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Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Mayor’s Dinner does not disappoint on all fronts

TOM MARCHThursday night (May 19) was the 40th Annual Mayor’s Dinner at the newly redesigned VEA Newport Beach, formerly the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa. The changes to the property were immediately recognizable upon arrival with a completely new porte cochère and remodeled lobby. One can tell, it’s going to be spectacular.

The event, planned and organized by Speak Up Newport, was once again an absolute who’s who of the city’s leadership circles and supporting casts. Michele Gile, KCAL 9 and CBS 2 Orange County reporter and Newport Beach resident, served as Master of Ceremonies. All City Councilmembers were in attendance, as were current City Council candidates Tom Miller, Joe Stapleton, Erik Weigand and Robyn Grant. There were 15 mayors, current and past, in attendance. Assembly candidate Diane Dixon was seen working the room and pre-party reception with California State Assembly Minority Leader James Gallagher in tow. And, all Orange County Supervisor candidates for District 5 – Katrina Foley, Pat Bates, Kevin Muldoon and Diane Harkey, were on hand, as were Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education Trustees, including President Michelle Barto, Carol Crane, Leah Ersoylu, Karen Yelsey, Krista Weigand and Ashley Anderson.

Fair Game Ed Selich

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Photo by Bob Ortiz

Speak Up Newport President Ed Selich welcoming guests to the Mayor’s Dinner

Among the many other notables were Visit Newport Beach President & CEO Gary Sherwin, Newport Beach Chamber President Steve Rosansky, Corona del Mar Chamber President Linda Leonhard, Speak Up Newport President and past Mayor Ed Selich, Fire Chief Jeff Boyles, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Eagle Four Partners and VEA Newport Beach owners Kevin Martin, Todd Pickup, Joe Moody, Rick Weiner and Kory Kramer, along with Lyon Living’s Peter Zak.

Fair Game Jeff Boyles and Grace Leung

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Photo by Bob Ortiz

Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles and Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung were among the attendees

Highlights of the evening included an invocation by Rabbi Reuven Mintz of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life that included, as always, a very heartfelt message leading into the blessing and a State of the City by Mayor Muldoon that checked all of the boxes…insightful, humorous and brief.

The Mayor’s humor took a look at today’s council as if it were suddenly transferred to Florida and the changes that would bring. He also, in a serious moment, introduced his new city effort he’s calling “Renew Newport.” It’s an effort that calls for residents and faith-based organizations to unite and battle homelessness in town.

• • •

I saw a notice the other day for Sherman Library & Gardens’ Junior Gardeners Summer Camp.

It harkened me back to those days of my youth, when my dad sent me to his own “gardeners summer camp.” It went something like this, “Tom, tomorrow I want you to weed the gardens in the backyard.” 

“But, Dad, it’ll be 100 degrees out!” 

(whine, whine)

He just chuckled. I don’t think he ever really cared about my feelings…

Anyway, back to Sherman Library & Gardens. Two camps (July 25-28 & August 8-11) will be offered for kids, ages 7-11.

Although these youngsters won’t get the same joy I got weeding gardens, they will learn about carnivorous plants, butterflies & bugs, growing food, worm composting and how to create a wildlife friendly garden.

They will also learn to care for plants and understand how the choices they make affect the natural world. Each session involves activities in the garden and a fun (did you catch that word, FUN) planting or creative craft project to take home.

You can register here for July 25 or here for August 8

• • •

Thursday, The Pacific Club IMPACTâ Foundation and the Lott IMPACTâ Trophy hosted their 19th Annual Watch List, Class of 2022, at The Pacific Club. The Walter Payton Man of the Year and Super Bowl champ,  Andrew Whitworth, was the keynote speaker. 

I attended as the invited guest of Joe Stapleton, a director on the Foundation’s board.

A couple of observations: First, growing up as a Bay Area football fan, Ronnie Lott always was a favorite, even though I was a Raiders first, guy. Second, Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was the event’s guest speaker, and his message about giving back was one of the best I’ve ever heard on the subject. He even selected the charity MVP to receive a donation that was originally earmarked for his own Whitworth Foundation.

Fair Game Lott and Whitworth

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Photo by Ann Chatillon

(L-R) Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and recent Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl Champion Andrew Whitworth share a moment

The design of the luncheon is to name the top 42 (Lott’s playing number) college defensive players in the country going into next year’s football season. Next season will then culminate at The Pacific Club with the naming of the next winner.

In addition to all of that, there are also non-profits who receive charitable donations. This year, checks were presented to Merging Vets and Players (MVP) in the amount of $10,000, the National Football Foundation/California Showcase that received $5,000, as did Miracles for Kids and Kidworks.

Fair Game check presentation

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Photo by Ann Chatillon

(L-R) MVP Co-Founder Nate Boyer is all smiles receiving a check from Coach Mike White, Andrew Whitworth and Los Angeles Angels Chairman Dennis Kuhl

The fact is, over the years, the Foundation has donated $883,110 to charities. Pretty impressive.

• • •

The Commodores Club of Newport Beach will honor the top local high school athletes at their 59th Annual Athletic Awards Dinner on Thursday, June 2 at The Pacific Club. The event celebrates the top student athletes and coaches from Corona del Mar, Newport Harbor and Sage Hill.

Olympian water polo player (2012) John Mann will be the evening’s featured guest speaker. Mann attended CdM, leading them to three consecutive CIF titles, before heading off to play for Cal. There, he was a three-time All-American, leading the Bears to the NCAA championship his senior year, while also winning the prestigious Peter J. Cutino Award and the Pac-10 Medal for outstanding top student-athlete.

To attend the dinner or find more information, go here.