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Letters to the Editor

Lack of council commitment to Herdman 

In a recent Letter to the Editor regarding the endorsement of Noah Blom for District 5 Council from Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill, Councilman Kevin Muldoon and Councilman Duffy Duffield, it was suggested by the author that the Council endorsement of Jeff’s Herdman’s competitor was because of some nefarious goal to keep Herdman from ever becoming Mayor. 

Is it just possible that the Council doesn’t find Herdman an effective leader and is tired of all the discord in his own district over the last three plus years?

After all, this question was even addressed to Herdman during the Newport Beach Chamber Candidate Forum on August 20, 2020 by the moderator, so it has to have some validity to it. This discord can be heard from his own constituents in the way he arrogantly presided over the JWA airport expansion as Chair of the Aviation Committee, naively sealing the fate of Newport Beach residents to one of the worst airport expansion deals in Newport Beach history, increasing the volume, jet pollution and noise for years to come. 

Is it possible that this discord is over Herdman’s habit in telling his community one thing and then behind their backs doing the complete opposite, such as his initiative promoting the redevelopment of Marine Avenue, while supporting ex-council members turned developer consultants Ed Selich, Don Webb and John Noyes for the overhaul of this historic main street on Balboa Island without one resident vote, spending residents money to demolish the very place they love and cherish?

Could it be that Herdman spends too much time designing “poop fairy” signs, pointing his finger at people walking the opposite way on the boardwalk and spending tax payers money on having someone “man” the bridge on little Balboa Island, rather than keeping his eye on the ball regarding more pressing issues such as our safety, quality of life and getting the merchants back to work? 

Maybe the discord is because many in the community are not happy with him trying to silence people and the groups formed to oppose his nontransparent redevelopment policies and committees. 

Could it be that the Council endorsement of Noah Blom is because they believe Noah is the right man for the job, and because they have found Jeff to be an ineffective leader, one that has just worn out his welcome to both Council members and the residents of Newport Beach alike? 

Maybe they support Noah Blom because like many of us they just don’t want to work with him, and they see Noah Blom as a fresh voice and someone who can be a positive contributor to Newport Beach and our city council.

Anita Rovsek

Balboa Island

Blom is what small business needs

Small businesses are struggling. If your favorite restaurant, coffee house, apparel store, or charming neighborhood shop hasn’t yet closed its doors for good, it may do so very soon. The coronavirus has decimated retail sales, and unlike chain stores, small businesses just do not have the resources to survive indefinitely.

On Balboa Island, where I have my store, it seems like every day I see a new “Going Out of Business” or “For Lease” sign on Marine Avenue.

Not only is the charm of our shopping districts at risk, small businesses employ 44.1 percent of all employees in this country, according to the Small Business Administration. And sales taxes generated by small business make up a large portion of the City’s budget.

So far, the City’s efforts to help small business have been, in my opinion, too little and too late. This can be seen in the continuing and accelerating permanent business closures.

The current City Council even voted down a proposed $20,000 marketing grant of mainly Federal funds to the merchants of Balboa Island. I am sure the Council had its reasons, but I think it is significant that no one on the Council operates a small store or restaurant. Most are lawyers or retired public employees.

A successful reopening of the City and its businesses after the coronavirus is crucial to the well-being of the City – both financially and culturally. A knowledgeable and practical approach to reopening small business will be essential.

Small business needs a champion on the City Council. I believe Noah Blom is that person.

I have met with Noah Blom and he is the only candidate running for City Council that took the time to meet with me and other merchants on the island. Not once, but twice. Noah is not a politician. He is an entrepreneur. He knows what it is to start a business, create jobs and to make payroll each month. He and his wife Marin founded and operate the Arc restaurants. As a leader in the hospitality industry, he worked closely with City officials to expedite approval of sidewalk dining and other regulatory changes to help struggling merchants survive the pandemic. 

Noah has a history of giving back to the community. He and Marin are active in anti-cancer charities (Noah’s mother died of that horrible disease), educational charities and, appropriately for a restaurateur, food banks. He is even endorsed by the Newport Beach Police Association and Firefighters Association.

Our City Council could use Noah’s entrepreneurial energy and in-depth business knowledge. Noah has a proven record of achievement and would make a great addition to the City Council. 

I urge you to vote for Noah Blom.

Matthew Pour, Founder “BIMA”

Jeff Herdman represents constituents, not special interests

I agree with Joy Brenner and others who have written in support of Jeff Herdman. I’ve talked with Jeff and know he is independent, hard-working and listens to constituents’ needs. 

I’m concerned that Noah Blom is influenced by outside developers and the “Team Newport” bloc on the Council instead of listening to the residents of Newport Beach. And, with nearly 1,200 cases and 26 deaths in Newport Beach, we don’t need a person on the City Council who thinks face coverings are unnecessary and businesses and schools should open up even as we face the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections. 

Jeff Herdman deserves our vote.

Nancy J. Smith

Newport Beach

Former Mayor says residents should be concerned

Newport Beach residents should be very concerned about what is going on in the upcoming city council election. Significant special interest contributions are flowing into the campaign of Noah Blom in order to oust independent council member Jeff Herdman. This is designed to ensure a majority in place as the city considers the general plan revision and other significant development issues.

You may not know Blom. In eleven years on the city council, I have no memory of having ever met him or having heard from him on any issue. Records show he failed to even vote in twelve elections since 2002 so we can say he is not exactly civic-minded.

Public service demands certain minimum standards of honesty, integrity and trustworthiness. Mr. Blom has filed personal bankruptcy. A court issued a bench warrant and contempt citation for nonpayment of child support. Prior to the pandemic, a court ordered him to pay to his restaurant vendors nearly $60,000 he had cheated them out of. Is this the kind of fiscal leadership we want on the city council with a more than $300 million budget?

During the COVID pandemic, city health officers in Costa Mesa cited him and shut down his restaurant for multiple and flagrant public safety violations. Is this the kind of example we need on council to keep our city safe?

When you look at his actual record, contrary to his campaign ads, he is not an involved civic leader, a successful businessman or a leader in responding to the pandemic.

What he is, is a candidate beholden to a small group of donors with very specific agendas at city hall.

In contrast, Jeff Herdman is a man of integrity, who works hard every day to improve the quality of life in Newport Beach and, in particular, to reduce the impacts of the airport on our neighborhoods. He is an independent voice on the city council, not a rubber stamp.

If you are concerned about the future of our city, join with me, former Mayors Nancy Gardner, Rush Hill, Mike Henn, Ed Selich, Evelyn Hart, Diane Dixon, John Heffernan and Don Webb. Former Mayor Pro Tems Jean Watt and Tony Petros. Senator John Moorlach and a bipartisan group of civic leaders and vote with us for Jeff Herdman.

Keith Curry, Former Mayor

Newport Beach

Herdman donations, malice is in the intent

Recent letters by Herdman supporters, including Councilmember Joy Brenner, speculated that there is “dark money” that competitor Noah Blom received from mysterious out of town developers. While Herdman tries to fend off his own record of taking developers’ money, both in 2016 and 2020, in which these same developers are currently buying and developing properties in Newport, Herdman completely misses the mark on Noah’s endorsements. 

First, Noah is a successful business owner of ARC and the Butcher and Baker, and through his businesses has an abundance of patrons and friends. If you have ever met Noah, you would understand why. He is upbeat, optimistic and an engaging communicator. Newport Beach is a town which is full of various developers, and many have frequented Noah’s restaurants over the years, and several patrons were excited to support a young and dynamic business leader running for office, as I am. 

Contributors of “dark money” noted by Herdman’s hit piece were Gino Canori and Gary Jabara. Interesting facts – the Canoris are an Orange County family that Noah went to school with at Santa Margarita and they continue to be close friends, and Gary Jabara frequents the Butcher and Baker to buy his employees gourmet lunch boxes each month. Not so dark after all. In contrast to Councilman Herdman, Noah has no history of development, nor has he partnered on any developments, yet Herdman’s campaign conveniently concocts hit pieces claiming Noah is a “special interest” candidate. Imagine that.

In contrast, sitting Councilman Herdman, who was supported by SPON, and other anti-development groups, has taken money from the California Real Estate PAC, Apartment Association of Orange County, the California Apartment Owners’ Association of Orange County, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, the Building Industry Association of California, and three companies associated with the high-density Shopoff projects along Jamboree.  Herdman even took thousands of dollars from the proponent of the Mariner’s Mile expansion project: mega-developer Manouch Moshayedi. That same developer now owns nine properties along the quaint blocks of historic Marine Avenue on Balboa Island, Herdman’s own district. Imagine that.

After recently being exposed with public records, Herdman changed his tune. Don’t worry he says, it’s a good thing to take all of that money because now the developers listen to his opinions about their projects. Is that really his defense? And on Nextdoor, Herdman said, “Manouch actually calls me when he is working on a new business or tenant to ask my opinion!” 

It’s an amazing thing when a Council member brags about backdoor meetings that change the character of Marine Avenue and Mariner’s Mile. Look at how the renovation of Hershey’s Market turned out before the residents of Balboa Island begged the new tenant to charm-up the white stucco box with steel doors, coined by residents as – “mini Costco.” In fact, at sundown the reflection off the stark white-washed exterior walls nearly blind patrons of Wilma’s Patio right across the street.

Seems to me that Herdman is the clear special interest candidate in this race given his close relationship with local mega-developers and advocates who have clear intentions to “white-wash” our charming beach communities.

Let’s not forget his “power alliance” with a former Mayor and developer advocate who created a plan to completely redevelop Marine Ave., including the removal of 40 majestic trees. 

Herdman needs to stop with the same old scare tactics that Noah will make every home a short-term rental and Newport Beach a high-rise City. Talk is cheap, but ACTIONS speak louder than words.

Rick Osborne

Little Balboa Island, Newport Beach

Follow the money

When you follow the money behind Noah Blom, it goes beyond Vacation Home operators and the Museum House developer. Campaign reports show that local developer and owner of Mobilitie Corporation Gary Jabara, and affiliated persons have given $4,800 to Blom. This includes a maximum $1,200 donation from Cameron Jabara who lists his occupation as “student”.

Residents of the Mariner’s Mile area will remember Jabara as the developer of the project containing the Mariner’s Mile post office. Residents in Newport Coast and other neighborhoods remember Mobilitie for their efforts to erect cell phone towers throughout the community.

Residents in all neighborhoods will remember this developer for his contempt for public input and working with the community. There can be no doubt that Noah Blom will be owned and operated by his contributors if elected.

If you are concerned about unlimited vacation homes in your neighborhood, if you are concerned about more high-rise, high-density developments, if you are concerned about the proliferation of cell phone towers throughout the city, and if you are concerned about the future of Mariner’s Mile, you should be very concerned about the big money propping up the campaign of Noah Blom.

I am voting for an independent council member who will stand up for residents. I am voting for Jeff Herdman for Newport Beach.

Lynn Swain 

Big Canyon

Is @DirtySexyHappiness a New Qualification to Serve on the Newport Beach’s City Council?

As I peruse mountains of candidate information, I feel compelled to share a couple of ideas that may not be obvious at first blush regarding the workings of our Newport Beach City Council members. As one who has campaigned for and worked alongside a series of great and not so great city leaders, I hold a unique insider’s perspective on the motives (both bad and good) that colonize Newport Beach’s City Hall chambers. 

Jeff Herdman is one of those leaders who stepped up to serve Newport Beach when others found serving on Council to be stressful and thankless. The airport, high-rise developments, and pensions have been issues on the docket. Most residents didn’t want responsibility for the long hours, tedious meetings, listening and acting as an advocate for both residents and local business interests that is required to successfully serve on the council.   

To show up to the numerous meetings and events required of the office is no easy task. You must have flexible time and be committed to serving various communities. It takes a special type of devotion to do the job right.

For those seeking higher office or who have been placed in office to satisfy outsiders’ agendas, the requirement is only that you turn a blind eye and have a willingness to approve “friendly favors and developer giveaways.”

For some elected officials the honor of serving and overwhelming responsibilities required for committed public servants is exchanged for a mind-numbing rubber stamp fueling developer cronyism. Those on their way somewhere else surround themselves with “yes” council members, forming a team, as they USE Newport Beach as a stepping stone to support future elections, gain influence and gather developer dollars. They leave in their wake poor planning, growing air traffic pollution and a mishmash of downright ugly projects that stand vacant long after all the costs have been absorbed by the city’s coffers. 

Ambitious council shills need money to get where they are going, and developers pay generously to streamline their projects. To get ahead politically takes money and lots of it. Great marriage for them, lousy for residents. 

That is where Noah Blom comes in, as a pawn to developer-focused council members Brad Avery, Kevin Muldoon, and Will O’Neill. Oh yeah, they say they’re for Newport but take a closer look and you will see their newest shill, Noah Blom is ill equipped to stand up to the challenges required for public service especially with the complex issues that percolate through our city. Anyone whose Instagram handle is @DirtySexyHappiness, runs two restaurants in Costa Mesa and has a teenage child is anything but available let alone remotely qualified.   

To me it’s just bizarre. Why is he running? I am pointing the finger at “the team” as they refer to themselves.  

Newport has incredibly pressing needs: maintain JWA curfews; regulate Airbnb short term rentals; curb traffic; and the ability to strike a fine balance between planned development and residential quality of life issues. Herdman has been a standing advocate for these and has taken on projects that are critically important when others lacked interest or the fortitude to tackle them. If Herdman had not stepped up many of these issues would have had vastly different outcomes irrevocably injuring our quality of life. Herdman has the time, the passion, the integrity, the stamina and character to continue his legacy work on behalf of the citizens of Newport Beach.

Please do not forget about Jeff’s numerous contributions. Let’s not lose him to the next “shiny object.”

Joan Andersen 

The Bluffs

Save independent Newport: no to Team Newport candidate Noah Blom

I am a third-generation Balboa Island resident who has spent two months researching the City Council race. I am deeply concerned that District 5 candidate Noah Blom is being recruited to give a voting majority to the real estate funded “Team Newport” bloc. After all, according to public filings, Mr. Blom has the same campaign treasurer as Team Newport Council members Will O’Neill, Kevin Muldoon and Marshall Duffield, and unsuccessful 2016 Team Newport candidate Lee Lowery. Not only is Mr. Blom endorsed by Team Newport’s Mr. O’Neill, Mr. Duffield, and Mr. Muldoon, but Mr. Blom donated the maximum allowable amount to Mr. O’Neill’s re-election campaign.

The overwhelming majority of Mr. Blom’s campaign contributions are from developers and real estate companies, and individuals associated with these industries. He’s also received funding from local and out-of-state short-term lodging operators. Looking through his Fair Political Practices Commission Form 460s, it is astonishing to see how few of Mr. Blom’s donations come from residents who do not work in real estate or an associated industry. 

The single biggest donor in this year’s City Council race is the real estate funded Atlas PAC, which gave $17,500 to “Residents for Reform Supporting Avery, Blom, and O’Neill,” a group funded exclusively by Atlas PAC and developer Robert (Bob) McCaffery. Atlas PAC, based near Sacramento, is funded by $50,000+ contributions from real estate companies, and was started with a loan from 2016 Team Newport candidate Lee Lowery. 

The second-biggest financial contributor to this year’s City Council race is Eagle Four Partners, a private equity group specializing in real estate investments. They donated $3,600 to Mr. O’Neill and $6,100 to Mr. Blom. 

In contrast, the vast majority of Jeff Herdman’s donations are from individual Newport residents. I found only three donations out of about 100 that appeared possibly linked to developers. While Mr. Blom’s average donation is in the amount of $690, Mr. Herdman’s average donation size is $305. 

There has been talk from supporters of Mr. Blom that Mr. Herdman is funded by the developer Manouch Moshayedi. Between 2016 and today, Mr. Moshayedi and his wife donated a total of $2,200 to Mr. Herdman. There is no evidence that they have contributed anything else, personally or via a PAC. 

There is speculation that Mr. Blom, Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Muldoon have political aspirations beyond Newport, which would make sense given their age. It’s certainly the case for Mr. Muldoon, who has already registered his “Muldoon for Supervisor 2022” committee. That would put Mr. Blom, Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Muldoon in a position of needing to please special interests who could fund their national campaigns. 

Council member Joy Brenner wrote in a letter to Stu News that she believes that Mr. Duffield, Mr. Muldoon and Mr. O’Neill, along with their backers, courted Mr. Blom to run with the goal of creating a pro-developer voting majority on City Council (www.stunewsnewport.com/index.php/letters). 

The real estate industry needs their voices heard at City Council. But Council members are supposed to work to create a balance between the often competing needs of developers and residents. Sadly, the evidence strongly suggests that Mr. Blom will join his friends Mr. O’Neill, Mr. Muldoon and Mr. Duffield in fighting for developers at the cost of residents.

Save independent Newport. Vote Jeff Herdman, District 5. 

Veronica Cassidy

Balboa Island

Blom in the kitchen is not what we need for council

I have been observing the Noah Blum phenomenon for several weeks now and it is with a bit of reticence that I attempt to describe my feelings about this young man.

I understand the attraction that he holds for many people now during these difficult times. Noah appears as a “free spirit” and who would not want to be that right now?

I witnessed Noah at the CdM public debates and have read every piece of literature I could find on him, including numerous letters from residents of Newport Beach. When Noah speaks, he is totally spontaneous, driven at times by hyperbole. And why not?

Noah is truly an artist, a conclusion I come to after having seen photos of his cooking online. His dishes are beautiful creations that take me back to when I was a young woman studying and living in Paris, spending much of my time in the Latin Quarter.

And from my personal interest in the culinary arts, I predict that someday Noah may become even more famous as a chef than he is now.

Unfortunately though, we are living in perilous times with a pandemic ravaging our country. Our only protection right now is to practice the few guidelines we have available. This is a time when “science” trumps “art” in providing us with the best possible defense against the pandemic. These simple little COVID rules seem foreign to us, but in desperation we need to hold onto them as they are the only ones we have.

And Noah, free spirit and artist that he is, cannot seem to find room for these “restrictions” in his philosophy, but more importantly in his work life. And because he is in a field which directly affects the public in one of the most invasive ways, it is extremely important that he embraces these COVID guidelines, in order to protect his customers’ health. In my opinion, he cannot morally or physically afford to impose his “free spirited” philosophy on his customers, particularly those innocently unaware of this free-wheeling style.  

In fact, a local well-known restaurant critic has also given Noah’s most famous local restaurant, the Arc, an “F” grade for failing to follow a list of COVID guidelines established by the CDC and the Health Department (or a list of objective COVID guidelines).

One of the greatest ironies that I see in Noah’s bid for Council member in the 5th District of Newport Beach is that he and his two slate partners, incumbents Brad Avery and Will O’Neill, are using their endorsement by the Associations of the Newport Beach Police and the Newport Firefighters, to announce on their fliers, “Elect the Leaders who Stand Up for Newport Beach Public Safety.” In my opinion, if you are not consistently advocating or adhering to COVID guidelines as a leader, you are not standing up for public safety.

If you look at many of the customer reviews in “The Butcher and the Baker,” Noah’s restaurant in Newport Beach, you will see that many customers rave about the food, but many also give the restaurant the lowest rating possible because of the failure to follow COVID guidelines. As a result, Noah should post the following sign at both of his restaurants, “Dine here at your own risk. We do not observe COVID guidelines.” But he is certainly not alone.

There is no job more demanding than running a gourmet restaurant, and Noah is running two. How could he ever find time to be a good Council member and run those two restaurants? He is running against an incumbent who is retired and devotes most of his time performing his many duties on Council.

To close on a semi-positive note, let me add that Noah is such a talented and gregarious artist, that once the pandemic threat has been removed, he will undoubtedly thrive as a chef. He certainly is earning fame with his current bid for Council member of District 5. But right now we have Jeff Herdman, one
of the hardest working, most articulate and productive Council members on the entire Newport Beach Council up for re-election in District 5 and he definitely deserves to be re-elected.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach