently a building owner next to the proposed KCR development. As a property owner I respect property rights, however this development is in the common area managed by Koll Center Newport. The office owner’s association should be representing the interests of the building owners in Koll Center and not an outside developer. This is like a homeowner’s association selling off a park for development and pocketing the money. 

There is a misconception that if there are residential units in the airport area, people will live and work there. None of my employees would want to purchase a multi-million-dollar condo. Why? It is in an office parking lot. What is appealing about that? And, it certainly exceeds the price point for software developers. 

Koll Center and the immediate area is loud due to the airport and vehicle traffic noise. It lacks residential shopping, entertainment, services, and neighborhood schools. If growth is pushed over to the airport, the traffic will increase. There are many reasons why the citizens of Newport Beach passed Greenlight and defeated Measure Y – to maintain quality of life. It turns out that over by the airport is also in everyone’s backyard.

Fred Fourcher, CEO, Bitcentral Inc.

Newport Beach

Mad and not going to take it anymore

In the past few weeks, the “Gang of Four” running the city of Newport Beach (Councilmembers Duffield, Peotter, Muldoon and O’Neill), have been accused by residents and past and present members of the city council of violating the Brown Act on open meetings in the way they engineered the ouster of our city manager behind closed doors. They simply cut the other three council members out of the decision-making process and cost the taxpayers an unnecessary $200,000 in the process.

Peotter and Duffield have been accused of yet again violating our campaign contribution laws, and amazingly, the city attorney apparently refused legal service on their behalf, thus requiring a process server to track down our council members. Public ridicule and the prospect of Peotter and Duffield being served during a council meeting made him reverse himself. He should be prosecuting, not protecting these violations. 

The Gang of Four recently voted to issue subpoenas against their political opponents on an issue already being handled by the DA. No other city has done this. 

During this same time, the Gang of Four decided to declare Newport Beach a “Rule of Law” city. Given their actions, we are about as far away from a “Rule of Law” city as we can be.

As a “law and order” voter, I will be casting my vote to restore sanity and respect for law in Newport Beach by voting against Peotter, Duffield and Muldoon in November and against Will O’Neill in 2020. 

Gerald A Giannini

Newport Beach

Guest Column

Dave Kiff

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

Dave Kiff

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff   

Here is a summary of what’s on the agenda of the next City Council meeting (set for tonight, April 24). Below, I try to summarize items that caught my attention. I don’t summarize the whole agenda, though. To see that, please click here.

Study Session begins pretty early at 3:30 p.m., with the Regular Session convening at 7 p.m.  

At the Study Session, we’ll talk to the Council about concepts to reduce parking problems in residential areas that are heavily impacted by construction vehicles. As folks know, in several parts of the community it seems like everyone is remodeling something. All of those workers need to park somewhere, and that somewhere includes perfectly legal parking on public streets. Run the street sweeper by, and the problems get worse. Compounding that, the most typical areas for remodeling seem to be our older areas (CdM, Balboa Peninsula, Balboa Island, Lido Isle, and others) that can also have narrower streets with more limited parking. 

The Regular Session at 7 p.m. has these items that caught my attention:

An item that may bring a loud cheer from West Newport Beach and Newport Shores: We’re finally okaying the contract for landscaping improvements along Coast Highway on that side of town (between Newport Boulevard and the Santa Ana River). While this project will be bitten off in pieces, this is the first bite of that. Residents there (shout out to George and Gina Lesley) have been waiting a long time. This Phase 1 will go from Highland to a bit east of 61st Street (past Cappy’s). How exciting.   

A minor item (a Notice of Completion) marks the conclusion of a project that improved the landscaping along MacArthur (the slope on the western side of MacArthur near Big Canyon). As I drive by, I like the look of the landscaping although the plants seem pretty small right now. It’s quite an improvement on the mustard weed and brush that usually populates that slope.  

I’ve asked the Council to consider steps forward on the concept of a Port Master Plan (PMP), now that the California Coastal Commission has voted to formally oppose our legislation which would have allowed us to submit a PMP to the Commission (AB 1196, Harper). Various options could include moving forward until at least the first bill hearing in June, considering other alternatives already in the Coastal Act that may secure something similar to a PMP without new legislation (as the Commission in part suggested), or dropping the effort altogether.

Council may decide on a firm to conduct the recruitment for the next city manager. There is a closed session item about this, too.

A few notes for your calendar:

The CdMRA’s annual town meeting is this coming Wednesday, April 25 at Sherman Library and Gardens. The event is from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., with an expo at the beginning and a program (starting at 6:45 p.m.) closing it out. More information is here.

The Newport Beach Film Festival runs April 26 - May 3. The festival will include more than 350 films from 50 countries and offer more than two dozen special events, including free filmmaking seminars on April 28 and 29. The festival brings visitors to town, but a lot of Newport Beach residents and businesses help to put it on each year.        

The City Clerk will host a free, brown bag lunch and workshop to assist residents in applying to serve on a City board or commission on Friday, May 4 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the Community Room, 100 Civic Center Drive. For more information and to RSVP, call 949.644.3005 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Important note: The City will accept applications through May 9 at 12 p.m. for about a dozen board and commission seats that are eligible for appointment on July 1.

This is a bit off in the future but mark your calendars for another free document shredding day. The City and CR&R Environmental Services will offer free document shredding for CR&R’s Newport Beach customers on Saturday, May 12 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Big Canyon Reservoir Parking Lot, 3300 Pacific View Drive (near the intersection of Marguerite & Pacific View), Corona del Mar.

In closing today, I wanted to offer two items of congratulations – one to Reverend Cindy Voorhees and her parishioners at St James Church, for being back in their sanctuary after too long a time and working so hard to save St James. I have a special affinity for this group because they’ve had to use city facilities (including parks) to stick together during their time without a building. They always paid the market rate, but we’re happy to see them back home.  

Also, congratulations to Bob Olson – in the same neighborhood as St James – who opened the new Lido House Hotel this past week, exactly five years from the day that he (Bob) won a challenging RFP competition set forth by the City. Bob “wowed” everyone with his proposal at the time – it’s now up and running in real time at the “old” city hall site, and it’s even more amazing than I had thought it would be.

Congratulations, Bob. Congratulations, Rev. Cindy. Here’s to a long, prosperous future for you both.

Thank you for reading. Please forward this Guide to family, friends and members of your HOA if you represent one. I always like hearing from you, too, so please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment.



Dave Kiff

City Manager

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Letters to the Editor:

Is a new interim city manager waiting in the wings at city hall? 

This is to keep you updated on the issues surrounding the city manager position.  

If you were at the April 10 City Council meeting, you learned that City Councilmen (Will) O’Neill and (Marshall) Duffield met with our well-respected City Manager Dave Kiff and effectively forced his retirement. It is unclear if Councilmen (Kevin) Muldoon and (Scott) Peotter were directly involved, but it is widely believed that they were.

Dave’s new contract states that if an interim city manager is named, Dave will immediately be placed on administrative leave until August 31, the date of his retirement. Well-placed sources now say that an interim city manager will be named imminently. If these sources are correct, our new city manager will be…Assistant City Attorney Michael Torres. Mr. Torres has absolutely NO experience as a city manager and his current position has not even given him the opportunity to develop significant administrative or leadership skills.  

It is hugely ironic that those councilmen who campaigned on fiscal responsibility are willing to throw away money on severance pay and administrative leave pay in order to ensure that Dave Kiff is no longer in charge. Why?

Why is the “Gang of 4” so hot to remove Mr. Kiff? What do they want so badly that Dave Kiff will impede? What are they planning to accomplish once he is gone? 

Mr. Peotter is facing an uphill climb to hold on to his seat and the “Gang of 4” likely knows that once he is gone, they may not have the votes to make changes to the city that they want to make. What ARE those changes? Firing staff that they disagree with? Dave won’t be able to protect city staff any longer. (Possibly) making it easier for their campaign consultant Dave Ellis to influence planning decisions? Mr. Ellis was a lobbyist for the Museum House, a project widely rejected by the residents that was approved by his clients on the council despite an enormous outcry.  

It was also revealed at the council meeting that Mr. Peotter had pushed multiple times for Mark Denny to get a position as an assistant city manager but was unsuccessful. It is believed that he was trying to position Mr. Denny to take over the city manager position. 

So, let’s learn a bit more about Mr. Denny. He worked for the County of Orange for a number of years after his conviction for voter fraud in the 1990s. While at the county, his stewardship was questioned because of a million dollars spent on no bid contracts apparently awarded to friends of friends and without appropriate paperwork or oversight.  

In 2017, the city of Dana Point created a new position as head of the Parks and Recreation Department at a Tuesday meeting and by Friday, Mr. Denny had been offered the position and accepted it.

Shortly after, the city manager of Dana Point announced his retirement and a professional recruiter was brought in. Three excellent candidates applied for the job but it went to Mr. Denny, a man with NO experience as a city manager. Mr. Denny never even applied for the job but was given it regardless. He now has exactly 10 months of experience as city manager and has been politely described as “learning on the job” by a city official in Dana Point. What Mr. Denny does have is a virtual web of political connections to the “Gang of 4” on our council. The word on the street is that this is the man that Mr. O’Neill, Duffield, Peotter and Muldoon wish to replace Mr. Kiff.

I’m fearful for our city and for the ability of our city staff to act in an ethical and independent way. If unethical forces are working to have key staff positions filled with people who share their philosophy, what does that mean for the future?

At the city council meeting on Tuesday, April 24, the council will decide the process to replace Mr. Kiff. Although it is beyond obvious that the Human Resources department should be heading up this process, the “Gang of 4” adamantly refused to allow that to occur and insisted that City Clerk Leilani Brown be put in charge of this process.  

You might ask yourself why? Might it be because Ms. Brown is an at will employee who serves at the pleasure of the “Gang of 4?” Might it be precisely since she has NO experience in picking a city manager and might be manipulated to do what they want? Is that why Mr. Peotter said that he absolutely refused to have HR manage this process?

We cannot save Dave Kiff, but we are now looking at a bigger picture: saving the city from the “Gang of 4.” The more people know about what is going on, the harder it is for the unethical things that are happening to our city to continue.

The “Gang of 4” must be stopped. 

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Not happy with our Team Newport city council

What is going on in our city? Some of the council members are meeting in secret in order to oust the city manager. Two members of the council are accused of violating our campaign contribution laws; for the second time! The council is issuing subpoenas to harass our citizens in a case where they have no jurisdiction. The council is proposing to spend millions on a port plan that will mostly benefit one of the council members who is in the boat business.

Before that, they were trying to undermine our right to petition on the Museum House and wanted to refuse the gas tax dollars paid by Newport Beach Motorists.

We never had this type of chaos before Team Newport moved into town and took over. This band of partisan, out of town incompetents has made our city a laughing stock. We need to make a clean sweep of these interlopers and the puppet masters who pull their strings. As a taxpayer, I am simply outraged.

Let’s drain the swap at City Hall by electing a new council in November and restore ethics to Newport Beach!

Lauri Preedge

Newport Beach

Former politician says it’s time for Dana to hang it up

When asked about when he knew when to retire, former New York Mets catcher and broadcaster Fran Healy said, “As I walked back to the dugout after striking out, I looked into the stands and saw my wife and kids booing me.”

I have been a 30-year supporter of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher but believe it is time for him to retire. I’ve walked precincts for Dana, raised money, and over the past three decades watched him lose touch with his constituents.

Washington DC has a way of changing politicians. Elected In 1988, Dana was a strong term-limits supporter. That was thirty years ago.

Dana has spent too much time in the beltway where he has accomplished little except marking time and collecting a paycheck. 

He’s neglected his constituents while enriching himself, traveling the world on taxpayer funded junkets, and paying his wife nearly a million dollars in campaign funds.

We need a new member of Congress with the energy and ideas to represent the district; not one who focuses on Vladimir Putin, marijuana and his next trip abroad.

After 15-terms, Dana needs to retire.  

Jim Silva

Former HB City Councilman, a former member of the California Assembly and Orange County Supervisor

Huntington Beach 

Letters to the Editor:

Elected officials should be held accountable

After some sanctimonious pontification about election integrity, it looks like the City Council did not need subpoenas to investigate violations of our campaign laws, they could have just looked at Scott Peotter’s campaign reports on the City Clerk’s webpage.

Once again, Peotter has accepted excess contributions from Woody’s Wharf and from Duffy Duffield. Amazingly, these are the same two donors who made excess donations to Peotter in 2014. Then, the city attorney and city council ignored the violation. These are serious offenses and the penalty in the Municipal Code for both making and receiving an excess donation is removal from office.

In 2015, Peotter and Duffield were key votes in reversing the city’s position, allowing Woody’s to play loud music late into the evening and awarding them $355,000 in taxpayer’s money. No wonder the owners can afford to be generous to Peotter.

The council is spending taxpayer dollars to pursue subpoenas related to state election laws, where they have no jurisdiction, in an effort to harass their opponents. The council actually is responsible for enforcing the Municipal Code and the entire city is watching to see if they will pursue these violations by Peotter and Duffield with the same vigor. I am not holding my breath.

Our elected officials should be held accountable for obeying the laws of the city. Their two-faced, political hypocrisy is now on full display for all to see.

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach

Thanks for the memories...Duncan

I enjoyed Duncan’s article (“Free Flowing,” published April 13), which brought back many fond memories having moved to Newport with my family in 1953. Looking forward to future articles.

Lawrence Cunningham

Newport Beach

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