Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

New city theme should be “Embrace Grace,” while at the same time, Peotter’s time has run its course

TomJohnsonThe gold balloons behind him said it all, “Thank you Dave.” 

The messages from his supporters on Facebook echoed that sentiment, “Sad, sad night for our City.”

Last Tuesday evening, Aug. 14, the Newport Beach City Council voted unanimously to approve Grace Leung as our new City Manager, thus officially bringing to a close Dave Kiff’s service effective at the end of August.

For those bemoaning Kiff’s departure, perhaps it’s time to turn your attention to celebrating Leung. Her credentials are impressive. 

As Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill told me, “This is a home run.”

I like baseball analogies.

Kiff said, “My impression of Grace is the same one that the Council had – smart, calm, personable, thoughtful, a good listener, a good sense of humor, and an all-around niceness that is just really cool. I think you will find her to be that same type of leader here – first and foremost a nice, authentic, friendly person.” 

She served most recently in Irvine as Assistant City Manager, filling in for a short period as interim city manager and formerly as director of finance for the city of Sunnyvale.

Her education, too, is impressive. Okay, she didn’t graduate from Newport Harbor, but she did get her bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Columbia University and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University.

I know, it has certainly seemed like a bumpy road getting here over the last six months or so, but at the end of the day, I believe our city council got it right. And that’s what is important.

I wasn’t happy when Homer Bludau retired, but then we got Dave Kiff. Now we have Grace. Knock on wood, perhaps we’ve hit the jackpot again.

She certainly understands traffic issues, she understands density, the airport and such. 

I want to do the right thing when it’s due, congrats to our council!

Now, let’s get on with the election.

• • •

Speaking of the election, we have a problem, it’s not new and many of you know it. It’s City Councilman Scott Peotter. His behavior is simply continually unacceptable.

I experienced twice Tuesday night watching city council where he seemed to bully people by saying something like, “Can you just answer, yes or no!”

Now remember, this is a guy that calls himself a Christian.

Stu News Newport received an email released in a recent open records request. Included in the information was an interchange of an email sent from Peotter to Dan Matusiewicz (Finance Director) and cc’d to Lelani Brown (City Clerk), Aaron Harp (City Attorney), Carol Jacobs (Assistant City Manager), Dave Kiff (City Manager), Will O’Neill (Mayor Pro Tem), Kevin Muldoon (City Council) and Patti Gorczyca (Finance Committee member).

The email is titled Re: Finance Committee Workplan summary 2016-2018 and was sent Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 11:11:12 p.m.:

“Dan (Matusiewicz), I would like a copy of the work plan from each finance committee meeting since its beginning as a 7-member committee…Do not give me this doctored, amended-as-you-go summary, it does not tell me what was not accomplished. Dan, I am getting very tired of your answering a question factually without giving a truthful answer.”

“Dave (Kiff), I am not happy with you for disseminating this junk from Dan as though it answered the question I asked, without giving a reasonable time to respond or clarify. I did not bring this in open session, but I can if you like.”

Wow, okay, I’ve worked with Dan. He’s bright and more than capable. Given a pick of who I’d rather have in the city, I’d pick Dan.

His condescending nature to Dan is beyond unacceptable. And notice the time he’s berating employees, this one comes in after 11 p.m.

Then he threatens Kiff with he can “bring something up in open session.”

We as a community should be fed up with Peotter’s behavior. Every time I think he can’t possibly stick his foot farther up his rear, he proves me wrong. 

No member of the council should be dealing directly with someone at Dan’s level, even though it’s a senior position. They should be dealing through the city manager, who in turn deals with his direct reports. And positively, no one should be using that tone to any city employee. It’s absolutely unacceptable.

• • •

Interesting piece in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that claims someone hacked into our local congressional race. Dr. Hans Keirstead, who finished third to incumbent Dana Rohrabacher and challenger Harley Rouda in the 48th congressional district, claims to have had his campaign cyber attacked.

It’s serious enough that the FBI is investigating.

According to Rolling Stone, “Rohrabacher is a 15-term incumbent who is widely seen as the most pro-Russia and pro-Putin member of Congress and is a staunch supporter of President Trump.”

This will be interesting to watch.