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Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

When will “team” include all?

Politics in Newport Beach has become so tiresome. As expected, the members of “Team Newport” closed ranks Tuesday night to keep their members who are running for higher office in high-profile seats. 

A (purported) backroom deal got Kevin Muldoon selected as mayor pro tem. Joy Brenner had the courage to stand up to the team and nominate herself but was brushed off.

In addition to having a young family and a full-time job, Muldoon is running for the Orange County board of supervisors. He’ll be campaigning for that seat seven days a week through the special election in March. If he wins, he’ll leave the council. If he loses, he’ll start campaigning for 2022. Either way, he won’t be able to offer the steady leadership and presence our city needs in what’s going to be a challenging year.

Muldoon also served as mayor pro tem in 2016 then mayor in 2017, despite just having moved to Newport a few years prior. 

By contrast, Joy Brenner is a full-time council member, and made clear Tuesday night that she’d devote all her time to the city as mayor pro tem. She’s been serving Newport in various capacities for decades. But on the council, she’s never even been allowed to chair a major committee. 

Brenner deserved to be mayor pro tem next year. And her district deserved to have its representative in that seat. It’s been too long. 

These kinds of shenanigans discourage residents from participating in civic life. Why write emails and speak at council meetings when we know everything’s negotiated behind closed doors? And why run for council if we know we’ll be kept on the backbench forever if we’re not a Team Newport player? 

Maybe Joy Brenner should stop showing up to council meetings altogether. There’s only so much disrespect a person can take. Her colleagues would probably be relieved not to have to listen to any more talk about the importance of upholding traditions and putting the interests of the city over council members’ political careers. 

Jennifer McDonald

Newport Beach

The impact of 285,000 COVID deaths

If you are having trouble assessing the impact of 285,000 COVID-19 deaths, then picture this:

It is the equivalent of wiping out the population of Newport and Huntington Beach residents combined or virtually everyone who lives in Irvine.

Another way of wrapping your arms around 285,000 fatalities is this:

If each death was represented by a piece of paper, the tower would stand more than 95 ft. in the air. That is 5 ft. taller than this year’s Christmas Tree at Fashion Island. 

One last perspective to think about:

From December 1941 until August 1945, 407,316 U.S. troops lost their lives during World War II. 487 of them were from Orange County. Today, we have exceeded more than 1,600 COVID-related deaths in OC in less than a year.   

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly told his supporters, “All I hear now is…‘COVID, COVID, COVID.’ By the way, on November 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”

I didn’t believe the president then, and certainly don’t believe him now. 

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


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