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Letters to the Editor

Direct accountability matters

As a small business owner, I hold myself accountable for the service and quality in my restaurants. As your City Councilmember, you hold me directly accountable for decisions we make and the outcomes of those decisions too.

How do we make those decisions? We set public policy based on agendas set well in advance of a City Council meeting. As it currently stands, we delegate most of the agenda-setting functions to our City Manager. No matter how good a City Manager is (and ours is great), the City Manager is accountable only to the City Council and not directly to the people of the City of Newport Beach.

As City Councilmembers, we can also place items on the agenda if three of us agree that it deserves discussion. That, in fact, is how the Elect Our Mayor initiative will be on your ballots. I asked our City Council to consider the item, all seven City Councilmembers agreed, and then a majority of us voted to put Measure B on the ballot so that you get to choose whether you want to elect the Mayor (or whether you want us to keep choosing amongst ourselves every year).

Once you understand that, you’ll join me in expressing surprise that opponents of Measure B claim that the Mayor would be “too powerful.” No power would shift from City Councilmembers to the Mayor, we would still be able to place items on the agenda. The change would be moving the primary agenda setting option from the unelected City Manager to the directly accountable Mayor.

Direct accountability to voters matters. Learn more at www.electourmayor.com and encourage your friends and neighbors to vote Yes on B.

Noah Blom, District 5

Mayor Pro Tem

Newport Beach City Council

Don’t buy into the slogans

I love my “all natural” ice cream.

I always buy “fat free” margarine.

My juice boxes have “no sugar added.”

The chicken my wife serves is “free range” because they are exposed to the outdoors.

The grandkids’ fruit roll ups are “made with real fruit.”

You get the point. Slogans can be (and often are) misleading.

So, it is with the campaign slogan, “Elect Our Mayor.”

Sounds good, yes? Democracy in action, correct?

Motherhood, apple pie, stars and stripes and “Elect Our Mayor.” 

The proponents repeatedly claim, “It’s That Simple.” I admire simplicity, but sometimes simple answers (or clever catch phrases) gloss over complicated problems and unintended consequences. In this case, “It Clearly Isn’t That Simple.”

Maybe we should first read the words behind the superficial slogan of “Elect Our Mayor.”

Maybe we should consider the significant taxpayer cost of the measure to add a strong mayor’s full-time staff which will inevitably be necessary. (Just ask any city with a strong mayor.)

Maybe we should consider the disenfranchisement of the other weakened councilmembers subordinate and junior to the strong mayor.

Maybe we will lose a preeminent educated and experienced City Manager who is stripped of prior duties and who is under the thumb of a powerful mayor.

Maybe the other weakened councilmembers will not be able to be responsive in the reconfigured districts (reduced from seven to six) with at least 2,000 more constituents to serve for each new district.

Maybe the Mayor’s district (already served by another councilmember) will become a super district with two representatives on Council to the significant detriment of the other five districts with only one representative.

Please think twice about the misleading catch phrase “Elect Our Mayor” and the many unfavorable consequences of the measure.

Vote “No” on the “Bad for Newport” Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

It’s time for Newport Beach to elect their own mayor

Measure B sure has brought out some interesting opposing arguments, often based in falsehoods and fear. Fear and name-calling don’t move the needle for me and I hope they don’t for you.

A recent rebuttal to the No campaign, written by John O’Hara, reflects the thinking that sealed my commitment to the Elect Our Mayor Campaign. 

–The power to select our Mayor should belong with the voters. 

–Term limits, as written in Measure B, are sound and actually better than what we currently have for the City Council in general.

–‘What if’…are we to let ‘what if’ determine how we lead our city? 

Fear is often used as a persuasion technique, particularly in elections. That certainly is the case with the “No Elected Mayor in Newport Beach” campaign. In fact, the campaign’s website says exactly that. As someone who holds sacred the people’s right to vote for their leaders, that statement alone is enough to reject this fear-based campaign that seeks to limit the power of the voter. No and Elected in the same sentence is baffling. 

A recent No on B mailer was filled with inflammatory language like “deceptive and dangerous,” “Pro-Trump Republicans” and “special interest power grab.”

Those words were used to demonize those of us who support Measure B.  Those words also demonstrate a lack of respect for neighbors who support Measure B and the importance of the power resting with the voters. 

“Special Interest Power Grab?” Yes, your interests and mine are special, and the power should rest with us.

It’s time for Newport Beach to have Mayors that go beyond the ceremonial, and it’s time to give the voters the freedom to choose their Mayor. 

Ruth Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Lee Lowrey officially withdraws from City Council race

(Yesterday, May 9, candidate Lee Lowrey officially withdrew from the 2022 Newport Beach City Council race scheduled for November. Lee cited business commitments. He also promised to refund all $30,000 of political contributions that he received.)

Dear supporters of my candidacy for Newport Beach City Council,

Effective (yesterday), I will be ending my campaign for the position of City Councilman (District 4) for the City of Newport Beach. Your support and encouragement for my candidacy has meant everything to me. It has been an overwhelming humbling experience. Coming to my decision has not been an easy one. As I thought about the time necessary to successfully represent the citizens of Newport Beach on the City Council, initially I believed it was a manageable time commitment. It has become evident with the recent changes in economic conditions more time is going to be required to navigate my company with its current workload, as well as more time needed to seize new economic opportunities. To be able to give the 110% that I have promised my customers, employees, investors, and business partners, the additional time I believed I would have had for City Council just isn’t there.

I decided to run for city council first for my love of Newport Beach and my fellow residents. Additionally, I believed my background in business both large and small, my position as your current Chairman of the Newport Beach Planning Commission navigating through the new and complex housing mandates Sacramento is dictating on local municipalities, and my knowledge of John Wayne Airport’s intricacies from my six years of service on the Airport Commission would have made my background a great fit for the City Council. Unfortunately, this will not be the time that I will be able to take my background and experience to the voters.

I would be remiss in not thanking Mayor Kevin Muldoon, Mayor Pro Tem Noah Blom, Councilman Will O’Neill, Councilman Duffy Duffield, Congresswoman Michelle Steel, Sheriff Don Barnes, Orange County Supervisors Don Wagner and Andrew Do, and former GOP Assembly Leader and OCGOP Chairman Scott Baugh for their early support. Also, I want to thank those that donated over $30,000 during the past three weeks. Your donations will be refunded in full.

As the field of candidates begins to take final shape and we get closer to candidate filing, I look forward to listening to all the candidates and their respective policy positions as they seek election. Newport Beach may have some challenges as we look ahead, but we are all beyond blessed to live in this wonderful city we call home.

All the best to you and yours,

Lee M. Lowrey 

Boats landing on the Balboa Peninsula

My husband and I have owned property for over 40 years on the Balboa Peninsula. I read numerous local news sources including major news publications, the Newport City weekly reports, the City Council updates and local internet network sources. I also receive email alerts from the Newport Beach Police Department. 

Lately I have noticed what appears to be a major omission of very serious activities in our local area. Several months ago, a boat approached the Balboa Peninsula and off-loaded numerous people who then raced ashore to waiting cars. On that occasion there were armed police officers and armed agents who arrived in time to surround and contain the people as they attempted to escape into our community. 

I could not find any news explaining the situation. 

Recently, about one week ago, I experienced another similar situation. I saw numerous police cars and ambulances with sirens and lights on racing east on the Peninsula toward the Wedge. There was a group of people hiding on a private property near E St. and they raced toward Balboa Blvd. to head west toward Balboa Village. The police cars returned from the Wedge and apprehended several people. 

Unfortunately, once again I could not find any account in any publication regarding this very serious activity. 

I was frustrated by this lack of a factual account so I reached out to the Police Department and found out that approximately 10 people jumped off a boat near the Wedge. The OCSD Harbor Patrol was on the scene and assisted. U.S Customs and Border Protection resources also responded and detained some of the individuals. 

I feel that keeping local residents in the dark about these potentially dangerous activities is wrong. As a longtime-resident, I believe that we need to know what is happening in our community so we can make appropriate decisions regarding our security as individual property owners and our security as a community. 

The Balboa Peninsula is a water-oriented location and therefore is completely exposed to both the ocean and the bay. We need to work together with our City Council, our Police Department and the various Harbor law enforcement groups and that starts through discussions and education – not through avoidance of the facts. 

Ron and Nancy Arrache

Balboa Peninsula

The acquisition of Banning Ranch is complete

In a victorious moment, a goal that has taken decades to come to fruition, the “darling” of the coastal preservationists, Banning Ranch, acquired $11.5 million from the Coastal Conservancy this last week to complete its acquisition as public land. It had taken many years for preservationists to first gain approval by the Coastal Commission and then secondly acquire the $97 million necessary to purchase the site. 

When I retired in 2008, the Banning Ranch Conservancy became the first charitable group to which I donated time and effort. I was drawn immediately to the cause after listening one evening to a presentation by Suzanne Forster and Dorothy Kraus, and consequentially meeting the President Terry Welsh, all three impressing me greatly with their knowledge of the precious attributes of Banning Ranch and their fervor for preserving it as the largest remaining private coastal parcel between Ventura County and the U.S/Mexico border. Many local citizens from the coastal area volunteered to make this dream come true.

The Banning Ranch Conservancy wants to refresh and repair the coastal resources which have been damaged by decades of oil production for its use as a public space. Eventually it will provide access opportunities such as trails and low-impact overnight accommodations.

Several local political figures have become involved in aiding Banning Ranch Conservancy to meet its goals, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, Costa Mesa Councilmember Arlis Reynolds, California Director for the Trust of Public Land Guillermo Rodriquez and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.

One would be remiss not to mention the generous gift of $50 million donated by Newport Beach philanthropists Frank and Joann Randall in 2019 to the non-profit Trust for Public Land which helped secure an exclusive agreement with the owners of Banning Ranch for the acquisition.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach