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.


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