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Newport Beach

Volume 4, Issue 91  |  November 12, 2019


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.

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