Letters to the Editor:

Planned condo towers seem out of place

I used to work in a four-story office building in Koll Center Newport and still have friends there who’ve been worrying lately about a new project that is being proposed next door called the Koll Center Residences. It is apparently three very large condo towers that will be put where the parking lots have been for the offices. They will tower over the next-door business properties and force workers to park farther away in another bulky parking garage.   

Even though Koll Center Newport is a fairly intense business complex by previous Newport standards, it was well laid out and provides a pleasant place to work with an open feeling that is a big relief from maneuvering around Los Angeles. 

Putting three bulky 160-foot high, luxury condominium towers in this location just seems out-of-place, out-of-scale and out-of-order. Are the people who work there going to be able to live in these very large luxury condos? It makes me seriously wonder who thinks up these things.

Thank you for considering publishing this so that other Newport Beach residents can be made aware and weigh in before it’s too late.

Tamara Watt

Newport Beach

Could a replacement for Kiff already be in the works?

The jungle drums are beating that the replacement for Dave Kiff has already been picked.

Meet Mark Denny, a man with a prior conviction for voter fraud and only 9 months experience as a city manager.

In 1996, Mark was convicted of voter fraud when he helped arrange a decoy Democratic candidate in a tight Assembly race. Dana Rohrabacher’s future wife was involved in that incident as well. He was working for Curt Pringle at the time.

He then worked as former Supervisor Bill Campbell’s chief of staff until he was hired as the director of county parks in 2008. Around 2014, he was hired as the Chief Operating Officer of the county, a position that involved overseeing the Registrar of Voters. This created a flurry of controversy given his prior conviction and he was ultimately stripped of the ability to oversee elections.

He was in the COO position for 3 years before moving to Dana Point as the Director of Parks and Recreation in the fall of 2016. During that time, the OC Register reported that he was under investigation for awarding $1 million dollars of no bid contracts while running the parks department. According to the article, the contracts were awarded to a friend of a friend of Denny’s with little oversight and no appropriate paperwork.

I spoke at length with a city official in Dana Point yesterday and this is what I learned:

Dana Point, like our city, has a council majority of three who often are at odds with the other 2 councilpersons. The gentleman I spoke with didn’t know if Dave Ellis was involved but said that it is commonly believed that there is an outside person or group who is directing decisions for the council majority (sound familiar)?

A bit more than a year ago, the city manager there said that he was planning to retire in a few years and that he thought that it would be good to have a Parks and Recreation director. The council agreed and created this position on a Tuesday night and by Friday, Mark Denny had been offered the job and accepted. It was clearly planned in advance. The information about his past became known after he had accepted the job.

The city manager then announced that he was going to retire immediately.

The city hired a recruitment specialist to find experienced candidates. The well-respected assistant city manager applied for the job and the recruiter found them a number of excellent candidates. Unexpectedly, the assistant city manager withdrew his application, leaving three finalists for the job. 

Mark Denny never even applied for the job, but when the selection occurred, the three members of the ruling cabal picked him in July 2017.

He has now been city manager for 9 months. The man I spoke with was quite guarded in his description of how Mark was doing on the job, but did say that he was “learning on the job.” He said that the skill sets Mark had acquired at the county are quite different from the skill set needed to run a city. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this scenario is pretty similar to our own. If you google Mark Denny, there are quite a few articles written about him, many of them uncomplimentary. 

Newport Beach deserves an experienced, ethical city manager to replace Dave Kiff and we should settle for nothing less.

Please feel free to forward this widely. Sunshine is probably the only antidote to the dry rot that has taken hold of our city.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach