Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Rumors abound in Newport on signatures and a recall

In the days following last month’s Museum House approval by our City Council, things around town have gotten just plain ugly.

The Museum House, of course, is the high-rise residential project planned on land previously donated by the Irvine Company to the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Center.

First off, Line in the Sand, to no one’s surprise, immediately started a referendum signature drive trying to force a public vote on the project. Their drive was immediately confronted with thugs intimidating people at signature sites, confusing political signs announcing “Fake Petitions,” mailers inundating households with deceptive messages across the spectrum and even announcements on social media asking people to immediately report signature gatherers so they could apparently confront them.

Things got so bad this past week that the Irvine Company kicked both sides of the Museum House issue off their property because the confrontations were becoming the norm. The Irvine Company acknowledged that the Line in the Sand people were not the problem.

This, to me, should be a chapter in a public relations primer on how not to run a public relations campaign. The pompous attitude of the Museum House folks has seemed to galvanize the community against them.

Well, I think the Museum House supporters now have to be realizing that their campaign is backfiring.

Sources this past week have told me that Line in the Sand will deliver the required number of signatures to the City Clerk prior to the Christmas holidays. When you consider the road blocks that they’ve faced and that I’ve listed above, coupled with the rainy and cold weather recently, and the fact that the Council previously required each signature gatherer to carry some 1,100 pages of related Museum House documents that’s a big accomplishment.

When I asked for confirmation, a representative with Line in the Sand said, “We are still acquiring signatures and going about our business.”

If the signatures are turned in, the City Council would then have between now and November 2018 to call for an election. 

It seems obvious that most developers would seem to want a vote sooner rather than later because of their continuing, spiraling costs.

So, what if an election was called for say in April or June? Would the Museum House vote be the only issue on the ballot?

 This brings us to some of the other whispers buzzing around town. I’ve heard from multiple people in the know that a recall of two sitting council people could be in the works.

The group wouldn’t want to call for their own special election, but the Museum House vote might allow them to piggyback to save costs.

Interesting.

Congrats to Steve Rosansky, President & CEO of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, on a very successful Christmas Boat Parade. Obviously, David Beek and Don Lawrenz also deserve kudos for their roles as co-chairs.