scattered clouds


Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Thanks to candidate Weigand for speaking up

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

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

Kate Malouf 

Parent at Newport Harbor High School 

Newport Beach 

Reader urges elected representatives to get involved in NMUSD issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your time in advance,

Nancy Barfield

Newport Beach

When being “liberal” is a good thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,

Someone who cares about the welfare of the people –

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

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

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

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


Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Hysteria over COVID is taking away our liberties 

I enjoy reading your news on the reporting of COVID. First, I do not like the political tyranny from Newsom (in everything he does). This includes the COVID shutdown and his self-imposed power to determine who is and who is not essential. Are not we all essential and equal? 

Especially important is getting kids physically back in school. To not do so is an unfounded action that ignores the importance of education, socialization, nutrition, family structure, and the avoidance of depression. Zoom is not a substitute for learning with the necessary human interaction. 

There is a direct correlation with a healthy economy and public health, and these draconian mandates are destroying both. We should not underestimate COVID, but we should not overreact by creating hysteria by taking away our liberties. It is not a hoax, but the media has turned it into a political circus. 

To minimize the hysteria a more relevant reporting of cases and deaths should be on a per capita bases including the age bracket. Then compare that to recovery. There is no way to decipher the misdiagnosis and false reporting, but it does exist.

Those who have developed this radical fear of living, also have the liberty to self-impose their own stay at home policy. I understand the caution and compromise in the wearing of masks and social distancing. We can manage risk, but we cannot eliminate risk. There is no reason to force others into captivity to lessen their fears.

Thank you, 

Jeff Morgan

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

Commission of Bad Planning?

Last night (July 9), the Planning Commission granted yet another approval to the Shell Service Station located at 1600 Jamboree Rd., City of Newport Beach, immediately adjacent to the Community of Big Canyon. This time the approval was to add a car wash to an already overcrowded site that has previously received approval to add a mini-mart, which produced noise and traffic, a hydrogen storage facility which was unsightly and had lights that shone right into the Big Canyon Community, and an approval to expand the mini-mart which added more noise and more traffic. 

The Commissioners somehow disregarded the “cumulative effects” of their previous approvals, despite a law requiring they do, and found adding a car wash while having to violate their own setback requirements to make it fit on the property was in the public’s best interest and constituted good planning. 

Despite overwhelming opposition from those present and no one to speak in favor of the project except the owner’s paid representative, and despite no proven need for a car wash in this location, the Commission found (with Commissioner Koetting voting no) that the “Operation of the use at the location proposed would not be detrimental to the harmonious and orderly growth of the City, or endanger, jeopardize, or otherwise constitute a hazard to the public convenience, health, interest, safety, or general welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of the proposed use.” 

How is that possible?

David B. Kuhn Jr.

Newport Beach

A Vote for Peace

While political discussions with friends and family have become heated and best avoided at all costs, discussions with my new political junkie best friend have proved the exception. Rather than bewildered, I find myself enlightened, curious even to hear another viewpoint. Red or Blue, it matters not. What does matter is the connection we have forged, so vitally important during these strange and isolating times.

And where did I find this gem, this fellow political junkie with whom I share an affinity for all things political? Practicing my civic duty, working as a poll worker at (an assisted living facility) in Corona del Mar. A longtime poll worker expecting to encounter the usual poll worker crowd of senior citizens, I am momentarily stunned as I walk in and take my seat. And there he was, that most-holiest of holy grails, a poll worker under the age of 70! And a cute guy, to boot!

So, I encourage everyone, rather than banging your head in frustration, open your mind, put aside your opinions. Learn to listen, “agree to disagree,” look at this as an opportunity not to hate but rather to “hear,” hear what the other side is saying. And maybe, just maybe – Imagine, as John Lennon famously suggested, all the people living life in peace.

Suzi Scallon

Laguna Beach

What kind of world are we living in?

Do we really want to live in a society where we don’t even acknowledge that (a large percentage) of the population in convalescent homes have died in the last four months, where children and teachers are being called back to the classroom in the midst of a coronavirus surge, and where a larger percentage of people than we want to admit are intent on living their life to the fullest, devoid of concern for those around them?

It’s hard to explain this all away by myopic leadership. This is ultimately a democracy and we can make decisions that move us forward toward a better society or we can choose to opt out and only concern ourselves with our own immediate world. Some are lacking the resources, the knowledge and have too many constraints to be able to contribute to the world outside their limits, but the vast majority of us can make decisions that will make this world a better place by moving toward a collective conscience.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Defending the name of John Wayne for the airport

He’s been dead 41 years. But leave it to the OC Dems to engage in more overreaction and victimhood with respect to John Wayne Airport and the statue that greets Orange County visitors. 

I wonder if any of us (including Chair Briceno) who may live in glass houses are worthy to throw stones.

Yes, the Minneapolis tragedy is just that, but, sadly, justified reaction has morphed into overreaction, including the OC Dems’ wrongheaded resolution to change the name of our airport and remove the statue.

Let Mr. Wayne and his memory rest in peace.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

Someday we can look back on today’s pandemic days

Despite the tragic horror of the pandemic, the uncertainty and the isolation from your friends and family, the constant cleansing and the binding masks, to name just a few low points, there might be some things that we can look back upon when this all passes.

Some of those might be things such as hanging around the house in your pajamas and robe until two in the afternoon, not worrying about the extra pounds you put on because the one thing about never seeing anyone is that you get to eat treats like ice cream and packaged pudding (that you ate as a child). You can indulge in reading really long books, ones that displease your book club friends. 

Friends give you gifts of disinfectant and handmade masks, you get to let your hair and roots grow, and you pull out old things to wear that you should have thrown away years ago. You also get weekly phone calls from your siblings, which are extra special because they know how much we all hate talking on the telephone. 

You also get check-up calls from your sweet aunt who never really has figured out how to use her cellphone or her computer, but uses them anyway, and if you are lucky like me, you find a kind, but talkative walking partner who, despite wearing a mask, talks your leg off anyway. And he constantly directs you away from traffic because he thinks that you can’t hear or see it, but he is ten years older. 

You sit 12 feet apart on your back deck afterward (extra careful social distancing) and converse quite loudly back and forth so that your poor neighbors will be celebrating when social distancing is over, and they don’t have to learn everything about you. 

You get to complete picture puzzles that are so popular now, that Amazon is running out of them, and my personal favorite – you get to Zoom at least two or three times a week with your book club, family and friends and be the only one who doesn’t have technical difficulties despite using a 6-year-old iPad.


Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Unhappy with school district’s deceit in tree cutting

NMUSD = Arrogance. This is the institution responsible for educating future generations. This is the example set: Don’t let the issue be resolved in a civilized way, i.e. the courts. Sneak in and destroy.

Dennis Baker

Corona del Mar

School Board correctly chose safety over trees

I am writing this letter in support of the Cliff Drive encroachment permit issued to NMUSD for Ensign. It seems much of the controversy about this permit centers around many in the community believing the school board errored in not moving forward the Newport Beach drop-off alternative. They viewed this alternative as a “silver bullet” since it would simultaneously save the trees and provide quality student security and safety. The Newport Beach drop-off alternative may have inadvertently fooled them. Either you save the trees, or you provide top-notch student security and safety. But, you can’t do both. Therefore, the school district made the correct decision at Ensign and their permit should stand.

The Newport Beach drop-off alternative shouldn’t be material in any decision by the city council.

A few comments in the ThoughtExchange reference the state of California’s drop-off building regulations for schools. Using Google with the ThoughtExchange verbiage, we found drop-off building regulations online at the state of California’s Department of Education website.

After reviewing the state’s rules and examples covering drop-off regulations, it seems that the Newport Beach drop-off alternative might not fulfill state regulations. I called Jim Houlihan, a city engineer, with my reservations. He said he did not know if the alternative fulfills the state regulations and said such a determination would require an outside expert opinion.

Furthermore, after my discussion with Houlihan, I came away with the impression that it is unknown if the Newport Beach alternative could support as many cars as the school district’s banana lot.

The school district’s banana lot was designed by an architect who is proficient in school design, school building regulation and security protocols. The banana lot is a standard approach that is shovel-ready. In contrast, the Newport Beach alternative is just a rough sketch that likely could not provide the same level of efficiency or safety and may not be allowed under state build regulations for schools.

Many in the community thought they had a silver bullet.

Since the Newport Beach drop-off alternative came from a city engineer, some community members incorrectly assumed the alternative was fully vetted and shovel-ready even though the city never presented it that way. Community members voraciously supported the city’s alternative to the school board and other community members as the “silver bullet” that would save the trees and provide student safety and security. In hindsight, if the city had known their rough sketch would be misread as fully vetted and shovel-ready they would have put a warning on the drawing. Even better, the city could have hid their alternative unless it survived a deeper analysis. The city council could cool off tensions in the community if they would explain this to the public at Thursday’s hearing (yesterday).

NMUSD opted for the safety and security of students over the preservation of trees.

Removing the Newport Beach drop-off alternative from the running only leaves the banana lot alternative. After two years in the public forum, no other viable alternative has been presented by anyone. Since the banana lot drop-off alternative was designed by architects proficient with state regulations and security protocols, it should provide abundant student safety and security.

Unfortunately, this leaves the community with the age old problem of selecting the lesser of two evils. Do we save the trees while we compromise student safety and security? Do we remove and replace the trees so we can keep the students safe and secure? To me the answer is clear. Student safety and security is utmost, so the trees have to be removed and replaced. I think the school board was presented with a tough decision and sided on behalf of student safety and security. This was the right decision. The city council should support their decision and let the permit stand.

Jim Kociuba

Newport Beach

SPON gets injunction against District

OC Superior Court Judge Robert Moss granted SPON a Temporary Restraining Order on June 23, 2020 to prevent the further removal of any trees that still remain on Ensign Intermediate School property. The Rehearing is scheduled for OC Superior Court Department 13 on June 29 at 1:30 p.m.

The Declaratory Relief Action filed by SPON against the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) sought a definition of the rights and obligations of the parties involved regarding the planned removal of trees and reconfiguration of the parking lot at Ensign Intermediate School located in the Newport Beach Cliff Haven neighborhood.

The action alleges that NMUSD has denied SPON, its members and the community at large their due process rights by limiting and/or denying participation in the planning process which included the review, discussion and ultimate approval of the construction plans. The NMUSD is obligated by code to seek out and encourage public participation in any and all projects of this nature. 

For more information about this issue, please visit 

Bruce Bartram, President 

SPON, Still Protecting Our Newport

Newport Beach

Nearby resident wants brakes applied to W. Coast Highway widening

I request the City Council send this item (Old Newport Blvd. and West Coast Highway Modifications) back to the Planning Department with instructions to delay further consideration until the ongoing General Plan Update is completed. It appears the planning staff is attempting to piecemeal the widening of Coast Highway into small parts in order to get the entire roadway to three lanes without completing the General Plan Update. This is poor timing because while the Newport Beach community is continuing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, only virtual meetings are occurring. Also, stakeholders may feel potentially controversial items are being placed on the agenda when the City Council is unable to hear firsthand community concern.

The origins of this project go back at least seven years and include the widening of West Pacific Coast Highway in front of the A Restaurant to three lanes and provide a dedicated right turn lane and bike lane. 

A key concern of Mariner’s Mile stakeholders is the expansion of West Pacific Coast Highway. This concern dates back to the early 1970s by a group called the “Freeway Fighters” and included the father of one of our current council members. Since then updates to the General Plan have discouraged the widening of WPCH. For instance, this concern is most evident in the Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision and Design Framework dated October 4, 2000, that set forth a strategy “to discourage the policy of widening WPCH through Mariner’s Mile.” The City has also recognized that Pacific Coast Highway and the proposed expansion of PCH require further evaluation. A speedway through the heart of our town is not safe for our children or community. 

Further, evolving transportation trends and the coronavirus pandemic impact of working at home are materially changing how businesses, residents, and the City will operate and use the existing transportation system. 

[I] request my comments be part of the June 23, 2020, City Council Meeting record and please acknowledge receipt of these email comments.

Be well and stay safe,

Patrick Gormley

Former Bayshores Community Association President 

Member of the Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile

Newport Beach

Make masks your new fashion accessory

 It’s official now. We are finally seeing our male political leaders from California wearing face masks. The Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, was the first one to do it. Now we are also seeing Governor Newsom, Congressman Rouda and Mayor O’Neill in basic black, as I recall. And, if you scrolled too quickly past the beginning of Stu News Newport, you may have missed Tom Johnson’s colorful mask. So our “savvy” leaders have shown that a face mask does not compromise your masculinity. To the contrary, it enhances it, showing how “secure” and confident you are. 

Let’s put on those face masks before it is too late!

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Lack of required masks brings with it potential risks

I am outraged that the Board of Supervisors did not strongly back Dr. Quick and the edict to require masks at all times in public. As a result of last week’s decision by the new Health Officer who succumbed to the pressure of the Board, masks now are only “strongly recommended.” 

People in Orange County can now walk around in public and in business establishments without masks as if there were not a pandemic raging out there. And they can selfishly spread their germs around, oblivious to the health and safety of others. What does it take for us as a society to realize how dangerous these actions are? The week before last we had 1,179 new cases in Orange County, a weekly record in the course of the pandemic! Hospital loads have also increased by 34 percent.

There will be financial repercussions with this new ruling as well. Yesterday when I went to the grocery store where I normally shop because it was all set up for physical distancing and required masks, I asked if masks were still required and their response was “only strongly recommended.” I had spent at least a thousand dollars during the pandemic in that Newport Beach store. But knowing that Costa Mesa still required masks (the only city in Orange County to do so), I went down the street to do my shopping, spending $200.

For those people who are at “high risk,” it is imperative that they be in a “masked environment” in public. So I imagine that many people who live in Newport Beach are going to have to start shopping in Costa Mesa.

Imagine the loss of revenue for businesses in Newport Beach and the bad health conditions for the essential workers who are exposed to other peoples’ germs on a daily basis. The Board of Supervisors and our Council are putting these people at risk now that masks are only “strongly recommended.” 

Why does Newport Beach share in the culpability along with the Board of Supervisors? Because individual cities can pass laws that are stronger than the Board’s, but not weaker. So businesses and individuals should keep in mind that if there is a significant loss in revenue and if it is obvious that people are going elsewhere to shop, not to mention a significant increase in cases of COVID-19, that the Newport Beach Council can do something about it. 

I, for one, regrettably will not be doing business with any indoor environment that does not require masks and I urge others to do the same for their protection. And when you vote in November, remember that the current Board of Supervisors is at the very least, compromising your health by the decision that they have just made.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

There are changes our school district needs to make, now

Laurie Smith is a retired Newport-Mesa Unified School District teacher, grandparent of a Newport-Mesa student and member of the student advocacy group Newport-Mesa Community for Students. She is an activist in the District and a strong voice. She directed this letter to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education.

Dear Members of the Board,

We are now three months into the COVID pandemic and distance learning. Its June, budget time, and summer plans and reopening are upon us. At this time of greatest need for our students and families, please reassess your leadership and consider the following decisions: 

–Approve a budget focused on compassion correcting inequities. Do this by adding (yes…adding) professional counselors, community facilitators and nurses. COVID should not be an excuse for maintaining our deficient status quo in meeting the social and emotional needs of students. We have reserves. Use them.

–Technology support for low-income students: Have you made sure ALL our students have WiFi and Chromebooks? Have you made sure staff has identified these students by checking in with teachers, using facilitators to check on at-risk students and filling in the gaps? What has been done for those hard to reach families? Home visits can be made with masks and social distancing if not by staff, by use of known community partners and volunteers. Compassion should drive you to find solutions. 

–Have you created a summer school plan in collaboration with teachers? Is it flexible enough to move from distance learning to the classroom and been communicated to parents? 

–Defund your army of attorneys. You won’t need them if you ask our leaders to come out of hiding, start listening to the community of parents and staff and develop relationships.

–End expensive consultant fees. Our capable current staff knows our students and can fill the need. Believe in them. Trust them and their leaders who have direct connections to the classroom.

–Eliminate District leadership of fear and control that has stifled staff and students from reaching their full potential. Sadly, it has become more unresponsive, untrusting and insular behind the cover of COVID and Zoom. 

There has never been a more urgent time for change in the District’s leadership culture: for compassionate, confident, flexible, and humble leaders who share power and lead by listening, building community relationships, and embracing change.

You are our elected leaders. You must make the change we need to see. 

Laurie Smith

Newport Beach

Bluebirds bring joy to this neighbor

Background information: I became neighbors, then friends, with a couple in the Heights who had similar interests to my own. The wife is an avid birdwatcher and has made it her goal to increase the bluebird population in the Heights’ area. 

About four years ago, she talked me into putting one of her bird houses in my backyard tree. It was an interesting, joyful, but also heart-wrenching experience. Watching the maturity process was infatuating because the beautiful babies had unique personalities. 

However, at the end of my experience, after raising three clutches one season, I was saddened that the local birds of prey left only one baby to survive and mature. Evidently, this is common. The survival rate is not very great due to the vulnerability of the small birds. As a result, the ones who survive are remarkable, sometimes living as long as ten years. 

I wrote this poem about that experience.


I learned from bluebirds in my tree

How little they have of certainty

Guarded by parents when they are small

Their chance of survival is barely at all

And yet they sing and give us joy

Their beauty starkly hued

They know not any night or day

They may be lost to birds of prey

So should we be like bluebirds too

Embracing beauty and delight

Not knowing when at any time

We must enter that good night

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Went to the protest expecting worst, found the best

After what we had seen on TV, I was extremely distressed and afraid when I heard we were having protests in Newport...afraid for our citizens, our businesses and our police and other emergency personnel. But on that day, I decided I had a responsibility to do whatever I could and decided to put on my mask and walk down to see how our CdM business owners were preparing. 

I ended up five miles later, on the periphery of two of the protests, talking with our business people and others, including young families. I represent ALL the people and almost all I saw were NB residents. I was prepared to stand in front of our businesses and try to talk to anyone who wanted to cause trouble, but fortunately it wasn’t necessary. All I saw were respectful and I was so proud of our citizens, our NBPD and almost everyone. 

I’m in a great position of serving my time on council and being able to do the right thing without worrying about being elected or re-elected. I am donating these years of my life to serving the community I love, and I sleep very well at night. People say this is a “thankless job.” I disagree because people thank me continually. It is almost overwhelming, and is conveyed in person, in emails, in gifts at my door, comments on social media and cards mailed. They almost always say “thank you for being the voice of reason.” 

Sometimes those with a particular point of view think I’m not liberal enough or conservative enough. In my opinion, there is ALWAYS some truth on all sides and the challenge is trying to still be able to hear that and use it even when it comes from people who may be critical. 

Anyone who tells you these are simple problems with simple “just vote for my party solutions” probably has an ulterior motive. That’s why I vote with all different members of the council at times, because solutions require compromise and delving into each issue on its own merit. Politics plays to people’s desire to have easy answers and there aren’t many of those in this complex world. Being a moderate who looks at all sides of every issue is the way I have chosen to serve and I’m confident in my position. 

I pray that we will someday come together to solve problems rather than polarizing and blaming each other, which only benefits politicians. There are good people on all sides of each issue, and we have a lot to learn from each other if our hearts and minds are open. 

Joy Brenner, District 6

Can I be pro-black and pro-police at the same time?

City Council, Newport Beach – Like many Americans, I’ve struggled to find the words to describe how I feel about the George Floyd protests, riots and looting.

We are a nation in pain and each of us is trying to find an outlet to express complicated, and often conflicting, emotions. Hundreds are taking to the streets to protest, dozens are rioting, and a handful are looting. However, a significant number of Americans, myself included, are taking time to watch, observe, listen, learn, read, contemplate and process everything that is happening.

Many of my friends have turned to social media to voice their anger and frustration. “IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND BLACK LIVES MATTER THEN YOU CAN UNFRIEND ME NOW,” read one of my acquaintance’s posts. “ARREST AND CHARGE ALL COPS WHO KILL BLACK PEOPLE,” read a protest sign of a close friend. 

I’ve hesitated to share my thoughts, particularly publicly and especially online. The digital sphere has become a warzone of pointed words, shouting matches and ultimatums. We’ve become a nation divided with people being silenced and abused online and in the streets. Like many, I’m scared to speak up and to speak out. 

But I cannot stay silent anymore.

I was born in America and am red, white and blue through and through. I love our country and everything it stands for. What made (and makes) our nation great is our diversity and our freedom. But when we can no longer ask questions, listen with empathy, talk without fear, then what have we become? 

Can I be pro-black and pro-police at the same time? Can I express my conflicting feelings without fear of being judged or attacked? Can I choose to not express my opinions on social media without being called a racist? Can I both agree and disagree with Black Lives Matter? Can I support my police while simultaneously advocating against the use of excessive force and racial profiling? Can I condemn rioting and looting while acknowledging the wide economic inequality gap, desperation and lack of faith these individuals have in our country? Can I see our need for systemic change while believing cops are good people? Just like I believe looters and rioters are not bad people? Can I believe we are all inherently good and want the same thing: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Systematic change is slow, uncomfortable and often painful. Technology and social media have increased awareness of flaws and inadequacies in our institutions, while a generation of young people demanding change are swiftly mobilizing across our nation.

I will continue to support our police and those who are demanding justice and equality. That is my opinion. That is my stance. I refuse to lose faith in our country or in the goodness of people. And I hope you won’t either.

Michelle Mar


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Letter to the Editor

Flatterer of Governor Newsom ill-informed

Ms. Lynn Lorenz (“Author”) has fawned over Governor Newsom in her recent letters to local media extolling how the Governor has saved the health of California by his “quick and resourceful actions” regarding the COVID-19 response. The Author is ill-informed and simply wrong. Here are some of those “quick and resourceful actions” by Governor Newsom:

–His March 18, 2020 letter to President Trump stating that 25.5 million Californians will be infected with COVID-19 over an eight-week period.

–His proposed “bold and big” expenditure of nearly $1 billion taxpayer dollars (including half up front) for face masks with a secretive Chinese company.

–His plan for $75 million taxpayer dollars for stimulus payments to illegal immigrants.

–His politically-driven, “ready, shoot, aim” myopic (literally) decision on April 30, 2020 to hard close all Orange County beaches with inaccurate and misleading telephoto evidentiary support resulting in justified lawsuits by local cities.

–His commandeering St. Vincent Hospital and the old Sacramento ARCO Arena for the misjudged never-to-appear COVID-19 tsunami.

–His gross miscalculation in the appropriation of 16,000 hotel/motel rooms for our homeless population.

–His joining four governors in the delusional request of Congress that it fund $1 trillion in pandemic relief for poorly managed state and local governments.

Despite the Author’s blind adulation, it is clear that the Governor’s “quick and resourceful actions” have been anything but.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Is the lack of social distancing going to cause us problems moving forward?

Is anyone else concerned about the lack of social distancing in the coastal areas of Southern California? If you are keeping your eye on the statistics as well as the residents, you will see that both the number of new cases of COVID-19, as well as the death rate, are continuing to rise dramatically in Orange County.    

Is this trend occurring because many of our local leaders are not strongly enforcing social distancing for fear of being unpopular or is it that they simply lack determination and/or direction? Maybe the state sanctions have been withdrawn too quickly and local leaders need more support? Whatever it is, at our current rate, it seems like we will never be back to “normal.” And for all the gestures that many local leaders made to prove that they were ready to take back control of the reopening, you would think that the lack of social distancing would be much less visible. 

After all, the one strong leader in the state, the governor, who arose to the occasion by imposing sheltering in place and its resultant protocol, has been criticized by some leaders in Orange County. One even went so far as to call his leadership autocratic.   

Even if some locals want to focus exclusively on the economy of the county, they must realize that until the numbers start going down instead of up (as they have been doing lately), many of the customers that local businesses rely on will not be leaving the shelter of their home. So local leaders and businesses need to do something to make us feel safe, if the economy is to come back. 

Your younger clientele may be coming out, but as we have learned from news sources, more than half of all cases are among residents between the ages of 25 and 54, and another 18 percent are among youth 18 and under. So that means that almost 70 percent of the coronavirus cases in Orange County are among people 54 and younger. Seniors account for only 19 percent of Orange County infections. So while younger victims are getting less severe symptoms for the most part, it is still not exclusively an old person’s disease. The most reliable predictor at this point as to the severity of the illness is the underlying health of the victim. So although it seems like quite a large portion of the youth are acting as if it were immune to the disease, the statistics say otherwise. And everyone knows that as the statistics rise among our youth, they will rise for all because of the contagious factor of the disease.

And those aged 54 and under should not discount the virus because it is deadlier among seniors, because younger people can die too. Subtracting out those who died in senior care homes, those 54 and under account for almost 20 percent of the deaths in Orange County. Leaving senior care homes in the formula means that 14 percent of the deaths are among 54 and younger. But in today’s world, 55 to 64 is still relatively young and their deaths count for another 12 percent. So that means almost one third of the known deaths in Orange County have been among people 64 and younger. 

Another factor to take into consideration because of the lack of sophisticated testing, and testing in general, is that many of the cases of coronavirus that are attributed to inland areas might represent individuals who contracted the virus while they were in the beach/tourist areas of Orange County. This is a possibility because of the long gestation period of the virus, as well as for the fact that some virus victims do not experience any symptoms and thus become “silent carriers” of the disease. Particularly since the first warm weekend at the end of April, this factor needs to be considered in the coronavirus statistics.

Still another consideration for younger people, as well as seniors, is that the long-term effects of the disease are not yet fully known. According to, a respected medical digest, 80 percent of the cases are not severe and full recovery is expected. However, there will be people who will suffer long-term effects such as respiratory problems, dangerous immune system and blood clotting responses, as well as possible digestive system, heart, and kidney problems among others.

Finally, a startling article appeared in the LA Times on May 19th, in which it was revealed that a condition referred to as both MIS-C and PIMS, which is similar to Kawasaki disease, has become an “alarming part of the coronavirus medical response because it affects children.” Four children have been diagnosed with the disease and LA County is investigating 21 other possible cases.

To say that people should be able to decide their behavior for themselves, without government interference, in face of a pandemic, is dangerous, selfish and faulty reasoning. A pandemic requires strong leadership above all. Orange County has proven lately that without strong leadership there is no strong community cooperation. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

The Covid Bunch

Here’s the story of a city council

Who needed to find out quickly what they should do

Corona virus was causing public problems

Keep the beach, shut it down, who knew?

It’s the story of Mayor O’Neill,

Who set a meeting for Newport residents to call

To give their comments, and vent their anger,

Or manage not to do the remote call-in process at all! (Hello…?)

So on that day, the phone calls flooded,

And it was almost more than council folk could bear,

Joy Brenner, D Dixon, Muldoon and Herdman listened

To the endless feedback (Grace and Duffy too were there!)

When the meeting ended, they’d all decided

To keep the beaches open – with some rules

They hoped that’s what Newport Beach mostly wanted

Then Governor Newsom stepped in with his overrule!

The Covid Bunch, the Covid Bunch

That’s when Newport City Council became the Covid Bunch!

Catherine Shannon

Laguna Hill

(To the tune of the Brady Bunch theme)

Letters to the Editor

School District needs to get their head out of the sand and let the students walk

I’ve been reading several well-written communications from our seniors at Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) high schools and felt a huge sense of empathy and frustration for them and their classmates. 

As a graduate of Newport Harbor High School (1997), I look back and remember a senior year full of memories. Sure, I wasn’t the best student and most of my time spent at NHHS was more often in the Vice Principal’s office than the classroom. However, during my final year of school, I was fortunate enough to find a date to prom, graduate (barely) and attend grad-night – something I volunteered at for the first time last year. 

These graduating seniors followed the rules in the fallout of COVID-19, respected their fellow citizens by social distancing, sacrificed the remainder of the classes by taking online instruction and even lowered their standards to accept that 50 percent is simply enough to get you a C grade.

NMUSD should be ashamed at themselves for abandoning their students by easily throwing in the towel by not conducting an in-person graduation ceremony. 

The third week in June is nearly a month away. How does a school district, whose mission states that their goal is to graduate students who will enrich our society, simply walk away from those who have committed four years of their life pursuing?

NMUSD has spent countless hours and resources developing a flawed “banana parking lot” at Ensign, with the intent to remove 27 trees – including one that honors the military sacrifice of a NHHS graduate who gave up his life in Iraq. But they can’t inventively come up with a game plan to hold a graduation ceremony?

The school district has been causing a lot of residents in our community to shake their heads recently. Perhaps it’s time to start listening to the public, which includes your students.       

Many campuses across the nation are holding in-person graduation ceremonies while following social distancing practices. The OC Register recently reported that several school districts are looking to late summer or possibly Thanksgiving break (when most students are back home for the first time since leaving for college) to hold ceremonies. 

NMUSD – please get your head out of the sand and stand together with the graduating class of 2020 to find a solution.   

Erik Weigand 

Newport Beach 

Struck a Nerve

Well, it seems I struck a nerve with my last letter. I know from my experience of Mr. Zak on the planning commission, that he has a certain mindset which [in my opinion] leans toward the individual freedom side as opposed to the common good side but I wouldn’t insult him by calling him names. I do agree with him about being mindful with elected officials, all elected officials. I hope he now sees that he undermined his own argument and supported mine. Be vigilant about the governor but not about the mayor? I prefer words like being mindful, conscious and aware when dealing with government these days. 

My letters to Stu News have made a case for medical facts, such little as we have, like all of us wearing masks and staying socially distant. These don’t seem partisan to me or childish. Looking at the images of citizens around the country this holiday weekend, I wish Mr. Zak luck with his view that we all are adults and can make good decisions for ourselves. Unfortunately, they also with their lack of adult responsibility made decisions for others. The only fact we seem to have gleaned from this pandemic so far is that we get the virus if we are in close proximity to others for a period of time without protective covering, like in nursing homes or crowds at the beach for a day. 

Having spent my career and life in the field of leadership and leadership development and both taught and conducted dialogues in university classes and business organizations, to correct Mr. Zak, Will was not [in my opinion] “seeking an actual dialogue”, he was using statistics to support his mindset, in other words, presenting his side of the debate or argument. True city leadership would not have been fighting state government in the midst of a once in our lifetime crisis. It would have been leading the whole community to collaborate with all government, confront the danger and truly dialogue about innovative and creative solutions for the future. We live in a time with wicked problems of all kinds. I, for one, would love to hear actual public policies that advance the whole public, health or planning and development, even the economy. 

It strains credulity to think that an elected California Democrat, Republican (or Independent like me) would deliberately want to destroy our way of life or economy unless Mr. Zak thinks we should also be constantly vigilant probing the reasons our mayor makes the decisions he does. I do think this argument about autocracy and freedom in regard to beaches and masks in the middle of a pandemic is childish. Talk about fear based! If I have my current history correct, it was the mayor of San Francisco who shut her city down first as the governor was resisting doing so. Lastly, to Mr. Zak, if I were any more adult, I’m afraid I’d be in assisted living right now.   

Linda Watkins

Newport Resident

Takeaways from NB Democratic Women’s Club virtual meeting

I was fortunate to be able to attend a virtual reality meeting which hosted the participation of Congressman Harley Rouda of the 48th District and Congresswoman Katie Porter from the 45th. It was about the fifth time that I had attended an event for Harley and the second time for Katie Porter, who in addition to being a Congresswoman, is also a professor at UCI. I have also seen both of them on television.

After listening to other local political speakers, I always come away in awe of being represented by such stellar candidates as Rouda and Porter. They speak without notes on the several occasions that I have seen them and they can speak at length about virtually any topic that is pertinent to the County.

Last night Congresswoman Porter spoke about COVID-19 testing, how Orange County is behind in that area when compared to a similarly sized County such as San Diego. She talked also about the upcoming election and the challenges of voting during the coronavirus quarantine.

Congressman Harley entertained questions from the 70 attendees at the virtual meeting. He answered so many different questions with so much ease, that it was difficult to keep up. A more charismatic and intelligent duo, it would be difficult to find. They are also refreshing because unlike many other politicians, they do not spew ideological rhetoric. Their eyes are on the constantly shifting issues before the American people, and they speak assertively and knowingly about these issues, not just as citizens of Orange County, but of the United States. Since that meeting Congressman Rouda has received  a “2020 Champion of Patient Access” award for his leadership in protecting patient access during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his work on “keeping drug costs affordable while promoting innovation to protect seniors.” I am sincerely proud of this “new breed” of politicians who have stepped forward to represent us so professionally.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Mayor’s “deep dive” seems to be misinterpreted by some

First, we had quarantine shaming where people posted pictures on social media of people whose action did not live up to the exacting standards of the non-medical Nexdoor Karens.

Now we have people who early on demanded that public policy be run based on data and science but are infuriated when data and science are discussed in ways that do not fit their shutdown narrative. An example of this new type of lockdown advocacy came in response to our Mayor’s recent deep dive into data.

Stu News ran a copy of Mayor Will O’Neill’s email sent through his personal account where he conducted a deep dive on the statistics of Orange County’s case counts, hospitalizations, and mortalities. They highlight what we all could intuitively sense: a broad economic shutdown is no longer warranted and hasn’t been warranted for weeks. Hospitalizations have been no higher than 4.2 percent of available beds. ICUs have been steady. Case counts have increased as testing has, but positive rates have decreased as the increased testing occurred. These are good trends.

And Mayor O’Neill’s deep dive even presciently highlighted the real threat in our communities: skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”). Whereas SNFs represent only 11 percent of the positive cases in Orange County, they now represent 40 percent of Orange County’s deaths. Those disproportionate statistics indicate a need for targeted lockdowns and resource allocation, not one-size-fits-all lockdowns like we’ve seen.

Rather than taking this information and directing it toward actual public policies that advance the whole community health (physical and economic), there are people like (recent letter writer) Linda Watkins who attack the Mayor and others who seek an actual dialog and attempt to discuss data that leads to outcomes other than fear-based conclusions. Stu News also ran Ms. Watkins’ letter to the editor claiming that the Mayor’s discussion of statistics is “partisan,” “anti-governor,” and wasn’t sufficiently “open-minded.” She even went so far as to say that “the mayor states all the statistics of why the total lockdown wasn’t needed.” But did he say that?

No, he didn’t. He actually said: “Clearly the stay-at-home order and the economic shutdown played roles that ensured that the early projections were incredibly wrong. Showing our current statistics is not meant to spike the football on how wrong those projections were because we are still in the midst of a serious virus that we need to take seriously. But we have to be constantly vigilant probing the reasons that our Governor issued the stay-at-home order statewide.”

Nuance can be lost on people who want our government to be our parents and treat us like children. But the Mayor’s comments are straightforward and reasonable. So, for those of you who call yourselves adults, let me simply say the following: I’m with YOU. I trust you can both hold thoughts in your head acknowledging that this is serious and make your own risk assessments. I trust that you know what’s right for you more than our Governor does. More than the Mayor does. More than I do. As adults, you and I should be treated with the same respect that our Mayor treats us with when he empowers us with data and specific details. 

It’s time to push back against people who demand blind allegiance to government proclamations. It’s time to listen and act with the facts.

Peter Zak

Newport Beach

Governor’s handling of coronavirus issue should be commended

If you are alive and well in California, you can pretty much thank the Governor in large part for his quick reaction to the coronavirus threat. While far from being out of danger as many indicators will attest, our relatively successful battle with the virus so far has been a result of the Governor’s quick and resourceful actions. A large majority of Californians give Governor Newsom a 79 percent approval rate for his handling of the pandemic. Now that the first (and hopefully only) surge of cases has quieted down in most parts of the state, he is wisely turning to local leaders for their help and input in opening up to Phase 2.

Nowhere and at no time has the Governor tried to tie his success to his political party affiliation. That is why I find it so distasteful that two of our local leaders had articles this last week which are critically implying that the Governor has overreacted to the virus. I think that I could make a pretty good case for under-reaction to this grave threat by most local leaders, but I do not want to stoop to their level. To make use of a major catastrophe for political purposes, one that is responsible for 3,500 deaths in California and over 5,000 cases in Orange County, not only demeans the authors, but in my opinion, minimizes the suffering of the victims.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Hindsight is 20/20

I’m noticing that our Newport mayor and others have taken an anti-governor stance on the coronavirus. The new publication from the mayor states all the statistics of why the total lockdown wasn’t needed. Of course, this was 20/20 hindsight or Monday morning quarterbacking. 

If you remember back to the beginning of March, everyone was terrified of this unknown dangerous pandemic. In fact, at that time our city leaders could only tell us to follow the guidelines from the Orange County Health Department while fighting the mandating of wearing masks and closing the beaches. 

There is a Columbia University study and model out today saying that half the lives lost so far to this pandemic would have been saved by mandating “stay at home” two weeks earlier. 

So, which 20/20 hindsight do we believe? And do we continue to look at the world with partisan-colored glasses or take care of ourselves the best we can until we have real knowledge of this virus and the treatments or vaccine to save us? The virus does attack us all. 

And let’s elect the non-partisans or the candidates with open minds this next November. City governments are meant to be non-partisan for a reason.

Linda Watkins

Newport Resident

Truth or Consequences

We are victims of a selfish few
Whose decisions we oft abhor
They hold our welfare in their hands
But count their futures more

When many fall ill in few days time
Those numbers should cause shame
But who can prove whose fault it is
When bad decisions reign

We all should know it’s time to change
When power does us harm
And votes can go to gilded hands
Whose goal it is to charm

Let’s look ahead to better days
That make our wishes soar
And put behind us once for all
What cuts us to the core

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Experts seem to disagree on spike cause following “beach crowding” weekend

There seems to be some discussion as to what has caused the large spike in coronavirus cases reported in Orange County since the weekend of April 25th and 26th, when, coincidentally, large crowds descended on the beaches. In the week that ended on April 26, there were 441 new COVID-19 cases in Orange County. The following week that figure jumped to 664 new cases reported and the week after that 787 cases.

Experts need to make further investigations to determine specifically the cause of these large spikes in coronavirus cases which could be explained partially by factors such as increased testing. 

Dr. George Rutherford, a UC San Francisco epidemiologist and infectious disease expert who was also a former epidemic intelligence officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was interviewed by a regional newspaper (LA Times), and the local paper, as well, this week, and said that he noticed a steep rise in Orange County’s cases in the days following the weekend of April 25 and 26, after which Governor Newsom ordered the beaches closed. In addition to the stats, the Governor pointed to photos of Orange County beaches showing little social distancing among the crowds. Also, although not required on Orange County beaches, there were no examples of beach goers wearing masks.

The crowds that gathered in protest after the beach closures definitely defied the health officials’ contention that such lack of social distancing and face masks also constituted risky behavior and could have increased the statistics.

Dr. Rutherford leaves the door open for other possible causes of the large spikes in Orange County, but nonetheless, is quoted in two articles as saying, “But you know, just looking at it, there was a big jump in Orange County that was temporally consistent with possible transmission from that crowd event,” referring to the large crowd on the beaches on April 25-26.

Another health expert, Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of public health for San Francisco, is also quoted as saying, “We are seeing spikes in infections in Southern California commensurate with when the beaches became crowded. We have seen spikes of infections when people have gone to large gatherings at churches or birthday parties. We must be vigilant.”

Dr. Nichole Quick, Orange County’s health officer, said there’s no evidence at this time that crowded beaches were a factor in the increase in cases. She said, “As of now, that is not something we are pointing to as a cause of cases.” Since the County started ramping up its daily screening activity around April 28th, Quick points out, “As we test more, we’re likely to pick up more cases.”

On a similar theme, as Los Angeles begins to open up its beaches this week, a new protocol has been put in order: L.A. Mayor Garcetti announced this week that all Angelenos would be required to wear face coverings outside. If the infection rate in Orange County continues to rise, maybe the County Health Department or the mayors in Orange County will also wisely call for this protection.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Is there a war going on in politics with COVID-19?

There would probably be more sympathy for “open” beach protesters if there were essentially not a war going on – the war against COVID-19. In that sense, it is best to think of (Governor) Newsom as the general whose main goal is to protect us from this grave threat. Those local leaders who feel like they should have been consulted before taking action, should ask themselves if a general who perceived an emergency situation, would stop and ask his lieutenants for permission to act. 

I live in Newport Beach and along with many of my peers (in keeping with the battle metaphor), salute Governor Newsom for the noteworthy job that he is doing. And personally, I am embarrassed by the lack of gratitude of the protesters and some of the leaders in Orange County. Most of us who get out of this alive will most likely be crediting Newsom for having been one of the main factors in lowering the coronavirus infection levels. Not just Californians, but residents of other states as well are benefiting from his knowledge and strategies in dealing with this grave threat. 

A poll just published Saturday (May 2) in the LA Times (UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies) finds that 70 percent of California voters approve of Governor Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis and “large majorities want to go slow on ending stay-at-home orders.” Finally, “7 in 10 voters fear the possibility of getting sick with COVID-19.”

Instead of complaining about missing a few beach days, we should be more focused on how to better protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors. Despite the fact that face masks have been highly recommended by most health leaders, Newport Beach does not fully mandate face masks. So, in the photos of beach attendance last weekend, there were few if any masks in sight. Many would agree that an absence of face masks, along with compromised social distancing on the beach, made for one precarious situation. I am sure that we all hope that no one becomes a victim of what some might perceive as capricious activity.

Interestingly, as beach-goers and some vocal city and county leaders protested Newsom’s actions, on Friday California recorded the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day in over a week. Most of the new cases and deaths reported were in Southern California, including Orange County. Local protesters also often fail to point out that when beaches are open in Newport Beach, they are open for everyone, including Los Angeles residents because their beaches are closed. So beach-goers in Newport Beach are not just being exposed to contagion from Orange County residents, but from residents in other cities who have closed beaches or have no beaches.

Perhaps the leaders from Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point might want to emulate Costa Mesa who has less than half the cases of Newport Beach with a significantly larger population; one large factor is that they have mandated facial masks since April 13th for residents and businesses.

Finally, there is an ominous statistic to acknowledge from WHO: “The U.S. recorded on Friday its highest daily death toll as almost 20 states were easing their lockdown restrictions.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Disagreements over direction of our residents

Our privileged population in Newport Beach seems to have spawned a group of confident individuals who think that they not only have their own answers about science, government, health, business and city development issues, but they have the answers for all the rest of us, too.

A depressing number of our residents who do not really represent the silent majority, feel no need for protecting the overall health of society. Thus they flock to the beaches at their first opportunity to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. And, most refuse to wear facial masks that would protect their neighbors. 

These residents wrote in when the Council had their three-pronged meeting this last Tuesday. Several wrote about individual rights to enjoy the natural environment. Another large group of articulate locals also wrote lengthy letters, pleading with the Council to not open the beaches because of health concerns. Some chastised them for going against the guidelines of the state. 

Unfortunately, as concerned residents, we fall for that trick every time, don’t we? The Council provides the opportunity for residents to give them input on a key issue; they then conclude their supposedly open discussion with a predictable outcome – the ubiquitous 5 to 2 vote.

But beachgoers are not the only would be experts on running the city in this time of crisis; there were several business people who, shunning any authority of the state, wanted to advise local government on how to reopen the economy. They were offering their leadership and services. Even one of our Council people got involved, waxing on about individual rights. Neither group offered any specific guidelines themselves.

This rebellious spirit in Newport Beach is further evidenced by the Planning Commission and again the City Council, who repeatedly allow exceptions to zoning and development guidelines. Our Council seems to think that it has all the answers to so many questions. They continuously start work on various issues – but it is rare that we see “the fruits of their labor.” Maybe they should just stick to enforcement of the guidelines that have been established for them by past councils and keep their nose out of state and federal business.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Please, please consider the City’s alternative plan for Ensign

Letter to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees

We have recently found out that all of you were presented with an alternative project by the City of Newport Beach; however, [it seems] you blatantly lied to the community and stated that you never had seen any other plan, when your staff met with Newport Beach city staff all along.

The NMUSD also was not forthcoming with the project, ONLY presenting a graphic of the project in front of the school that DOES NOT include the proposed “Banana” parking lot.

I am providing all of you with the proof and the alternative illustration with the changes saving the 50-year-old trees along Cliff Drive that was presented to NMUSD by the City of Newport Beach to NMUSD.

[I believe] You also were not truthful with not allowing any community outreach meeting and the survey that was sent out [in my opinion] was devious and deceptive.

The idea of destroying these trees is equivalent to killing 23-27 live beings; that is the realistic image that the children are experiencing. 

At your last meeting, (you) gloated about having crisis counselors on site when the children were killed in the helicopter; let’s not bring out any more crisis counselors at this time during COVID-19. The children are all out playing with their families in the neighborhood and they will be devastated if you remove these trees. The City of Newport Beach has provided to you a SAFE alternative plan for Ensign.

If you do not listen to the residents’ pleas, you will be hearing the children’s cries. Stop and change this course of the project – utilize the City’s plan on Tuesday, April 28.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Was closing the Balboa Island Bay Front the wrong decision?

Closing the Balboa Island Bay Front [may have] increased the chance of COVID transmission. But the underlying danger may be worse.

The city of Newport Beach has fallen victim to the Big Government Policy of Control for Control’s Sake. One example of this stands out like a sore thumb, and I cannot quietly acquiesce to such dangerous precedents. 

Without examination, closing the Balboa Island Bay Front to pedestrian traffic might have seemed consistent with current COVID guidelines. But consider this: It was one-way traffic, 10’ wide, social distancing was being meticulously adhered to, and the amount of foot traffic was less than typical and less than many other places in the city. 

So they closed the Bay Front for what reason? Unknown, and unanswered, after multiple written attempts to find out. What is the obvious and demonstrable result? Forcing face-to-face pedestrian traffic onto more crowded and narrower sidewalks. Placing pedestrians into alleys and streets in conflict with existing bike and car traffic. Generally, not only [possibly] increasing the chance of COVID transmission, but increasing the chances of traffic accidents to boot.

Maybe it was intellectual error, i.e. a group-think decision that resulted as such decisions usually do. Or maybe there is a more selfish, or even sinister reason. All we know is that the public is now more in danger [in my opinion], than before this decision was made. But one might worry, does this set a future precedent that endangers more than just the health of our citizenry?

Matt Clabaugh

Newport Beach

Open letter to the OC Board of Supervisors

We write today as entrepreneurs, small business owners, restaurateurs and residents of Orange County to express our grave concern for the County’s economic predicament as a result of the “shelter in” and “non-essential” business shutdown orders from the State and County. 

The predicate for the initial “shelter in” and business shutdowns was the need to “flatten the curve” of infections in order to assure that our health care system would not be overwhelmed. However, with each passing day it becomes more evident that the original statistical models driving these drastic measures were flawed and dramatically overstated the risks. 

Hoag Hospital was the first hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient. During an April 15 video update, Dr. Brant-Zawadzki, Senior Physician Executive at Hoag Hospital, explained, “the numbers are now stabilizing and going down [in fact], it’s not that the curve has flattened – we’re on the other side of the curve and heading down.” Dr. Martin Fee, Chief Clinical Officer and Head of Infection Control at Hoag Hospital, also added, “definitely in Orange County it has [flattened].” Orange County’s daily COVID-19 infections peaked on April 1 at 104 and have averaged 57 per day through April 19. This successful slowing of the spread of COVID-19 can be largely attributed to the actions of the State and Orange County Board of Supervisors. We thank the OC Board of Supervisors for its hard work and leadership to protect our community during this crisis. 

But it has become clear that the status quo is not economically or socially sustainable, even in the short term. The stress of economic devastation and curtailed civil liberties could one day soon become untenable. 

State unemployment claims exceed 2.7 million while Orange County claims are in the tens of thousands. As long as we remain in lockdown, these numbers are projected to climb to catastrophic levels. 

It is time for the Orange County Supervisors to lead the County and State in economic recovery.

We understand that the Board of Supervisors is forming a task force to formulate a safe and responsible plan for reopening the Orange County economy and urge the Board to move with the greatest urgency and develop this plan in no more than 10 days. We expect the Board will work with the State where possible, but where necessary we urge you to move faster and more broadly as our County statistics dictate. We understand these decisions are not without health and political risks but believe the business community and the citizens of the County will offer broad and sustained support.

We believe it is possible to protect the health and safety of our communities without bankrupting them as well. If we act now and put together an aggressive plan to restart the OC economy as well as minimize health risks, then businesses can begin the process of contacting vendors, employees, customers and preparing to smoothly transition and reopen. 

We are facing an economic meltdown due to the shutdown. The citizens of Orange County are prepared to continue practicing social distancing and rigorous hygiene protocols. Our residents are smart, industrious and responsible. 

We urge you to act now for the thousands in Orange County and millions across our state who’ve lost their jobs. 

Orange County must get back to work. And the Orange County Supervisors can and must lead the way. You have our unqualified support. 



Questions and concerns still remain with Ensign school construction

I believe that the meeting (NMUSD Board Meeting) should be postponed, as there still have not been illustrations posted at the school of the proposed “banana” parking lot. The NMUSD should have given at least another option, which they never did; [it seems] they felt like we would forget about this and go away. Well, complacency is not who we are as a community in Newport Heights and Cliff Haven.

We realize that there are alternatives that have been suggested by traffic engineers (one example is taking out the chokers along Cliff and shortening the ingress and egress for vehicles).

If the NMUSD proceeds with this project and removes the noble and mature trees, I am afraid this decision will have irreparable damage to the children’s psyche; [to me] this is simply irresponsible and is an example of reckless disregard to the children and to the entire community. 

This is not the time to destroy what gives us’s Earth Day (this week) for God’s Sake!

Thank you,

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

We need to follow the Governor’s six-stage plan

I knew it was only a matter of time before the businessmen (excuse me, two women, thirty-three men) in Orange County joined together to try to push the Board of Supervisors to come up with a plan to reopen Orange County’s economy more quickly than other counties. I notice in their manifesto that they are not suggesting going through the proper channels by communicating with the Governor, because at this point they know, he would turn them down. In fact, in their document, they did not mention the Governor of California one time. 

That is quite an omission, since most Californians, regardless of political party, acknowledge that Governor Newsom is seen as the head of a small group of heroes who were the first to issue “social distancing” and “stay at home” orders. He is the one who saved thousands of lives in California by creating successful measures that were used as guidelines in other states. Most people know at least, to give credit where credit is due.

This group of 35 professionals, as far as I can ascertain, consists of only one concierge doctor from Newport Beach. They are appealing to the Board of Supervisors to be the sole decision makers as to when the County can declare an end to quarantine. They say it will be done very carefully. Seemingly, they are attempting subversion of the six-stage plan developed by Governor Newsom with the help of health care leaders and specialists. (There is no mention of it in their letter.) Newsom has promised to work with local leaders as they follow the process for coming slowly out of quarantine. He will be using the six criteria developed by health leaders and epidemiologists. Not one of these criterion has been met yet by Orange County.

One of the rationale this group uses is that the pandemic did not turn out as badly as predicted. Ironically, that is only because of Governor Newsom’s leadership and quick action, which saved thousands of lives in California and elsewhere. 

So we are supposed to turn our fate over to a gaggle of businessmen who have no background in epidemiology and whose experience in handling epidemics is zero and turn our back on the Governor who has saved thousands of lives by his skilled leadership? We are just supposed to trust these men and the County Supervisors to step in and take over without our or the Governor’s blessing? 

Yes, our economy has suffered drastically, but I would be willing to bet that this group, along with most leaders and businesspeople in Orange County are at the very least, millionaires. As millionaires, we should not be the ones making decisions that will affect our county’s health or wealth for that matter, unless we are doctors, health care workers, or scientists working in conjunction with skilled leadership both from the State and the County. Having lots of money does not qualify us. We can bring the economy back but not the friends and family members we could lose by trying to end quarantine too early. Life-death decisions at this point should not be made solely by politicians.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Let’s rely on medical science and not on politics

Our Newport mayor, Will O’Neill, tends to put forth his city leadership on Twitter. So, if you want to know what he is thinking, follow his tweets. His latest is: “Enforcement of these prohibitions is not in the public’s interest. These orders are an abuse of power that infringe on basic civil liberties and defy common sense while putting the health of the public and enforcement officers at risk.” (

I believe he is referring to the COVID-19 rules in place such as wearing masks and closing beaches and places where people unsafely gather until it is again safe to gather. 

This sounds to me like a political statement instead of one backed by medical science and we need leadership in Newport to follow medical science on this and help us all get tested so we feel and hopefully are safe again. It is a public safety issue not a political philosophy issue. 

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

Where are the mask requirements for Newport Beach?

This last week both Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach, our neighboring cities, began their mandate on the wearing of facial masks in public. That means that there will be an influx of “mask-less” people into Newport Beach where the wearing of masks in public is not required. How Newport Beach can justify their refusal to require masks is beyond me. Perhaps the city government could explain their reasoning to the 89 Newport Beach residents who have contracted the disease. Or to the general public, which must be wondering why.

As I told our Mayor and City Manager, there is nothing in the Constitution about the right to NOT wear masks but in the Declaration of Independence, it does entitle us to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And, I think we all would be a lot happier if we didn’t have to worry about contracting the coronavirus in public because someone in our proximity refused to wear a mask.

I certainly don’t expect our venerated Newport Beach Police to issue tickets or even approach a “non-mask” wearer. They are trained to deal with the public and can issue polite reminders to businesses and the public without issuing citations. It would also be helpful if businesses posted signs to remind the public to wear masks and stand six feet from their closest neighbor. The Newport Beach public is, for the most part, compliant and will need only gentle reminders.

This weekend several people sent emails to Mr. (Will) O’Neill and Ms. (Grace) Leung to urge them to follow the paths of neighboring cities by using every means possible to protect their citizens. We are not yet “flattening out” or on a downward arc. In fact, America has lost more citizens, 42,000 to the coronavirus, than any other country and last week was a record week for the number of overall deaths in our country. 

We are nowhere near the end of this crisis. If someone asked me to sing “America the Beautiful” in public to help save lives, I would do it. But better yet, let’s stand out on our doorstep every night at 8 p.m. to “clap and cheer for all the healthcare and essential workers” as Tom Johnson suggests in Stu News.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Dixon calls on governor to suspend AB5

Like many of you, I have been working from home on both my campaign and Newport Beach City Council responsibilities. When the stay-at-home restrictions have finally ended, the provisions of Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) will still be in place, making it more difficult for millions of independent contractors to get back to work. 

Therefore, last week I sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to suspend AB5 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on independent workers in California. This bill, which Newsom signed into law last year, restricts employers’ ability to hire independent contractors. This includes thousands of hospital workers all across the state.

Governor Newsom alone holds the authority to waive such regulatory statutes. That is why I am calling upon him now to do the right thing and suspend AB5. California’s economy does not need to endure more strain and pressure beyond the current health crisis.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my letter to the Governor with you.

Dear Governor Gavin Newsom, 

As you well know, the State Emergency created by the COVID-19 virus has not only created a medical crisis, it has and will continue to have long lasting economic impacts beyond the medical crisis. As a member of the Newport Beach City Council, I appreciate your efforts in handling this crisis. 

Given this crisis, I’m asking you to take swift action to reverse statutory legislation that you signed last year that restricts employers’ ability to hire independent contractors also known as Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). 

Even the best projections by medical experts illustrate California has yet to experience the peak of the COVID-19 virus impact. Soon our hospitals and economy will be feeling the immense pressure of this virus. Thus, we must act immediately, as the virus spreads the effect on California worsens. 

Before AB5, thousands of hospital workers, including emergency room physicians, were classified as independent contractors. These hospital workers are needed more than ever, and government should not stand in the way of allowing hospitals and hospital workers to engage in a mutually beneficial financial arrangement to bring these desperately needed workers to aid fellow Californians. 

Further, AB5’s impact isn’t only to the medical industry, there are thousands of other California industries and jobs that have been affected. We must do everything we can to bring relief to these workers by freeing them to work to lessen the economic impact to California. 

I believe you alone under the California Emergency Services Act are empowered to suspend any regulatory statute where you determine that compliance with the order would hinder or delay the mitigation of the emergency. 

I’m asking you to review and act using these authoritative powers granted to you by the voters of California to suspend AB5 immediately to help California’s workers and the economy.

Best Regards, 

Diane Dixon 

Candidate, 74th Assembly District

Newport Beach

This reader believes there’s more to the story than what’s being reported

This COVID-19 thing has me losing faith in our leaders to protect and defend the constitution. Part of that loss of faith has to do in large part to reporting by news agencies, sadly to report, yours included.

Key preliminary findings from review of the first 17 deaths due to COVID-19 include:

–10 patients (59 percent) male, 7 patients (41 percent) female.

–Age range 31-93 with average age of 67.

Complete data on comorbidities is available for 15 of the 17: All 15 with complete data had medical comorbidities (e.g. DM, CVD, CKD, HTN, immunosuppression, obesity, others).

–2 patients (both in the age group of 75+) did not have any identified medical comorbidities but lacked data on BMI.

–10 of the15 with known comorbidities had two or more conditions identified.


–Average age of hospitalized cases is 59, and average age of deaths is 67.

–Male predominance in both hospitalized cases and deaths.

–Presence of comorbidities, especially multiple comorbidities, is high in both hospitalized cases and in deaths.

The highlighted (italicized) data is significantly more valuable to the residents of Newport (and the county) and having an understanding of COVID-19 than the “score” per city.

Part of keeping the county safe, and responsible reporting, involves keeping the residents informed, which I think you’re doing a great job at. I also think that a broader scope of the data, since you have access to it, is critical in sharing. As a citizen, I’m witnessing what I will call “unhealthy” behavior when it comes to social distancing (which should be reclassified as physical distancing). That is today, the mental health of our citizens is in jeopardy due to the amount of fear, uncertainty and misunderstanding surrounding COVID-19 and its associated risks to mortality. Not to mention our constitutional rights being forfeited. Reporting by all media should show all the data, not just what is fantastic, scary, impressive, etc. 

Here are some stats that you should share: Two-thirds of the deaths as of this data being published were people who had more than two indicated comorbidity factors. 100 percent of those with complete data had a comorbidity factor. (My editorial 2 cents on the two who didn’t have complete reports? If I were a gambling man, I’d say that their BMI was >40). This is important information that is not being disseminated in any thoughtful way by any media source that I can find.

I just think if people had a general understanding of who is dying as a result of COVID-19, it might have a more positive impact on how we deal with it moving forward. Remember, we are flattening the curve with social distancing, not eliminating it. Everyone under that curve is always susceptible to infection unless a vaccination is found. We are prolonging the inevitable with a hope to not stress our healthcare system, which at the moment in Newport and the rest of the county is actually suffering budget shortfalls from under-utilization.

Thank you for all you do to keep our county informed and I hope that you will take my recommendations to heart and share them with the community along with the other data provided.

David Clarke

Costa Mesa

Masks just make people safer

Yesterday when I was in a part of Newport that has some small active shops, I was surprised to see that many people congregating there were not wearing masks. Although it has not been mandated by the Governor, it has been highly suggested that in order to drive the number of COVID-19 cases in a downward trend, that everyone should wear masks. My observation was that younger people were less likely to wear them. However, most people 40 and older were wearing them.

Masks are not very comfortable, and I can understand the reticence to wear them. However, if it means saving lives and moving us closer to “normalcy,” it is not a big sacrifice. There is quite a bit of literature that suggests that masks are worn to protect other people. Not wearing them in public when you come into contact with other people is thus seen as a selfish gesture. Most people are probably not motivated by selfishness, they just need to be educated about how wearing masks in public can protect other people and most likely themselves.

I am not even sure that they have encouraged them, but I stand to be corrected and look forward to their acknowledgement of this important issue.

Mayor Garcetti has made masks mandatory in Los Angeles. I hope that we will follow suit to help lower our relatively high number of coronavirus cases in Newport Beach. It is better to overreact in situations like this than to underreact, if it means that lives can be saved.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

So many heroes rising up amongst us

It is not a secret that out of great crises, heroes are often made. Out of the coronavirus crisis that we are experiencing now, the brave men and women we revere, who dare to tread where most of us would not go, are not the politicians among us. They are the doctors, nurses, policemen, firemen, store clerks, checkers and delivery men, some of the most gracious and non-assuming heroes we have ever known.   

Imagine thousands of vulnerable health care workers coming out of retirement, putting their own life on the line for strangers. They do so purposely and without complaint. This is the stuff of which today’s heroes are made – duty, compassion, selflessness and bravery.

These workers do not even decry the difficult and even dangerous conditions under which they work: shortages of proper safety equipment, insufficient structures to house the critically ill, disorganization of governmental bodies, and failure to establish a central agency or a group of leaders to federally unite the counterattack against the coronavirus. 

But not all political leaders have failed to respond to the call of their constituents. Newport’s City Council called an emergency meeting last week, responding to some residents’ safety concerns by making further beach closures and putting a moratorium on short-term beach rentals. And other surrounding cities have kept their coronavirus statistics relatively low for “resort-type” environments. 

On a state level, California’s leaders were among the first to call for social distancing and then to mandate it. The governor is also resourceful in finding caches of private medical supplies to arm his healthcare workers. At this point California is even in a good enough position to loan ventilators to New York City, the epicenter of the virus.

It is important for us to acknowledge that this is a war we are fighting. We all have roles to play. Helping each other, and those who cannot help themselves, remaining vigilant about not exposing ourselves and those around us to unnecessary risks, and demanding that those in government at all levels provide us with examples of statesmen-ship, unity and leadership – those are our duties.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Hearing on 215 Riverside Project should be delayed until City Hall “re-opens”

Working together, let’s imagine the possibilities of building a community coastal city for people to enjoy now and in the future.

Stewardship: Together all of us are expected to be good stewards, caretakers, or custodians of our neighborhoods and the greater Newport Beach community. Community involvement and citizen input is a prerequisite for the City of Newport to fulfill its primary responsibility of stewardship.

The City of Newport Beach has essentially shut down the City due to COVID-19, until at least May 3, 2020.

Recently, the City of Newport Beach has decided to hear the appeal from the developers of the 215 Riverside Project this Tuesday (today), April 14, 2020. This development project consists of a rooftop restaurant and an open parking structure that would abut up to the community of Newport Heights. There is no urgency with regard to this project. The residents need to be able to understand this project and its cumulative impacts to the community.

Community Concern: This parking structure is right in the heart of Newport Heights, where 4,300 children attend three different schools in the Heights and more than 1,500 Junior Lifeguards travel to and from the beach on this route on Riverside Drive and Avon Ave. The dangers of the ingress and egress of bicyclists, pedestrians and children commuting to and from Newport Heights has not been studied nor made available to the public.

According to the City’s Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision Plan, a parking structure should not be allowed to abut against nor be in a residential neighborhood.

The resident caretakers and custodians of the surrounding neighborhoods (1) cannot physically attend this meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) will only be allowed to live stream the meeting and (3) will only be able to express their concerns and comments telephonically and not provide supporting evidence.

Due to the magnitude of this project and its impact along Mariner’s Mile, I request that this hearing be postponed until the residents and the public can physically attend this meeting.

Your neighbor,

Patrick Gormley 

Past President, Bayshores Community Association

Newport Beach

Resident upset with derelict property

I have asked repeatedly that the derelict property next to me on Kings Road be cleaned up and fenced off appropriately.

The owner has previously been contacted to clean up the property; however, nothing has been done to remediate it in almost two months and the graffiti is becoming worse.

What course of action do we need to take to have this cleaned up?

I know there’s a lot going on right now, but my husband and I don’t deserve to live like this in Newport Beach.

Thank you,

Peggy V. Palmer 

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor 4.14.20

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Peggy Palmer

Letters to the Editor

Is the COVID-19 pandemic a reminder why limitations should be placed at JWA?

In a world that’s been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic I know you and all the supervisors are reviewing decisions made that could have reduced impact on our county, cities, homes and country. The virus slipped in via an infected person. What started in Wuhan, China spread unabated in under three weeks taking lives and ravaging the economy despite U.S. travel restrictions. 

Why am I stating the obvious? Because this board (Orange County Board of Supervisors) circulated a Request for Proposal (RFP) from Fixed Base Operators (FBO) at John Wayne Airport (JWA). I vividly remember sitting in the Hall of Administration chambers in April, May and June 2019 when hundreds of people begged the supervisors to not include an international point of entry outside the main JWA terminal. As you recall, opposition was based on the possibility of a deadly biologic/virus entering our country via an “FBO port of entry.” Over protests from hundreds of citizens and council members from multiple cities, the OC Board of Supervisors voted to include an international port of entry in the RFP. Why? Was it for money? Was it a political favor? I hope not. It’s now abundantly clear this is one of the dangers and consequences posed by an FBO being a point of entry for international arrivals into the US.

It will be years before our local and national economies mend. Tens to hundreds of thousands will die. That’s now inevitable. But you can do what’s right and protect us. You cannot seriously consider allowing international passengers to circumvent the main terminal entry point and come through a private FBO. Entry plans created by FBOs will never adequately safeguard us from what’s happening. The very idea of international flights at JWA is still up for debate but even if it stands, international arrivals must all go through the main terminal where the Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. agencies can enforce stringent screening and uniform protections. An FBO is not the place for customs and border security; it must be in the main terminal if international arrivals are allowed at all.

The horror of this pandemic necessitates uniform and technologically advanced screening of passengers and flights. Having a private FBO as a point of international entry is an invitation to repeat this human and economic devastation. I strongly urge you and the board of supervisors to reconsider your decision allowing an FBO to become a point of entry for international arrivals. Protecting the county and country is your duty. 

Lorian K. Petry

Newport Beach

Let’s close the beaches because home means home

What does stay at home mean? Does it mean go to the Newport beaches? I don’t think so. 

I just read about the situation in Ketchum, Idaho, about the large numbers of people coming into that town trying to get away from where they reside. Ketchum now has one of the highest rates of infection by population in the country. 

I have emailed (Diane) Dixon and the mayor pleading them to close the beaches, with no response. Laguna, Long Beach, LA County and all of the South Bay have closed their beaches; that should set some kind of example to our city council that it is in the best interest of our city’s population to keep people out of the city until this crisis is over. 

Please use your influence and editorials to support “CLOSE THE BEACHES”.  

Donald Keys

59-year resident of Newport Beach

Balboa Peninsula

Numbers and complete precautions are necessary

I want to thank you for your coverage in Stu News Newport of the COVID-19 crisis. The publication of the OC Heath Dept. case data is an important public service. You haåve helped to convince our residents in Newport Beach this is real, and your best defense is stay at home. 

I recommend to my family and friends if they must leave for medical services, supplies, take-out food or other emergencies, take all the precautions of wipes, mask, hand washing.

Also clothes off (in the) garage or outside the residence, clothes immediately in the washer, shoes disinfected and a shower.    

I especially appreciate your strong recommendation to young people they need to be patient and stay home. 

This is going to be a marathon through April at least. When OC case numbers start to level, people will want to get back to normal. I do not see this happening soon. We need a vaccination before we can let our guard down. Recovery will be hard, and we all need to do our part. As Governor Cuomo said the other day at his daily news conference, we need unity and stamina.

Ron Rubino


Guest Letter

Butch Knerr

Irvine Co. retail centers remain open for essential needs

We want to assure you that our retail centers remain open for essential needs and services. Grocery stores, pharmacies, healthcare providers, gas stations, banks, and restaurants offering drive-thru and pick-up service are working hard to serve our community. Many stores have adjusted their regular business hours to allow time for additional cleaning, disinfecting, and restocking items. Additionally, some stores are offering special shopping times for seniors 65+ and those with special medical conditions.

We would like to thank all of the hardworking and dedicated people who keep these businesses open during this challenging time. As a company, we continue to monitor Federal, State, and local health regulations. Our top priority remains the health and safety of you, your family, and our community.

Butch Knerr is president of Irvine Company Retail Properties.

Letter to the Editor

What’s it going to take to close our beaches?

How many more local cases of coronavirus is it going to take for the City of Newport Beach to close all remaining beaches that are open, lots adjacent to parks and trails, and the parking lot at the Peninsula Fun Zone?

As of Tuesday, March 31, Newport was second only to Irvine in the number of cases overall, but Irvine has more than three times the population. And also, Newport Beach was second only to Laguna with more cases per thousand of population. Costa Mesa with a population of more than 115,000 had less than four times the number of coronavirus cases as Newport Beach.

Because of the public service that Stu News is providing citizens twice weekly with these statistics, we are able to keep track of the coronavirus case numbers and to question unusual discrepancies that we see.

Being in the top two cities in both categories, highest overall and most cases per thousand, are not statistics that city government in Newport Beach should take lightly. I would say that it is not flattering for our public image and might reflect bad decision-making on behalf of the City leaders.

As a comparison, my nephew, who lives in Manhattan Beach where I grew up, says that all beaches in the South Bay are closed, including all parking adjacent to the beaches and trails.

Let’s hope that the same restrictions are soon applied in Newport Beach.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Are the cutting of trees what the community should really be doing?

The Newport Heights, Balboa Island and Cliffhaven communities have experienced a “tree saving” effort the last several months. Because these older areas have more numerous and larger established trees than most of the other communities in Newport Beach, it did not come as much of a surprise that many residents spoke out in favor of saving them. 

First the city, and secondly the school district, announced that the removal of foundation trees was necessary for safety and architectural reasons. Some in the communities charged back, that for them the trees were too important to remove because of esthetic and biological reasons. Also, many of them failed to agree with the validity of the safety issue. In their defense, they point out that the trees provide the vital infrastructure for healthy ecosystems. 

To give a little historical and literary perspective to the “save the tree” movement, we can turn to a nineteenth century poet and journalist Walt Whitman, who mourned the loss of trees in his beloved Brooklyn. 

One of my neighbors foraged through literary works to find this inspiring excerpt printed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: “The beautiful large trees that stood long on Dr. Hunt’s old place, corner of Concord and Fulton streets, were cut down the other day, to gain a few inches more room, to build brick and lime walls on. Now, though we hold to as little intermeddling as possible, by the press, with private rights, we pity and denounce this work of death. Why don’t they let the trees stand and build their fine edifice a few feet farther in?”

It is difficult to find the proper balance between progress and nature. I have experienced this dichotomy on a personal level and have not always been consistent in my choice. I just know that in the long run, I find a lot more solace in green than grey. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Extra-large approved Kings Road home is now even bigger, resident wonders what’s going on?

Recently, the 1113 Kings Road residential project that was approved for a 12,300-square-foot structure by the City Council obviously did not recognize that the plans were changed and finalized for an almost 18,000-square-foot residence. This happened AFTER your vote at the Council Meeting. This neglectful decision now has the potential to destroy the adjacent homes. 

The residents are in favor of private property rights; however, the Council once again listened to City Staff.

Personally, the number of homes that I am aware of being compromised is up to 86 and counting.

This “structural virus” and the continued need for greed is literally destroying the charm of our town.

I suggest that in the future the Council focus on the majority of tax-paying stakeholders’ advice, as opposed to the nouveau riche that are swarming into Newport Beach like parasites. 

Let this be a lesson learned that when the Council is presented with the future of the 215 Garden Project and the Newport Village Project, please listen to your constituents. As these are two more additional projects that will further erode the charm of our town. 

This epidemic must be stopped. 

We are just trying to live in peace without having our homes compromised by these oversized structures. 

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

This resident sings the praises of local political representatives and their accomplishments

Cottie Petrie-Norris and Harley Rouda are so busy seeking positive legislation for their districts, that they have not had the time nor inclination to get involved in negative political battles with their opponents. Both of them tout impressive lists of legislative conquests and have been overly generous with the time they have devoted to meeting their constituents face to face at town hall locations and at numerous public events.

Cottie’s latest legislative achievements have been directed against fighting homelessness in Orange County. She is trying to increase the number of emergency shelters, working with local leaders to open a new mental health treatment and housing facility to get people who need help into treatment and off the street, and is leading a working group that she has established in the legislature on Substance Abuse Treatment. She is approaching the homelessness situation with a “services first” approach while also supporting laws that protect sensitive areas, public parks, and neighborhoods. 

To that effect, during her first term in the State Assembly, she has supported providing more that 650 million dollars in funding to assist local cities in addressing the crisis. Finally, in another effort to help the homeless population, Cottie secured $2.9 million dollars to provide housing for homeless veterans in Orange County, money that will be in a program led by United Way.

Homelessness is not the only issue that has caught Cottie’s attention. She authored a new bill which has already been signed into law, which invests in green infrastructure along the California Coast to combat sea level rise, and she secured a state grant of $4.5 million to finance a 150-day program called FIRIS which would provide a potential tool for wildfire combat. 

As if that were not enough for a freshman state assemblyperson, Cottie also authored two other bills, AB 469 and AB 558, both signed into law by the governor. The first bill improves transparency and preserves sensitive information, the second provides pro-bono legal services for active military members.

Harley Rouda has also captured the imagination of many of his constituents in Orange County with his amazing energy and accomplishments during his first term in Congress. To the gratitude of many of his constituents, Harley has promoted bipartisanship, common sense and duty toward those he serves. He has been the most legislatively productive freshman member of Congress, introducing 28 measures and co-sponsoring 279. Sixteen of his personally sponsored measures were passed by the legislature. 

He has chaired several hearings, held two town halls and over 1,000 meetings, sent numerous responses to constituents, scheduled almost 1,000 tours of Congress, and secured close to $20 million in grant funding. 

Harley is most proud of his efforts at bipartisanship while addressing Orange County’s unique problems: climate change, which has already affected Orange County’s coast, prevention of wildfires and storms which are becoming more extreme, cleaning up our air and drinking water, and properly managing spent nuclear fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. 

The accomplishments of these two amazingly energetic freshman representatives are staggering. It is comforting to know that Orange County is being so well served in Sacramento and Washington D.C. by such conscientious and positive leadership.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Should trees be removed at Ensign boundary for parking easement?

The words that were spoken at Tuesday’s Newport Mesa School Board meeting were reminiscent of the Nazi left-wing socialists’ way of thinking that creates a stateless, classless society that ultimately takes away the power from the people. 

Disturbingly enough and leading the charge for tearing out the magnificent mature trees and installing a parking lot was Superintendent Navarro, who used such terms as, “When we mobilize” (destroy the trees), “Create higher fences” (much like concentration camps) and “Tagging trees” (Tattooing each tree for termination).

Letter to the Editor tree with ribbon Letter to the Editor Save the Trees

Click on photos for larger images

Courtesy of Peggy Palmer

The irony is that no one has seen the plans or specifications for the project nor were they available at the meeting; however, the majority of the board voted for the project, much like Pelosi’s infamous health care remark, “But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it...” 

The NMUSD did not even consider alternatives for this devastating project, which could simply be to remove the chokers along Cliff Drive and build a reduced drop-off without impacting the trees; this would also save the taxpayer’s money, but saving money is obviously not in the school district’s vocabulary. 

Perhaps, NMUSD, the City of Newport Beach and the Newport Beach Police Department should work together and close the gap. Ironically, the proposed “ghost” plan has failed to even seek building permits from the City of Newport Beach, because as Navarro stated, their department follows different rules.

The same night, Bernie Sanders won in New Hampshire; socialism is impossible because it lacks the necessary information to perform. The Supervisors’ and Board Members’ socialistic performance failed on Tuesday night as well. 

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Reader offers potential solution to City’s bench refinishing issues

I read with interest your opening paragraph wherein you reported the City Council’s discussion and vote concerning the refinishing of benches on Balboa Island. 

What caught my eye was what I’ve highlighted in italics below.

“An issue before the City Council Tuesday night was the potential approval of a contract to refinish benches on Balboa Island, all 109 of them, as needed. 

The benches on the average need refinishing every 18 months to two years.

The contract was not to exceed the amount of $691,720, which was for an on-call maintenance and repair service agreement for two years.

Too much, it was decided.

Following some good discussions, the Council veered off in a different direction. They voted 6-0 (Jeff Herdman recusing himself) to reject the sole bid and instead refer the issue back to the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission. They’ll request that PB & R look into a replacement plan with possibly some form of composite benches that would last considerably longer.”

Here’s why: Decades ago a client, Richard “Slim” Gardner, called me at my office to announce he and his yacht were day-docked at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Having heard only of his prize-winning all-wooden yacht, my partner, Cort Kloke, and I jumped at the chance to tour his prize possession. 

We brown-bagged lunch for all and met Slim at the yacht’s gangplank.

It was a sunny bright day and as we walked to the bow of the boat I remarked about how the handrails glistened in the sun and asked what marine varnish he was using. Slim smiled and answered, “I stopped using marine varnish years ago.”

Interested I asked why, to which he related the following:

“For years and years I sanded and newly varnished the exposed parts of my boat with very expensive marine varnish, then while attending a boat show in San Francisco I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who also owns an all-wooden boat. Our conversation led to maintenance and that is when he exposed me to a company called Smith and Company. 

Smith and Company is a small Northern California company owned by Steve Smith and located in Richmond, Calif. Steve has developed products specifically for the preservation of wood.

That got my interest and I rented a car and drove to Richmond to meet Steve and see his products. The long and short is that I bought his ‘varnish’ and the next time I had to refinish the wood on my boat I used/applied his product to the starboard side of the boat and my regular marine varnish to the port side.”

THE RESULTS: “Some twenty-four months later the port side’s wood was peeling and being exposed to the elements. I sanded and re-varnished the entire port side with marine varnish. That port side refinishing process happened three more times: one at 16 months, one at 20 months and another at 22 months.

Almost seven years from the starboard side being refinished with Steve’s product it finally started to peel in various places and I refinished it, and the port side, with Steve’s products, and I have never used marine varnish since.”

MY STORY: I was interested in the product because here in CdM we have west-facing oak French doors that were in need of refinishing every three to four years. Hearing Slim’s experience I changed to Mr. Smith’s product and now the doors’ finish last, typically, more than ten years.

Here is Mr. Smith’s web page:

DISCLAIMER: I have no relationship, ownership or interest in Mr. Smith’s company. 

Decades ago, I met Mr. Smith when I also drove to Richmond to purchase his product. I found him to be a brilliant, self-promoting, eccentric, believable, genuine, trained chemist who loves what he does and truly cares about what he provides to his clients.

Perhaps, in the long term, his product can save our City a ton of money?

Jock Begg

Corona del Mar

Thieves hitting surfers’ vehicles around Blackies

On Tuesday the 28th, I parked my SUV in front of Blackies, put my keys into my lock box, and went for a fun surf session. Upon my return, my lock box and keys were gone, my car was locked. I went back to my office on 31st Street, and the mess of a long day started. 

Within 30 minutes the thieves had already gone to Best Buy, Apple Store and Nordstrom and charged close to $7,000. I was able to get fraud departments of my credit cards to take care of this, luckily. 

A stolen phone, wallet and key wound up setting me back over $1,200. 

So a warning to all surfers, this gang of thieves is clever and working in groups. On Wednesday when I was at DMV, the clerk told me I was the third person this week with the same story. Then on Thursday, I witnessed another surfer looking for his keys. He, too, was a victim of the same.

Maybe Newport Beach Police need to set up a sting operation or something.

Concerned Surfer

Letters to the Editor

Thinking about Kobe Bryant

I was 15 when President Kennedy was killed in 1963. Five years later, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were gunned down within months of each other. 

I remember a friend calling me with the news about John Lennon in 1980, and who can ever forget Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston?

Cultural icons often are lost at an early age, leaving us to wonder what if?

The same was true Sunday when the news about Kobe Bryant was announced. When we first met him, Bryant was a boy in a man’s body. When he suddenly left us, he no longer was a sports superstar. At 41, he was a talented legend with an eye to the future.

I was shocked when I heard the news about the president, just as I was shocked when I heard the news about Lennon, Jackson and Houston. 

Maybe because I’m 71 now, I was stunned more than shocked when I heard the reports about Kobe. It literally took minutes for the news to sink in. When it finally did, all I could think of was what if? 

Sadly, I guess we never will know.

RIP Kobe. You were more than guy with a ball. You always will be remembered as a bright light on the horizon.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach     

School district personnel available to help with the impacts of the losses

We are deeply saddened to share with you that our school community has been impacted by a tragic helicopter accident this weekend that claimed the lives of one of our students, her parents, and a former student. 

Given the high profile nature of this tragedy that is impacting our community, I want to assure you that we stand ready to support you however we can.

Everyone experiences grief differently, some may feel confused, angry, sad, frustrated and lonely. We ask that you please help your child talk through their feelings and direct them to available supports and resources. 

Our District’s Crisis Response Team (CRT), which consists of counselors, psychologists, social workers and additional specialized staff were at various schools yesterday to provide social-emotional support to students and staff during this difficult time. The CRT will remain at schools as long as needed. Do not hesitate to reach out to your school principals, counselor or psychologist if you need additional support and resources. Visit the link below for a suggested resource. 

When Grief/Loss Hits Close to Home: Tips for Caregivers

Let’s join together to support each other and all the families and friends who have suffered this great loss. 

Dr. Frederick Navarro


Newport-Mesa Unified School District

Letter to the Editor

Our Wish List for Newport Beach for 2020

H – Hope and help for the Homeless

A – Abatement of “luxury” variances

P – Prevention of a six-lane PCH

P – Preservation of public views

Y – Yearlong good communication with residents and city government

N – Nurturing civic participation of residents

E – Establishing election reform

W – Wielding control over climate change problems

Y – (not) Yielding to developers’ demands

E – Establishing guidelines for city growth which do not compromise Newport’s natural beauty

A – Arresting the aggressive pace of “mansionization”

R – Ringing in a new year of peace and  prosperity

By Tom Baker, Lynn Lorenz and Portia Weiss

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Coastal Commission doesn’t cave in to developer wants

Finally, an exciting victory for those of us who believe in public access to the California Coast! 

At a December 12th meeting, the California Coastal Commission played hardball with a developer in Santa Monica who attempted to skirt the edict of the CCC; he/she had promised to build a resort hotel that included affordable rooms to replace the two affordable hotels that had been knocked down.

In a series of defiant moves, after not keeping its promise to the CCC, the developer had the audacity to sue the Coastal Commission for refusing to grant him an “after the fact“ permit. 

Too often when I visited CCC hearings in the past I was dismayed to see the commissioners acquiescing to the demands of wealthy developers, homeowners and cities. Hopefully, this opens a new chapter – the Coastal Commission’s rededication to protecting the general public’s access to the coast. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Has Harbor’s government chaos led to poor safety decisions?

Next week hundreds of boats will be floating on Newport Harbor enjoying the 111th Christmas Boat Parade.

Mega-yachts, sail boats, speed boats, paddle boards, tiny kayaks and Duffy boats will attempt to safely navigate the chaos.

The Harbor will look like the 405 at rush hour.

Almost as chaotic as the Christmas Boat Parade is the gaggle of a dozen government agencies that regulate the Harbor. 

Two years ago Councilman Duffy Duffield worked with the local Boy Scouts to have LED lights placed on the harbor buoys. It made the Harbor safer and the Scouts did it for free.

Letters to the editor buoy

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of David Ellis

Within months, one of the gaggle of government agencies removed the LED lights because they didn’t have the “proper permits.”

Last February I requested the city’s help to find out what happened to the lights – and hopefully replace them. Nothing has happened in ten months. 

This is a small issue that underscores the need for our city to take control of the Harbor from the multiple bureaucracies that regulate it.

Let’s turn on the lights!

David Ellis

Newport Beach 

Rising sea level needs our attention

There have been two articles this last week in the LA Times (one an editorial) that talk about an existential threat to coastal cities – that of the rising sea level. Experts predict that in the next decade the sea level will rise by six inches.

Local coastal governments need to be working with the state and the California Coastal Commission to determine strategies for addressing this urgent problem. While California is a leader in reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses, it is totally unprepared for the rising sea.

 In Newport Beach, the time, energy and expense the city spends on problematic coastal developments could be better used to face this urgent issue.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beac

Letters to the Editor

Widening PCH will be a major step in the wrong direction for Mariner’s Mile

As a resident of Corona del Mar in Newport Beach, I can appreciate the desire of the Mariner’s Mile Neighborhood to have a similar “village type” atmosphere to the one that we have. However, it was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who lives in the Heights, that along with attempting to establish that atmosphere, the City is considering widening PCH in Mariner’s to a six-lane highway. This would have the effect of establishing the opposite of a village atmosphere.

Corona del Mar has been successful because the highway through the area is narrow and despite traffic problems, particularly at certain times of the day, people can leisurely move around the neighborhood, and can cross PCH quite easily. The businesses are small in stature and align both sides of the highway in a very consistent pattern, creating a very small town atmosphere.

I understand that there are other problems concerning the proposed development for the Mariner’s Mile neighborhood, including fast-moving traffic (which would become worse if the highway is widened), large view-blocking buildings situated next to very small ones and styles of architecture that do not reflect a “beach” atmosphere.

Other than CdM, there is not a typically “beachy” area in the rest of Newport. Doing away with many of the famous land sites on Mariner’s Mile would rob it of its historical significance to Newport Beach. There are views that are going to be blocked, and while I understand that this is allowed, it is not the way to set up a “friendly” area. Many of the residents from that area, one of the oldest in Newport Beach, have lived there for decades.

Although private views can be blocked, I understand that public ones cannot be and that there will be some blocked public views because of this new development.

Although I do not live on Mariner’s Mile, as a resident of Newport Beach, I prize highly the atmosphere of a Newport of bygone years that this area possesses.

I hope the City will not widen PCH, which is the antithesis of a leisurely walking, cycling, driving area.

A village should possess buildings that are similar in size with small variations, consistent architecture, and historical architecture that blends with the new and is inviting to visitors as well as residents.

Tim Stephens

Newport Beach

Let’s remove Banning Ranch from the SCAG List

In response to the SCAG directive, Newport Beach is considering selecting Banning Ranch as one of its choices for limited development. But building homes on this historically significant property with its delicate ecosystem can be a bit of a PR problem for City government, considering its delicate past history with Banning Ranch.

With Coastal Commission validation and a California Supreme Court decision in its favor, you would think that Banning Ranch, with its thousands of admirers, would be off the radar for such a prospect. But Newport Beach government seems to have a proclivity for controversial issues in the past decade.

On the other hand, giving the city the benefit of the doubt, perhaps this decision was made naively since staff members and even some City Council members have not resided in Newport Beach for many years and do not understand the significance of this property to long-term residents and nature enthusiasts throughout California.

Let’s hope that the City does its homework and removes Banning Ranch from any prospective list for development that does not come with blessings from the Conservancy.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Is Banning Ranch in the sights for new home requirements from Sacramento?

The ink had not yet dried on the $50 million dollar check from Frank and Joann Randall when Newport Beach Community Development Director Seimone Jurjis announced at a public meeting on Wednesday, November 13 that Banning Ranch was on the short list for giving up land to help meet City building requirements under SCAG. The Southern California Association of Governments voted this month to shift the 1.3 million new homes needed over the next ten years toward the coast and Newport Beach’s share greatly increased. 

For Banning Ranch, such an announcement was tantamount to “raining on someone’s parade” and all the other platitudes that express monumental disappointment shortly after experiencing long overdue success for the preservation of Banning Ranch. 

Banning Ranch defenders’ elation came after winning an excruciatingly difficult battle, of too many years to count, trying to preserve Banning Ranch from being irresponsibly developed. The wetlands of Banning Ranch represent the one last vestige of large coastal greenbelt along the county’s coast, which contains many remnants of disappearing natural phenomenon-vernal pools and endangered species.    

People like Terry Welsh, Suzanne Forster, Steve Ray and Dorothy Kraus and a whole cast of other hard working supporters contributed countless hours to preserve this choice piece of land for posterity for the benefit of our community and visitors. 

Interestingly and questionably coincidentally, it is western Newport which seems to be experiencing the strongest growing pains in the last few years. In addition to the loss of being able to challenge what seemed to local residents as favoritism shown in zoning rules, the area is also fighting two large developments that will drastically change the iconic Mariner’s Mile area of Newport Beach. Without the nostalgia experienced by most residents and visitors when characterizing this quaint part of our coastal town, there would be little to distinguish Newport Beach from any other colorless beach town. It is as if the City Government and the two developments being proposed are metaphorically erasing the heart of the city. 

It is not surprising that many of the residents of Western Newport are saying, “Why Western Newport?” Why our beloved Banning Ranch? Perhaps a better choice would be to use the several hundred undeveloped acres just north of Crystal Cove State Park to fulfill the City’s need for new housing. That would make a lot more sense particularly when talking about traffic circulation.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Mr. McCaffrey: Please stop with your misrepresentations concerning the Library Lecture Hall

Well, Mr. McCaffrey is at it again. Same o’, Same o’. Spreading mistruths about the proposed Library Lecture Hall.

This time it’s an “Open Letter” to Dr. Frederick Navarro, Superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Mr. McCaffrey trots out the same trite argument that Library programs such as the Witte Lecture Series, Library Live, Medicine in Your Backyard, It’s Your Money, Wake Up Newport, Speak Up Newport, Friends of the Library, Newport Mesa ProLiteracy, the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation and other community programs should schedule their over 200 annual events with over 69,000 participants at the Corona del Mar High School Theater or the Robins Hall/Loats Theater at Newport Harbor High School. 

Dr. Navarro has already told Mr. McCaffrey in an October 4, 2019 email to Councilmember Brenner which was reported in the press: “...our theaters are always booked. We do not allow outside use for two reasons, schools in each zone also use the high school theaters and the schedule is so tight that we cannot find time for all the elementary schools in a year. In the summer, our theaters are down for several weeks for safety inspections and equipment repairs, maintenance and upgrades. We are barely able to squeeze in our own children’s theater summer programs and our summer music camp performances with our busy operations schedule.”

So Mr. McCaffrey and in light of the current overuse of our high school auditoriums, please let us know how you would schedule over 200 events and over 69,000 folks in the facilities at CDM and Harbor.

And in his “Open Letter” to Dr. Navarro, Mr. McCaffrey repeats the following mistruth which has been countered on many occasions: “Instead of the Newport Beach taxpayers spending $8 million on a Library Lecture Hall...” We believe Mr. McCaffrey is well aware that half of the construction costs will be privately donated and will, in effect, be a gift to the City. 

And, finally, Mr. McCaffrey claims in his “Open Letter” to Dr. Navarro that “the library trustees host 6 or 7 high profile speakers each year. Surely you can find 6 or 7 evenings between two theaters to save Newport’s taxpayers $8 million.”

Wrong on all counts Mr. McCaffrey. Please see above.

Mr. McCaffrey has prepared a form email, which he requested our residents to send to the Council. We have prepared the following response to each of Mr. McCaffrey’s emailers. We hope that they will contact us with any remaining questions once they understand the truth.

Here is our response to Mr. McCaffrey’s emailers:

“Dear Mr./Ms. _____________:

My name is Paul Watkins. I serve as Vice Chair of the Newport Beach Public Library Board of Library Trustees (the “Board”). Based on your email to the City Council, the Board wanted me to respond to insure that you have all of the actual facts with respect to the proposed Library Lecture Hall.

(1) First and foremost, you should know that the Lecture Hall is not an “$8 Million taxpayer rip off” as initially claimed by Mr. McCaffrey. The Lecture Hall will be constructed with private funds as well as public funds. Half of the construction costs will be privately donated and will, in effect, be a gift to the City. Had Mr. McCaffrey done any research before making the accusation, he would have discovered that the project has always been a 50-50 cost sharing arrangement between Library supporters and the City. Since the City’s General Fund Budget is about $230 Million, the Lecture Hall one-time contribution will be equivalent to two percent of one year of the General Fund revenues. So it is a false charge that the City will not be able to dredge the harbor, or fight any John Wayne expansion, or support police, or pay other debts if any money is spent on the Lecture Hall.

(2) Over the past few years, the Friends Room has become inadequate in meeting our residents’ needs for presentations and community involvement. But you might not know this if you have never been to a popular event in the Library Friends Room. The Friends Room (capacity of 187) hosted over 69,000 folks in 2018 spanning more than 200 events, approximately 2-1/2 times the number of participants in 2009. And over 1.1 million patrons visited our Libraries in 2018. Demand continues to grow for events and for the Library itself. We anticipate that the Witte Lecture Series, Library Live, Medicine in Your Backyard, It’s Your Money, Wake Up Newport, Speak Up Newport, Friends of the Library, Newport Mesa ProLiteracy, Foundation and other community and outside groups will make regular use of the Lecture Hall with some revenue generation possibilities to the City. Quite simply, the demand for programming by our residents who do enjoy the Library has exceeded the capacity of the Friends Room. And there are no other City facilities that would work any better.

(3) The sight lines from the flat-floored Library Friends Room do not permit guests in the back half of the Friends Room to clearly see the speaker at the front of the Room. The Community Room has a similar capacity to the Friends Room and it too is flat-floored. The Council Chambers has a smaller capacity still. Where would a speaker in the Council Chambers stand? In the three feet behind the dais? In front of the dais but behind the built-in speaker podiums? Neither the Community Room nor the Chambers are actually at the Library where supporters gather before and after events, and Library Staff can be efficiently used because they too have offices at the Library. The 275 fixed comfortable seating Lecture Hall will be sloped from back to front with excellent sight lines throughout. (An additional 50 seats may be added for larger events.) It will have planned pre and post-event areas and can be easily staffed by Library personnel.

(4) Speakers at the flat-floored venues have frequently mentioned that they prefer to look into the faces of their audience to gauge reaction during the course of their talks. This is simply not possible at the Friends Room or the Community Room, nor is it possible with the Event Center at the Oasis Senior Center. Mr. McCaffrey also chastised the Board for not supporting our local schools by using the auditoriums at Corona del Mar High School and at Harbor High School without bothering to check to see if they were available. The Newport-Mesa Unified School District Superintendent bluntly emailed back that the auditoriums are not available to the Library due to already overuse by the high schools themselves and by the elementary/middle schools in the District. Mr. McCaffrey also suggested using Oasis, but Oasis is primarily designed for seniors’ programming, not Library programming, not to mention that it is heavily booked. And how would the limited parking at Oasis work in a very busy facility that suddenly has 300 people descend upon it, not to mention having that number of folks driving through Olde Corona del Mar to get there and to exit from there.

(5) The Lecture Hall will complete the centralized Library campus as the “cultural, educational, and informational heart” of our community. The Library Staff and the Foundation’s offices are located within the Library. The Library Staff members and the Foundation Staff members who arrange for and execute the events at the Lecture Hall will be on-site and able to efficiently carry out their duties with a nearby centralized Lecture Hall. Did you know that the Foundation raised $350,000 last year for Library programming, and also gave a check to the City for $155,000 to spend on Library-related materials? This total of $500,000 was all privately-raised money and enabled a wide variety of presentations in the Friends Room.

(6) A state of the art Lecture Hall will be able to attract world class speakers, performers, and presenters to Newport Beach. Many authors and other Library-centric presenters expect to discuss their books or other scholarly works at a library and not elsewhere.

It is our hope that once you have reviewed the foregoing points in favor of the proposed Lecture Hall, you will reconsider your position and support the Lecture Hall. And please know that you can call me or send me an email at any time to further discuss the proposed Lecture Hall.

Thank you.”

So, Mr. McCaffrey, please stop with your misrepresentations concerning the Library Lecture Hall. 


Paul Watkins, Vice Chair 

Newport Beach Board of Library Trustees

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Mr. McCaffrey’s misunderstanding concerning the Library Lecture Hall

At the risk of boring your readers with our to-and-fro exchanges, I would like to make a couple of observations regarding Mr. McCaffrey’s recent sarcastic comments about the proposed Library Lecture Hall.

1. Mr. McCaffrey’s letter published October 18 mentions an $8 million price tag for the Lecture Hall five separate times before he finally concedes that half the construction costs will come from private funds. That cost sharing arrangement was part of the Library Board’s presentation to the Council on March 12, 2019, which Mr. McCaffrey either knew or should have known before he started his letter-writing campaign in the press about the Lecture Hall cost.

2. Mr. McCaffrey apparently did not see the published photo I took of the March 8, 2019 Witte Lecture by Ms. Amy Walter in the Friends Room. Indeed, Ms. Walter IS on a riser and is still cut off from view for many attendees on the flat-floored Friends Room. And I guess Mr. McCaffrey’s simplistic and naive suggestion would have us stack riser-upon-riser-upon-riser so that folks sitting up front would crane their necks to look up at the speaker. Think first row at the Lido. 

3. The Friends Room hosted over 69,000 participants in 2018 spanning more than 200 events, approximately 1 1/2 times the number of participants in 2009. Over 1.1 million people visited our libraries in 2018. Demand is growing for both. Yes, the Library Board views the Lecture Hall as a “need” at this point. While Mr. McCaffrey ridicules our desire to offer high-quality facilities to host our programming, we believe the Library campus will be greatly enhanced with a 275-seat Lecture Hall (plus 50 overflow capacity), with sloped fixed comfortable seating and excellent sight lines, with state of the art audio visual equipment. Mr. McCaffrey does not believe such a facility merits even one cent of public funding, even though the City will own 100 percent of the Lecture Hall upon completion with some attendant revenues. He has other priorities for the City’s money, but the Library Board believes enhancing the Central Library competes well with any other City project, especially since half the construction cost will in effect be donated to the City. 

Paul Watkins, Vice Chair, Board of Library Trustees

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

McCaffrey retorts Watkins’ retort

Paul Watkins’ recent letter supporting the need for an $8 million library lecture hall makes my point – he “wants it.” We don’t “need it.”

Mr. Watkins, Vice Chair, Board of Library Trustees, thinks it’s a good use of our taxes to spend $8 million so high-profile speakers like Doris Kearns Goodwin can be shrouded in opulence – at our expense – as she hawks her latest book.

He “wants” taxpayers to spend $8 million because neither the $140 million City Hall Chambers or adjacent Friends Room “offers fixed comfortable seating or a sloped floor that preserves all-important sight lines.”

Here’s an idea to save us $8 million, rent a riser for $200. The sightlines will be perfect.

Here’s another idea Mr. Watkins, if you pay Goodwin’s fee she will speak on the beach and we’ll save $8 million and apply it to things we “need” like bay dredging, public safety, and paying down the pension debt.

I was pleased to read that the library folks would use private funds for 50 percent of construction costs. They can start by paying all of the estimated $750,000 architect fee and fundraise for 100 percent of the construction cost because they “want it.”

Bob McCaffrey

Balboa Island

Letters to the Editor

No alternatives fill need for new Library Lecture Hall

In a recent letter, Mr. Bob McCaffrey opposed the proposed Library Lecture Hall at the Newport Beach Central Library. Mr. McCaffrey complained about its cost and questioned the need for a Lecture Hall. He suggested that instead, the Civic Center Council Chambers or Community Room be used. 

Previously, Mr. McCaffrey suggested that the high school auditoriums at Harbor High School and Corona del Mar High School be used without bothering to ask Newport-Mesa about its plans for their facilities. NMUSD Superintendent Dr. Frederick Navarro emailed that the idea was “not pragmatic” due to already heavy overuse by the high schools and local elementary/middle schools. Mr. McCaffrey has also suggested Oasis Senior Center.

Mr. McCaffrey’s latest proposed alternative sites for the high-profile speakers, presentations, and performances contemplated for the new Lecture Hall ignores that the groups that raise funds for and are instrumental in securing the programming are library-centric groups. They love libraries and are motivated by their desire to ensure our library system continues to be the “cultural, educational and informational heart of the City.” They believe that better facilities mean better programming opportunities.

Here’s what else Mr. McCaffrey failed to consider:

1. The cost of the Lecture Hall will be a private-public partnership where half of the cost will be raised by library supporters. Speaking of costs, library staff who also perform other functions at the library cannot be efficiently utilized for the planning and executing of events if the events are not actually at the library. 

2. The Newport Beach Public Library Foundation (with offices located at the Central Library) seeks to attract world class speakers, presentations, and performers, many of whom expect to discuss their books or other scholarly work at a library. For example, the first speaker for the 2019-2020 Witte Lectures is internationally renowned presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. And sometimes, events like Ms. Goodwin’s draw more people than the Friends’ Room, the Council Chambers, and the Community Room will hold; the Lecture Hall is currently planned for approximately 275 seats with overflow capacity of an additional approximately 50 seats. A recent library “needs assessment” reflects a nearly 30 percent attendance increase over a short four-year period. The Foundation and its many supporters are closely aligned with the location and operations of the Central Library, not with the high school auditoriums, not with the Oasis Senior Center, and not with the Council Chambers or Community Room. Beyond the Witte Lectures, it is expected that Library Live, Wake Up Newport, Speak Up Newport, and other community and outside groups will regularly use the Lecture Hall with revenue generation possibilities. 

3. The Lecture Hall will be designed with permanent comfortable seating.  The floor design of the Hall will be sloped (i.e. inclined) from back to front for excellent line of sight to the stage from each seat in the Hall. Neither the Community Room nor the Event Center at the Oasis Senior Center (nor for that matter the Friends Room) offers fixed comfortable seating or a sloped floor which preserves all-important sight lines. And needless to say, Mr. McCaffrey’s Council Chambers’ suggestion ignores the fact that the Chambers have a permanent dais at the front, which disqualifies the Chambers as a reasonable option for theatrical, musical, or like performances.

The proposed Library Lecture Hall will complete the Central Library campus and allow the library, its affiliates, and outside groups to offer world class speakers, presentations, and performances.

Paul K. Watkins, Vice Chair, Board of Library Trustees

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Our energetic new representatives

Characterized as a “firecracker” by a local newspaper, our Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris is in the news again, this time as the author of a new bill signed into law last Saturday by Governor Newsom. AB 65 invests in green infrastructure along the California coast in order to combat sea level rise. 

She also secured a state grant ($4.5 million) to finance a 150-day program called FIRIS (Fire Integrated Real Time Intelligence Systems) which would provide a tool that could be the future of wildfire combat.

Finally, she has authored two other bills recently, AB 469, which improves transparency and preserves sensitive information, also signed into law by Governor Newsom, and AB 558, whose goal is to provide pro-bono legal services for active military members, again signed into law by Governor Newsom. 

Cottie’s 74th Assembly district includes Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Irvine, and Laguna Woods.

Equally as active and charismatic as Cottie is our new Representative in the House, Harley Rouda. Like Cottie, he has gotten to work quickly authoring several bills in the House including H.R. 1317, the Coastal Communities Adaptation Act; H.R. 2570, which holds PFAS polluters accountable for their role in a nationwide contamination crisis; and, H.R. 1929, a bill to permanently extend the fuel cell motor vehicle tax credit. 

He is also Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and the Reform Environment Subcommittee.

His two major goals are protecting the environment and propelling the economy. Harley’s 48th Congressional district includes Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, and parts of Garden Grove, Midway City, Santa Ana, and Westminster. 

Interestingly, both Harley and Cottie live in Laguna Beach.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Why do we need a Library Lecture Hall just because some people want it?

Our Newport Beach Library Board of Trustees are wonderful community-minded individuals. They support the Central Library and sponsor the Witte Lecture Series of six or seven annual high-profile speakers events through the Newport Public Library Foundation. 

They are floating an idea to build their own “Library Lecture Hall” next to the Civic Center adjacent to the Central Library. 

Here’s the problem, they “want” taxpayers to pay for it. They think they “need” it.

The early cost is eight million dollars. 

I’ve seen this movie before. The early cost estimate for City Hall was 50 million dollars. It ballooned to 140 million dollars costing us eight million per year to pay off the 228 million long-term debt.

The City Hall construction included a multi-million breezeway connecting it to the Central Library.

Instead of building a “Library Lecture Hall” why don’t they simply use the ornate City Council Chambers or the new Community Room?

Newport has many “needs” including harbor dredging, properly funding public safety and top-notch city services.

Do we really “need” another lecture hall because someone “wants” it?

Bob McCaffrey

Balboa Island

Skinner, Moorlach and Petrie-Norris make certain no more disingenuous Museum House petition issues

In November 2016, the Newport Beach City Council, knowing that Line in the Sand planned to challenge their approval of the 25-story Museum House condo tower through a referendum, very intentionally added 3,700 pages to the referendum petition that we were required to carry. This action was taken with the clear intent of undermining the resident’s right to petition their government and it failed spectacularly when Line in the Sand obtained the required signatures to reverse the decision.

In September 2017, I submitted a complaint to the OC Grand Jury and the OC District Attorney’s office, both of whom opened an investigation into the actions of the council and both of whom concluded that it was not against the law for them to have taken this step.

The only remedy remaining was to change the law. In January 2019, I approached State Senator John Moorlach and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris with a request to carry a bill in Sacramento that would prevent this abuse from occurring again. To his credit, John had already considered such a bill and introduced SB 359, which would allow referendum proponents to submit a 5,000- word summary in lieu of adding thousands of unnecessary pages to a petition if a future unethical city council tried to take the same action. 

I was invited to address the Elections Committee as the bill started its process through the legislature and took the 10-lb. Museum House petition with me to show the legislators why this was necessary. The bill sailed through both houses with no opposition and was signed into law on Tuesday. 

Anyone who carried the Museum House petition in 2016 will appreciate the fact that good people of both parties still respect the underlying democratic principles of our great nation and are willing to work together to protect our rights. 

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

Open letter to Board of Supervisors concerning General Aviation “Request for Proposal” process

Dear Chairperson Bartlett and Supervisors Steel, Do, Wagner and Chaffee: 

We appreciate you taking the concerns of Orange County citizens into account during your consideration of the three proposed GAIP options and approving an option that addressed many of these concerns. 

As Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon and others stated during the June Board of Supervisors meeting, there is a need for more “specificity” in the details of the GAIP, which we believe must be resolved before the RFP process begins.  We feel strongly that the RFP process be transparent and reflective of concerns clearly voiced by Orange County residents. As you recall county chambers were at standing room capacity. 

To that end, we recommend the County incorporate the following “specifics” into its RFP process and future FBO (Fixed Base Operations) lease agreements:

1. Eliminate the GAF/international provision and remove JWA as a General Aviation “port of entry.”

2. Ensure leases involving the County, JWA and the FBOs establish strict FBO hours of operation that mirror commercial jet hours of operation. Include provisions for terminating lease agreements of violators.

–Preserve the 2016 light GA/Jet mix as clearly defined in the approved EIR limiting the number of larger/louder aircraft. It is vital to limit hangar width to 40’ or less.

3. Limit medium and large GA jet aircraft to approximately 25.6 acres on JWA property.

4. Guarantee provisions for future aircraft utilizing electric/alternative energy. 

Lastly, the “Request for Proposals” must define the terms of compliance with the resolution so prospective FBOs with responses outside these terms will be classified as non-compliant and eliminated from consideration. RFPs must require language in the final lease documents that makes the commitment to the above terms mandatory for the life of the lease and any renewals or amendments. 


Nancy Alston, AirFair

Lorian Petry, CAANP

Homeless location in northwest part of town seems best

I was just enjoying the latest copy of Stu News and noted your reporting on Wednesday’s Council meeting regarding a temporary homeless shelter. Just my two bits, I think the 825 16th Street address makes the most sense. It’s away from high-end homes and in an area less visible to visitors. I think there is a low-priced grocery market nearby as well.

Bill Rhinesmith

Newport Beach

A Letter from Chef Pascal

To My Dear Patrons, Food Media Friends and OC Foodies,

It is with great pleasure I am announcing my return in serving Orange County foodie guests and loyal customers in the Newport Beach area. After over 20 years running the food service at Café Jardin in the beautiful Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar, I have decided to make it my top focus. I am very excited to announce that I will be spending as much time possible in the kitchen, doing one of the things I love the most in life: Cooking! 

A Letter from Chef Pascal headshot

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of Chef Pascal Olhats

Chef Pascal Olhats

However, this time I have decided to share this passion with an amazing young, up-and-coming top chef, Chef Jessica Roy. Our culinary paths have crossed at several charity events over the years. While I was looking for a kitchen partner, Chef Jessica expressed her desire not only to work with me, but also finds it very appealing to work in such a special and natural environment.

We have everything that a chef dreams about. Sherman Gardens is growing an endless variety of fresh herbs, edible flowers, lettuces and root vegetables. Also, with my association with Irvine’s Manassero Farms, they grow some of the best produce in the world, which makes this even better. We pick up fresh produce there about daily!

A Letter from Chef Pascal sea bass

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Chef Pascal’s signature thyme crusted Chilean Sea Bass

Chef Jessica and I understand what it takes to make a dish truly special –the freshness, the texture, local and seasonal. However, what we have that is unique is our “difference of generations.” This is reflected in our techniques and personal visions. I am classically trained with all the knowledge and foundation of French cuisine. Plus, I have the flavors of the world from my lengthy culinary journey. She has modern training, as she worked under famous chefs utilizing today’s cooking techniques with amazing food pairings. 

With this collaboration, I have decided to join together our knowledge and passion to execute some of the best food you will ever experience and to call our cuisine venture, “Tradition meets Innovation.”

Right now, we are working together to learn about each other’s style of cooking and we are creating our new menu for the fall. We look forward to sharing that with you toward the end of August.

A Letter from Chef Pascal Salade Lyonnaise

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Salade Lyonnaise with greens, frisee, lardons, croutons and a poached egg

As you may know, Café Jardin is serving lunch Monday to Friday, Sunday brunch and seasonal Sunday dinners. So, I have decided to elevate the lunch options so our guests can experience a fine dining lunch. I am planning to still offer a similar bistro menu along with a prix fixe fine dining lunch option. When I travel, I usually visit a fancy restaurant at lunchtime. This will also give our guests that same chance to enjoy a lovely daytime dining experience – all in the glorious setting of the gardens.

With Much Admiration,

Chef Pascal Olhats

Special dates:

–New lunch menu, mid-September

–New Sunday fall menu (game and slow cooking dishes), October 6

–Now serving Seasonal Sunday Brunch, all year long 

For reservations, call Café Jardin at 949.673.0033 or visit

For details and inquiries, you can email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Café Jardin is located at Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar.

Letter to the Editor:

Only one location suitable for homeless shelter 

The City will be having a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 4 p.m. regarding where to place a homeless shelter.

In my opinion, our area, known as West Newport, is already inundated and two of the suggested locations, 6302 Coast Highway and the 825 16th St., are too close to residential neighborhoods, businesses and schools. This area already has the highest crime rate in Newport Beach.

Having a homeless shelter one block away from the beach could in fact create more transient activity and should be a non-negotiable. 

The 4200 Campus seems to be a reasonable area for a shelter as it appears to be in an industrial park and would be non-intrusive to the surrounding community.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Helping those in need

It is so inspiring to see the homelessness issue being addressed in a compassionate manner. There have been several letters in our local news sources lately that have talked of the need to address this urgent problem. 

Costa Mesa, under the leadership of Mayor Katrina Foley, is one of the cities that has taken the lead in providing assistance to those in need. She has spearheaded a movement that is providing short-term and long-term solutions with public and private donations. 

Susan Meyer wrote a very interesting letter recently in which she talks about in detail, all that the city is doing to help those who are helpless.

When I moved to Newport Beach in the 70s, I remember being so impressed with the services that Share Our Selves provided for the needy. The organization was founded in 1970 and has been providing food, emergency financial assistance, case management and legal aid ever since. Hopefully in the future, other cities will follow suit.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Orange County’s Golden Coast, known as the playground of the rich and famous, also became known as a progressive leader in the fight to end homelessness?

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

It seems the planning commission is playing favorites

 If the planning commission meeting on May 23rd was to be an opportunity for residents of Newport Heights and Cliffhaven to express their views on the construction of a large house on one of their tony streets, one which offers generous views, an open forum it was not. It was not open in the sense that the large group of impassioned neighbors, who attended to speak about what they thought was the unfairness of granting several height variances for a new home, did not seem to have any influence on the commissioners’ decision; it was instead merely a forum of futile expression for those upset about the proposed project. (There were quite a few supporters there who stood up for the people who intend to build the house, but it was unclear as to how many were from the neighborhood or Newport Beach.)

It was clear at the end that the commissioners had seemingly made up their minds before reaching the dais.

Despite the oral and written pleas of residents, some of whom would be directly affected by the granting of the variances, the commission voted, with only two abstentions, to allow the variances. A few of the commissioners expressed the belief that with all the dissension, the vote to allow the variances should be delayed to try to bring the two sides together to create harmony, giving hope to those who had shown up to the meeting. But as with city council meetings, planning commission meetings and coastal commission meetings, usually these limited discussions end up as mere ”teasers,” giving the opponents false hope, even if that was not their intention. 

 If anyone else had a strong influence on the decisions of the commissioners, it was likely a former council person reaching out from the past who submitted his views in writing.

As a follow up, I would like to add that while shopping today, I ran into two acquaintances to whom I related this story. Both of them were unpleasantly surprised because they had applied for variances in the past and had been turned down. How many more residents who have been denied variances are out there and how will they feel about what transpired last Thursday? 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

I’m with Boyles

Newport Beach has long led the way for excellence at its City department directors. From Laura Detweiler in Parks to Dave Webb in Public Works to Chief Jon Lewis in the Police Department to every other spot in our City leadership, our current and former City Managers have known how to attract and retain great leaders. And, fortunately for our City, our department leaders have trained people coming up through the ranks to someday take over.

Such is the case with our Fire Department. Fire Chief Chip Duncan stepped into a tough assignment when he took over the top spot and has guided the City through major updates. And with his announced retirement this summer, we can look back on his few years at the helm and recognize that he has overseen the rebuild of the CdM station, set up the rebuild of the Lido station, hired a new Fire Marshall and much more.

One of his greatest accomplishments is retaining his Assistant Chief, Jeff Boyles, who is in line and interviews to be Chief Duncan’s successor. I have known Assistant Chief Boyles to be an excellent firefighter, consummate professional and tremendous community volunteer.

In fact, he was named Newport Beach Firefighter of the Year in 2006. He has presented to the City’s Finance Committee on which I sit (led by the great Finance Director Dan Matusiewicz). He has a mind for organization and fiscal prudence. I have also served with him on the boards of Speak Up Newport and Leadership Tomorrow. Plus, he donates his time to the board of the Newport Beach 1/1 Marine Foundation. He regularly attends community events as our Fire Department’s representative and is well respected throughout the ranks of the department.

Please consider thanking Chief Duncan for his hard work. And then follow that up with a note to Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung recommending Jeff Boyles as our next Fire Chief. 

Joe Stapleton 

Newport Beach Finance Committee and various community boards in the City

Maybe HOAs are the answer to problems

My best friend is president of her homeowners association in Northern Orange County. I never miss the opportunity to tease her about HOAs and their reputations for telling you what color to paint your house and when to trim your trees. To many of us these rules feel like an infringement of our property rights. However, I now have a new perspective on what an association can provide, particularly in a beach community. In the case of my friend, the HOA maintains the slopes in her area. In Newport Beach, at one time a regulatory HOA could have protected views and prevented people from building houses which did not fit architecturally into a neighborhood.

In older neighborhoods, people rarely have a regulatory HOA. But people moving into newer neighborhoods join mandatory associations that charge substantial dues. Many of these people, however, welcome an HOA because it gives them some assurance that the area in which they live will be well-maintained and their property values will be protected. In beach communities, where property values usually are determined by additional factors, HOAs might even restrict the height of structures beyond the City standards and thus maintain the harmony of a neighborhood. For example, Irvine Terrace has an HOA that has attempted to preserve views by establishing a height limit of 14 feet. One need only drive through the neighborhood to appreciate the general standard of architecture which is the result of belonging to an HOA. 

In contrast, Kings Road in Cliff Haven has suffered because of the absence of a mandatory HOA. It is struggling right now with trying to maintain the harmony of the neighborhood architecturally and emotionally. Views are being threatened and the size of the houses vary to the extent that a few houses are twice the size of the norm. One new house being considered is 10,800 square feet, not including the garage, while the approximate average size of homes in the area is between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet. These large houses that have been built or are in the planning stages are also threatening to damage the site’s natural topography – the bluffs. In so doing, they threaten to affect the public views from Pacific Coast Highway, a designated coastal view road.

One might think that the City would have become more directly involved in protecting views and the bluffs. Private views are not in their purview, but public views are. And the City does have height standards. But what has been affecting the symmetry of Kings Road and other Newport Beach neighborhoods the most is the City’s granting of building variances to excess. Many of the variances they have been granting in recent years are “luxury” rather than “hardship” variances. And building standards due to variances are being challenged to the extent that HOAs no longer have the power they once had.

It is not surprising that Cliff Haven and/or Kings Road do not have mandatory HOAs because of their age. This is true also in the Heights area adjacent to Kings Road. During the era that these neighborhoods were first established, neighbors relied on the civility of the community. It would have been rare to find someone who would block the coastal view of an adjacent neighbor, and the City would have granted variances very sparingly. In our modern world most people do not often know their neighbors and community spirit is lacking. Individuals are more concerned about what they think are their personal property rights regardless of what that means to their neighbors. As a result, large houses are being built now that block neighbors’ views and their light as well. And no one seems to be stopping them.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

It’s time our City Charter protects Newport Harbor

Newport Harbor is the cultural, recreational and economic engine of our community.

A 2018 analysis by Beacon Economics shows Newport Harbor generates $392 million in direct economic activity and $1 billion in indirect economic activity across the nation.

The Harbor is far more than a playground for wealthy yacht owners. For a hundred years the Harbor is where our children learned to swim, sail and enjoy the unique lifestyle that makes Newport special.

Our residents are unaware that at least eleven governmental agencies from Washington, Sacramento and Santa Ana have jurisdictional control over the Harbor. It’s one of the most regulated bodies of water in the nation.

We are at an inflection point in the Harbor. Our marine serving businesses are vanishing and being replaced with condominiums. 

For decades the City has been marginally successful juggling the multi-jurisdictional regulatory maze. Key to our success is the Harbor Commission. The Commission is an advisory committee of residents with expertise in Harbor and marine issues. Members are appointed by the city council and are invaluable to the city council’s policy making role.

For the first time in over a decade they are rewriting Title 17 Harbor Code – the regulations that control the Harbor.

But the Harbor Commission can be abolished by any future city council because it is not memorialized in our city charter. In 2012 a previous council attempted to abolish the Commission and replace it with a Tidelands subcommittee of city council members with the goal of raising residential dock taxes and commercial marina fees.

Our Harbor Department is the implementation arm of the city’s policies developed in consultation with the Harbor Commission.

At the next city council meeting I will propose a charter amendment to include the Harbor Commission and Harbor Department in our charter. If my colleagues agree, the public will have an opportunity to decide our Harbor’s future and protect it from future politicians that do not make the Harbor a priority.

“Duffy” Duffield

Newport Beach City Council

Letters to the Editor:

Now’s the time to learn more about JWA’s General Aviation plans

We appreciated Stu News’ recent coverage of the April 6 John Wayne Airport Town Hall. The meeting certainly had its rough spots, but we believe the presence of approximately 500 community members demonstrated to the County of Orange (County) just how deeply concerned Newport Beach, and other communities already impacted by the airport’s operations, are about the proposed General Aviation Improvement Program (GAIP).

The County sees the proposed project as a modernization of the airport’s general aviation facilities and a way to provide better service to its airport customers. We see much more than that. Especially now that JWA’s staff is recommending the approval of a project alternative that will result in an expansion of the airport’s general aviation facilities and amenities, and more corporate and private jet flights over Newport Beach and other Orange County cities. Thus, this proposed plan should be called the General Aviation Expansion Program.

If you share the City’s concerns about the GAIP, now is the time to act. The Airport Commission is expected to vote on the GAIP and the environmental impact report on April 17. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider the GAIP and the environmental impact report on April 23. We urge you to:

–Learn more about this issue, and what the City will and will not support, by visiting the City’s website at

–Tell the County how you feel about it. Attend the:

~Orange County Airport Commission meeting on April 17 at 5 p.m., at the JWA Administrative Offices, 3160 Airway Ave. in Costa Mesa.

~Orange County Board of Supervisors hearing on April 23 at 9:30 a.m., at the County Hall of Administration, 333 W. Santa Ana Blvd. in Santa Ana.

–Write to the Board of Supervisors. Go to for information.

We strongly encourage you to take a few moments to learn more about this pending project and join our efforts to protect our community from any further noise and air quality impacts related to John Wayne Airport’s operations. Your voice matters! 

Mayor Diane B. Dixon

Council Member Jeff Herdman

Council Member Kevin Muldoon

This resident says now is the time to act for county supervisors and JWA

The April 6th JWA Town Hall, hosted by Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel, was misleading to the community, as was the Stu News Fair Game article that followed. The County’s hands are not “literally tied by the FAA” on this matter, as stated by Stu News, nor should anyone “feel bad” for the County representatives who conceived this detrimental General Aviation Improvement Plan (GAIP) and were challenged by residents rightfully upset over the prospect of more noise and pollution through the County’s plan to expand JWA GA flights.

The County owns and operates JWA and is responsible for creating and proposing the GAIP. Instead of limiting the improvements solely to comply with minimal FAA requirements, the County Board of Supervisors has chosen to expand facilities, terminals and services at JWA to facilitate their desire to accommodate larger, noisier GA business and charter “for hire” jets that can fly 24/7 and that are not subject to the curfew. 

In fact, Supervisor Steel, who should be supporting her constituents by seeking to limit expansion of JWA GA jet services, instead voted back in 2015 to move forward with the GAIP. Hopefully, she will vote to support her constituents at the April 23rd BOS meeting by voting for Alternative #3 which has the least impact, as will the other Supervisors. The JWA staff, including airport director Barry Rondinella, is recommending that all Supervisors vote for Alternative #1, which will add more GA terminals and flights, privately-run international passenger services, and is thus most daunting to communities impacted by JWA. In addition to concerns about noise and pollution, there is the added concern over proper security screening for these flights.

Click here to read NBC News story.

It is imperative that all residents continue to express their opposition to the GAIP by immediately emailing all of the Supervisors. Tell them that the proposed GAIP, especially Alternatives #’s 1 and 2, will only increase the unbearable noise and pollution we are presently experiencing since implementation of NextGen’s concentrated flight paths, and that we have had enough! Tell them that instead of adding to the noise and pollution that we are already experiencing, they should be seeking to limit harm to the community through making the minimally mandated FAA infrastructure changes to JWA. Tell them that we don’t want any more noisy “for-profit” charter jets violating our curfew, and our daily jet and annual passenger caps. Most importantly, tell them of your concern for the health of the thousands of children in our schools under and near the flight path, who are among the most vulnerable to JWA jet noise and pollution. Lastly, ask the Supervisors what price they are willing to pay for increasing JWA jet flights over the communities of their constituents?

Email Supervisor Bartlett: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Supervisor Chaffee: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Supervisor Steel: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Supervisor Wagner: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Supervisor Do: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tim Stoaks

Newport Beach

Passover offers local students opportunity to understand their actions

Last month at a weekend party, local high school students were caught on tape making a swastika out of red cups and giving the Nazi salute. Thankfully, students who did not attend the party, parents, the school board and religious leaders, of all denominations, quickly joined hands and denounced what the teens had done.  

Now that Passover is fast approaching, I wonder how many of the students caught on tape will be invited to a weekend Seder starting this Friday night? If you ask me, their attendance would go a long way toward understanding the true consequences of their actions.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Airport issue before County Supervisors should concern us all

In the next seven days, Orange County Board of Supervisors will quietly come to a decision over private jet flights at John Wayne Airport that could place the private comfort and momentary enjoyment of a handful of executives, celebrities, and residents with money to throw around, over the basic rights of Orange County residents, and indeed the rest of the world. In violation of the spirit of the charters that produced JWA as we know it, this change will drastically increase the raw number of flights, which will in turn drastically increase the amount of aviation pollution in our communities, and as National Geographic once pointed out, aviation exhaust kills more people than plane crashes. But moreover, according to The Economist, private jet travel is increasingly just a highly destructive tax-free perk for elite corporate executives, and if the current trends in private jets continue, private planes are on track to generate 4 percent of American CO2 emissions by 2050, up from 0.9 percent currently. In short, our County is mulling a decision that will sell out the vast majority of Orange County residents’ needs, in favor of something fun and convenient for a tiny, elite minority.

Relatively few Orange County residents were listening at Tuesday’s meeting of the County Board of Supervisors related to the expansion of the General Aviation Facilities at the John Wayne Airport, and that’s unfortunate. Since I’m directly under the flight path, I got involved in these affairs four-and-a-half years ago when a program called “Nextgen” was slated to change air traffic patterns in Southern California – harming hundreds of thousands of Southern California residents. Nextgen is now in place, and if you are within five miles either side of the departure or arrival pattern of an airport, you have a greater level of jet aircraft carcinogenic particulates impacting your family’s health. Jet fuel is a serious, unregulated form of pollution. 

On Tuesday May 7th, the County of Orange Board of Supervisors held a meeting to consider a proposal to modify the General Aviation Facilities at John Wayne Airport. Hidden within the plan is the desire of the Board of Supervisors/Airport staff to expand the facilities for private jets and make room for a new product that many are calling “Uber Jets,” like Jet Suite and Jet Suite X – private jet charter flights. There were no corporate or charter jets in 1985 when the County signed the agreement to limit the growth of commercial flights and established a curfew between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Since corporate jets and small charter jets are outside of the current agreement and considered General Aviation, they have impacted our peace and health to the tune of 55 flights per day under the radar. Total jet departures are around 180 per day. 

In theory, there should be no private jets at JWA because it is a county airport and there is no public benefit to the average resident for these services and these jets have major environmental impacts. But chartered private jets are allowed under the current regulations and don’t conform to the passenger count restrictions under the 1985 agreement. If they were properly incorporated into the growth restriction air passenger count in the agreement, it wouldn’t matter if it was a Southwest commercial jet or a charter jet flying over our homes. All would be counted in the agreed passenger per day allocation and County Supervisors could decide based on limitation if they preferred charter jet flights to commercial jet flights. They would clearly favor commercial flights which better meet the needs of county residents.

On Tuesday the County Supervisors were ready to approve their Option #1 plan and expand facilities and services with total disregard of public policy and environmental impacts on residents. There was no staff presentation to explain the scope of the proposals. Consequently most of the 300+ people in attendance had no way to fully understand the scope of these proposals. County Supervisors refused to acknowledge charter jets and kept only referring to the corporate jets. They took a break in the afternoon into a planned Closed Session to discuss the item posted as “employee negotiations” while we waited for them to reconvene. After more than an hour, the Supervisors returned and magically produced a proposal. This modified version of proposal #1 was presented, and while Newport Beach Mayor Dixon listened to the proposal, there was no deal and the item was continued for two weeks (now one week). 

We have a convenient airport in Orange County which is used by most County residents. I observed a lack of understanding by our County Supervisors regarding how they should manage our airport, and this causes great concern to me as it should also concern you. Our County should set policy that will avoid further environmental impacts from JWA on our residents. The supervisors lack of proper public policy to protect us from environmental impacts and their desire to grow the airport to benefit a few individuals is inexcusable. 

The County Supervisors want to make more room for corporate jets and charter jets. What the county needs is the most effective mix of flights to serve the majority of our residents minimizing the environment impact on residents of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Santa Ana, county unincorporated areas, Tustin and anyone else within 5 miles of the noise and pollution of the jets. We need an updated General Aviation Improvement Plan that cannot be expanded in the future, establishment of a curfew for General Aviation similar to the one in the current agreement, recognizing the charter jets in the passenger counts in the agreement, no increase in the General Aviation jet departures from the 55 per day or a decrease making private jet departures more costly or difficult through public policy, fees or other disincentives. 

City officials of Newport Beach, Laguna, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana and Tustin, stand up for your residents or help us elect supervisors that understand proper public policy to balance environmental impact with public benefit. This decision is a forever decision that with lack of public policy will have a negative impact on a large number of Orange County residents. Litigation would not be necessary to resolve this issue if the County Supervisors were doing the job for which they were elected 

Lee and Sue Pearl 

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Disheartened...but positive takeaways from City Council

I attended the city council meeting [Tuesday] night and was so disheartened that despite the urging of five speakers, the presentation of a letter signed by 50 residents, and the generous sacrifice offered by council member Joy Brenner to give up her seat to Jeff Herdman, that the council would not budge in their decision to not put the member of the council most concerned about election campaign reform on the important Election Reform Committee: Jeff Herdman. In making their decision, were they thinking of themselves or the welfare of the residents of Newport Beach whom they serve?

Rather than dwell further on the negative aspect of this decision, I would like to comment on some positive observations that I made last night: 1. (already mentioned) Joy Brenner’s offer to give up her seat on the Reform Committee to Jeff, 2. Brad Avery’s charitable explanation that he would take his role on the Committee very seriously, and 3. Most importantly, the sincere warmth, openness, and obvious candor with which both Council members Jeff Herdman and Joy Brenner connect with their audience in addition to their fellow Council members.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Enough is enough with airport issues

Hello. I have a home on Balboa Peninsula Point near the Balboa Pier that has decreased in enjoyment value (and in monetary value for all I know) due to increasing airport noise and pollution. I am very concerned about the course that JWA is taking. I have attended a myriad of meetings, town halls and on and on. I feel as if none of these efforts are making an impact and this is sad and frustrating. Since implementation of NextGen my neighborhood has been seriously impacted by noise and pollution. The planes are now concentrated whereas they used to fan and share the “pain.” There is a continuous stream of jet traffic.

Guests from out of town actually make comments related to the plane noise. When we have to pause our conversation they say things like, “Wow does that noise drive you batty? I don’t remember it from our past visits?” This is a very horrible common theme.

I also have a young child who I worry must be affected by the pollution. I see a fine mist of black dust on my white outdoor furniture that was not in evidence before. What of her developing lungs?

The only relief we currently have is the nighttime curfew and the daily cap, which I understand are now both in jeopardy because of the proposed General Aviation Improvement Program. I get it that money and making more of it drives things. But at what point do negative impacts on real people take a front rather than a distant back seat in the discussions?

Passage of the General Aviation Improvement Program will greatly exacerbate what we are presently enduring and further endanger our health and general wellbeing. Please take this into account when voting on the proposed GAIP yet this month. Thank you for your time and attention.

Brigid O’Connor

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Herdman deserves an appointment to campaign finance reform

We are shocked that Mayor Diane Dixon plans to create an election reform committee and appoint two fellow Team Newport council members to it but not Jeff Herdman. Campaign finance reform was part of the platform that got Councilman Herdman elected. He was on the original committee formed in 2017 (which never met), and he’s the one who asked for it to be reinstated.   

It was also Herdman who called out the 44 campaign finance violations that appear to have been committed in 2014 by Team Newport members Dixon, Duffy, Peotter and Muldoon, and their campaign consultant and treasurer. They are currently negotiating a settlement with the FPPC. 

Will O’Neill and Brad Avery are from the second wave of Team Newport and use the same consultant and treasurer. They’ve been appointed to oversee campaign finance reform despite these ties, and even though they have never, to our knowledge, expressed any interest in the issue. Why doesn’t one of them step aside and give his seat to Herdman, who’s been talking to the community about this since 2014?

The real concern for us is that Team Newport controls five of seven council seats (it was six until Joy Brenner beat Peotter last year) and can use that majority to deny those who have challenged them the chance to serve on committees that will impact future elections. This campaign finance reform committee is only one example. They can also keep passing the mayor and mayor pro tem titles around amongst themselves, which is what they’ve been doing since 2015. This gives them great power over the agenda as well as commissions and committees. If this game of musical chairs doesn’t stop, long-term residents who want to serve on the council merely to give back to the community, like Jeff Herdman, may just become too disgusted to run for office. 

Maybe it’s time for Newport to directly elect its mayor. Or perhaps residents simply need to rise up and demand to see a new face in the mayor’s seat next year – someone who’s not part of any team and will appoint fellow council members to committees based on their knowledge and their passion rather than political alliances.


Letter to the Editor:

What are power densities doing to our health?

Recently, I metered very low radio frequency field radiation (RFFR) of 0.0 µW/m2 (micro watts per square meter rounded) in Cameo Shores and Belmont Shores (Long Beach), each within several hundred yards of the ocean. In essence, these are pristine RFFR areas compared to inland areas where the lowest power densities begin at about 400 µW/m2 and may exceed 10,000 µW/m2 or more near cell phone base stations. If 5G is added to these areas, you may rest assured that power densities will increase dramatically. Thus, I urge community residents to gain more information on present power densities, the relationship of RFFR to human health, and the increase of RFFR when 5G is added. I have informed the California Coastal Commission of these results and received no response. The starting point for understanding RFFR better is purchasing an RFFR far-field meter to assess your environment.

My research experience with RFFR from wireless devices includes:

–Research publishing (1) commencing October 2014 and (2) “United States Congressional Research and Legislative Proposals to Educate the American People About the Power Density Safety of Wireless Communications (µW/m2)” (IJAR, January 2018). The latter peer-reviewed article provides medical research evidence of 28 symptoms and illnesses associated with RFFR including anxiety, depression and stress, cancer, damage to DNA strands, damage to sperm and electromagnetic hypersensitivity, etc., all of which support the Bolen Rome Lab Air Force Report reporting adverse health consequences from RFFR published in 1994.

–Additional research writing letters to two cabinet secretaries dated 1.8.2019 expressing in part my concern regarding mental disabilities claimed by high school and college students from anxiety, depression and stress, resulting in longer testing times and private testing rooms.

–Conducting home electromagnetic field inspections for magnetic (current) and electric fields (voltage), RFFR, and dirty electricity (harmonics of 60 cycle AC electricity).      

Herman Kelting

Las Vegas, Nev.

Letter to the Editor:

Thanks for the coverage

Our partnership with Stu News has been so fruitful! Often times it’s difficult to gauge the effectiveness of media coverage, but on other occasions the signs are difficult to miss! Last week Stu News ran an article about our Spring Break Camp and our enrollment in camp increased by 30 percent over the days that followed.

 It’s so wonderful that Stu News covers news and events happening at local nonprofit and community organizations like the Environmental Nature Center. 

In a day and age when sources for local news have waned, it is so refreshing to have a source for news within the city where I work. I have friends that live in Laguna Beach that feel the same about their “Stu News Laguna.” I hope that someday there will be a “Stu News Costa Mesa” so I can easily keep up to date in happenings in the city where I live as well!

Lori Whalen, Assistant Director

Environmental Nature Center

Letter to the Editor:

Are small jets skirting the JWA intended agreement?

John Wayne Airport has been quietly expanding its service options under our noses, and the upshot is an ever-increasing number of smaller, less regulated jet flights. While this will benefit a small minority of passengers around Orange County, that comes at a potentially profound environmental cost, and the residents of Newport Beach and other impacted communities – who had no idea this expansion was going on – will have to cope with the noise and pollution.

My wife and I often walk along the trail in the Back Bay in Newport Beach. We’ve become accustomed to the noise as planes take off from JWA. Recently as we were walking, I became aware that in addition to the usual disruption, there was a new kind of jet that I had not really noticed in the past. In fact, before I saw any commercial jets, there were at least five of these small jets taking off in a row. It prompted me to question why there were so many, and how that relates to the recent changes being considered for the John Wayne Airport. With the help of some friends in the industry, and others who use these jets to save money, here is what I learned:

In 1985, Newport Beach, local community groups and the County entered into an agreement meant to curb noise and establish a curfew. At that time there were no “general aviation” (recreational and private transport) jets at JWA except small Cessna-type planes. Therefore, no one could have anticipated what is happening today. Far from the handful of small, privately owned jets that used the airport three decades ago, today, 55 general aviation jets fly in and out of JWA daily. These jets have full freedom to fly outside of the curfew, and only need to meet the outdated 1985 noise requirements. In effect, these flights double the noise and pollution, and do so with none of the regulations involved in a normal airport expansion.

JWA, these carriers, and a small subset of passengers benefit from this service expansion and my neighbors and I must pay the cost in terms of quality of life. In the meantime, the scheme is not in keeping with the spirit of the original agreement. Jet planes with regularly scheduled flights can be booked. By definition, general aviation does not include regularly scheduled flights. I believe a jet airline that sells tickets in a passenger jet has entered into a commercial relationship and therefore should not operate at JWA unless they compete for one of the approved commercial slots. They should use current terminal facilities, screening and TSA that is in place. This new around the backdoor process is wrong, and in my mind illegal when considering the current agreement signed in 1985 and subsequently amended.   

The Orange County Supervisors are responsible to the communities impacted by the JWA. They need to redefine general aviation to meet the intent of the use and not allow these passenger jets with commercial type flights. This would make the County Supervisor’s upcoming decision easy on the construction of a new general aviation terminal. There is no new terminal or TSA necessary when the corporate jet flies their CEO to a meeting. The upcoming county decision should not just be about the profit of the airport when the quality of life of county residents are impacted. 

I look to the county, cities, local groups and environmental groups to sort out this problem and ensure proper usage of our airport with the best possible quality of life to impacted residents. The County Supervisors may not be considering the expansion of the General Aviation Facility if they were to fully evaluate the types of small jets currently operating under the guise of General Aviation. 

Lee Pearl

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Citizenry of Newport Beach needs to be educated on city governance

I wrote the letter below in the style of a journal entry while I was watching the last City Council meeting of March 12th from home.

Since that time, I have been seeking information and talking to residents about our problem in Newport Beach; by that I mean campaign reform. Because it is such a complex issue, it needs to be examined thoroughly and carefully. The best thing that concerned citizens can do at this point is attend City Council meetings every other week and become educated as to what can be done to improve our City Government. You know what they say about an educated citizenry: it is the vital part of a democratic government. 

You can start tonight by attending the City Council meeting at the Civic Center. If you arrive between 6:30 and 7 p.m., you can pick up agendas in the entry and select a good seat.

When I watched the Newport Beach Council meeting at home, which unfortunately I was unable to attend in person, a nagging thought ran through my mind. I wanted to attend and speak to the alleged election indiscretions and violations of Team Newport outlined in our local newspapers, frustrated that I did not know enough about the situation to speak or write at length. I intend to do my homework to become more knowledgeable on the subject because it is so important that we hold our elected officials to the highest standards possible. 

The dominant issue in terms of attracting speakers that evening was the Aquatic Center which has been a popular speaking topic at more than one meeting. As I listened to all of these people speak about the Aquatic Center, I am moved by their passion in coming forward to express their personal views, an amazing number of them. 

What concerns me, however, is how few people in contrast, come forward to talk about the conduct of some of the members of our City Council. The members look good and often sound very good, but some of what takes place away from the dais is not good government. That is why we are so indebted to citizens like Susan Skinner and Jim Moshier and several others who consistently come forward to say so eloquently what should be on all of our minds and tongues. Fair elections as we have been reminded so often lately, are at the basis of our democracy. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Time for Reform

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has found probable cause to levy forty-four counts of charges against political operative Dave Ellis, the Ellis run front groups “Residents for Reform” and the “Neighborhood Preservation Coalition” (NPC), and the four council members elected in 2014 as part of “Team Newport.” This is a stunning development that confirmed Residents for Reform and the NPC were operated by Ellis and were funded by payments from major developers, litigants against the city of Newport Beach, and one of the city’s largest private dock owners. These payments [allegedly] far exceeded the city campaign contribution limits and were not disclosed in a timely manner. 

Records show that these funds were used to launch scurrilous attacks against then mayor Rush Hill and to supplement the campaigns of the four council members. 

It was a sad chapter in the history of our city. In 2016, I proposed political reforms to prevent a repeat of what many believe was this special interest buying of the city council. Unfortunately, the council at the time refused to move forward with the reforms necessary to protect the integrity of our elections and to ensure full compliance with our existing political contribution laws. With these forty-four counts of wrongdoing, it is time to renew our call for political reform.

First, we must close the “slate mail committee” loophole that allows big money donors to evade the campaign contribution limits. We should ensure that donations to a slate mail committee count as part of the $1,100 contribution limit.

Second, we must ensure that the campaign contribution limit in our municipal code is fully enforceable. The city attorney has taken the position he lacks authority to enforce it and the city council has refused to appoint a special counsel when violations were reported in 2014, 2016 and again in 2018. We must demand either the automatic appointment of a special counsel or automatic referral to the District Attorney.

Third, we must require paid lobbyists register with the city, so we know who is being paid to influence council decisions. This is done at the Federal, state and county level, and cities around us such has Irvine have had this requirement for some time.

Finally, we must restrict fundraising to the year of the election and the immediate six months following an election. Council members should not be asking for money when critical decisions are before the council. Now is the time for reform. 

Keith Curry 

Former Newport Beach Mayor

The time has come for an election reform discussion

On Tuesday night, Newport Beach election reform will be discussed at the city council meeting at the request of council member Jeff Herdman. This discussion is long-overdue and especially important now for several reasons.

The California FPPC (Fair Political Practices Commission) has found probable cause that “Team Newport” candidates Diane Dixon, Scott Peotter, Marshall Duffield and Kevin Muldoon, along with their campaign manager Dave Ellis, violated the Political Reform Act 44 times during the 2014 election. This is not ancient history, as their lawyer claims. The candidates all ran again in 2018 and hired the same campaign manager knowing the FPPC was investigating these serious allegations. This was obviously something voters would have cared about and had a right to know before the November 2018 election. It could have caused some to vote differently. 

The new era of transparency is not off to a good start.

After winning a majority on the council in 2014, Team Newport declined to take up the issue of election reform when it was proposed by then-councilman Keith Curry. And when Dave Ellis got two more candidates elected in 2016 as part of his “Team Newport 2.0” slate, hopes for meaningful change faded. 

Luckily for Newport Beach, Dave Ellis did not claim a clean sweep in 2016. Jeff Herdman was elected in District 5 despite the Team Newport-allied forces cited in the FPPC report spending tens of thousands of dollars to keep him off the council. Herdman is now proposing that the campaign finance reform issue be revisited, and the council does not have a single good reason to say no. This latest FPPC report was all the proof we needed that reform is necessary to restore trust and integrity to our local election process.

There’s no better time for election reform than now, and there couldn’t be a better person to lead the charge than Jeff Herdman. Hopefully the council will do the right thing and support his effort without seeking to exclude him from this vital process, or to co-opt or water down his ideas. With what we learned last week, residents are likely to only put their faith in a non-Ellis candidate on this issue. A few solid campaign finance rules can go a long way toward restoring trust. It’s clearly in the best interest of our city to put such rules in place now. 

Jennifer McDonald

Dorothy Kraus

Dennis Baker

Melinda Seely

Jean Watt

Karen Tringali

Nicole Reynolds 

Letter to the Editor:

Common thread between a Nazi salute and cheating on the SAT entrance exam

At first glance, I was hard pressed to see the similarities between the local high school students, who were videotaped March 2nd celebrating their handmade swastika with Nazi salutes, and the local families caught up earlier this week in the college admissions cheating scandal masterminded by Newport’s Rick Singer. 

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. The common thread is privilege which, by definition, means a sense of entitled immunity.

During a community gathering of 500 people two days after the anti-Semitic nature of their actions was revealed, several of the Newport Harbor, CdM and Costa Mesa students admitted they never connected the dots between what they were doing at their off-campus party and the millions of innocents who were slaughtered during WWII. Why not? Because very few of their parents, many of whom are well off, ever explained the horrors of the Holocaust or the vile nature of what Hitler and his fanatical followers really wanted. 

Based on the news reports of the parents who paid tens of thousands of dollars, if not significantly more, to have their kids’ SAT scores altered so they would be admitted to USC, Stanford, Yale and other top schools, you have to ask: What were these parents thinking when they deliberately crossed that moral red line? Like the teens who couldn’t connect the dots, apparently neither could these helicopter moms or dads. Somewhere in the recesses of their minds, I’m guessing they felt their sons or daughters were entitled to be admitted at all costs, even if it meant cheating and/or breaking the law.

If there is a takeaway for me it is this: No matter how beautiful the landscape is along the county coastline, there is an ugliness that exists in the homes of far too many of our neighbors. We all know it is a privilege to live here. That said, we all have to do a better job conveying what this means to our children and the responsibility we all must bear when it comes to playing by the rules – no matter how painful the outcome is if or when things don’t go as expected.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor:

Serious issue faces OC Board of Education, with serious implications for NMUSD

The Orange County Board of Education (OCBE) has a very serious decision to make on March 6th that will impact an entire district of over 22,000 students. Charter schools can add important choices for parents seeking a high quality, unique education for their children, but only high-quality charters should be approved by the OCBE.

Recently, an outside organization petitioned the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) to be approved as a charter school in our community. The International School for Science and Culture (ISSAC) provided a poorly written petition, presented by an educational leader that did not impress our parents. The NMUSD found significant academic and financial deficiencies and denied the ISSAC petition. ISSAC then appealed that decision to the Orange County Board of Education (OCBE).

The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) Staff Report of January 31, 2019 to the OCBE indicates serious deficits in the petition to establish the ISSAC Charter School in the NMUSD. Those deficits include: An incomplete schedule that does not include all required courses; a schedule and course of study that puts into doubt their students’ ability to demonstrate proficiency in math and science; no assurance of English language instruction for English learners; insufficient funding for special education; enrollment projections and budgets that may not be sufficient...among other glaring deficiencies in the loosely written ISSAC plan, which did not result in significant community support.

The OCBE demonstrated at the February meeting for the ISSAC appeal a pre-determined philosophy to support charter schools, regardless of quality. During that meeting, public comment was severely limited and community members who asked to speak about ISSAC were denied the opportunity to do so. One has to question their commitment to the Brown Act. 

Voters need to hold our elected leaders responsible for doing the homework required to carefully determine whether a charter school in their districts will meet state and district standards. The OCBE’s reputation is at stake in this decision but more importantly, the future of the students they serve is at stake. We all expect due diligence to be done, the findings of the NMUSD and OCBE expert staff to be respected, and critical decisions to be made on the merit of each individual school and not a predetermined philosophy that is beholden to outsiders and political PACs. Great charters need to be approved and inferior charters need to be denied.

ISSAC is a substandard proposed school with substandard leadership that does not belong in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, or any school district.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Poorly conceived charter school will only serve to harm our students and community

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District is committed to excellence in our schools. We are clearly cognizant of current California legislation that supports the establishment of charter schools. As a Board, we are aligned in our commitment that all schools in our district must be outstanding schools. We are open to the idea of adding a charter school in our district, but only an excellent charter.

Charter schools work best when they serve a need that is not being met in a school district or where local schools are failing. This is not the case in Newport-Mesa. Even in areas with high concentrations of English language learners, our schools have targeted programs in place to meet the needs of these students; and we are experiencing gains in academic achievement.

In September 2018, The International School for Science and Culture (ISAAC) petitioned to be an approved charter in our district. This charter did not come from within the Newport-Mesa community, but instead was initiated by an outside group. This outside group had already presented the same charter (with a different name) that had been denied three times in another district.

In October, a public hearing was held in our board room which demonstrated virtually no local interest in or support for ISAAC. After much evaluation and review, our Board determined that this charter is not consistent with sound educational practices, based on factual findings. Among others, these findings include that the charter makes faulty assumptions, presents an unsound educational program for pupils to be enrolled, is highly unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth, and presents unrealistic and unsustainable budgetary projections.    

In December, ISAAC appealed the NMUSD denial to the Orange County Board of Education (OCBE). On February 13, 2019, the OCBE agreed to an extension for ISAAC to address the county’s perceived weaknesses, which are numerous. 

Unfortunately, it became clear to those of us in attendance at this meeting that the Orange County Board is unwilling to look closely at the quality of ISAAC. Two of the board members present at the February meeting wanted to approve the charter that day as presented, even with the flaws pointed out by their own county staff. These pro-charter board members are openly vocal about approving any charter school that comes their way. One of the most unfortunate situations of the day was that the OCBE was unwilling to allow comments from any Newport-Mesa concerned citizens; something we feel is a clear violation of the Brown Act. 

Approval of an unsuccessful charter will put our district and our students at risk, as well as our taxpayers who fund our local schools. If this charter is approved on March 6, the OCBE will indemnify the County so as not to be financially liable. It is NMUSD that will be left to foot the bill. We should all be alarmed at this academically and financially flawed charter being approved. A failed charter would most likely put future charter applications at risk. The Orange County Board of Education should be encouraged to make the right decision for our community, and not be driven by politically and ideologically motivated reasons.   

We are elected guardians of taxpayer dollars and take that responsibility seriously. We hope the OCBE will take its responsibility seriously when they make a decision impacting our local community and our local taxpayer dollars. 

NMUSD Board of Trustees

Ashley Anderson

Michele Barto

Dana Black

Martha Fluor

Charlene Metoyer

Vicki Snell

Karen Yelsey

Hutchins Consort to present annual special event

The Hutchins Consort is the only professional ensemble in the world performing on the acoustically matched octet of violins designed and crafted by the late Dr. Carleen Hutchins. The Consort performs a regular concert season in San Diego and Orange Counties, as well as touring extensively from the Eastern Seaboard to the Pacific Northwest, in Italy, Mexico and Ireland. These funds are being raised to expand our multi-generational educational outreach collaborations with schools, libraries and children’s museums. Our new collaborations include a July residency at the Rufus Porter Museum in Maine and programs with “Classics for Kids” in San Diego.

The Hutchins Consort will present our annual special event, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” on Sunday, April 28 at Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar. Upon arrival, guests will be welcomed with a champagne reception and silent auction, followed by a concert of “favorite floral music”. The program will be eclectic – from Leo Delibes’ “Flower Duet” to possibly Louis Armstrong’s “Honeysuckle Rose” or Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring.” Our guests will then enjoy a gourmet dinner catered by renowned Pascal’s.

Tickets can be purchased through Ms. Sharon McNalley by phone at 949.675.3656 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. And Mrs. Robert Egan 

Co-Sponsors and Board Members

Guest Column

Fred Navarro, NMUSD Superintendent

Controversial issue could have negative impact on NMUSD

Guest Column Narvarro

Submitted photo

NMUSD Superintendent Fred Navarro  

A controversial issue is being discussed at the March 6 meeting of the Orange County Board of Education (OCBOE) that will negatively impact everyone in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD). As a member of the NMUSD educational community you need to know that we are working diligently to expose and stop this misguided effort.

Last September, a questionable petition was presented to the NMUSD Board of Education seeking to create a taxpayer funded charter school called the International School for Science and Culture (ISSAC). After careful review against the legal standards, our trustees could not in good conscience approve the petition. NMUSD unanimously voted it down.

In a 16-page resolution of denial, we provided a detailed critique pointing out the major flaws and deficiencies in the petition. Its financial plan was unsustainable and its educational plan was unsound. Sure, it had a fancy name, but it couldn’t be backed up with anything but vague promises. The petition sought to use taxpayer funds taken from our community as “venture capital” in a highly speculative, flawed proposition. 

Click here to read NMUSD’s Resolution of Denial.

This charter school is a bad idea that keeps coming back

This was not a new petition, but a repackaging of the failed Adrian Hands Academy Charter application that had been previously denied three times by a neighboring school district. Just like Adrian Hands, the ISSAC charter was riddled with errors, false assumptions, inaccurate data and faulty projections. Furthermore, the so-called Spanish translated version was so rife with translation errors as to be rendered meaningless.

The Charter school simply could not substantiate its business or educational plans. Our findings pointed out essential defects that the charter needed to correct, if possible. They could have done their homework and resubmitted a revised petition, but instead they went over our heads and submitted it to the county in a deliberate choice to end-run local control and seek a more favorable “pro-charter” audience with the OCBOE. It is significant to note that the state charter advocacy organization has been ramping up its participation in local elections to build an infrastructure of pro-charter elected officials in Orange County and across the state. 

OCBOE appears to have made up its mind despite the facts

It is up to elected trustees of local district and county boards of education to be prudent stewards of public funds. At the same time, they have to protect the educational needs and interests of all students and their families. In this situation, the NMUSD Board has fulfilled that mandate. We can only hope that the OCBOE will do the same.

The most recent OCBOE meeting was frustrating, troubling and disrespectful. A positive decision appeared to be pre-ordained despite the fact that OCDE staff found many of the same defects as had NMUSD. The OCBOE so limited the public comment period that our parents who had genuine concerns that needed to be heard were not allowed an opportunity to speak. It is telling that in all of the five public meetings to date on this charter, only parents of two potential students have expressed interest in this proposed school. 

Our parents don’t want this charter! In fact, many vehemently oppose it. The final approval was put off by OCBOE at the last minute to allow the charter petitioners to attempt to fix the charter. It is coming back to the OCBOE for final action on March 6.

What’s at stake?

The ISSAC charter wants to strip millions of dollars from the Newport-Mesa tax base to pay for their start-up. This is a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on valuable NMUSD programs and services to students. It would be unfortunate for these funds to instead be diverted to finance an unsound educational program. The defects in the proposal also put at risk the educational opportunities that would be afforded to students who enroll at the charter school.

What can you do?

First, read up on ISSAC so you can get past the rhetoric and promises and see it for what it is…an unsound educational proposal.

Second, email the members of the Orange County Board of Education to express your concern about their support of ISSAC.

Third, come to the March 6 meeting to tell county decision makers in person that you don’t want an inferior charter school trying to market itself as a quality alternative to our excellent public schools.

Parental choice and educational options that enable students to find their best pathway to success are important values we support in Newport-Mesa. This charter petition is not a quality choice for parents and students. 

We appreciate your continuing support. We know you have high expectations for your students and our schools. We strive every day to deliver an excellent educational experience for every child.


Dr. Fred Navarro


Letter to the Editor:

Interesting decisions await General Plan committee selection

It sure is going to be interesting to see who the additional two people on the General Plan Steering Committee will be.

Many of us in the community are pleased with the Council for listening to
concerned residents who were not happy about two of the choices of the original group selected; they had been active participants in creating a prior plan which was resoundingly defeated by the voters.

The Council listened to the speakers, read their correspondence and they responded in a very positive manner by adding those two new openings to the SC.

Applicants can apply at the City right now and their names will be added to the prior list. The open period for applying is only one week, so you must hurry.

Once again we wait to see if the Council will fulfill its pledge to be totally transparent and inclusive in their decisions. (Not to be naughty, but I wish that I received a thousand dollars for every time I read or heard the word transparent in the last two months. I would be a billionaire!)

There are several people on the candidate’s list that would provide the type of openness and general knowledge that we should be seeking.

Initially, many letters were sent to the Council to promote the inclusion of Tim Stoaks to the SC. People are happy about his positive and friendly nature as well as his vast experience in city government. Also at the council meeting last evening (Tuesday, February 26), additional letters were sent promoting Tim, and also championing the selection of another well-known and active community member, Jim Mosher.

His vast knowledge of everything pertaining to city government makes him, as one writer expressed, a “no-brainer” choice for SC.

So please stay tuned, pick up an application if you are interested and cross your fingers that the Council gets the committee right this time.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Reference to CdMHS has little bearing on story

May I respectfully point out that using “former CdM student” in the headline in the last edition (for the Camden Nicholson story, Tuesday, Feb. 19) does two unfortunate things: 1. It adds pain to the 2,000+ CdM students, plus recent grads, who have been through so much loss the past 18 months. 2. It draws negative attention to a school that is doing so many great things and making so many healthy changes since the suicide of one of our beloved students.

While it may be interesting to some that the 27-year-old suspect went to CdM, it is not relevant to the homicide investigation and he attended about 9 years ago. It is not relevant to current events, their timing, or their cause. Mentioning his attendance seems more appropriate as a minor mention (as part of his general background) in the story but not the headline. 

We CdM parents hold our breaths when a tragic event happens in town. “Please Lord, don’t let it be a CdM family” is texted around town every single time, including this one. These kids have been through so much.

Thanks for listening. I’m not intending to be critical but wanted to engender some empathy for the CdMHS community. 


Ruth Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

Line in the Sand wants Stoaks added to steering committee

Dear Mayor Dixon,

We are writing this open letter to you, as the councilperson overseeing the General Plan Update process, to request that you consider taking the steps necessary to add Tim Stoaks to the General Plan Update Steering Committee. 

Our political action committee, Line in the Sand, was originally formed in 2014 to oppose Measure Y, the city’s last attempt to update its General Plan. You will recall that Measure Y was defeated in spectacular fashion, not only because voters did not want to add massive development capacity in Newport Center, but also because they saw through the false claim that the measure would reduce traffic. 

Three of the five people you have selected to serve on the Steering Committee for this new attempt to update the General Plan were deeply involved in crafting and promoting Measure Y. Nancy Gardner and Debbie Stevens opposed it. 

Why not seize this opportunity to create a balanced committee and ensure that the 70 percent of residents who rejected Measure Y will feel adequately represented? Tim’s appointment would achieve that goal.

Tim has decades of relevant experience, the ability to commit all the time necessary to the process, and a history of involvement in major developments (annexation of Santa Ana Heights, OASIS, etc.). He was also one of the residents leading the charge against the phenomenally unpopular Museum House project, further proof that he has his finger on the pulse of the community. Most importantly, the November 2018 election showed that Tim has the trust of at least 18,422 voters.

What better way to deliver on your promise of building more transparency and trust than to add Tim to the Steering Committee?

We look forward to reading your response and are hopeful that this will be an easy issue for us to agree on.


Board of Directors

Line in the Sand

Not happy with the General Plan steering committee appointees

On Tuesday, the City Council will finalize the appointments to the General Plan Steering Committee. Mr. Ed Selich and Mr. Larry Tucker are recommended to be appointed to this committee.

If the General Plan update adds additional development, as I expect that it will, the Land Use Element of the General Plan will require a vote of the people to be implemented. After the Measure Y debacle in 2014, this is likely to be a difficult task as I believe that many residents still remember the duplicitous way that the city presented the last General Plan. Recall that 69 percent of the residents voted against the General Plan after it became widely known that the promise of improving traffic and density was a false promise.

Because of this, the appointments to the GP Steering Committee are especially important. Many people, myself included, have a deep skepticism that this process will proceed in a trustworthy and transparent manner. Multiple requests to the council to commit to a ballot statement that delineates added growth have been ignored, raising my concern level substantially that another end run around the voters is imminent.

If enough of us feel that the process is flawed or weighted against us, the General Plan will fail again at the ballot box. You may recall that in 2014, social media posts and viral emails readily trumped all the consultant money spent to pass this plan. These platforms are more powerful than ever. The recommendation of a trusted neighbor will almost always carry more weight than the glossy fliers in the mailbox and our residents are far more educated and aware politically than they were in 2014. 

In this context, the appointment of Ed Selich and to a lesser degree Larry Tucker are incomprehensible. I cannot imagine how you could subvert this process any more effectively than by appointing these two men. We need to build trust, not undermine it.

Mr. Selich and Mr. Tucker were instrumental in preparing the 2014 General Plan update and were front and center in repeating the mantra that it would reduce traffic and density. Mr. Selich wrote that “it is virtually impossible for the average voter to understand Measure Y” without reading every document he was reading, adding 

unfortunately, most residents do not have the time to do so and must defer to those they trust to interpret this information. Mr. Tucker claimed that the opponents were misrepresenting the impacts of Measure Y but then touted the money that the city would get from the upcoming development agreements he anticipated coming out of Measure Y. To my knowledge, neither man has acknowledged that the voters knew exactly what they wanted.

Character matters in this world. When Mr. Selich very purposefully added 3,700 pages to the Museum House petition, many believe he undermined both our democracy and the very people he had sworn to serve. It was one of the most unethical political actions I have ever witnessed. To include Mr. Selich on the Steering Committee is an absolute slap in the face to those of us who were hoping for a process that we could support.

You will make the decision that you feel is best. I will do the same. 

Thank you,

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

General Plan requires citywide cooperation

Can a tiger change its stripes? The residents of Newport Beach are going to be weighing in on this metaphorical question as they face the new year and along with it, the new City Council. Unlike several surrounding areas which experienced significant changes in leadership, we experienced only one. Hopefully that one change, which was a considerably positive one, will be enough to create a new group dynamic.

In addition to personnel changes, there are other things that can be done to make our council more responsive to the people it serves. One of those is to take away the extra power that was given to the mayor in the past year with city policy A1. Secondly, the mayor should be elected directly by the voters, not by games and power plays among the council members. There also has often been talk of residents in each district voting exclusively for their own council member. This change seems to be more controversial; but on the positive side, it would help take more money out of politics, making it less likely for candidates to be controlled by outside influences.

Despite the disappointment of many at the end of last year, we really want to believe that we can experience the positive changes that Mr. (Will) O’Neill spoke about at the inaugural meeting of the new council. We want to believe that the council will be more sensitive to the concerns of the community. Interestingly, the General Plan rolled out at the council meeting in early January presents the perfect opportunity for the council and the community to enter a new stage of cooperation and mutual respect. 

This General Plan that has been long awaited by residents, will be divided up in three phases spread out over three years. The first opportunity for community involvement, in addition to participation in scheduled city meetings, will be the selection of a Steering Committee made up of five representatives of the community. We hope that the selection of the SC has been well thought out and that diverse points of view are represented. Later this SC will be aiding in the selection of a consultant who will guide the council and the community through the second and third phases of the GP.

In the second two phases, another opportunity for resident input will be the creation of the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC). This committee, composed of 25 residents, will help shape the goals and policies of the updated plan and provide a community forum for “ongoing outreach and discussion.” 

The General Plan as presented sounds well thought out with opportunities for community input. There will no doubt be obstacles to overcome in such a long and multi-faceted process; but if all the shareholders are sincere about their desire to work together effectively for the good of Newport Beach, there is reason to be hopeful about its future.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

It’s our turn to support the Coast Guard

The Coast Guard has had a permanent station here in Newport since the beginning of World War II. Needless to say they have saved lives for many members of our yachting community through their rescues and our country through drug interdiction and border patrol operations. Most of this doesn’t make the papers, but should.

Now it’s our turn. The government’s ‘partial shutdown’ has left them with empty paychecks. That means that paying rent in one of the more expensive housing markets in the country is tough even in normal times; now things are far from normal and these friends of ours could use your help.

Please consider donating whatever you can (cash, gift cards, goods, etc.) to the USCG Chief Petty Officers Association Fund. The CPOA [California Peace Officers Association] leadership will disburse donations based on need (regardless of rank).

Send your donation to the USCG CPOA Fund by mailing or dropping off at the USCG base, 1911 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92625 (next to the Sheriff’s office and BYC).

Let’s show our appreciation for all their service.

Mike Smith

Corona del Mar

Letter to the Editor:

California Coastal Committee Public Meeting should have been better attended

On December 12, in the Newport Beach Civic Center, a decision was made by the California Coastal Commission that will no doubt come back to haunt the residents of Newport Beach for many years to come. If you entered the room and saw the audience scattered sparsely around the large area, you would think that something very inconsequential was taking place. Yet at the dais, the Coastal Commission was represented by a large crew-staff and commissioners, supported by a group of technicians. The audience was greatly outnumbered.

Only the night before, a huge crowd of residents had filled the room to swear in the new City Council. Did the residents of Newport Beach who had a 70 percent plus turnout rate of voters for the election care more about the Council than the outcome of the Coastal Commission meeting the very next day? In reality “no.” But the public meeting on the Newport Beach LCP (Local Coastal Program) amendment which took place on the 12th required interest and at least minimal knowledge of what seemed like a very complex issue.

Following a many-years-long process, the City finally obtained certification of its Local Coastal Program in January 2017 from the California Coastal Commission. This was much to the chagrin of a few bystanders who knew it would become an ominous decision. That was because they had been working with a City Council that wanted to run around the Coastal Act as much as possible, and enact rules that seemed to say one thing, but that later could be read to mean something different. The city has been using its certified LCP ever since to issue Coastal Development Permits for projects proposed within the Coastal Zone. Almost immediately after certification, the City began requesting changes to the LCP.

Not surprisingly the “public” meeting on the 12th requested by the City was to amend their approved LCP to include “a new provision allowing for modifications and variances, add exceptions to the Shoreline Height Limit and revise IP (Implementation Plan) sections to allow additions to nonconforming structures and revise IP sections regarding the waiver of future protection in shoreline hazardous areas.” In other words, the LCP that had been adopted only a few years back was already under major changes by the City, all of which over time will change its very character.

Residents aware of the new relationship between the CCC and Newport Beach by means of the LCP, immediately responded to the words that were constantly on their radar when dealing with the City: additions, variances, height exceptions, waivers, deviations, Shoreline Height Limits and revisions to the IP.

Why wasn’t more attention given to this important meeting? The technical nature of the meeting itself required education on the part of the residents. The staff report was fragmented and confusing. Also, the public meeting was held at a time that people were overburdened with public and personal events: the recent election, the recount, the selection and swearing in of new Council Members and officers, and the holiday season. Some people also may have felt that the California Coastal Commission which had gone through a “cleansing” period itself, would protect them from the power grasp of the City.

A few brave and faithful souls got up to comment on this attempted move by the City, nearly begging for the protection of the Coastal Commission. Time for presentations was cut short as if the Commission had already made up its mind and was just going through the motions. The basic results of what the City got approved by a sizable majority of the commissioners that fateful day was the City’s right to deviate from the Commission’s certified development standards if it felt that the deviations were consistent with the CCC’s standards. And even more distressing was the decision that the City’s arbiter was to rule on that, not the Coastal Commission, not the Planning Commission, but the sole Zoning Administrator. The only course of action a resident might take to fight any objectional rulings is to appeal to the City (at a cost of over $1,600) for Planning Commission review, and if that fails, appeal to the Coastal Commission.

One of the Commissioners, Erik Howell, who ruled against the CCC’s adoption of the revised new standards of Newport Beach’s LCP, summarized so aptly what had just taken place. He said that he was “not super comfortable with this whole thing.” He went on to say that this was in part due to the City’s failed attempt earlier in the year to “declare” Newport Beach a Port “to avoid oversight by the Commission.” Commissioner Howell concluded by saying, “I think that the intent of things coming out of Newport is to avoid oversight by the Commission on any projects in the City.”

As citizens, we must familiarize ourselves with the modifications or variances that challenge the California Coastal Commission’s seven “findings” or protections. Findings must be verified by the Zoning Administrator before approval of a Coastal Development Permit can be granted. “Findings” include that the modification or variance will not result in development that significantly impedes public access along the sea or shoreline, will not block or significantly impair public views to and along the sea or shoreline, and other scenic coastal areas, and will not have an adverse effect, either individually or cumulatively, on coastal resources.

We will no doubt pay a high price for not having better attendance at the meeting on December 12th. And so we will add still another page to our playbook of why we as residents must remain constantly vigilant of what is taking place around us. 

Dorothy Kraus and Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Ballot recounts started December 12

Letter to the Editor Tim Stoaks Letter to the Editor Duffy Duffield

Courtesy of Mike Glenn’s Save Newport

(L-R) Tim Stoaks and Marshall “Duffy” Duffield

As the ballots were being counted for three weeks after the election, it appeared that our Mayor Duffy Duffield had been unseated. In the final weeks, the ballots counted gave a serious plot twist: Tim Stoaks lost his lead and Duffy began to win. When the dust settled, Duffy won by 36 votes.

Every vote matters, guys.

Supporters of Stoaks have gotten up enough money to begin conducting a recount. That recount effort began December 12.

Conventional wisdom says that a recount in a council race doesn’t move the needle if the margin is wider than 10 votes, so don’t expect a change in outcome, but the pressure continues for Duffield, which may be part of the intent, too.

A full recount will cost about $27,000, composed of rolling daily deposits in the amount of $3,800.

Sources tell me that the first ballots to be recounted will be the absentee and provisional ballots, as those carried the biggest differences and therefore are considered most suspect by those doing the recount.

If successful there, they will continue with the recount. If not, they will end it early.

We are looking forward to seeing the results of this recount, as it is definitely one of the closest races in the history of our city.

Regardless of who wins, it sends a message that when politicians literally do not complete a single promise that they made – and do the opposite of what they promised – the voters do take notice.

In the last four years, the city has seen an increase in taxes, an affirmation (rather than a repeal) of the Dock Tax, we’ve seen wood burning fire rings be replaced by “coal” fire rings, overall staff increases, massive consultant increases, new taxes, more regulations, multiple proposals to seize property and property rights from citizens, attacks on Dog Beach and an expansion of local government in virtually every aspect, despite promises to do the opposite in nearly every aspect.

So good luck to Tim in unseating Duffy. I have my doubts, but would be ecstatic to be proven wrong.

Mike Glenn

Newport Beach

Editor’s Note: The Letter above originally appears on Mike Glenn’s website.

Letter to the Editor:

OCGOP to oversee a recount?

I find it disconcerting that the OCGOP would send in a team to oversee the recount in a non-partisan race, particularly in the case where both candidates are Republicans. Mr. Stoak’s grassroot supporters kicked in personally to collect $25,000 in a short period of time because they support him so strongly. On the other hand, Mr. Duffy gets to rely on “free” support from the OCGOP. I am quite sure that Republicans, particularly those that supported Mr. Stoaks so enthusiastically, wonder why the local Republican Party would do that.

Letter to the Editor Duffy Twitter

Courtesy of Twitter

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

Take it from a former student, Yelsey is the choice

Leadership matters in our schools and that’s why I’m supporting Karen Yelsey. 
As a CdMHS alumnus (class of 2011), I know about the importance of a great education. In my years at CdM, I had challenging classes, amazing experiences on the baseball team. It was a launchpad to my business administration degree from Pepperdine University and a 4-month internship, during my junior year, in Washington D.C. with Congressman John Campbell (ret).

Karen Yelsey knows our schools like the back of her hand. She engages with our parents, teachers, and administrators every single week. She partners with our city and law enforcement leaders to ensure that student safety is a top priority. Karen insists that the NMUSD strives for excellence in everything they do.

I recently learned of a program out of Stanford University called “Challenge Success” that works with schools and parents to improve school climate and helps bring balance to the pressures of 21st century student life. Karen was instrumental in bringing this program to CdM and to the district. 

She also worked with the City of Newport Beach, the NBPD and the NMUSD to secure a 3rd School Resource Officer for our two high schools in Newport. This required a partnership that comes from strong relationships built on trust.

Karen rejects partisan politics on the school board. She serves all students and has no political ambitions. That’s why parents, students, coaches, and teachers from all political affiliations trust Karen Yelsey. We need education leaders who put our kids above all else and that’s what we have with Karen Yelsey in NMUSD Area 4.

Clark Cashion

Newport Beach

Former mayor gives one last push for Brenner and Stoaks

As the election draws to a close, Newport Beach residents face some stark choices. After a month of dodging the question, our mayor was forced to disclose that he is a licensed marijuana grower and had secretly employed Councilman Scott Peotter as his lobbyist.

Duffield skipped most of the candidate forums, saying “same questions, same people, I got a sense of what these people were thinking.” That is simply a breathtaking expression of contempt for Newport voters. His platform is clear, cut spending throughout the city and redirect it to the harbor where his business is located. While legally recused from participating in most discussions on the harbor, Mariner’s Mile and the General Plan, he is directing policy behind the scenes despite his conflicts of interest.

Scott Peotter has sought to campaign on national issues like Sanctuary Cities and the Supreme Court which only goes to demonstrate how out of touch he is from neighborhood issues like traffic, high density, homelessness, and rising crime. His reckless policies will lead to a budget deficit. Deficit notwithstanding, he wants to join his employer Duffield in redirecting funding from other city services to the harbor.

Residents should be most concerned about the $50,000 to support Duffield and Peotter that has come from Howard Ahmanson Jr., an advocate for high density housing. Consider Ahmansons’s views from his 2013 blog, “I believe that social justice requires that a region be overbuilt, or at least over-entitled in both high density and single-family housing”. Think about how Peotter and Duffield will go about implementing Ahmanson’s philosophy in the next General Plan Update.

I don’t agree with everything Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks say (and they certainly did not agree with me all the time when I was on the council), but I have no doubt that they will approach the issues from the perspective of what is right for Newport Beach, not what will comport with an extreme partisan philosophy. We simply must end the failed experiment in machine politics and get back to a city council focused on traffic, public safety, density and improving our quality of life. Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner will do that.

Finally, don’t be fooled by the cynical Measure T. No other city in America has these limits on lease obligation debt and it has nothing to do with taxes. It’s just another con by the political machine. Vote no.

Keith Curry

Former Mayor 

Newport Beach

What’s the truth behind Measure T

“This is a phony measure put on the ballot by the political machine to allow them to circumvent the campaign contribution limits. No other city in the entire nation has this kind of restriction on lease obligation debt. It has nothing to do with taxes. Vote NO on this cynical phony measure!” Keith Curry

I believe Measure T was proposed by Scott Peotter and passed by the four of Team Newport on the City Council, so they could have a platform on which to run and to get around campaign contribution limits (as there are none for ballot measure campaigns).

Do we really need to hold an election when we will rebuild the Police Station, repair the sea walls, or other large maintenance projects that are capital improvements? At the last minute, the council realized they had to make exceptions for local emergency “force majeure” events. 

The City’s financial projections do not show need for debt for decades. NB would be the only city in the nation to adopt this.

The City’s Finance Committee refused to endorse this. The City’s outside financial advisors did not endorse it. The Government Finance Officers Association does not support it.

There is no other city in the nation which has adopted this kind of restriction, although lease obligation debt has been validated in court decisions as far back as 1942.

Measure T, if passed, would require an election if the City wanted to issue lease obligation debt over $50 million. This is not the same as bond debt. Lease obligations (COPs), by definition, do not increase taxes, so there is no need for the expense in time and money of holding an election. Lengthy and costly legal validation would also be required. Bond debt already requires an election by State law.

I am voting NO on Measure T.

Nicole Reynolds

Irvine Terrace, Newport Beach

Resident tired of political fliers espousing partisan politics

I hope other Newport Beach residents are as shocked and dismayed as I am by the campaign mailings we are receiving regarding candidates for our City Council. Reflecting our leadership in Washington, they are full of invective, outright lies, and rank partisanship. 

There is no place for partisanship in Newport council races. For example, there could not be a more non-partisan candidate than Joy Brenner, whose background and credentials present a decades-long record of civic-minded community service. 

Unlike her opponent, Scott Peotter, she has no hidden agenda or ambitions for higher office. Yet, because she opposes the Duffield/Peotter/Muldoon political machine that has so damaged the integrity of our Council, she has been targeted with false and misleading ads. 

I appeal to all voters to make your ballot choices carefully. Choose candidates that have a long record of serving the community, who have the endorsement of other long-serving civic-minded leaders, and whose only agenda is to improve the quality of life for all Newporters.

Robert Taylor

Newport Beach

Real estate development has turned me against this incumbent

Mr. Muldoon is not getting my vote…and here’s why. Mr. Muldoon was elected to NB city council in 2014 as part of “Team Newport,” backed by big-money development interests.

The Shopoff land owners, who are planning to add three 13-story towers in the Koll Center and are also building Uptown Newport (the wall of apartments you see going up on Jamboree between MacArthur & Birch) in Newport Beach, are also contributors to Mr. Muldoon’s re-election campaign.

Other donors include the Building Industry Association of So. California PAC, Apartments Association of OC, the CAAPAC Apartment Association, The Irvine Company, other real estate companies, developers and land planners, mortgage brokers, property managers, and attorneys.

For this year’s reelection campaign, he is backed by a political action committee which Howard Ahmanson Jr. has contributed almost $50,000 to. Ahmanson, heir of the Home Savings fortune, is part of the pro-development YIMBY (“Yes in My Backyard”) movement.

The Museum House, approved by Muldoon and the rest of Team Newport, a 25-story condo tower planned near Newport Center, was a project pushed by Muldoon’s campaign manager, Dave Ellis, also a consultant to the project. Muldoon and the council added 3,700 unnecessary pages to Line in The Sand’s referendum petition, making it very difficult to carry around. Muldoon and the council only rescinded their approvals after some 14,000 persons signed this petition.

As mayor, Muldoon also wrote a letter, at the behest of Irvine’s Mayor, Don Wagner, without the council’s consent or public discussion on the impact to NB, supporting Irvine’s bid to be home to Amazon’s second headquarters. Had we known, what would we have said?

Mr. Muldoon jumped at the opportunity to make Newport’s problem with noise and pollution from JWA a campaign issue. One of his friends with no relevant PR experience was brought in as a PR consultant. 

Muldoon voted to delay the city’s long-overdue General Plan Update. But why? The General Plan is the blueprint for development in NB. 

Our city needs election reform, and the only way to get it is to vote out the incumbents, put in by special interests. We cannot continue to petition every oversized and out-of-place development the council approves because of its political backers. 

The future of Newport Beach is at stake. If we keep the same team in city hall, the developments will stay, Mr. Muldoon will move on, and we will pay with increased urbanization to our primarily suburban city.

That is why I’m voting for Roy Englebrecht along with Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner. Let’s take our coastal beach town back this November. 

Dorothy Kraus

Newport Beach 

Yelsey invaluable to District

Candidate Karen Yelsey is the community’s choice for school board in the NMUSD Trustee Area 4. She is part of our community, knows our area schools and her priority is the agenda of our community. Karen knows our parents, teachers, students, administrators, our city leaders, and has maintained positive relationships with each of the groups for decades.

Our parents know that if they have any questions or concerns, they can call Karen directly because she attends our PTA meetings. She remains accessible, is willing to meet in person and most importantly, will listen and not dismiss. 

Our teachers know that she will meet with them about curriculum, training, or policies, is reasonable, and they can count on her to listen and not dismiss. 

Our students know that she talks with them personally, she cheers them on at performances and sporting events, and when they need to talk, whether they are her own kids or not, Karen will listen and not dismiss. 

Our administrators know that she takes their priorities seriously, that she makes careful financial decisions that put their students first and when they need support for a new program, Karen will listen and not dismiss. 

Our city leaders know that Karen can be trusted, that she partners with them and when they need to look at opportunities together, Karen will listen and not dismiss.

Karen Yelsey is a proven leader whose agenda is to provide the best education in the healthiest and safest schools possible for our students and our community. She has no political aspirations, sees no purpose for partisan politics on our school board and is consistently dedicated and genuine.

That’s why our community is supporting Karen Yelsey for NMUSD Trustee Area 4. 

Debu Tewari, MD, MBA

Nita Tewari, PhD

Some Newport Beach notables back Dixon for re-election

As former city council members, Citizens of the Year, and long-time community volunteers and civic leaders, we have often disagreed on issues facing the city. But we all agree on one thing: Newporters need to re-elect Diane Dixon to the city council.

The reason we all agree that Diane is best for Newport Beach is simple: she listens to all stakeholders, she does her homework, and she tries to fashion solutions that work for the residents and businesses. 

Over the past four years, we have all been asked by Diane for our thoughts, advice or suggestions. She has always listened respectfully and made the effort to understand our points of view. 

Really, you can’t ask for anything more in a council member. 

With her hard work, dedication to the city and fairness toward all, Diane is an independent voice on the city council and has earned your vote for re-election. We urge you to vote for Diane Dixon in the 1st District.

Debra Allen

Former chair, Civil Service Commission

Michael Henn

Former mayor and council member

Tony Petros

Former council member

Nancy and Jack Skinner

Citizens of the Year

John and Elizabeth Stahr

Citizens of the Year

Walter and Masami Stahr

Author and teacher

Yelsey helped grow The Freedom Committee in local schools

School board leadership is essential to an outstanding educational system, and NMUSD Area 4 Trustee candidate Karen Yelsey has proven herself to be a dedicated, responsible and effective leader. 

As a parent whose children attended Andersen Elementary and Corona del Mar High School, and the coordinator of various school programs including community service and character education, I have had the opportunity to observe Karen in action. 

I was fortunate to help The Freedom Committee of Orange County develop a Living History Program, “passing the torch of liberty on to future generations.” After personally attending some of our events and witnessing the program’s profound effect on the students, Karen led the District to engage The Freedom Committee to expand the program. 

What began with 5 veterans speaking at one school grew to include 100 veterans visiting all of our high schools and many of our middle and elementary schools, providing thousands of students with a better understanding and appreciation of our nation’s rich history and the sacrifices and accomplishments of our veterans. 

Please join me in thanking Karen for her service to our students, by voting for her on November 6th. Thank you. 

Denise Weiland

FCOC Living History Program Coordinator

Newport Beach 

I’m running against Dixon for a number of reasons

In 2014, I supported someone who is now my opponent, Diane Dixon. 

She pledged to “Stop the Dock Tax”, which she later affirmed.

She promised to lower taxes, which she not only raised, but also added more of – she recently voted to approve Newport’s first Mello-Roos tax.

She promised to lower our spending, she voted to increase it by over $55 million annually since she took office.

She promised to shrink the size of government, but our staff has grown since she took office (and our “contractors” have ballooned significantly).

She promised to Save the Fire Rings, but she got rid of the same amount as the previous council proposed.

She promised to protect small businesses, but she has regulated them out of town.

She promised to protect the free market, but she has voted to approve socialized programs which have forced small and locally owned businesses to close.

She promised to protect property rights, but her “Lights Out at 11 p.m.” proposal in 2015 sought to steal property rights from bar and restaurant owners on Balboa Peninsula’s historic establishments, and now there are proposals to expand a section of Mariner’s Mile which would require several land seizures through Imminent Domain.

She promised transparency, but then attacked activists from the dais, accusing them of owing the city money – a claim which a judge later stated in a ruling was completely false – but not before she spent $16,000 of taxpayer money to defend  a claim that was repeatedly offered to be settled for a mere apology.

She promised to stop cronyism, but the Balboa Theater was sold to her friends for $1.1 million when there were offers for $1.6 million and $1.7 million on the table. She then purchased the abandoned McDonalds building for over $4 million of taxpayer dollars when the then-current owners had purchased it for less than $2 million just 18 months prior.

She promised to enhance safety, but she is moving the fire station from Lido Peninsula to that same McDonalds building – the opposite direction of where 80 percent of the calls for that station are coming from. This crony deal will not only cost taxpayers money, but it will cost them response time when residents need them the most (78 percent of all responses for fire are actually health emergencies).

She promised to use fiscal restraint, but then spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single road sign saying, “Welcome to Balboa Village.”

She promised to keep our historic amenities like the fire rings, but then she voted to get rid of the same amount of fire rings as the previous council had suggested. Now, she is trying to close Dog Beach between Newport and Huntington Beach (on the Santa Ana River) which has been there for 101 years and costs taxpayers $0.

She promised to help pay down our unfunded pension liability, but under her watch, our unfunded pension debt has increased an eye-popping $70 million.

She promised integrity, and she ran with Councilman Scott Peotter, endorsing him in 2014 – but during the recall, when she also endorsed him, she was actively mingling with the recall proponents. During this election, she endorsed him yet again – while actively mingling with his opponent. 

Perhaps that was due to her approving city-wide raises, having positions like Dog Catcher bringing home over $180,000 in total compensation – and that position alone will retire with 90 percent of their base pay for the rest of their lives as a pension – also almost entirely unfunded.

Our city has annual revenues of about $250 million and an unfunded pension liability of $250 million by even the best numbers – the cost to exit CalPERS? A whopping $1.3 billion – that’s not a typo. With finances like that we couldn’t get a home loan in Kansas.

She has not only failed to deliver on her campaign promises – she has actively voted the opposite of how she promised she would vote.

With regular attacks on property rights, the raising of taxes, the raising of debt, the raising of spending, and dog catchers taking out $180,000 per year, it is clear that Dixon – who moved here just 6 months before filing to run for office – is not a fit for Newport Beach. I have been active in our local community for nearly 15 years, and I am embarrassed that I supported her original campaign, and I am happy to step up to the plate to stop these types of things from continuing in our small beach town. 

For these reasons, I ask for your vote for Newport Beach City Council, District 1.

Mike Glenn

Candidate for District 1

Newport Beach

Try Focusing on the Positive

Tired of the election hit pieces? Try focusing on the positive and you’ll feel better. We live in a beautiful small city, population 80,000 vs Huntington Beach – 202,000 and Costa Mesa – 114,000. Some would even go so far to say “small town” because in many ways we are. Many of us don’t know our neighbors, but many do, and we talk to each other. The fact that we refer to geographic parts of our city as “villages” says a lot about how we think of our city: The City of Newport Beach is made up of villages which are made up of neighborhoods such as “the flower streets” where I live.

We have beautiful beaches, a harbor and estuary, sun and surf. Local small businesses are close by, many within a short walk, but if you crave that mall experience, we have one of the nicest within a few minutes. We have a fair amount of money with an average net household worth of over 1 million dollars and solid city finances, thank you Dave Kiff and staff. We have good schools, an excellent library system and our emergency responders are some of the best.

So, what’s not to like? Not much and this might explain why many move here. Many see opportunity here. Just like people moving all over the world they arrive and blend in. You may wonder what this has to do with the city council election, and justifiably so. We have three candidates challenging incumbents. Two of these incumbents have little history in Newport Beach and the third can’t vote or support action on what he cares about most, the harbor. When you live here for as long as I and many others have, you develop not only a deep affection for the community, you also have a better understanding of how things function. You know the alternate routes when the summer traffic hits. You know when the best time is to hit the beach and the surf or take that bike ride. You have a feel for the city that comes from years of being part of the community. Many newcomers will, with time, develop this deep understanding and affection and will surely contribute positively to the community fabric. Newport Beach is a beautiful place to call home. We are wealthy in many ways beyond that million-dollar net worth. Please don’t forget that.

I’m very pleased to see three council candidates with strong histories of local involvement and positive contribution to the community I know they hold dear. They focus on what is so good about Newport Beach. When deciding who to vote for, please look at all candidates’ records; look at what they’ve done, or not; look at their connections to the community; look at their historic giving to Newport Beach. Then make your choice. I’m very pleased to see three council candidates with strong histories of local involvement and positive contribution to the community I know they hold dear. They focus on what is so good about Newport Beach. I hope you choose Tim, Joy, and Roy. That’s who I voted for. (Sent mine in already.) Thanks for being part of the wonderful community of Newport Beach, our town.

Dennis Baker

President, Line In The Sand

Newport Beach

Disgusted by local politics

I am disgusted by the ‘politics’ of the upcoming election for city council in Newport Beach. You have probably heard it all by now. Please hear my disdain for the actions of Duffy and Peotter. They should be ashamed.

Kathy Leek

Newport Beach

Isn’t it time for someone new in Washington?

I think it is astonishing that voters in the 48th District, given the opportunity to vote for an exciting, energetic and moderate new candidate such as Harley Rouda, would cast a ballot instead for Dana Rohrabacher. Isn’t it time that we elected someone with fresh new ideas that focus on all aspects of our lives? 

Rohrabacher is a one issue candidate – immigration. Granted this is a huge problem, but there are so many other problems out there that touch our daily lives that need to be resolved. Rohrabacher is just out of touch with the concerns of his constituents and with the tenor of modern-day issues.

Harley Rouda, on the other hand, is focusing on many issues of tantamount importance to our lives in Orange County and in the nation – health care, the environment, transparency in government, and treatment of our veterans and our senior citizens. If we don’t elect congressional representatives like Rouda in this election, it is highly likely that cuts to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and the ACA will be imminent. 

Harley also is energizing our youth, giving them hope for the future. Many of his workers represent earnest young people who want to live in a county and country where partisan politics are not dividing friends and families.

All of us who vote in the 48th District should be energized as well. We have the opportunity to send a stellar candidate to represent us in Washington. Let’s not let that great opportunity pass us by. The whole country is watching us!

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of Stu News Newport but rather the opinions of the letter writer.

Letters to the Editor

City Yard on the west side of NB could become the “Homeless Hub”

Could West Newport Beach soon be referred to as the “Homeless Hub?” Recently, the City Council further kicked the “problematic can” down the road to propose that the new homeless shelter for the City should reside at the City Yard located at 592 Superior Avenue. 

This particular area borderlines Costa Mesa and has a propensity to channel more crime and transient activity into West Newport Beach. Recently, developers have been investing millions of dollars to revitalize West Newport Beach. This is the case of the Newport Beach Ebb & Tide detached luxury homes and the adjacent Level One and Superior Point in Costa Mesa.

Unfortunately, besides all of these continued gentrification efforts, this area, known as Area 24 to the Newport Beach Police Department, has the highest crime rate in the City. As the young families and professionals pleaded with the City Council to consider an alternative location for fear of the impeding health and safety issues and the loss of potential property values, anxiety loomed as the decision by the majority of the City Council automatically advanced the proposal of the City Yard to become a homeless shelter, aka, navigation center.

What wasn’t discussed was the over-concentration of services that are in the immediate area: Share Our Selves (SOS), Hoag’s SolMar recovery center, Hoag’s low-income Wellness Center, Superior Medical Walk-In Clinic, which services the drug rehab patients from the surrounding rehabilitation homes. The multiple convenience stores, including Minute King, 7-Eleven, Circle K and the 76 Gas Station are located in this vicinity and within 300 feet of one another.

Further clarification was not provided with regard to the specific hours and operation, nor how the shelter would coincide with the existing functions of the City’s Yard. The City’s myopic approach apparently didn’t consider where the homeless would go during the day; perhaps, they will walk to Sunset Ridge Park and relax while enjoying an ocean view. At dusk they could go to SOS for a hot meal and retire in a comfortable and fenced in facility at the City Yard. 

The proposed cost is estimated at $30,000 annually per bed with a 14-night maximum stay. When the word gets out, the unsheltered will be clamoring at these inviting doors. The City acknowledged that the facility will accommodate those with reservations only and will not welcome walk-ins, unlike the Lido House Hotel. 

Let the California Department of Transportation lease property to the City of Newport Beach at a cost of $1 per month for emergency shelters that would keep the homeless from loitering around schools, residential and commercial centers, while seeking the medical and professional help that they require.

Peggy V. Palmer

Resident Newport Beach 

Differences seem to be widespread throughout the citizenry

Does anyone else feel like our whole country is just itching for a fight? I don’t remember a time before when we as a nation, and more specifically as a community, were so ready to go to battle, even with our friends and neighbors. Even in the city hall and Museum House debates, we could hear from our friends that some of them they actually liked the projects without demonizing them and calling them names.

So how did peaceful, beautiful and charming Balboa Island erupt into warfare? Why are we now so ready to assume the worst instead of working together to resolve our differences? That may be necessary in other places but it’s not historically the way it’s been done here. The people’s voices have been heard and, in many cases, have been able to prevail over what has been perceived as the rich and powerful developers and politicians. Some tried to make the issues on Balboa Island fit into that paradigm and they were wrong. There were no developers pushing those improvements.

I suspect the anger and distrust we witnessed had to do with a lot more than the obvious. We are all struggling with the changes we see in our little piece of paradise. People are fearful about losing our way of life and powerful people buying up our iconic landmarks. We know things are changing, but we are desperate to try to hold on to what we love.

After all the hateful remarks, I hope it is possible for us to just let the past stay in the past and not try to figure it all out. Could we move forward as friends and neighbors who sometimes disagree, but all love our community? Newport Beach is, in my opinion, the best place in the world to live. We have issues to deal with, but we can do it together with love and understanding in a reasonable and collaborative way.  

As I have for 50+ years, I promise to tell you the truth and if I see something going on behind our backs, I’ll investigate and get the facts straight to share with you. That’s why I think I was elected. You may not always agree with my votes, but I will be glad to discuss with you the factors going into them. Eucalyptus trees are being replaced as necessary with eucalyptus trees and the infrastructure improvement project is on hold indefinitely. There will be plenty of public meetings whenever they think about it in the future and all the citizen groups both old and new will be invited to the table. Now can we please get back to just having honest differences of opinion and talking about the issues?  

Joy Brenner

Newport Beach City Council, District 6

Do our councilmembers vote for what’s best for the city, or for personal gain?

You can’t go away on vacation from Newport Beach and return without hearing about a political calamity or two.

Yes, sometimes the actions of just a few people can have a major impact on many. Such was the case during the last few weeks with the City Council’s involvement in two controversial decisions, one over the placement of the planned homeless shelter, and the second over the issue of the construction of a house on Kings Road, a case appealed to it from the Planning Commission. 

There were articles a month ago in all of the local papers about the problems surrounding the development of a single house on Kings Road, which was to be at least three times larger than the neighboring houses. In order to build the large house, the property owners applied and were granted five “luxury” variances from the Planning Commission. 

The meeting at the PC was a most lively one, with spirited speakers showing up on both sides. Many neighbors of Kings Road told of how they had not received similar “priority” treatment from the building department that these current owners were receiving. 

It was also brought out that the monstrous size of the house would cause damage to the protected coastal bluffs and threaten to affect the public views from Pacific Coast Highway, a designated coastal view road. At the end of the evening when the PC voted in favor of the new property owners, a large group at the meeting was stunned. But the drama and the chicanery did not stop there.

The neighbors’ plight came to the attention of SPON, who backed them in their appeal to the City Council. After making their case to the City Council, the majority of the residents were greatly disappointed as one of the votes they expected to carry was that of Councilman Herdman. Instead, he voted with the majority to allow the variances while Councilwoman Joy Brenner, Mayor Diane Dixon and Councilman Brad Avery voted to deny them.  

By the time that last Tuesday’s City Council meeting came around, it was learned by many that Mr. Herdman had regretted his vote with the majority at the previous council meeting and was waiting for the opportunity to ask for a revote that very evening. That opportunity, by accident or by design, did not occur until around midnight.  

To the surprise of the residents of the Heights and Cliffhaven who felt that the new neighbors at King’s Road were unsympathetic to their concerns, when Jeff Herdman asked for a revote intending to change his stance to vote with the previous minority, denying the variances, Mayor Dixon and Councilman Avery had changed their minds. Hence, they were voting in favor of granting the variances. What had seemed to be a victory for the established residents, turned into defeat as the Mayor and Councilman Avery changed their votes.

It came out slowly to a majority of residents that a very small number of neighbors had placed a sign on their property expressing their anger and incredulity over the gigantic house that was to be built on their block. Evidently the sign came to the attention of Mayor Dixon and other councilmembers who purportedly had visited the potential builders on previous occasions accompanied by a former councilman (who keeps popping up in questionable places).

Evidently, as a result of that visit, knowing that very few people were responsible for the sign, and that most likely the language would be protected by the first amendment, Mayor Dixon had decided to change her vote to allow the variances. And Councilman Avery followed suit. There are many people who conjecture that these changes were not spontaneous.

You get two types of people in City Council, those who genuinely want to serve the needs of the city and those who want to use the city to pursue personal gain. Sometimes you get both traits in the same person, but that is rare. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of the council members of Newport Beach had the best interests of the city as their goal?

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

The Mayor fights back on attacks of character

(Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield is the incumbent in District 3 for the Newport Beach City Council in District 3, running against Tim Stoaks. Duffy, below, responds to recent criticism from Rush Hill, who Duffield unseated in 2014.)

May I remind you of your personal FPPC problems for participating in the Mariners Mile redevelopment committee that resulted in the taxpayers paying over $60,000 in legal fees to make it go away?

Scott Peotter was paid for services rendered just like Mayor Todd Ridgeway paid Dennis O’Neil for his legal services while on the council. The FPPC has ruled there is no conflict with me or Scott on this issue. 

I’m sure you remember the day in May 2013 at my office when you, as Mayor, proposed a no-bid contract (custom RFP as you put it) for your failed water taxi idea for the Harbor. I would be building dozens of water taxis for the City according to you. This was your way of deferring my attempt to run against you. What would Reagan think if he knew about the “custom” City RFP you, as Mayor, were awarding me?

Rush, who would you like to choose as the person on the dais who came up with taking back the management of the harbor if it wasn’t me? I volunteered ten years of my life to be on the Harbor Commission. I pushed hard to take back the Harbor Department from the County Sheriffs while you weren’t even aware the management of the harbor was in shambles. 

While you insert another lie into your rant about me you failed to specifically show how a Port Plan would benefit my business. There is zero benefit to a Port Plan and Duffy Electric Boats. 

I see where you are a licensed architect with the California Architects Board. Mr. Stoaks tells us he’s also an architect but sadly, it’s a lie. He’s not a licensed architect. You’re right. We should change to “restore honesty and propriety to the city council”.   

Marshall “Duffy” Duffield 

Mayor, Newport Beach

The truth matters

(Karen Yelsey is the incumbent in the District Four seat for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in November. Her opponent is Dr. Gina Nick. Yelsey is responding to criticism made recently by former local education columnist Steve Smith.)

During my tenure as a NMUSD School Board Trustee, I have rarely taken the time to respond to critics, preferring to meet with people personally. However, when critics don’t tell the truth, there is no choice but to call it out. 

In this case, Steve Smith endorsed my opponent with too many false statements to list them all. Here are a few of my responses: 

Smith: “Yelsey has little credibility…” The truth: First, how does one disprove a smear? But more than that, during my entire adult life, Smith is the only person who has ever questioned my truthfulness and honesty. My fellow trustees and more importantly, community parents who know me will all testify to my complete honesty. What a smear!

Smith:  “…failure to keep her word about 12-year term limits…” The truth: I never promised or made any statement that I would serve for a maximum of 12 years.  However, I did advocate for term limits and due primarily to my efforts, NMUSD district voters will have term limits on the ballot this November. 

Smith: “…rubber-stamping.” The truth: I have never been a rubber stamp (again, how does one disprove a smear?), and those who know my record know how I have advocated and helped bring tremendous improvements to our district.

Smith: “the new stadium at CdM High has been stalled for over five years.” The truth: While Smith is blaming me for this, he knows the reason. We held over twenty community meetings over those five years to listen to the concerns of East Bluff residents. Listening to the community and addressing their concerns is time consuming, but time well spent. P.S. It won’t be a stadium. Smith would have known that if he had attended even one of those community meetings and contributed instead of blaming. 

Smith: “Yelsey had not pushed hard enough for fences around all schools…” The truth: All of our schools have fences and limited access points. Smith also wants metal detectors. There is much disagreement within our community on the need for metal detectors. But Smith doesn’t care about what parents want for their kids, he just wants to spout mean nonsense.

Smith: “There is still tremendous waste of precious resources…”  The truth: Our district is one of the best managed and fiscally sound districts in the county. For example, during the financial crisis of 2007-2008, school districts all around NMUSD were forced to lay off teachers and other personnel. NMUSD, which faced the same external financial pressures as all the other districts, did not lay off a single teacher. Additionally, NMUSD has maintained the highest rating of credit worthiness. We are one of only two districts in Orange County with a Moody’s AAA rating and one of only 29 school districts in the State with a AAA S & P rating. In our latest refinancing of general obligation bonds (2017) we saved taxpayers $140 million (by receiving a lower interest rate due to high credit rating).

Smith: “(Gina) Nick is an entrepreneur and district parent who understands …accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibility.” The truth: Smith doesn’t do his homework. This statement is an example of why our community should not believe anything he writes. Let’s take them one by one.

–Nick is an entrepreneur. Nick has filed for personal bankruptcy twice. Readers, check the public records at the Santa Ana Bankruptcy Court, Cases 8:08-bk-17533-RK and 8:17-bk-10053-CB. Is this the type of entrepreneur that our community should entrust with a $300+ million budget?

–District parent. Nick only moved to Newport Beach earlier this year. She is not known in our schools. If the opponent is interested in how the schools or school board functions, why has she not personally attended one school board meeting?

–Transparency: Nick has not disclosed that she only moved to Newport Beach months ago, that she supports private schools, since her child was in a private school last year, and what about those personal bankruptcies? Not very transparent.

–Fiscal Responsibility: Who is Smith kidding? According to the papers filed by Ms. Nick with the bankruptcy court, she had accumulated more than $785,000.00 of general unsecured debt, to creditors including the U.S. Department of Education and the Sallie Mae Student Loan program, as well as First Credit Union Credit Card, Discovery Card, the Laguna Niguel Rolling Hills Homeowner’s Association, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, BMW, Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America. According to the Final Report filed on February 12, 2009, by the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee assigned to her case, she had no assets with which to pay any of those debts.

Apparently, she did not learn anything from the first experience because on January 6, 2017, she again filed bankruptcy in the Santa Ana Bankruptcy Court, as Case No. 8:17-bk-10053-CB.

This time, according to the papers she filed with the bankruptcy court, she had accumulated another more than $185,000 of unsecured debt, to creditors including Crate and Barrel, Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, American Express, Capital One and Discover Card, all for credit card purchases, CRB Auto for a deficiency claim on her Mercedes Benz, Time Warner Cable, and Navient Student Loans.

Our district’s annual operating budget is over $300,000,000, and with all due respect to Ms. Nick’s fine intentions, I don’t believe our school district needs that kind of fiscal responsibility.

All of the above comments about Steve Smith and Ms. Nick are not smears or accusations. They are the truth. I stand behind my record as an NMUSD trustee, hope voters will do their homework on me and my opponent and know the voters in District Four (Corona del Mar and Newport Coast) will make the right decision and vote for Karen Yelsey on November 6.

Karen Yelsey, District Four Trustee

Newport-Mesa Unified School District

Newport: we have a problem

Back in 1995 when the movie Apollo 13 was released, a phrase in the movie, “Houston We Have A Problem,” became part of our culture. Fast forward 23 years to 2018 and we have another phrase, “Newport We Have A Problem,” that is now relevant to the current Newport Beach City Council election. 

When the current city council treats a city manager the way they treated Dave Kiff….when 50 residents at a city council meeting stand and chant “Vote Them Out”…when the current city council tries to push through the Museum House after city residents voted overwhelming in 2014 to defeat Measure Y…when the current city council does little to address pension reform…one can only conclude that yes “Newport We Have A Problem” and it is with our current city council and the incumbents running for re-election. 

But as in Apollo 13, it ends well and on November 6th it will also end well for the City of Newport Beach when residents elect Joy Brenner, Tim Stokes, and myself to the city council.

Roy Englebrecht, District 4 Council Candidate 

Newport Beach

Longtime local likes the passion of two council challengers

Newport Beach is my home – we moved to the little house behind and across the alley from the Quiet Woman Restaurant in Corona del Mar in August of 1949. I caught my first fish on Shark Island long before it became Linda Isle in 1953. I have seen a lot of change – and I accept the deltas. Today there are lots of events happening around our hamlet that are making me nervous.

Passion is an important word in my vocabulary. I have been a volunteer advisor to recent graduates in the University of Southern California – my alma mater for both undergraduate, doctoral studies, and post-doctoral studies – mentoring database since 2010. I teach all of the young people that if they can find a field of endeavor that they are passionate about – they will never work a day in their life.

I have had lunch and meetings twice with both Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks. These are both very passionate people that love this hamlet like my family and I do. I know who I am voting for on Election Day.

Dr. Donald W. Wise

Chairman and Founder

Newport Beach Men’s Luncheon

Former Republican leader questions candidate’s party loyalty

As the public learns more about candidate Clyda “Joy” Brenner’s donations to Democrat candidates, I feel the need to remind voters that political philosophy matters in local government.

In an attempt to rationalize her 43 donations to Democrats over the past two years Brenner responded to the Newport Harbor Republican Women’s criticism with, “There are levels of government where the color you wear (Red or Blue) may have in impact. It’s simply not true at the local level.”

Brenner continues rationalizing by comparing the Republican voters with Nazi brownshirts; “History shows all too sadly that if someone blindly votes “party” lines leaders can rise who have no moral compass. I think of the 1930s when “brown” was the color in a country that suffered a terrible fate because of party “color” blinded voters …”

It is simply stunning that someone can become so ideologically extreme that they would equate any mainstream party with Nazi brownshirts simply because they don’t comport with all of their loopy extremist positions. Brenner is not a mainstream Republican or Democrat. She is a leftist nut that absolutely does not fit Newport Beach. As our Country becomes more polarized it is people like Brenner that are part of the problem, not the solution.

I am the past Chairman of the California Republican Party and assert that Democrats govern by a different set of principles than Republicans. 

For example, federal law controls immigration but California’s Democrat-controlled legislature passed Senate Bill 54 creating “sanctuary cities” prohibiting local law enforcement from investigating illegal immigrants.

In April, Newport Beach joined dozens of cities in filing an amicus brief in opposition to S.B. 54.

Brenner opposed the city’s involvement in opposing sanctuary cities saying it “is a divisive discussion over which we have no actual control. It’s just ‘playing politics’ when we have much more important issues on which to spend our time and energy.” 

Earth to Joy…philosophy matters. 

I want Newport governed by people with the philosophy that local government is where Republican principles are implemented. Based upon your donations to Democrats, support of sanctuary cities, and comparing Republicans with Nazis I suggest you run for Santa Monica city council.

Michael J. Schroeder

Newport Beach 

Past Chairman, California Republican Party. 1997-1999

Hart name on endorsement list means a lot

I was pleased to read a letter (Stu News, Oct. 19) from my good friend Evelyn Hart. Evelyn is one of the smartest women I know, so I listen when she says: “I know Diane to be a hard worker, an excellent listener, smart and caring, and a natural leader. She has demonstrated all these qualities in her first four years in office. 

I have watched with admiration as she has navigated the crosscurrents and occasional storms of city politics with balance and grace – and always with the best interests of the city as her first concern. 

Her investment in the community includes hundreds of hours spent in meetings, town halls and one-on-one discussions with residents, in briefings and reading reports from the city staff and other agencies as well as non-governmental stakeholders, and the late nights in meetings of the city council and other boards and committees. 

“Smart, capable, ethical and dedicated to the residents of Newport Beach and our shared quality of life, Diane is exactly what a city council member should be.” I agree, let’s reelect Diane Dixon.

Craig B. Smith

Newport Beach

We need accountability in City Hall

What does Saudi Arabia and Newport Beach currently have in common besides sand? Scapegoating, an age-old practice. Last week it was Scott Peotter’s turn to get thrown under the camel. There were rumors about his business relationship with Duffy for months and the conflict of interest this presents for both council members.

Documents have now been found and presented validating that Peotter was in fact

employed by Duffy’s boat business for at least half of 2017. Diane Dixon said last week she was withdrawing her endorsement of Peotter because he breached his fiduciary and ethical obligations to the city by not disclosing this business relationship. She said his failure to reveal it may have put city council business at risk. I agree.

What about Duffy? He obviously knew about the relationship too. He hired Peotter. Surely it must have occurred to Duffy that it created a conflict if a fellow councilman, on his payroll, voted on matters for which he, Duffy, had to recuse himself. Who else in city hall may have known about this? Anyone, for example, City Attorney Aaron Harp, interested in the “rumors” that Peotter was working for Duffy could have Googled the company listed in Peotter’s statement of economic interest to see that it was owned by Duffy. 

We need accountability in city hall, not people who master the art of plausible deniability. We need people who will work to protect our town, not do whatever it takes to protect their team. It is time for the city to investigate. Why is city attorney Harp sitting on this?

Dennis Baker

Corona del Mar

Aghast that Duffy and Peotter remain in race

I am totally aghast that Scott Peotter and Duffy Duffield have not taken their name off the ballot for City Council after all of their manipulations and illegal activity have been revealed. This is not just a political issue, it’s also a moral issue which we expect the City Council to understand and appreciate.

After attending a couple of candidate forums, I was totally impressed with the knowledge, presentation and commitment of Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks. Both of them have a better moral compass than either Peotter or Duffy who only seem interested in advancing their personal business. I only hope it is not too late to get the word out that both Peotter and Duffy need to be replaced by the more honest, transparent, committed candidates Joy and Tim.

I personally am depressed that all that I’ve been hearing about the collapse at city hall seems to be true and that we have been represented by people out to further their own positions as opposed to representing the highest good for the City of Newport Beach. 

It clearly is time for a change and I’m saddened and sorry that it has come to this.

Patricia Griffith

Newport Beach

Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of Stu News Newport but rather the opinions of the letter writer.

Guest Column

Grace Leung

An insider’s look at what’s going on in and around City Hall

Grace Leung

Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung   

Nice to see a calm day, compared to last Friday (October 12) when our first rain storm of the season came in! I appreciated all the hard work put in by our crews in Public Works and Utilities, who mobilized and responded quickly for both the rain and the high winds that followed on Monday and Tuesday of this week.   

Our next meeting is (tonight) Tuesday, October 23, and the following are items that may be of interest. As always, this is not a summary of the entire agenda, which can be viewed here.

No Study Session items this week, so here are the items of note for the Regular Session at 7 p.m.   

Under the consent calendar are the recipients of the Cultural Arts Grants for Fiscal Year 2018/19 as recommended by the City Arts Commission. The Commission is recommending grants to eight local arts organizations totaling $24,000. The staff report provides the details on the grant amounts for each organization and the programs they are funding.

If the Minor Amendments to the City’s Local Coastal Program looks familiar that’s because we originally introduced this item at the September 25 City Council meeting. The Coastal Commission inadvertently did not provide us the final version of their approved amendment. Therefore, we need to introduce this ordinance again. Our amendments, and the Coastal Commission’s suggested modifications, are primarily clean-up in nature, intended to correct citation errors and clarify ambiguities and inconsistencies.

The 9th annual periodic review of the Zoning Implementation and Public Benefit Agreement with Sober Living by the Sea (SLBTS) shows that the SLBTS is in compliance with all requirements. The number of client beds is unchanged from the last review, at 43 beds. 

Following a second procurement process, the bid for Grand Canal Dredging Project Phase 2 has come in at just under $1.3 million. Including two additive items and contingency, the project’s total budget is at $1,459,000. In getting feedback as we prepared this second bid, we found that several aspects of the project impacted the pricing including: the confined area of the Grand Canal, small size of project and varying tides. This project does require a budget amendment of approximately $600,000 from the Tidelands Capital Fund to fully fund the project. 

The City utilizes a contractor to maintain and collect waste from refuse containers located throughout the City at beach areas, bus stops, on piers and various other locations. A contract with CR&R for Citywide Refuse Container Collection Services is on the agenda, following an extensive Request for Proposal process. The agreement is for 7 years and includes specific vehicle requirements. This is a change in vendors, from Robert’s Waste & Recycling, who has agreed to extend their contract to the end of February 2019 to allow time for transition.

As a reminder, public comment is welcome at the City Council meeting. The public can comment on any item on the agenda. If you cannot attend the meeting and/or want to communicate with the City Council directly on an item, the following email address gets to all of them: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on The Week in Review. Based on some questions received, I’d like to clarify that this email (the Insider’s Guide) will continue, with the primary focus on providing information on the upcoming City Council agenda. The Week in Review is in addition, highlighting significant items of interest. It is posted on the City’s website; this week’s edition can be found here.

Thank you for reading. Feedback is appreciated so please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 

Grace K. Leung

City Manager

City of Newport Beach

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

P: 949.644.3001

Letters to the Editor:

Who’s Republican and who’s not in a non-partisan race

Republican voters have recently received what is likely to be one of several mailers touting the Team Newport candidates including Scott Peotter and Duffy Duffield from the local Republican Party Committee. This small group of activists (of which Peotter is a member) mostly consists of people who do not live in Newport Beach or reflect the values of our community. If you are a Republican, ask yourself:

Peotter and Duffield voted for a tax increase of up to $4,500 per home for the new residents of Uptown Newport. The tax will be used to secure $8 million in bonds to shift a facility funding requirement from the developer to the taxpayers. Do you find that to be “Republican?”

Peotter and Duffield have proposed excessive and wasteful public spending: For example, Peotter proposed $200,000 to make himself look better on cable TV, Peotter and Duffield supported a $16,000 per month lobbying contract for the discredited “Port Plan”, Duffield proposed millions to buy a fireboat and millions more to operate it, Peotter and Duffield supported paying $355,000 to Woody’s Wharf, a major campaign donor to both of them. Is that “Republican?”

It was recently revealed that Peotter has been lying to the public regarding his role as a lobbyist to obtain the land use permits allowing Duffield to convert his boat manufacturing facility to a marijuana growing facility. When did the Republicans become the party of pot?

Duffield proposed cutting all departments by “1-3 percent” which would have amounted to a $3 million cut in public safety, a number equal to fifteen cops or firemen.  Peotter opposed the plan to add police on the peninsula proposed by Diane Dixon.  Peotter even held a fundraiser hosted by someone convicted of thirteen felonies involving fraud against the city of Newport Beach. So much for the party of law and order.

Given that four local congressional seats are highly competitive this year, Republicans should be outraged if party funds had actually used this mailer as it indicates. Of course, that is not the real case. Money from big money donors is being run though the party to avoid disclosure. More of the same ethical behavior we have come to expect from Duffield and Peotter.

Republicans don’t be fooled. Elect Republicans Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks.   

Keith Curry

Former Mayor

Newport Beach

Kudos to council for support to Conservancy

This is a shout out to our current Newport Beach City Council. Kudos for supporting the Crystal Cove Conservancy, an environmental and educational success story in Newport Beach. Our City has been a great partner.

  The Conservancy is poised to start a rebuild effort of the remaining 17 cottages. Seeing an opportunity to increase occupancy and additional education efforts, our City partnered with the Conservancy on a contribution basis earlier this year.

The benefits of this partnership will flourish once the cottages are rebuilt. The history is restored, the visitor opportunities increase, and the revenue numbers double from sales and bed taxes. Sounds like a true win-win for our community.

The current City Council’s leadership on this environmental and fiscal stewardship partnership was key. Voters who care about the quality of our community should recognize the wisdom of our current council and vote for the incumbents: Duffy, Muldoon, Dixon, and Peotter. This is the best it’s been for many years. 

Feeling positive about the vision of our City Council. 

Judy Weightman

50+ year resident

Newport Beach

You can’t make this stuff up!

Muskrat Consultants LLC, a licensed medicinal marijuana distributor with manager/member Marshall Duffield, Mayor, City of Newport Beach, is in the news. This new business will be located in Adelanto on property operated by DC Developments, whose manager/member is also Marshall Duffield. Presumably it will be next door to Duffield’s electric boat manufacturing facility. But wait, it gets better.

Who appeared before the Adelanto Planning Commission in September 2017 on behalf of DC Developments to request approval to subdivide the property? None other than fellow Newport City Council person Scott Peotter, the same Peotter who voted in 2015 to ban medicinal marijuana in Newport Beach. 

A consulting fee of $10,000 from DC Developments convinced Peotter that medicinal marijuana wasn’t so bad after all. To think that this wouldn’t make the news, Peotter and Duffield must have been testing their new product. 

In terms of business partnerships, “Muskrat” Marshall and Scott “Pot” Peotter are Newport’s odd couple.

Craig B. Smith

Newport Beach

Duffield deserves as much of the blame as Peotter

Your editorial about Peotter and Duffield and their cannabis connection omits one important fact. This is not just Peotter “digging a big hole.” Two men are involved in this transaction. It seems you feel Peotter is the more culpable of the two. Exactly why is that? Both city councilmen had a duty to inform the citizens about their mutual business relationship. Neither did. It appears you find Duffield’s part in the transaction less appalling than that of Peotter.

Both ignored their duty to provide transparency to their constituents. Why not call Duffield to task as well as Peotter? Have you a relationship to Mr. Duffield you are trying to protect?

Melinda Seely 

Newport Beach

Council race should not involve partisan politics

If the question was asked of Joy Brenner (running for District 6 on the City Council), do you favor Cheerios or Wheaties for breakfast? The answer would be that it has nothing to do with the Newport Beach City Council. 

The same can be said if questioned about her political party affiliation. The answer again, would have to be that political parties have nothing to do with the Newport Beach City Council. It is a non-partisan office.

Those who try to make the city council race about political parties evidently did not pay attention to high school civics, which describes non-partisan offices at the local level. 

Using partisan politics to attack Joy Brenner in a non-partisan election must mean that her opponents have nothing of critical substance to say about her record of decades of outstanding selfless, volunteer community service in many areas of Newport Beach. 

I have known Joy for 33 years and worked with her as a volunteer in her earlier years. She is honest, responsible, and dedicated to serving her community. Joy politely listens to input from all sides and objectively makes her decisions. She loves her hometown of Newport Beach where she grew up and is not beholden to doing the bidding of any special interest or political party. 

It is the way our Charter City was set up to have the City Council be a non-partisan decision-making local governing body to address only city issues. Her major supporters are residents who also love their city, which is why you see Joy’s campaign signs and banners on the residents’ private property all over Newport Beach. This in contrast to her opponent whose campaign signs can be seen mainly on public property and stapled to telephone poles by paid workers by a public relations firm, who most likely do not even reside in Newport Beach. 

Political parties who send out endorsement slates for local city council candidates, as well as the candidates themselves who list political party endorsements in their literature, are not abiding by the “non-partisan” rule. They should remember that the Newport Beach City Council is a non-partisan office to be free of partisan politics. Political parties and their representatives are not to be involved in the Newport Beach City Council race.

Carol Boice

Newport Beach

Disappointed in current local political scene

I am so disappointed in our incumbent city council members Scott Peotter and Duffy Duffield. They do not represent the best interests of the citizens of Newport Beach. Their pot farm interests and allegiance to large builders rather than the people who voted for them has left me dismayed and angry.

I have had enough. Enough of millionaires donating $50,000 to them in a small city election, enough of blatant old school politics. I am voting for Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks who better represent the people of Newport Beach.

B. Kiley

Corona Del Mar

Encouraged to follow the money

As the November election approaches, it is worthwhile to consider whose money supports the incumbents. The largest donor by far is Howard Ahmanson Jr., who has spent over $200,000 since 2014, most of it to install Scott Peotter in office. Just a few days ago, Ahmanson contributed $50,000 to help Mr. Peotter and Mr. Duffield survive the November election by attacking their opponents Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks.

Ahmanson’s views on growth and development should most concern Newport residents. In 2013, Ahmanson wrote: “I believe that social justice requires that a region be overbuilt, or at least over-entitled, in “both high density housing and single-family housing”. Contemplate what it means for our city and how his candidates have implemented his vision. 

Since 2014, development or real estate related interests have directly given more than $122,000 to Mr. Duffield and $82,000 to Mr. Peotter. Developers poured another $57,625 into the 2014 election to indirectly help these candidates and it’s not just developers whose money supports the incumbents. Great Scott Tree Service has given Team Newport related committees and candidates over $11,000. Interestingly, this occurred after they kept the city’s tree contract when the council declined to open sealed bids to determine the actual lowest cost provider for this service.

Donors associated with Woody’s Wharf restaurant have given over $7,000 each to Mr. Duffield and Mr. Peotter after Mr. Duffield switched his vote and settled a lawsuit with Woody’s, which then received $355,000 from the taxpayers as part of the settlement. An excellent return on their investment.

The Family Action PAC and its head, developer Larry Smith, recently gave a committee backing Mr. Duffield and Mr. Peotter $10,000. Given the extremely conservative nature of this PAC, one has to wonder if they will be surprised to learn that their candidates are pot farmers.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that special interest money buys special attention from these incumbents. This money will pay for an avalanche of negative mail attacking Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks and Roy Englebrecht in the coming days as voters make their decisions. Only by becoming educated regarding who really represents the residents will we be able to elect a council who puts the best interests of the city first.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Citizen of the Year and former mayor weighs in with her endorsements

As a former mayor and Citizen of the Year, and a 50-plus-year resident of Newport Beach, I urge my fellow Newporters to re-elect Councilwoman Diane Dixon in the 1st District.

I know Diane to be a hard worker, an excellent listener, smart and caring, and a natural leader. She has demonstrated all these qualities in her first four years in office. I have watched with admiration as she has navigated the crosscurrents and occasional storms of city politics with balance and grace – and always with the best interests of the city as her first concern.

Her investment in the community goes well beyond the home she owns here. It includes also the hundreds of hours spent in meetings, town halls and one-on-one discussions with residents, in briefings and reading reports from the city staff and other agencies as well as non-governmental stakeholders, and the late nights in meetings of the city council and other boards and committees she serves on.

Smart, capable, ethical and dedicated to the residents of Newport Beach and our shared quality of life, Diane is exactly what a city council member should be. Let’s recognize and reward her excellent work and return her to office on November 6!

Evelyn Hart

Newport Beach

Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of Stu News Newport but rather the opinions of the letter writer.

Letters to the Editor:

Dixon withdraws support of Peotter

After giving careful consideration of the facts revealed in the October 12, 2018 Daily Pilot, I have withdrawn my endorsement of Scott Peotter for Newport Beach City Council. I informed Mr. Peotter of my decision. 

Mr. Peotter had a moral and ethical duty to inform the city council, the City Attorney and the public of his financial relationship with the Mayor. He was asked about this relationship repeatedly in several recent candidate forums and refused to answer. Over the last four years, the Mayor has correctly recused himself from votes of the council that presented a potential financial conflict with his business interests. Now, armed with this new information, I believe that Mr. Peotter also should have recused himself from these votes. Mr. Peotter’s failure to disclose these facts may have put city council business at risk.

Mr. Peotter has a fiduciary duty to the City of Newport Beach. He breached his ethical obligation by failing to inform his Council colleagues of his relevant financial relationship with the Mayor so that we were fully informed while doing the City’s business.

Diane Dixon, District 1

Newport Beach City Council

Newport Beach

Current council doing great job, deserves our support

As a lifelong resident of Newport Beach, I have experienced many city councils. In my opinion our current council is doing a great job. Despite the fuss made in some quarters about the resignation of Dave Kiff and his replacement, it appears to me that the transition has been handled well and our new city manager has all the right qualifications.

The dedication of this council to fiscal responsibility is impressive. We are fortunate that this council has given increased attention to our harbor, our city’s crown jewel. As well as enhancing the lives of our residents with its recreational opportunities, the harbor provides an enormous economic benefit to our city and this council is paying attention.

Over the past four years there have been substantial infrastructure improvements in the harbor and an actual Harbor Department created as part of our own city government. No longer will we be calling an Orange County Sheriff Deputy our Harbor Master. No doubt our first Harbor Master, my father Joseph Beek, would be proud.

With a sense of history and anticipation of continued progress, I encourage re-election of Mayor Duffield and council members Peotter, Muldoon and Dixon.

Seymour Beek 

Balboa Island  

Council has improved school safety

School safety has been a major priority for grandparents, parents, and students in our community and around the country. Our NMUSD Trustees and Newport Beach City Council stepped up this year to address the concerns head on.

With their combined leadership, our city council added another School Resource Officer into our local high schools and middle schools, bringing the total number of SROs to three. Our city council also added recently another crossing guard to the Newport Heights area surrounding Ensign Intermediate School.

This response does not happen without the leadership of our incumbents. I’m voting for Mayor Duffield, council member Muldoon, council member Peotter and council member Dixon to continue this positive trend in school safety.

Carl F. Thon

Corona del Mar

Newport Beach can do better than Scott Peotter

The stunning disclosure that Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter openly lied to the public regarding his association with Mayor Duffield’s pot growing business should in itself be disqualifying from public office. Peotter called his employment by Duffield a “rumor” but he knew the real truth. But this is not the first time Peotter has failed to tell the truth to Newport Beach residents.

At the candidate forums, he takes credit for the pension pay down, but in fact, he voted against the pension pay down twice, in 2016 and 2018. He says he has reduced debt, but our unfunded pension liability is $70 million higher than when he took office.

He says he is reducing spending, but the city’s operating budget is $56.5 million higher under his watch.

He says he has lived in Newport Beach for thirteen years. Not consecutively. He moved to Irvine in 2010. He returned to Newport Beach in March of 2014 solely to run for office. From 1990-1998 he was a member of the Irvine Planning Commission. Take a look at the high rise, high density in that city to see if Peotter’s planning vision aligns with yours. While in Irvine, Peotter was part of the efforts to prevent the airport from moving to El Toro air base.

He recently sent around a slate mailer claiming to be endorsed by Newport Beach Fire. Neither the Firefighters Association nor Fire Management Association have endorsed. He lied.

He claims to be a “big Republican” but he introduced measures to limit the public’s rights to petition their government and he proposed endorsing a Democrat bill that would make initiatives and referendums like Proposition 13 or the gas tax repeal very difficult to qualify.

He is the first council member to have someone convicted of thirteen felonies involving fraud against the city of Newport Beach itself, to host his fundraiser. 

We can do better. It’s time to replace the dishonest Scott Peotter with Joy Brenner.

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach

Calling on City Attorney to look into potential Peotter conflicts

Ante up $10,000 and deal the POT, Mr. Mayor. 

According to the State of California, DC Developments, a company our Mayor Marshall Duffield is associated with, hired Newport Beach City Councilperson Scott Peotter to appear in front of the Adelanto City Council seeking approval for a marijuana cultivation and distribution hub. For his appearance, a payment of $10,000 was made from a company controlled by Duffield to a company connected to Peotter. 

When an issue concerning the Newport Harbor comes before the Council, Duffield recuses himself from voting due to potential business conflicts. I would encourage our City Attorney Aaron Harp to review past City Council meetings to determine if Peotter, being an employee of Duffield, should have done the same. If they felt there was nothing to hide why have they refused for over a year to comment on their business arrangements?

Clay Wells

Newport Beach 

Council has created no new debt

A decade ago, Newport Beach had minimal debt on its balance sheet. Between 2007 and 2014, the City then took on $281MM in civic center debt, $253MM in unfunded pension liabilities, and tens of millions in debt to fund Marina Park. Debt fatigue set in.

At the same time, it lost millions in off balance sheet income...Led by an incompetent city manager, the former city hall site sat rotting for years. A competent council and manager would have sold the property and construction would have started the day after the city moved out. The property should be sold immediately, and the proceeds used to reduce our debt.

A new city council was elected in 2014 and 2016 that ran on a platform opposing debt. They have been successful. They’ve stemmed the tide on pension liability. They have paid down the civic center debt each year. Most importantly, they haven’t taken on any new debt and have instead used existing resources to build a new fire station and library in Corona del Mar and capped the Balboa Island sea wall. 

Now challengers want to “take the City back.” Back to where? This city council has voted consistent with their platform. Let’s not forget to vote for Duffy, Muldoon, and Peotter.

Roger D. Lockhart

Newport Beach

Is the current council out of touch?

The misogynistic attitude that has been displayed by some of the incumbents and a few of their followers is distasteful and should play no role in modern society. 

While we are trying to promote equality for future generations in society and in the workplace we must be careful of complacency and at the other end of the spectrum, overreach in our daily lives. 

This is obviously not a new battle but one that has been brought to the forefront again in the last two years, in part by the attitude of some of our new leaders.   

And like some of those in our federal government, there are members in our local government who are “out of touch” in the treatment of their peers. 

Certainly, it is one of our greatest rights – the freedom of the press. And as painful as it is for some of us to read misogynistic and extremist letters in our local newspapers and online, we can presently take comfort in the fact that these views are in the minority.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Another voice for change in Newport Beach

For me, the main reason to vote for Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks for Newport Beach City Council is to vote against the incumbents Scott Peotter and Duffy Duffield. 

I was appalled by what I saw, earlier this year at city council meetings, as Duffield, Peotter and the rest of the Gang of Four seemed to push out City Manager Dave Kiff. At one point, Peotter referred to “the kind of guy” the City would want as the next City Manager. 

Diane Dixon had to call Peotter to task, to remind him that the City might want to hire a woman.

At various points Mayor Duffield did not know the proper procedure; he had to confer in whispers with his friend Will O’Neill. 

None of the Gang of Four had any explanation for why they were reportedly pushing Dave Kiff out of his position months early, a move that cost the city thousands of dollars as well as much lost reputation. At one point either Duffield or Peotter, I cannot recall which, said to the audience “you know, you do not select the City Manager, we the city council do.” 

That is right: but now is the time we get to select the city council. We can do much better than Peotter and Duffield. Vote for Brenner and Stoaks.

Walter B. Stahr

Newport Beach

“Muskrat Love”

Do you remember the song by Captain and Tennille? “Muskrat, Muskrat, candle light…Doing the town and doing it right…”

It was the first thing that came to mind when I read about Muskrat Consultants, Mayor Marshall Duffield’s new medicinal marijuana dispensary business, associated with Councilman Scott Peotter. 

“Doing the town, doing it right…” That’s them, all right. They’ve been doing our town; now it’s time for a change. 

I’m voting for Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner.

Nancy J. Smith

Newport Beach

Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of Stu News Newport but rather the opinions of the letter writer.

Letters to the Editor:

Does Brenner have a track record of donating to Democrats?

I recently read Joy Brenner’s letter to the editor attempting to rationalize her forty-three donations to democrat candidates and liberal political action committees through ActBlue, a SuperPAC formed to promote Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Federal Elections Commission records show Brenner donated to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign just a week before Donald Trump’s historic election. 

Seventeen of her contributions were earmarked for liberal New Jersey Senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker. Sen. Booker’s antics to defeat Judge Brett Kavanaugh are reprehensible. 

Brenner also donated to democrat Hans Keirstead running against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

When Brenner had a choice, she supported democrats.

I will be supporting Republican Councilman Scott Peotter because I know where he stands.

Mike Schroeder

Past Chairman, California Republican Party 1997-1999

Newport Beach 

Kudos to Glenn for calling out police association’s “lie”

Why do we have such a hard time calling lying, lying. We use terms such as intellectually dishonest (Roy’s term), telling falsehoods, misspoke, alternate facts, deviating from the truth, testing credulity, trifling with the facts, etc. Thank you

Mike Glenn for calling it like it is: “…what they have said is a blatant lie.” If I was a police officer in this city I would be incensed at my association publicly lying on my behalf.

Dennis Baker

Corona del Mar

Vote for independent city council candidates

This November I urge fellow Newporters to vote for candidates who respect the views of residents, who have strong community ties, and are independent thinkers. Four years ago, many of us were misled into voting in a slate of ideologues (Team Newport) whose actions have favored developers, abused campaign finance rules, and failed to deliver the budgetary constraints they promised. 

Three candidates, Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks and Roy Englebrecht, deserve our votes. These individuals are not beholden to special interests. They approach government service motivated by the simple desire to improve the quality of life for all Newport residents.

Marie Kontos

Newport Beach

Englebrecht is a resident’s resident

As a fiscally responsible 43-year resident and property owner of Newport Beach, I can appreciate Roy Englebrecht’s concern about the fiscal health of Newport Beach. As a longstanding resident himself, he has the history necessary to make wise decisions that will help keep our city in good financial standing. Unlike most of the incumbents who do not value the resident’s viewpoints, it seems, Roy feels very strongly about the importance of the resident’s role in updating the General Plan. He also feels that the General Plan that the incumbents keep promising but never deliver should be the number one priority of the council. 

Roy is involved with the community through the Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission, Orange County Youth Sports and Mariners Church. Most recently he has shown concern for the safety of our children as they live, work and play in areas without sidewalks, fast moving traffic and inadequate night lighting.

As for Roy’s rival in District 4, Kevin Muldoon has shown little interest in the community. He has only lived in Newport Beach for seven years and has not been involved in any public service or volunteerism to my knowledge, other than his stint on Council. As one of the four incumbents who tend to vote as a block, Muldoon has been involved in some bad decisions which haunt most of the present council, particularly the four who make up the majority. He voted with them on the disastrous Museum House fiasco, the decision to give up the gas tax, to subpoena the Recall documents, and he most likely was part of the group that got rid of the popular City Manager, Dave Kiff. Recently, it was discovered that Muldoon as Mayor and spokesperson for the council in 2017 tried to lure Amazon to Irvine at the behest of the Irvine Mayor, adding that, “The City of Newport Beach is pleased to support a collaborative proposal to the City of Irvine to bring Amazon to the area.” He did all this without ever bringing it to the public’s attention. It would have been a disaster for the residents in terms of unmitigated growth.

Along with Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks, Roy has been endorsed by the Line in the Sand. The three candidates are running separately but will work together as a team who will listen to the community and strive to make decisions that are in the best interests of the majority of residents in Newport Beach.

Tim Stephens

Corona del Mar

Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of Stu News Newport but rather the opinions of the letter writer.

Letters to the Editor:

No need for misleading and untrue statements

During this election season there has been a lot of talk about replacing Team Newport – a group of candidates who ran as a slate during the Newport Beach City Council election in 2014. While some of those “team” members usually vote together, Diane Dixon studies the issues; she has held town hall meetings to confer with the residents and she votes independently. Please don’t lump her in with the other incumbents when placing your vote for city council. Vote for Diane Dixon.

Sadly, I feel her opponent has been spreading lies about her. Mike Glenn’s flyer titled “The Truth about Diane Dixon” is full of untruths. Two specific examples: Flip-flopping on the dock tax was hardly Dixon’s doing – and no property owner “was stripped of their dock held for decades.” Regarding “General fund giveaways, diverting money to her friends in private business through a fund referred to as BVMA,” this is completely false. The BVMA is the Balboa Village Merchants Association. It, like the Newport Film Festival and other city recognized nonprofit organizations, applies for grants annually. If approved by the Council, grants are awarded. This practice has been in place for years, long before Dixon was elected.

It would be better for Mr. Glenn to focus on the positive attributes he would bring to the City Council – hopefully something more significant than creating a dog park.


Nancy J. Smith

Newport Beach

What’s happening to the conduct of our public officials?

How did our common understanding of what is right and wrong in terms of the conduct of public officials change so drastically in the last four years?

Before 2014, a council member would have been shamed by accepting a donation from a known felon and compelled to return it. Now, Scott Peotter has a thirteen-count felon hosting a campaign fundraiser on his behalf. The crimes in question involve fraud against the city itself by filing false plan checks in order to evade the height limits in our neighborhoods. Where is Mr. Peotter’s sense of propriety in organizing this event?

Prior to this, Peotter held a fundraiser at Bob McCaffrey’s home. McCaffrey compared Peotter’s opponent Joy Brenner and other prominent Newport Beach women to “drooling dogs.” Not only did Peotter fail to condemn this language, Duffy Duffield also attended to support Peotter and McCaffrey.

Peotter and Duffield refuse to respond to the legitimate question, “Does Scott Peotter work for Duffield?” This question involves significant conflict of interest issues.

Duffield claimed credit for the creation of a new Harbor Department on his recent door hangers, but on four occasions, Duffield was forced to recuse himself on this very issue. If it was illegal for him to be in the room when this was discussed, how can he claim credit for this accomplishment?

Peotter and Duffield often direct public funding into projects and activities that will benefit Duffield’s business. The $60,000 spent in pursuit of the discredited “Port Plan” is one example.

Both Peotter and Duffield are under investigation for conflict of interest and campaign law violations.

Peotter and Duffield like to claim to be some sort of extreme Republicans, but as someone who knew Ronald Reagan personally and worked with him for eight years, I can tell you the Gipper would be outraged by the behavior of Duffield and Peotter. We need a change to restore honesty and propriety to the city council. I will be voting for Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner.

Rush Hill, former Mayor

Newport Beach

Happy with current council and wants more of same

Seven Orange County cities have sales tax increases on their ballots this year. Without question, these are all pension taxes. Pensions are crowding out basic services across the County. But not here in Newport Beach.

In 2014, a wave of new candidates ran on a platform of attacking the pension tsunami. Those four are now up for reelection: Mayor Duffield; Diane Dixon; Kevin Muldoon; and Scott Peotter.

Despite CalPERS’ abysmal investment returns of 2.4 percent and 0.6 percent in 2015 and 2016, the City’s unfunded pension liability actually shows decreases for 2017 and 2018. This Council has implemented a discretionary paydown that previous councils did not. This council has passed balanced budgets each year with continual surpluses thanks to solid fiscal management. 

This council is again running on a fiscally conservative platform that attacks the pension liability issue without increasing taxes. Contrast that with challenger Roy Engelbrecht who has run on a platform of increasing the Newport Beach sales tax, implementing a hiring freeze, and slashing 10 percent for all city department budgets. Contrast that further with the other challengers in this race who have endorsed him.

I’m voting for fiscal conservatives. I’m voting for Duffy, Muldoon, Peotter, and Dixon. 

Bob McCaffrey

Newport Beach

Is Peotter for or against pensions?

Incumbent Newport Beach City Councilperson Scott Peotter stated his number one concern for the City’s future is the unfunded pension liabilities the previous City Council encumbered us with. I cannot disagree with him on that matter. 

However, he currently draws paychecks from the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District, the Orange County Sanitation District, the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency, as well as the City of Newport Beach. Reportedly, he is the president of a company in Irvine.

If re-elected he too will qualify for a pension from the City of Newport Beach. How many public troughs does he want to eat from?

Rather than seeking a solution, it seems he wants to add to the problem. 

Clay Wells 

Newport Beach

City Council members met secretly regarding city manager

Question: Why did Mayor Duffield and Councilmen Peotter, O’Neill, and Muldoon feel it necessary to have secret meetings regarding City Manager Dave Kiff in what many feel what a forced retirement plot? He was scheduled to retire at the end of 2018 in any event. It seems obvious that the goal was to be able to replace Kiff before the November election.

The reason? Hire a new City Manager who would go along with their financial shenanigans? Fortunately, Councilmember Diane Dixon, in a public meeting, exposed the secret maneuvering, gave the timeline, and caused their preferred (and unqualified) candidate to drop out. 

Meanwhile, the taxpayers are out $200,000 severance pay used to “encourage” Kiff to retire early, on August 31st.

Let’s put an end to secret meetings and wheeling/dealing by electing Joy Brenner and Timothy Stoaks, and re-electing Diane Dixon. 

Craig Smith

Newport Beach

Current council has saved residents millions

Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula owe deep gratitude to this City Council for fighting the Federal Government the past two years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency changed its flood maps to include all of Balboa Island and much more of the Peninsula. This would have increased insurance premiums by millions of dollars every year.

But the City Council fought back. They hired attorneys. They hired engineers. They appealed. And they won. How often do you hear of a city fighting back against the Federal Government and winning? 

This leadership under Mayors Muldoon and Duffield have saved our residents an extraordinary amount of money. This is the kind of leadership that should be sustained. I will be voting for the Council that cares for its residents’ fiscal well-being. I’ll be voting for Duffy, Dixon, Muldoon, and Peotter. 

Peter C. Pallette

Newport Beach

Don’t like partisan politics in local elections

It’s been a long time since I’ve written to a newspaper editor, but now I believe I must voice an opinion about what a local election should and should not be. 

First, local is truly that. Local. Does a candidate express views about the city, in this case Newport Beach, that I believe resonate with how I envision the city now and in the future? Does the candidate address issues like traffic and planned growth? Has the candidate acted in a way that validates my views or has he/she voted in an opposite manner? I know how I reacted to Measure Y, the Museum House, and the proposed “Port” plan for Newport Beach. I care about Mariner’s Mile and the impact of JWA on Newport. These issues matter to me. 

When I asked the highly astute, and I will add gifted, students who were selected by CdMHS to ask questions of our local candidates at a forum whether partisan politics has any role in local elections, all three immediately answered ‘no.’  They answered that question quickly and unequivocally. There is no role for partisan politics in local elections. If you want a park built or upgraded in your neighborhood I can guarantee it will not matter whether a council member is a Republican or Democrat. It matters whether they hear you from the dais when you make an appeal. Are the city council members concerned with the residents or with the financial supporters who helped them win an election? Are the council members using the city for their political or financial gain or are they serving the people?

That’s all that matters to me. 

State and national issues are dealt with on those levels. That’s where partisan politics has a role. Partisan politics is NOT involved in garbage collection, parks, sewer lines, traffic, high density developments or issues that impact me daily. 

Partisan politics certainly affects me, but it’s more distant. I care deeply about who’s serving my views in Sacramento and Washington DC, but that’s an entirely different issue. That is and will remain partisan. But that’s simply false on the local level and anyone who understands basic civics recognizes this as false. It’s smoke and mirrors to bring partisan politics into local elections. Do council members vote for an increase in the police force along party lines? No. I simply find it false to see a political party “endorse” a person running for city council. 

For some reason “partisan” politics is being thrown into the local election to muddy the waters and confuse local voters, it seems. That’s unconscionable. When I see “endorsed” by the Republican or Democratic party on local campaign literature, I immediately feel it’s a ploy, that the candidate is likely using a party’s endorsement to get to higher office, not to serve the city. To me, the person lacks credibility. 

Look at who’s running and try to think why. Look at what they’ve actually done. Look at what council members have tried to do. Are they running to serve the people of the community or to enrich themselves, their friends, their political allies or move to higher political ground at my expense?

Local matters. Please read the “real people” endorsements, look at voting records, transparency, financial backers, and whether you want Newport run by a political machine. I for one am weary of partisan politics. Think and vote for the person who will honestly serve you and this city.

Lorian Petry

Corona del Mar

Coming to the defense of a candidate after partisan claims

Since Scott Peotter and friends have brought up the issue of comparability with the candidate who is running against him for Newport Beach City Council, Joy Brenner (claiming that he is “more Republican” than she), I thought it would be an opportune time to name some of the other qualities that you might want to use to compare the two candidates. However, I won’t stoop to the level of saying in which of these areas, if any, that Scott Peotter is deficient. I will leave that decision up to the reader. It shouldn’t be too difficult as he is well known, very vocal, and his actions have been the subject of many letters written to the local papers.

Let’s speak instead of the positives which are so noticeable in Joy Brenner’s character and personality.

Let me start by saying that by the second time that I was in Joy’s presence, I was able to observe how naturally she interacted with people and how eloquently and candidly she spoke. I decided very quickly that she was the perfect City Council member for our fair city. Since that initial time that I met Joy and talked with her, I have seen her on several occasions – frequently enough to also appreciate her intelligence, her warmth, and her work ethic. Joy is not afraid to speak and write openly about her feelings and vision for Newport Beach. And her strength of spirit is always evident in her speeches to the council and to civic groups. 

To return to Scott’s comparison of being “more Republican” than Joy, it is important to remind people that this is a non-partisan local election. Having said that, since the question has come up, Joy has pointed out in a letter in the local papers, if one deemed it important, that she does belong to the same political party as Scott. Finally, it should be noted that there have been several residents in Newport Beach, including past council members, who have not hesitated to challenge Scott’s Republican values. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of Stu News Newport but rather the opinions of the letter writer.

Letters to the Editor:

Time for a change on council

This is a crucially important election year for our city, and voters need to have their facts and priorities straight.  

As in 2016, Line in the Sand is endorsing candidates who are longtime residents and have no agenda other than to serve. Joy Brenner, Roy Englebrecht and Tim Stoaks are running independently of one another and us, individually challenging the members of the “team” that got elected as a slate in 2014 and that vote as a bloc on most major issues including the Museum House project, which Joy, Roy and Tim helped defeat. In addition to dramatically changing the Newport skyline, the Museum House condo tower “Team Newport” wanted to see in Newport Center would have set a terrible precedent for more high-rise, high-density development in that area. Have you ever seen a town with only one high-rise condo tower in it? Neither have I. 

As one of the citizens who lugged around the 10-pound petition to force the council’s approval to go to a citywide vote, I must note that team members Muldoon, Duffy and Peotter all voted to add the 3,800 unnecessary pages to the Museum House petition. That sent quite a clear message about their disdain for the public’s views on out-of-place development and citizens’ first amendment right to petition government without fear of punishment or reprisals.

Line in the Sand is also supporting candidates who support campaign finance reform. Joy, Roy and Tim have grassroots campaign teams and are raising money from residents who care about preserving the character of our town. They are not building up giant war chests with funds from developers, out-of-towners and special interests. One “Team Newport” backer bragged in 2014 that close to $1,000,000 had been spent to get them elected. One can only imagine the kind of strings that are attached to that kind of money. Team Newport has made it clear that campaign finance reform is not on their radar. Why would it be? 

With Joy, Roy and Tim on the council, we can get back to being a citizen-run coastal town that is paradise for its residents and businesses, not for developers and the politicians they get elected. It really is time to take our city back.

Dennis Baker, President

Line in the Sand

Partisanship is inappropriate

Once again we have seen partisanship rear its ugly head both in D.C. and in Newport. And who has suffered? Both the citizens and our system of government. Nothing gets accomplished and no problems get solved when we are arguing like politicians. And that’s what they want, especially those who are trying to inject partisanship into our local nonpartisan council race. 

This week, Scott Peotter and his surrogates are claiming that he is “more Republican than me”. There is not a Republican or Democratic way to solve the main problems about which people in Newport Beach are concerned, like traffic and over development. 

For the record, I’ve been a Republican my entire life, except for a few years when I registered as an Independent. That was decades ago. Like Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan and many of us, I have at times made donations to members of the other party. Like most Americans, I vote for the candidate I feel will do the best job. Sometimes we vote in ways that make us uncomfortable, while holding our noses.

So, is Scott Peotter a “better Republican” or, more importantly, a better representative of our community? Before deciding, I encourage you to look at his irresponsible spending proposals. He claims to be a tax fighter but his recent vote on Uptown Newport says otherwise. I am fiscally conservative both personally and civically. The same cannot be said of Scott.  

As a council member, I know that my job will be to represent the entire community and stay focused on local issues. We have a unique city and a lifestyle that you can’t find anywhere else. It takes constant vigilance and real love for our community to maintain this. It takes character and humility to know that your sole job is to represent your constituents. That’s who I am and who I plan to be as your councilwoman.   

Joy Brenner

Newport Beach City Council Candidate District 6 

Letters to the Editor:

Challenging year for Republicans so you need to know your players

This is a challenging year for our Republican Party. Even historically safe seats are competitive this year. 

 I wanted to be sure you were aware of events in Newport Beach so as to avoid embarrassment during this election season.

As noted below, Newport Beach Councilmember Scott Peotter is having a fundraiser hosted by Andrew Goetz.

Mr. Goetz was convicted of 13 felony counts related to filing false plan checks with the City of Newport Beach. The goal of this conspiracy was to evade the city height limits in various neighborhoods. Mr. Goetz was initially charged with 26 counts. He pled guilty and surrendered his architect’s license. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Mr. Goetz subsequently was convicted of fraud in obtaining a real estate license by making false statements on his application and fined $1,000. In 1984, he was convicted of theft by credit card.

These were not random crimes or unrelated to municipal business. They were frauds committed against the City of Newport  Beach. The case was investigated, and the arrest made by the Newport Beach Police Department. 

I will leave to you to draw your own conclusions regarding Mr. Peotter’s judgment, ethics and suitability for public office, given his decision to have Mr. Goetz host this event.

Let me assure you that polls show Mr. Peotter trailing badly. As you may know, last year over 10,000 Newport Beach residents signed a petition in support of recalling Peotter. He was elected with approximately 11,000 votes.

Because of what many feel are his lack of actual accomplishments in office and severe unpopularity, Mr. Peotter will very likely attempt to run for reelection by wrapping himself in the Republican banner. (I know, odd for a candidate who voted for the largest property tax increase in Newport Beach since Prop. 13, up to $4,500 per year for the new homeowners in Uptown Newport).

He will likely seek to use your endorsement, photo, or statement in support of his campaign. May I respectfully suggest that in light of this new information regarding his association with known felons, that now, it would be appropriate for you to pull your endorsement or not make it in this race.

Because I know how much you value your well-deserved reputation for integrity in our community, it would be unfortunate if a mailer from Peotter highlighting your support arrives on the same day as one detailing his pending conflict of interest and campaign finance violations, building code violations, abuse of staff, personal self-dealing while on the council and association with known felons. That certainly will not help the Republican cause in November. A review of the financial reports filed today will demonstrate that there will indeed be a robust campaign supported by former Republican mayors and notable Newport Beach citizens to tell this story.

It is worth remembering that the local Republican Party embarrassed itself before through its involvement in Newport Beach politics. In 2006, the party endorsed Jack Wu for city council. Many well-meaning elected officials followed the party and supported Wu who was subsequently found guilty of felony embezzlement related to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s campaign funds. Several elected officials have since told me how embarrassed they were to be associated with Wu. Ironically, one of Wu’s strongest supporters was Scott Peotter.

I don’t want this to happen to you. I hope this information is helpful as you decide on who to lend your good name in the November election.

Yours for a Corruption Free Republican Party,

Keith Curry, Former Mayor

Newport Beach

It’s been a long road back to re-gain my reputation

To be clear, it was the roof midpoints and grade averages that were altered and/or affected. This is now how the current zoning code determines building heights.

In the past 15+ years, I have completed over a hundred projects (all by referral) with an amazing sense of space, beauty and attention to detail.

Collectively, these projects have added hundreds of millions of dollars of value which, in turn, have yielded millions of dollars annually to property tax rolls. 

In addition, they have added to the revenues of hundreds of people, including real estate agents, suppliers, subcontractors and City staff. 

Re-establishing my work took a very long time. It cannot logically be said that the City does not follow zoning rules, and at the same time bring up my mistakes from long ago. 

Andrew Goetz, Architect

Corona del Mar

Peotter provides better conservative path than Brenner

I am an unapologetic conservative that believes in electing Republicans to city councils.

I have walked precincts and donated to Republicans my entire adult life because they believe in free enterprise and limited government.

As the Newport Beach city council campaigns approach election day, I have learned that over the past two years candidate Clyda “Joy” Brenner has made over 40 donations to liberal Democrats across the country.

Federal Elections Commission records reflect her “earmarked” donations through Socialist Bernie Sanders’ ActBlue PAC include 17 contributions to liberal New Jersey senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker. (

Brenner also earmarked a donation to Hillary Clinton’s Super PAC just days before the 2016 presidential election.

Now that I know where Brenner stands, I will vote for Scott Peotter for city council. Scott has done a great job for taxpayers the last 4 years.

Kurt English

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Let’s protect what we have

Deluged by political flyers for the upcoming November elections? Confused by too many details from each of the new candidates? Frustrated by the incumbents’ years of voting, driven by outside big monied interests and not by the welfare and needs of city residents? How does one sort it all out before marking ballot choices this November? I have a single suggestion that will help

Keep in mind “deep grassroots” when making your selections. Three of the four on the Team of Four moved to this city just before running for city council. They have voted as a block during their terms. One has spent years intimately involved with the city of Irvine’s insatiable appetite for high rise development. A drive down Jamboree is a heart-wrenching reminder of his prior interests. A second member also arrived from Irvine with a commitment to high powered PAC-funded interests and personal ambition. A third arrived from Pasadena. Only one member of the team is a real local, forever dedicated to the quality of life on the harbor – if it will improve his boat business. 

Are these four dedicated to short and long-term goals of the community? Presently there is little doubt about where their loyalties lie. Their shallow grassroot concerns focus on the green of money rather than the deep natural grassroots of what is left in the city, needing protection and preservation.

The challengers, Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks and Roy Englebrecht, have deep roots in the Newport Beach community. They have lived here for decades. Their children attended local schools. They have dedicated years to community service, to starting up community organizations, to challenging airport noise. They have been green-focused on the health and welfare of local citizens and on saving what is left of public city land for the public now and for the future. 

If you lack time to follow up on past and present decisions of current incumbents, you might want to visit a website reflecting the challengers’ values, (“Still Protecting Our Newport”). Click on “About” at the top. Here you will note values that Joy, Roy, and Tim support. This website reflects the long historical record of volunteer community activists dedicated to protecting and preserving Newport Beach for quality living for all city residents – efforts dating back four and five decades. The challengers are eager to leave our gorgeous natural bounty for future generations to enjoy. They do not want to see it sold off for private gain and exclusive pleasure of only those who can afford it. They are eager to take back the city council for its residents. 

So, if an activist rings your doorbell, thank them for volunteering, especially if it’s for the challengers. If you’re irritated by a few political flyers left on your fence or door knob, just remember they are from your neighbors currently “hitting the streets” to bring fresh clean politics of transparency and honesty back to city government.   

If your life is too busy, then visit the entertaining YouTube site of two young watchdogs of local politics at They reveal current shenanigans of self-serving incumbents – in real time. Your optimism will be renewed when they interview the dedicated local challengers bringing fresh sea breezes of creative dedication to community concerns, once the Team of Four is replaced this November. Indeed, “The times, they are a-changin’ ” (Bob Dylan).

See you at the polls this November, too, for Joy, Roy, and Tim.

Sheila Koff

Corona del Mar

Letter to the Editor:

Time for a change on council

As a former member of the Newport Beach City Council, I have a unique perspective on this year’s election. During my first two years, I was privileged to serve with dedicated public servants who put the city first and worked in a spirit of collegiality to accomplish important projects like Sunset Ridge Park and Marina Park and to initiate the early pay down of our pension liabilities.

In 2014, things changed with the election of the Bob McCaffrey “Team Newport” machine including Scott Peotter and Duffy Duffield. I witnessed firsthand this new four-person council majority overturn staff recommendations and award lucrative city contracts to their campaign supporters. Nearly immediately, we were confronted with Councilman Peotter violating the Brown Act and making potentially libelous statements before the Costa Mesa Tea Party. I saw as Duffield was led by Peotter and a special meeting was called so that he could reverse his vote in the Woody’s Wharf litigation. This resulted in paying $355,000 in tax dollars to Woody’s, another major donor of Scott Peotter.

I was on the council when the Peotter/Duffield machine added thousands of unnecessary pages to the Museum House petitions to undermine the rights of residents.

Dozens of citizens came to the city council to object to Peotter’s misuse of the city seal in expressing his personal opinions. 

I saw our city staff repeatedly threatened by the bullying tactics of the Peotter/Duffield machine.

I was on the council as completely irresponsible ideas were randomly served up. Duffield proposed all departments cut their budgets by up to 3 percent, a proposal that would have reduced funding for public safety by $3 million and resulted in the loss of 15 police officers or firemen. Duffield and Peotter voted twice and continue to advocate a $3.5 million business license cut that would create a structural budget deficit affecting library and public safety services to primarily benefit large law firms and mega employers.

As chairman of the finance committee, we quietly buried some of the most irresponsible ideas from Peotter and Duffield.

I love our city, and we need a change on the city council to restore the ethical standards, fiscal responsibility and sense of civility that we all expect and deserve. I will be supporting Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks; I encourage you to join me and demand change for the good of our community.

Tony Petros, Former Council Member

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

Seven Newport Beach Mayors Say it’s Time for a Change

As former mayors, we are very concerned about the direction of our city during the past four years. We have seen the city council majority make rash and partisan decisions that are not in the best interests of the residents. For example, the council refused $485,000 in traffic improvement funds to make a political point. They voted to approve the largest property tax increase in 40 years for a new development without a vote of the people.

The tone of discourse in our city has changed for the worse. Some council members seek to demonize our public employees and civic facilities. Tom Johnson recently called out Scott Peotter specifically for his abusive and condescending remarks to city employees. 

There has been a disregard for our campaign laws, open meeting laws and conflict of interest restrictions.

We are most concerned with the classless and outrageous way our outstanding City Manager Dave Kiff was forced out early, and we are very disturbed that a politician, not a professional city manager, was a leading candidate to replace Kiff.

The council majority simply does not represent the values of our city. You would expect the mayor to set a tone that avoids these abuses, but Duffy Duffield has failed our community and must bear responsibility for his decisions. In addition to Duffield, one councilman in particular, Scott Peotter, has been at the center of all of these problems. Peotter even voted against the city Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy and twice voted against the accelerated pay down of our pension liability. 

We believe it is time for a change if we are to protect the quality of life and restore our civic values in Newport Beach. We are supporting Tim Stoaks in District 3, who is running against Duffield, and Joy Brenner in District 6, running against Scott Peotter.

Tim and Joy are longtime community activists who have worked for decades on projects like OASIS, the Corona del Mar Library/Fire Station, Santa Ana Heights improvements like the Fire Station, trails and parks and our new animal shelter. They have been in the lead on reducing airport noise and they will represent the interests and values of residents, not politically connected donors.    

Join us in demanding a change for the better in Newport Beach and reject the machine politics of the past four years. Vote for Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner.

Former Newport Beach Mayors:

Evelyn Hart      Rush Hill      John Cox

Keith Curry       Mike Henn    Don Webb

Jan Debay

Neighborhood events bringing residents together

Sometimes they say it takes a village to support the growth and development of an individual. In the case of Newport Beach, it is going to take a “village” to restore the City to its full potential.

During the past few months, the community of Newport Beach has been at the forefront of embracing change in our government. This has formed organically through many neighborhood events, in which each of the candidates, Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner, has factually focused on bringing the residents together again.

These candidates have successfully brought thousands of Newport Beach residents together in just a few months. Both Stoaks and Brenner have worked around the clock to educate and inform like-minded people as to why we need to transform our City on November 6, 2018.

This has been a call to action, in which the community has literally been taken “off-line” and become united. Residents across the City have walked away from each event with a strong feeling of good, with new friendships being formed and citizens being energized with optimism.

If two honest and principled Newport Beach residents can collectively listen and bring thousands of people together for the common good of our City (especially, without self-serving and conflicting interests), then both Tim Stoaks and Joy Brenner can bring common sense back to Newport Beach in the most conventional way. 

Why? Because Stoaks and Brenner have the pulse of the people.

Lu Baker

Newport Beach 

Letters to the Editor:

Beware of the “Growth Machine”

The question is who to vote for in November’s City Council election? I know who I’m voting for because actions speak louder than words. Forums are good introductions, but often don’t do much to differentiate one candidate from another. All candidates say they “love” Newport so, once again, we need to examine actions, not words.

There is one type of action I discovered that sums it up for me. Some members of the current City Council are wittingly or unwittingly part of the “growth machine” which is well ensconced in Orange County. Of course it is – because there is lots of money to be made here through decisions about big, lucrative development – the sky’s the limit. There are political futures to be furthered as well. 

Here’s one case in point. In 2017, then Mayor Muldoon (with Duffy as Mayor Pro Tem) wrote a letter on behalf of the City Council and City of Newport Beach (that’s us), at the behest of the City of Irvine Mayor and the Irvine Company, saying that we would all love it if Amazon would locate its second headquarters in Irvine – with 50,000 new high paying jobs along with other associated jobs and families. This never appeared on our City Council’s agenda for the public to see. And what would we have said? We would certainly have wanted to know more about the sheer volume of development, density and traffic that would mean. What would 50,000 or more new families do to the already too expensive housing market? However, the letter said, and I quote, “The City of Newport Beach is pleased to support a collaborative proposal of the City of Irvine and the Irvine Company to secure Amazon’s second headquarters. We are proud civic leaders of one of 34 cities in Orange County – America’s sixth largest county, greater in population than 21 states in the Union…Each of our cities presents unique opportunities and strategic advantages to accommodate all that Amazon seeks for its next headquarters.”

As it turns out, Amazon went elsewhere and subsequently we read of the impact of its first headquarters in Seattle, of its loss of “soul” from the building boom primarily by Amazon’s impact. An article in the New York Times by Timothy Egan reads, “I live in the city that hit the Amazon jackpot, now the biggest company town in America. They have 40,000 employees here, who in turn attracted 50,000 other new jobs. They own or lease a fifth of all the class A office space. But median home prices have doubled in five years, to $700,000. This is not a good thing in a place where teachers and cops used to be able to afford a house with a water view.” This article ended with, “To the next Amazon lottery winner I would say, enjoy the boom – but be careful what you wish for.”

17 of the 34 City Mayors wrote such a letter as requested by their growth machine cronies. Laguna, for one, did not. Laguna has a soul it has steadfastly tried to preserve, and, like Laguna, I hope we would choose to keep our charm and character as well. As a start we can elect people who by all indications will choose to put the Newport Beach citizens first. Three people running for our City Council want to know what we think, and I’m voting for them – Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks, and Roy Engelbrecht.


Jean Watt

Newport Beach

Apparent conflict of interest

As a Newport Beach resident, I am very troubled by the fact Mayor Duffy Duffield has skipped the recent Speak Up Newport Candidate forum and along with the other incumbent council members, has not confirmed their participation in the Feet to the Fire Forum. If they will not appear publicly and answer the public’s questions, they should not be reelected.

I am also concerned that Scott Peotter and Duffield refuse to answer the question regarding Duffield’s employment of Peotter. As residents, I think we have the right to know if Peotter’s vote is compromised by his employment with Duffield (or vice versa).

The behind the scenes ouster of City Manager Dave Kiff, the phony ballot measure, the refusal to answer questions from the public and the insulting comments by Bob McCaffrey have convinced me it is time for a change. I’ll be voting for Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks.

Craig B. Smith

Newport Beach

Yelsey has the needed experience to help our kids

Parents and teachers expect our school board candidates to have backgrounds in teaching or volunteering in their schools. This often will include serving on the School Site Council, PTA Board, Boosters or Foundation Board, or The Superintendent’s Parent Council. This important background not only forges relationships between parents, teachers, and administrators, but it also builds knowledge of the school’s unique characteristics, legacy programs, and future directions. This foundational knowledge is a critical expectation of those who are seeking the office of Trustee for the NMUSD School Board. 

Karen Yelsey has a challenger who one day may be prepared to be a viable Trustee, but with no experience in the NMUSD schools, it’s difficult to imagine that she is now. It is imperative to look closely at a challenger who seeks to serve our 22,000 students and manage our $300 million budget. It is not for the faint of heart, the inexperienced, or the out of touch. For these reasons, those of us in Area 4 feel so strongly that the experience, commitment, tenacity, and school/community engagement of Karen Yelsey overshadow her challenger. That challenger, according to her social media history, has lived in Newport Beach for less than a year. It appears that her focus is on political endorsements with the goal to launch a political career using the NMUSD election as her starting blocks. The problem is, those starting blocks are our kids, in our community. 

I welcome new parents to our community and to our schools. Our schools need volunteers seeking to serve our students and teachers. The volunteer opportunities are plentiful, and I’d love to have coffee with any parent who desires to get plugged in to our schools. For now, a Trustee who has demonstrated strong and tenacious leadership, working for the very best policies, programs, and services to provide an outstanding education in a safe and healthy school environment is who gets my vote. That Trustee is Karen Yelsey. 

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi 

Newport Beach 

Was McCaffrey’s fundraiser the right event to choose?

I am disappointed to hear that City Councilman Scott Peotter and our Mayor Duffy Duffield are willing to attend a fundraiser at the home of Bob McCaffrey. McCaffrey referred to Joy Brenner as a “drooling Dog.” Brenner is running against Peotter for a seat on the City Council. McCaffrey’s comment is offensive. By accepting an invitation to obtain money for his re-election, Peotter is condoning such childish behavior. Peotter will not get my vote. 

Dortha Wells

Newport Beach

Need to stop overdevelopment and improve traffic

In the past four years, traffic in Newport Beach has become much worse. Over-development is aggravating traffic problems, just look at the Fashion Island apartments and the Uptown Newport project. 

The increase in traffic and overdevelopment coincides with the takeover of our city by the Team Newport and the voting block of Scott Peotter, Duffy Duffield and Kevin Muldoon. With their backroom maneuvers and their uncivil behavior, this “team” has changed the character of City Council for the worse. 

To move the city in a different direction, where the views of residents are respected, its members are non-partisan, and council actions are transparent, we need different council members. I’m voting for a change.

Caroline Taylor

Newport Beach

Guest Column

Grace Leung

An insider’s look at what’s going on in and around City Hall

Grace Leung

Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung   

Greetings to the Newport Beach community!

I must confess, with four days on the job, I feel a little strange calling this the “insider’s guide” so I hope you bear with me as I get to know the City and all that is going on in this active community. And there’s no better way than to just start diving right in to the City Council agenda.

For the next meeting, on Tuesday, September 11, the following are items that may be of interest. Following Dave’s caveat, this is not a summary of the entire agenda, which can be viewed here.

Study Session begins at 4 p.m., when the Library Foundation will present a check for $153,125 to the City. This will help fund valuable library resources, programs and cutting-edge library enhancements. Then Public Works staff will present an update on traffic signal system technology, a critical element to managing traffic circulation that is continually evolving. 

The Regular Session at 7 p.m. has these items of note:

On the consent calendar is the award of landscape architecture and civil engineering services for rehabilitation of Grant Howald Park. This will kick off much needed renovations for this park. A key part of this contract will be to begin the community engagement process for design features as it relates to the fencing around the park. Community outreach and design is estimated to go through Spring 2019 and construction to then start early 2020 (following the Fall 2019 soccer season). We are hopeful to complete this project summer 2020.

On for public hearing is an update to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance. This update amends the City’s Zoning Code and Local Coastal Program to conform with new state requirements that took effect on January 1, 2018. Our current code only allows ADUs in single-family residential zoning districts. In order to conform with state law, the code will be amended to allow development of ADUs with single-family homes in all residential districts.

In my first week with the City, I am so impressed with the pride and love that people have for living and/or working in Newport Beach. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work for Newport Beach and feel a deep sense of responsibility to serve the community and the organization well. I know transitions can be challenging and I hope to make it as smooth as possible. As part of that effort, I will be evaluating how we as a City communicate with the community. Don’t worry, I will continue this Insider’s Guide, but it may evolve in the future as I look to ensure we are communicating as effectively as possible. 

Thank you for reading. I hope to get to meet and know you over the coming months. To that end, please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 


Grace K. Leung, City Manager

City of Newport Beach

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Letters to the Editor:

Conflicts of interest...Newport Beach deserves better

It is widely believed that Councilmember Peotter has been retained by Mayor Duffield to assist in the relocation of some of Duffield’s boat manufacturing facilities to Utah. The refusal of Duffield and Peotter to answer the simple question, “Does Peotter work for Duffield?” is very troubling.

Duffield refuses to voluntarily answer the question, and Peotter calls it “rumor”.

This is not some political “gotcha” issue. Residents have a right to know if Peotter’s vote can be influenced by compensation Duffield pays to Peotter; or affect a vote over resource allocation between Duffield’s and Peotter’s districts; or is it just plain illegal.

Duffield is required to recuse himself on most harbor issues. However, Peotter votes on these issues, some of which may financially benefit Duffield. Is it allowable under conflict of interest laws? Should Peotter also be recusing himself because Duffield is a source of income to Peotter?

What about the City Council’s duty to police itself? Both Peotter and Duffield are already the subject of multiple complaints regarding campaign law and conflict of interest violations, none of which the Council has directed the City Attorney to review. Yet again Council shirks its duty, by not directing the City Attorney to look into this employment issue. How long will Council ignore its duty, as ethical issues pile up with Duffield and Peotter? This is politics at its worst, and confirms voter skepticism about the ethics of government officials.

What about the City Attorney’s independent duty to assure that Council is acting lawfully? When asked, the City Attorney reportedly said, “trying to find answers to these types of issues is not possible given the ethical rules related to the performance of your duties”. Really? This “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude is disingenuous and disrespects his office as well as the citizens of Newport Beach.

I think it is entirely possible to find the truth. Duffield and Peotter should be asked directly, under oath, if necessary, so City business can be conducted in the open without fear of conflicts of interest. And then, depending on the answers, Councilmembers should conduct themselves in a lawful, transparent way without even the appearance of a conflict.

Open and transparent government in Newport will not begin until these kinds of egregious cover ups are stopped.

Mike Henn

Former Mayor, Newport Beach

Time to cancel the Team Newport Show in Newport Beach

The Newport Beach City Council has been on vacation for nearly a month, but like a TV series finale, they left us with a few cliffhangers.

On July 30, the council issued a statement designed to embarrass Jeff Herdman, but failed to reveal the three councilmembers who advanced the name of Shawn Nelson as City Manager. In response to a Public Records Act request, the city said they did not have any “relevant documents.” Really? Why don’t you just admit who it was? You were there.

It was revealed that Scott Peotter is apparently employed by Duffy Duffield to plan the relocation of part of Duffy’s business to Utah. This raises some significant conflict of interest issues for both councilmembers. At the West Newport Beach Association forum, Duffield flat out refused to answer the question, “Does Peotter work for you?” It’s time for Duffield and Peotter to stop the cover up and answer the question.

On August 14, the council approved $600,000 in contracts to four firms to provide maintenance services in the harbor. Only four firms submitted proposals and all four got contracts. Duffield declared he had a “source of income” conflict of interest on this matter. Exactly which firm or firms is a “source of income” for Duffield and how much is it? Looks more like Duffy is a source of income the other way. In addition, if Peotter is working for Duffy, shouldn’t he also have recused himself?

A court ruled that the public cannot compel the city council to appoint a special prosecutor, only the council can make that decision. Alright, what is the council going to do about the campaign finance and conflict of interest violations that have been piling up against Peotter and Duffield? So far they have done nothing. I thought Muldoon was running on “law and order?”

Finally, Peotter announced he was going to hold a fundraiser at the home of Bob McCaffrey. McCaffrey wrote a rambling and incoherent opinion piece in which he compared Peotter opponent Joy Brenner and other women leaders to “drooling dogs”. Will Peotter have the moral courage to move his event from McCaffrey’s home? If he does not, will the other members of the council attend and validate McCaffrey’s remarks? At West Newport, Peotter defended McCaffrey and Duffield was silent.

I am looking forward to the fourth, and hopefully final, season of Team Newport Follies.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

The future of Newport

The key concern which unites Newport Beach residents now is overdevelopment. Most of the other problems engender from this one main problem – traffic, pollution, safety issues, expansion of Pacific Coast Highway, code and General Plan noncompliance and lack of civility and trust between residents and City Council. As a result, Newport Beach is losing its vibrant personality.

For those who live in West Newport, the number one overdevelopment issue is the expansion of Pacific Coast Highway. This has been a concern that dates back to the early 1970s by a group who were called the “Freeway Fighters” and included the father of one of our current Council members. If expansion takes place, this area of Newport Beach which is considered by most residents as the heart of our city, will lose that “small town” feeling, and safety issues for students crossing the Highway to reach the three schools in the Newport Heights area will become a major concern. Already the lack of crosswalks and the dangerous speeds frequently maintained by people passing through the Heights have led to unfortunate and even tragic accidents.

Overdevelopment in other areas of Newport Beach has also impacted public views and tranquility. For instance, the development planned for Koll Center deviates from the character and guidelines for buildings in that area. Fortunately, concerned citizens have been able to stop plans for some of the other proposed structures and private homes whose sizes have violated code and General Plans. But it has been a constant struggle for residents who want to maintain the character of Newport Beach which is being violated by unwise development.

We have a chance to change this lack of communication and transparency by electing Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks and Roy Englebrecht to City Council! They will work to preserve the quality of the city that we all love.

Tim Stephens

Corona del Mar

Letter to the Editor:

New candidate announces run for 48th Congressional District

 Right now, we are not reaching our potential as a country. We need leaders with solutions. We need leaders that can relate to the struggles of everyday people. Most importantly, we need leaders that value honesty and new ideas. That is why I am a Republican candidate running for Congress in California’s 48th Congressional District.

From the college graduate overburdened by college debt, to the family worried about raising their family at a time when our American Family Values are deteriorating. To the generation before us that is often struggling to get by while living on Social Security – now is the time for change.

I understand your struggles and I am bringing new ideas, experience and a fresh perspective to the table that will help restore the American dream.

Together we can solve the issues we face. My campaign represents a Conservative movement that will fight on behalf of the factory workers, the doctors, the teachers, the business owners, our servicemen, our families, our children and the generation that came before us.

My campaign is For Our Country and For Our Future. I graciously ask for your help and support in this upcoming election. I encourage you to go to my website to read my story and my platform. 

Thank you and God Bless,

Brian Burley

Huntington Beach

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