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Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Anaheim scandal shows why Newport should vote NO on Measure B

Anyone in doubt about how to vote in Newport Beach on Measure B should consider closely the recent revelations about corruption in Anaheim.

The allegations are set forth in a sworn statement, signed by a senior FBI agent and filed on May 16 in state court, quoting recorded conversations between the mayor of Anaheim, Harry Sidhu, and others, as well as emails and texts sent by the mayor from his personal accounts. More details appear in the criminal complaint against Todd Ament, of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, close colleague of the mayor.

The FBI affidavit shows that, while Sidhu was representing the city in the high-stakes contract negotiation with the Los Angeles Angels for the sale of Anaheim Stadium, he was also sharing confidential city information with the Angels, including at least one document prepared by the city’s lawyers, in violation if the Brown Act.

Why would Mayor Sidhu, who is supposed to represent Anaheim, help the other side, the Angels, in this way? Because Mayor Sidhu, who was elected in 2018 for a four-year term, is involved in an expensive re-election campaign, seeking another four-year term.

In one of the taped conversations, the mayor tells a friend that he hopes and expects to receive a million-dollar donation from a senior Angels official to his re-election campaign. As the FBI agent said in his affidavit, “I believe Sidhu illustrated his intent to solicit campaign contributions, in the amount of $1,000,000…in exchange for performing official acts intended to finalize the stadium sale for the Angels.” To evade contribution limits, the mayor planned to seek the contribution not for his own committee, but rather for a supposedly independent political action committee that would support his re-election efforts.

As I read page after page of shocking, disgusting detail, I was thankful for one key provision in the current charter of Newport Beach, which states that the mayor serves at the pleasure of the city council. If similar conduct was engaged in by the mayor of Newport Beach, rather than Anaheim, the Newport Beach city council could replace the mayor at the next council meeting – without waiting for criminal charges, or for a criminal conviction. In Anaheim, even though three members of the city council have called for the mayor’s resignation, there is no such option.

If Measure B passes, however, the Newport Beach charter will be changed, so that the mayor no longer serves at the pleasure of the council. The only way to remove a mayor, mired in a corruption scandal, at that point would be to wait for a criminal conviction or to mount a recall campaign which would take many months or years to achieve.

Moreover, if Measure B passes, we are going to have expensive, contentious campaigns for mayor here in Newport Beach. The costs of a successful campaign to become Newport Beach mayor could easily exceed a million dollars. Candidates would seek contributions from those interested in seeing local projects or contracts approved, like the sale of Anaheim Stadium. And Newport Beach is a place where hundred-million-dollar developments are quite possible, so there will be high stakes issues akin to the stadium issue in Anaheim.

Proponents of Measure B might say something like “Newport Beach is not Anaheim; we would never see such corruption here.” But this ignores the close parallels between the system in Anaheim, in which a powerful mayor is elected for a four-year term, and can be re-elected, and the changes to our system under Measure B. In fact, Measure B gives even more power to the mayor than exists in Anaheim, power to control the council’s agenda.

Why shouldn’t we expect, at some point, if we pass Measure B, and create a system in which there are expensive direct elections for mayor, that there will be some corruption, or some highly questionable donations, as candidates scramble to become mayor of Newport Beach?

Please vote no on Measure B: protect our current city charter and save us from the expensive elections and the corruptive tendencies of a powerful four-year mayor.

Walter Stahr

Newport Beach

Confused and “insulted” by campaign mailers

When we vote on a measure, it should be because we think it will fix or improve something in our great city. I wanted to try to understand what the real reason or purpose for Measure B is, so I’ve read the materials in print and online. But I remain puzzled over the ongoing sales pitch by proponents of Measure B.

In last week’s Stu News, rather than explain what he believes are the benefits of Measure B to our residents, Councilman Duffield spent his words attacking Jeff Herdman for issues that happened years ago that nobody remembers or cares about. 

In the print mailers supporting Measure B, there are many points made about the details of how the Measure reads but the only “benefit” to residents appears to be a broad reference to better “accountability” although it’s not clear how that will be achieved by having a voter elected Mayor vs a Council-elected Mayor. Aren’t the current Councilmembers (which includes the measures authors) insulted by being told that they apparently are not accountable now or in the past? How has our city managed to survive all these years with no accountability?

And I am certainly insulted by the mailer that says, “Warning – Opponents of Measure B are running a false and misleading campaign. Don’t be fooled by their lies. Opponents are power brokers who do not want you electing the mayor,” signed by Noah Von Blom.

I find these mailers to be misleading because the reduction of the number of districts is buried in the fine print. 

The measure allows 1) an individual two four-year terms as Councilmember and two four-year terms as Mayor for a total of 16 years. That’s too long for one person and dramatically changes the term limit concept in place today. 2) we would go from 7 equal districts to 6 districts plus a more powerful Mayor. The Mayor and one of the Councilmembers will live in the same district causing one district to have two representatives. I don’t see how these facts can be considered “lies” or “false and misleading.” If I’m wrong on these critical points then someone needs to educate me. 

Read for yourself at https://NoPowerGrab.com. Please vote No on Measure B. 

Mike Groff

Newport Beach 

That Certain Something

In his 2001 coffee table book entitled The Spirit of Newport, Steven Simon Jr. shares his poetry and paintings celebrating the beauty and charm of Newport Beach. Near the end of his book appears Mr. Simon’s closing poem, “That Certain Something”: 

Daylight the setting sun cannot elude

So this visit shall fittingly conclude

To a city blessed – one can see at first glance

With abundance, beauty, and riviera romance.

Ah, but amid these blessings there’s something more

Not easy to explain but simple to adore.

A place like none other I’ve found

Indeed, a certain spirit does here abound.”

Mr. Simon has it right. There is a certain spirit here. Long time and short time residents feel it –“at first glance” as Mr. Simon says. A magnetism made up of small friendly villages, of friendly residents, of friendly businesses, of friendly surroundings including beach and bay.

But some would have you believe that the “certain spirit” needs changing.

The proponents of Measure B say that we are ready for the Big Time. We need a strong mayor who can vault us into the Big Leagues. We need to copy big cities with a very powerful person who can lead us because nearly seventy years of unrivaled success and the universal envy by other cities apparently isn’t proof positive of that “certain spirit” of which Mr. Simon speaks.

Leave it alone. Our system for the annual election of the mayor has worked well for nearly seventy years. Left alone, it will work well for the next seventy years.

Don’t be fooled by the change agents. Vote NO on the Bad for Newport Measure B. 

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Measure B is not written to better Newport Beach

I have written previously about Measure B because of my great concern for how it will change city government, which in my opinion, is not for the better. It is unfortunate that the plan was not more thoughtfully conceived.

My reaction to the idea of “electing a mayor” was immediate. I knew that it seemed to come out of nowhere and was not conceived with the betterment of Newport Beach government in mind. Its intent seems to promote the political future of its creators as well as the financial future of its benefactors.

For those who think that Newport Beach will benefit from this plan that will replace the current system, I ask you to consider the following question: Would the “elect the mayor” system proposed by Measure B even exist if no one currently on council was able to run for the newly created office?

So unimportant are all the details of the plan other than electing a mayor that the system proposed has changed from its original configuration. On an election brochure this last week, an arrow was drawn from the constituents directly to the mayor representing the flow of power. There was no evidence of a city council existing between the two. It seems that Measure B has already changed, implying that there would be no council, or that the power of the council would meld into that of the constituents as in the diagram.

Was that a printing error or does it illustrate how little anything else matters, as long as there is an elected mayor? In light of this implication, do we really want to give all power in Newport Beach government to one person?

I have lived in Newport Beach a long time and I resent non-residents coming into the city to finance a major change in our government in an effort to make money or build a political career at our expense. Please consider this: The creators of Measure B definitely do not have OUR best interests in mind. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Newport Beach: Are you paying attention to Anaheim?

I have been wondering how many people in Newport have been paying attention to what is happening in Anaheim right now. The FBI is investigating Anaheim’s elected mayor for corruption in the sale of Anaheim Stadium and the activities of what is called “the cabal” running Anaheim. So far, the news has not reported exactly who is part of this “cabal” but there is some talk, of course, of the mayor and the head of the chamber of commerce, who is also being investigated. The court has put the sale of the stadium on hold for 60 days and the minority councilmembers who have been trying to ask questions feel vindicated. The full council has now asked for his resignation. 

When too much power is vested in a few, these things happen. I don’t think Newport needs an elected mayor right now given the way Measure B was written by one man and the devil in the details of it being unearthed. 

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

Do the math: Measure B doesn’t add up

The proposed Measure B has little if anything to do with electing a mayor and more to do with eliminating one council district; eliminating representation for the citizens of Newport Beach and consolidating power in one individual. In the very first sentence of the proposed Measure there is the elimination of one of our current seven council districts. It reads: “The elective officers of the City shall consist of a City Council of six seven members…” 

In 1954 when the City’s charter was adopted the population of the City was 12,120 and there were seven (7) council districts as there are currently. In the latest census the city has a population of 85,780, seven times greater than it was in 1954. Yet what many people don’t realize is that Measure B seeks to reduce the number of council districts from the current number of seven to six. It makes little sense and doesn’t add up. Will it be your council district that is eliminated or your neighbors?

In addition, the Measure further grants a mayor “sole discretion” to set the City Council agendas, in contravention of current City Council Policy embodied in City Council Policy A-1 C as well as the existing City Charter. 

And to be clear, “sole discretion” does not mean that such power would be wielded in a reasonable manner but rather it means power can be exercised in an arbitrary and capricious manner thereby giving a mayor expansive power.

Finally, to suggest somehow that the city needs to become a modern city like others in the state is a false narrative. One needs to look no further than Anaheim which finds itself and its directly elected mayor the subject of an FBI investigation. Consolidating power in one individual and eliminating a council district is not the power grab that the residents of Newport Beach need or want.

Vote No on Measure B.

Thomas C. Edwards, former Mayor

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Attack on Herdman “serves no purpose”

I just read (Friday’s) Stu News and I can’t stop laughing! Doesn’t Duffy have something better to do than re-plow an old field? The citizens of Newport Beach really don’t care about how he nearly wasn’t elected back on the City Council.

Doesn’t Duffy know, it serves NO PURPOSE to go after Jeff Herdman? A councilman who served with honor and grace. Doesn’t Duffy know, the voters are smart enough to see through the specious claims of the Power Grabbers and proponents of Measure B? Well, actually, Duffy doesn’t know much!

I’m voting NO on B and I am proud to support the NO on B side of logical citizens of Newport Beach!

Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

Early departure by elected mayor could cause problems and unanticipated expense to city

One aspect of Measure B that has not gotten the attention it deserves is what happens in the event of the resignation, removal, or death of the mayor. Measure B generally requires that a vacancy in the office of the mayor be filled by a special election held not less than 88 nor more than 103 days from the date of the vacancy.

Imagine the mayor under Measure B dies on a September 25. The window for the special election would run from December 23 through January 6. The city council would not have discretion, under Measure B, to postpone the special election; it would have to pick a date in this holiday window.

There are only two exceptions to the special election approach. First, if the vacancy occurs not less than 88 nor more than 103 days before the end of the mayor’s term, in other words, near the time of the next election of a mayor, the office would remain vacant until the mayor is elected.

Second, if the vacancy occurs not more than 180 days before the next regular municipal election the council may make the mayoral election part of that election. But in some cases, this will not be possible; if the mayor dies on the eve of the election, there will not be time to include the candidates on the ballot, so that a special election will be necessary.

Special elections are expensive and unpredictable and, in a sense, undemocratic. A special election for mayor would probably cost the city more than $250,000, perhaps closer to $500,000. And the benefit could be short-lived; imagine that only seven months were left in the mayor’s term; would it be worthwhile to run a special election? So few people vote in special elections that they do not really represent the “choice of the people.” They may look like democracy but they are really more like a form of gambling.

Our current system for filling a vacancy, whether of the mayor or another city councilmember, works far better than a special election. At present, if a council seat becomes vacant, the remaining councilmembers appoint someone from the relevant district to fill the remainder of the term. If the mayor’s seat becomes vacant, the councilmembers appoint one of the remaining councilmembers to serve the remainder of the year. By custom, this would be the mayor pro tem, who has already been serving on the council for several years and has been “backing up” the mayor at council meetings.

Nothing required the authors of Measure B to include the special election language. They could have left in place our current system for filling a vacancy in the office of the mayor. They could have provided that the appointed mayor would serve only until the next election. They could have left the choice (special election versus appointment) to the council at the time of the vacancy.

The special election language is just one example of the many drafting flaws in Measure B. Even those who favor direct elections of the mayor, and I do not, should vote against Measure B, so that we can have a proper process of discussion and drafting.

Walter Stahr

Newport Beach

A modest proposal: Formation of a NB Charter Update Committee looking at direct election of the mayor

On January 26, 2010, Marian Bergeson was appointed by the Newport Beach Council to chair the Charter Update Commission. Six citizens joined Chair Bergeson on the Commission. They were Dennis O’Neil, Larry Tucker, Richard Luehrs, Rush Hill, Karen Rhyne and the undersigned.

The Commission met regularly in public session following public notice during February, March and April of 2010 with its final meeting on May 4, 2010. 

Following extensive public input and vigorous discussion (including reasonable compromises) among its members, the Commission recommended seventeen (17) revisions to our Charter for the Council’s consideration. The Commission’s report totaled 167 pages.

Fast forward. As you know, by a recent split 4-3 vote and following the abandonment by the proponent of its petition effort, our current Council placed Measure B on the June 7 ballot without public vetting, without public discourse, and without the thoughtful consideration which might have come up with a “home run” instead of the many flaws inherent in the one-person drafted Measure B.  For all its perceived pluses, journalists and others have identified Measure B’s significant shortcomings, weaknesses and deficient drafting – not the least of which shortcomings was the forced ballot process.

So, a modest proposal: please vote “NO” on the ill-advised Measure B but at the first Council meeting following the June 7 Primary Election ask our Council to adopt a Resolution to appoint a blue ribbon Charter Update Committee comprised of well-respected residents to thoughtfully and thoroughly research and analyze the issue of a directly elected Mayor and to (with ample public input as was the case with the 2010 Charter Update Commission proceedings) propose a Charter Amendment for a near term vote by our electorate. (And, BTW, maybe while they are at it, the special Committee could fix an issue which Measure B neglected to address: eight (8) years lifetime is enough – no former 2-term Councilmember should ever be allowed to run again for Council.) 

In 1913, former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Brandeis stated: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Measure B never saw the broad light of day with the benefit of public debate, input and appropriate compromise. It’s not too late to correct an ill-considered process and defective measure. 

Please vote “NO” on Measure B and allow the public to shine future sunlight on the direct election of the mayor.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

“Let’s get into the weeds here answering these questions”

One of the most recent posts on Instagram by the primary proponent of Measure B asks, “Where’s the power grab?” As Ben Franklin said, when arguing against a king for these United States, “I am a mortal enemy of arbitrary government and unlimited power.” 

This proponent claims that the ballot question of, “Shall the Newport Beach City Charter be amended to provide for the direct election of the Mayor?” Says it all and doesn’t get any simpler.     

Do you want to elect your Mayor, and should your Mayor be directly accountable to you?

Let’s get into the weeds here in answering these questions…

Measure B itself goes way beyond those two simple questions. The proponent asks where the term “power grab” comes from. Well, it becomes very obvious when you get deeper into the Measure by reading the details. 

First, the “elected mayor” will be given exclusive authority and control of the city council agenda thereby controlling what comes before the council. Second, council districts will be reduced from 7 to 6, creating double representation within the district the Mayor lives in. Third, the city manager will be reduced in roll and authority making it difficult to attract qualified candidates for the position. Fourth, the position will be highly politicized. How? Candidates seeking the position will become very dependent on large, influential donors who hope to gain the favor of the Mayor when it comes to personal or business interests. Fifth, a “yes” vote on Measure B will create the potential for mayors intent on becoming politically powerful to back and raise campaign funds for city council candidates in order to line up consistent majority votes for their political benefit. 

And finally, and perhaps the most significant, is a loss of voice by the community in the business of the City. The Measure states, “The Mayor...shall perform such other duties consistent with the office as may be prescribed by this Charter, or as may be imposed by the City Council.” This wording takes us from having the City Charter define the mayor’s authority to allowing the mayor and three other City Councilmembers to decide, whenever they want, what the mayor’s authority will be. The residents would not have any say. This is the essence of the “power grab”…the authority given the mayor under this wording is both limitless and dangerous for the community.

There is nothing broken or wrong with the mayor’s position the way it is currently functioning. To change this model now is to risk losing the invaluable relationships among the city councilmembers, city staff and residents that have successfully guided Newport Beach for the past 67 years. 

From a sensible and rational position, as well as “What’s best for the City of Newport Beach?,” I urge you to vote “NO” on Measure B. 

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Council, 2016-2020

Newport Beach

Personally, I trust the advice of 11 former Newport Beach Mayors

Thank you for publishing the pro and con arguments on Measure B on Tuesday. 

The argument in favor of Measure B was presented by Councilmember Will O’Neill. He introduced the measure to City Council and did not support any form of hearing, study sessions or resident input. It was a rush to the ballot. I find it interesting that Councilman O’Neill’s term ends, and he is term limited out of running for city council, at the same time he could run for Mayor in 2024 to win another four-year term. Additionally, he could run for re-election in 2028. This is potentially too much power in one member of the City Council for too long a period. 

Having the City Council elect a member of the City Council to serve as Mayor annually is a proven and successful process. The primary duty of the Mayor is to chair the Council’s meetings and do other official duties for the City. This occurs without reducing the authority and independence of the other six councilmembers. If residents vote yes for measure B, the power shifts to the Mayor. Districts will be reduced from 7 to 6 and each councilmember, City Manager and department heads will have to always ask, “What does the Mayor support?” 

What impressed me about the arguments against Measure B is the list of past mayors recommending a no vote. These dedicated past and current officials have 33 years of cumulative experience as council-selected Newport Beach Mayors. This includes current city councilmembers Diane Dixon, (Mayor 2016 & 2019) and Brad Avery (Mayor 2020). They believe the current system provides equal standing for all councilmembers and supports a neutral professional services approach from our City management staff so there is no political alliance to any one councilmember. 

The current structure provides residents with a councilmember representing their area who understands their issues. Each councilmember votes to provide the best policy direction for their district and does not have to seek permission from the Mayor or worry about retaliation if they disagree. Each district gets one vote. A majority vote of four City Councilmembers is required to approve our budget, appointments to committees and boards, and policy issues. 

Residents should not be fooled by statements that an elected Mayor would be more accountable to voters. During a four-year term the Mayor will be in control and removal will take a recall effort or waiting until the next election. I prefer accountability and equal power to all councilmembers at every council meeting. 

I trust the advice of eleven (11) former Newport Beach Mayors who recommended we vote No on B and retain our current council organization of 7 equal members. I believe this will result in better policy and budget decisions for all Newport Beach residents. We need our City Council to be community-based representatives for their district and not requiring the approval of an elected Mayor for every district issue. 

I urge Newport Beach voters to vote No on Measure B. 

Ron Rubino, President 

Eastbluff Homeowners’ Community Association

Newport Beach

Preserve the city charter, vote No on B

It’s vital that voters ‘unbundle’ Proposition B. It reads like a ‘democratic’ idea. I treasure that we can vote and that our votes matter. However, Proposition B isn’t about voting. It’s about consolidating and concentrating power. That’s it pure and simple. 

I’m a conservative who believes power should be limited and, if possible, spread between individuals, agencies, local and state bodies and at the federal level between three branches of government. 

Prop B does just the opposite. It puts power in the hands of one person, a mayor, who would be elected for four (or possibly eight) years. It strips power from the city council, a council of seven elected people who represent all seven areas of our city equally. This proposition concentrates power in the hands of one individual who is given the authority to set the city council’s agenda. 

We’re all familiar with the mudslinging that fills our mailboxes during elections. It takes money to run for office, unfortunately lots of money. Most often this money is provided by special interests. “We do for you so you do for us.”  There are strings. Always. Politicians become beholden to special interests. Follow the money. Campaign purse strings are politically binding. 

Prop B sounds good, “democratic,” but it’s fundamentally the opposite. We have a balanced democratic system in place that spreads power to all councilmembers and their districts. Do not unbalance what works. Preserve the city’s charter and VOTE NO on Proposition B.

Lorian Petry

Corona del Mar

Measure B: The devil is in the details

Jump, I’ll catch you!”

Blue Buoy swim instructor Pete is standing in the pool out a little from the edge. His promise is reassuring to our 4-year-old. Nick trusts Pete and jumps. Pete catches Nick. 

A proponent of Measure B says that anyone who says that Measure B vests total control in the proposed strong mayor is making a false claim, “not just false, but provably false.” 

I disagree and, moreover, Measure B is so deficiently drafted that it only reinforces the notion that Measure B vests total control in the proposed strong mayor. Despite the subpar drafting, the proponent is, in essence, saying “Jump, I’ll catch you!”; trust me that there’s nothing wrong with the Measure as drafted. But let’s look at the precise deficiently drafted language of Measure B to see who is making the false claim.

Here’s the actual language: “…the Mayor will have the sole discretion to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agenda.”

But wait, there’s more.

The proponent says that the “total control” argument is “false” because of a toothless exception which was added (please read it with care): “With the concurrence of at least three members of the City Council at any public meeting, an item MAY be added to a FUTURE City Council agenda.” [Emphasis added.] 

Toothless, indeed, and here’s why:

–The new agenda item “MAY” be added; the deficiently drafted language does not say “WILL” be added. What good is it to the three councilmembers if their important item “MAY” (or presumably “MAY NOT”) be added. In my view, this language is deficiently written and does not reduce the clear total control of the strong mayor.

–The new agenda item may be added to a “FUTURE” agenda. When? This year? Next year? Ever? When the strong mayor decides to strategically add it – which may well be when the issue is no longer topical or of interest to our residents. 

Again, in my view, this language is deficiently written and does not reduce the clear total control of the strong mayor.

The foregoing specific samples are some of the many examples of the unsatisfactorily drafted Measure B. The proponent is saying “Jump! I’ll catch you!”; the proponent states, “No To Cynicism” and is asking for our trust and faith that all will be well. Does this remind you of Ms. Pelosi’s famous words: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it….”

The only problem with the “all will be well” logic is, of course, that Measure B changes the constitution of our City – FOREVER! (or at least until our residents are exposed to another outrageously expensive campaign to undo the damage).

Measure B is poorly drafted; it is Bad for Newport; vote NO on Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Duffy: Why I believe Measure B will be good

Former councilman Jeff Herdman’s recent letters opposing Measure B (voter-elected mayor) deserve a trip down memory lane.

As a former mayor, I support Measure B. 

For the past eight years I’ve witnessed the “selection” of the mayor in a private room at City Hall.

I also served with Jeff Herdman for four years until his defeat in 2020.

The November 2018 city council election was a spirited one. I was behind by a couple hundred votes on election day. 

That’s when Herdman pounced on the opportunity to be “selected” mayor. 

He shopped a “term sheet” with councilmembers hoping to cobble together four votes to become mayor. 

Herdman’s term-sheet included removing Will O’Neill from the Finance Committee, denying Will O’Neill from ever being mayor, making certain staff changes and guaranteeing the mayor pro tem position to the agreeable councilmember.

Over the next two weeks the Registrar of Voters counted the late ballots. I won in a 36-vote landslide dashing Herdman’s hope of being “selected” mayor.

Measure B stops these political shenanigans and lets voters decide our mayor. 

Voters have a way of purging bad behavior. Herdman was defeated in 2020 after a series of scandals.

Please vote Yes on B to elect the mayor.

Duffy Duffield, District 3

Newport Beach City Council

Measure B is a shipwreck…don’t let them steer our city into the rocks

Over 40% of Measure B is supported by donors outside our City and the State! Why? Who are they? What do they want? 

–Measure B gives the mayor primary responsibility for interpreting policies, programs and needs of the City to the people. This measure would allow the mayor to set agenda items and to change the order of business. This measure would let one person decide what should be on the agenda. There are competing interests in this city, and one person should not be in charge of what is discussed. We all want to be heard. Measure B gives an inordinate amount of unchecked power to just ONE person. 

 –The current charter allows the City Councilmembers to hold the mayor accountable. This relationship keeps checks and balances of power. Measure B would remove that protection altogether. The only way to remove a mayor would be through a costly recall process. 

–Measure B invites corruption – where there is money, there is a great potential for exploitation. To install a mayor for four years with the option to run again for another four years gives one person plenty of time to get their hands dirty by doing the bidding of special interests. What could this look like? The mayor could be in discussions with a developer and give them the contract. We could lose valuable bluff tops to a mayor that wants to show favor to a developer vs. what the people want. Newport is wealthy – not only for its money but for its natural resources, including Banning Ranch, Back Bay and the beaches. We want a mayor that will have to listen to all of us and not be influenced by outsiders with money.

–Corruption is already happening and is a sign of what is to come. The campaign in favor of measure B has received over 40% of its funding from donors outside our city, and some are even out of state. Why? Who are these people? And what are their true intentions?

The writing is on the wall or, better yet, on every dollar bill – a vote for measure B hands our beloved city to the fists of autocracy. 

 –Four City Councilmembers – O’Neill, Blom, Duffy and Muldoon overlooked Joy Brenner as Mayor. This dismissive arrogant action against a worthy, hard-working, fellow public servant is not what we need more of. They are the ones who support Measure B. We don’t need a crew of people like that at the helm to steer us into the rocks.

–Measure B is a takeover disguised as a democratic proposition. It is not for the people. It is the opposite. 

Don’t be duped by a measure that outsiders fund. 

I am not paid. I am not a politician. I have no other reason to speak out other than I care about you, and I care about our city and all of its natural beauty. Join me to protect it. This is true democracy. Vote NO on Measure B.

Jennifer Irani

Newport Beach

Is the Laguna Niguel fire a reminder for Newport Beach?

(The letter below was sent to the Mayor of Newport Beach and City Councilmembers.) 

You have seen the horrific damage done by the Coastal Fire. Immediate action is required to protect the health safety and welfare of the residents of Newport Beach.

What you will learn is that the damage in the Coastal Fire (Laguna Niguel) impacted an area that incorporated the latest “state of the art” fire protection planning, area incorporating fuel modification zones, fire access roads, fire retardant building materials, etc. There is no flaw to point to. While the cause is not known at this time, this fire could happen in Newport Beach. Immediate action is required to protect Newport Beach.

–We learned from the Santa Monica fire that Mutual Aide Agreements cannot be relied upon during major wildfire events. During the Santa Monica fire, needed emergency reserves were held back by local governments to protect their jurisdictions.

–We learned from the Santa Monica Fire that major transportation arterials (PCH and Freeway) were closed as a result of the fire, significantly impacting emergency evacuations and access of emergency equipment.

–Human life is valued over structures. Emergency responders and resources are prioritized to ensure all human life is evacuated and protected. Extinguishing the fire and protection of structures comes second.

–The size of the structures matter when protecting the spread of fires during periods of high winds.

–Electric power shutoffs/rolling blackouts are a reality. When this happens during a fire emergency more of our emergency resources will be deployed for traffic/intersection control to facilitate emergency evacuations.

–Southern California and the City of Newport Beach are in a period of drought projected to last years. Water supplies will be limited. Watering of yards will be limited. Vegetation will be drier, adding to the fire risk and vegetation’s percentage of volatile oils.

–Newport Beach, as is all of southern California, is subject to high wind conditions.

–Based on State housing mandates Southern California and Newport Beach are projected to experience a significant increase in population and residential structures. Structures are projected to be large high density infill residential structures.

–Based on State transportation mandates the percentage of the population dependent on mass transit will increase. 

Newport Beach is a major tourist destination. Total population is projected to increase significantly as development within Southern California increases significantly.

Please take immediate steps to address the existing potential fire threats to Newport Beach residents and the public. 

The City is in the process of updating its Housing Element and other impacted General Plan Elements to incorporate State housing mandates. Please ensure the General Plan Update and its Environmental Impact Report fully evaluate the fire risk facing Newport Beach, taking into consideration the State mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment, as well as, existing state regulations allowing increased developments beyond anticipated in the existing General Plan and the Final Environmental Impact Report last prepared for the General Plan.

Dave Tanner

Newport Beach

Curbing the effects of inflation, even in Newport

At nearly $5.90 a gallon for regular and more than $6 a gallon for diesel, Newport residents who own a car or a boat know California’s gas prices are the highest in the country. 

Back on March 11, when I first suggested in Stu News Newport’s sister publication, Stu News Laguna, giving all 27 million licensed drivers in the state $250, people laughed at the idea. 

Less than two weeks later, Gov. Newsom announced his plan to give people $400. I’m guessing no one in Newport was laughing then. 

So, here’s my question: Will anyone in Newport, or California for that matter, ever see a check or gas card? If that’s not going to happen, then please tell us.

In an effort to help curb the effects of inflation, even in Newport, maybe the DMV should eliminate the annual vehicle registration fee for 2022-23. 

I wonder how many people will laugh at that idea.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Direct accountability matters

As a small business owner, I hold myself accountable for the service and quality in my restaurants. As your City Councilmember, you hold me directly accountable for decisions we make and the outcomes of those decisions too.

How do we make those decisions? We set public policy based on agendas set well in advance of a City Council meeting. As it currently stands, we delegate most of the agenda-setting functions to our City Manager. No matter how good a City Manager is (and ours is great), the City Manager is accountable only to the City Council and not directly to the people of the City of Newport Beach.

As City Councilmembers, we can also place items on the agenda if three of us agree that it deserves discussion. That, in fact, is how the Elect Our Mayor initiative will be on your ballots. I asked our City Council to consider the item, all seven City Councilmembers agreed, and then a majority of us voted to put Measure B on the ballot so that you get to choose whether you want to elect the Mayor (or whether you want us to keep choosing amongst ourselves every year).

Once you understand that, you’ll join me in expressing surprise that opponents of Measure B claim that the Mayor would be “too powerful.” No power would shift from City Councilmembers to the Mayor, we would still be able to place items on the agenda. The change would be moving the primary agenda setting option from the unelected City Manager to the directly accountable Mayor.

Direct accountability to voters matters. Learn more at www.electourmayor.com and encourage your friends and neighbors to vote Yes on B.

Noah Blom, District 5

Mayor Pro Tem

Newport Beach City Council

Don’t buy into the slogans

I love my “all natural” ice cream.

I always buy “fat free” margarine.

My juice boxes have “no sugar added.”

The chicken my wife serves is “free range” because they are exposed to the outdoors.

The grandkids’ fruit roll ups are “made with real fruit.”

You get the point. Slogans can be (and often are) misleading.

So, it is with the campaign slogan, “Elect Our Mayor.”

Sounds good, yes? Democracy in action, correct?

Motherhood, apple pie, stars and stripes and “Elect Our Mayor.” 

The proponents repeatedly claim, “It’s That Simple.” I admire simplicity, but sometimes simple answers (or clever catch phrases) gloss over complicated problems and unintended consequences. In this case, “It Clearly Isn’t That Simple.”

Maybe we should first read the words behind the superficial slogan of “Elect Our Mayor.”

Maybe we should consider the significant taxpayer cost of the measure to add a strong mayor’s full-time staff which will inevitably be necessary. (Just ask any city with a strong mayor.)

Maybe we should consider the disenfranchisement of the other weakened councilmembers subordinate and junior to the strong mayor.

Maybe we will lose a preeminent educated and experienced City Manager who is stripped of prior duties and who is under the thumb of a powerful mayor.

Maybe the other weakened councilmembers will not be able to be responsive in the reconfigured districts (reduced from seven to six) with at least 2,000 more constituents to serve for each new district.

Maybe the Mayor’s district (already served by another councilmember) will become a super district with two representatives on Council to the significant detriment of the other five districts with only one representative.

Please think twice about the misleading catch phrase “Elect Our Mayor” and the many unfavorable consequences of the measure.

Vote “No” on the “Bad for Newport” Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

It’s time for Newport Beach to elect their own mayor

Measure B sure has brought out some interesting opposing arguments, often based in falsehoods and fear. Fear and name-calling don’t move the needle for me and I hope they don’t for you.

A recent rebuttal to the No campaign, written by John O’Hara, reflects the thinking that sealed my commitment to the Elect Our Mayor Campaign. 

–The power to select our Mayor should belong with the voters. 

–Term limits, as written in Measure B, are sound and actually better than what we currently have for the City Council in general.

–‘What if’…are we to let ‘what if’ determine how we lead our city? 

Fear is often used as a persuasion technique, particularly in elections. That certainly is the case with the “No Elected Mayor in Newport Beach” campaign. In fact, the campaign’s website says exactly that. As someone who holds sacred the people’s right to vote for their leaders, that statement alone is enough to reject this fear-based campaign that seeks to limit the power of the voter. No and Elected in the same sentence is baffling. 

A recent No on B mailer was filled with inflammatory language like “deceptive and dangerous,” “Pro-Trump Republicans” and “special interest power grab.”

Those words were used to demonize those of us who support Measure B.  Those words also demonstrate a lack of respect for neighbors who support Measure B and the importance of the power resting with the voters. 

“Special Interest Power Grab?” Yes, your interests and mine are special, and the power should rest with us.

It’s time for Newport Beach to have Mayors that go beyond the ceremonial, and it’s time to give the voters the freedom to choose their Mayor. 

Ruth Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Lee Lowrey officially withdraws from City Council race

(Yesterday, May 9, candidate Lee Lowrey officially withdrew from the 2022 Newport Beach City Council race scheduled for November. Lee cited business commitments. He also promised to refund all $30,000 of political contributions that he received.)

Dear supporters of my candidacy for Newport Beach City Council,

Effective (yesterday), I will be ending my campaign for the position of City Councilman (District 4) for the City of Newport Beach. Your support and encouragement for my candidacy has meant everything to me. It has been an overwhelming humbling experience. Coming to my decision has not been an easy one. As I thought about the time necessary to successfully represent the citizens of Newport Beach on the City Council, initially I believed it was a manageable time commitment. It has become evident with the recent changes in economic conditions more time is going to be required to navigate my company with its current workload, as well as more time needed to seize new economic opportunities. To be able to give the 110% that I have promised my customers, employees, investors, and business partners, the additional time I believed I would have had for City Council just isn’t there.

I decided to run for city council first for my love of Newport Beach and my fellow residents. Additionally, I believed my background in business both large and small, my position as your current Chairman of the Newport Beach Planning Commission navigating through the new and complex housing mandates Sacramento is dictating on local municipalities, and my knowledge of John Wayne Airport’s intricacies from my six years of service on the Airport Commission would have made my background a great fit for the City Council. Unfortunately, this will not be the time that I will be able to take my background and experience to the voters.

I would be remiss in not thanking Mayor Kevin Muldoon, Mayor Pro Tem Noah Blom, Councilman Will O’Neill, Councilman Duffy Duffield, Congresswoman Michelle Steel, Sheriff Don Barnes, Orange County Supervisors Don Wagner and Andrew Do, and former GOP Assembly Leader and OCGOP Chairman Scott Baugh for their early support. Also, I want to thank those that donated over $30,000 during the past three weeks. Your donations will be refunded in full.

As the field of candidates begins to take final shape and we get closer to candidate filing, I look forward to listening to all the candidates and their respective policy positions as they seek election. Newport Beach may have some challenges as we look ahead, but we are all beyond blessed to live in this wonderful city we call home.

All the best to you and yours,

Lee M. Lowrey 

Boats landing on the Balboa Peninsula

My husband and I have owned property for over 40 years on the Balboa Peninsula. I read numerous local news sources including major news publications, the Newport City weekly reports, the City Council updates and local internet network sources. I also receive email alerts from the Newport Beach Police Department. 

Lately I have noticed what appears to be a major omission of very serious activities in our local area. Several months ago, a boat approached the Balboa Peninsula and off-loaded numerous people who then raced ashore to waiting cars. On that occasion there were armed police officers and armed agents who arrived in time to surround and contain the people as they attempted to escape into our community. 

I could not find any news explaining the situation. 

Recently, about one week ago, I experienced another similar situation. I saw numerous police cars and ambulances with sirens and lights on racing east on the Peninsula toward the Wedge. There was a group of people hiding on a private property near E St. and they raced toward Balboa Blvd. to head west toward Balboa Village. The police cars returned from the Wedge and apprehended several people. 

Unfortunately, once again I could not find any account in any publication regarding this very serious activity. 

I was frustrated by this lack of a factual account so I reached out to the Police Department and found out that approximately 10 people jumped off a boat near the Wedge. The OCSD Harbor Patrol was on the scene and assisted. U.S Customs and Border Protection resources also responded and detained some of the individuals. 

I feel that keeping local residents in the dark about these potentially dangerous activities is wrong. As a longtime-resident, I believe that we need to know what is happening in our community so we can make appropriate decisions regarding our security as individual property owners and our security as a community. 

The Balboa Peninsula is a water-oriented location and therefore is completely exposed to both the ocean and the bay. We need to work together with our City Council, our Police Department and the various Harbor law enforcement groups and that starts through discussions and education – not through avoidance of the facts. 

Ron and Nancy Arrache

Balboa Peninsula

The acquisition of Banning Ranch is complete

In a victorious moment, a goal that has taken decades to come to fruition, the “darling” of the coastal preservationists, Banning Ranch, acquired $11.5 million from the Coastal Conservancy this last week to complete its acquisition as public land. It had taken many years for preservationists to first gain approval by the Coastal Commission and then secondly acquire the $97 million necessary to purchase the site. 

When I retired in 2008, the Banning Ranch Conservancy became the first charitable group to which I donated time and effort. I was drawn immediately to the cause after listening one evening to a presentation by Suzanne Forster and Dorothy Kraus, and consequentially meeting the President Terry Welsh, all three impressing me greatly with their knowledge of the precious attributes of Banning Ranch and their fervor for preserving it as the largest remaining private coastal parcel between Ventura County and the U.S/Mexico border. Many local citizens from the coastal area volunteered to make this dream come true.

The Banning Ranch Conservancy wants to refresh and repair the coastal resources which have been damaged by decades of oil production for its use as a public space. Eventually it will provide access opportunities such as trails and low-impact overnight accommodations.

Several local political figures have become involved in aiding Banning Ranch Conservancy to meet its goals, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, Costa Mesa Councilmember Arlis Reynolds, California Director for the Trust of Public Land Guillermo Rodriquez and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.

One would be remiss not to mention the generous gift of $50 million donated by Newport Beach philanthropists Frank and Joann Randall in 2019 to the non-profit Trust for Public Land which helped secure an exclusive agreement with the owners of Banning Ranch for the acquisition.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Foley has done more, worked harder and deserves our vote for Supervisor

I have been a homeowner and resident of Newport Beach for nine years. For the past five years, I’ve worked to address the impacts of John Wayne Airport on surrounding communities in Orange County, and I’ve witnessed many elected officials talk about this issue. Katrina Foley is the rare public servant who actually delivered results. As Mayor of Costa Mesa, Katrina gathered 20,000 signatures of residents opposed to the operational expansion at JWA and she delivered those signatures to the Board of Supervisors alongside hundreds of concerned citizens during the 2019 GAIP (General Aviation Improvement Program) process.

At the time, I remember feeling like community members didn’t have a seat at the decision-making table when it came to the airport. That changed in 2021 when we elected Katrina Foley to the Board of Supervisors.

There is no better candidate for District 5 Supervisor than Katrina Foley. During the past year that she’s served as Supervisor, Foley has worked tirelessly on behalf of her constituents and has accrued an impressive number of accomplishments. Here are some highlights:

JWA Fly Friendly Program: As an Airport Commissioner, I witnessed firsthand, Supervisor Foley working collaboratively with residents, JWA staff, the City of Newport Beach and the General Aviation community to develop a Fly Friendly program which will soon begin to bring relief from GA aircraft noise to communities surrounding the airport. The fact that she managed to produce this entire program in a less than a year is an unprecedented feat.

Homelessness: Supervisor Foley tackled the problem of homelessness head-on the day she took office: She conducted an audit of the myriad collection of County homelessness programs and expenditures; directed a survey of homeless citizens to understand the issues they confront; and, she hosted an OC Homelessness Hearing to identify the drivers of homelessness and come up with solutions to solve this intractable social problem plaguing our communities. And it is especially noteworthy that, as Costa Mesa Mayor, she spearheaded the construction of a homelessness shelter. Katrina gets things done.

Sober Living Facilities: For more than a decade, Katrina advocated for regulatory reforms to protect patients and neighborhoods from abusive, profit-mill-style detox and sober living home operators. As Costa Mesa Mayor, she worked to adopt the first regulatory scheme that has been repeatedly upheld by the courts. The County adopted the Costa Mesa ordinance and added more protections in 2019. As Supervisor, Katrina’s office collaborated with Newport Beach to share ordinance details and Newport Beach initiated a code amendment to move an ordinance forward. Supervisor Foley serves on a newly formed ad hoc committee to examine and provide recommendations on residential treatment facilities. Notably, Foley testified before a CA state hearing on sober living facilities stating that by allowing the industry to regulate itself, the state endangers patients and neighborhoods and insisted that the state step up. “To achieve change to our sober living regulations, we need policy change across all levels of government,” she said. Katrina will work to make sure policies change.

This is a small sample of the work Supervisor Foley has done to help solve some of the most difficult problems confronting our communities. She’s smart and ethical, works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen, and she gets results. Please vote for Katrina Foley for District 5 Supervisor so she can continue this important work.

Sue Dvorak

Newport Beach

I just can’t be quiet in my opposition to Measure B

I have a right to keep silent, but I can’t! The most recent presentations by the proponents of Measure B – the proposed change to our City Charter to directly elect the mayor of Newport Beach – causes me to once again speak out. Last week, proponents of Measure B claimed that you need to be mayor to get positions on regional boards. Point of fact...Councilman (Will) O’Neill was just made the Chair of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (the Toll Roads), and he is not mayor. He was also not the mayor when his appointment to this Board was made in 2016. 

The proponent further stated that you need to be mayor to be a member of the OCTA Board. The current Board Chair of OCTA, Mark Murphy, was appointed to the Board in 2017 when he was a city councilman in Orange, not mayor. And he wasn’t actually elected mayor until Nov. 2018. The vice-chair, Gene Hernandez, who was just re-appointed to the board, is currently the Mayor Pro tem of Yorba Linda, not the mayor. 

Other than the OCTA, our city councilmembers, not the mayor, represent us on most Orange County agencies important to Newport Beach – 11 of them, in fact. 

Councilman (“Duffy”) Duffield has stated that he could not get the attention of the congressman in D.C. when he visited as a councilmember but could when he was mayor. The fact of the matter is that Newport Beach received the dredging money well after he was no longer mayor. If he thought it was so important to have the mayor present in order to get a meeting in D.C., the mayor should have accompanied him on this trip. 

It should also be noted that the City had previously received $16-$18 million for dredging despite not having an elected mayor. My experience when representing the City in D.C., on two different trips, is that you actually get a lot more accomplished when meeting with staffers as opposed to the actual elected representative. 

Let’s not forget that Measure B has been proposed by the council majority that was responsible for the firing of one of the most effective city managers in the history of our city, Dave Kiff. And, although this proposed Charter Amendment does not explicitly detail the cost in the measure that the City will incur, the experience of other cities that have an elected mayor is that they have expenses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the position and the staff that is needed for this newly created office to function. There is no reason to believe that this will not be the case in Newport Beach. 

To the proponents of Measure B I ask, “What didn’t the City get that we needed because we have not had a directly elected mayor?” And, “Why did you abandon the signature gathering process to place this measure on the ballot and resort to going directly to the Council majority for approval?” No public outcry, no demand from constituents, the city is and has been governed well for the past 70 years; the City is financially sound, citizens are not complaining, so where did this come from? 

I have the right to remain silent, but in this case I just can’t. I urge you to vote NO on Measure B. 

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Council, 2016-2020 

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Joy Brenner

District 6

Newport Beach City Council

Are voters being underestimated?

Guest Letter Joy Brenner

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

City Councilmember Joy Brenner

When a politician tells you, “It’s very simple…I trust the voters” (to do what I say), be suspicious, be very suspicious! The elect your mayor campaign is a perfect example, with a lot of complexities not evident on the surface. We currently elect our mayors every two years when we choose city councilmembers who come from all parts of our city. Each generally serves as mayor for one or two years while on council, not for a total of two four-year terms or eight years as proposed in the June 7 ballot Measure B.

Historically, our most dedicated councilmembers have been citizens who want to give back and protect our quality of life in Newport Beach. Lately there have been many politicians who want to go on to a higher elected office and it often changes their perspective. This measure would serve a politician well while they build their reputation and war chest (lots of money) here in Newport Beach. And they only have to live here for about 30 days before running for council, or in this case, mayor. If this measure passes, we will have many politicians hoping to use us as their political stepping-stone.

I found that by taking any particular person out of my reasoning on this topic I was better able to look at the pros and cons. One important con is that big money special interests may find this desirable in order to just work with one powerful mayor. 

We have seen that most of the money supporting B is coming from business interests, many outside our city. Convincing a majority of the council who have the responsibility to protect all parts of the community would be more difficult. However, even those with special interests who really love our city can see the danger of having one person with extreme power and a rigid perspective in this position.

Our system is not perfect but other cities, normally much larger, have big problems when they elect their mayor…corruption, bribery, bickering, fights, political machines and power-hungry politicians. Please VOTE NO on MEASURE B to preserve our citizen-based local government where everyone has direct access and can discuss issues with ALL councilmembers and lobby for the solutions which best serve our entire community!


Letters to the Editor

Still the shining city on the hill?

Former Mayor Mike Henn’s talk at the Speak Up Newport Dinner on February 11, 2011 stuck with me. Mayor Henn described Newport as “the Shining City on the Hill.”

Yes, we heard from Mike about the City’s then current and future priorities (including “generational priorities,” which phrase is way beyond my pay grade), but that “Shining City” phrase is what I remember 11 years later.

That simple description bespeaks emotion, inspiration, and aspiration. Mike’s vision sorta made me proud to call Newport “home.”

But as I think of the town which has been a part time or fulltime home going on 68 years, I wonder if the vision is about to change.

Our Council of seven has worked collaboratively for nearly 70 years. They (all seven) debate vigorously, they (all seven) decide troublesome issues, they (all seven) put disagreements behind, they (all seven) move on to the next challenge.

I wonder – for all its perceived pluses – whether the direct election of the mayor plan will affect the thoughtful collaborative judgment by seven (former) equals. I wonder whether the “strong mayor” will overshadow the “lesser” remaining councilmembers and nullify our pre-eminent City Manager. I wonder whether we will still be “the Shining City on the Hill” after June 7.

A last thought as we prepare to cast our absentee ballots: If the direct election of the mayor is so worthwhile on its merits as contended by a proponent, why have so many prominent past and present Newport Beach Councilmembers, Mayors, Citizens of the Year, journalists, influential leaders, commission members, committee members, and committed citizens come out against the measure? 

Maybe these thoughtful folks have looked at the devil in the details – not swayed by a superficial catchphrase.

Please vote “NO” on Measure B. 

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Vote Yes on B, a rebuttal to the naysayers

I have now seen multiple misleading arguments in opposition to Measure B – the Elect Our Mayor initiative in Newport Beach. Here are some of those arguments and why I believe they are misleading. In the end, the voters of Newport Beach get to decide this important issue. Get educated and be sure to vote on June 7, 2022.

Argument 1 – This Is a Power Grab

How is allowing the people of Newport Beach to directly elect their Mayor a “power grab?” A “power grab” by whom? The people? Giving the people the chance to choose their own Mayor is democracy. It is simpler and more accountable government than the present system, which gives the power to appoint the Mayor to the City Council.

Argument 2 – The Proposed Terms for the Mayor Are Too Long.

Long compared to what? Certainly not the current system, where councilmembers can serve for 8 years, sit out a bit, and run again – over and over. Under the proposed measure, a person elected Mayor may only serve a maximum of two terms of four years each (for a maximum of 8 years served as Mayor in a lifetime). These term limits are in line with the limits in most cities. In fact, many cities set the limits at three or four terms of four years. Some cities even have no limits on the number of terms but simply limit successive terms. The proposed terms are not too long and are not unusual.

Argument 3 – Will O’Neill Would Make An Outstanding Mayor But What If the Voters Pick A Bad Mayor?

Most opponents of Measure B openly praise Will O’Neill and believe that he would make an excellent Mayor if Measure B passes and he runs and he is elected by the voters. But, they say, what if the voters of Newport Beach select a bad Mayor? I trust the voters of Newport Beach and believe it is unlikely they will select a bad Mayor. But if they somehow did, it’s worth remembering two important things. First, the proposed elected Mayor would only be one vote of seven, without a veto, and other councilmembers can add items to the policy agenda. Second, if a bad Mayor ever did emerge, the situation could be addressed through a recall process. Or the bad Mayor will not be re-elected. Do not assume that the voters are ignorant or incompetent. Trust the voters. Trust the democratic process. Elect the Mayor.

Argument 4 – The System That Newport Currently Uses Has Been Around a Long Time and Seems to Work So Why Change It?

The naysayers focus so heavily on wanting all the policy power to remain with the unelected City Manager. The Council-Manager system of governance is not democratic and in fact was originally devised to undermine democracy in city governance. The fact that many cities run this way, or that Newport Beach has long been run this way, does not address whether it is the best way to run our city. The origin of the Council-Manager system is enlightening and, in many ways, disturbing. In the early 1900s, when immigrants began to settle in large numbers in cities around the United States, the existing power structure of the cities feared that the immigrant hordes would vote together as a block and vote in one of their own kind. The solution to this “problem” was to develop the Council-Manager system of city governance and prevent the majority of voters from voting in the Mayor they wanted. Instead, voters were limited to electing several councilmembers whose power was diffused and it was up to the council members to select a “professional” city manager. [See 2006 article by Richard C. Schragger in the Yale Law Journal (115 Yale L.J. 2542) entitled “Can Strong Mayors Empower Weak Cities? On the Power of Local Executives in a Federal System”.] The net result is that in the City of Newport Beach, and in all cities that utilize the Council-Manager model, the person with the most power to set, influence and implement policy is the City Manager. The City Manager, however, is unelected by the voters and not directly accountable to the voters. 

A vote of “YES” on Measure B is a vote for democracy, accountability and a better way to run our great city. Please vote YES ON B.

John O’Hara

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

We have inherent rights, and one of those should be voting to elect our mayor

I’ve heard some rather odd rumbling around town that even though the people don’t have the right to directly vote for our Mayor, this system “isn’t broke so we don’t need to fix it.” This suggests that our system was whole and right to begin with. But when the government holds back power away from the people – especially power as basic as selecting our city’s leader – then it’s an inherently broken system from the start. 

It’s time to vote to take back our rightful vote by voting “yes” on Measure B. 

Second to mothering my son, my absolute favorite job was teaching high schoolers about civics. It usually only took a few minutes in the first class to incentivize them to care and then we were off to the races with theories, concrete examples, and debates. Oh debates – the best part of it all because it not only showed what and how they were thinking but showed how much they cared. Our most basic question to answer was: what is the role of government? 

The government – according to the Enlightenment values our country was founded upon – is to bring order and protection to our basic individual rights of life, liberty and opportunity. We as individuals have powers and rights that are inherent in being humans. We release some of our individual powers over to the government because there are some circumstances in which a collective power structure better oversees the intersection of all our rights and powers. 

However, the government doesn’t have the same inherent right to power that the people do; its power comes from the consent of the people only when the individual power of the people can’t reasonably balance our rights with the rights of others. In sum, the people are presumed to have inherent powers and the government receives its limited powers from the consent of the people when necessary. 

Currently, the people of Newport Beach do not have the power to directly elect our mayor. We elect the 7 council members who then vote amongst themselves each year who will be our mayor. 

This is an unnecessary governmental power that should rightfully be in the hands of the people. Who is supporting keeping power in the government instead of with us; a small, politically active (read: few but loud) group with disproportionate influence in local politics whose power would be disrupted if we took our rightful vote back? 

We are a vibrant city that garners attention nationwide. We should have a direct say in who represents us as our mayor. By voting “yes” on Measure B, we are directly voting for our mayor and directly voting for our own inherent rights as the people of Newport Beach. 

Vote to vote, my friends. 

Erin Clark 

Newport Beach

Caution to the potential impact Measure B might have

This morning’s (4/26) Stu News starts with an article by Tom Johnson about Measure B. He opens by saying he likes Will O’Neill and considers him a friend but then goes on to explain why he ultimately is against Measure B. I completely agree with him for all the reasons he outlines and several more. 

It shouldn’t be about whether someone likes O’Neill or not but instead, what is the potential impact this change in electing a mayor would bring to our great city. One person having more power, the potential to give wealthy individuals more control because they will bring big dollars to campaigns, reducing districts from 7 to 6 are all reasons residents should be concerned. 

These reasons and more are why so many former council members, mayors and residents are against B. Vote no on B.

Mike Groff

Newport Beach 

Newport Beach

Lessons from Westminster for Newport

In June, residents in Newport Beach and Westminster, two cities in Orange County, will vote on mirror-image changes to their city charters.

In Newport Beach, voters will consider whether the mayor should be directly elected, for a four-year term, renewable for another four years, with considerable control over city policy. In Westminster, which has long had a system of direct election of the mayor, residents will consider something like the Newport Beach system, in which the five members of the city council would select each year, from among themselves, one person to serve as ceremonial mayor for the next year.

Many residents of Westminster are tired of their strong-mayor system, in which contentious city council meetings often last past midnight. The city council is so busy bickering, as Voice of OC has reported, that the city may well have to declare bankruptcy.

Among the points on the Westminster ballot, in favor of changing to the Newport system, are that it would “STOP potential corruption and abuse of power by politicians who hold the title of mayor for too long,” and “ALIGN Westminster with 26 other cities in Orange County who appoint their mayor annually” and “increase the likelihood that the mayor will have local government experience as a Westminster councilmember before serving as mayor.”

These are all good arguments, reasons why Westminster should change its charter, to provide for a one-year mayor selected by the city council. They are also reasons why Newport Beach should NOT change its charter – should retain its current system in which the city council selects a one-year ceremonial mayor.

It is striking that nobody, not even the current mayor of Westminster, submitted an argument against the proposed change to the Westminster charter to be printed on the ballot. It seems that, in Westminster at least, there is a consensus that a powerful, directly elected mayor is not a good idea.

Of course, larger cities, such as Anaheim, Irvine, and Santa Ana, generally have directly elected mayors. But according to the 2020 census, Newport Beach and Westminster are of similar size: 85,239 people in Newport Beach and 90,911 people in Westminster.

Some might argue that the ethnic composition of Westminster is different than Newport Beach, so that Newport Beach (even if it changes its charter) would not face the problems that Westminster has faced. This is a dubious if not racist argument. People are people. Good government systems draw out the best in people; bad government systems draw out the worst. If Newport Beach changes to the Westminster system, the odds that it will start to see the problems from which Westminster has suffered in recent years.

The current system in Newport Beach has worked well and should not be changed. Surely Newport Beach should learn from Westminster and not rush to change its charter in a way that has not worked there. Please join me in voting NO on Measure B in Newport Beach.

Walter Stahr

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Dilruba Haque, M.D.

City of Hope

Four common breast cancer myths to set aside

Guest Letter Dilruba Haque MD

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Hope

Dilruba Haque, M.D., City of Hope

Women in Orange County are generally healthier than most women in California. But did you know Orange County has a higher rate of breast cancer than California counties overall? The exact reasons for that remain unclear, but one way to bring down that number is to educate women about what they can do to reduce their risk of getting the disease. 

Your physician is an excellent resource and should be a primary source of guidance. But despite the best efforts of health care providers, misconceptions about the disease persist.

Let’s take a look at – and correct – some of these myths.

Myth: Breast cancer always shows up as a lump. A lump is the most common symptom, but many women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t show signs. That’s why women are urged to both perform monthly self-exams of their breasts and talk to their doctor about when and how often to be screened for breast cancer. Women noticing worrisome changes to or unusual masses in their breasts should contact their doctor immediately.

Myth: People with a BRCA gene mutation are certain to get breast cancer. All women have BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. They help with cell growth and repair; however, they also can develop mutations associated with breast cancer. But having – or not having – these mutations does not guarantee you will – or will not – develop the disease. So, you may be interested in asking your doctor about genetic testing; having an accurate picture of your genetic markers can be a powerful tool for health care planning.

Myth: Eating gluten causes cancer. This is a myth that arose from the potential link between cancer and inflammation. The rationale goes something like this: If inflammation is linked to cancer and gluten is linked to inflammation, then not eating gluten might help prevent cancer. However, the truth is more nuanced. While gluten may be linked to inflammation, there does not appear to be clear-cut evidence that conclusively shows a gluten-free diet can help fight cancer or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

Myth: Men have nothing to be concerned about. While it’s much less common in men than in women, it is estimated that doctors will diagnose more than 2,700 U.S. men this year with breast cancer. As in women, men who feel a lump in their breast or see any other unusual swelling, redness, or nipple discharge should reach out to their doctor without delay.

The best way to treat breast cancer is to stop it in the first place. Understand your risk factors and talk with your doctor about preventive care, including breast cancer screening. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, seek care from a physician who specializes in your kind of cancer and can offer you access to the latest breakthroughs in breast cancer research, technology, and treatment.

Dilruba Haque, M.D., is a medical oncologist and hematologist at City of Hope Newport Beach Lido and City of Hope Irvine Sand Canyon who specializes in treating breast cancer. 

Visit www.cityofhope.org/OC to learn more. To make an appointment at any of City of Hope’s four Orange County locations, click here or call:

Newport Beach Fashion Island: 949.763.2204

Newport Beach Lido: 949.999.1400

Irvine Sand Canyon: 949.333.7580

Huntington Beach: 714.252.9415


Letters to the Editor

Take the power back, vote Yes on B

Last October, I wrote a letter to the editor that called The Elect Our Mayor initiative “The People’s Power Grab.” I encouraged the City Council to let us, the voters, choose the Mayor directly. The City Council would have to give up that power and let us, the voters, take the power back.

And they did! We’ll be getting our ballots soon and will have the chance to vote yes on B to take the power to elect our Mayor directly and make sure that the Mayor is directly accountable to us.

So, I’ve been surprised to see opponents of this measure claim that they are trying to “stop the power grab.” Really? They want to insert themselves between the voters and direct accountability. They want to stop voters from getting power back. 

Any person who wants to become Mayor in the new system would have to go through the gauntlet of public elections. Debates, fundraising and asking for votes. We get the say in that situation. We, the voting public, have the power in that situation. 

I’m voting Yes on B and hope that you’ll join me.

Jeanine Bashore

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

I want to vote to elect my mayor and will vote “yes” on B

No elected mayor…why does that sound like a campaign to limit my ability to decide who leads my City? Because it does. Sadly, it’s the No On Measure B campaign’s intent. It should give everyone pause, to just think about those words.

The Elect Our Mayor (Yes On B) campaign has prompted many of us to consider how we think about the significance of the Mayor of Newport Beach.  Regardless of who any future elected mayor might be, I’ve come to the following conclusions: 

–The directly elected mayoral model delivers far more visible leadership of the city, which can be important in dealing with other federal, state, or regional agencies, or other cities.

–A direct election gives substantial democratic legitimacy and makes a mayor directly accountable…answering to the voters has a direct correlation to looking out for the good of the entire city as a whole.

–A strong leader is more likely to be effective in developing a forward-looking vision for the city…how can a vision be cast and implemented in a one-year term? No effective organization is set up this way.

–Four-year terms provide stable leadership. There is value in continuity and stability in good times and in tough times.

–Elected officials who can be held to account are the ones who should set the city council agenda, not unelected city managers, no matter how good any city manager might be.

Change can be uncomfortable and not entirely devoid of risk; however, the benefits far outweigh the risks for the Elect Our Mayor Measure B. I want to elect my mayor and will vote yes on B. I reject any movement that seeks to limit my ability to elect my civic leaders.

Ruth Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Was leaning toward voting yes on B, now I’m a definite

I want to have a direct say over who becomes Mayor of Newport Beach. And I want the Mayor to be directly accountable to me. It’s that simple.

That kind of power – the power to select the Mayor – should be with the voters. We’ve seen what it looks like when power is farther away from the people. It doesn’t go well.

When I’ve seen signs around town saying that voters shouldn’t have that power, that voters wanting that power would be accused of a “power grab” that should be stopped, I just shake my head.

Last week, I saw an ad on Facebook from these opponents. I commented: “Wait, so the people electing a mayor is bad? A power grab? Is anyone falling for this?” For hours, the official Facebook account for the opponents was attacked. And then my comments were gone from public view. And then I was blocked from even seeing the post.

Take it from my experience and don’t be bullied into voting against your own ability to vote. We should all want direct accountability and a direct say over who is our Mayor.

I was leaning toward voting yes on B to Elect Our Mayor. Now I’m a definite yes on B and will tell all my friends the same.

Coleen Tunney

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Measure B is about more than being friends with Will O’Neill

I was speaking to a group of people last week about how important it is to vote NO on B when all of a sudden, a person in the audience spoke up and said the following:

“I personally know and love Will O’Neill. I have donated to his campaign, I’m a dedicated follower of his posts, our kids are friends, etc. He does what he says, listens with an open mind, I think he’s great. But when he asked me to help with Measure B, I had to decline and he was very respectful of my choice. I think he would be great for the position that Measure B is creating, but just as I told him, the problem is who comes after him. 

“Will O’Neill would be a great leader for 4 or 8 years, but then who will be next? Someone power hungry, someone with higher ambition, someone without Newport in mind, someone funded by lobbyists. No doubt it will ruin the City.

“Keep the power divided among the council as it has been. Why do I care which councilman runs the meeting and calls himself mayor that year? I’m just happy the power is split and they hold each other accountable (...somewhat). This would change all that and turn the Council to yes men. How truly sad for our beautiful City.”

Very well stated.

As you all know the City of Westminster, population of 93,000, will be voting in the June primary to dissolve their directly elected Mayor position. The residents are fed up with the politics that have resulted from someone having too much control.

Let’s stop this now! I urge everyone to vote NO on B.

Please visit our website at https://nopowergrab.com/.

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Newport Beach, it’s time to say “no” again

NO! That’s the only answer to Measure B. Don’t vote before reading the fine print. We residents are in the same situation as in 2014, when we were told Measure Y would “reduce traffic” even though we knew it would have the opposite effect: the data was skewed and the measure would in fact have brought large scale development and traffic to Newport Center. 

This was the catalyst for our formation of Line in the Sand, to educate and protect the public interest.

In the case of Measure B, the only answer, again, is to just say NO. Again, we feel betrayed – not because the idea of an elected mayor is bad in itself – but because when you read and understand the fine print, you see that, as written, the measure would seriously erode democratic representation for the voters and load the power into the hands of one person, the Mayor. 

Some things to think about:

Who’s behind it? The mega dollars behind Measure B are mostly out-of-town dollars except for a $5,000 loan from Will O’Neill. What’s that all about?

Why is it? If Measure B passes, the Mayor would have an incredible amount of power, more than any one representative has ever had in our City. Agenda decisions would be made by the Mayor, and voter representation would be decreased by having one less district. The ability of the City Manager and other Councilmembers to drive Council discussions would be drastically reduced. How could that possibly be a good thing for our city?

What is it? The charter change we are voting on was initiated by one person – Will O’Neill – without review or discussion or community input at the Council meetings. It allows an elected Mayor to buy a seat with mega dollars and capture the bulk of the power in decision-making discussions among the Council. It allows a Mayor to stay in place for eight years even immediately after two four- year terms on the City Council. The big bucks could more easily prevail and the number of districts would be reduced to six. Why would decreasing our representation and lumping it more into one hand be a good thing for our city?

Where is this happening? This is Newport Beach. Our system of leadership through seven equally represented Districts has worked well for many decades even though big money and the cost of elections can have an undue and unfair influence. But – Measure B not only erodes the fairness and representation but allows big money to more likely drive the Mayoral election. Who thinks making matters worse is a good thing for our City?

NO! The only answer to Measure B is just plain no.  If you’re someone who’s frustrated by one-party rule in Sacramento, just wait until you see one-person rule in Newport Beach. That’s what Measure B would result in. 

Dennis Baker, Board President

Line in the Sand

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

“Imagine disparaging the form of government that has helped make our city one of the most desirable places to live”

The way Will O’Neill is trying to spin his elected mayor project in letters to Newport Beach HOAs is truly astounding.

Imagine disparaging the form of government that has helped make our city one of the most desirable places to live just because we don’t directly elect our mayor. 

The truth is our current system works better than his proposal ever could. We elect all our council representatives, and they pick someone to serve in the ceremonial role of mayor for one year, then the position rotates. This way all Newport’s villages have equal representation and get equal attention. There’s no opportunity for a politician to spend eight years trying to make headlines as a prelude to running for higher office. 

Just because our form of government isn’t good for Will O’Neill doesn’t mean it isn’t good for Newport Beach.   

Next, while Mr. O’Neill swears up and down that his initiative isn’t a power grab, remember that it would transfer nearly total control of our city government to the elected mayor, and that he plans to run for that office when he’s termed out in 2024. (Conveniently, he has written Measure B to include an exemption from the term limits voters overwhelmingly approved in 1992 to allow someone like himself to run for mayor after being on the council for eight years.) 

Taking power away from all other elected city officials and the city manager, and giving it to one person, is the definition of a power grab.

Here are some questions Mr. O’Neill should answer if he wants voters to be fully informed:

Would he be working so hard to create this new office if he wasn’t eligible to run for it?

Why does he go to such lengths to avoid talking about one of the biggest changes that would result from his initiative: the reduction in the number of council districts from seven to six, leaving each council member with thousands more constituents to represent while the district where the mayor lives would have double representation?

We know the four councilmen supporting this measure committed $215,000 from our budget to put Measure B on the June ballot, but how much would the elected mayor office cost our city annually? And how much will it cost to redistrict the city, just a year after regular ten-year redistricting is completed? Would it be money well spent for residents or just for Will O’Neill?

–Why is Measure B attracting so much money from special interests and out-of-town donors?

–And finally, if Measure B is such a great idea, why didn’t its proponents, Will O’Neill, Noah Blom, Kevin Muldoon and Duffy Duffield, organize forums and panels to explain the details to the public, and why are they turning down almost every invitation to debate those who oppose it? 

Could it be they are hoping people will vote for Measure B because it sounds like a good idea, without reading the fine print? 

Based on what’s happened in the past with Measure Y and other calamities, it’s absolutely possible that they underestimate Newport Beach voters’ commitment to getting the facts and doing what’s best for our city even when politicians try to trick us into doing the opposite.

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach

There are lessons to be learned from history

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. We spent a day at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.

We learned that no lesser person than the Father of Our Country set an unofficial precedent in 1796 when Washington declined to run for a third 4-year Presidential term.

And on February 27, 1951, Minnesota became the thirty-sixth state to approve the Twenty Second Amendment (thereby ensuring ratification) which sets term limits on Presidential service to two terms. 

Washington’s voluntary decision was an exercise in wise self-restraint and a safeguard against tyrannical  power.

Despite some pluses, the Charter Amendment (which would permit a SIXTEEN YEAR span in office) seems to encourage the retention/extension of power/control beyond reason. And it is inconsistent with the spirit and intent of Newport Beach voters who adopted Charter Section 401 in November 1992. Our voters decided at that time that “no person shall be or remain eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council for more than two (2) consecutive four (4) year terms.”

Perhaps we should learn from the moderation and restraint of our forefathers.

Please vote “NO” on Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

The change of our City Charter to elect the mayor is bad for Newport Beach

Yesterday I learned that Councilman Will O’Neill, author and proponent of Measure B, the flawed and dangerous directly elected mayor proposal, has mailed a letter to individual Newport Beach residents and voters encouraging their support of Measure B. 

Today I received a copy of that letter and absolutely had to respond. 

He opens his letter with the following questions, “Should you choose who your Mayor is? Or should someone else choose for you?”

Here’s what is ironic about these questions…you already do choose your mayor every time you vote for city council candidates. When you vote, you really should remember that under our 70-year-old system of governance in this city, the mayor comes from those seven people you elect to represent you. So, in essence, you have been directly electing your mayor ever since our city fathers wrote and you approved our City Charter. 

He refers to “that power” to select a mayor being in the hands of the city council. This is simply not so. By electing who represents you on City Council, you are also saying that you would be OK with any of those candidates serving as mayor.

Next, he refers to the political action committee (PAC) that has been formed to oppose this measure, called No Elected Mayor. Initially, that was the name of the PAC, however a more recent name change to No Power Grab - No on B, more appropriately describes the intent of this PAC. 

On the surface, if you were asked if you would like to directly elect your mayor, of course the answer is going to be affirmative. However, in this particular case, it is absolutely critical to look further into this proposed change in our City Charter and system of governance. 

Mr. O’Neill claims that his proposal for a directly elected mayor is straightforward. If you go deeper into it, this measure grants almost complete authority and power to the mayor for determining the future direction of this city. So, what is wrong with that, you ask? Consider the fact that this proposed measure completely opens the door to anyone with enough money to fund a campaign for the office of mayor. Anyone! No short or long-term residency in the city; no experience in governing; no experience with serving on city committees, boards or commissions; no knowledge of the history or culture of our city. Our city will be completely politicized. 

Read a little deeper and you will discover why the above identified PAC chose the title of “No Power Grab.” This measure would give the mayor ultimate authority in determining the agenda of the city council. There are all kinds of ramifications resulting from this level of authority. 

Ben Franklin stated that he is “a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power.” Way back in the 1700s Ben knew the dangers of giving one person too much power and the ability to arbitrarily make decisions.” 

I’ll ask you a few questions now: 

–Are you willing to take the risk involved in this proposed measure and give such authority to one individual? 

–What is wrong with the current system of selecting the mayor from council members who you have already been elected? A mayor with limited authority and power. 

–What problem exists that needs fixing? 

–If approved, wouldn’t we, in fact, be creating the potential for the creation of a whole new batch of problems? 

Just look at the City of Westminster who will be asking voters to actually approve going back to the system that has worked so well here in Newport Beach for 70 years. The directly elected mayor proposal that voters approved in that city has resulted in nothing but corruption. 

On June 7th you will be asked to cast your vote for or against probably the most significant public policy proposal in the history of our city. A No vote will leave things the way they are; a Yes vote is predicted to change the entire face of our city. 

Do you really want to take that risk?

Jeff Herdman, Newport Beach City Council 2016-2020

Balboa Island

Measure B, electing our mayor, is bad for Newport Beach

B is BAD for Newport Beach 

In case people are not paying attention there is a ballot measure on the June ballot that could have major negative implications to the City of Newport Beach. But much of the mischief it creates is hidden in the fine print. The ballot measure is entitled Measure B, which attempts to rest power from the citizens of Newport Beach, the council members and create unfettered power in the hands of one person. 

For decades, Newport has successfully operated under the city council form of government. The City has seven (7) council districts with each council member having equal authority in representing their constituencies and the City of Newport Beach. 

That form of government has created the incredible City of Newport Beach where we all live. But the first thing that Measure B proposes is to eliminate one council district and establish instead just six council districts and thereby weakening the voice of the residents of Newport Beach. 

Eliminates a Council District 

But of graver consequence proposed, Measure B would give the mayor “exclusive authority” to decide what issues are even placed on the City Council agenda. In addition, under Measure B, one of the remaining six (6) council districts would have both a mayor and a council member in one district again creating unequal representation for other council districts and their constituents. 

The full power of the mayor is frightening. 

The Measure also weakens term limits. Currently a council member can only serve two consecutive terms of four (4) years; however, Measure B allows that a council member after serving two terms, could then serve two four-year terms for a total of sixteen years. 

The city does not need career politicians. 

What each one has to ask themselves is why would someone want to amend the charter of the city to allow for the elimination of a council district or why anyone would run for city council if Measure B were successful? The proposed measure grants the mayor exclusive authority to determine what is placed on the City Council Agenda; gives one district two representatives (a councilmember and a mayor) at the expense of the other remaining council districts and their constituents and all while weakening the authority of the council and weakening term limits. 

No Requirement that the Mayor Served on City Council Subject to Forces Outside the City 

Is the answer to this that the Measure is not supported by the residents of Newport Beach but rather forces from outside the city? As recent campaign filings in support of the Measure showed in Mr. Homer Bludau’s recent letter and analysis, 43% of donations in support of Measure B came from people residing outside our city and in some cases from outside the State. 

Forces outside the City controlling Newport may be a very real fear, as Measure B, does not require that a person running for Mayor have previously served as a council member. 

Don’t be misled by the title of Measure B. It has nothing to do with electing a mayor and everything about grabbing and concentrating power, eliminating accountability, and eliminating one of the current seven (7) council districts. Don’t allow our city to be a victim of a power grab by one person or group of people with little interest in our great city. Join me in voting NO on B. B as in bad for the City of Newport Beach.                                                                                      

Thomas C. Edwards, former Mayor Newport Beach 

Newport Beach

Study Session frustrating, leaving me with more questions than answer

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

When is a Study Session not really a study session? Last evening, I attended the City Council Study Session on the data collected in the Newport Heights area before and after Tustin Avenue received permission to close one end of its street on a trial basis. Perhaps a better title for the evening would have been, “Traffic Issues in the Heights” because the effect that this closure, if it becomes permanent, will have on the rest of traffic flow in the Heights will be substantial. This one change will engender many others. It was discouraging that more people from other streets did not attend. Have they learned from experience that the Council is going to do what the Council is going to do regardless of their input?

It turns out, with good visuals provided by the City’s Traffic Specialist, that after Tustin received the go ahead for a trial traffic closure of their street, the number of cars decreased from 834 to 276, but for the only other thoroughfare through the Heights the numbers increased from 1,862 to 2,053 to the tune of approximately 200 additional cars per day. 

I guess they figure that if you can handle that many cars, 200 more wouldn’t make much of a difference. Upper Tustin’s numbers go down, every other alternate routes’ numbers go up.

The reasons for providing this temporary closure were not clear. A few possibilities provided in passing were that this segment of Tustin was “very unique,” that it was used by “impaired drivers leaving the Mariners’ Mile bars at 10 p.m., not wanting to get pulled over on Riverside,” while one council member kept coming back to the excuse that the reason it might have been closed off was because it was” very narrow.”

It wasn’t until Councilman Avery spoke that Riverside, the alternate thoroughfare, was even mentioned. Equity, impartiality – those concepts were raised. I had many questions about information that was presented. I am sure that others did too.

Which takes me to another concern that I had about this meeting and about Council meetings in general. It is supposed to be a study session, but questions are not allowed after the statement period. When the City Traffic Specialist gave statistics, talking about results of the Tustin study, only council members could ask questions. At this point, as new information was being presented, questions from the audience simply were not allowed. 

It has been brought to my attention that there is nothing in state law that prevents a free-flow discussion with the public on items announced on the agenda. It is frustrating to not allow the audience to ask questions, particularly when the information being discussed is technical in nature. (Rumor has it that the City Council of one neighboring city does allow back-and-forth communication.)

You can try to write council members to get information. Some of them do actually get back to you. But despite the many emails I have sent to the council over the years, there are two on the current council who have never answered or responded to me, not once.

I hope that when we do elect new council members, we select those who have a proven record of interest and commitment to the community, not just to their own careers. If you have followed the Council the last several years, you will understand what I am saying. If you haven’t, hopefully you will start paying closer attention to the current council and the new candidates.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Grant gets my vote for Council

Over the years I have watched with great interest the consistent hard work and tremendous amount of time Robyn Grant has given to the City of Newport Beach and to various organizations and boards within our City. 

As a little background – Robyn Grant is a USC educated attorney with a specialty in real estate and environmental law and bachelor’s degree from the UCLA. She is also a small business owner and teaches college classes in Business Law and Business Ethics. 

Robyn served two appointments to the Civil Service Board of Newport Beach, as well as appointments to the Library Board of Trustees and the City Arts Commission. Robyn Grant has also served on boards of several nonprofits including Speak Up Newport, Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter and Leadership Tomorrow. 

A Newport resident for over thirty-five years, Robyn Grant has worked with the City of Newport Beach in many capacities, collaborating with the community to support local business, increase resident participation in City Council decisions, improve government services, promote community education, and support our first responders.

Robyn Grant understands that the major issues facing Newport Beach such as public safety, crime, homelessness, traffic, etc., do NOT fall neatly within district lines but do require ALL City Council members to work together and to respond to concerned residents regardless of the District designations.

Robyn Grant will listen intently to residents’ concerns. Robyn Grant is consistent on her positions on issues and does not change her position based on money donors who want to control our politicians by promising support and money. Robyn Grant has the integrity and independence of a strong leader and does not flip flop on election measures such as Measure B – Election of a Mayor.

Robyn Grant knows that when she is elected her job is to listen to and carry out the will of ALL the residents of Newport Beach. Please join my husband and me in voting for Robyn Grant for District 4 City Council.

Nancy and Ron Arrache

Balboa Peninsula

Rush to judgment seems in error

Bob Rush describes the many people opposed to the flawed elected mayor proposal as “the same unscrupulous culprits and miscreants of the past.” Why would I take umbrage from a man whose opinions consistently conflict with actual facts, it is well worth pointing out to your readers that these scurrilous opponents to the elected mayor initiative include virtually every past Newport Beach mayor, City Council person and City Manager. One might suppose that these are people who really know what they are talking about and appreciate that the collective wisdom of this group is that this is a very bad proposal for Newport Beach.

I will also point out that the proponent’s website contains no one listed as endorsing this proposal, likely because most people recognize it as the power grab that it is. In contrast, the opponent’s website (www.NoPowerGrab.com) has an exceptionally large list of illustrious people who understand that this proposal effectively creates one man rule in Newport by giving an elected mayor extraordinary powers. 

Please vote No on Measure B.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Thank you to city staff for a wonderful event

Too often we forget to say kudos for a job well done. Saturday’s event, hosted by the City of Newport Beach, which offered shredding, e-waste and free compost was a HUGE success. In addition, you could pick up an under the counter pail from CR&R, smart planning for sure.

Cars started lining up at 7 a.m. and went back for almost a mile. At 10 a.m., when I got there, the line was still long and I waited for about 25 minutes. It was well worth the wait. I utilized 3 out of the 4 services.

The city staff was very pleasant, professional and efficient. I was very impressed. Thank you, Newport Beach, for such a successful event. Most of all a BIG THANK YOU to all of the city staffers and CR&R staffers for a job well done. 

Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Noted architect wonders if the Superior bridge could be better?

(The following is a letter sent to a number of people including Arlene Greer, Chair of the City of Newport Beach Arts Commission, and cc’d to councilmembers Joy Brenner and Will O’Neill, among others, from noted local architect Ron Yeo.)

A friend of mine that lives adjacent to this project (Superior bridge linking Sunset Ridge Park) is losing his sleep because of it. He feels that it is a nice design but could be so much better in order to represent the best that Newport can offer.

The bridge will go from the expanded parking lot to Sunset Ridge Park which is a 10’ wide trail. The bridge path will be 12’ wide.

Letter SNN bridge photo 1

Photos courtesy of Ron Yeo

Proposed Superior bridge to connect Sunset Ridge Park

He feels that any project this important should be reviewed by the Arts Commission. Was that done? If not, do you think that it should it be reviewed?

He feels that by narrowing the bridge center (which lessens the structural load) and widening the ends (making the bridge entry more inviting) would result in a better aesthetic solution. Similar to the LA bridge photo below.

Letter SNN bridge photo 2

LA Bridge

My thinking is that Newport may not have to go over the top in design like Calatrava’s “Turtle Bay Bridge” in Redding, CA.

Letter SNN bridge photo 3

Calatrava’s Turtle Bay Bridge in Redding, Calif.

But the proposed 8-foot-high railing is way out of character. It not only detracts from the beauty of the bridge but makes the walk & bikeway feel like a cage. It also takes away the open view feeling when crossing the bridge.

I feel that the railing should be reduced in height in order to be consistent with the other bridges in Newport.

Letter SNN bridge photo 4

Coast Highway crossing of Bay

Letter SNN bridge photo 5

Arches bridge over Coast Highway

Let me know what you think?

Ron Yeo, FAIA Architect

Corona del Mar

I looked hard at all sides of Measure B – for me, it’s a no

Change can be a good thing and I try to remain open-minded about new ideas. That’s why I took an interest in the directly elected mayor initiative (“Measure B” on the June ballot) when councilman Will O’Neill first introduced it. I did what I usually do to draw my own conclusion: I researched the facts, listened to people I trust and followed the money. 

Here’s what I discovered.

1– If Measure B passes, the mayor would have an incredible amount of power, more than anyone has ever held in our city. He or she would decide what goes on the council’s agenda, and therefore which way attention and money flow. Challenging the mayor’s personal priorities and decisions would require massive effort and coordination on the part of other councilmembers and/or Newport residents and businesses. 

Our city has been successful for many decades thanks to the balance of power on the council. I see no reason to suddenly replace a system that works with one that gives one person the ability to rule like a monarch.

2– Opponents to Measure B include a long list of former mayors and mayors pro tem, former city officials, three current councilmembers and groups from across the political spectrum. 

Closer to home, I’ve had several friends and neighbors tell me they were open to the idea at first but decided to vote no after getting all the details. In fact, I haven’t spoken to a single person who has studied the issue in depth and supports it. 

That speaks volumes to me.

3– As a general rule, I look at the funding behind any candidate or ballot measure before forming an opinion. What shocked me most with Measure B is the amount of money it’s attracting from special interests and individuals from other cities – even other states! The only reason for these outside groups and people to contribute to Measure B is that they believe the change in Newport’s form of government will benefit them – that they’ll have the elected mayor’s ear and be able to influence his or her priorities and decisions. This is more than a red flag for me. 

It makes B a nonstarter. 

I’ve made up my mind to vote NO on B and believe my fellow Newport Beach residents will do the same if they get all the facts, listen to those who know our city best and follow the money.

Susan Rashap

Newport Beach

Vote yes on B and enable all of us to elect our own mayor

This June, the voters in Newport Beach will have an opportunity to approve a charter amendment that would enable all voters and all community members in the city TO DIRECTLY ELECT THEIR OWN MAYOR.

If approved, this means having a Mayor that is directly accountable to all of us – THE COMMUNITY – for the first time ever! 

If that sounds good, then vote YES on Measure B!

Presently in the City, voters elect a councilperson for each district and then this small group of seven people goes into a back room in City Hall and literally picks the Mayor themselves. And each passing year a group of seven councilpersons re-visits the process, and they pass around the mayorship like pinch-pint at a BBQ, regardless of the community’s opinion or that person’s past performance. 

Maintaining this archaic system is the real power-grab! Yep, hard to believe we still allow such an archaic process that promotes and rewards the game of political favors – “make me the chief today and I’ll make you chief tomorrow.”

People opposing Measure B are trying to keep this archaic approach in place. The “opposition” is headed up by some of the same unscrupulous culprits and miscreants of the past.

You know them…many of the city’s well-connected “good ole boys (and girls)” and “insiders.” These are the same folks who gave us a $240 million Taj Mahal. The same ones who aided and abetted and profited from the over proliferation of drug rehabs throughout the City, and many of these folks are ex-councilmen that couldn’t get re-elected in their own districts or even to a second council term – yea those same old insiders! The funniest part is that this cabal has decided to name their campaign “No Elected Mayor: Stop The Power Grab” – what a joke!

You’ll probably hear them claim next that a vote for their side saves the children and brings us clean drinking water too!

The irony is, when you read the actual ballot question you will see just how simple the issue is. But don’t take my word, here’s how an impartial City staffer wrote the ballot question:

….Shall Article IV, City Council, and Article X, Elections, of the Newport Beach City Charter be amended…to provide for the direct election of the Mayor, who would be nominated (and elected) by residents and registered voters of the City of Newport Beach…

In actuality, Measure B will DECENTRALIZE power and put it back in the hands of our voters and community members. If we don’t like the direction a Mayor is taking the City or if a Mayor doesn’t hold to his promises…we can vote that person out too!

The Insiders don’t want you to pick your own Mayor. They believe you aren’t smart enough and can’t be trusted to elect your Mayor.

Reject that cynicism and let’s put the VOTERS and COMMUNITY back in charge of deciding who should be the Mayor of Newport.

Let’s send a message to the Insiders and end THEIR power-grab...Vote Yes on B!

Bob Rush

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Working to preserve the special place we call Newport

I read with interest Publisher Tom Johnson’s analysis of the council race involving Robyn Grant. Like Tom, I have watched with interest Robyn’s hard work and admired her accomplishments through the years. She has continuously exhibited qualities of a true leader; her goal has always been to work for the betterment of all the citizens of Newport Beach. Whether it’s working to improve the City’s world-class Newport Beach Public Library, helping future leaders of Newport with the Leadership Tomorrow program or participating in the Speak Up Newport program, Robyn has always been there to pitch in and help and, if needed, work with all parties to reach a workable solution to any problem. 

One of her outstanding qualities is her willingness to listen to both sides and make logical and reasoned decisions; she is not an operative of a particular position nor is she dismissive of conflicting views.     

Robyn Grant brings independent leadership qualities that are so crucial and essential to preserving the quality of life of Newport Beach. She will work to provide a voice for all of the citizens of Newport.   

I strongly endorse Robyn Grant for City Council, as she is the candidate to make responsible decisions, not decisions based upon personal power or future personal gain. Please join me in supporting her for Newport Beach City Council in the coming election. Your vote for her will maintain the special place we call Newport Beach. 

Thomas C. Edwards

Former Mayor and Citizen of the Year 

Newport Beach

What changed Lowrey’s decision to run for City Council?

In the final hours of filing, Lee M. Lowrey files papers for the 4th District seat for Newport Beach City Council. This – after months of “I’m not running.” What changed his mind? 

Opportunity…or a long-held desire to be elected?

Lee has had a long burning desire to be elected. Years and years ago, as a young buck, he hung out with a cadre of wannabes. This included the Peotter brothers, Jim Righeimer, Matt Harper and Tom Reneicke. They were a band of “Fuentes Flunkies” who aspired to elected office but did little to merit the honor. I know – firsthand – because when I ran for the State Assembly in the mid-nineties, Lee Lowrey was amongst those who were going to challenge me. I know that was a long time ago. That’s how long he has been salivating – and trying – to get elected.

Somehow, there are those who would have you think that serving on the City’s Planning Commission is a springboard to the city council. That is simply not enough. I’m not convinced that having a tract housing developer on the Planning Commission or on the City Council serves our community. 

Lowrey is a strong supporter of more private jets at JWA and was working to defeat the “Elect the Mayor” initiative. Oh! Now he’s changed his mind and he’s FOR the initiative. Makes you wonder why? The LA Times listed him as a political fundraiser. 

His tenets, his beliefs go against everything Newport Beach stands for. He supports more private jets at JWA, supports Measure B and wants an elected mayor. What else do you need to know to defeat this man?

Well, yes, there is one more thing. He ran a few years ago in District 5. Now he’s running in District 4. As I said, for many years he has sought an elected position at any cost. The price for Newport Beach is too high. 

Vote NO on Lee Lowrey! Vote NO on Measure B!!

Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

Why does outside money support a directly elected mayor for Newport Beach?

According to campaign records kept by the Newport Beach City Clerk, as of April 1st, 43% of donations to the “Yes” side of Measure B (June Directed Elected Mayor ballot measure) come from people listed as residing outside our City, in some cases, even from outside our State!

If a $5,000 loan from Councilman Will O’Neil is included, 49% of all “Yes” donations come from either the Councilman or from out-of-town donors. In contrast, donations to the “No” side show only one donor from outside of Newport Beach, and that person was an involved resident of Newport Beach for many years. 

It begs the question – why does so much money from donors living outside our City want to see Newport Beach have a directly elected Mayor? What do outside special interests have to gain if Measure B passes? 

Newport Beach does not need its elections decided by money from people who live outside the community. If Measure B passes, this is just a preview of what is to come in the future. Stop the power grab and vote “No” on Measure B in the June primary election. 

Homer Bludau

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

First things first, go all the way to the end and vote No on Measure B

The most important thing voters who love Newport Beach can do when they get their ballots next month is to go all the way to the end and vote No on Measure B. 

This measure, crafted by one councilman and supported by only three of his colleagues, would drastically change the form of government that has served Newport Beach so well for nearly 70 years.

As written, the measure would in essence take us from a democratic system to one-man rule. The elected mayor would have total control over the agenda for city council meetings, meaning he would have total control over what gets discussed and how the future direction of the city gets decided. 

The number of council districts would be reduced from seven to six, and the six representatives would have no voice unless the mayor felt like listening to them. Residents and businesses could find themselves silenced and ignored. The city manager job would become no more than a clerical position. 

It’s easy to imagine a scenario where amazing people who love our city don’t want to run for council, top talent won’t want to apply for jobs with the city (who wants to work for a dictator?), and our incredibly smart and engaged citizenry stops wanting to participate in civic life because one man would be directing and starring in his own show. Hard to imagine anything more antithetical to the spirit of our city than that. 

Another immense privilege the elected mayor would enjoy is that term limits would not apply to him. In 1992, Newport voted overwhelmingly to limit the time a person could spend on the dais to eight years. Yet with this initiative, the person seeking to be our new ruler would get to spend twice that amount of time – 16 years in a row! – on the council. 

Interestingly, when the proponents of this measure are asked what’s wrong with our current form of government, they have no answer. That’s because there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s democratic, it includes checks and balances, and it’s one of the things that has made our city among the most desirable places in the country to live. 

The bottom line is that we have nothing to gain from Measure B, and everything to lose. Please join me in going all the way to the bottom of the ballot and voting NO on B. 

Ralph Wilson Jr.

Newport Beach

Mr. Lowrey’s decision to run in District 4 

I don’t know Mr. Lee Lowrey. From his photograph in a number of recent media publications, he appears to be a pleasant looking fellow.

Over the years, I have attended from time-to-time various community events/meetings including Council study sessions and Council meetings, WAKE UP! Newport meetings, Speak Up Newport meetings, the annual Mayor Receptions, Government Affairs meetings, Police Appreciation Breakfasts, Citizen of the Year events, annual Economic Forecasts, Scholarship Award Dinners, Athletic Award Dinners, Boat Parade Dinner and Auction events, the annual Sandcastle Contests, annual Mayor’s Dinners, the annual Fire/Lifeguard celebrations, Board/Commission meetings, and other civic events/meetings. Those who attend these and other civic events may get a feel for our town. 

Mr. Lowrey could certainly have been a frequent attendee at these events/meetings, but I don’t recall seeing/meeting him (which I’m sure could be my fault). Undoubtedly his attendance has been good as a planning commissioner.

If I am incorrect concerning Mr. Lowrey’s community involvement (other than his important service as a planning commissioner), I apologize.

I am a bit more concerned about reports I have heard that Mr. Lowrey repeatedly stated that he was definitely not going to be a District 4 Council candidate. He has apparently now reneged on that commitment. 

It has also been reported that he was originally leading a campaign against the direct election of the Mayor ballot measure but has changed his mind on that as well.

Are you as curious as I as to why Mr. Lowrey has had a change of heart on these (and perhaps other) matters? Will his commitments/de-commitments portend future decision-making judgments by Mr. Lowrey if he is elected to our Council?

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Characterization of Lowrey didn’t seem fair

Your characterization of Lee Lowrey struck me and my wife as pointedly harsh, especially compared to your recent write-up on candidate Tom Miller who, unlike Lee, has not spent years volunteering on the Planning Commission.

Just my two cents,

Sean Matsler

Newport Beach

Agree that Grant serves District 4 needs better

I support the points made by Tom Johnson in his March 29 Stu News editorial that concludes Robyn Grant is the best candidate to fill the upcoming District 4 City Council vacancy. Like Tom, I am concerned about Lee Lowrey’s lack of community experience and the immediate endorsement of his candidacy by four City Councilmembers who make up the current Council majority. 

This is the same majority that supports Measure B, the “Election of a Mayor,” to be considered by voters in the June primary election. I believe this endorsement is a power grab to maintain a “Gang of 4” council majority and is not in the best interest of our community. 

I agree with Tom that we need the District 4 City Council candidate to have a proven history of accomplishments for our community.

The current council majority is made up of Will O’Neill, Noah Blom, Duffy Duffield and Kevin Muldoon. They want Mr. Lowrey to fill the vacancy when Kevin Muldoon is termed out and are counting on him to fill the void to keep the majority in control. I believe they are providing their support in exchange for his support for Measure B. 

Mr. Lowrey will likely be looking at the council majority to determine how the “gang” wants him to vote and will direct future Political Action Committee donations to candidates and causes they support.

I have met with Robyn Grant on several occasions and found her to be knowledgeable of District 4’s and the entire City’s priorities and concerns. She is very experienced in numerous Newport Beach community organizations and will look at future issues individually to determine what is best for her district and the City as a whole. Her experience and positions on City issues and programs can be found at https://grantforcouncil2022.com.

We do not need to create a strong Mayor form of government for Newport Beach that deprives local districts of representation, and do not want political party-based offices. We need our City Council to be community-based representatives for their district. I urge Newport Beach voters to support Robyn Grant for District 4 City Council.

Ron Rubino

Eastbluff


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

Keeping you up-to-date on the ever changing COVID-19 landscape

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

You may have questions about the FDA’s recent authorization of a second booster shot. Please know that across the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape, Hoag is here, by your side as your healthcare partner.

Here is what is new:

–(On Tuesday), the FDA authorized a second COVID-19 booster for people ages 50 and older, at least four months after a person’s last dose. 

–Later in the day on Tuesday, the CDC recommended certain immunocompromised people and people over the age of 50 to receive another booster, at least four months after their initial booster.

–The CDC also said adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine may receive a second booster using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least four months after their last shot.

–Two vaccine doses plus one booster still provides strong protection against severe disease and death; however, vaccine effectiveness wanes over time.

–COVID-19 cases have dropped nationwide and locally.

–A new COVID-19 variant, omicron BA.2, is quickly spreading across the world and could result in increased infections locally in the coming months.

As COVID-19 shifts from a pandemic to an endemic situation, the community’s response to it has also shifted. Masks are off and social gatherings are on. This was one of the goals of the vaccination program, and it is incredible to see it play out. However, it is critical that we not pretend that COVID-19 is gone. It will be with us for some time, and it will require continued adherence to guidelines and best practices.

As more data comes in, we will be here to navigate you through the guidelines, provide you with vaccines and boosters, and help to keep you and your family healthy and safe.

If you are 50 or older, or if you are over the age of 12 and are immunocompromised, please talk to your doctor about a second booster. And if you have not yet received a vaccine, please don’t hesitate. To schedule a vaccine – whether it is your first dose or your second booster, visit

www.hoag.org/covid-vaccine. 

If you get sick, get tested quickly and let your healthcare provider know if you test positive for COVID-19. Several outpatient treatments for COVID-19 infection are readily available including intravenous therapies and oral therapies such as Paxlovid and Molnupiravir. These therapeutics help to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death if given early in the infection. 

COVID-19 may eventually become like the flu, a seasonal issue with a seasonal solution. Until then, however, we appreciate your continued vigilance and support. Since the outset of the pandemic, you have partnered with us to keep yourselves and our community safe. As the backdrop of this disease changes, we are grateful to still be walking alongside you on a path to wellness. No matter how long the journey, we are here for you.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

After months of denials, Lowrey enters city council race 

Well, after months of denial that he would not be a candidate, Lee Lowrey has decided to run for Newport Beach city council, or maybe not, today is another day. 

Having failed to be elected in District Five, Lowrey has moved into District Four. Perhaps next time District Three. 

In recent weeks, Lowrey has been negotiating with his controlled Atlas PAC to oppose the “Elect the Mayor” initiative, a blatant effort to evade term limits and concentrate political power in one politician. Apparently, Lee is “flexible” in his political philosophy because now he is suddenly in support of the measure. 

Could it be that he is falling into line as part of the Dave Ellis political machine? Indeed, it was Ellis who gleefully announced Lowrey’s candidacy while at the same time, setting himself up to funnel thousands of dollars outside of the city spending limits in direct mail hit pieces on behalf of Lowrey. 

You remember Ellis and four of his candidates were fined by the Fair Political Practices Commission for violating state campaign finance laws in the 2014 Newport election.

Exactly who is Lee Lowrey? A strong supporter of more private jets at John Wayne Airport and a tract housing developer who spends most of his time in Colorado and Texas. 

He is a business partner of former Costa Mesa mayor Jim Righeimer, who conducted a “reign of terror” in that city, fighting constantly with Costa Mesa police officers and firefighters. In his short tenure, Righeimer turned Costa Mesa from a Republican to Democratic city and damaged public safety services.

Perhaps that is the Lowrey playbook.

Lowrey’s Atlas PAC is a political action committee that funnels dark money to various anti-police candidates, most notably Righeimer, and other political extremists.

Lowrey is nothing more than a tool providing a fourth vote for the political gang that has been running and ruining Newport for the past few years. Just another Dave Ellis minion.

Please vote for Robyn Grant and a Big NO on Measure B. 

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach

As issues gain footholds worldwide, we can’t forget what we’re facing right here at home

I am sure that we have all had a lot on our minds lately with the now monthlong war in Ukraine and the possibility of the resurgence of a sub variant of the Omicron strain making its appearance in LA County. But with all the international and national problems, let’s not lose sight of one very important one here at home – yes, here in Newport Beach. 

My focus was brought back to this local dilemma yesterday as I hammered my new “No on B – Stop the Power Grab” sign in my front yard.

Reflecting again on one person’s attempt to establish a mayoral government structure in Newport Beach, I am reminded of how preposterous a proposal it is. Because the reason for doing so – to establish a more democratic government in Newport Beach – will do just the opposite.

We are not a large cosmopolitan city like San Francisco or Los Angeles. And our population is considerably less than the eight other cities in Orange County which have adopted an “elected mayor” form of government (with the exception of Stanton).

At the council meeting where “Proposal B” was adopted by a vote of 4-3, there were speakers who lined up to speak on both sides of the issue. It seemed like there was an equal number of speakers and letters posted on the City website regarding the issue.

However, unbeknownst to me and most likely many others in the city, people who do not live in Newport Beach can both speak to issues at council meetings and post letters on the website. The city from which they come is not necessarily noted in either case.

That might explain some of the repetitive and very short verbal as well as written responses given by supporters of electing a mayor.

The first person to step forward with this surprising proposal has lived in Newport Beach less than 10 years. And the three other councilmembers who voted with that person rarely vote against him. (In my opinion) Most other long-term residents who have been involved in Newport City government are opposed to this major change in structure.

Why? Because the person who proposed it also wrote it and in doing so made provisions which will actually make the government less democratic. The Mayor would have increased power, the City Manager would have much less as would the city councilmembers who would be reduced by one in number and would not be elected directly by their constituents to balance the increased power of the mayor.

Instead of making this change that would render our city government less democratic by the obvious “power grab” of one person, let’s make Newport Beach more democratic by electing new councilmembers who are independent, not indebted to developers, do not vote as blocks and really do represent the wishes of their constituents.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Katrina Foley, Second District

Orange County Supervisor

Transitioning to cleaner energy resources is the best way to reduce the financial impacts of rising gas prices 

Guest letter Katrina Foley

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of 2nd District, OC Supervisor

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley

Gas prices continue to soar for Orange County residents with no end in sight. This week, the average cost per gallon reached an unprecedented $5.97 here in Orange County. There are many reasons prices are going up at the pump – Putin’s war in Ukraine, disruptions in the supply chain due to the pandemic, corporate greed by those raising prices and gouging consumers and California’s 51¢ gas tax. 

This is why I requested that my colleagues at the Orange Board of Supervisors join me to ask the Governor and State Legislature to provide taxpayers with a rebate or suspend the gas tax for one year, so long as that lost revenue is backfilled by the State budget surplus so we can continue to fund much needed infrastructure. 

We ultimately agreed on some issues, but some of my colleagues disagreed with the notion of a tax rebate, citing concerns about those not directly paying the tax should not get a break. Some also disagreed that we should suspend the gas tax for one year, stating that six months was more than enough. 

I strongly disagreed and so do many Republicans and Democrats in the State Capitol, who are advocating for a tax rebate. When the price of gas goes up, the cost of goods and services go up for all of us. The cost to do business goes up. The cost of public transportation goes up. The cost of groceries increases and we are all impacted. The more we can do to give the taxpayers back their money, in times like this, the better. 

While suspending the gas tax or offering an equivalent rebate will not completely solve the scourge of ever-increasing gas prices, it’s vital that we provide respite for Orange County families struggling to pay for gas during this challenging time. 

To truly reduce the burden of increasing prices at the pump and protect our way of life that was threatened by the recent oil spill off our coast, we need long-term planning to wean ourselves from oil and transition toward cheaper, clean energy resources.

In Orange County, we must work with the private sector and energy providers to add new electric, solar powered vehicle charging stations, which will make electric vehicle (EV) ownership more accessible and save families money on gas. Charging an electric vehicle costs less than $10, compared to gas fill-ups that now cost up to $100 or more, but there is still a lack of access at the workplace, in public spaces and at home. The market is telling us that electric vehicles are becoming a better economic option. We must listen.

Every Orange County resident deserves the option to walk or bike to work or school, instead of driving. Many of our streets remain unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. In 2020 alone, Orange County saw nearly 500 pedestrian injuries and 50 deaths. From 2016 to 2020, over 4,000 bicycle collisions occurred and 75 cyclists died in our County. That is an unacceptable record and we must do better. 

As a former City Councilmember and Mayor of Costa Mesa, I initiated an Active Transportation Plan and, now, as Supervisor and Director on the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), I am working to add miles of new protected bike lanes and walking trails so residents can safely and easily get around. 

Our dirty, under-utilized flood channels remain an untapped resource for this effort, so long as we also invest the public safety resources to patrol these areas.

Bike lanes and walking trails will make our streets safer and increase pedestrian traffic, which reduces crime and benefits small businesses. Providing residents with safe and reliable alternatives to driving will decrease oil dependence, gas expenses and traffic congestion.

Modernizing our public transportation system is essential as our County moves on from oil dependence and toward sustainable technology. At OCTA, we invested in 10 plug-in battery-electric buses and an equal number of hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses in our fleet, with the goal of 100 percent zero-emission technology by 2040. 

These simple and widely popular solutions reduce the impact of sky-high gas costs on Orange County residents – both during this crisis and in the future – and improve the quality of life for our residents.

Katrina Foley, Second District

Orange County Supervisor


Letters to the Editor

Candidate Tom Miller puts his money and weight behind stopping Elect Our Mayor initiative

If you like people who are transparent, have integrity and put their money where their mouth is, look no further than Tom Miller, candidate for Newport Beach City Council District 1. 

Case in point: Tom has just made a generous $25,000 donation to stop the disastrous “Elect Our Mayor” initiative (Measure B) placed on the ballot by councilmembers O’Neill, Blom, Muldoon and Duffield. 

Tom knows this measure would NOT be good for our city, and that its proponents’ arguments are nothing but lies: the measure would NOT strengthen term limits – it would drastically weaken them; it would NOT place power back in the hands of voters – it would concentrate it in the hands of one politician who for all intents and purposes would run the city single-handedly.

Over the past eight years, we’ve seen too many backroom deals and machinations on our city council. It’s often been a source of frustration and embarrassment for us residents. If Measure B passes, it will get much worse. As written, the measure would give the elected mayor the powers of a king. The rest of us – regular citizens, other councilmembers and city staff – would be subject to that king’s whims, no matter how outrageous. We’d be powerless and voiceless. 

Does that sound to you like a system that would work for Newport Beach? Me neither! That’s why I’ll be voting NO on Measure B in June. 

Tom Miller wants to get us back to a place where our city council is made up of ethical citizens who have equal power and whose only motive is to do what’s best for our city. People who will focus on their constituents, not their political ambitions. People who will act independently and fearlessly, and always step up to do what’s right – starting by defeating the flawed Measure B. 

Lynn Swain

Newport Beach

Past Mayor joins others in support of candidate Robyn Grant

This is an important time in our city, with four Council seats on the ballot, we have the opportunity to elect a majority of the Newport Beach City Council and positively influence how our city is governed for the next four to eight years. Robyn Grant is a good friend and philanthropic colleague running for Newport Beach City Council in the November 2022 state-wide election.

Robyn is a thirty-five-year resident of Newport Beach and spent many years serving as an appointee to the Civil Service Board, Library Board of Trustees, and City Arts Commission, as well as the Boards of Speak Up Newport, Leadership Tomorrow and the Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter.

Robyn is a “never stop” worker who understands how our city functions and what is important to our quality of life. She is a trained lawyer with a keen ability to listen to community needs and craft workable solutions to issues.

Robyn has community-wide support including dozens of former Newport Beach Mayors, Commissioners, and Board and Committee members, the Newport Beach Fire Management Association, nationally recognized financial strategist David Bahnsen of The Bahnsen Group and neighborhood leaders from throughout the city.

I personally support Robyn and trust her to make decisions based on facts and good judgement – not for any personal gain or political ambition.

When you see “Grant for City Council 2022,” join me to support her, endorse her, contribute to her campaign, and most important, vote for Robyn Grant For Newport Beach City Council.

Rush Hill (Former Mayor, 2014)

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

The time has come to reel in electric bike concerns

Electric bikes have become the “new” and “cool” thing to ride. As this has happened, and more people rent, own, and ride electric bikes, many beach communities have been experiencing issues concerning safety. We have all seen it at one time or another where someone on an electric bike speeds carelessly along weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic on the boardwalk.

About a year ago, Manhattan Beach took some steps to promote safety. They tried educating the public about electric bike safety through social media. When that wasn’t enough, they began enforcing the rules. Under their city ordinance, only bikes that are propelled by human power are allowed on the bike path. Electric bikes are allowed on the bike path, but people have to pedal and cannot use the electric power.

Earlier this year, after evaluating the concerns and complaints of residents regarding the speed of electric bicyclists and offering educational opportunities, San Clemente’s city council enacted a ban prohibiting electric bikes from beaches and beach trails within the city limits.

What about Newport Beach? What is our city doing about this? It appears not enough. Newport seems to be focused on education. Ambassadors have been hired to walk along the boardwalk and inform bicyclists who are speeding to slow down. But people only reduce speed until they are out of sight!

I know at city council meetings in the past, discussions around placing speed bumps were brought up as a possible solution. But this isn’t enough. As residents of the city have said before, and I will say again, we need rules around electric bikes and enforcement of these rules. Otherwise, I feel there will come a day – probably sooner than later – where someone will be seriously injured or even killed and the city of Newport Beach will end up all over the news for not properly responding to the numerous concerns of local residents over the years regarding this issue.

Electric bikes are becoming very common. Police need to handle the problem with enforcement of the rules that exist. If this is not possible, then I do believe and support a decision to ban electric bikes from the boardwalk and to implement similar restrictions like those that are now in place in Manhattan Beach and in San Clemente.

Manju Lal

Newport Beach

Bring back Coco’s

I was not too surprised to read that Fig and Olive is closing down. 

As a longtime resident of Corona del Mar, I would love to see a return of the very popular Coco’s restaurant that originally was in that location. I realize it might not fit the “image” of Fashion Island/Newport Center, but I can guarantee it will be busy!!!

Karen Carlson

Corona del Mar


Letters to the Editor

Times and party preferences seem to be changing in the OC, but the sentiment towards supporting Ukraine is united

Nothing can arouse bipartisanship more than war, particularly this war. In a sharply divided America, the degree of approval for President Biden after his State of the Union speech soared to a rate of 78% from a dismal range preceding the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. 

Because of the bravery of the Ukrainian army, the fierce independence and presence of President Zelensky, and the vivid photos on television and in the newspapers of the citizens struggling to escape the violence, Americans’
public support for the Ukrainians is astoundingly strong. Decisions in Congress to send money and supplies to the beleaguered nation receive little opposition as they pass through that legislative body.

How is this war perceived locally in a highly partisan county? Newport Beach is very partisan, perceived for ages as a Republican stronghold along with the rest of Orange County. However, at the County level in the last election, 53.5% voted Democrat versus 44.4% Republican, with 2.1% Independent.   

In the last six local elections, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, Democrats prevailed in only one election, that of 2012. 

According to statistics, in Newport Beach only 22.0% of voters are registered Democrats. However, with the increasing number of voters who are registering Independent, the edge that Republicans have continually held is diminishing.

Do these statistics seem to matter right now when it comes to the tragedy taking place in the Ukraine? Apparently not so far. President Biden and the majority of Congress are in agreement to the extent to which the United States can participate in the war. Also, there is widespread support for Ukrainians in Southern California resulting in rallies, protests and vigils in the Southland. Much of this support is the result of the general public being in shock over the invasion of a sovereign nation and the fact that thousands of expatriates live here.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Seymour Beek, former chair

Newport Beach Harbor Commission

Newport Beach should get going on channel dredging

Guest Letter Seymour Beek

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce

Seymour Beek

Through the productive efforts of members of the City Council and city staff the city has a commitment of over $16 million from the Army Corp of Engineers for a harbor dredging project. This grant will cover approximately 80% of the cost of the proposed project. This project is important to the harbor. It will return much of the harbor to its original design depth, siltation having reduced these depths over time.

Disposal of the dredged material is a problem, as the main channel dredging will expose some sediment that is deemed unsuitable for ocean disposal.  Through extensive study by the City’s engineers, the proposed solution is to dispose of the material in a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) site. This means digging a big, deep hole somewhere in the bay, depositing the dredged material in the bottom of the hole and covering it up with clean material. This is not new technology. CADs have been used successfully in a number of locations in the U.S.

The City has gone forward with this plan, has obtained all necessary approvals and has certified the Environmental Impact Report. In other words, we should be ready to go. But not so fast. A handful of residents have convinced the City Council that further study is needed of a project that has already been studied to death. The problem seems to be that some residents living close to the proposed disposal site are basically saying “Not in my backyard,” as if there is some potential hazard to having the site nearby. The location of the site, off the east end of Lido Isle, was chosen so as to minimize disruption of harbor boat traffic and other activity. I am fortunate to live on the bay front on Balboa Island. I would welcome the disposal site in front of my house. I think it is fun to watch big dredging equipment at work and I’m not the least bit worried about tiny amounts of “unsuitable” material in the bottom of a hole. But this is not to be, since I live on the busiest channel in the harbor.

My parting shot is that the City should get on with it and take advantage of the grant money. If the project is completed as planned, we will have deeper channels and a filled-in hole we can all forget about.

Seymour Beek is the former chair of the Newport Beach Harbor Commission.


Letters to the Editor

It’s still a small town

Fond memories of a small town. Al Forgit Hardware. Wil Wright’s Ice Cream. Vincent’s Drugstore near Richard’s Market. The Jolly Roger. Bumper cars and the carousel. Flight of the Snowbirds. 1953 Boy Scout National Jamboree. Water skiing in the Back Bay. The Stuft Shirt. Bal Week. The Rendezvous Ballroom. The Villages – small and vibrant then, small and vibrant now.

But some would have us believe that we may have outgrown the memories.

We are larger now, they say. We need to emulate bigger cities now, they say.

We need a strong mayor (who may serve on the dais for a total of sixteen [16] years) to lead us. The collective wisdom of seven Council folks which has served us pretty well for nearly seventy years can’t work because we are bigger now.

There are certainly pros and cons to the elect the mayor discussion, but many would argue that we were a small town then, we are a small town now, and, God willing, we will remain a small town into the distant future. 

Please vote “No” on the direct election of the mayor Charter Amendment on June 7.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Keep politics out of Newport Beach

I encourage voters in Newport Beach to study the Elect Our Mayor measure arguments and rebuttals as well as the No to the Power Grab arguments and rebuttals. Both sides have websites with valuable information. 

The current city council form of government has been in place for over 6 decades and has worked very well. In large part what has made it work is the checks and balances that are built in and the separation of power. You only must look to the state of California to see what can happen if one party has too much power. KEEP THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL SYSTEM IN PLACE. It works!

Sadly, politics and voting blocks are already in the Newport Beach City Council. This is how the Elect Our Mayor initiative got on the ballot overriding the conventional required number of signatures on a petition to place it on the ballot. This is also how Councilmember Joy Brenner was denied her turn to serve as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem. 

An elected mayor will reduce the representation of residents. Each district will grow and the district that the mayor represents will have two votes instead on one. An elected mayor will have greater control over the agenda of the city council.

Most politicians have powerful people behind the scenes. Many times, these people are also wealthy. One wealthy donor can easily fund the election of one person. It is much more difficult to control the election of seven people.

You may have strong positive feelings about the presumed mayoral candidate and are confident he (or she) will do a good job but what about the next election? What if two candidates from the party you support “split the vote” and the candidate from a party you don’t support wins the election?

Knowledge is power. Reach out to representatives of both sides to have open informational meetings and discussion. Don’t just look at the surface of the issue.

I am confident that informed voters will say NO TO THE POWER GRAB!

Gary Cruz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Dilruba Haque, M.D.

City of Hope

Stop cancer before it starts

Guest Letter Dilruba Haque

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Hope

Dilruba Haque, M.D., City of Hope

At City of Hope Orange County, we believe that the best way to treat cancer is to stop it in the first place.

We know that prevention is everyone’s best hope. Making and keeping these lifestyle resolutions can play a significant role in reducing the overall risk of certain cancers and can help create a healthier Orange County.

Schedule Your Screenings.

Getting your preventive cancer screenings is one of the most important ways you can reduce the chances of getting certain kinds of cancer, including breast, lung, prostate and colorectal cancers. Screening guidelines often change; ask your doctor which ones you need based on your age and family history.

Make every bite count.

Research suggests that diet-related factors play a role in around 30 percent of cancers. Many of us start the year by resolving to set a healthier dinner table, but what about our snacks? Instead of grabbing protein bars or pretzels, opt for a serving of almonds or seeds, or an apple with peanut butter. To get in the habit of smart snacking, start by replacing one processed snack per day with a healthier option, and don’t purchase new temptations when the old ones are gone. Make the good stuff easy to grab.

Get physical.

Pledging to exercise more might be the most common New Year’s resolution people make. Preventing cancer is one of the best reasons to follow through on it. Regular physical activity and good nutrition combine to help you maintain a healthy weight, which is an important factor in reducing the risk of at least nine cancers that are related to being overweight or obese. If you struggle with getting exercise, ask your doctor to connect you with resources to help keep you active.

Avoid alcohol.

Excessive alcohol use is linked to increased risk of several cancers and can cause a host of other health issues. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The USDA’s dietary guidelines define moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women on days when alcohol is consumed. If you’re receiving cancer treatment, ask your doctor whether it is safe for you to consume alcohol at all.

Say “so long” to smoking.

Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer and contributes to cancers in other parts of the body. It has a role in up to 90 percent of U.S. lung cancer deaths. If you are a smoker, quitting can greatly reduce your risk of developing lung cancer; if you are a cancer patient, quitting will make your treatments more effective. Talk to your doctor about tobacco cessation and lung cancer screening – the sooner, the better.

Dilruba Haque, M.D., is a medical oncologist and hematologist at City of Hope Newport Beach Lido and City of Hope Irvine Sand Canyon. Visit www.CityofHope.org/OC to learn more.


Letters to the Editor

Concerned that problems lurk with the process of electing our mayor

Some people in Newport Beach have been lulled into thinking that “electing” a mayor makes our city government more democratic. They are balancing “electing” with “appointing” and are attracted by the idea of directly selecting the mayor. If you are familiar with history, however, you know that there have been authoritarian leaders who were initially “elected” to office.

The biggest constraint to achieving a more democratic system with the new mayor proposal is that one person and one person only wrote the whole proposal, with no oversight. One person…think carefully about that. And that one person who wrote it for a city of 85,000 is the one most likely to run and possibly be elected unless we as a city wake up and realize what we are getting into. We are considering the adoption of a proposal that benefits substantially a newly elected mayor who has additional powers that were once delegated to other people.

In our current system, the mayor is selected from among the councilmembers and serves a one-year term. Indirectly, the best candidate usually ends up in the mayor role, selected by his or her peers to lead the city. 

But the mayor proposal is a recipe for disaster, if an unethical mayor is elected because he/she now has the power and duties that once belonged to councilmembers and the city manager and could have been elected by “outside” or “big money.” We have already witnessed the problems that come with “big money’s” influence on our city government. The problems would multiply if that outside influence came to bear on just one person, the one with the most power and influence.

In addition to rewriting the role of mayor, the new initiative eliminates one councilmember, meaning that councilmembers will have larger constituencies. Larger constituencies translate to less individual attention. To be more democratic, you would have to increase the number of councilmembers instead of decreasing that number.

So please be very careful of what you wish for.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Traffic in the Heights is a huge concern, what can be done?

 I am writing not only for myself but also on behalf of other concerned neighbors in Newport Heights. Traffic flow in the Heights area is going to be adversely affected in the future with the new development being planned on Pacific Coast Highway, as well as the proposed closure of Tustin Avenue.

We would certainly not deny our neighbors on Tustin the possibility of fixing their unique traffic problem, but at the same time we hope that the city will address the problems of increased traffic flow on other streets in the Heights, particularly ones that run parallel to Tustin which will absorb more of the changes.

When you are not beginning to structure traffic flow with a clean slate, but moreover attempting to make traffic changes in an area which is over 50 years old, making a change in one area can impact the surrounding streets in unpleasant ways. We understand the problem on Tustin but ask that the city understands other problems as well.

We were told that counters were erected to gauge traffic flow in the area. 
Unfortunately, those counters will not be able to gauge the increased traffic in the Heights that will be the result of the developments planned for PCH. Nor should the counters have been used during the holidays which would inaccurately gauge traffic flow.

I have lived in the Heights for almost 50 years. When I retired, I began walking around the neighborhood for exercise. The Heights attracts many strollers because of its unique charm. Unfortunately, the narrow streets and lack of sidewalks, in addition to motorists’ bad habits of rolling through stops and speeding and most recently the addition of motorized bikes which completely ignore any traffic rules, all make walking there a “risky business.”

The busiest street in the neighborhood is Riverside. Already speedy motorists, and impaired visibility caused by the hill make it a hazardous area for residents as well as visitors. When I am walking, I never take Riverside Avenue for those reasons. Nor as a resident on that street would I be happy about an increase of traffic noise due to an increased number of motorists.

The city surely has some remedies in its “toolbox” such as traffic calming measures that could be applied that would make the Heights a safer area for all residents.

Thank you.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

In schools, children plus masks equals the wrong answer

This letter is not going to say anything new or inspiring. It is not going to make you want to change the world. I am going to likely repeat the same thing that 100 other moms or grandmothers have written to you in the past week. I am hoping and praying you have received that many letters and more. I am tired of sitting back and complaining about what has been going on the past two years (especially the past few months) and not doing anything. 

Vaccines have not done the job many have hoped they would. I get that and am not angry about it. What many of us see though – is that people are making trillions of dollars off of COVID testing, COVID vaccines and masks! It would appear that they are making “children need to be wearing masks, as many are not vaccinated” (those were Gavin Newsom’s words last week)... Now they are going to force parents to get their children vaccinated so they don’t have to wear masks. Do it our way…or else. Wear the masks or get the vaccine. I have heard the debate that children must be vaccinated already for school for other things. Yes, but those vaccines were made because the diseases were killing children. 

I am a grandmother to three. The idea that children have to be home schooled in order to not be forced to do things we don’t want to do is awful. More and more people are moving out of California because of these mandates (and many other reasons, saved for another day). 

This issue is the last straw for me. My grand babies deserve to breathe. That is all I want you to take away from my letter. I have tears in my eyes and am wanting just for you to hear me say...my grand babies deserve to breathe. 

Ronnie Cancellieri

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Upset about heavy equipment parked on Jamboree

I live on Balboa and am very angry that you have closed the street on Jamboree between Bayside and Pacific Coast Highway. There are 2 lanes there and for almost 2 weeks you have used the area to park tractors. Our city streets are for public use not parking lots! I can understand if you were to start construction within a few days but this has been 2 weeks! Furthermore, use one lane and keep the other lane open!! 

Furthermore, using the Balboa streets to house your equipment for the undergrounding equipment is ridiculous! Tractors, loose pipes, etc. have been left on Garnet and other streets for months sitting as a storage area and taking up valuable parking. It is also a city lawsuit waiting to happen with loose yellow pipes piled haphazardly in the street. Please tell your public works manager to use the storage area on PCH and Dover instead of our streets. 

Martha Kerstner

Newport Beach

Editor’s note: Construction work began on or around Sunday, Feb. 6 in the northbound lanes of Jamboree Road, between Bayside Drive and E. Coast Highway to replace a large, nearly 100-year-old water main that serves the entire city.

The work requires nightly closures and will last some eight weeks. Unfortunately, because of the size and amount of equipment required to complete the project, much of it needs to remain on site for efficiency purposes.

Questions or further concerns can be directed to Alfred Castanon at 949.644.3314 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Michael Sinacori at 949.644.3342 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. from the City›s Public Works Department.


Letters to the Editor

What’s the deal with these green trash cans for condos?

All condos I’m aware of have a HOA which contracts to have the lawn and shrubs cut and then remove all the debris.

My inner patio clippings might fill 3 trash bags in a year. 

I know it is a Sacramento law so it should never be questioned and so that seems to be where any thoughtful explanation ends. 

Are we just supposed to warehouse a green trash can for life? I might be missing the obvious, but can you find out why the numerous condo owners in NPB, let alone the state are required to have a green trash can. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with the green trash can in my already cramped garage: store golf clubs and Christmas wrapping paper in it? Are they thinking about outlawing sink disposals?

Bob Moosmann

Newport Beach

Mask mandate expires tomorrow

Beginning (tomorrow) Wednesday, everyone who lives in Newport and is fully vaccinated and boosted can finally shop indoors again without face coverings. The only glitch is this: Unvaccinated people still will be required to wear masks indoors. Unless the unprotected are wearing something like a bright orange patch complete with the letters U.V. printed on them, how will anyone know who is and isn’t vaxxed? 

To date, millions of Californians have refused to roll up their sleeves and take the jab. Because I doubt any of them will wear an orange patch, I suggest that, once the mask mandate is lifted, authorities immediately begin to fine unvaccinated/unmasked indoor shoppers. How much should they be? Start at $250 for the first violation, followed by $500 for a second violation. A third violation would cost $1,000 and a fourth $2,000 plus 5 days in jail. 

Like a toll road payment, if a ticketed shopper fails to pay his or her fine within five days of it being issued, a 20 percent late fee automatically will be added to the total amount due. In my opinion, if the reluctants won’t get jabbed in the arm, then jab them where it really will make a difference – in their pocketbooks. 

This year marks the third year in our war against COVID. Now that three vaccines are readily available, the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur among the unvaccinated. I, for one, don’t want to spend another day wondering if an unmasked shopper passing me in Pavilions on Bayside or Nordstrom at Fashion Island is vaccinated or not. Starting tomorrow, I’m guessing fully vaxxed and boosted shoppers will feel the same way.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Elect Our Mayor “severely weakens term limits”

I would like to address the flawed elected mayor proposal that was put on the June 2022 ballot by Mr. O’Neill, Mr. Blom, Mr. Muldoon and Mr. Duffield. Specifically, I would like to call out the ballot argument by Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Blom implying that the elected mayor proposal strengthens term limits when it actually severely weakens them. As with many things in politics, you have to listen very carefully to hear what is NOT being said in addition to what IS being said.

In 1992, voters approved term limits allowing only 2 terms or 8 years on council but this proposal effectively erases those term limits. You would not know that from the ballot argument written by Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Blom, which states, “This measure also places the strictest term limits in our city on the position of Mayor.”

What the ballot argument doesn’t say is that the elected mayor is allowed to serve 8 years on council before running for mayor. In fact, the initiative specifically calls that out as being allowed. That means that one person can serve 8 years as a councilmember and another 8 years as mayor for a total of 16 consecutive years on council under this proposal. Most of us think that is far too long for one person to be in power.

These changes and other even more concerning changes are probably the reason why the Lincoln Club of Orange County is totally opposed to this proposal as are almost all former mayors, former councilmembers and former city managers from Newport Beach. 

Please vote no on this proposal in the June 2022 election. The changes put in place by this measure can only be unwound by another vote of the people, so what we will get with this initiative will be with us for a very long time. 

More information and a list of people publicly opposed can be found at NoElectedMayor.com.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Stop making dredging so difficult

It’s unfortunate that the city council recently threw a monkey wrench into our harbor dredging plan. Whether intentional or not, they voted 6-1 (Duffield voting no) to slow down and potentially kill our harbor dredging project.

I grew up on the harbor and have a business on the bay. I’ve seen the results of benign neglect of the harbor. The main channel hasn’t been dredged since 1936. Charter boats can’t use it at low tide. Large boats have to wait offshore for high tide. Residential docks can’t be dredged due to the cost of trucking the material to distant landfills.

The City’s dredging plan solves both problems. It buries and caps the dredge material in a deep sub-marine pit between Lido and Bay Islands. It’s a safe solution used in Long Beach, Port Hueneme, Humboldt Bay, Boston Harbor, Baltimore Harbor, New Bedford and Chesapeake Bay.

The federal, state and local agencies are on board. We’ve received nearly $16 million from Washington DC to pay for it.

An alternative plan has been proposed by some Lido Island residents that dumps the dredge material at Lower Castaways parking lot at PCH and Dover. The parking lot can’t accommodate all the material, so they propose dumping the remainder on the face of the Castaways cliff and the uplands park near the Veterans Memorial flag and statue. They propose to encapsulate the dredge material with a concrete cap.

The city council’s recent action calls for a “Third Party Review” of both plans that evaluates the city approved plan of burying the dredge material under 20 feet of water in a deep hole capped by four feet of dirt versus dumping it all at Lower Castaways and Castaways Park.

This “Third Party Review” is a waste of time and jeopardizes our federal funding by delaying the project.

Here’s an excellent explanation of the approved project by Councilman Duffield: www.newportbeachca.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/69354/637478683222230000.

Gary Hill

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Now’s the time to move ahead and dredge, delays could damage the process

Lower Newport Bay’s main channel (the harbor) has not been dredged to its required 25-foot “design depth” since 1938. Our harbor is the primary economic, recreational and water quality resource asset in Newport Beach.

We haven’t had the money or political will to dredge the harbor’s main channel to its federally required design depth, until now.

As part of the U.S. system of waterways, Newport Harbor’s dredging is ultimately the responsibility of the federal government. But we are in competition for federal funds with the nation’s major ports and naval bases.

Finally, after decades of lobbying, we are receiving nearly $16 million in dredging funds thanks to the hard work of Representatives Michelle Steel and Ken Calvert.

With funding in the bank, it’s now the city’s job to deliver a dredging plan that passes regulatory muster with the multitude of agencies that must approve the project. As the former Harbor Master, I can attest to the fact that the actual dredging will take less time than the permitting process.

Yet, we are at an inflection point in this critical process. Dozens of Harbor Commission and City Council meetings with robust public input have resulted in a certified Environmental Impact Report. It lays out a plan to bury and cap nominally contaminated dredge material (sand) in a hole between Lido and Bay Islands. It’s the same process used across the U.S. since the 1980s to decommission landfills. 

At last week’s City Council meeting the Council majority agreed to allow an open-end third-party review of the City’s approved dredge project and one advanced by well-intentioned Lido Island residents. This 11th hour review is a bad idea. It jeopardizes the federal funding and scheduling of the multi-million dollar dredging project for Newport Harbor.

A delay for an independent third-party review could set this whole project back years by putting a halt to all the momentum the process has at this time. This in turn could make the cost rise substantially if the City could get it back on track with the Federal & State governments’ dredging contractor.

Our window to dredge is open now. Confusing state, local and federal agencies will close it.

Dennis Durgan, Chairman

Newport Harbor Foundation

(former Newport Beach Harbor Master)


Guest Letter

Will O’Neill

Newport Beach City Council

Accountability in fiscal peaks and valleys

Will O'Neill

Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

Will O’Neill

On March 12, 2020, our city’s finance committee met to discuss our city’s revenue assumptions for the following year’s budget. While COVID-19 was a topic, it was mostly an unknown variable with unknown financial consequences.

One week later, the governor issued his stay-at-home order. Three weeks after that, the finance committee met again with much drearier projections. The budget adopted by the City Council for 2020/21 included hiring freezes, substantial revenue and expenditure cuts and capital infrastructure deferrals.

Entire books will be written about events that occurred between then and now. For this topic, though, it is sufficient to be reminded how uncertain those months were for our families, our businesses and our city as a whole. 

This past Saturday, our City Council met for its annual planning session to discuss the priorities that we can expect to be placed into our next year’s budget.  The projections are about as positive for the coming year as the projections were negative back in early 2020.

These positive projections are driven in large part by substantially increased property tax bases, more local spending that has driven up sales tax revenues, and transient occupancy tax collections that have rebounded on the back of short-term lodging.

Our largest operating expenses are, not surprisingly, salaries and benefits to our 700+ city employees. Also not surprisingly, our Police and Fire Department personnel represent that largest amount of the budget’s labor costs and are expected to continue to do so in the years ahead. In other words, we will continue to prioritize and fund public safety.

With our short-term operations well-funded, our City Council also addressed ways to improve our long-term capital improvement funding and debt management paydown. 

Newport Beach will see a mixture of new projects (like the Junior Lifeguard Building), maintenance of existing projects (like road and streetlight upgrades) and replacing older projects (like the fire station/library at the end of the Balboa Peninsula). Over the coming months, we will be refining a well-grounded existing plan for all of these projects and more.

Furthermore, we were heartened by the good news that our unfunded pension liability is expected to be reduced by nearly $100 million from just a few years ago. This reduction occurs thanks to (1) a robust invest return last fiscal year by CalPERS and (2) substantial annual additional payments by the city.

While this is surely good news, that news is tempered by the fact that CalPERS has missed its investment return goal two of the past four years. If, though, CalPERS is able to obtain annual returns of 6.8% and future councils stay the course, then Newport Beach will have fully paid off its unfunded pension liability by the year 2030. Once paid down, a future City Council will have the ability to decide what to do with an extra $45 million annually not needed to pay off its liabilities (don’t be surprised if past councilmembers run again at that point!). Hopefully that future council will use this additional discretionary amount to both invest in necessary large-scale projects like a new Police Station as well as tax relief.

In Newport Beach, we take fiscal responsibility seriously because we know families work hard for every cent that comes in and they want their elected representatives directly accountable for how and when we spend money. I’m grateful to live in a city where these values are homegrown and well-harvested.

Hon. Will O’Neill is a current Newport Beach City Councilmember, in his third year as chair of the city’s finance committee and was mayor in 2020.


 Letters to the Editor

Stop trying to fix what’s not broken

Mr. Stahr makes sense with his NOT making our mayor an elective office…the present way of choosing the mayor is NOT broken, so stop trying to “fix it”…you all saw how (Katrina) Foley got elected…we don’t need a result like that!

Dorothy McDonald

Newport Beach

Are we over COVID yet?

Letter writer Lynn Lorenz made some very good points last week. While much of her focus was on local statistics, my view is broader. Let me explain.

Are we over COVID? Sadly, the answer is no. My hope is by Memorial weekend, when my son gets married, my answer will be different; but for now, I’ll stick with no. Here’s why:

Two years ago, then-President Trump said 15 people had contracted the virus. His expectation was it would quickly disappear. 

A month later, Mr. Trump was talking about the possibility of 100,000 infections. Today, nearly 500,000 people, coast to coast, test positive for COVID daily. 

I don’t know if those original 15 people lived or died, but I do know this: More than 2,000 people pass away each day from the virus, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated.

Take for example DJ Ferguson. He is married and the father of two young children. He also desperately needs a heart transplant, but the hospital won’t perform the surgery. Why? Because the 31 year old refuses to get vaccinated. 

I hope Mr. Ferguson changes his mind, but I doubt he will. So, when he dies, his children probably will think their father is a hero (for now). Sadly, my guess is when they turn 20, they will think their dad was foolish.

As we enter the third year of the war on COVID, I believe there is more hope than pessimism on the horizon. To the tens of millions of Americans who are fully vaxxed, I say thanks and stay vigilant. 

To the millions of others who refuse to roll up their sleeves I say this: Don’t end up a statistic like young DJ Ferguson. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner we can end this war.

I think Newport’s Lynn Lorenz would agree. 

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

As the virus settles following a holiday increase, difficult to tell what the future holds

I appreciate that StuNews presents the weekly coronavirus statistics for Orange County. Often, I do not check them unless an unusual statistic is evident. 

Last week I was very surprised to see that there were 756(!) new cases in Newport Beach, a number not out of line with the rest of the county. Yesterday the local paper confirmed that there were 709 confirmed cases among students and teachers in Newport-Mesa School District. That is a remarkable figure, but not in a good way. We must remember that Costa Mesa stats must be included and that there were 1,806 new cases in Costa Mesa. So given those figures, it becomes apparent that 27% of the new cases last week occurred in our schools!

First of all, all of those numbers are noticeably high. Part of that reason is that our schools are now open. As a former teacher, I could go on and on about that issue alone, but my focus is centered on the latest surge that we are experiencing, high numbers overall, and the future of the virus. 

It used to be friends of friends who got COVID, but few people that you knew. But now it has come down to cases of COVID in your own circle of friends, even in your family. And yet the vaccination rate of Orange County has not changed from many months ago. Don’t fool yourself that Newport Beach is way above the county average because it is not. Rates in Newport Beach hover around 70%, about the same as the rest of Orange County, lower than some cities like those in Irvine which are in the 90th percentile, slightly lower or above other Orange County cities. One area in Newport, Newport Coast was in the high 70s, last time I looked.

I know exactly the excuse that people are giving now, Omicron is a much milder variant, like the flu or a cold. First of all, if you are not vaccinated, it will be much different for you, particularly in the higher age ranges. Still however, if you are a senior and you are vaccinated and “boostered,” you will most likely survive with flulike symptoms. It is the unvaccinated who are flooding our hospitals.

We have all heard very recently the theory that Omicron marks a downward trajectory in the evolution of the virus. This information came from health officials in San Francisco and UCLA just this last week. These sources say that the pandemic could become an endemic because of the mild nature of this variant compared to others.

However, another source, the World Health Director General, says that the virus will not become endemic like the flu as long as global vaccinations are so low. Remember how Omicron came out of South Africa in November and spread like wildfire?

The theory is that until we approach herd immunity in the world, variants could crop up anywhere, and there is no certainty about what their characteristics will be.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

It seems apparent that the Council does not listen to residents

I am writing in response to Amy Senk’s article a couple weeks ago where she questioned whether or not the City Council is even listening to the residents of Newport Beach. 

Despite a valiant effort by some of my neighbors, the parking permit pilot, which was originally championed by the previous Council for the Peninsula, died supposedly due to lack of resident support. As a result, the parking in summer on the Peninsula continues to get worse. Did they really listen to the residents? 

This past year, Balboa Village lost its ability to use the local parking meter funds (approved by previous Council) to help maintain the condition of the Village and despite many residents and business owners presenting at the Council meeting, only Diane Dixon and Joy Brenner supported the residents’ view of the need for this localized support. I was one who corresponded with Council and presented, but it was clear that the majority of Council had already decided what THEY wanted. 

The Elect the Mayor proposal was hustled through Council rather than getting residents input and signatures which would have been the expected process. 

And most recently, the significant resident outcry about Councilman Blom’s attitude in general, and specifically his arrogance about drinking wine at Council meetings, a majority of Council still voted him in as Mayor Pro Tem. That was a slap in the face. 

Over the 20 years I have lived in NB, I generally thought of the various Councils as people who cared about the city and did their best to support the residents and their views. Now, I am really questioning whether many of the Councilmembers even care about what the residents think. 

Hopefully some resident-oriented individuals will run in the next election. 

Mike Groff 

Newport Beach

Is the fix in with Team Newport? Only time will tell

Is Council candidate Robyn Grant about to get shafted by Team Newport? Robyn Grant is a very well-respected candidate for NB City Council in District 4 but she may not get a chance to run if Team Newport pulls a fast one with redistricting next month. 

Redistricting occurs every 10 years and the changes are usually minimal. However, unethical politicians can use redistricting to eliminate potential opponents and many of us fear that Team Newport is preparing to change the districts such that District 4 no longer contains Robyn’s neighborhood, thus eliminating her from the election in one fell swoop. 

Here’s what happened that makes me think the fix is in: Councilmembers Diane Dixon, Brad Avery and Will O’Neill are the redistricting committee, usually a pretty boring job. The city consultant recommended a plan to keep the districts pretty much the same, which has been the norm in past redistricting. They voted unanimously to do so, which would normally be the end of it and the City Council would rubber stamp the recommendation. 

However, just before the meeting closed, Mr. O’Neill asked to bring ALL the maps to the council for discussion, a very unusual request. Why do that if you are all in agreement about the redistricting map, unless you are planning to have the full council change that decision and eliminate a powerful opponent? Remember that this is the same Team Newport who fired City Manager Dave Kiff in a truly underhanded way and recently voted to pass over Joy Brenner for mayor. 

There is some chatter that they may even change the districts enough to bump Joy out of her district. In Friday’s StuNews, Mr. O’Neill promised that there were no plans to redistrict Robyn’s candidacy away. Let’s just hope that Team Newport is not as unethical as I fear they are.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Should Newport Beach City Council support the successful acquisition of Banning Ranch?

This week the Costa Mesa City Council passed a resolution to endorse the purchase of Banning Ranch to remain as open space. They cite 17 solid reasons that Costa Mesa should support the acquisition of Banning Ranch for open space. Among the reasons for their resolution, which can be found here (Text of Resolution), they reference the need to provide open park space for residents of their city and neighboring cities, the importance of maintaining the largest undeveloped private piece of land on the California coast between Ventura and the Mexico border, and the need to protect federal and state listed species and rare plants and animals. They further recognize that by restoring and reintroducing tidal flow to the degraded salt marshes within Banning Ranch this would address and mitigate anticipated sea-level rise along the coast. 

The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) has worked tirelessly for four years to negotiate the purchase of Banning Ranch with the property owner and to raise funds for the purchase. Environmental groups such as Still Protecting Our Newport (SPON) and Orange Coast River Park have supported the Banning Ranch Conservancy’s decades long efforts to save Banning Ranch from development of its wetlands, coastal bluffs and coastal open space for the enjoyment of the residents of Orange County and throughout California.   

TPL has raised $83 million toward the purchase price of $97 million. The momentum for this was initiated by a $50 million gift from Newport Beach residents Frank and Joann Randall. 

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris was able to secure an additional $8 million from the state.

TPL and the Banning Ranch Conservancy are so close that it appears to be possible that this goal could be achieved by the deadline of June 2022. TPL has applied for grants that would cover a large portion of the $14 million delta. The approval of those grants will hopefully be revealed in the coming months. 

Costa Mesa is the first city in Orange County to approve a resolution supporting Banning Ranch which would help secure the additional grants needed to complete the purchase.   

My question is, why hasn’t Newport Beach done the same? 

Banning Ranch is within our “Sphere of Influence”; our General Plan Vision Statement affirms that “We preserve our open space resources. We maintain access to and visibility of our beaches, parks, preserves, harbor and estuaries.”

All Newport Beach residents would benefit from an open space park for recreation and relaxation. 

Shouldn’t we encourage our City Council to be the second city in Orange County to pass a Resolution in support of the acquisition and preservation of Banning Ranch as open space for the enjoyment of our residents and all of Orange County?   

We really owe this to the next generation; our children and grandchildren deserve to have open recreational space. And what a great way to support our coastal residents! 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

There’s no Joy in boys town

There was a letter in this morning’s paper that so inspired me that, with “a little help from my friends,” to quote a Beatles’ song, I want to put an assortment of thoughts on the table regarding mayors and city government in Newport Beach. 

First of all, the author of the letter, Lenard Davis, told the story of how the first woman to be elected mayor in Orange County came about in 1954, in Newport Beach before Newport Beach was a charter city. And guess what? She was elected mayor on “a platform to get rid of the corruption in City Hall.” 

Do you see where this is going?

Lenard Davis was, in turn, responding to a letter written by Janet Clarke who was “bemoaning the ol’ boys’ network” which passed over Joy Brenner recently for both mayor and mayor pro tempore. We know that many residents thought that the choice was extremely unfair and that the talents of Joy are far superior to the newly elected mayor pro-tempore, not to mention her greater experience in office.

Well, those who support Joy, who are many, and those who are opposed to electing a mayor, who are many as well, may be able to turn a loss into a gain (if necessary) by talking Joy into running for mayor. Hopefully, the idea of electing a mayor will not come to fruition and that Joy will get her rightful opportunity to serve as mayor and mayor pro tempore when she gets re-elected to Council.

Many of us believe that Joy was not selected for the two positions of leadership because of her failure “to play ball.” Most of the good ol’ boys, however, will be termed out by then and we hope that voters elect councilmembers who serve the community rather than themselves.

Getting back to electing a mayor, there are so many reasons not to and they have been well expressed. The most obvious reason is that as far as anyone knows, despite Will O’Neill seemingly expressing at one time or another that his proposal was “carefully vetted,” no one seems to know the particulars. So, at this point, unless told otherwise, we can only assume that Will is the author. Shouldn’t that be something that we need to know for certain before voting on the proposal to elect a mayor?

The measure that has been placed on the June ballot by the Council in a 4-3 vote is exactly what Will posted on Stu News on September 3rd. This measure is a major change to the Charter, amending eight different sections, deleting roughly 123 existing words and adding roughly 647 new ones! You could compare those major changes to the mere four words in just one section that could change the city to “district” voting but that would have meant that the elected mayor would have to share too much power with the Council.

Pretty presumptuous isn’t it for a man who “rode into town” just a little over eight years ago!

For further information about the charter proposal to elect a mayor, you can refer to https://noelectedmayor.com/.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

John (Jeb) Brown, M.D.

Chair of the Robotics Committee

Hoag

Hoag performs 20,000th robotic-assisted surgery

Hospital among only 10 nationally to reach this milestone, improving patient outcomes, reducing pain, easing recoveries, and lowering health-care costs along the way.

Robotic-assisted surgery first became available in the late 1990s, with a handful of specially trained surgeons venturing into a futuristic field that held significant promise for patient care.

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian recently crossed the threshold of our 20,000th robotic-assisted surgery. Only 10 other medical centers in the United States have reached this milestone. Today, Hoag performs the highest volume of robotic surgical procedures of any hospital in California and is 18th in volume nationally. Hoag ranks 15th in the country in the volume of gynecologic and gynecologic oncology procedures, and was also the first hospital in California to be designated a Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation.

Guest Letter Hoag Robotics

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

 Hoag Robotics Support Staff

We have been able to achieve this milestone due to the vision shared by Hoag’s executive leadership and surgeons. We performed the first gynecologic robotic surgery in August 2006 and our President and CEO Robert T. Braithwaite made it clear at that time that he shared our desire to use robotic surgery to improve the care of our patients. Hoag’s administration subsequently dedicated the resources for us to build a world-class program.

The data shows that, in many procedures, minimally invasive surgery is better for patients than open surgery. It is associated with less pain, decreased blood loss and fewer complications. Robotic-assisted surgery has extended the boundaries of minimally invasive surgery, allowing us to offer these procedures to patients who previously had no option except to undergo open surgery.

Hysterectomy is a good example of a procedure that has been improved significantly by robotic surgery. In the past, the traditional open surgery patient was in the hospital for three to four days and recovery took six to eight weeks. Today, approximately 80% of patients undergoing a robotic hysterectomy at Hoag go home the same day. Some only take over-the-counter medications for pain relief and many return to near-normal activity in three to four weeks. This has profoundly transformed the care of our patients.

Hoag’s robotic-assisted surgery program would not be where it is today without the support and dedication of the almost 70 nurses and surgical technicians who staff our operating room. We have grown from five surgeons in three specialties to 47 surgeons in 12 specialties:

Gynecology

–Gynecologic Oncology

–Urogynecology

–Urology

–Urologic Oncology

–Cardiovascular Surgery

–Thoracic Surgery

–Colorectal Surgery

–Head & Neck Surgery

–Bariatric Surgery

–Hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) Surgery

–General Surgery

Hoag’s commitment to the robotic surgery program has allowed us to join an elite group of institutions in the country. Beyond reaching the 20,000-procedure milestone, the recent delivery of the da Vinci® SP Robot to our Newport Beach campus represents the ninth robot at our Newport Beach and Irvine campuses. However, it’s the tremendous health care benefits our robotic surgery program brings to our patients that gives us the greatest pride.


Letters to the Editor

Assemblywoman applauds Hoag-Providence separation

Earlier this week, the announcement was made that Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and Providence Health were ending their long affiliation. Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris published the following statement on her social media sites.

Today is a great day for reproductive freedom! I want to make sure that you saw the news that Hoag Hospital has reached an agreement to end its 10-year affiliation with Providence Health. 

The separation of Hoag from Providence frees Hoag patients from religious restrictions on healthcare and expands access to vital reproductive healthcare services. I have been a staunch advocate for this separation and I will continue fighting to protect reproductive healthcare, here in Orange County and all across California. 

In May 2020, Hoag took legal action to dissolve its relationship with the Providence St. Joseph Health system. For years, community advocates like you raised the alarm that the affiliation between Hoag Memorial Presbyterian and Providence St. Joseph’s Health System imposed religious restrictions on healthcare, including women’s reproductive healthcare, LGBTQ care and end-of-life care. Vital services, including abortion care, miscarriage management, tubal ligation and contraception have been denied to Hoag patients, in direct violation of two Consent Decrees the parties signed in 2013 and 2014. Hoag doctors have detailed numerous instances in which they said Providence applied the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care to Hoag limiting care.

Over the past year, I have worked with Hoag’s doctors and leadership to resolve this issue, as well as former Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Rob Bonta, to ensure they thoroughly investigated this matter and pushed for an expedited hearing to dissolve the affiliation. 

As part of the settlement agreement, the Attorney General’s Office noted Hoag will expand its reproductive and women’s healthcare offerings, including creation of a program focusing on family planning, contraception and management of high-risk pregnancies and pregnancy termination in Hoag hospital-owned facilities. 

This is a big victory – and it would not have been possible without your engagement and advocacy. With reproductive freedom under assault across the country and here in our own backyard, (yesterday’s) announcement is a powerful testament to your advocacy and hard work. 

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my team if you have any questions or are in need of assistance with state-related issues.

Yours faithfully, 

Cottie Petrie-Norris

Assemblywoman, District 74

This Council is not listening to their constituents and that’s wrong

It is evident that some members on City Council require a basic lesson on how Represented Democracy is supposed to function. Some Councilmembers have a misguided idea of their role on the elected Council. Councilmembers are elected to formulate policy and to carry out the will of the citizens, and to listen to residents’ concerns. Their votes and actions should not be based on their own self-importance! Why does the City Council ignore residents’ concerns? Many times, Council’s actions consider public comment as an annoyance. They are not interested in what active citizens have to say. Why?

A prime example of the pompous working by Council (Will O’Neill) was the appointment of Noah Blom, as Mayor Pro Tem. There was a complete disregard and disrespect of the electorate that spoke to the Council on this subject. It was blatantly obvious that the deed was a fait accompli! This is democracy at its low point. 

The picture now becomes vividly clear as to the type of “game” that Will O’Neill is attempting to foist on the citizens of Newport Beach. His game plan of taking control requires a stable of minions, such as Blom, to do his bidding. Perhaps changing the approved/suggested council districts are next? This is not how democracy is to function and has no place in Newport Beach. 

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon


Letters to the Editor

Beginning the third year of COVID

It’s hard to believe, but we are about to enter the third year in the war against COVID. How, you might ask, are things going? In some ways, we are better off now than in year one (2020), but in other ways, things still are troubling. 

Take vaccines for example. There were none two years ago. Last year, three came to market. Since then, more than 200 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves. Unfortunately, this leaves 100 million others who still refuse to get vaccinated. I wonder how many of Orange County’s 6,000 COVID-related deaths could have been prevented had more people, locally, agreed to take the jab?

Example number two, masks. Despite the current statewide mandate, more than a quarter of my friends failed to wear masks indoors while attending New Year’s Eve parties a week or so ago. The same is true when they are grocery shopping now, visiting art galleries, attending book signing events, going to the hardware store, and more. In short, they don’t believe in the efficacy of masks so why wear them? 

Last example, hospitalizations. Right now, the numbers aren’t good. With 90% of hospital beds being occupied by unvaccinated patients, at least nine O.C. hospitals have set up tents to increase capacity during the new Omicron variant surge. As a result, some neighbors in Laguna with heart conditions or cancer, for example, are being told to wait for surgeries and/or beds. 

As near as I can tell, most health care experts near and far believe the best we can hope for is living with COVID just as we do the flu. They say when enough people are vaccinated and wear masks, the virus can be treated as a seasonal health concern, not an ongoing national pandemic. 

Make no mistake about it, we have been at war against COVID for two full years. I know people are tired and rightfully so; still, my unscientific guess is grandparents, parents, students, teachers, cruise lines, local business owners and others have, at best, another year to go until life can return to normal (whatever that means). 

So, people, what are you waiting for? The sooner you get vaccinated and wear a mask, the sooner this war will be over.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

In honor of my friend “Al” who also had questions about “Elect our Mayor”

My friend of over forty (40) years passed away shortly after Christmas. I will call my friend “Al”. Al was elderly. Ill health for several years. Smart guy – one of the smartest I’ve known. Longtime Newport resident. We talked about all things Newport. Mostly by phone as Al’s health declined.

Several of our discussions involved the upcoming June 7 primary in which the direct election of the Newport Beach Mayor will be on the ballot.

At first, Al and I agreed that “Elect Our Mayor” had a nice ring – yes, democracy in action.

But as our discussions continued this fall and as we studied the issues, chinks in the armor of the catchphrase “Elect Our Mayor” began to appear. 

Al asked:

–A desire to obtain/retain power? Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely?

–Why was the signature gathering effort terminated, i.e., a conventional democratic means of gauging electorate interest and publicly looking at the pluses and minuses?

–What problem are we trying to solve, i.e., if it ain’t broke, …? 

–It’s great for the Mayor’s “District,” but maybe not-so-great for the other Districts.

Isn’t it possible that after serving eight (8) years as a councilmember, the successful mayor candidate may be able to add on another eight (8) years as mayor for a total of sixteen (16) years on the council?

–Have we in the past provided one person with the right in that person’s “sole discretion” to (i) set City Council agendas and (ii) change the order of business on the agendas?

–Will the other Council folks be able to continue to add value or will the consolidation of authority result in less effective leadership for our other Districts?

–Is a “strong mayor” model best for our City where it is possible that he/she may lack appropriate training, education, and experience in municipal administration and finance? Is it possible that this model may tend to result in ill-advised decisions on hiring/firing of key positions? Will we be able to attract/retain accomplished municipal executives under this model?

–Is it an improvement to have one person’s judgment in place of the collective wisdom of seven?

Perhaps with additional study/research and changes to the text of this measure, some of the ideas expressed may be worthwhile.

But as we turn the page to the chapter entitled “2022,” my late friend, Al, has raised a number of legitimate questions about the “Elect Our Mayor” campaign. I am inclined to agree with Al that the City Charter on this issue has served us well for nearly seventy (70) years. The changes as presently proposed are not needed. I urge a “NO” vote on June 7.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

It seems as though Council doesn’t hear or care what residents think

Amy Senk’s observation about the manner in which the City Council seems to ignore residents’ concerns strikes a familiar note with me. In Council meetings it often appears as if there is a magic screen between the Council and the audience preventing the Council from hearing what is being said by the speakers in the crowd. 

An interactive atmosphere at meetings where there is an exchange of ideas between the audience and the Councilmembers would be much more conducive to a setting in which residents feel like their opinions are valued or at least acknowledged.

In the same vein, an acknowledgement of correspondence from residents would be appreciated. I have frequently sent emails to Councilmembers and at least half of the members have never acknowledged one of my emails. Perhaps it would be helpful if the Council were reminded of their job description as some seem to have lost sight of just what that is. By the same token, I appreciate those who do answer mail even if I don’t always like their answers. 

The issue of whether members serve the city at large first or the residents from their district, seems to be confusing to some. Representation, in reality, should be a balance between what the councilmember’s district wants, what the residents of the city at large want and what the councilmember thinks is best for the city. At no time should the desires of outside entities take precedence over the desires of the city’s stakeholders. 

When the Council makes a decision, such as the appointment of Noah Blom as Mayor Pro Tem, which ignores the wishes of both the residents of the district
as well as the city at large, it is a breach of trust with the community. And as one recent writer to Stu News acknowledged, the honorable thing to do would have been for Mr. Blom to refuse to take the appointment.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Not a fan of the negative attacks in songs and their circulation

Personally, I am not a fan of the negative personal attacks portrayed by the songs that were circulated to the City Council and posted on Stu News. I do not know what purpose they serve.

I fully understand the frustration when the council does not seem to be responsive to the will of the majority but when I know I did the best I could to see Joy Brenner elected as Mayor Pro Tem I know it is time to move on and move forward.

Moving forward for me is looking for and supporting candidates that are not beholding to backroom politics and not responsive to joining any voting bloc. My time observing and working with the City Council, as it is presently constituted, is that voting blocs have been established and it seems to me that strings are being pulled from behind the scenes. The Elect the Mayor campaign and the recent election solidified my viewpoint that someone is trying to control this City Council for the next decade.

Gary Cruz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Blom had a chance 

Noah Blom has a lot more time left on the city council and Joy Brenner has served with distinction for several years. It’s a shame that Noah Blom could not bring himself to do the honorable and gentlemanly thing, and the right thing, by backing Joy Brenner for Mayor Pro Tem. 

Barbara Peckenpaugh 

Newport Beach

There’s lots of discussion going on in and around the City…What does it all mean?

Fall has been an eventful and stressful period for City Council and the residents of Newport Beach. First came the vote on the charter amendment to Elect the Mayor and, secondly, the decision over the selection of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Both events elicited a considerable number of opinions expressed in the local news sources and on the City’s Public Portal.

The City Council’s two votes were a mirror reflection of each other, both ending in a tally of 4-3. For the selection of leaders there is no “redo,” while the election of the mayoral issue will be decided by the votes of the residents in 2022.

Regarding the expression of opinion on these two issues, I learned something interesting which may not be new to those who are active in city government. In previous years when I attended council meetings the letters of the residents were often printed in a packet that one could pick up at the entrance to the evening meeting. Not so now. 

When I talked to the City Clerk about the printing of my letter, she said that because of the vast number of opinion letters, the letters were printed only on the Public Portal the day of the meeting and were accessible to the public as well as the Council.

My first wish was that the Council would read those letters carefully, because I learned a lot when I perused those of the October 26th meeting. The first surprising thing that I learned was that you don’t have to live in the city to express your written opinion on the Portal, nor do you have to be to speak at City Council meetings. I thought back to those Council meetings where I saw myriad people line up to express opinions. I wonder now how many did not live in Newport Beach.

The same is true of the Portal. Councilmember Diane Dixon came to the same conclusion as I after scanning those letters when she stated at the beginning of her prepared speech at the October 26th meeting, that the letters written in favor of the election of the mayor consisted of formulaic letters written over and over, while the letters in opposition were written, for the most part, with thoughtful ideas which contained deep knowledge of the subject matter. (Her speech is available on YouTube.)

I found upon reading the support letters that many did follow formulaic structures. There were about 3 or 4 letter formats which were repeated over and over, sometimes as many as 25 times. There were also at least 25 copies of a preprinted petition and a final batch of letters with gargantuan type designed perhaps to take up space.

Many of the letters from both sides were very short; there were some long
detailed and thoughtful letters however, written in opposition to electing the mayor.
    In conclusion, I would say that the letters and speeches showed that this topic is very much on people’s minds. But when it comes to voting, only the residents’ opinions will count.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Who really won? 

As far as I am concerned Joy is my mayor. She sets the best example of what it is to be a leader. These men, Duffy, Muldoon, O’Neil and Blom can never do what she does and will never have the respect she has. They can steal the title and manipulate the system but they can’t earn our respect. They do not deserve it.

Jennifer Irani

Newport Beach

Brenner’s omission lends to hints of inequities and gender bias

I was one of many residents who either attended or watched the December 14 City Council meeting. That evening, many NB residents made public comments highly supportive of the election of Joy Brenner – as well as the spoken endorsements of both members Dixon and Mayor Avery. NB social media sites were also highly active in their support of Joy. It was also acknowledged that evening that CdM has not had Mayor/Mayor Pro Tem representation since 2012.

As a fairly new resident of Newport Beach (District 5), I have become interested in observing and supporting the success of our city. But it was difficult to watch when member Duffield nominated Blom with the remaining male majority falling quickly in line.

What many residents are still reacting to is the inequity and gender bias of that election. Ms. Brenner has been an active, committed and highly involved NB citizen – but who has not been voted in as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem during her elected term. Mr. Blom, a freshman Council member, has managed to bring bad press to NB with drinking from the dais – as well as other reported personal issues and having little civic involvement.

Council members, Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem are paid City employees who I assume must comply with both Appendix A (City of Newport Beach Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy) and CA Fair Employment and Housing Act. I am unaware of any City Charter provision which addresses selection criteria when council votes for leadership. 

So, what we ended up with that evening is gender bias, discrimination and ignorance of experience worthy of a promotion vote. As a female who worked in our Orange County business community for decades, I was both disturbed and offended. That type of behavior would not be tolerated in any of our respective businesses. Assuming that you all invite residents to become involved in our City, that vote is being seen by many as a political misstep.

Kathe Morgan

Villa Point


Letters to the Editor

My thoughts on Noah Blom being elected to Mayor Pro Tem

I recently witnessed Noah Blom in action at the city council meeting for the remodel of the gas station/mini mart vote.

Two or three times he chose to lecture the residents in attendance on what was best for the city and this project. 

It is my understanding this time is for the residents of the city to express their concerns and thoughts to the council on items that are going on in our city, up for vote or coming up for vote. 

I thought he was arrogant and condescending to the attending residents in the council chambers. 

As far as drinking at the council meeting. Noah Blom was voted to the city council to represent his constituents. It is a privilege to be voted in as a city councilmember. Noah Blom’s job is to represent the community, to engage with the community, encourage community participation and protect our city. 

This is a critical job for the future of Newport Beach. I do not know any responsible employer that allows their employees to drink on the job. Even if it’s not illegal, judges, doctors and a lot of other professional occupations, including councilmembers, should not drink on the job. In this case, it shows how little Noah Blom respects or cares about the residents and their issues that need to be addressed.

This is unacceptable!

Please do not elect Noah Blom as Mayor Pro Tem!!!

Anonymity requested

Corona del Mar


Letters to the Editor

Ballot initiative to restore local control

SB9 was passed and signed into law in October. It allows any single-family lot to be subdivided into two lots and then allows a duplex to be built on each of the lots. SB10 was also signed into law in October. With the approval of a future  City Council, SB10 would allow any single-family lot to have a 10-unit apartment built on it. None of these housing units are required, or likely to be, affordable. There are no provisions for infrastructure (water, sewers, streets or public services like police and fire). There are no public hearings and the City is required to approve plans with very few restrictions. You can use your imagination to think what Newport Beach will look like in 5 years....

There is a ballot initiative that would reverse these recent State mandated housing laws like SB9 and SB10 (and several other State housing laws) that threaten our single-family neighborhoods. This initiative would restore the City’s control over our local Land Use and Zoning! The City Council voted to support this initiative at their November 30th Council meeting. 

You can read the text of the initiative here: https://ourneighborhoodvoices.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Filed-version-of-Initiative-10.1.21-1.pdf

This initiative will amend the California Constitution and reverse SB9 and SB10. If enough signatures are gathered, it will appear on the November 2022 ballot as the “Tripartisan Land Use Initiative” (The State Attorney General has the responsibility of assigning the name, so the fact that it is vague was not by the author’s choice.).

Within the State of California, we need to gather 1 million signatures in the next 150 days. Any registered voter in California can sign the petition. There is an active group of concerned citizens who are organizing groups of resident signature gatherers to circulate the petitions. We are looking for volunteers to talk to their neighbors and walk in their neighborhoods to provide information and petitions to their neighbors. If you are interested in helping with this effort, you can sign up at: https://stopsb9oc.com/

You can also email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will make sure that you get petitions, information on SB9 and other state mandates and instructions on how to gather the signatures.   

If we can get enough signatures from friends and neighbors, we can make a significant contribution to getting this on the November 2022 ballot!   

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

Joy Brenner for Mayor Pro Tem

Let me start by saying that I have confidence that Council knows what is best for the city and each individual Council member will do what they feel is in the best interests of the city. They are the most informed in the city and this important decision belongs with their capable leadership.

About two years ago, I became interested in city government after learning that a local issue was best resolved by the City Council. It started with inquiring whether anything could be done with massive amounts of local construction on Newport Island. The noise, traffic congestion and parking problems were becoming unbearable. I soon learned that was unsolvable but also learned that the growth in Short Term Rentals was exasperating the problem. I knew that, left unchecked, the Island would no longer be the safe, quiet, and peaceful community it once was. Construction issues would come and go, but STR problems would increase.

After reaching out to city staff, I contacted Diane Dixon who is the Council member for Newport Island and Mayor at that time. She helped to direct me to what would be needed to facilitate change. That expanded to addressing the City Council as well as the Planning Commission and city staff. 

What I soon learned was that city staff is capable, sympathetic and helpful. Knowing that working with City Council was imperative, I increased my participation by attending City Council meetings and communicating with City Council members. We received solid support from our district representative, Diane Dixon. We would not have received the needed relief without Mayor Avery, Council members Dixon, ‘Duffy’ Duffield and Joy Brenner, all of whom supported the concerns of the residents. Although she was not our district representative, Council member Brenner went the extra mile to inform, educate and support Newport Island residents’ efforts to address our growing STR issues.

Sure, I was a bit naïve. Naturally, I perceived the function of the Council was to represent the best interests of most residents in the city. No government touches residents quicker and closer than city government. As I observed that city government also represented city business concerns, I understood a balance was needed but I still believed that representing residents should be the primary function of city government.

The actions of Joy Brenner have resonated with me that she shares the same beliefs regarding protecting the rights of citizens. Perhaps more importantly, after observing her service for the city, she truly has the best interests of the city in her vision. She listens to all sides, is respectful to everyone, has an open mind, asks pointed questions, does her homework and casts her votes as an independent. In the years of watching the Council in action, I know of no controversy surrounding her, and her character and integrity are without reproach. 

I have learned about the rotating process of electing the Mayor and how Mayor Pro Tem typically is next in line. It is a good process, especially if time served on the council is taken into consideration. It seems to me that a certain skill set is needed and much of that skill set is ‘on the job’ training. 

I do think the Mayor Brad Avery has done a great job and personally I would give him another year, but I understand the process. I strongly advocate for Joy Brenner to serve as Mayor Pro Tem. She checks all the boxes and a vote for her is in the best interests of the residents in Newport Beach. It is also the right thing to do.

Gary Cruz

Newport Beach

For a lot of reasons, now is not Noah’s time

I am not alone in saying that I am absolutely disgusted by Noah’s behavior and his arrogant, flippant attitude. Would someone mind explaining what “results” Noah has ushered through at council?

He offers no new insights other than to back whatever vote Mr. O’Neill puts forth. He has stated he is not a politician and knows nothing about how our city works.

He can’t do anything for the people on Balboa Island because he has too many conflicts of interests to do them any good, so please explain the “results” Noah has accomplished.

Noah is a renter and not a stakeholder, so therefore he pays NO taxes to our City.

Noah took paycheck protection money that got forgiven. Wasn’t his restaurant open the entire time?

How do ANY of you justify not making Joy Brenner, the senior councilwoman, Mayor Pro Tem next week? Is it because she’s a woman? Shame on you!

Noah will have his turn; it just shouldn’t be now.

If Blom has any integrity being that he’s “cut from another cloth,” he will hand off the Mayor Pro Tem to Joy Brenner. 

I won’t hold my breath!

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

The question is, who makes the “grade” for the City’s top positions?

Although nothing quite surprises me when it comes to the actions of our City Council, I must say that the latest information that I have learned probably heads the list of inappropriate behavior and backroom politics with no consideration for their effect on the reputation and well-being of the city. I hesitate to use the term “inappropriate behavior” because it pegs me as the schoolteacher that I was and it most likely colors my perception. 

Joy Brenner is articulate, extremely professional, and popular in the community. She deserves an A and an O. 

These attributes seem not to merit the appreciation of a competitive group of members who put their own political future ahead of the well-being of our community. Anything other than her selection as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem is a poor choice because every other member of council has had his/her turn, some several turns. 

Only jealousy of Joy’s excellent standing in the community would motivate one not to champion her selection.

(I believe that there are among the council those who know what is fair to Joy and right for our city, and I hope that they will speak up.)

Secondly, the suggestion that Councilman Blom be considered as Mayor Pro Tem is not only most unfair to Joy Brenner but more importantly, to the city of Newport Beach. He is at the beginning of his first term as Councilman. 

I opposed his candidacy as I had done research on his professional credentials. Before the COVID vaccination was available, Noah Blum’s reputation for flouting safe COVID protocol in his restaurants merited him an F grade by a well-known food critic in an Orange County newspaper…A for food, F for community ethics

Next, Noah replaced an extremely articulate, professional councilmember
whose knowledge and leadership skills on Council are sorely missed by those of us who want to look up to Councilmembers, not down on political jealousies, maneuvering and unprofessional behavior. 

Having heard others whom, I trust speak of Noah’s unprofessional behavior and trying to personally follow the logic of his public speeches and political stances on personal freedom, I can only question the motives of those councilmembers who champion his selection.

I hope that our council will do the right thing: Vote for Joy as Mayor or at the very least, Mayor Pro Tem.

Lynn Lorenz 

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Today is Pearl Harbor Day

Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese fighter pilots attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t just the beginning of World War II for America, it was, as President Roosevelt solemnly told Congress the next day, “a date which will live in infamy.”

The war lasted more than four years. In the end, 407,316 U.S. troops fought and died so that future generations, like mine, could live in peace and freedom. Ironically, Col. Edward Shames, the last remaining officer of the historic WW II parachute infantry regiment, known as Easy Company, died a few days ago at age 99. So did Bob Dole. On Sunday, the 1996 Republican nominee for president, passed away at age 98. I’m sure Shames, this proud member of the Band of Brothers, and Dole, the former U.S. Senator, would have wanted us to remember Pearl Harbor Day.

Today, we are fighting several wars simultaneously. First, the war on international terrorism; second, the war against COVID; and third, the war against each other. After fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years, we owe it to the more than 7,000 U.S. troops who died there to continue guarding against threats to America. The same is true when it comes to the memory of the more than 750,000 moms, dads, brothers and sisters, who have been felled by the coronavirus. If you ask me, the sooner tens of millions of our neighbors get vaccinated, the sooner we can resume our pre-pandemic lives. 

And then there is the war Americans are fighting on street corners and in Congress. Except for places like Charlottesville, where Neo-Nazis marched in 2017, and the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where rioters tried to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power last January, today’s war is mostly vile, disgusting words. My fear is, if left unchecked, these words easily could escalate to hand-to-hand combat here at home. And that, my friends, is not what Col. Shames, Bob Dole – or the millions of U.S. soldiers who marched off to war in the 1940s – fought to protect.

Yes, Dec. 7, 1941 was a date which will live in infamy. For the sake of our nation’s future, I hope and pray we never see another one.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach   

A father’s eyes see no wrong

Mr. John Blom claims his son “thinks out of the box.” If a father will not hold his son accountable then why would his son accept responsibility for his poor choices? 

Unfortunately, Noah Blom chose to drink on the dais at a City Council meeting. He made that decision all on his own. He is mature enough to know what is expected of him. And he still made a poor choice. 

I’m all for new ideas and innovative ways to solve problems but Noah Blom’s behavior does not convince me he is capable of that. For every minute we have wasted on Noah Blom’s poor choices the Council could have spent on useful and meaningful issues. That is a form of theft. Time is valuable. Instead of contributing he has taken valuable time from all of us.

Jennifer Irani

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Maybe fingers are being pointed in the wrong direction

Mr. Johnson, concerning your wine investigation, I am always suspicious when I hear “The Pot calling the Kettle Black.” You should be more concerned about council members who come to meetings ill prepared because they haven’t taken the time to read staff reports and then wasting every one’s time having matters explained to them. To me that is a huge problem for an elected official and a huge disgrace. 

Never once has Noah attended a meeting of the council or any other citizen gathering without obtaining the knowledge that might be needed to make knowledgeable decisions. He has participated in Zoom meetings while being on a family vacation and attending his son’s rowing regattas, while some council members just don’t show up during vacations and personal activities. 

Dedication and diligence vs. a glass of wine? New ideas and “thinking out of the box” vs. pettiness and old guard mentality? Maybe the Pot needs to stop looking in trash cans and start seeing what really counts.

John Blom

Newport Beach

Alcohol consumption raises other issues for council

 I feel sympathy for Noah, knowing that he must have felt pressure the night that he gave his speech on personal freedom. I was not surprised, however, after listening to that rather lengthy speech that I personally could not follow, that alcohol was most likely involved. 

The extent to which his drinking is a problem, however, as much as we might feel sympathy for him, is a serious issue for our City Council. 

Also, the evening that his alcohol consumption was revealed is the evening that our Council made one of the most important decisions in its history. So, we really have several issues:

–One of our leaders has admitted to drinking on the dais. The extent to which the Council acknowledges and deals with the gravity of this problem, will reveal the quality of their leadership.

–The fact that he was drinking the night that an important vote was taken should invalidate the results of the vote in which he was involved.

–Not only should this issue be dealt with in a professional manner, but Noah should also, at the very least, not be appointed to a role of leadership on the Council.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Should we be concerned? Concealed consumption sometimes can mask other issues

Regarding certain members of Council imbibing during meetings, I note the following: knowing one or more of Council’s personalities, I am not surprised. What surprises me more than the act is the voiced approval by a number of supposedly rational citizens.   

Concealed alcohol consumption is a clear indication of a deeper affliction of alcoholism. We have a long-time friend who lost his executive position in a major corporation due to alcoholism. 

We were mystified, as for over two decades we saw only consumption of Sprite or 7Up as he was “sensitive to caffeine.” Lo and behold, when the curtain was pulled back, he was caught filling his Sprite can with…you guessed it, with wine! Sound familiar?

The one published supporter said that an operator of a local restaurant could not have an alcohol problem. Are you kidding me? Lots of small businesses are constrained by the albatross of owner alcoholism, especially in restaurants where the wine consumed is a write-off as a business expense. 

Dick Weaver

Castle Rock, CO


Letters to the Editor

The community responds to the issue of Councilmember Noah Blom drinking during City Council meetings

(The following are letters, and/or excerpts of letters condensed for the sake of brevity.)

Last I heard drinking in ‘public’ is illegal - and the Council Chambers is considered to be public, at least in my mind. What happened to respect for your constituents and the room in which one resides? Drinking or even sipping wine on the dais is just plain inappropriate and, honestly, offensive.

–Marie Case

I am REALLY disappointed with Noah Blom’s drinking while on the job AND his flippant attitude. Absolutely don’t want this guy having any more power with our city. So, no Mayor pro term!!

–Suzy Briggs

I see zero problem with Councilman Blom enjoying a glass of wine at the dais.

–Tom Anderson

For one, if it isn’t legal to drink in public, how is it legal to drink at city council meetings? Two, I think people expect their leaders to be sober when conducting business. Without regard to the quantity, wine is still an intoxicant and, IMHO, it is inappropriate and disrespectful to consume it at city council meetings. And that is actually true whether one is on the dais or in the audience. And I can’t imagine that it would be tolerated if it were staff consuming it.

–Dorothy C. Larson, CPA

Just when I thought I’d heard it all…..for any council member to be deciding our city business in an altered state is unconscionable! Very disrespectful to his constituents and downright disrespectful to all concerned. 

–Nancy Clark

Seems to me that drinking wine at City Council meetings is not a good idea!

–Mary Miller

Any rational person would know that drinking alcohol during a city council meeting is totally unprofessional. The fact that he does not have any common sense re: such behavior, even disregarding the city attorney stating it was “frowned upon,” shows how unqualified he is for a seat on the council and certainly not a candidate for Mayor. He may be a candidate for AA instead. Whose votes does he have?

–Pat McClure

It is totally inappropriate for a council member to be drinking any alcohol beverage at the dais during council meetings and Blom should not even be considered for Mayor Pro Tem. Why not Joy Brenner for mayor instead of Muldoon??

–Liddy and Scott Paulsen

No drugs or alcohol at our city council meetings please! Who does Noah think he is? King Henry 8th?

–Liz  Kennedy

It is a business meeting, not a social gathering. Drinking of any sort is unquestionably bad form. 

–Rick Haskell

1–Council meetings affect lives, they are serious events not happy hours.
2–If someone can’t participate in a meeting for a few hours without alcohol they may have a more serious problem that could impact their council work 3– It does seem disrespectful to be sipping wine when people’s livelihoods, homes and communities are being discussed. 

–Nancy Mooslin

I support Noah Blom. Frankly, he is a breath of fresh air. Sipping wine and not wearing a tie are irrelevant in comparison to the bigger picture of actively and creatively supporting the needs of his constituents which, in my opinion, he is doing.

–Anita H. Brown

If a council member has to drink to do a meeting, he is the wrong person!

–Deb Johnson

Absurd…and open container on public lands. How many shots by the elected? Does he drive, vote, drink, adjourn, drive home? Where is the wine stash on public lands? White or Red? BAC levels taken during a meeting? Absurd. Resign. 

–Brian Theriot

I don’t care if he brings a glass of wine to a meeting. I doubt being in the restaurant business that he is drunk. It’s just part of his persona. It’s his ideas and his work ethic I care about. Noah is a do-er.

–Gwen Cruttenden

I am not surprised to learn that Councilman Blom drinks wine during the meetings. While wine is a delightful adult beverage, there is a time and place for indulging and City Council meetings is not one of them. I agree with Mayor Avery that they have an obligation to at all times to conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates respect for our community. They are the decision makers that affect us all and their thought process should not be impaired. Blom as Mayor Pro Tem is a scary thought.

–Jill Ayres

No wine belongs at Newport Beach city meetings. 

–Patti Phillips

Hell no it’s not ok! And if it’s necessary for him to do so, I suspect he has a bigger problem with alcohol. I know of a good rehab over at Hoag….

–Janet Fraser

I think it is exceedingly inappropriate behavior to drink wine in a public format as a steward of the people and he should be censured for it.

–Dr. Donald W. Wise

As a mother of 3 young children, having Noah on the council has been such a breath of fresh air! He is approachable and truly is doing this thankless job to protect our special city and keep it the wonderful way it is. And, who goes through someone else’s trash can and smells their discarded cups? That is strange and borderline crazy behavior. 

–Requested anonymity

No, it is certainly not appropriate to be drinking at a city council. I am sure I can’t bring a bottle of beer into a meeting and neither should he.

I did hear Mr. Blom use profanity at the Elect the Mayor meeting and that too is inappropriate for a council member. 

–Gary Cruz

A city council person should never, ever be drinking wine during a city council meeting. He/she needs to listen, speak and vote with a clear head. Does Noah think it’s party time. Time to get Jeff Herdman back!!

–Barbara Peckenpaugh 

Jeff Herdman just wants revenge for losing the election. And for Mr. Herdman to issue a form letter stating a wrong date and spelling Mr. Blom’s name wrong throughout shows he doesn’t do his diligence in researching issues. I just see a sore loser using snaky politics trying to get his position back...

–Allison Danielson

I believe that Aaron is incorrect. It’s my understanding that California open container law applies to any city park or city owned public space….Civic Center included. In addition to that, it disrespectful to the public that he serves. Similar to driving vehicles sober, we need our elected officials to not be impaired in any way when deliberating on important community issues. 

–Steve Badum

It is not appropriate for our city council members to conduct business knowingly having alcohol, or drugs that impair behavior, in their bloodstream, much less to consume those during the course of business. The community should question Noah Blom’s judgement and fitness to serve representing the constituents of his district. I certainly do and find Noah Blom should immediately terminate that practice of drinking alcohol when serving on the council in official capacity or step down from his position. 

–Shelly Trainor

His behavior is disgraceful and he should not have the honor of being Mayor Pro Tem!

–Sally Herdman

Very sad that any elected official would even consider drinking from the dais during a public meeting. It is disrespectful and highly inappropriate. Further, if he’s really up front about it…then why hide it in a cup? Why not bring out the bottle and a wine glass? And who’s to judge when his reasoning is impaired? 

Given this and his other conduct, from calling in from a party in Mexico, to his swearing…again during council meetings…he is the last person anyone should consider for Mayor Pro Tem. Newport Beach deserves better! 

–Suzanne Gauntlett 

Mr. Blom’s unfiltered use of profanity, ease of alcohol consumption at meetings and disregard for a large demographic in our community is definitely an issue. The fact that he will be voted in over Joy Brenner is a clear indication that this Council does not respect the civility that a city council should be demonstrating. There is a clear leaning toward political needs over the respectability of our community. The profanity and alcohol are just obvious indicators that Mr. Blom thinks he’s bringing in a new, young dynamic to the council which has been made clear by his disparaging marks about the older population whose ideals are not relevant anymore. As a first-year council member, Mr. Blom should do less showboating and more listening to all sides.

 –Carol Tomlinson 

There is nothing we enjoy more than a nice glass of wine. However, drinking by a council member or anyone else of authority during an official meeting is disrespectful not only to the office they represent but to those who elected or appointed them. Additionally, drinking diminishes clear decision-making and has no place in governing our city. Elevating an offender is complete disrespect for the community they represent and should not even be considered.

–Gay and Jerry Morris

If Noah thinks it’s perfectly OK to “enjoy a glass of wine on the dais during a city council meeting,” why is he hiding it in a coffee cup?

–Susan Menning

Councilman Blom has absolutely NO business drinking during a Council meeting. It’s a meeting where important decisions that affect our City are being made and voted upon, not a cocktail party! 

–Lynn Swain


Guest Letter

Karen Yelsey

President 

NMUSD Board of Education

School Board President Message: Dealing with the rules and mandates of COVID-19

It’s been 21 months since the pandemic upended how we live and work. For our teachers, it changed how they teach; for our children, how they learn; and for our community, how they make sense of an abundance of often conflicting information surrounding COVID-19 and the mandates that schools in California must abide by. 

As a member of this community for more than 40 years, having been a parent of three children who are graduates of our schools, and serving as a Board Member of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) for 15 years, I too am frustrated and concerned about the mixed messages and misinformation circulating in our community. 

As elected representatives, all seven members of our board, serving as a bridge for parents and our school district, have consistently listened to community concerns and questions, and have responded in a timely and professional manner.   

While some districts continue to operate virtual board meetings, our meetings have been in-person and open to the public since July. We recently amended our board policy to allow the public additional time to comment on topics not on our agenda. Per the Ralph M. Brown Act, which governs local government conduct at board meetings, board members are prohibited from engaging in two-way dialogue with the public or responding to public comments. However, our superintendent can clarify and direct staff to follow up on matters within our jurisdiction.

Community members also have the ability to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and all seven board members will receive a copy of your correspondence. 

Our school district, like all public and private schools, is required to enforce COVID-19 mandates or face serious penalties from the State, which include closing our schools, financial penalties and/or legal penalties. As we have said since the beginning of the school year, our commitment and our focus is to keep schools open all day, every day, all year. As such, we must comply with State mandates.

While some have strongly argued that they are not in support of the requirement for students to wear masks indoors, our school district is not the governing body that has the authority to change health mandates. We are, however, required to follow the mandates. 

The board is not considering a district-initiated vaccine mandate for students, and we have no intention of doing so. Parents who want to influence the State’s direction on this potential mandate should contact the Governor’s Office, as well as Senator Richard Pan’s office. Senator Pan has introduced a very restrictive legislative vehicle that will not include a personal belief exemption. 

As mentioned, our goal has been to keep our school open for in-person learning full time, all year. We have been successful in doing so in part because we have followed state health and safety guidelines. Additionally, we have opened sports to full-time practices and competition and have reinstated all high school music and theatrical performances. Options to allow more volunteers on campus are currently being evaluated.

Operating a school district and offering safe in-person instruction to our 19,000 students is no easy feat, especially during the ongoing pandemic. Our teachers, certificated and classified employees, and administrators, who are all essential in providing a quality educational environment for students have been exceptional in navigating this pandemic with us and our community. COVID-19 continues to be a challenge for everyone, but we continue to do our best in support of students. 

Karen Yelsey, President

Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

COVID-19 vaccines approved for children ages 5-11

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

 Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president & CEO

Dear Neighbors,

By now, you have likely heard that the CDC and FDA have approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children ages 5-11. This is great news for children, parents, teachers and the community as a whole.

Children in this age group will be able to receive their immunizations at the Hoag Medical Group offices in Newport Beach and Irvine beginning Thursday, Nov. 11, by appointment only.

–Vaccine appointment scheduling will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 9

–You can access appointments one of two ways: Visit your Hoag Connect MyChart account or hoag.org/covid-vaccine. 

A parent or guardian will need to accompany their child and present a picture ID and proof of age. For more information about how to prepare for the appointment and what to bring with you, see the county’s website

Hoag has been carefully monitoring the scientific discussions surrounding pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, and we are confident about their safety and efficacy. We know many parents will have questions about the vaccine, so our medical team has put together answers to frequently asked questions.

By protecting some of our youngest community members, this latest development gives me hope that we are turning the corner on COVID-19. However, with winter and the holidays quickly approaching, we cannot afford to be complacent about the pandemic. If you have not yet received your vaccine, or if you are eligible for a booster and have not yet gotten one, please do not delay. 

As we have been from the beginning, Hoag is here for you and for your family. We thank you for your continued support and partnership.

Sincerely, 

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer


Letters to the Editor

The question remains, WHY?

Now that Newport Beach City Councilman Will O’Neill has gotten his wish and convinced three of his council buddies to vote and put the “Elect Our Mayor” initiative on a June ballot for voters to decide if Newport Beach needs a full time Mayor, and all the new expenses that it brings, it begs the question…WHY?

Let me be perfectly clear here. It isn’t like we had incompetent City Managers over the years…NO. Or incompetent City Councilmembers over the years…NO. Or the City of Newport Beach is in such dire straits that it’s crying out for help…NO.

What we have just witnessed is a blatant political power grab from people who want nothing more than to advance their own political careers at the expense of a city, plain and simple. And if they deny it, as I said at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, “they have peaked in high school.”

I sincerely thank Councilmembers Joy Brenner, Brad Avery and Diane Dixon, who showed their love and respect for the city and its history, by dissenting.

Roy Englebrecht

Newport Beach 

Stu News encourages Letters to the Editor and they should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Deadlines for submission are Monday noon, for Tuesday publication and Thursday noon, for Friday publication. Stu News reserves the right to approve and/or edit all letters.


Letter to the Editor

Lack of public debate is probably the biggest fault of the Elect Our Mayor decision

I can think of no greater reason to question the viability of changing our system of governing in Newport Beach than the fact that it is the brainchild of one person only. It is not the result of criticism by residents, community leaders, or outside pressure. Newport Beach has the same system of government as other cities of the same size in Orange County, the “Council Manager” configuration. With the exception of Stanton, cities of our size have governments similar to ours. They do not elect their mayor. 

Also, the larger cities in Orange County, who do elect their mayor, have a council that is elected directly using district voting, not “at large” elections such as ours. If there is an argument to be made that electing mayors is more democratic than appointing them by council, then we should be willing to say equally that it is more democratic to have district elections, because then our residents would vote directly for the council person who represents their district, as well as the mayor. 

The other greatest arguments for district voting are that more people would run for office because the expense of campaigning in one district is so much less than doing so in the whole city, and there would be more autonomy for individual councilmembers. At present, our councilmembers are too easily influenced by powerful individuals and politics. This is evidenced by the case at hand.

Even though the other members of Council were not involved in the naissance of the proposal to directly appoint the mayor, they feel pressured to go along with the idea because of the “assumed” political power behind it. 

There are many other reasons that directly electing a mayor for Newport is such a bad idea: the potential costs of an election, the lack of support from the leaders of the community, the possibility that one person could potentially be in power for 16 years, the opportunity of “outside moneyed power players” having more power than they do now, the fact that it gives way too much power to one person, and, perhaps most importantly, there has been absolutely no public debate. 

What this is is an audacious power grab.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Editor’s Note: Stu News encourages Letters to the Editor and they should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Deadlines for submission are Monday noon, for Tuesday publication and Thursday noon, for Friday publication. Stu News reserves the right to approve and/or edit all letters.


Letters to the Editor

Council can lead by giving voters the choice

On Tuesday night, the City Council has a pretty simple question to answer. Do they trust voters to make a decision about electing the mayor? 

Only the voters can change the charter. Only voters can choose whether they want to elect their mayor. And so, it’s time for the same people who rely on voters to occupy their positions on the city council to trust the voters again with this important decision.

Without question, we want to Elect Our Mayor. Many people agree with that basic statement and agree that the system proposed makes a whole lot of sense. Some people have disagreed with that basic statement. But we won’t know how many are on either side without an election. 

No one on the City Council could possibly speak for the “community” by voting against giving the community the choice.

In an era when governments across the board are taking away choices, Newport Beach’s City Council can be the light shining through as one that gives its residents the ability to take the power of electing the mayor back. 

We encourage the City Council to support voter choice by placing the Elect Our Mayor initiative on the ballot.

Michelle and John Somers

Newport Beach

The people’s power grab

Only the City Council currently has the power to select the mayor. We, the voters, don’t choose the mayor. We choose the city councilmembers who might become mayor. But we don’t choose the mayor directly.

Next week, the City Council can vote to do something pretty courageous. It can offer the people of Newport Beach the chance to take back power. To take back the ability to choose our mayor.

It would place the power in the hands of the entire city, not just a few. Maybe the community will want that power. Maybe not. We won’t know unless the issue is placed on the ballot.

Some opponents of this measure don’t even want to find out whether the people want this power to choose and are asking the City Council to insert themselves yet again between the voting public and choosing the mayor. Some opponents have even claimed that this is a power grab by a handful of people, which just doesn’t make any sense at all.

Any person who wants to become mayor in the new system would have to go through the gauntlet of public elections. Debates, fundraising and asking for votes. We get the say in that situation. We, the voting public, have the power in that situation. 

Let’s take that power back. Let’s Elect Our Mayor

Jeanine Bashore

Newport Beach

Tabling mayor decision for comprehensive study would allow for informed discussion

Over the years, I have had the privilege of participating in a number of the most significant political lawsuits emerging from our county. They range from restructuring how votes are recounted (Supervisor, now Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen) to First Amendment issues (Senator Pat Bates) to question of home rule in the appointment of individuals to vacant government positions (Supervisor/Senator Bill Campbell and Assemblyman/Supervisor/District Attorney Todd Spitzer). Then there are the numerous recounts and other political challenges that I have been involved in.

I bring these matters up not to toot my own horn but to establish that political and election law are one of the few areas where I actually do know what I am talking about. Furthermore, it is not my purpose here to advocate either for or against the proposal. My intent is to simply point out some significant flaws in how this matter is being processed and what might be done to make it a more coherent matter for voters to understand and determine.

Section 400 of the current and proposed charters defines the city council as the mayor and the members. The section goes on to state that any changes proposed or made that are “contrary to the intent and context of other such provisions” are invalid. The direct election of a mayor would allow for one person to serve on the city council, in one capacity or another, for a total of 16 years. This is directly in contradiction to the intent and context of the term limit provision passed by the voters.

Furthermore, the initiative envisions a process whereby the elected mayor will ascend from the ranks of the City Council. However, it does nothing to prevent an individual from being elected mayor for two terms and then running for city council, thus, again, circumventing the intention of the voters.

By any standard, the language is vague and ambitious, and perhaps contradictory, and thus subject to challenge.

At Section 404(b) of the proposed initiative, all power regarding agenda items and, essentially, all issues to be determined by the city government, are in the hands of the elected mayor. Thus, individual members of the City Council, and by extension their district constituents, are prevented from bringing issues to the council that might only impact a specific district, again barring voters access to the legislative process. This subjects both city policy and even the ability to raise city issues to the subjective, arbitrary and capricious whims of the elected mayor.

With regard to the nominating process, Section 1004 requires that a specific number of signatures be gathered on a nominating petition. Unlike City Council candidates who are required to secure signatures from the district that they want to represent, there is nothing in the mayoral requirements that discusses where the signatures must come from. As such, an individual can secure the entirety of the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot from a single district, or specific portion of that district. This provision again denies the average voter his due process rights since he has no say in who is nominated.

Reducing the number of districts from seven to six further disenfranchises voters and dilutes their votes, in direct violation of the California Voting Rights Act. As an aside, I have litigated several voting rights actions and, frankly, the bar for making the argument regarding disenfranchisement, and thus forcing all districts to be redrawn, is quite low.

Additionally, there is no analysis of how these substantive changes in our city charter will fiscally impact the city and its operations. This omission is in direct contradiction to the mandates of California Elections Code Section 9005. Additionally, the proposed initiative does not provide an impartial analysis by either the City Attorney or the City Manager as prescribed in California Elections Code Section 9008. It is impossible for the City Council, much less the general public, to make an informed decision as to whether or not the question should even be on the ballot until they are fully informed as to the potential consequences that will be realized.

The City Council is seeking to make substantive changes to how our city operates and how we choose the people who will represent us. This should not be a rash rush to an end that may not be justified or necessary.

It is respectfully requested that the City Council table this proposal for 90 days so that significant public input can be secured, a comprehensive study of the impact and ramifications of the issues presented can be conducted and, then, with an understanding of where we are potentially going, the City Council and the public can have an informed discussion about whether or not it makes sense to directly elect our mayor.

Phillip B Greer

Newport Beach

Undermining term limits is one of the many objectional things that this Elect Our Mayor proposal does

Barbara Eusey’s letter in Tuesday’s Stu News practically defines ‘people unclear on the concept’ when she claims that the elected mayor proposal “doesn’t change city council term limits.” 

In fact, undermining term limits is one of the many objectional things that this proposal does. In 1992, 83% of Newport voters passed an initiative enacting a two-term limit for our City Council. The elected mayor proposal would allow a politician to serve eight years as a city councilmember and then another eight years as an elected mayor, for a total of 16 consecutive years.   

How is that not changing our term limit requirement? The odd thing about this initiative is that a city councilmember can run for mayor, but a mayor cannot subsequently run for City Council. The logic of this is completely obtuse, but since the whole proposal is poorly thought out, I guess I’m not surprised. 

I certainly do agree with Ms. Eusey that everyone should read this initiative thoroughly because anyone who wants good governance will immediately recognize that this proposal is fatally flawed and should not be supported.

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

COVID-19 booster shot eligibility

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, M.D., FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

In our ongoing efforts to protect our community against COVID-19, we are pleased to update you about changes to booster shot eligibility. While we continue to provide booster shots to older adults and high-risk individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, we are now able to provide booster shots to eligible adults who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have authorized booster shots of any available COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals who completed primary vaccination with either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson inoculations, a strategy referred to as “mix and match.” This includes:

–Eligible individuals who received the Moderna vaccine for their primary series at least 6 months ago, and who are 65 years or older, or 18-64 years and at high-risk, can receive a booster vaccine.

–Eligible individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their primary vaccine dose at least 2 months ago, and who are 18 years or older, can receive a booster vaccine.

Hoag is offering the Pfizer vaccine at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine to eligible individuals ages 12 years and older. For information about appointments and to schedule a visit, go to www.hoag.org/covid-vaccine. Our Fly Well Clinic at John Wayne Airport continues to provide the Johnson & Johnson dose to eligible adults as well. 

“Third doses” are recommended at least four weeks after a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for people with weakened immune systems. This is not considered a booster. Instead, it is part of the recommended immunization schedule for people whose compromised immune systems inhibit them from generating a robust immune response after just two shots. 

Talk with your doctor if you believe this applies to you.

If you would like to receive the Moderna vaccine, visit Vaccine Finder to view available locations near you.

We continue to applaud our medical workers who have guided us from a pandemic to an endemic situation. We are deeply grateful for their skill, professionalism and enduring dedication. 

We are also grateful to each of our community members who have received the vaccine and helped to slow the spread of the disease. Your actions continue to protect yourself, your family and our community. If you have not yet received your first dose of the vaccine, now is the time to take action. 

As we have from the very beginning, Hoag is here to be your source of information, care and protection from COVID-19. As this situation evolves, we will continue to reach out and update our community about ways in which you can protect yourselves and those around you. 

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely, 

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Guest Letter

Homer Bludau, former City Manager

City of Newport Beach

Is having a directly elected Mayor good for Newport Beach?

A little history might shed some light on the issue of whether Newport Beach should have a directly elected Mayor. In 1953, Newport Beach voters elected 15 citizens to develop and propose a City Charter that was approved by a City-wide vote in 1954 and took effect in 1955. Over the past 66 years, our city government has operated under the Council/Manager system provided for under this Charter and has greatly thrived during that time. 

The Charter was approved excluding a directly elected Mayor due to early 1950s history, when it was strongly felt by many local residents that just a few people had too much influence in how the City operated and therefore, the whole community was not sufficiently represented in local government decisions. The Charter intended to solve this problem by creating seven districts, each represented by a City Councilmember elected by the whole community and then having the City Council select a City Councilperson to be Mayor each year. The Mayor’s position was purposely intended by the Charter to be mostly ceremonial and no stronger than any other City Council position in order to ensure local residents, and not a strong Mayor, had significant influence in how local issues were decided by the City Council.

Fast forward until today. For the past 66 years, this community has realized the benefits of its current city government decision-making process – a process that facilitates a great deal of public input and the building of both a community and City Council consensus. Having a directly elected Mayor would hugely change that successful model of how City Council decisions have been made.

Having a directly elected Mayor would result in the following detrimental consequences:

1. Reduces the number of Council districts, resulting in City Council members representing more, not less, district residents than they currently represent.

2. Results in having both the Mayor and another City Councilmember both live in the same district, thus providing greater representation for one district over the others, potentially at the expense of those other districts.

3. Changes the current co-equal relationship of the Mayor with the City Councilmembers, and in doing so, changes the way City Council consensus is reached.

4. Changes the long-established Charter relationships of the Mayor with the City Manager and City employees, and by doing so, reduces the influence of the other City Councilmembers with the City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk positions.

5. Results in Mayor election campaigns that could easily cost $500,000-$1,000,000, thereby making successful candidates more likely to be influenced by big donors’ contributions. 

6. Such expensive elections could result in the election of a Mayor who has no experience with City government and has had little involvement in City issues and no understanding of the City operations or the City Charter.

7. Would work against the current practice of having a very deliberative and sometimes lengthy public input process due to the Mayor having greater influence over the Council’s agenda, operations and decision making.

8. Is likely to result in the Mayor openly backing other City Council candidates in order to personally gain even greater control over City Council decision-making.

9. In summary, creating a strong Mayor would inject a huge degree of politics into Council decision-making to the detriment of good community governance.    

The current Charter’s structure of City Council decision-making has served this community remarkably well. We live in a hugely respected, admired and well-run city; the residents love living here, and our City has been largely devoid of the embarrassing political messes that many neighboring cities have experienced over the years. There is nothing broken here. Just the opposite. Everything about this City reflects excellence with City Council decisions historically being based on the needs of the community as a whole, rather than political interests. 

Your current City Councilmembers are the beneficiaries of 66 years of a well thought out form of local governance. Please do not change the decision-making dynamics that have helped to make this community so special and successful. Creating a greater degree of politics in city government is no way to improve Newport Beach. Please respect and honor those City leaders who have gone before you and shown the current manner in which our Mayor is selected is both wise and prudent for the benefit of all Newport Beach residents.

It is for the above stated reasons that I am strongly opposed to changing the City Charter and having a directly elected Mayor. 

Homer Bludau was the Newport Beach City Manager from 1999-2009.


Letters to the Editor

Elected mayor is just not right for Newport Beach for so many reasons

I am a resident of Newport Beach; my family moved here in 1972; and my parents were honored a few years back as “Citizens of the Year” in Newport Beach. 

I am writing to urge you to vote NO on the proposal for direct election of the mayor.

The key argument for the proposed change is that the “people of Newport Beach should elect their mayor.” But it is not quite right to say that the people of Newport Beach do not select their mayor. The citizens elect seven members of the city council and the council members select (each year) one of their number to serve as mayor for a one-year term. Given the small size of the city council, and the four-year terms of the members, and the frequency of second terms, most people who are elected to city council serve as mayor for at least one year. The people thus select their mayor indirectly, by electing a city council whose duties include selecting one of their members to serve as mayor each year.

Many other important positions in our governments are filled in a similar indirect manner. The people do not elect the Speaker of the US House of Representatives; the members of the House select the Speaker every two years. The people do not elect the federal attorney general, or indeed any other member of the Executive Branch; they elect a president (through another indirect mechanism, the Electoral College) who appoints (with the advice and consent of the Senate) the key members of the Executive.

The current system effectively ensures that mayors have experience in our city government. If you look at the men and women who have been mayor since 2001, all but one of them served at least one year as mayor pro tem and another year as city council member before becoming mayor. The only exception was John Heffernan, who was elected as mayor midyear in 2005, after serving eighteen months on the city council, to fill the vacancy created by the mid-year resignation of Steven Bromberg. 

Nothing prohibits the city council members from selecting, in December, a member who has just been elected in November, but they have not done so in more than twenty years, for good reason. There is a de facto requirement of at least two years of city council experience to become mayor of Newport Beach. 

Under the proposed system, there is no guarantee that the person elected mayor will have any prior experience on the city council or indeed in our city government at all. 

If you look at other cities in California, some of them have directly elected mayors (including Los Angeles and San Diego) but far more of them have city councils (like ours) that select a short- term mayor from among their number. The pattern is clear: cities with large populations almost always have a directly elected mayor, and cities with smaller populations almost always have mayors selected by the city council. 

Newport Beach is not a large city; the population according to the 2020 census is only 85,239 people. In a ranking of California cities by population, Newport Beach is (just barely) among the hundred largest cities. 

If you look at cities in Orange County with about the same population as Newport Beach, in other words 80-100,000 people, only one of them, Westminster, elects its mayor directly. Five cities in this population bracket, including Mission Viejo and Lake Forest, both with larger populations than Newport Beach, use the same system as Newport Beach, that is indirect election. 

And there are even larger cities, including Fullerton and Huntington Beach, that use indirect rather than direct elections to choose their mayors.

There is only one city in Orange County with a population smaller than Newport Beach that elects its mayor directly: Stanton. 

The current system of selecting the Newport Beach mayor from among the council members for a one-year term and limiting the mayor’s role to presiding over the council meetings, works well. The system encourages collegiality among the members of the council, for each member either has served or is likely to serve soon as mayor. The system encourages the city staff to treat each member of the council with respect, not to defer to the powerful mayor and to slight the weaker council members. 

To put the point another way, if we shift to the directly elected, more-powerful mayor envisaged by the proposal, the city manager would be demoted to something like chief-of-staff for the mayor. That would impede our ability to attract and retain a talented and dedicated city manager.

The current Newport Beach term limits ensure that no person serves on the city council for more than eight years. The proposed system would allow a person to serve on the city council for eight years and then serve another eight years as mayor. We should not create even the possibility of a single person having that length of tenure, that degree of control, over Newport Beach city government. 

The proposal would make another key change in the city charter; it would give the mayor “sole discretion to set city council agendas” unless three out of the six other members of the city council vote to place an item on the agenda. It might appear that this is not much of a change, because at present the support of three council members is required to put an item on the agenda. In practice, however, this is a major change, because it gives the mayor sole power to set the agenda unless three of his colleagues disagree—something not likely to happen often. Moreover, under the current system, a council member can often get an item on the agenda indirectly, through the city manager. The proposed system would take away the power the city manager currently has to put items on the agenda—another diminution of her role. 

The current system for selecting the mayor of Newport Beach has been in place for more than seventy years and has worked well. The advocates of the change have not pointed to any problem in the current system that needs to be fixed. They simply say that “the people should elect the mayor” without noticing that there are many other mayors who are not directly elected. Why does Newport Beach need a directly elected mayor when so many other cities do so well with indirectly selected mayors?

The proponents of the changes to the charter have not cited any social science evidence that directly elected mayors “do better” than indirectly elected mayors. 

It may be tempting for the city council, at the forthcoming meeting on October 26, to say “some people favor the proposal, some oppose the proposal, let us put the issue on the ballot and let the people decide.” That would be a mistake. We elect the city council to make some difficult decisions for us, including decisions on whether to place measures on the ballot. Not every measure that attracts some support (and I would note that we do not know how many people have signed the petition in favor of the change) deserves a place on the ballot. We already know enough to know that this measure would harm, rather than help, Newport Beach.

For all these reasons, I urge you to vote NO on the proposed city charter change. 

Walter B. Stahr 

Newport Beach

Electing a mayor or not electing a mayor, it’s about what’s best for Newport Beach

On Tuesday Oct. 26, the Newport Beach City Council will be voting on the possibility of putting an elect the mayor (directly) initiative on the June or November 2022 ballot. This idea has apparently been crafted by Councilmember Will O’Neill, as he is the only councilmember openly promoting it. On its face it sounds swell. Who doesn’t want to elect the mayor? 

However, the plan, as currently written and without any citizen or council involvement, is a clear consolidation of power. Currently seven councilmembers share an equal vote in our council/manager form of government. This proposal, in its current form, would give an elected mayor extra power over the rest of the council and preclude future councilmembers from serving in the largely ceremonial post as mayor.

In the 2020 election, Mr. O’Neill got a record number of votes to retain his seat on the council. He is very popular, especially with young folks and those that get their news from a mobile device. My guess is that if this is passed on the 2022 ballot, come 2024 when Mr. O’Neill is termed out on council, he would run for mayor. The folks that supported his Elect Our Mayor idea would be happy and likely vote for him as mayor. Maybe he even gets elected to a second term for a total of 16 years on council. Eventually he would be termed out and we would be voting for a new mayor.

Also, in the last election Tito Ortiz got the most votes ever in the Huntington Beach City Council election. A popular person like Mr. Ortiz, or any zealot with a following and financial support could move to town and get elected mayor. Come to think about it, that’s how Team Newport was created! That person could have four and possibly eight years to destroy the city for the special interests that got them elected. One person should not have that much power in our city.

The idea of an elected mayor in Newport Beach is not about how popular Will O’Neill is. It’s about what’s best for Newport Beach. Seven councilmembers with an equal vote works.

Please attend the City Council meeting on October 26th and let your voice be heard.

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

New mayor initiative “would have stricter term limits,” just read between the lines

I’ll say it up front: I want to be able to Elect Our Mayor. I also like term limits. So, when people dissenting from the initiative claimed that the term limits were going to be changed, I took another look. 

The proposed initiative doesn’t change city council term limits. In fact, the proposal says specifically: “This section is not intended to change the limit on consecutive terms for a member of the city council enacted by voters in November 1992.”

Subsequently, in the “Implementation” language, it says: “The enactment of this measure shall not be interpreted or applied to reset or extend the limit on consecutive terms applicable to any person holding office as a member of the city council at the time this measure is approved by voters.”

Any fair reading of the Elect Our Mayor initiative would conclude that 1) the city council term limits remain the same and 2) the current city councilmembers aren’t gaming the system with this change.

The proposed new position of a directly elected mayor would have stricter term limits than city council. The proposed new position would have lifetime term limits, which the city council positions don’t have.

I encourage people to read the language for themselves. It’s amazing what a little education can do to counter false narratives.

Barbara Eusey 

Balboa Island 

What should be done with our pier area? Here are some ideas

My first question is: How is the pier structure holding up? Has an engineer given it a physical and, if not, should this be done to determine this structure’s viability? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It doesn’t make sense or dollars to destroy something that still has plenty of life left. 

Should the building at the end be torn down? Probably. Should it be replaced? If so, why? Aren’t there enough restaurants and stores already? 

Also, what is wrong with the Plaza? As a resident who frequents it regularly, I like the design. Could it use a little refurbishing? Yes, and so could the public bathrooms. 

Would all this work cost $20 million? Not even close. This area, as pointed out by resident George Leslie, is already brimming with visitors, so there will probably be minimal financial gain for our city. 

If you are planning long term, how about investing in electric police and lifeguard vehicles? We all know this area has abundant sunlight. How about installing solar on city property where feasible? 

We all love the look of green grass, but it uses so much water to maintain it and this area is often in a drought. Today, there are pleasing options that require no water. 

I believe that Newport Beach can be a leader in these areas as it has in the past, rather than behind the curve.

Victor Paglia

Newport Beach

We know who trusts the voters

On Tuesday [tonight], the Newport Beach City Council gets to decide whether voters will have a choice. It’s a vote to let the people choose whether we want to directly Elect Our Mayor or leave it in the hands of the City Council to choose this important decision.

This is, of course, the same City Council comprised of people who ran for election and trusted us to make decisions whether they would be good at their current positions.

It’s the same City Council that voted to place a Charter amendment to add the Harbor Commission to the charter in 2020, which passed by 11%.

It’s the same City Council that voted to place a Charter amendment to require voter approval prior to certain debt obligations in 2018, which passed by 60 percentage points.

It’s the same City Council that voted to place a Charter amendment to require five of seven votes of the City Council to propose taxes in 2016, which was passed by 62%.

When voters ask to be trusted – to be involved in the process – we mean it. The only city councilmember who opposed two of the last three charter amendments lost a re-election bid by 20 percentage points. Voters clearly reward those who trust the voters.

Let’s move forward together here. Let’s Elect Our Mayor.

Nanette Vodra

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Trust the voters to Elect Our Mayor

I respect the difficult decision it must take to run for City Council. Fundraising, knocking on doors, going to debate after debate and taking a beating sometimes on social media. So even when I disagree with the candidate, I respect the effort.

None of that effort exists, though, to become Mayor of Newport Beach. Once a person becomes a City Councilmember, they become one of only seven people eligible to become Mayor. 

Voters are trusted to choose City Councilmembers. We should be trusted to Elect Our Mayor. 

The initiative to do that is exactly right. Voters get to choose. Candidates would have to convince us, not just a few of their colleagues. 

Accountability, transparency and trust will all be improved if we can Elect Our Mayor.

Brandi Bagley

Corona del Mar 

Don’t like the idea of the Elect The Mayor proposal being possibly agendized by council

It was rumored that a sizable number of proponents were going to attend Tuesday’s, Oct. 12th City Council meeting to support Councilmember Will O’Neill’s Elect a Mayor plan. However, the supporters never materialized, leaving instead an audience primarily of opponents. It was not unusually large, but sufficient in size to chasten the council members for considering putting the mayoral plan on the discussion calendar for a future date. (O’Neill [reportedly] had abandoned the route of gathering signatures when he realized that doing so was a lengthy and expensive process.)

Not one person in the audience spoke in favor of electing a mayor. Instead, in measured and intelligent speeches, seven community leaders spoke against the proposal citing the fact that electing a mayor should be one vetted by the whole community not just the council before going on the ballot. This, said one speaker, would allow for more careful consideration of the proposal. 

The failure of the proposal to meet the term limits of the city charter, thus allowing the mayor to serve 16 uninterrupted years in leadership instead of eight years, sets an unbelievably long period of control by one person. This long period of leadership coupled with the expanded power that the new proposal would give the mayor in relationship to the council could easily lead to authoritarian rule. 

When it came time to vote, it appeared that Mr. O’Neill had already persuaded the council to support bringing the proposal up for discussion at a future date. My observations of the council members’ faces and gestures indicated to me that they were not overly enthusiastic about their votes or their role. In fact, not one council person commented or spoke to issues brought forth by the audience. 

Giving the council the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they thought that putting the plan on a future agenda would allow them to discuss the proposal at length. Unfortunately, this has not been a successful route in the past for opponents of an issue because public discussion will occur in only one meeting consisting of comments to the council. It excludes the public from any meaningful discussion regarding whether this major attempt to restructure our city government should even make it as far as the ballot.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

No shortcuts should be used in getting the ballot initiative Elect Our Mayor on the ballot

I am opposed to Councilman Will O’Neill’s initiative to Elect Our Mayor in Newport Beach but that’s only my opinion and some people feel differently. Perhaps our citizens should make sure they fully understand all the underlying facts involved in electing the mayor, but most importantly how Will O’Neill is trying to circumvent the system to get this item airlifted onto a future ballot in the next few weeks. 

Has anyone on the council asked for a thorough financial analysis of what impact this move will have on our city? Adding another layer of government, staffing this layer, adding in retirement costs and benefits all need to be analyzed with costs being projected out over several years. 

Also, this initiative would create a second class of councilmember with less ability to represent his/her constituents because of redistricting which creates a larger number of people to represent and diminishes the importance of neighborhoods, villages and businesses within each district.   

Newport Beach voters approved a term limit of eight years for councilpersons, including the mayor, for a very good reason. Councilman O’Neill’s initiative would allow a councilperson who has served his eight years to then run for mayor, where he could potentially also serve two terms, i.e., another eight years! The councilmembers have term limits, but the proposed elected mayor will serve without term limits.

Mr. O’Neill had 180 days from the date his amendment was certified to obtain 9,000 signatures to put this on the ballot for our citizens to vote on. Apparently, he’s finding that’s not such an easy task. 

I can confirm that it’s not, from my experience getting signatures for the Museum House initiative. It’s a very difficult labor-intensive task but a large group of residents prevailed, and all worked hard together to get it done. It was a community effort.

Mr. O’Neill has now decided to circumvent the system by trying to “persuade” a majority of our City Council to vote yes to put his initiative on the ballot, instead of him getting the necessary 9,000 signatures required. Is that legal? Yes. But does it reflect the will of the people? I don’t think so.   

Whether or not this proposed agenda item appears on the ballot will depend on four votes being received from our City Council. It is also rumored that Will O’Neil has ensured this “on the fence” councilmember that if he votes in favor of this proposed initiative being on a future agenda, he can be assured that his goals for the harbor will be met. 

Mr. O’Neill has a way of getting what he wants with little or no resistance from councilmembers, but please I am pleading with you our elected city councilmembers, to put this item on the ballot only after a thorough and complete public vetting of the reasons for and against this important change to our form of government. Do not let this item be thrown into your laps, our elected City Council in exchange for future favors. 

Why don’t we bring all of this to the community in the form of a series of Study Sessions, or just an old fashion Town Hall. Why not really listen to the community on this issue, rather than basing your decision on one person’s idea of what our form of government should be – without any debate on the issues that are of critical importance to how our city is governed. This decision should not be based on promises and favors. 

In my mind, this should not happen this way. Will O’Neill is trying to arrange things to facilitate long-term control of our city without the messy process of debates and give and take and consent of the people. Yes, democracy is messy but it’s better than the alternative (per Winston Churchill).

Please let’s do this for the people and by the people!

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon


Guest Letter

Will O’Neill 

City Council member, District 7

Newport Beach’s financial rebound

Guest Letter Will O'Neill

Courtesy City of NB

Will O’Neill

I will never forget our city’s March 12, 2020 Finance Committee meeting. The Minutes state that our Finance Director “reported COVID-19 has changed the budget strategy.” That turned out to be an understatement.

Our city’s Finance Committee and City Council took swift action. We had three months left in our 2019/20 fiscal year and reduced our general fund budget’s expectation from $231.4 million to $217.9 million. This revenue reduction needed expenditure reduction too, which we quickly adopted.

The pandemic hit right as we were ramping up our budget planning for our 2020/2021 fiscal year too. As “two weeks to flatten the curve” stretched longer, we drastically reduced our budget expectations. 

Fortunately, our budget relies heavily on property taxes. This fairly consistent revenue source does not yo-yo like other taxes thanks to the stability built into the system by Prop 13. Sales tax and the hotel bed tax (“TOT”) are the most reactive to system shocks. A city like Anaheim, for example, was always going to take a harder fiscal hit due to its reliance on tourism at Disneyland and the convention center. 

Despite approximately half our budget relying on the consistent revenue source, we still reduced our revenue expectations from $231.4 million to $199.6 million; a nearly 14 percent reduction.

Which meant that we needed to close the revenue and expenditure gap. Giving credit to our City Manager and Finance Director, the Finance Committee recommended that the City Council adopt a “tiered” short-term budget reduction strategy that required quarterly review to move up or down the tiers depending on city revenues.

We prioritized public safety and never defunded any portion of our police, fire, or lifeguard departments.

We had also accumulated surplus funds from fiscal years 2018/19 and 2019/20 of $24.1 million (typically used to pay for one-time neighborhood enhancements and pay down long-term liabilities) in addition to the $52.6 million reserve to ward against this kind of “black swan” event. Thanks to this accumulation, we needed to use only a small fraction of the reserve to balance our budget, which we re-filled before the 20/21 fiscal year was out.

Throughout the 20/21 fiscal year, we carefully monitored our tax and fee collection. As the economy lifted up, so too did our sales taxes and TOT. The stronger-than-expected revenues allowed us to put $15.9 million back into the city’s capital program and roll back some of the service cuts.

Yesterday (Oct. 14), the city’s Finance Committee met to discuss how we ended the 2020/21 fiscal year. The tone was markedly different than our meeting from nearly nineteen months ago.

Our expenditures remained well below the pre-COVID budget figures and solidly below our revised budget, resulting in savings of $7 million. With better-than-expected revenues, too, our budget surplus coming out of the unstable fiscal year 2020/21 is projected to be an eye-popping $31 million.

Now, a few caveats must be explained. First, this is really three years of accumulated budget surplus. Only $7 million of that is from this past year, while the remaining $24 million is from prior years’ surpluses that we held as a backstop to the pandemic economy. Second, we did not rely on any of this money to balance our 2021/22 budget. Third, this is one-time money. Which means that as a matter of policy we should not use this to add recurring costs to our city.

Instead, we can and should use this money to further pay down long-term liabilities (pension obligations and future facilities replacement costs) and fund our future investments in capital improvement projects and neighborhood enhancements. This approach will remain consistent with our City Council policies.

I thank everyone in our community whose resilience through this past year has placed us and our business community in better footing going forward. I thank our City Council and Finance Committee for their efforts to monitor and adopt proactive and reactive budgeting processes. And, I thank our City Manager and staff for their diligence throughout last year.

We are indeed a resilient city built on firm foundations of community bonds. #NewportStrong

Will O’Neill is the Chair of the Newport Beach Finance Committee, a current City Council Member, and was Mayor of Newport Beach in 2020.

Guest Letter

Patty Huang, M.D.

Chief of Staff

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian

Patients are the heart of Hoag’s success

Guest Letter Patty Huang

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Patty Huang, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian Chief of Staff 

When people think of outstanding world-class hospitals, most envision attributes such as excellent patient outcomes, cutting-edge technology, pioneering medical research, exceptional physicians and dedicated nurses. Renowned health care institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, Cedars-Sinai, UCLA, or the Mayo Clinic come to mind as hospitals that demonstrate such attributes. 

In Orange County and the surrounding area, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian proudly stands among these giants. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report hospital rankings, Hoag was named among only 11 elite hospitals in the entire nation who achieved top ratings in all evaluated 17 procedures and conditions and the #1 hospital in Orange County for the fifth straight year. We are honored that the excellence, innovation and compassion of our physicians, nurses and health care workers has been recognized nationally. 

If you were to ask the physicians at Hoag what propels our determined pursuit of excellence, we would point to the deep connection that we have with our patients and our community. Nearly 70 years ago, the hospital was founded by local community members and the Hoag Family to serve the health care needs of Orange County residents. That bond between hospital and community grows stronger and remains steadfast. 

We are proud to be able to provide world-class, comprehensive, personalized care to our patients in their own backyard. Even as Hoag continues its steady ascension in the ranks of America’s elite and most prestigious medical institutions, our patients still regard us, first and foremost, as a community-centered hospital, and as their hospital. Hoag’s patients have consistently expected us – indeed, pushed us – to constantly redefine “the best” when it comes to the care Hoag provides them. It is an expectation that we consistently meet and strive to exceed.

In 1952, when our founders gathered on a promontory in Newport Beach and dedicated a new hospital to serve the people in Orange County, they could not have imagined the new technologies and innovations that we now offer our patients. Robotic-assisted surgery, virtual reality for surgical planning and the use of genetic markers to deliver personalized cancer treatments, are all examples of cutting-edge health care being offered at Hoag. 

Our patients also play an active role in propelling us forward by their participation in clinical trials and their ongoing generous philanthropic support. What our founders would definitely recognize is the intellectual curiosity, the spirit of innovation and the drive to provide the best care possible. Their founding ideal remains our guiding principle: that our patients come first.     

This is why Hoag leads the nation in the seven chronic conditions used in the evaluation: 

–Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease  

–Diabetes  

–Heart attack  

–Heart failure

–Kidney failure  

–Pneumonia  

–Stroke  

It is also why Hoag has some of the highest volumes and greatest national expertise in the 10 medical procedures evaluated:  

–Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair  

–Aortic valve surgery  

–Back surgery (spinal fusion)  

–Colon cancer surgery  

–Heart bypass surgery  

–Hip fracture  

–Hip replacement  

–Knee replacement  

–Lung cancer surgery  

–Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)  

Although health care now may look tremendously different compared to what it looked like when Hoag was first founded, some things will never change. Patients will get sick and in their time of need, they want doctors and nurses to care for them with expertise and compassion and they want a hospital that they trust. That is our touchstone and the north star that guides us in everything we do. Hoag’s culture of service and community emboldens our physicians and staff to do their best work, to innovate and to advocate for their patients. As proud as we are for the national accolades and recognitions that we receive, our greatest privilege is that our patients and community trust us to be their health care partners for life.

Patty Huang, M.D.

Chief of Staff

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian


Letters to the Editor

Word from The White House can’t come soon enough

I’ve had a number of political highs in my life, but none have come close to when I represented four beach cities (San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach) and the Orange County Supervisors in the “No on Offshore Oil Drilling” campaign in 1985. 

Back then, the Reagan administration had its sights set on drilling off the California coastline, so when 22 local Republican mayors publicly rebuked the idea here in Orange County, I knew our collective mission to protect the ocean and local beaches for future generations was secure. That is, until this past weekend’s oil spill affecting Huntington Beach, Newport and Laguna. It pains me beyond words to read about the ecological disaster that has killed wildlife and forced beaches to close. 

I was a junior at USC when the massive 1969 oil spill turned Santa Barbara beaches black with tar balls. Its impact was felt for decades. I know Rep. Michelle Steel has sent a letter to President Biden requesting a major disaster declaration for Orange County. As far as I am concerned, word from the White House can’t come soon enough.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Leave the oil clean-up and wildlife care to the trained

The massive pipeline oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach on Saturday rocked our community as we anticipated with trepidation the impact of over one hundred thousand gallons of crude spilling into coastal waters and the catastrophic effect on marine life and birds.

Most people I know had the same reaction – what can we do? 

City officials up and down the coast are mobilizing as they coordinate with concerned agencies. Some beaches are closed. Newport beaches are open with an advisory to stay out of the water to avoid contact with the oil. Newport harbor is closed to prevent oil from entering the harbor. Boats will be stopped at the entrance channel; however, vessels may continue to operate within the harbor.   

Especially important, Newport officials are requesting members of the public to allow trained spill response contractors to remediate the oil as untrained volunteers could hinder response efforts. They recommend anyone who encounters oiled wildlife to report it to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network 877.823.6926.

The City of Huntington Beach recommends contacting the Huntington Beach Wetlands at 714.374.5587 and Surfrider Foundation at www.cleanups.surfrider.org to inquire about how to support.

All good to know, and certainly more ways to come on how to assist with the environment and wildlife endangered by this devastating crisis.

Robyn Grant

Newport Beach

What’s the harm in letting voters decide if we should Elect our Mayor

I am an active and engaged voter here in Newport Beach. I care deeply about our city and the future of our city for our future generations. I am involved and make the effort to meet candidates, I read their materials, I read their opponents’ materials, and I make a decision based on what I have learned. And when I like a candidate, I help by walking around my neighborhood with materials and encouraging others in my community to learn about them also. 

Simply being an engaged voter is apparently a frightening concept for some people writing letters to the editor these days.

The Elect Our Mayor initiative is simple with a simple message. Yes, I want to choose who the mayor is. So do a lot of voters in Newport Beach. As a prominent city we should be electing a strong chief executive officer and spokesperson. We should have a candidate that is elected by the people setting the council agendas. Want to find out how many voters share the desire to elect our mayor? That’s easy! Let’s get it on the ballot.

But there are people who don’t want to find out. They are afraid of voters because, their thinking goes, voters can’t be trusted with choosing the mayor. We could choose the wrong one (well, wrong under their value system at least). It still should be a choice by the voters. 

For example, the new attack is on term limits. It’s easy to see that this initiative doesn’t change the city council term limits. The measure even makes sure that the term limits of the current city council members aren’t changed in its implementation language.

The main attack seems to worry that a person could run for city council, win, and then run for mayor eventually. Which sounds like an election campaign attack ad rather than a swipe at the proposed system.

If voters want someone with council experience as mayor, fine. If they don’t, fine. Either way, it’s a choice that should be given to voters. A choice we are denied right now because people have thought for too long that voters can’t be trusted to elect our mayor.

Plus, the proposed mayor system has what our current system doesn’t: lifetime term limits for the mayor. Isn’t it strange that the attacks don’t mention that aspect?

I think that now is the time to assert our voice as voters. Let’s see how many of our neighbors in our community want to Elect Our Mayor. What is to be afraid of in that? 

Anita Rovsek

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Important for mayor to be a part of agenda setting

Throughout the past couple of years, it has become increasingly evident how much elections matter. At a local level, elections have affected our ability to be outside in nature, choose where we eat our food and send our children to school. While LAUSD is still inventing barriers to prevent children from returning to the classroom, students in Orange County can attend in person.

Though we hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we have seen that strong leadership is what builds a community and inspires its resilience. California is a different state than it was two years ago, and not for the better. It’s hard to see that when we look at our beautiful neighborhoods and ocean views. Still, when data shows that almost all demographics are leaving for other states, we are reminded that we need strong leadership at a local level to preserve the communities and lifestyle we love.

We elect our local leaders to reflect our voices and make decisions that support the vision of a community where we want to live. A school board and a council are entrusted with building a vision for the future that reflects the needs of its constituents. To that end, it is vital that city councils and school boards lead with vision. And that is why I support the Elect Our Mayor campaign. 

What you might not know – I certainly didn’t – is that the city council doesn’t set the agenda. It is set by the city manager. We elect our council members and school board members. We don’t elect our city managers and our superintendents. At the school board, the board president sets the agenda in concert with the superintendent and other school board trustees. This is one important aspect that the Elect Our Mayor campaign seeks to change.

Electing six council members from various districts around the city, with an at-large mayor whose job includes setting the agenda, ensures that a city-wide vision is carried out in every vote, at every meeting. Being a mayor in a city like Newport Beach will be more critical to maintaining its character in the years to come. A directly elected mayor will have four years to work with other council members to create and execute a thoughtful vision and look many years ahead.

As I have talked to folks around the city, the biggest question that I get is, “Why now?” The simple answer is stability and long-term relationships. Planning for the next 25 and 50 years cannot be accomplished with a mayor who only needs to work well with council members for one year.   

As housing density legislation coming from the state begins to impact our quality of life, it is to Newport Beach’s benefit to have a mayor who has served with and knows other mayors in Orange County over several years. The ability to pick up the phone and discuss how another city is navigating changing requirements and legislation impacts our quality of life.

So, if you haven’t taken time to frame the question, “Why does Newport Beach need a directly elected mayor?” now is a great time to do so. Is a rotating mayor, as is currently the case, better for our city’s long-term stability and character for our villages? Does the current system best represent all residents of the city? 

As someone who plans on living in this city with my children for years to come, I support an elected mayor to lead Newport Beach into the future.

Michelle Barto

Newport Beach

If the system isn’t broken, why try to fix it?

Although times have changed, they haven’t changed enough to warrant a change in our City Charter when it comes to our form of representative government. Why do you suppose our city fathers wrote a City Charter that divided our city into equitable districts that would have an elected individual charged with the responsibility of representing the constituents within each of their respective districts? And why did those city fathers not define a separate office of “mayor” as an elected position?   

Here’s where the problem lies: If the average Newport Beach citizen is asked, “Do you want to elect your mayor,” of course they are going to respond “yes.” Follow that question with another by asking, “Are you aware of the significant changes this initiative contains that will have a major impact on the way our city is governed?” 

So, if this initiative qualifies for the ballot and voters pass this initiative, do they really understand what they have done? What happens to our current “Council-Manager” form of government that has, by the way, worked so effectively for so many years? It would be replaced by a “Mayor-Manager” run city government, and by a mayor who would be given powers and authority that clearly lessen each council member’s ability to do an effective job of representing you – their constituents. 

I encourage you to do your homework on this one. Let’s not attempt to fix a wheel that has never been broken and does not need to be fixed. Newport is an extremely well-run city and has been for years. Let’s not allow individuals to use our city as a platform for political advancement and permanency. Let’s do get back to a citizen-run government. 

Jeff Herdman

Past Newport Beach City Councilman, 2016-2020

Newport Beach

Visibility and vision is what Elect Our Mayor brings

We’re all so fortunate to live in the beautiful and well-run city of Newport Beach. The Elect Our Mayor campaign has prompted many of us to consider how it can be even better. We now have the opportunity to elevate the process of choosing our mayor. Regardless of who any future elected mayor might be, I’ve come to the following conclusions: 

–The mayoral model delivers far more visible leadership of the city, which can be important in dealing with other agencies, or cities.

–A direct election gives substantial democratic legitimacy and makes a mayor more accountable…answering to the voters has a direct correlation to looking out for the good of the entire city as a whole.

–A strong leader is more likely to be effective in developing a forward-looking vision for the city…how can a vision be cast and implemented in a one-year term?

–Four-year terms provide stable leadership. There is value in continuity and stability in good times and in tough times.

–Elected officials who can be held accountable are the ones who should set the city council agenda, not unelected city managers, no matter how good any city manager might be.

Change can be uncomfortable and not entirely devoid of risk, however; the benefits far outweigh the risks for the Elect Our Mayor campaign. I want to elect our mayor. That’s why I’m supporting this endeavor and volunteering to personally secure signatures on the petition.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Elect Our Mayor would circumvent intent of 1992 term limit vote

I am opposed to Councilmember Will O’Neill’s initiative to elect our mayor!

In 1992, we voters in Newport Beach approved a term limit of eight years for councilmembers, including the mayor. Councilmember O’Neill’s initiative would allow a councilmember who has served their eight years to then run for mayor, where they could potentially also serve two terms (i.e., another eight years!)

This is NOT the intent of the electorate! We voters are in favor of new councilmembers with their fresh approach and new ideas. Having one person serve for 16 years is just not good for our city. This initiative is a bad idea! It should be voted down if it ever goes to an election. 

Jeanne Fobes

Newport Beach

Mayoral change would create potential term that would be far too long

When I heard about Will O’Neill’s campaign to create an elected mayor position, I did some research to figure out what it would really mean for the citizens of Newport Beach. Of immediate concern was the fact that this idea was never brought before O’Neill’s city council colleagues or the public. 

What my research showed is that councilmember O’Neill has written a proposal that serves no one other than himself and is purely intended to create a future elected position for himself. And it would leave us residents with an all-powerful mayor who has the ability to overshadow the future of my district council representation and yours. 

Equally important is that the proposed initiative overrides the 1992 voter-approved term limits (currently two 4-year terms). It allows a councilmember to run for mayor but prevents a mayor from subsequently running for council. This would position councilmember O’Neill to spend 16 years in Newport Beach city government, 8 on the council and 8 as mayor. Term limits were instituted for a good reason: to prevent any one person from dominating city government for too long. And 16 years is way too long. 

Government should be by the people and for the people. Our current system will serve our city much better than his proposed change. 

Dorothy Kraus

Newport Beach

Opposed to initiative because of established term limits 

I am opposed to Councilmember Will O’Neill’s initiative to Elect Our Mayor in Newport Beach. Newport Beach voters approved a term limit of eight years for councilpersons, including the mayor, for a very good reason. Councilmember O’Neill’s initiative would allow a councilperson who has served his eight years to then run for mayor, where he could potentially also serve two terms, i.e., another eight years. This cannot happen. “Team Newport” has been trying to arrange things to facilitate long-term control without the messy consent of opposing voters. STOP THIS!

Geri Ferguson

Newport Beach

Elected mayor puts power in one person’s hands

I read and enjoyed Amy Senk’s article on the election of the mayor in (the) Tuesday, September 8 issue of Stu News. 

This is not the first time that I have contemplated the strengths and weaknesses of the government in Newport Beach and the changes that would make it more responsive to its citizens. Surely this proposal to put so much power in the hands of one person is the opposite direction to move with that goal in mind. 

The proposed idea being brought forth by just one person and as Amy Senk so amusingly and aptly puts it as “a solution looking for a problem” or as I might put it, “the Lone Ranger” approach, would greatly enhance the power of the mayor and reduce the number and power of the council members. 

And certainly we, the citizens and the rest of the council are not “country bumpkins” looking for the man/woman on the white horse to rescue us from anything. That none of the other members of council have spoken out on this issue might be construed as their lack of support or interest in electing the mayor. 

Those citizens who have attempted to get a council person’s ear, can testify to the almost impossible endeavor of getting three council people to bring forth an issue and then vote on it accordingly. Yet that is the number of council members who would have to support a position to put it on the agenda according to this new plan being introduced.   

And to expect the Mayor to favor an issue enough from one district to put it on the agenda is close to an “impossible dream.” As Amy Senk’s interviewees put it, the new proposal being suggested by councilmember Will O’Neill, which will allow for uninterrupted leadership for 16 years “smacks of authoritarianism” and one-man rule.

But I would not be so quick to jump to the conclusion that it would be a one man rule, because that one person who is elected will undoubtedly need backers
and influencers who will take even more power away from the citizens than they do now. But to citizens and even some fellow councilmembers, these people will remain faceless and nameless. We have been hearing about and dealing with these power brokers for as long as I can remember, and their influence will undoubtedly increase with an elected mayor who has political debts.

I am not by nature a gamblin’ woman, but in response to councilmember Will O’ Neill’s remark that he is not sure as to whether he would run, let me say, “I’ll take that bet.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Speed in the harbor is creating dangerous situations

My first speeding ticket was in 1975 for going 8 miles per hour in a 5-mph zone. How I wish for those days again. 

Your last edition included a narrative by Harbormaster (Paul) Blank. Lots of paperwork was cited, but of note was this excerpt, “two people rented kayaks…and were then flipped off the kayaks from a passing wake.”

The Harbormaster’s job includes speed and boat safety. As a resident of the Bay Front since 1974, in the last three years I have never seen so many speeding boats and haphazard operations. The widespread vessel speed and wake turbulence has led to dangerous maneuvers by novice boaters, overcrowded rentals, life threatening situations like the ones cited, and a free-for-all attitude that discards courtesy and replaces it with carelessness.

The danger and property damage that results from a lackluster enforcement of the harbor’s simplest rule, NO WAKE, is diminishing in the harbor. 

Matt Clabaugh

Balboa Island

Someone needs to keep an eye on those petitions

People should be aware that California law is very strict on collecting signatures for a petition, but you may not know that until you read the circulator portion at the bottom of the petition.

I was at the recent Republican Women’s luncheon and the “Elect the Mayor” petition was being passed around the table unattended. I was driving to my friend’s house on Saturday and a table was set up outside a garage with an unattended petition. 

The person who will be turning in these petitions will be signing under penalty of perjury that they had personally witnessed the signed signatures. That is why you aren’t supposed to let a petition be out of your control. The penalty is up to a $5,000 fine and a year in jail. The law is pretty serious about this!

You may not know some of the details of this petition, but it creates an immensely powerful mayor for whom the 1992 voter approved term limits is exempted, allowing one person to serve 8 years on city council and another 8 years as mayor as well as specified powers granted only to the mayor. Many of us are very concerned about one person having that much power, especially since no one else besides Mr. (Will) O’Neill has had a hand in writing it. There are many problems with this initiative and if it becomes voter approved, only a second vote of the people at a future election can unwind it.

My fellow citizens, please do not be blind to the damaging impact an elected mayor will have on our city. Our charter requires that a City Council candidate live in the district for 30 days. There is no such requirement for a mayoral candidate. Anybody can come in with a ton of money and become mayor and ruin our beautiful city. Are you really ready to let one person rush this petition through with no community debate or discussion? 

It truly saddens me that people are not thinking about the long-term damage this can have on our well-run City. This petition is the potential takeover of our city by one man. 

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

The time has come for an elected mayor

As an active member of the Newport Beach community, I feel that it is my civic duty to point out when change needs to happen. The current push for the amendment of our city charter to allow for the council member in the mayoral position to be elected, rather than being rotated from one zone to another without any consideration to the necessity of a unified leadership of our city, is something that needs to happen. 

At the time the charter was drafted, the goal was to provide equal consideration for all to the very different communities that make up our fair town. However as time has gone by, Newport Beach has become more unified than ever and the necessity for the rotation of the Mayoral position to shift from one district to another is more of a detriment than a benefit when it comes to times of crisis. 

I believe that if we fail to acknowledge the necessity for change from the ways of the past, it will do nothing but bridle progress for our town in the future.

Jordan D Wächter

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Elected mayor should be discussed in larger venue before voting takes place

Since when does one person get to decide major policy changes for the whole city? That is what is occurring with the push to elect our mayor. Right now, the role of mayor is a one-year term and rotates among the current council. There have been no committees considering this. No discussions about the pros and cons of having an elected mayor have surfaced. Even the existing City Council isn’t a big fan of doing this, perhaps because it is driven by only one person without apparent consideration of any other viewpoints.    

Initiatives have a long life since they can only be changed by another election. Shouldn’t we at least discuss this in a larger venue before it comes up for a vote or are we just stuck with one man’s opinion of what the role of mayor should be?

Tom Baker

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Initiative gives too much power to elected mayor

City Councilman Will O’Neill has announced that he is collecting signatures for a voter initiative to make the Mayor of Newport Beach an elected position. However, this initiative does much more than just establish an elected mayor. It establishes an elected mayor with immense power and that is just wrong.

Hidden in the initiative is Section 404(b), which states, “Except as provided in Section 405, the Mayor shall have the sole discretion to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agenda.” Section 405 does allow adding items on the agenda if half of the remaining council members agree, but this is quite a high standard to meet and effectively excludes the rest of the council from readily bringing issues forward. Instead, the initiative will give the mayor near total control of what may be brought in front of the council. If an unpopular issue is to be discussed and a crowd is expected for an agenda item at 8 p.m., the mayor can arbitrarily move the item to an earlier hour and bypass all that pesky input.

Now imagine if the mayor is beholden to special interests. If those special interests do or don’t want something inconvenient to their purposes on the agenda, the mayor can make that happen. As an example, many of us feel that Team Newport’s campaign consultant Dave Ellis exerts that power over his successful candidates. Remember the Museum House condo approved by the City Council over the objections of literally thousands of residents? The developer told me that Mr. Ellis was a consultant on the project because “that is how it is done.”

If a majority of the City Council supported this initiative, they could vote to put it on the ballot, but this has not occurred. Mr. O’Neill’s efforts to gather signatures appears to be a solitary quest unsupported by his fellow council members. Maybe they feel, as I do, that we should not give that much power to one person. The residents of Newport Beach deserve to have their elected City Councilpersons have an equal say in the running of our city. Electing an abnormally powerful mayor is exactly the wrong thing to do and I sincerely hope that citizens think twice before signing this misguided initiative.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Electing our mayor enhances accountability

The basic function of the Newport Beach City Council is setting public policy. The sole ability for the City Council to accomplish this basic function is through agendas set well in advance of a meeting pursuant to “The Brown Act.” In other words, the only way for a Council to actually accomplish its core responsibility is through the meeting agenda. 

But as it currently stands, the Council has delegated that authority to the City Manager. No matter how good a City Manager is (and ours is great), the City Manager is accountable only to the City Council and not directly to the people of the City of Newport Beach.

The Elect Our Mayor initiative would ensure that the power to hold public policy makers accountable rests in the hands of the people. 

As proposed, a directly elected mayor would be able to set the agenda and be directly accountable to both the people and the City Council too. Plus, City Council members themselves could place items on the agenda if three members voted to do so (similar to the current policy). 

If a mayor didn’t want to place an item on the agenda and three other Council Members couldn’t be found to want an item on the agenda, why in the world would that item be worthy of staff time and consideration?

This process is helpfully discussed on the www.ElectOurMayor.com website under the FAQ section. Which is why I was a puzzled when I read Susan Skinner’s comment that the agenda-setting function was “hidden” in the initiative language. It wasn’t even hidden from Will O’Neill’s original op-ed published in the Newport Beach Indy and Stu News Newport

But more to the point, Dr. Skinner’s main concern appears to be that a mayor could move items around on the agenda to avoid frustrated crowds. This may surprise Dr. Skinner, but the mayor currently has the “discretion to change the order of business” as part of our city’s agenda-setting policy. 

Though uncommonly used, the most common use of that discretion is not to avoid crowds, but instead is used to ensure that a crowd doesn’t need to sit through an entire agenda if their item is at the back of the calendar. 

I encourage residents to read more about the Elect Our Mayor petition at the website where concerns are helpfully answered. If you would like to sign up to volunteer or find out where petitions are available to sign, please visit our site for that too: www.electourmayor.com/get-involved.

Noah Blom 

Newport Beach City Council, District 5

Newport Beach

Elected mayor, just a bad idea

An elected mayor? This is just a bad idea, and it is not what is best for Newport Beach; rather, it is what’s best for a few power-hungry individuals. If we could be guaranteed that persons who would run for mayor were completely honest, transparent, had impeccable integrity, and would always be elected by a well-informed citizenry, then I’d be all for it. But what are the chances of that happening now and in the future? And why would the people of Newport Beach change our City Charter to support something that is riddled with so many potential problems?

Take for instance that section of this proposal that gives the elected mayor sole discretion on the agenda for each council meeting, and to change the order of business on the agenda at his/her discretion. And consider how difficult it would be for a particular council member to get an item on the agenda that has been asked for by his/her constituents with the requirement that half of the council must agree to agendize. This clearly shoots holes in the concept of “representation.” 

Eight years is just too long, as well. And when you add to this the ability to have complete control over each council meeting agenda…you are giving absolute power to the mayor. Look to neighboring cities to see how well that has worked out! It just isn’t necessary. There is nothing wrong with our current system. 

Although my tenure on council was cut short, and I was not able to experience the honor of being mayor, one of the attractive features of serving on council is the potential of being selected to serve as mayor. This is a current feature of our City Charter that serves to attract people to run for city council. 

The current proposal would eliminate that feature. Moreover, who would really want to experience the frustration of serving on a council where the City Charter provides the mayor with absolute authority and power, and places an individual council member in the position of not being able to represent the constituents of his or her district? 

Here are a few other reasons for not supporting this initiative:

–Do we really want carpetbaggers moving to our city, establishing the required residency, and then running for mayor? Individuals who have no longevity in or a history of service to our city?

–A mayoral bid is going to be expensive, and the influence of campaign donors would likely be concentrated behind a single person or group in the City. Ordinary citizen concerns could be less a consideration if the elected mayor has an allegiance to a donor or group making large donations in order to insure re-election, and to elections beyond that of Newport Beach Mayor. 

–Our City would have to go through redistricting (from 7 to 6), with each district having one council representative except for the district that the newly elected mayor lives in. Could this be a potential problem? Double representation?

If this idea of an elected mayor is such a good idea for Newport Beach, then why isn’t the current council not approving this as an item on the ballot for the next election and foregoing the signature gathering process? Why is it just the effort of only one current council member? Again, this is just a bad overall idea!

Jeff Herdman

Former City Council Member (2016-2020)

Newport Beach

More power checks needed for elected mayor

I am in total agreement with Susan Skinner, a lifelong and highly respected member of Newport Beach, who has an excellent understanding of everything that pertains to Newport Beach and to city government.

I was so surprised to learn that all of a sudden out of nowhere comes the idea from seemingly one single City Council member to make the mayoral position of Newport Beach an elected office. And although it has not been stated, nor do we know for certain, it is most likely that this new position is being created for the person who originated the petition. This seems like an extremely opportunistic move, especially since it does not seem to be supported by other council members.

If the petitioner or another council member, with the exception of one position, were to run, it would mean that he/she would serve for 16 uninterrupted years as a leader.

Also, many of the council members have already had the opportunity to serve as mayor. This is way too long of a period for one person to be in office, particularly if during the last eight years that person serves a stint as a mayor with incredible, nearly unchecked power over the council and the residents of Newport Beach.

The idea of an elected mayor in and of itself is not necessarily a bad idea
as long as there were more power checks on that position and no current council
member could run, meaning that one person could not serve 16 uninterrupted
years. There is no good reason to support at this time what could well be the pursuit of one person.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

It’s time for your flu shot

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

Can you get the flu shot at the same time as the COVID-19 shot or booster? Absolutely. And, if you have not yet received either vaccine, don’t hesitate. Get them now.

Every year, we encourage people over the age of six months to get vaccinated against the flu. This year, our endorsement of the flu vaccine comes with an additional caution: last year’s record-low number of cases is expected to leave us extra vulnerable to “compensatory” cases this year, meaning that we may see higher than normal numbers of flu infections this year.

There are a few reasons for this, chief among them is the fact that fear of exposure to COVID-19 led many people to skip their flu vaccine last year. This means that whatever immunity currently exists in the public likely comes from people who actually contracted the disease last year. 

The good news/bad news about last year’s cases is that they were so low. Mask-wearing, remote working, physical distancing, shuttered schools and other COVID-19 precautions all but eliminated the flu from our community. U.S. laboratories that process influenza tests saw a drop of positive tests from around 20 percent to 2.3 percent. 

This year, businesses and schools have reopened, and COVID-19 precautions have been relaxed increasing the chances of coming into contact with the flu virus. That fact, coupled with our waning immunity has left us with the makings of a potentially bad flu season

We’re already seeing evidence of this. The CDC reports that medical visits for influenza-like illnesses have been increasing in recent weeks for children and young adults. Another warning shot across the bow has been the rise of RSV cases. RSV causes a serious respiratory virus in children, and its rise suggests that the flu will be back in full force.

A British study found that the risk of death doubles when people develop both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. And with the Delta variant proving itself ever more transmissible and virulent, the importance of the flu vaccine cannot be overstated. 

So, get your flu shot today. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu shot protects you against the disease and helps keep you from spreading it to others.

Flu vaccines can be given at the same time as COVID-19 shots (or boosters). In fact, Moderna recently announced that it is working on a combined flu vaccine/COVID booster. Until that is available, however, your best bet is to get two shots (keep in mind, the CDC recommends you use different arms for each).

As your trusted health care partner, Hoag is protecting our community by offering flu vaccinations this fall season. Hoag Medical Group and Hoag Physician Partners primary care locations offer the flu shot for their patients. Please call your physician’s office to schedule an appointment. 

We recognize that many people are experiencing “disease fatigue.” But the truth is, we have the power to turn the page on this chapter in our history. We have excellent, effective vaccines against both the flu and COVID-19. Let’s use them. 

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

I want to Elect Our Mayor

I grew up in a city with a strong mayor system, where the mayor basically served as the city’s chief executive and was responsible for proposing a budget, appointing department heads and signing legislation (from the council) into law. That always struck me as more appropriate for big cities.

But at least voters in my hometown got to choose their mayor. Here, we choose the council members who then choose amongst themselves who will be mayor. That system seems much better reserved for small towns.

Yes, Newport Beach absolutely has a small town feel inside our various villages. My family and I are thankful every day that we get to live in Newport Beach. The weather is amazing and the people are even better. In my time on the Ben Carlson Foundation board, I have seen some real acts of generosity from our community that regularly leave me appreciating the real fabric of our people.

Importantly, it’s a city that people are constantly improving. New coats of paint on homes hit by ocean spray, new fins on a surfboard (or just a new surfboard sometimes), or painted pickleball courts on neighborhood streets last year to bring neighbors together.

We don’t sit idle and we don’t just settle. We think, talk, and act. 

Which is why I was pretty excited when I heard about the Elect Our Mayor campaign. It would give voters the chance to vet the candidates for the most important leadership position in our city. 

The mayor would be a person whose vision has majority support and would have sufficient time to implement that vision. But the mayor would also need to ensure that the vision had buy-in from fellow council members because, in the proposed system, the mayor would still be only one vote of seven on the city council.

It is an improvement over the current minor league system in our major league city. 

My family will sign the petition to Elect Our Mayor and I hope you’ll join me too.

Jake Janz

Newport Beach

“Ceremonial” selection of mayor is just not right

Like many people in Newport Beach, I live here, own a business here, and volunteer here. I’ve served as the Vice Chair of the Newport Beach Arts Commission with some great public servants and regularly talk to our elected officials and keep a pulse on our city.

But I can’t vote for the mayor of this City. And neither can 87,000+ residents in our city. That’s not right.

We elect qualified residents to city council spots every two years. They go to debates, answer reporters’ questions, send out mailers, walk door-to-door and are incredibly accessible. We trust our voters to be informed and make the right decisions based on a ton of information they receive. I know plenty of people who take that vote very seriously.

But no matter how seriously they take their civic participation, Newport Beach residents don’t choose the mayor. I’ve heard the position referenced as a “ceremonial,” but we know differently – especially during trying times such as a pandemic. Mayors are symbols of our city’s vision and voters should have a direct say in that process rather than seeing annual changes based on tradition.

It’s time for a simple message and a simple change. It’s time to Elect Our Mayor.

Michelle Bendetti

Newport Beach

O’Neill’s call for an elected mayor doesn’t go far enough; add in council members voted only by district, too

In response to Councilman O’Neill’s proposal that future mayors be elected from a citywide vote beginning in 2024, I challenge the council to take this a step further and include in this proposed City Charter Amendment the concept of electing city council members by district rather than the current citywide election system. Let’s take this opportunity to perhaps encourage those potential candidates who currently consider the task of running for city council just too daunting. 

While Councilman O’Neill’s Charter Amendment proposes electing the mayor from a citywide vote, he has nothing in the amendment that changes how city council members are elected. The effect? It would cause city council candidates to either have to raise citywide money (as they do now) or be dependent on an individual or organization (a PAC) that has the ability to do that.

By converting the procedure for electing a mayor in our City to a voter-elected mayor, the mayor is setting him or herself up to be that person. An individual who wants to run for city council will be forced to join forces with the only person that has the ability to fund a citywide campaign. If all candidates are dependent on this system for getting elected, then the potential exists for the mayor to have the entire city council under his/her control. 

You see it all has to do with money. And who ever has it controls the outcome of an election. Let’s face it, and I speak from direct experience twice now, the challenge of organizing and conducting a campaign for election to the Newport Beach City Council currently involves raising close to $200,000, and if done with enthusiasm and dedication, can take up to a year of pretty much full-time work in the form of campaigning. 

So, let’s get back to a citizen-run city government, and encourage the current council to support a City Charter Amendment that will encourage all who may be considering a run for city council to do so. Having to raise less money will take the control of elections out of the hands of those that have the ability to fund such a campaign.

Funds can be raised in a smaller geographical area of the City, and on a grassroots basis. A candidate would have the ability to completely canvas the district they are running to represent, and if elected has the opportunity to develop a close working relationship with their constituents. Most importantly, the ability to function as an independent council member would be possible for no ties to a funding group or individual would exist. 

So, would you support grassroots district-elected city council members? If so, please contact your city council member and let them know. Join with those of us who would like to get back to a city government that is run by the citizens of our great City, and not monied special interest individuals and political action committees. 

Jeff Herdman, former City Councilman, 2016-2020 

Newport Beach

No more confusion about who we’re voting for, elected mayor does that

Last year was a civic awakening for a lot of people. They learned quickly what government could do for and against us. 

This included all different levels of government, from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento to our own City Hall. And more than just knowing that our city’s leadership was important, we went through an election cycle where people thought that they were electing the Mayor because the Mayor was on the ballot.

Only, that’s not what they were electing. They were re-electing a city council member to another term on the city council in the year where he was serving as a Mayor. 

Confused? So were a lot of people.

The system we have sets up voters for confusion. But there is a simple path. Elect city council members from the people who want to run for that specific position and elect the Mayor from people who run to be Mayor.

No more intermediaries. No more accusations of backroom deals. It’s well-educated voters choosing their vision.

It’s time for Newport Beach to Elect Our Mayor.

Justin & Susie McKibben 

Newport Beach

Asking for political incitement to be toned down 

I am writing to ask you to rethink your amplifying, rather than challenging, the damage being done to political discourse by emphasizing entertainment value rather than paying attention to the impact of decisions and actions. 

Specifically, today’s (9/7) “Fair Game” refers, first of all, to “the COVID fight.” If you reduce Supervisor Foley’s motivations to that, then you are perpetuating an “us vs. them” narrative, rather than building an “us, together vs. the virus” one. Supervisor Foley’s statement stands for itself and puts in stark relief the reality that the OCHCA is serving up our public health as a political pawn, to the detriment of our community’s wellness and understanding of trends we need to know about. 

Moreover, your statement about the upcoming election contest between Foley and Dixon: “Buckle up, it’s going to be a good one” loans validity to the stance that denying the public information that we are entitled to – in the midst of a public health crisis – is a legitimate political move. By focusing on the “drama” and its entertainment value – rather than doing the important, harder job of shining a light on the act of withholding the information and asking whether this is a positive move for the community – you are causing harm to the community that you clearly love. 

Please rethink this reactive “us vs. them” kind of fast, easy take and ask the harder questions. Only when we clearly see and think about what is being done in the name of Fox News-style heightened partisanship can we reject the easy, emotional “it’s going to be a good one” reaction and examine the real harm, as well as more productive and positive ways forward. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Nicole Nelson

Newport Beach

Keeping informed on coronavirus is good for all of us

Just as Stu News has faithfully reported coronavirus statistics for Orange County during the pandemic, county resources should be providing us accurate statistics of vaccination rates for the areas in which we live. Katrina Foley, County Supervisor, was evidently sharing those statistics at the Board of Supervisors’ meetings.

That information is important for public health and it is unfortunate to construe it as political. For instance, I and my neighbors were dismayed to see that the statistics in our zip code (92663) were lower than we expected. I think we deserve to know why this is the case so that we can try to improve them. Otherwise, why have any statistics at all?

In addition, I should think that our local leaders would have concern for the people in their constituencies as well as the city at large and at least encourage them to get vaccinated. They may not believe in mandates as I do but surely, they can use encouragement. (Life isn’t one big contest, is it?)

It was good to hear from one council member who assured me that she does do this and I know of another who surely does. Remember that clause in the Constitution about “promoting the general welfare?”

Getting back to the sharing of statistics, I can understand the reticence of the members of the Board of Supervisors for sharing COVID information. Everyone surely can remember the bad scene last year when anti-mask proponents were overtaking meetings with their shouting and demonstrating. Well, according to the LA Times yesterday, in a front-page story, the “anti-mask and anti-vaccine” protestors are at it again, this time adding themes of racism by singling out “officials of Asian heritage.” I feel so sorry for the Asian Supervisors who were being called communists and told to go back to Vietnam. So, for this reason, I can understand why they don’t want COVID information shared at meetings. It is unfortunate when one has to modify information for the lowest common denominator of behavior. 

That being said, it doesn’t matter who provides this information, as long as it is provided on a regular basis as Stu News did in the first period of the pandemic.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

I vote for a vote for a directly elected Mayor

I have been fortunate to see our City government up close as a parent advocate in our school district, as a Newport Beach Foundation Distinguished Citizen graduate, and as a current Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commissioner. 

This is an incredible City. We rely heavily on volunteers and altruism to make our community, villages, and neighborhoods better places for us all.

2020 was rough for everyone, but the silver linings were there. For example, I saw for the first time a citywide interest in public policy. A desire to improve our city led a lot of people to learn more about how our City Council works and interacts with our residents and regional governments.

One consistent surprise I heard from friends was: “why are we not allowed or able to directly elect our Mayor?”

That’s a fair question without a great answer. This is a city full of smart, dedicated people who should be trusted to choose their Mayor.

I agree fully with Will O’Neill’s comment that Newport Beach is a major league city with a minor league system for choosing its Mayor.

Let’s Elect Our Mayor.

Kate Malouf

Newport Beach 

Does neighboring City’s results say it’s wrong?

Me thinks Councilmember Will O’Neill wants to be the Larry Agran of Newport Beach. Check with Irvine and see how elected mayor has worked out for them.

Dennis Baker

Newport Beach

Thanks to the school district for doing the right thing

So glad someone had the balls and guts to stand up for our flag. Seems like there is more pandering to fringe factions at the expense of core values these days. Hail NMUSD!

Angela Cortright

Newport Beach

Take it from an insider, the City needs an elected Mayor

I have a unique perspective on why we need to support the Elect Our Mayor campaign. 

As a Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner, I know that we can pretty well chart the growing international appeal of our City by simply looking out on the water. I would have loved to have seen John Wayne atop The Wild Goose in the 1960s when Newport Beach was still a growing city with the recently shuttered buffalo ranch. Today, we see mega-yachts from around the world passing by residents and tourists on Duffy boats and SUPs.

While our city has maintained much of its charm through village atmospheres, there is no question that we are a modern city with complex issues.

In our Harbor alone, we interact with the California Coastal Commission, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Orange County Sheriffs, the California Air Resources Board and so many more governmental agencies.

This doesn’t even account for Caltrans on PCH, the FAA at the airport, Housing & Community Development for the state’s housing mandates, etc.

Oftentimes we need help from these agencies. Sometimes in the form of regulatory easing. Sometimes in funding support.

For example, we are indebted to former Mayor Duffy Duffield for his repeated efforts in Washington, D.C., seeking dredging money. He will be the first to tell you that the efforts were helped greatly by his relationships forged through years of work.

But frankly, it shouldn’t have been that hard to get the dredging money. Our city is a piggybank for Washington and Sacramento politicians. We remain a donor community in both politics and taxes. And because we have a rotating Mayor system, there is no longevity of relationships between our City’s leadership and governmental agencies that affect our daily lives.

A system that worked in the 60s is no longer appropriate in today’s world. With more and more cities moving to a directly elected mayor in Orange County, it’s time that we do the same. 

I’m supporting the Elect Our Mayor campaign and hope that you will too.

Gary Williams Jr. 

Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner

Newport Beach

What I like about Newport Beach?

Hold on to your hats, folks. For those who happen to read some of my letters, and heaven knows, they are many in number, you might be surprised at my topic for today – What I like about Newport Beach?

There may be those who think that I am a misanthrope, critical and unyielding. But that is only half the story. There is a side to me that is not political, and like most people, that is my happier, friendlier side.

Maybe I feel guilty sometimes for living in such a beautiful place, while many are fighting for survival. But admit it, I must: Newport Beach is a beautiful place to live. And I am so lucky that I do live here.

I love to walk around my neighborhood in the Heights and see the unique quality of each house, no two alike. I love the fact that I have great neighbors. Although I have lived here more than 40 years, I have never heard so much as one complaint or unkind word from a neighbor. We don’t all socialize together, but we are respectful of each other’s boundaries. 

I love that many people walk their dogs down my street because there is less traffic. And people are so much friendlier when they are outdoors, especially when they are walking a pet. (Otherwise, Newport Beach reminds me a bit of France, where it is an unspoken rule not to smile at strangers.) So, I can live with that; but maybe everyone should go out and get a dog, so we see more smiles.

The natural beauty of Newport Beach is enhanced by some of the architectural structures. When I am unhappy or lonely, like during the dark days of COVID, I head straight to Fashion Island, which is the equivalent of going to Disneyland when I was a child. I love to shop, if only window shop. They have built so many fountains, outdoor seating areas and beautiful vistas that Fashion Island is becoming a big tourist draw. 

Newport is also getting more and more good restaurants with the accent on quality dining. Competition is responsible for that, competition and Newport’s natural attributes like great weather, transcendent views and outdoor dining. 

We have several newspapers and e-papers that serve the area. And because I love to write, I appreciate the availability of those sources. I appreciate Tom Johnson and his literary family. I can visualize Tom shaking his head or rolling his eyes when he reads some of my letters. Perhaps a laugh or two might follow some of the things I have written over the last few years. But he prints exactly what people write and we are lucky to have that opportunity to express our thoughts. 

So, despite the difficult years of the pandemic, and the divisiveness that those years have brought, let’s take time to appreciate how lucky we are to be in such a spectacular place and let’s do everything we can to keep it that way.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Will O’Neill

Elect Our Mayor

Guest Letter Will O'Neill

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the City of Newport Beach

Former Mayor and current City Councilmember Will O’Neill

Are you aware that you don’t elect your Mayor?

Would you like to?

I have asked those two simple questions a lot lately. While I have received different responses to the first question, the answer to the second question has been a resounding and universal “yes.”

Which, of course, makes sense. Voters, not politicians, should choose who is Mayor of Newport Beach. 

As it currently stands, we elect our City Council members who then choose amongst themselves who will fill the role as Mayor for a year. While residents can voice their opinion, the Mayor is chosen by a simple majority of seven people in a city with more than 87,000 residents.

This current system is, at best, a minor league system for a major league city.

Changing our system to a directly elected Mayor requires amending our City Charter. To that end, I will be filing an intention to start a petition process today at City Hall. Once approved, petitions will be available for signatures.

If passed, voters would start directly electing our Mayor at the general election in 2024 for a four-year term with a two-term limit. The Mayor would have a vote on the City Council along with six City Council members (whose method of being elected is not changed). The Mayor would set the City Council agendas with an ability for Council members to add agenda items, too. Term limits for current City Council members would not be reset.

Putting this commonsense measure on the ballot in 2022 will require over 9,000 signatures. I will be rolling out endorsements in the coming weeks and asking friends, colleagues and our residents to pitch in because the end result is worth the effort.

We ought to have candidates for Mayor talking to all Newport Beach about their priorities to win office and be accountable to all of us. We deserve a strong, united voice in good times and in crisis.

So, would you like to directly elect our Mayor? If so, join the cause. 

Learn more and sign up at www.ElectOurMayor.com or email the campaign at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The following is the draft language of the Charter Amendment being filed today, September 3, 2021, by Newport Beach City Councilmember Will O’Neill.

Initiative proposed pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 3 of Division 9 of the California Elections Code, to amend the Charter of the City of Newport Beach

SECTION 1.  CHARTER AMENDMENTS

The Charter of the City of Newport Beach is hereby amended as follows, with text to be inserted indicated in underline type, text to be deleted indicated in strikethrough type, and text in standard type represents the current Charter and is not amended by this initiative.

Section 400. Elective Officers.

The elective officers of the City shall consist of a City Council of six seven members and a Mayor. The term “City Council,” “legislative body,” or other similar terms as used in this Charter or any other provision of law shall be deemed to refer to the collective body composed of the Mayor and City Council members unless such other provision of this Charter or other provision of law expressly provides to the contrary or unless such interpretation would be clearly contrary to the intent and context of such other provision.

(a) Candidates for City Council shall be nominated from and by the electors of each of the six seven districts referred to in Article X of this Charter and one shall be elected from each of such districts by the voters of the City at large at the times and in the manner provided in this Charter. Ties in voting among candidates for City Council office shall be settled by the casting of lots.

Alternatively, and successively, two four four-year terms (Districts 2 and 5) shall be filled at one the general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is evenly divisible by four and four three four-year terms (Districts 1, 3, 4, and 6) shall be filled at the next such general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is not evenly divisible by four, consistent with the sequence of terms of Council members existing on the effective date of this amendment.

The term of office shall be four years. The term of each City Council member shall commence on the date of the City Council meeting, following his or her election, at which the council receives the certification of election results from the City Clerk.

(b) Candidates for Mayor shall be nominated from and by the electors of the City and elected by the voters of the City at-large at the times and in the manner provided in this Charter. Ties in voting among candidates for Mayor shall be settled by the casting of lots.

The office of Mayor shall be filled at the general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is evenly divisible by four. 

The term of office shall be four years. The term of Mayor shall commence on the date of the City Council meeting, following his or her election, at which the Council receives the certification of election results from the City Clerk.

Section 401. Eligibility.

(a) No person shall be eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council unless he or she is, and shall have been for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her nomination or appointment, a registered elector of the district from which he or she is nominated or appointed, and for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her election or appointment, a registered elector of the City. No person shall be eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council for a term of office that immediately follows a term to which the person was elected Mayor.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 400, no person shall be or remain eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council for more than two (2) consecutive four (4) year terms. Members of the City Council who have served one or more terms prior to their current term shall be entitled to complete such term, but shall not be eligible for re-election except as provided below. Members of the City Council who are serving their first term as of the effective date of this amendment shall be eligible to hold office during a second four-year term when the current term expires.

This section is not intended to change the limit on consecutive terms for a member of the City Council enacted by voters in November 1992 prevent persons from serving more than two (2) consecutive terms, and shall not be construed to render ineligible any person who would not, by virtue of his or her election, serve more than two consecutive terms.

(b) No person shall be eligible to hold the office of Mayor unless he or she is, and shall have been for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her nomination or appointment, a registered elector of the City, and for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her election or appointment, a registered elector of the City.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 400, no person shall be or remain eligible to hold the office of Mayor for more than two (2) four (4) year terms. 

This section is intended to prevent persons from serving more than two (2) terms in the office of Mayor, and shall not be construed to render ineligible any person who may have served as a member of the City Council.

Section 403. Vacancies.

A vacancy in the City Council from whatever cause arising, shall be filled by appointment by the City Council of a qualified person from the district in which the vacancy has occurred, such appointee to hold office until the first Tuesday following the next general municipal election and until his or her successor qualifies. At the next general municipal election following any vacancy, a Councilmember shall be elected from the district in which the vacancy exists to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

A vacancy in the office of Mayor from whatever cause arising, shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by a special election called by the City Council to be held not less than 88 days nor more than 103 days after the effective date of the vacancy, except the special election may be conducted within 180 days of the effective date of the vacancy in order to consolidate with the City’s general municipal election. An election shall not be ordered, and the office of Mayor shall remain vacant, if the term expires within the timeframe for holding a special election.

If a member of the City Council or the Mayor absents himself or herself from all regular meetings of the City Council for a period of sixty days consecutively from and after the last regular City Council meeting attended by such member, unless by permission of the City Council expressed in its official minutes, or is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, or ceases to be a qualified elector of his or her district, his or her office shall become vacant and shall be so declared by the City Council.

In the event the City Council shall fail to fill a vacancy by appointment within thirty days after such office shall have been so declared vacant, it shall forthwith cause an election to be held to fill such vacancy from the proper district. 

Section 404. The Mayor. Mayor Pro Tempore.

On the date of any meeting of the City Council at which time the Council receives the certification of the results of any general or special municipal election at which any member of Council is elected, the City Council shall, after swearing and qualifying any newly elected member, elect one of its members as its presiding officer, who shall have the title of Mayor. 

(a) The Mayor shall preside at meetings and be a voting member of the City Council, and shall have a voice and vote in all its proceedings.

(b) Except as provided in Section 405, the Mayor shall have sole discretion to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agendas.

(c) The Mayor shall have the primary but not exclusive responsibility for interpreting the policies, programs and needs of the City government to the people, and, as occasion requires, the Mayor may inform the people of any change in policy or program. 

(d) The Mayor shall be the official head of the City for ceremonial purposes, and shall perform such other duties consistent with the office as may be prescribed by this Charter or as may be imposed by the City Council. The Mayor shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the City Council.

(e) The City Council shall at the same time the Mayor is elected also designate one of its members as Mayor Pro Tempore, who shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the City Council. The Mayor Pro Tempore shall perform the duties of the Mayor during the Mayor’s absence or disability.

Section 405. Powers Vested in the City Council.

All powers of the City shall be vested in the City Council except as otherwise provided in this Charter. With the concurrence of at least three members of the City Council at any public meeting, an item may be added to a future City Council agenda.

Section 410. Quorum. Proceedings.

A majority of the members of the City Council shall constitute a quorum to do business but a less number may adjourn from time to time. For purposes of quorum, the Mayor shall be counted as a member of the City Council. In the absence of all the members of the Council from any regular meeting or adjourned regular meeting, the City Clerk may declare the same adjourned to a stated day and hour. Notice of a meeting adjourned by less than a quorum or by the Clerk shall be given by the Clerk or may be waived by consent in the same manner as specified in this Charter for the giving or waiving of notice of special meetings of the City Council; but need not specify the matters to be acted upon. The City Council shall judge the qualifications of its members as set forth by the Charter. It shall judge all election returns. It may establish rules for the conduct of its proceedings and evict or prosecute any member or other person for disorderly conduct at any of its meetings.

Each member of the City Council and the Mayor shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations in any investigation or proceeding pending before the City Council. The City Council shall have the power and authority to compel the attendance of witnesses, to examine them under oath and to compel the production of evidence before it. Subpoenas shall be issued in the name of the City and be attested by the City Clerk. Disobedience of such subpoenas, or the refusal to testify (upon other than constitutional grounds), shall constitute a misdemeanor, and shall be punishable in the same manner as violations of this Charter are punishable.

At the demand of any member, the City Clerk shall call the roll and shall cause the ayes and nays taken on an issue which is the subject of the demand to be entered in the minutes of the meeting.

Section 1004. Voters Signing Nomination Petitions.

The voters signing any petition for the nomination of any person to the office of Councilmember shall be residents and registered voters of the district from which such person is to be nominated.

The voters signing any petition for the nomination of any person to the office of Mayor shall be residents and registered voters of the City.

Section 1005. Districts.

The City is hereby divided into six seven districts, the names and respective boundaries of which shall be as established by ordinance. No ordinance changing and redefining the boundaries of any district shall be enacted within six months prior to any regular Councilmanic election.

Following the national census and each tenth year thereafter the City Council shall appoint a committee to study and report to the City Council on the advisability of redistricting the City. Upon receipt of any such committee report, and at any other time deemed necessary or desirable in order that the district boundaries be fair and logical, the City Council may by ordinance change and redefine the boundaries of any or all of the six seven districts herein established. The boundaries so defined shall be established in such manner that the districts shall, as nearly as practicable, constitute natural areas of contiguous and compact territory and provide fair representation on the City Council. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 401, no redistricting shall disqualify any Councilmember from serving as Councilmember from the district from which he or her was nominated or appointed for the remainder of his or her term, if elected, or until the next general municipal election, if appointed. Any territory hereafter annexed to or consolidated with the City shall, at the time of such annexation or consolidation, be added by ordinance of the City Council to an adjacent district or districts.

SECTION 2. IMPLEMENTATION

A. The members of the City Council in office at the time these Charter provisions take effect shall continue in office until the expiration of their respective terms and until their successors are elected and qualified.

B. The City Council shall, no later than six (6) months prior to the next general municipal election held after the year in which these Charter provisions take effect, adopt an ordinance to establish the respective boundaries of the six (6) council districts.

C. The enactment of this measure shall not be interpreted or applied to reset or extend the limit on consecutive terms applicable to any person holding office as a member of the City Council at the time this measure is approved by voters.

D. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this ballot measure is, for any reason, held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of the remaining portions of this ballot measure. The voters hereby declare that they would have passed this ballot measure, and each section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase hereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases be declared invalid or unconstitutional.


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

Community COVID-19 update

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

We at Hoag were heartened by the news on Monday that the FDA has fully approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 16+. We hope this new designation will encourage more people in our community to protect themselves and their loved ones.

In addition to providing inoculations for unvaccinated individuals, Hoag is now also providing an additional dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., a third dose) for immunocompromised people in our community. If you received your Pfizer vaccine at a non-Hoag location, you are welcome to schedule an appointment for your third dose with us. Please bring your COVID-19 vaccination card with you at the time of your appointment. 

Appointments can be scheduled at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine through www.hoag.org/covid-vaccine

At this time, Hoag is not providing the Moderna vaccine. If you received the Moderna vaccine, we encourage you to view these resources to receive an additional dose:

My Turn/California Department of Public Health 

Othena/Orange County Health Care Agency

Vaccine Finder

Explore Additional Orange County Distribution Sites

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will need to wait for the FDA and CDC to provide their recommendations for additional doses. This will likely happen soon.

Full FDA approval takes place when enough data demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and when the FDA has had an opportunity to review and approve the whole vaccine manufacturing process and facilities.

We anticipate more vaccines will be granted full approval soon, and we’d like to remind everyone that all three available vaccines are safe and have proven highly effective at protecting against COVID-19. The vaccines have also been found to reduce the severity of illness in “breakthrough” cases.

We hope the FDA approval, and the availability of additional doses for immunocompromised people, will encourage people to take the actions needed to curb the spread of the Delta variant. Vaccines are free, effective and our best chance at protecting ourselves and our loved ones from a disease that has already claimed the lives of 628,000 people in the U.S. alone.

So, please don’t delay. More than 95 percent of people with COVID-19 who require hospitalization are unvaccinated individuals. We can wrest ourselves free from the clutches of COVID-19, but only if we work together. Please get vaccinated today.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

Bad news – SB 9 and SB 10 pass in Assembly, but there’s still reason for hope

The bad news first – SB 9 and SB 10 passed the Assembly last week. 

You may have heard about these two bills; they’ve been in the news a lot over the last few months. 

SB 9 will unwind single-family zoning throughout California. It allows a single R1 lot to be split into two lots; each lot is allowed to have a duplex on it and possibly an accessory dwelling unit. This translates to 4 or 6 rental units where there once was one. It’s frightening to think what our neighborhoods will look like in a few years. 

SB 10 allows any City Council to approve a 10-unit apartment building on an R1 lot. SB 10 also invalidates all citizens’ initiatives (think Greenlight). 

Neither SB 9 nor SB 10 require any of the units to be affordable, so they won’t contribute to our RHNA allocation. They will stress our infrastructure because there is consideration for water, police and fire, traffic, schools, open space and on and on. There are no public hearings required. A developer can get a ministerial approval. Wall Street and hedge funds will compete with families to buy single-family homes, driving up the cost of real estate, putting affordable housing further out of reach for young families, our local workforce and lower income community members. 

The state legislature has been trying to pass these bills in some form or another for several years now. They finally got enough Assembly members to drink the Kool-Aid this year and both bills are in the final stretch on their way to the governor for signatures. With a looming recall vote, the governor may decide to sign the bills as quickly as possible to ensure their passage, or he could postpone signing them in hopes that it will boost his chances of retaining his position. In either case, there’s a pretty good chance we will be seeing these become California law soon.

Developers are salivating over this. I get a letter every week from some investment group masquerading as a local real estate company with a family looking for a home “just like mine in our neighborhood.” I’m sure many of you have received similar correspondence. I don’t mean to be cynical but, come on, really? 

Basically, these bills strip cities of any local control over their zoning and land use. Sacramento has determined that they understand the unique nuances of every city in California, and they are convinced that they know what’s best for all of us. We should just take our medicine and be quiet. 

So that’s the bad news…the good news is that there is a California ballot initiative for an amendment to the California constitution which was submitted last week. It would return control of land use and zoning decisions back to cities. The plan is to have it on the November 2022 ballot. There is a lot of work ahead, but the process is underway. It’s an interesting initiative and you can read its current form online at www.CommunitiesForChoice.org.

The organization behind this initiative is Californians For Community Planning. Right now, what they need most is money (donations can be made at the same website). In a few months the signature gathering process will begin. You’ll be hearing more about that later. For now, take a look at the initiative and allow yourself a small sigh of relief. Maybe we can fix this mess!

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

Mad at council for returning to mask controversy

While many of us are trying to hold onto our sanity and health while battling the coronavirus, a reactionary conservative movement that many hoped was fading found a source of oxygen to re-ignite its flame, by turning the survival tactics of vaccinations and mask mandates into affronts against personal liberty. While it may seem an illogical idea to many of us, several of its leaders had no qualms about using schools, churches and small businesses as battlegrounds over which to fight their anti-science, anti-government battles.

Such was the case last Tuesday evening, August 24th, when the Newport Beach City Council, by a 6-1 vote, went against the decisions of the NMUSD, over which they have no authority, and the California Department of Public Health’s mandate for “all students to wear masks inside classrooms.” 

The Council was eager to push their opposition to following general practices and guidelines, using the voices of vociferous parents as proof of the validity of their political decision. Even though there was a considerably sized group who sent in letters and emails in support of following the same guidelines as the other compliant school districts in California, the Council used the clamor and emotion of the parents who spoke as proof of their position. 

In adopting their resolution, brought forth by Councilman Blom, “supporting local schools as they return to normal and parental choice in deciding whether children should be masked or vaccinated at school,” they relied upon outdated information (before vaccines were available).

It should be pointed out that the city has no jurisdiction over NMUSD, who had already made a decision regarding this issue, and that the school year opened successfully on August 23rd with no mask incidents, the current surge is predominantly among younger people, there is no vaccination for children under 12 and hospitalizations for young people are at an all-time high.

Several of these council members intend to run for higher office. I just hope that in the privacy of the voting booth or in their homes, the silent majority remembers the selfishly unwise and politically fueled decisions that have put lives at risk, and that they vote accordingly.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

To quote one of France’s best, “The purpose…is to keep civilization from destroying itself”

As a young college student in the UC Education Abroad Program in France, I was immersed in French literature. 

Many people do not realize the extent to which French literature has had an effect on world lit. Yet the French have won more Nobel prizes in that category than any other country. 

A very popular literary movement that had a particularly great influence on world literature during the era after World War II was existentialism. It seemed like in every class that I took we studied the icons of existentialism and the theater of the absurd. While I found some of the themes of such literature harsh, dark and sometimes depressing, I could not help but be swept away by the depth and profound, if not bizarre, nature of some of the works I studied.

Why do I bring this subject up now while we are in the midst of a pandemic which has been devastating and divisive to our society? Because of the works of one French author who can be turned to for inspiration during such harsh times – his name, Albert Camus. He is world-renowned for his masterpiece of the 20th century which had a profound influence on literature in general. Its title: The Stranger

But interestingly, he also wrote another novel which is very timely for the period that we are enduring now. This novel was called The Plague and was about a plague in a city in Algeria (a former French colony). 

Initially the people are indifferent to the health of each other because they think that their pain is unique. Eventually they evolve and adopt the most meaningful action within the context of Camus’ philosophy: “to choose to fight death and suffering.” 

Camus died in an auto accident in the 60s but not before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. One of his most inspiring quotes which describes the power of literature is, “The purpose of writing is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

That quote came to mind as I was reading an op-ed by a pandemic doctor in a newspaper this weekend. Having worked daily since the pandemic broke out, he is exhausted and weary and no longer very sympathetic to the purposely unvaccinated patients who have turned the hospitals into havens of suffering and death. 

I found his quote, while perhaps not as profound as Camus in a literary sense, most profound in a realistic sense of what the doctors and patients are dealing with: “If you believe the pandemic is over and I can ride it out, without getting vaccinated, you could not be more wrong. This virus will find you.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Edward Kim, M.D., M.B.A.

President & CEO

Physician-in-Chief, City of Hope Orange County

A promise made to OC is a promise being fulfilled – everyone deserves access to the best cancer treatments

Guest Letter Dr. Edward Kim

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Hope

Edward Kim, M.D., M.B.A.

Two years ago, City of Hope made a promise to deliver world-class cancer care to Orange County. It was a big promise, focused on providing specialists and services that residents have not been able to access.

In welcoming Pacific Shores Medical Group this month, we are fulfilling that promise. By coming together with this outstanding community provider, we add three more clinical locations to our Orange County network – and now have two locations in Newport Beach. A promise made is a promise being realized.

Why is it so important to have new City of Hope locations throughout Orange County? One word: Access. In having these locations join City of Hope, there are now four OC access points for our scientifically driven, clinically excellent treatments, innovative clinical trials and programs that support those undergoing cancer care. Next year, we will open Lennar Foundation Cancer Center, our comprehensive cancer center in Irvine. If you or someone you love has had a cancer diagnosis, you know how critical it is to have nearby access to this expertise.

Not that long ago, people needed to drive as much as two hours to receive this level of care. Yet, 20 percent of the Orange County population diagnosed with cancer did it anyway. That’s how important it is to our patients who want and deserve the very best available treatment.

I came to City of Hope because I believed that we could make access to these types of services available to the 3.2 million people of Orange County. I’ve never believed that the treatments that evolve from breakthrough research should only be available to those who are able to travel to the academic research center. As City of Hope President and CEO Robert W. Stone said, “It’s incumbent upon all NCI-designated cancer centers to not just be disruptive with their research but also to disrupt the way those innovations get to patients.” That’s why changing care delivery is a “good disruption,” and I’m proud to be a part of it.

I’m also working on increasing access to clinical trials – which will be part of our work in Orange County. I want to ensure that our clinical trials are available to a wider representation of our population. For too long, we have excluded people based on non-relevant factors, including age, gender, ethnicity, access to services and their disease state. My goal is to make our clinical trial populations look more like our cancer patient populations – it’s what makes sense and will make our outcomes more effective.

Everyone with cancer deserves the best treatments, and they should not have to struggle to attain them. I believe this grand experiment we are creating in Orange County – to bring cancer care to where people live and work – will succeed because this is a place that embraces bold ideas. Orange County is the Silicon Valley of Southern California. It’s an inclusive epicenter for innovation and people with a transformational spirit – and that’s the ideal environment for eliminating cancer. And we will do all of this with the humanistic approach that City of Hope brings to its care. Here, there is a deep desire to help people – body, mind and soul. When we speak of access, we want more patients to experience this type of compassion.

Getting bigger is one thing, but growing deeper in the community and providing access to more people is far more important and exciting. This is the way cancer care needs to be delivered, and I’m thrilled that we are at the forefront at City of Hope Orange County.


Letter to the Editor

It’s easy when you agree, how about when you don’t?

Ms. Lorenz likes mandates on things she agrees with. Would she be agreeable to mandates on things she doesn’t? I think not. A lot of us prefer to not have a biased media and politicians with their own agenda make all our decisions for us. Freedom of choice is truly the American way.

Jerry Piersall

Costa Mesa


Letter to the Editor

Mandates, mandates, mandates

In response to (a previous) letter, I would like to say that yes, I am in favor of mandates. In the very beginning of the pandemic, as far back as the spring of 2020, I was pestering our City Council in Newport Beach to put mask mandates in place. 

It never ceases to amaze me that a noisy minority has been trying to steer our country toward a course of no mandates, one that has proven disastrous to many. In response, my first impulse is to say that a national mandate is the best way to respond to this seemingly insurmountable problem.

But while I think that a national mandate for vaccinations and masks is and always has been the best solution and that we may ultimately get there, it doesn’t seem to be happening at the pace that we would want. And in the meantime, many more innocent lives will be lost.

Those who are adamantly opposed to vaccinations and masks are not listening to science and common sense but moreover to some political leaders and other spokespeople, among which are conspiracy theorists, who protest against being inoculated. 

Because it is probably impossible both physically and politically at this point to pull off a blanket public mandate, I think that the mandates will need to be put in place layer-by-layer. And that has already started to happen. Recent polls show that two out of three people in the country support their state or local government to have mask mandates for public buildings (Washington Post).

The federal administration is starting out by requiring nursing homes that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding to mandate vaccinations for all staff members. And legal action is going to be taken through the Department of Defense against governors that attempt to prevent school districts in their states from enacting mask mandates.

Even closer to home is the courageous response of the Newport-Mesa School Board President this week, to a strong and noisy contingent of parents who showed up to protest mask mandates in local schools: “I know some people don’t agree with certain things, but I think we need to keep our eyes focused on what we want and that’s to keep schools open.”

Among private companies, more and more are requiring vaccination and mask mandates as well as tests. I walked by the Apple Store yesterday which limits the number of occupants in their buildings as well as requires masks. The most surprising group of all to require vaccinations to play is the NFL. So, things are beginning to happen if not at the pace that many would like. Unfortunately, the more time that passes, the more opportunity there is for the coronavirus to mutate and come up with a strain that will be impervious to the current vaccine. So, until mandates speed up, we are basically being held hostage by the coronavirus as well as the defiantly unvaccinated among us.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Unvaccinated are a concern for all of us

I want to thank Lynn Lorenz for her August 10 letter entitled, “Mandates are the call needed now for the new COVID strain.” While she focused several of her comments about CHOC admissions and schools reopening, my perspective is a little broader. Here are my thoughts about vaccination mandates:

I wish I could stop worrying about the unvaccinated, but I can’t. When it is easier to persuade half the nation to see a proctologist than it is to convince them to get a COVID shot, something is terribly wrong in America. 

At first, I thought corporate incentives, like discounts at malls or half-price tickets to baseball games, would encourage millions of unvaccinated to roll up their sleeves. It worked for some but not that many. 

Next, I turned my attention to the most vocal of opponents – Republicans who still support Donald Trump. I believed the Number One GOP influencer could and should go public with a series of public service ads. If I’m not mistaken, the former president did one. 

To be certain, on any given day you can see more PSAs to save sick and hungry animals than you can commercials to convince the unvaccinated to get their shots. Which brings me to today. 

Unless we quickly inoculate tens of millions of reluctant Americans, the Delta variant is destined to mutate into another, more deadly virus. Those of us who have been vaccinated have done our part in the war against COVID. In my opinion, we simply can’t wait any longer for 100 million of our neighbors to eventually do theirs.

With this last thought in mind, it’s time to admit the obvious: We need a national directive requiring people to roll up their sleeves. If they do, we can win the fight against the virus. If they don’t, then here is what they should expect: First, they will be refused entry to their local grocery store; second, they cannot buy gasoline at their local gas station; and third, their bank no longer will cash their checks or cover their online purchases. In other words, the unvaccinated will be cut off from life’s necessities. 

In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, my parents and two older brothers did what every other patriotic family was expected to do. They turned out the lights during the night and rationed their groceries, all with a sense of pride knowing they were doing their part during WWII.

Literary license aside, today we are facing WWIII. If you ever suffer a heart attack or a broken leg, who would you call? Certainly not Mayor Brad Avery or Rep. Michelle Steel. Why anyone would take the word of a politician over a physician is beyond me, but isn’t this what’s happening now? 

I’m guessing letter writer Lynn Lorenz would agree we need an all-hands-on-deck response to the war against COVID. Americans have risen to the challenge before and must do it again now. I am tired of worrying about the unvaccinated.

Aren’t you?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Concerned stakeholders deserve a seat at the table to help craft Mariners’ Mile plan

(The following is a letter from Patrick Gormley addressed to the members of the Newport Beach City Council discussing the recent approval of 2510 W. Coast Highway.)

Those who live in Newport Beach share a common interest – to sustain and preserve the character and charm of our unique neighborhoods, villages and beachfront community. It follows that we clearly deserve to have a say about major development issues that will affect us all and impact our safety and quality of life. In this case, this means having input to a Mariners’ Mile “Village” design that is in harmony with our community’s character and core values without adversely impacting the surrounding area.

As our representatives, City Council should listen to the people who live here and want to preserve and enhance their quality of life, and not simply acquiesce to the financial interest of the developers. We need to formalize community consensus in the form of a clear vision consistent with the City’s General Plan to guide the responsible development of Newport Beach in general, and Mariners’ Mile corridor in this instance. Mariners’ Mile has been studied, evaluated, discussed and debated for decades – and still no official consensus has emerged.

However, there is agreement about the need for an overall strategy of responsible development to avoid the chaotic and piecemeal “Santa Monicazation” of our City. The Planning Commission wisely acknowledged the need for a Mariners’ Mile Master Plan on February 18, 2021, during the hearing for 2510 West Coast Highway. Also, during the April 27, 2021, City Council Review Session, Mayor Brad Avery stated, “We could do a better job from the very beginning of the planning process.” 

We agree.

The process of City-sponsored outreach workshops that resulted in the development of Lido Marina Village and Lido Village are good examples of what is possible when the City, developers and stakeholders work together. This proven model can be successfully duplicated for Mariners’ Mile. This idea was presented by community members during the last City Council meeting.

Developer Initiative and Continuing Concerns

On July 27, 2021, during the City Council Review Session, the developer was complimented by the City Council, the Planning Department and members of the Newport Beach community for the architectural redesign and orientation of 2510 W. Coast Highway to resemble Lido House and Lido Marina Village. The developer’s attorney said the changes were made in response to the Council and community comments made at the April 27, 2021, City Council Review Session.

The redesign of the project blends into the expected Mariners’ Mile village atmosphere, but many important concerns remain unanswered. However, despite the important remaining unresolved questions concerning high density, traffic and views, the Council approved the project as presented. 

The project is at cross purposes with Newport Beach’s quality of life by overriding scenic corridor, safety, noise, pollution, and Coastal Commission mandates and the Green Light Initiative. Many of us feel that this decision was wrong and sets a bad precedent for the future of Newport Beach.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of the area knows that there are valid significant concerns about increased traffic resulting from the addition of 36 residential dwelling units and a 5,096-square-foot office in a space bounded by high traffic and limited access to Pacific Coast Highway and the stunted and awkward Avon Street that was never designed for the type of traffic congestion and street parking problems that will inevitably follow from this development. The lion’s share of the resulting traffic will be shunted directly to the adjacent 100 percent family residential area. 

This development cries out for the need of a formal traffic study. To do otherwise is irresponsible and thus the City Council’s decision should be revisited.

The Path Forward 

The exchange of ideas and conversations during the July 27th City Council Session (excerpted below) shows a clear path forward. The public discussion between City Council members and the City Planning Department outlined ideas about the time and effort that would be required to develop a community consensus on a Master Plan for Mariners’ Mile.

Mayor Brad Avery asked James Campbell, Director, Community Development: “To enable us to look at the whole thing, the whole project now, the whole site, if you will of all the Moshayedis’ properties, what latitude do we have to go in to create a village with less density, less height and all the rest of it?”

James Campbell’s response: “What would have to happen there, we would have the community come together and develop a different vision for Mariners’ Mile and then start the process to update the General Plan and then the zoning that would follow. The City has always moved forward with projects consistent with the General Plan. We have never stopped the process of a project consistent with the General Plan. If the community wants to change the vision clearly (they need to use) the amendment process.”

Councilmember Joy Brenner asked James Campbell: “Can the City require the Mariners’ Mile Master Plan be in place before further development occurs there?”

James Campbell’s response: “I think it would involve developing that plan and approving that plan and then holding all development proposals at bay while that process goes forward. That would likely involve some sort of moratorium. I suppose the Council could consider that, but previous councils have not considered any type of moratorium when we’ve been doing significant master plan development.”

Joy Brenner: “How long will it take to get a master plan approved for Mariners’ Mile?”

James Campbell: “That is hard to say. I would likely envision needing at least a year to come up with something like that. Several years ago, the city did endeavor to put forward what we call the Revitalization Plan. Some preliminary work has been done. That project was tabled. It was not adopted by the City Council at that time. We can use that as a starting point for going forward.”

Councilmember Diane Dixon: “I am disappointed and sorry to hear that there has been only one community meeting in February. We as a community have a very informed and active community of interested parties whatever the issue. I think one meeting with the community is really not enough. Our residents deserve and demand more. The outcomes can still be a positive outcome for all concerned. I think it tarnishes this whole process, there was not enough community involvement and that disappoints me.”

These and similar exchanges indicate an emerging consensus of next steps that should be taken:

1. All property development proposals in this corridor should be considered in light of a logical strategy for development, including road safety, road widening and other infrastructure projects.

2. City Council should require a traffic and safety study of the area at Tustin Ave., Avon, Riverside, W. Coast Highway and the surrounding neighborhoods.

3. City Planning Department should immediately develop a comprehensive master plan for Mariners’ Mile “Village.” 

4. City Planning Department should form a Mariners’ Mile Steering Committee composed of stakeholders to responsibly plan the future of Mariners’ Mile as a Newport style “Village” – e.g., CalTrans, property owners, local merchants and residents.

5. Community Outreach Workshops should be offered for future development proposals along Mariners’ Mile. Each community outreach workshop should include the criteria used and underlying details showing compliance with governing laws and regulations in support of the City Staff’s findings and recommendations.

6. In cases of a single developer planning the development of multiple parcels in a single area (as in the present case), an analysis of the total land use and scope of all proposed development projects should be considered in total. This would show how the whole project fits together – identifying benefits and potential adverse impacts upon the community’s ecosystem, including quality of life, health, safety and cost of city services, especially police and fire.

Now is the time for the City Council, the Planning Department, the developer and community stakeholders to work together to assure the above steps are started immediately.

Patrick Gormley

Newport Beach

As numbers increase, masks appear to be the answer 

The big press had some somewhat definitive news for Los Angeles and Orange County yesterday (Aug. 12). The good news is that both Los Angeles and Orange County have similar vaccination rates, with Orange County’s being slightly higher (64.2 to 63.1 percent) and while they are not stellar, they are moving in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the other telling statistic is the test positivity rate, and that shows LA County’s going down impressively to 4.4 percent while Orange County’s is rising to 8.9 percent.

Although these statistics are for the neediest areas of the county, professionals anticipate that the positivity rate will rise in every ZIP code in Orange County. And usually, more positivity means more community spread. The Orange County deputy health officer said improvements are particularly needed in San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. Officials are also concerned about the trajectory of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Orange County, California’s third most populous county, where 90 percent of COVID-19 hospital patients are not vaccinated.

I have been complaining about Orange County’s, particularly the coastal cities’, resistance to mask wearing now for well over a year. Limited mask wearing as well as vaccination hesitancy are responsible for the comparatively disappointing test positivity rate for the county.

In Los Angeles, the lowered test positivity rate is the direct result of the Los Angeles County health officials’ requirement for masks in indoor public settings. Los Angeles is one of the few counties in Southern California to do this. If Orange County were to follow suit, the rate would go down here as well.
       Recently one of my cousins used the “Patrick Henry response” on one of my Facebook posts where I talked about the importance of mask wearing. The problem with his “give me liberty or give me death” response to donning masks, is that he might be taking some other innocent victims down with him.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

The most important thing you can do is get vaccinated

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

We have been asked over the past several days to comment on the rise in the COVID-19 Delta variant. We are writing to share valuable information and to hopefully set the record straight on some misinformation that is circulating online. First and foremost: If you are not yet vaccinated, please get vaccinated. Do not delay. 

At Hoag, more than 95 percent of people with COVID-19 who require hospitalization are unvaccinated individuals. This is partly why we are seeing relatively young and otherwise healthy people coming in very sick: people ages 18-24 are still the most vaccine hesitant group in the country.

We realize we are not as compelling to the average Gen Z reader as Olivia Rodrigo, but we speak from direct experience when we say that the dangerous misconceptions and misinformation driving vaccine hesitancy have grave implications on those who don’t get vaccinated – as well as for their families and communities. While most do recover fully from the virus, 10 percent experience illness so severe they require hospitalization.

Virtually every patient we have seen who did not get vaccinated and ended up in the hospital regrets their decision not to be vaccinated. Some of them have missed weddings, travel, time with loved ones and work.

We continue to encourage unvaccinated community members to get the vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones. Yes, breakthrough cases are occurring, in which vaccinated individuals are developing COVID-19. However, in those cases, the vaccine has helped reduce the severity and duration of the illness. The vaccine works.

Appointments can be scheduled at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine through www.hoag.org/covid-vaccine. We also offer vaccines for travelers and staff at John Wayne Airport through our Fly Well Clinic. To view all available locations and appointments near you, you may visit Vaccine Finder

As we fight this latest surge, the lessons learned over the past 18 months guides our ability to keep our community safe. We are well prepared to provide high quality care to all of our patients, even as case counts rise. Working closely with our internal resources, and state and county health officials, we have surge plans in place and options available to us as this situation evolves.

For us, COVID-19 never “went away,” nor did our vigilance against it. Our capacity changes throughout the day, and our staff is working tirelessly to care for all our patients as we continue to confront the pandemic. Many of our physicians and clinical staff are stepping forward and working long hours to meet the needs of the community.

Due to the rise in COVID cases and for the protection of patients, visitors and staff, the California Department of Public Health has mandated that as of August 11, all visitors to acute care hospitals such as Hoag Hospital Newport Beach and Hoag Hospital Irvine will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or have a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours. To learn more about the state mandate visit this page, and to learn more about Hoag’s visitor policy, please click here

We have asked – and received – the community’s incredible support over the past 18 months. You have been there for us during the stay-at-home orders, the masking mandates and the daily rollercoaster of this pandemic. Today, we are asking for your continued support by getting vaccinated if you have not already done so.

If more people were vaccinated, we could slow the spread and further mutation of the coronavirus. This is an important point as viruses rely on unvaccinated people to not only spread but to mutate. Getting vaccinated will protect the community’s most vulnerable populations, reduce the impact on our health care resources and keep our valued staff and their families well. This pandemic will likely not end without your help.

The most important thing you can do for yourself, your family and your community is to get vaccinated. Please don’t delay.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

Newport Beach residents should be extremely concerned about State Senate bills that will alter our neighborhoods

State legislators are attempting to address housing shortfalls by introducing bills that usurp local decision-making authority and that could be very detrimental to communities. 

Senate Bills SB 9 and SB 10 have passed the California State Senate and will be heard in the Assembly as early as next week. These bills will mean the end of single-family zoned neighborhoods throughout California. They permit developers and real estate investors to build (with ADUs) six units of market-rate housing (SB 9) or 14 units (SB 10), and no affordable housing is required. 

Taxpayers will bear the costs of increased demand on schools, parks, water, sewers, power grids and public safety personnel.

SB 9 is mandatory, so unless you act NOW, you will lose your right to object to the structure being built next door to you, after SB 9 is passed.

I urge you to read these state bills ASAP and if you don’t want them to pass, please contact your state assembly representative and your local council members NOW.

California Cities for Local Control, a grassroots organization, believes that bringing like-minded elected officials together around a common mission establishes a strong unified statement to our state legislators and all those involved in state bill making process. More information is available at the website www.localcontrolca.com

City Councilmember Joy Brenner is recommending two sites for more information, www.unitedneighbors.net and www.liveablecalifornia.org.

I personally don’t want other state representatives, that don’t live here, making decisions that tie the hands of our local city council members.

Beverley “BJ” Johnson

Corona del Mar

A thank you for protecting our streets

I want to thank the city and Newport Beach Police Department for their program to stop the street racing and loud cars with modified exhaust systems. Newport Coast Drive and San Joaquin Hills Road have become the racetrack of choice for these knuckleheads. They belong at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, not on our city streets.

Dave Ellis

Newport Coast

Mandates are the call needed now for new COVID strain

Children are increasingly getting infected by COVID, the highly infectious Delta strain. CHOC confirmed 219 positive coronavirus tests compared to 48 in June. 44 children with COVID were hospitalized during those two months.

Mandates will prevent this. Once again, the concern for whether to re-open schools will be a big issue because children under 12 cannot be vaccinated and the Delta strain is much more infectious than the strain last year. Mandates will prevent this.
      Evidence has shown that unvaccinated people are the most likely not to wear a mask and social distance. Mandates will prevent this. COVID-infected patients are taking up much hospital space and equipment that should be available to patients with other grave health issues. Important surgeries are being delayed.

Opening and closing businesses takes a huge toll on the economy. Mandates will prevent these practices from occurring.

The number of cases of coronavirus has been increasing rapidly since July because of the strength of the Delta strain. Mandates will prevent more deaths and protect the economy.

While indoor masking and quarantine and isolation of cases and close contacts are effective strategies for reducing transmission, the quickest way to slow the spread is to increase vaccination coverage. For children this is not immediately possible, meaning that masks and the other strategies must protect them. The majority of adults in Newport Beach have chosen vaccinations.

Vaccinations of adults is the mandate of choice and should eventually eliminate the need for masking in schools and elsewhere, but time is of the essence.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Kudos to Scarbrough for calling it like it is

Thank you, Nancy Scarbrough, for your very easy to understand and comprehensive letter regarding housing in Newport Beach.

There are two kinds of leaders, one type gives us reasons why things can’t be done. The other type provides solutions and approaches issues with “how can we get this done.”

Unfortunately, the first applies to the actions of the current city council. No matter the issue, I as a voter and citizen of the city am not interested in why something can’t be done. I expect elected leaders at all levels of government to provide leadership by proposing solutions, not excuses.

Dennis Baker

Corona del Mar

Are we in search of a lost time?

As I was taking my daily walk on Santa Ana Ave. last Thursday, two cars went speeding by, obviously breaking the speed limit for neighborhood streets. Because I had wanted to address the City Council meeting last Tuesday evening about our speeding problems in the Heights, those speeding motorists, much like the famous Madeleine in Proust’s novel, elicited a stream of emotions and visual images in my memory related to that meeting. 

These visual images, while definitely not factual, are actually just a parody of what did take place in the form of questions and answers. Any resemblance to actual facts is purely coincidental.

1. The development in question is actually taking a smaller slice of the public’s view now that they have revised the plans.

Q: Aren’t there laws in Newport that prevent that, taking away public views? I think other cities prevent that and they put up story poles to keep that from happening. 

R: Well, we can’t do anything about that.

2. Q: Since it is mixed use, and mixed use usually means something other than office buildings, couldn’t we put some boutiques or something in there other than offices?

R: Well, we couldn’t do anything like that. 

3. The traffic problems in the Heights are going to increase because of the transformation of Mariners’ Mile. We can look back to our childhoods when you could run and play on West PCH.

Q: How about putting up some signage and dedicate some police officers to ticketing those who break the speeding limit, or ride large, motorized bikes on the sidewalk threatening the pedestrians?

R: Well, we couldn’t do anything like that. We are just going to have to live (or die) with it.

4. The Coastal Commission might have something to say about the development.       

Q: Maybe we could sit down with them and get some ideas about what could or couldn’t be done ahead of time?

R: Well, we couldn’t do anything like that. 

5. R: It’s the state’s fault.  Our hands are tied. That darn Sacramento. Go talk to them. We just can’t do anything about any of this. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Board of Supervisors accused of Brown Act violations regarding Buck Johns’ property discussion

(The following letter was sent to Orange County Board of Supervisor Chairman Andrew Do and the other members of the Board of Supervisors. The letter is in reference to County property that abuts Buck Johns’ property in the Upper Back Bay.)

This letter is to call your attention to multiple Brown Act violations that occurred during the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on July 13, 2021.

It appears that during this meeting, the Board voted on action regarding pending litigation threatened by Mr. Buck Johns regarding parcel APN 439-051-14. Mr. Johns’ attorney had demanded that the illegal fence he had erected surrounding this public property be allowed to stay or he would initiate litigation. In a letter addressed to Mr. Johns on July 14, 2021, OC Chief Real Estate Officer Thomas Miller states that “county staff has had the opportunity to discuss the Subject Property with the Board of Supervisors and has received direction with regard to this matter.” Since this is a decision by the Board of Supervisors, one must conclude that this was discussed during the July 13, 2021, board meeting, although nothing is stated regarding this on the agenda.

Working on the assumption that this was discussed by the Board (since making a decision that is NOT discussed at a Board meeting is a major violation of the Brown Act), the only item on the agenda that might refer to this is item SCS6, “CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL - ANTICIPATED LITIGATION - SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE TO LITIGATION pursuant to Government Code section 54956.9(d)(2). Number of Cases: One Case.” County Counsel may have mistakenly assumed that notice, which provides no indication of what anticipated litigation might be discussed, complied with the “safe harbor” provisions of Govt Code Sec. 54954.5(c). It does not.

Assuming that this was regarding the Buck Johns threat of litigation, the correct code would have been Govt Code section 54956.9(d)(2)(e)(5). As Govt Code Sec. 54954.5(c) explains, the safe harbor description in that case requires additional information, and as the California Court of Appeals has recently decided, it requires the letter threatening litigation to be included in the agenda packet posted for public review. 

Govt Code section 54956.9(e)(5) describes a subclass of anticipated litigation defined in pertinent part as:

“(5) A statement threatening litigation made by a person outside an open and public meeting on a specific matter within the responsibility of the legislative body so long as the official or employee of the local agency receiving knowledge of the threat makes a contemporaneous or other record of the statement prior to the meeting, which record shall be available for public inspection pursuant to Section 54957.5.” [emphasis added]

I also refer the county to Fowler v. City of Lafayette, 46 Cal. App. 5th 360, which includes an extensive discussion of closed sessions addressing threatened litigation. According to Fowler v. City of Lafayette: 

“On its face, section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(2) appears to apply to events that might themselves give rise to litigation, such as “an accident” or “disaster,” or a “transactional occurrence that might result in litigation.” But even assuming this language could be stretched to include a threat of litigation based on a pending application, we must bear in mind the well-established rule of statutory construction that “‘“[a] specific provision relating to a particular subject will govern in respect to that subject, as against a general provision, although the latter, standing alone, would be broad enough to include the subject to which the more particular provision relates.”’”(Miller v. Superior Court (1999) 21 Cal.4th 883, 895 [89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170]; accord, Elliott v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 355, 365 [105 Cal.Rptr.3d 760].) Subdivision (e)(5) of section 54956.9 specifically addresses a public agency’s obligations when a person has threatened litigation outside a public meeting.”

In other words, the general provision cannot be used if a more specific code provision exists. Clearly, the correct code section is (e)(5), but this is not what was used for the closed session. Fowler v. City of Lafayette also goes on to address the need to make the record of the statement threatening litigation available for public inspection. The court found [emphasis added]: 

“Where litigation has been threatened outside a public meeting, it may be discussed in closed session under section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(5) only if a record of the threat is made before the meeting, which record must be made available for public inspection pursuant to section 54957.5. (§ 54956.9, subd. (e)(5).) The clear import of section 54957.5 is that agendas and other writings that the legislative body receives in connection with a meeting should be available to the public upon request. Mostly, these are documents relating to agenda items for the open session of the meeting (e.g., § 54957.5, subd. (b)(1)), but section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(5) requires the same for documented threats associated with an agenda item for the closed session as well. The only reasonable inference is that a record of a litigation threat to be discussed in closed session must be included in the agenda packet made available upon request before a meeting. (See Citizens for a Green San Mateo v. San Mateo County Community College Dist. (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1572, 1596 & fn. 5[173 Cal.Rptr.3d 47] [ § 54957.5 requires agenda packet to be made available to the public].)’

“We reiterate that the Brown Act is intended to “facilitate public participation in all phases of local government decision making” (Golightly v. Molina, supra. 229 Cal.App.4th at p. 1511), and that we must construe it liberally to accomplish its purpose (Olson. Supra. 33 Cal.App.5th at p. 525). Members of the public are entitled to rely on the agenda and packet made available upon request (see § 54957.5, subd. (a))”

The Board of Supervisors’ agenda packet for July 13, 2021, failed to provide the public with a copy of the letter threatening litigation that was be discussed in closed session, in violation of the Brown Act as construed by the California Court of Appeals in the Fowler decision, let alone disclose that a specific letter had even been received. The failure to provide proper notice in advance of a regularly scheduled meeting is a violation of Govt Code Sec. 54954.2.

The failure to provide any of the additional information required in this instance by Sec. 54954.5 prevents the County from claiming “substantial compliance” with the “safe harbor” noticing option. 

Additionally, the Board is required to report the results of any vote or decision, including who voted for and against the decision. This did not occur, another violation of the Brown Act, in this case Sec. 54953(c). 

Through these failures, the County deprived the public of its California Constitutional right (Article I, Sec. 3) to present views to the Board that may differ from those of the County Counsel with whom the Board was about to meet in private.

That seems particularly important in this case, since at a previous meeting the Board was presented with 1,321 signed paper petitions requesting Mr. Johns’ private fence be removed from public park land. The failure to properly agendize the Board’s discussion of the letter from Mr. Johns’ attorney denied those petitioners their opportunity to respond to the letter prior to the Board making a decision about it. 

It should be noted that a letter from one of us (Susan Skinner) regarding the threatened litigation was emailed to the Clerk of the Board, County Counsel and individual supervisors two days prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting. This letter should have been included in the comments regarding this item but was not. Had the item been noticed properly, the letter would have been specifically identified as being associated with that agenda item and thus included in the board packet. Since the letter contained a rebuttal to Mr. Johns’ legally ridiculous arguments, the outcome of the subsequent vote might have been different had this letter been included in the board deliberations.

Not only was the public denied their chance to comment, but the absence of a proper announcement deprived the press of an opportunity to properly cover an evolving story. Paragraph 11 of a July 23, 2021, article by Stu News reporter Sara Hall recounts this frustration:

“An added closed session item on the board’s Tuesday agenda noted a conference with legal counsel regarding anticipated or significant exposure to litigation, but the county representatives did not disclose any information on whether the matter could possibly be related to the Upper Newport Bay property. Stu News Newport could not confirm what the anticipated litigation was related to prior to publication.” 

Note that ten days after the closed session the press could not verify if the “direction” from the Board referred to in Mr. Miller’s July 14 letter was given at the July 13 closed session, let alone which Supervisors voted for or against giving him the direction he describes.

This is not the open government contemplated by the Brown Act and the California Constitution.

I therefore request that this action be considered void and this agenda item be reconsidered using the correct Govt Code subsections, that the letter threatening litigation be included in the agenda, that a safe harbor description of the item be included in the agenda and that a full report out of any vote taken occur at the end of the closed session. 

As provided by Govt Code section 54960.1, you have 30 days from the receipt of this demand to cure and correct the challenged action or inform me of your decision not to do so. 

I will add that this entire episode reeks of special privilege, which is another way of saying political corruption. I will be submitting a complaint about this issue to the Orange County Grand Jury and advise County Counsel to retain records regarding the potential sale to Mr. Johns and subsequent county actions. 

Susan Skinner MD

Newport Beach

Jim Mosher

Newport Beach

CC:  Leon Page, County Council


Letters to the Editor

Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile is pro-development, we just want the right projects

The Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile is “pro-development” and continues to support projects that are compatible with the abutting communities of Newport Heights, Bayshores, Cliff Haven and Lido Isle. We envision transforming Mariner’s Mile into a thriving economically productive destination where residents and visitors can work, play, dine and shop in a relaxing and friendly environment. 

The health, safety, welfare and livability of the community are the primary importance to the residents of Newport Beach. We envision a “walkable” family-friendly corridor that serves a purpose for everyone. We believe that we are better off if our decisions about our future revolve not around the car, but around the human being.

We will continue to promote slowing traffic, enhancing safety, widening sidewalks and bike lanes, while implementing a variety of changes that encourage pedestrian activity with the overall connectivity of future developments along Mariner’s Mile. 

The 2510 W. Pacific Coast Highway Project that was originally presented to the City Council would take advantage of the State’s density bonus laws, while forfeiting the foundation of the City’s 2006 General Plan and Newport’s current municipal codes. 

Both Mr. Bob Olson (Lido House) and Mr. Rick Caruso (Palisades Village), have been able to create a vision and deliver a quality product, and we believe development along Mariner’s Mile can follow suit.

Our guiding principle continues to be to Enhance Our Community’s Quality of Life and Do No Harm. The 2510 W. PCH Project, in its current state, unfortunately creates more harm than good. 

The City Council hearing for this project is currently scheduled for July 27 at the City Hall. We encourage ALL concerned residents to come and let your voices be heard.

Sue Leal

Newport Heights

Buck Johns’ demands could lead to OC Grand Jury actions

Thank you for Sara Hall’s comprehensive article about Buck Johns’ continuing quest to buy and control park land in the Back Bay.

Your readers might be interested to know that the narrative that the land was taken from Mr. Johns by eminent domain is completely fictional. The land in question was sold to the Irvine Company prior to Mr. Johns’ purchase of the adjacent property in 1977 and was subsequently donated to the county as a park in a so-called “irrevocable dedication” in 1990.

There is a fence encircling the property that completely closes out public use of the land and Mr. Johns is fighting hard to keep this illegal fence in place to maintain control of the land. The letter from his lawyer demanding this right is legally ridiculous but gave the county an opportunity to grant a politically influential Republican his wish. 

This is special privilege, otherwise known as political corruption, at its most flagrant. None of us would be given the opportunity to purchase 1/3 acre of bay view property for $13,000. No one without insider connections would be allowed to fence in county land for their private use.   

I will be submitting a complaint about this whole sordid episode to the OC Grand Jury in the hope that an ethical higher authority can right this wrong and I sincerely hope that county officials will be held responsible for their actions.

Susan Skinner MD

Newport Beach

City needs to work together to find common consensus on 2510 W. Coast Highway

The future of Mariner’s Mile will be determined within the framework of the interaction of the impossible State affordable housing requirements (between) the developers, City staff, Planning Commission, City Council, Caltrans, business and property owners, local merchants and residents. 

Our community is stronger together, especially when stakeholders, developers and the City work together to support each other based upon a common consensus, understanding and purpose.

Working separately and apart, the result will be high-density development along a high-speed crosstown freeway that nobody truly wants. Community stakeholders are asking the City to lay out all the Mariner’s Mile proposed infrastructure and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together. 

As elected representatives, the City Council has the responsibility to independently assess the facts before significant investments are made by developers, the City and the Newport Beach community.

The City Council and City Attorney must push back on all development projects using Affordable Housing Laws that are inconsistent with both the City of Newport Beach’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the specific application is deemed complete.

On April 30, 2021, I sent the enclosed email to the City Council in the hope the Council would act to facilitate a win-win environment and outcome where the City, developer and community stakeholders work together with the common purpose to enhance our community’s quality of life, safety, health and welfare. 

During this City Council hearing, the Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile asked the City Council to sponsor a community outreach workshop to build a community-wide consensus prior to any decision on 2510 West Coast Highway. The purpose of the workshop would be for the City to explain land use controls, staff’s findings and recommendations, and to answer questions from the public.

The presentation must include (1) the detail bases of the City’s determination and justification for the project’s Coastal Development Permit, and (2) the details of any finding that supports a recommendation to approve where the development project is inconsistent with both the City of Newport Beach’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation, as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the specific application is deemed complete.

An unusually large number of correspondence (was) sent to the City Council prior to the April 27th City Council review and the presentations by community stakeholders during the hearing were overwhelmingly against the proposed 2510 West Coast Highway Development Project’s high density, enormous, oversized structure for the lot, and the incompatibility of the design and configuration. At the meeting, other than the developer’s team, not a single comment was in favor of the proposed development.

Unfortunately, since April 27th not a single step has been taken to build a community consensus. While the developer has redesigned the outward appearance of the building, the essential character, size and high density of the project with its potential adverse impact upon the surrounding communities remain. 

To illustrate, community issues and concerns yet to be addressed:

–Scenic corridor views along Mariner’s Mile cannot be taken for granted. At the hearing the community asked for story poles to be erected for all to assess whether the project will forever block resident and tourist scenic coastal corridor views from parks and the Newport Bay. 

–An indispensable general plan goal is to enhance vitality for residents and visitors, yet traffic conflicts among vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians continue to plague traveling conditions along the Mariner’s Mile portion of Orange County’s Pacific Coast Highway according to a published transportation study. Serious life-threatening and life-ending accidents on West Coast Highway along Mariner’s Mile are increasing and effective traffic calming measures are required. 

–A traffic safety and circulation analysis of the impact of the project upon the surrounding communities of Newport Heights, Cliff Haven, Bayshores and Lido Island that includes safeguards for children traveling on bicycles to various activities such as schools, junior lifeguards and sea scouts.

2510 West Coast Highway sets a precedent for the design, character, size and density of future projects being proposed along Mariner’s Mile. Until material facts are disclosed to community stakeholders in a City Council-sponsored community outreach workshop that includes the criteria used and underlying details showing compliance with governing laws and regulations in support of the City staff’s findings and recommendations, the City Council cannot make an informed decision whether to approve or disapprove the project.

Patrick Gormley 

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

Community needs to remain vigilant against new spread of COVID-19

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Click on photos for larger images

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

As we continue to enjoy the reopening of businesses and the reunions of friends and families, we want to remind you of the importance of remaining vigilant against the spread of COVID-19. If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccine, please do not wait any longer.

After a promising downward trend in cases, the highly transmissible Delta variant is clearly gaining a foothold in our community. The California Department of Public Health found that the variant accounted for 36 percent of COVID cases in June, up from less than 6 percent in May. 

Nationally, Delta is now the predominant strain of COVID-19, and hospital cases – both locally and statewide – are ticking back up again. This is not the trend we want to see, and it is up to all of us to prevent a resurgence. 

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community from this highly contagious strain of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Almost all the hospitalized cases that we are seeing at Hoag involve patients who did not receive the vaccine. This includes pregnant women, whose COVID illness complicated the course of their pregnancies and their deliveries, and otherwise healthy individuals who have had to cancel summer travel plans and long-awaited wedding celebrations due to an unexpected hospitalization. 

COVID-19 vaccines are readily available at pharmacies, urgent care clinics and doctors’ offices throughout the community. Appointments can be scheduled at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine, and no appointments are needed to be vaccinated at our community clinics at the Irvine Spectrum Center and the Hoag Fly Well Clinic at John Wayne Airport. Learn more by visiting https://hoag.org/covid-vaccine.

Being vaccinated not only protects you and those around you, but it also helps limit the virus’s reach in our community, which reduces the chances that new variants will emerge. Misconceptions seem to be as difficult to root out as the disease itself. To lay a few myths to rest, please know:

–Healthy young people can and do get severely ill from COVID-19 and would benefit from the vaccine. Everyone 12 years of age and older is eligible to be vaccinated.

–There is no evidence that any vaccines including COVID-19 cause infertility.

–The vaccine does not alter a person’s DNA or leave lasting traces of the virus’s DNA in a person’s body.

–The vaccine does not give you COVID-19.

Other ways you can help prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 and other viruses are to stay home and away from others if you are feeling sick and to continue to practice good hand hygiene. Resuming your regular medical check-ups, treating chronic conditions and staying on top of your other vaccines are important ways to maintain your overall health, and we want to remind you that Hoag is here for you.

Thank you for your continued support and trust in us. We believe that the worst is behind us, but we ask that you remain vigilant – and get vaccinated – to protect your health and the health of all those around you.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

County urged to deny “bullying actions” issued by Buck Johns’ attorney

The following is a letter sent to the Orange County Board of Supervisors and specifically naming Chairman Andrew Do, and copied to Stu News Newport. 

You received a July 8 letter from Mr. (Patrick) Munoz of the law firm Rutan and Tucker regarding the efforts of Mr. (Buck) Johns to maintain control of a parcel identified as APN 439-051-14 (letter attached). This letter is rife with factual errors, which I address below. I would like to point out that your constituents have spoken that they wish this property to be accessible park land.

Mr. Johns attempted to purchase this property for $13K despite the fact that an identical adjacent parcel is assessed by the county for $1.18 million. This proposed sale resulted in 1,321 petitions opposed to this purchase being submitted to the board, causing the county to rescind the sale. Now Mr. Johns is seeking to obtain exclusive use of public property by threatening a lawsuit against the county if they remove the fence that he has illegally put around the property.

Mr. Munoz’s letter claims that “until recently, Mr. Johns and the County believed that the subject property belonged to the Johns.” This is demonstrably false. Attachment 1 is the Trust Transfer Deed for Mr. Johns’ property, dated 8-13-07, which specifically calls out the parcel in question as NOT being owned by Mr. Johns. Attachment 2 is a 4-30-19 email from the Irvine Company that was a part of the appraisal commissioned by Mr. Johns and which thanks Mr. Johns for his information that the property was purchased from the previous owner and its subsequent history. Attachment 3 is a 7-17-17 Right of Entry Agreement signed by Mr. Johns and containing a map that clearly delineates the subject property as belonging to the county. Finally, the County Assessor’s office does not collect taxes on that parcel and so clearly knew that it was not in private hands.

Mr. Munoz’s letter states that the current fence on the property was present before Mr. Johns purchased it in 1977. This is partially correct. There was a fence on the property when it was purchased but when the Bayview Heights Drainage Project was completed, Mr. Johns arranged for the fence to be partially replaced, although he was well aware that the property was not his. Much of the fence that is currently enclosing the property is new.

Mr. Munoz states that “the County has made it crystal clear through its actions over the years that its only intended use for the Subject Property was for roadway purposes.” This is also demonstrably false since the Irvine Company made an “irrevocable dedication” of the land to be park land on 7-30-90 (attachment 4). The County’s own staff report (attachment 5) states: 

“This parcel was originally owned by The Irvine Company (TIC) and included in the County of Orange’s (County) Master Plan of Arterial Highways (MPAH) as part of an extension of University Drive between Irvine Boulevard [Avenue] and Jamboree Road. After the University Drive extension was no longer considered viable, the subject parcel, along with adjoining strips from University Drive to Jamboree Road, was offered by TIC as an Irrevocable Offer of Dedication (IOD) to the County, on July 24, 1989, with a restriction for passive recreation uses only. The County accepted the IOD on July 27, 1990, recorded as Document 90-395-556. In 1990 the extension of University Drive was also removed from the County’s MPAH.”

Mr. Munoz quotes the equitable easement doctrine, but it is not at all applicable in this situation. Mr. Munoz states that the Johns[es] deserve an equitable easement because they paid part of the cost of the sediment catchment basin, but this was done because water runoff was progressively eroding their actual property. The sediment basin is not even on the property under discussion, which completely vacates any premise for an equitable easement at all.