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Letters to the Editor

Thanks to candidate Weigand for speaking up

Kudos to NMUSD candidate Krista Weigand for taking a stance on the district’s ridiculous 4x4 learning plan for the upcoming school year. The majority of our current board has failed time and time again to listen to students, teachers and members of the community. I appreciate Ms. Weigand’s candor and thoughtful response. 

New leadership is needed now more than ever, and I am proud to lend my support to Ms. Weigand. We thank those who have served the board in the past, but I couldn’t be happier to see new people step up and answer the call to service. Ms. Weigand will be a fresh face and hopefully the change needed to return our board to one that listens to the community at large.

Kate Malouf 

Parent at Newport Harbor High School 

Newport Beach 

Reader urges elected representatives to get involved in NMUSD issue

(The following is a letter penned to the offices of our elected officials nationally and in California regarding the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.)

I am writing as a representative of the community surrounding Ensign Intermediate School, part of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. We are baffled by the District’s lack of transparency and unwillingness to work with the local community and even with the City of Newport Beach. The City has tried in every way possible to be part of the solution but even they have been ignored by the District.

We are hoping that you as our higher level elected representatives may have some ability to intervene. 

The community has come together through our local Still Protecting Our Newport organization or SPON as it is called. We have been trying to get the NMUSD School Board, Administration, and Project Manager to work with the community and the City to create the safest and most environmentally friendly improvements for the school, which NMUSD calls the School Safety Fence Project. 

Transparency and accountability have been almost completely lacking in the process. Through SPON we engaged an attorney and [the] following is our plan to file a Declaratory Relief Action against the school district. It does not ask for damages or any type of monetary reward and it does not infringe on any party’s free speech rights (crafting the pleading in this manner avoids potential liability or attack from an anti-SLAPP motion).

The declaratory relief action will be based on an allegation that the District has denied SPON, its members and the community at large its due process rights by limiting and/or denying participation in the planning process whereby the construction plans were discussed and ultimately approved. The Board is obligated, pursuant to the Education Code and the Government Code to seek out and encourage public participation in any and all projects of this nature.

The factual basis for this allegation is rooted in how the District did, and did not, publicize the hearings regarding the plan, how the district [in our opinion] manipulated information and the little community input that they did receive, how the District has failed to secure the appropriate city construction permits, how the District has failed to take into account environmental and safety concerns, how the upcoming changes on both the Board and with the Superintendent can and will impact the project and the District’s willingness and ability to move forward, and the impact the coronavirus will have on the new school year and other health and safety concerns.

SPON, its members and the community has been and will be irreparably damaged if the project is allowed to go forward unabated.

–Defying the Migratory Bird Act and they mutilated and destroyed 13 mature Tipuana trees when they were notified our attorney was filing for an injunction.

–Nine other trees…have been damaged and may not live.

–In order to justify their actions, the District [allegedly] lied about 14 accidents around the school that never happened, per the Newport Beach Police Department.

–Multiple permit issues with the contractor, needing City intervention.

–They misrepresented the quality of the new safety fence that makes the school look like a prison instead of the black fence that would have made the fencing look better.

–They have not watered any of the existing trees and grass.

–Front fencing…within 10’ of the classrooms which have 11 doors, 35 students per classroom, and students going in and out on a hourly basis.

–Their banana lot and 21 parking spaces directly impact the air quality of the hundreds of students utilizing the adjacent classrooms.

–The City of Newport Beach devised a more-simple plan for the drop off and pick up of the students and the Board totally ignored the City plan. This plan would have saved trees and made the environment safer for children.

–Contamination because of buried tanks necessitated a $192,000 change order but the community was never informed of these actions.

WE NEED HELP. We believe CEQA and the Migratory Bird Act were ignored. Anything you can do would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you for your time in advance,

Nancy Barfield

Newport Beach

When being “liberal” is a good thing

I have noticed some letter writers lately have labeled Harley Rouda as a liberal, saying that he has been misrepresented as a moderate. If liberal is characterized as someone who introduces and gets three bills signed into law his freshman year of Congress, while introducing six additional bills and 50 legislative measures, who wins the Healthy Seniors Award for his work to ensure Medicare coverage for seniors to be treated at home during the COVID crisis, and ensuring that they continue to have access to medication for chronic diseases, who wrote a bi-partisan bill to provide $25,000 to small businesses to update their PPE (personal protective equipment) during the coronavirus pandemic, to bring $554 million dollars back to Orange County to help fight the coronavirus, and return $2 million directly to his constituents in the 48th Congressional district, and over $40 million to Orange County businesses, then gift us with such a liberal any day. 

Despite the upcoming election, Rouda is ready to introduce his newest bill, the California Coastal Communities Act to fund research and resiliency measures to protect people on the coast, which will address flooding as one of its components. To his greatest credit, Harley Rouda stopped his campaign when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and asked businesses around Orange County to donate PPE to Orange Coast Medical Center. 

Currently he is also working on a bill to reduce airplane emissions and improve water quality. 

If being the most active Congressman in his freshman class makes him a liberal, I would have to say that “liberal” takes on a very positive connotation when describing Rouda.

To keep this on a positive note, I will not talk about the contributions of Harley’s predecessors nor argue about semantics regarding conservative, moderate, liberal, democratic-socialist, fascist (words often thrown around indiscriminately)…because when you have a super active candidate such as Harley who has done so much for his district, his constituents, and ultimately for the state, he really defies definition.    

But since the word “liberal” has been brought up, I will give you this from John Fitzgerald Kennedy, from September 14, 1960:

“If by a ‘liberal’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind,

Someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,

Someone who cares about the welfare of the people –

Their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs,

Their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes

We can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in

Our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘liberal’,

THEN I’M PROUD TO SAY I’M A ‘LIBERAL’.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach