clear sky


Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

School District needs to get their head out of the sand and let the students walk

I’ve been reading several well-written communications from our seniors at Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) high schools and felt a huge sense of empathy and frustration for them and their classmates. 

As a graduate of Newport Harbor High School (1997), I look back and remember a senior year full of memories. Sure, I wasn’t the best student and most of my time spent at NHHS was more often in the Vice Principal’s office than the classroom. However, during my final year of school, I was fortunate enough to find a date to prom, graduate (barely) and attend grad-night – something I volunteered at for the first time last year. 

These graduating seniors followed the rules in the fallout of COVID-19, respected their fellow citizens by social distancing, sacrificed the remainder of the classes by taking online instruction and even lowered their standards to accept that 50 percent is simply enough to get you a C grade.

NMUSD should be ashamed at themselves for abandoning their students by easily throwing in the towel by not conducting an in-person graduation ceremony. 

The third week in June is nearly a month away. How does a school district, whose mission states that their goal is to graduate students who will enrich our society, simply walk away from those who have committed four years of their life pursuing?

NMUSD has spent countless hours and resources developing a flawed “banana parking lot” at Ensign, with the intent to remove 27 trees – including one that honors the military sacrifice of a NHHS graduate who gave up his life in Iraq. But they can’t inventively come up with a game plan to hold a graduation ceremony?

The school district has been causing a lot of residents in our community to shake their heads recently. Perhaps it’s time to start listening to the public, which includes your students.       

Many campuses across the nation are holding in-person graduation ceremonies while following social distancing practices. The OC Register recently reported that several school districts are looking to late summer or possibly Thanksgiving break (when most students are back home for the first time since leaving for college) to hold ceremonies. 

NMUSD – please get your head out of the sand and stand together with the graduating class of 2020 to find a solution.   

Erik Weigand 

Newport Beach 

Struck a Nerve

Well, it seems I struck a nerve with my last letter. I know from my experience of Mr. Zak on the planning commission, that he has a certain mindset which [in my opinion] leans toward the individual freedom side as opposed to the common good side but I wouldn’t insult him by calling him names. I do agree with him about being mindful with elected officials, all elected officials. I hope he now sees that he undermined his own argument and supported mine. Be vigilant about the governor but not about the mayor? I prefer words like being mindful, conscious and aware when dealing with government these days. 

My letters to Stu News have made a case for medical facts, such little as we have, like all of us wearing masks and staying socially distant. These don’t seem partisan to me or childish. Looking at the images of citizens around the country this holiday weekend, I wish Mr. Zak luck with his view that we all are adults and can make good decisions for ourselves. Unfortunately, they also with their lack of adult responsibility made decisions for others. The only fact we seem to have gleaned from this pandemic so far is that we get the virus if we are in close proximity to others for a period of time without protective covering, like in nursing homes or crowds at the beach for a day. 

Having spent my career and life in the field of leadership and leadership development and both taught and conducted dialogues in university classes and business organizations, to correct Mr. Zak, Will was not [in my opinion] “seeking an actual dialogue”, he was using statistics to support his mindset, in other words, presenting his side of the debate or argument. True city leadership would not have been fighting state government in the midst of a once in our lifetime crisis. It would have been leading the whole community to collaborate with all government, confront the danger and truly dialogue about innovative and creative solutions for the future. We live in a time with wicked problems of all kinds. I, for one, would love to hear actual public policies that advance the whole public, health or planning and development, even the economy. 

It strains credulity to think that an elected California Democrat, Republican (or Independent like me) would deliberately want to destroy our way of life or economy unless Mr. Zak thinks we should also be constantly vigilant probing the reasons our mayor makes the decisions he does. I do think this argument about autocracy and freedom in regard to beaches and masks in the middle of a pandemic is childish. Talk about fear based! If I have my current history correct, it was the mayor of San Francisco who shut her city down first as the governor was resisting doing so. Lastly, to Mr. Zak, if I were any more adult, I’m afraid I’d be in assisted living right now.   

Linda Watkins

Newport Resident

Takeaways from NB Democratic Women’s Club virtual meeting

I was fortunate to be able to attend a virtual reality meeting which hosted the participation of Congressman Harley Rouda of the 48th District and Congresswoman Katie Porter from the 45th. It was about the fifth time that I had attended an event for Harley and the second time for Katie Porter, who in addition to being a Congresswoman, is also a professor at UCI. I have also seen both of them on television.

After listening to other local political speakers, I always come away in awe of being represented by such stellar candidates as Rouda and Porter. They speak without notes on the several occasions that I have seen them and they can speak at length about virtually any topic that is pertinent to the County.

Last night Congresswoman Porter spoke about COVID-19 testing, how Orange County is behind in that area when compared to a similarly sized County such as San Diego. She talked also about the upcoming election and the challenges of voting during the coronavirus quarantine.

Congressman Harley entertained questions from the 70 attendees at the virtual meeting. He answered so many different questions with so much ease, that it was difficult to keep up. A more charismatic and intelligent duo, it would be difficult to find. They are also refreshing because unlike many other politicians, they do not spew ideological rhetoric. Their eyes are on the constantly shifting issues before the American people, and they speak assertively and knowingly about these issues, not just as citizens of Orange County, but of the United States. Since that meeting Congressman Rouda has received  a “2020 Champion of Patient Access” award for his leadership in protecting patient access during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his work on “keeping drug costs affordable while promoting innovation to protect seniors.” I am sincerely proud of this “new breed” of politicians who have stepped forward to represent us so professionally.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Who we are:

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Shaena Stabler, Co-Owner -

Amy Senk, Duncan Forgey, Len Bose, Nancy Gardner and Sara Hall are our writers and/or columnists.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


© 2021 Stu News Newport, LLC  |. All Rights Reserved