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Newport Beach

Volume 4, Issue 66  |  August 16, 2019


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

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