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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.

Sincerely,

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.