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Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Dave Ellis’s attack is against more than just Jeff Herdman

I spent 25 years in “the ivory tower of public education” teaching a lot of kids with very difficult lives which required a great deal of innovation. (Dave) Ellis’s attack on Herdman, as stated, is an attack on all educators, teachers and administrators and is deeply resented. 

Dennis Baker

Newport Beach

39 days and counting: are you ready for the dirt?

Yes, 39 days from now we’ll know the results of the three contested council campaigns. As we steam towards October, it’s almost time to loathe our daily trips to the mailbox. The negative mailers are soon to arrive.

I suspect the knives will be out for candidate Joy Brenner who is running for re-election in District 6. Joy has done a good job of confronting/dispelling fictional accusations head-on in the forums, but the fictions will rise again in the mailers authored by power brokers in town or their consultants. Fasten your seatbelts.

Here’s what I do know about Joy – and it’s so well summarized on Joy’s Facebook page by the quote from Queen Elizabeth II: “Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom, and we must always be ready to listen and respect other points of view.”

That’s the beauty of Joy. She’ll listen. She’ll weigh the arguments. She’ll make the best decision for you and the city. 

Yes, the Boat Parade is a time-honored signature event in town. Yes, the Film Festival is annually awesome. Yes, Newport Beach & Company (and its outstanding President and CEO Gary Sherwin) is responsible for many tourism dollars and amazing branding of our city. 

In a recent forum, Joy showed that she will not be an automatic yes-woman to community events/contracts. As the events and contract renewals come up for extension, Joy indicated that she will sit down with the sponsors of the events and contractual parties, ask hard questions, and make sure that city dollars will continue to be appropriately allocated and well spent for the benefit of our residents and the city. The events and contracting parties evolve. The city evolves. Joy will make sure that the city continues to get the most bang for the buck. We need that in a city leader and (as she has done for nearly four years on council) she will continue to make good judgments based on thoughtful analysis, research and inquiry.

Please keep Joy on council for the next four years. The last four years and decades before have proven that Joy is the real deal. Thirty-nine days from now, please re-elect Joy Brenner.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

I’m heavily invested in Newport Beach, and as such, Joe Stapleton is my guy

One thing we all learned during the pandemic is how hard it is today to run a business. Over the past several years, I have invested millions in Newport Beach to create iconic dining experiences and neighborhood favorites. That did not happen by accident, it happened because Newport Beach has invested in promoting itself as a world-class destination and the city has implemented policies that encourage private investment to refresh our city and keep our residents and visitors safe.

I can tell you from experience, it matters who serves on the city council. That is why I am proud to support Joe Stapleton for Newport Beach City Council.

Joe chaired the chamber of commerce, working on behalf of every business in our city. He led the Newport Beach Foundation to train a new generation of leadership. He gets it. Joe knows that the high quality of life we enjoy is made possible by a strong local economy.

Hotels and restaurants are two of our biggest revenue generators, and the majority of these revenues come from nonresidents. It is this nonresident tax income that allows the city to have world-class police, fire protection, parks and libraries.

Now is not the time to turn a $400 million city budget over to amateurs. Joe has served for years on the city’s Finance Committee and he can hit the ground running on day one. We need the business leadership of Joe Stapleton to keep our city strong.

Please join me in voting for Joe Stapleton. He will keep Newport, Newport.

Craig Atkins

Newport Beach

It appears Noah Blom and Team Newport are continuing on with what appears to be unpermitted fundraiser

In addition to drinking during council meetings, failure to pay his vendors and threating to sic the city attorney on his creditors, Noah Blom is at it again.On October 4th, he is hosting, along with the three other Team Newport members of the city council, a fundraiser for council candidate and Planning Commission Chair Lauren Kleiman at his ARC Bottle Shop on the Peninsula.  But it appears that the ARC Bottle Shop is only zoned and permitted for takeaway bottle sales and is not permitted for public events like political fundraisers.

It has been suggested that the invitation notwithstanding, the actual event is being held not in the Bottle Shop, but in the condo space upstairs and people have political fundraisers in their homes all the time. Except that this is not Blom’s residence; he is obligated by law to live in District Five. 

So, what exactly is the space above the Bottle Shop? It is an unoccupied, unpermitted, residential dwelling that is used for commercial business purposes as an event venue. All too many Newport residents know these facilities by their more common name: “Party Houses.” 

Unlike vacation rentals, which are subject to registration, length of stay requirements, parking rules and occupancy limits, Blom assumes he has no limits. He believes he can have events every night of the week, with unrestricted occupancy and no requirements to provide parking. Indeed, he has indicated he has used this space to hold lucrative “private dinners” catered by his nearby restaurant, along with other political fundraisers.

Is it any wonder that residents do not trust the city council to properly regulate vacation rentals, fractional ownership homes or even group homes when the council itself, on behalf of the chair of the Planning Commission, ignores the rules and abuses the neighbors of this facility? Indeed, Lauren Kleiman has a weak record as a Planning Commissioner for regulating these uses in our neighborhoods.

We have reached an intolerable level of councilmembers simply acting as if the rules do not apply to them and they therefore act with impunity. After a week, city staff has not responded to this violation. One can only speculate at the level of intimidation that must be applied to staff by a majority of the council who actively support these illegal land uses. And what does this say about Lauren Kleiman’s ethics and willingness to follow the rules if she is elected?

The only response has been a personal attack from Team Newport puppet master and Museum House lobbyist Dave Ellis. Ellis, of course, has his own issues with following the rules. His support of Blom and Kleiman should tell you all you need to know about why she is running and who is pulling the strings behind the scenes. 

Lauren Kleiman was recruited specifically to provide the fourth vote to make Noah Blom mayor. Residents should weigh their choice carefully. No person is above the law, even Noah. 

Keith Curry, former Mayor

City of Newport Beach

There are four candidates that give us hope in this election

We should be excited in Newport Beach over the prospect of electing four
independent councilmembers for the first time in many years. I can remember in past elections bemoaning the absence of council candidates who were independent thinkers and who voted accordingly.

The most independent thinker by far of all candidates has to be Jim
Mosher who comes from a field (science) where independent thought is not only valued but expected. His inquiring mind has educated those of us who approach him for clarification on city government because Jim knows more about it than any councilmember. His objective in running for council is for the council to make its own decisions independent of city staff. He thinks the council should be listening to their constituents, representing their views and voting accordingly. As they have the opportunity to listen to him, more and more people are realizing how valuable it would be to have Jim on council.

Robyn Grant, who has no opposition, has been serving the city in an amazing number of positions. Those who have worked with her have noticed that she has an especially important quality that is essential for council; she is a good listener, a rare quality in modern times. And, she is not afraid to make important decisions. She has leadership presence.

Tom Miller has been such a pleasant surprise as an independent candidate. He has built a very successful business and now wants to use his leadership skills to serve the community. His friendly personality and desire to help others have helped attract many residents to support his candidacy and there is a lot of palpable excitement about having such an independent new voice on board.

Finally, we have the chance to re-elect one of the most popular and effective councilmembers that I have ever observed. I have witnessed other councils and have seen very few naturals like Joy. Ever smiling and focused on the issue at hand, Joy is an ideal member of council. Unfortunately, Joy Brenner has not had the opportunity to show the full extent of her abilities during her tenure with the current council because of petty jealousies and the manipulatory nature of other councilmembers.

Consequently, if these four highly qualified and independent individuals are elected to council to counter the divisive political climate of the last several years, we will have a reason to rejoice in Newport Beach.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

It’s turning to a campaign battle centered around money

I spent hours last night herding emails and text messages and thinking about Tom Miller’s ending comments at the CDMRA candidate forum. Tom Miller spoke the truth…every word was true.

Joe continues to insist that he is not a puppet for Will (O’Neill). I think he may truly believe that, but it’s clear that he is getting a lot of support (financially and in terms of introductions and whatever other written and verbal communications Will is helping with). I’m one of many that is not convinced that Joe could stand up to Will, especially in a situation where Will is willing to exert maximum pressure, even if Joe thinks he can. He, Joe, says he can, but Will has demonstrated that he can be ruthless, by many subtle threats that he has made to many people within our city. 

Joe feels he is in an unfair fight because no matter how much money he raises, Tom can write a check to his campaign for more. So therefore, Joe doesn’t care who he takes donations from as a result. 

All of those donors will also expect some “repayment” at some point. I think Joe, even though I like him as an individual, is in an impossible situation. I don’t know how he will manage to avoid the extreme demands made by Will, that will follow him into a City Council seat.

My vote goes to Tom Miller, a man without any political ties who knows what’s best for our city.

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Letters to the Editor

Lauren Kleiman has proved her good work, that’s why she gets my vote 

It’s no coincidence that so much of the support for Lauren Kleiman’s City Council candidacy has come from her neighbors. 

We love the neighborhood in Corona del Mar where we have chosen to raise our family but were disappointed and frustrated by our HOA Board not taking the necessary measures to keep the neighborhood secure. For years we were told that nothing could or would be done.

Lauren dedicated hours of her time to researching the constraints and potential solutions, meeting with consultants, hosting roundtable discussions with neighboring HOA board members and partnering with her local relationships to ensure success. Eighteen months after Lauren joined the Board, the measures were implemented and residents could not be more pleased.

Not only has Lauren demonstrated leadership and determination with these efforts, but she also selflessly and diligently overhauled the community’s website and newsletter, as well as revamped the neighborhood’s social engagement to bring families and residents in the community together at a time when it was needed most.

We hope to see Lauren continue her service to the community on City Council so that she can do for the City what she has done for our neighborhood.

Anil Tiwari, MD

Corona del Mar

Looking for a candidate with the city’s best interest at heart

In this election, I am focused on supporting candidates who are ethical, transparent and have only the best interests of the city at heart. I have no interest in electing a councilperson whose decisions are based on what is best for his political career. 

Voters decisively defeated Measure B in June and anyone who is politically astute knew that Measure B’s hidden details would have radically changed our city government for the worse. Virtually every former mayor opposed Measure B for this reason, but City Council candidate Joe Stapleton voted yes for this initiative, apparently to further his political career. In stark contrast, Tom Miller vigorously fought to protect our city. 

Which candidate would you want in office? I choose Tom Miller.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Miller rather than Stapleton

At first glance, Joe Stapleton seems to have a stronger resume than Tom Miller for city council. After all, Stapleton has served on the Harbor Commission and the Finance Committee. Miller, although a successful businessman, has not served in city government. 

But I intend to vote for Miller, rather than Stapleton, mainly because of how Tom Miller handled the most important issue our city has faced in recent years, the ill-advised attempt to strengthen the power of the mayor through Measure B.

I first met Tom Miller early this year, when he met with my mother and other senior leaders, seeking their support. He explained to us that he opposed Measure B, but that his political consultants were urging him not to take a public stand. Somewhat later, once he had “come out” against Measure B, Miller told me that saving the city charter, preserving our city council system, was more important than who would hold one city council seat. Miller knew that opposing Measure B would make him a target for Will O’Neill, the prime proponent of the ill-advised measure. But Miller did what was right.

Joe Stapleton took no public stance on Measure B while it was under debate. At a recent public forum, it took some coaxing for Stapleton to admit that he had voted for the measure.   

Tom Miller’s brave stance against Measure B, and his generous contributions, were critical to defeating that proposal. Predictably, Miller’s work against Measure B has caused O’Neill to oppose Miller in the current city council race.

When I look at O’Neill’s arguments against Miller, they are almost laughable. He calls Miller a “political neophyte.” Well, how much political experience did Will O’Neill have when he first ran for city council? Almost none. O’Neill also argues that Miller is a carpetbagger, someone who has moved here to run for political office. But Miller has lived here far longer than O’Neill had lived here when he first ran for city council. He claims that Miller is trying to buy a council seat by donating to his own campaign. But Stapleton is also trying to secure a council seat, by raising more than a quarter of a million dollars in donations, including dozens of donations from friends of O’Neill. Is that any less of an attempt to “buy” a council seat?

The real issue here is independence. Miller will be independent. Stapleton may want to be independent, but he will owe a great deal to O’Neill, and some day O’Neill is going ask him for something. For example, O’Neill may want to force the city residents to vote on a revised version of Measure B and may ask Stapleton to vote to put the measure on the ballot. Or perhaps the issue may be a controversial development project, on which O’Neill seeks to “call in the favor” of his strong support in this council race. 

So, in the District 1 race, I urge you to vote Miller rather than Stapleton.

Walter Stahr 

Newport Beach

Herdman’s attacks on Blom get old

When political sour grapes rot, they become vinegar.

Defeated city councilman Jeff Herdman is rotting on the vine.

His obsession with Mayor Pro Tem Noah Blom is simply political sour grapes.

In 2020, Noah Blom crushed Jeff Herdman by 9,000 votes. 

It’s rare in Newport Beach that an incumbent councilmember is fired by the voters. It’s hard to lose by 20%.

Perhaps cussing out his Balboa Island neighbor for not wearing a face mask outdoors during COVID helped. Herdman’s never recovered from his humiliating loss. 

Mayor Pro Tem Blom represents the new generation of Newport residents. Noah and his amazing wife, Marin, are young, energetic and smart local business owners that sign the front of a paycheck.

They invest their capital in Newport Beach creating jobs and tax revenue for the city. Herdman thinks that’s bad.

Noah is the antithesis of Herdman who spent nearly 40 years in the ivory tower of public education where paychecks are guaranteed and innovation is rejected.

His rants against Blom are tiresome.

David Ellis

Newport Coast

Joe Stapleton is the best choice for Newport

I’m proud to be supporting Joe Stapleton for Newport Beach City Council. Newport deserves the best, and Joe is the best candidate when it comes to experience, leadership, dedication and temperament. I, like many others in our city, have collaborated with Joe for close to a decade working on behalf of Newport Beach and its residents. Joe has a long-standing record maintaining and enhancing the quality of life we have all come to enjoy and will do what is fair and right for Newport Beach residents. We know Joe. We trust Joe. Joe will continue to keep Newport, Newport. 

Elections matter. Particularly local elections where local officials can have a profound impact on our daily life. Fiscal responsibility is one of Joe’s key issues. Joe is a local Newport business owner operating a financial services and money management firm. He understands the discipline it takes to run a successful business. Those same values hold true for the city where Joe serves on the Finance Committee ensuring Newport’s financial stability and prosperity. Joe will bring his experience and financial leadership to positively influence city council decisions thereby preserving and expanding Newport’s financial strength.

The other key issue championed by Joe is public safety. And our own city champions – our police, fire and lifeguards – all support Joe. They know and trust Joe. Joe is dedicated to likewise strengthening our city’s public safety. Given the utter failure of other cities and counties in California to protect its citizens, Newport Beach is instead a shining example of what it means to expect and have the best police, fire and lifeguards. That’s why even Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes has expressly endorsed Joe. Newport must maintain and enhance its public safety. And Joe is the best candidate-steward to do exactly that.

Please join me and many other Newport Beach residents in supporting and voting Joe Stapleton for city council!

Kory Kramer

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Stapleton’s experience will make him ready on day one

In the November election, voters have a choice between longtime community leader Joe Stapleton and newcomer to Newport Beach Tom Miller.

I am supporting Joe Stapleton. Joe has decades of experience in working to improve our city. As a member of the Finance Committee his oversight has contributed to our highest in the nation bond ratings and strong fiscal position. He is ready on day one to lead on financial issues. As a past Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, he understands what it takes to promote local business and he will protect our strong underlying tax base. 

Joe is committed to protecting our high quality of life. He has the experience to lead on reducing airport noise, getting homeless off the streets and reducing crime that is rising around us. That is why Newport Beach police and firefighters support Joe Stapleton.

Most importantly, Joe is an independent leader, not part of a block or team. That is why a diverse group of former mayors, who often disagree among themselves on policy, all agree that Joe Stapleton is the right choice. Leaders like Will O’Neill, Rush Hill, Tom Edwards, Keith Curry, Mike Henn, Duffy Duffield, Brad Avery, Don Webb, Bus Turner and current mayor Kevin Muldoon, all urge you to vote for Joe Stapleton.

Joe Stapleton is the best choice for Newport’s future.

Daryl Nelson

Newport Beach

Retiring incumbent reminds us of the importance of November school board election

I have been privileged to serve on the NMUSD school board for the past 16 years, after being involved in our local school as an involved parent for 18 years prior to my election. Newport-Mesa was then and is now one of the finest public school districts in the state and the country. We have exceptional school offerings, much needed student support services and award-winning schools and district programs. Any student who has the motivation and desire to achieve will graduate from one of our high schools well prepared for his or her future.   

It is concerning to me that there is a small but vocal group in Newport-Mesa who now want to destroy our school district, in their published words – “we will tear down to REBUILD.” This negativity and desire to incite anger in our school system through falsehoods, cleverly edited videos and constant attack is cause for concern. Criticism is fair, but the blatant manipulation and desire to enflame should concern everyone. 

As a trustee who has always had an open-door policy to meet or talk with any parent, it’s interesting that this group professes that the board does not listen. This is false. This group has not asked to speak with me despite my meeting with hundreds of parents during my tenure.

This same group continues to insist that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is taught in Newport-Mesa schools, without providing any specific examples. In groups of parents, students and teachers, we’ve continued to ask for examples of CRT in our classrooms, and still no concrete responses from anyone. The reality is that we don’t teach CRT, and our teachers do not receive professional development in CRT theory or practice. However, this group continues to create a narrative to enflame. 

In 2015, the state of California passed into law the California Healthy Youth Act, which requires school districts to ensure that all students in grades 7-12 receive comprehensive sex education at least once in middle school and once in high school. Schools have the option to offer sex education earlier than grade 7, which we have chosen not to do. This same group claims that we are teaching our students extreme gender identities through a Genderbread Prezi lesson. While this diagram is on the publisher’s site, our schools in Newport-Mesa don’t use this lesson. In fact, when parents have asked their students if this has been taught to them, every student responded in the negative. The falsehoods continue. 

In December 2021, the board voted to approve a special reserve fund to complete a much-needed remodel of the Home Arts Courtyard at Newport Harbor High School. DSA (Division of State Architects) approval for this remodel requires modifications to restrooms nearby the area. The board requested that facilities work on potential designs that would include single occupancy toilet stalls with sinks included. The final recommended plan has not been presented nor voted on by the board, yet this group sensationalizes its interpretation of these restrooms (implying that NMUSD will allow more than one gender into a restroom at one time) and created a falsehood to incite public outrage.   

All of these issues and more are being thrown out in hopes to tear down and rebuild our school district. Interestingly, much of this group consists of folks who don’t send children to our schools, and many seem to think that all public schools are bad. Some are, but ours aren’t. 

One of the school board candidates in Area 4 is supported by this outside group that seeks to dismantle our schools. When this candidate asked to meet with me a few months ago, she was quick to tell me that she moved to Newport Beach after researching the best public school systems in the state. On her website, she states her intention to make sure “NMUSD remains one of the best places for your child’s education.” I’m not sure what turned around for this candidate so quickly, but I would be leery of her intentions. She is backed by people who mostly don’t send their children to Newport-Mesa schools, and who support a movement to tear down our school district.

Those who feel our schools offer excellent opportunities in preparation for life after high school need to speak up in the November election. The high quality of education in Newport-Mesa is at stake. Our parents value our schools and only want to see them improve, they don’t want to destroy them. I urge parents to vote for school board candidates who value our schools, and to vote against candidates who are either part of the movement or are supported by the movement to “tear down our schools.”

In Newport Beach, I urge you to vote for Lisa Pearson (Area 4) and Michelle Barto (Area 5).

Karen Yelsey

NMUSD School Board member, District 4

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

She’s running for the right reasons

Six Newport Beach candidate forums down, a few more to go. Have attended some?

Most start with the “Introduce Yourself/Why Are You Running?” question.  Not surprisingly, we hear “quality of life,” “public safety,” “limit traffic,” “opposition to state-imposed housing mandates,” “manage homelessness,” “limit development,” etc.

Sometimes it’s tough to read behind a candidate’s words. Maybe a candidate’s actions (or inactions) are a better barometer of intentions/heart.

Joy Brenner is running for re-election in District 6. Has attended all of the forums so far. By my count, her opponent has missed at least two forums including the recent one at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, hosted by the Newport Heights Community Association. 

Prejudiced perhaps, but when I think of Joy’s words, actions and sacrifices over the past nearly four years on council (and for decades before), I’ve concluded that she’s there for the right reasons: for Joy, it’s about you as residents rather than Joy as an elected; it’s about tireless, never-miss-a-meeting service to you as opposed to power manipulation and retention; it’s about humility rather than hubris and indiscreet words; it’s about respect as opposed to entitlement and ambition. 

In short, I like Joy’s heart – it’s in the right place for me and for all Newport Beach residents. In my view, she’s running for the right reasons.

Let’s continue for the next four years the values we’ve seen in Joy over the past four years; I support her re-election on November 8.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

Rejecting the mission to dismantle Newport-Mesa schools

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse wrote a book where he commented that conservatism is “antithetical to an attitude that says to ‘burn it all down.’ Because conservatism is in part a disposition of gratitude, opposed to a culture of grievance or universal victimhood.” 

That’s my brand of conservatism. I’m thankful for public servants who try to get it right while serving the public good. And I’m wary of people trying to tear down an institution that serves 17,000+ children in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. 

Fortunately, we have had good public servants in our Newport Beach area on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. There are no saints or perfect people there, nor do I expect that…but they have cared deeply about our kids and are working to repair the damage of forced school closures by entities outside of our community.

I’m the mother of two graduates of Corona del Mar High School. I’m a conservative who has and will vote Republican in every election. I’m a Christian, who has served on the school board of a leading Christian school in our area…and has stood hand-in-hand against antisemitism in our community. For the past several years, I’ve advocated for available parking near CdM High School, lighting for athletic fields and the naming of an athletic facility after a beloved coach. My approach is always to encourage and improve. 

Parents like me believe in quality education-focused on literacy, math, science and history…that teaches children critical thinking skills, with curriculum that is right for their age, and meets the needs of all types of learners, from the struggling to the highest achievers.

I’m also a believer in evaluation, reflection and continuous improvement.  What I’m not a believer in is dismantling. I rejected it, along with most rational people, when it was targeting our police departments and I’m rejecting it now when it targets our neighborhood schools and this school district.

It is alarming that some in our community, rather than working with our district to enhance and improve, are calling for its dismantling. They are demonizing our leaders, creating tabloid-style click bait to convince our community that our schools are “the evil empire.”

I’ve not worked for a perfect corporation, attended a perfect church, had a perfect friend, or walked the halls of a perfect school. What I have done is volunteered for a zillion projects, respectfully influenced leaders when the opportunities presented themselves, and done everything possible to lift up and encourage those leaders. What I’ve found is that when a parent conducts themself this way, leaders listen…they care…they consider…and often…they make changes.

My encouragement to our school leaders, is to consider new and enhanced opportunities for parental input, including updating the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council, which I’ve served on, for parents to provide valuable input to the Superintendent on key programs in our schools…and to look for new ways to navigate some of the controversial requirements that come from Sacramento.

My encouragement to our community is to be confident in our schools, to pay attention to our leaders, to ask questions, but to also consider the motives of those who seek to dismantle our district and what that can do to a district with a stellar reputation, that provides an outstanding education for our kids and prepares them for college and career...just ask our graduates.

When you vote this November, pay attention to what mission is behind these candidates. Online activists who declared their mission to “tear down” our school system are opposing Lisa Pearson. Parents who value our schools, and only want them to get better, are behind Lisa Pearson for Trustee Area 4. 

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Joe Stapleton will keep Newport, Newport

If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that elections matter! Furthermore, character matters in elected officials. The 2022 elections are in full swing. Signs are popping up around town, mailers are arriving and residents are beginning to ask questions as to which candidates to support for City Council. I am supporting Joe Stapleton for City Council in the District 1 election race. 

From the estates in Newport Coast, family neighborhoods in and around CdM, to the historic culture of the Peninsula, Newport Beach is a special place with a range of different lifestyles. The person we elect should have an intimate knowledge of all of the unique characteristics that make up our city. Joe Stapleton has decades of leadership experience. He has served as Harbor Commissioner, chair of the Newport Beach Foundation and is a member of the Finance Committee. His commitment to Newport Beach and his dedication to our community has been unwavering. 

I have had the pleasure of working with Joe through multiple boards and organizations. I have seen his leadership skills in action. Joe is committed to protecting our high quality of life with his main priority addressing the homeless crisis. We need strong leadership that is willing to make the tough decisions necessary to solve the growing homeless population in Newport Beach. We need the business and community leadership of Joe Stapleton to keep our city strong.  He will keep Newport, Newport.

Mario Marovic

Newport Beach 

Upcoming council candidate fundraiser at Mayor Pro Tem’s restaurant appears to violate operating permit

(The following is a letter sent to Seimone Jurjis, the Community Development Director for the City of Newport Beach.)

It has come to my attention that Mayor Pro Tem Noah Blom, along with Councilmembers (Duffy) Duffield, (Kevin) Muldoon and (Will) O’Neill are hosting a fundraising reception for Lauren Kleiman, candidate for City Council at the ARC Bottle Shop, located at 501 30th Street on the Peninsula on October 4, 2022.

It is my understanding that the ARC Bottle Shop is only permitted for sale of take away packaged wine and is specifically NOT permitted to hold events. As you know, this is a work/live type condo with no available parking for such events and I expect inadequate signage and exits to meet fire and safety standards for a large crowd. 

It is further my understanding that this is not the first such event having been held at this venue for private dinners, political fundraisers and other events. 

As I am sure you are aware, ARC Bottle Shop, the ARC Butcher and Baker Restaurant, located in the adjacent block, have been the subject of numerous complaints from local residents for flagrantly violating building and zoning requirements. On both February 17, 2022 and September 14, 2021, Attorney Jeffrey Shields on behalf of resident Jill Markowicz provided substantial documentation of violations and procedural exceptions made for Noah Blom directly to the city council.

I fully appreciate the compromised position of city staff when one council member, supported by three more, simply decides the rules don’t apply to him and that he will ignore the requirements of his operating permit. However, the principle of the rule of law compels you to enforce the city’s building and safety requirements without fear or favor.

Please advise me of the specific authorization in city permits allowing events of this nature to be held at 501 30th Street, including the provisions for parking, and safety compliance. In the absence of such authorization, please advise as to the enforcement action the city will be undertaking to ensure this property is used in accordance with its authorized permitted use.

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Council, 2016-2020

Newport Beach

Truth matters

Lately we are seeing more and more vicious attacks against our local City Council candidates. Truth and facts matter but they apparently are no longer a criteria for some attackers. Tom Miller was the recipient recently of a disgusting attack from four City Council mayors because he questioned Joe Stapleton’s untruthful response on his candidate paperwork. Apparently, Joe Stapleton’s decision to not tell the truth to the Newport residents was acceptable to these former mayors but Tom Miller asking a question about the misrepresentation was not acceptable.

Since Joy Brenner announced her re-election to the City Council, she has been the recipient of vicious attacks. An “anonymous” letter was recently circulated attacking Joy Brenner. Only a coward hides behind “anonymous” and that person or group who cloak themselves as “anonymous” do not deserve our time or attention. 

On another occasion Joy Brenner’s opponent referred to her as “Gramma Joy” as if that would somehow diminish Joy Brenner. What a foolish immature thought! Being a grandparent shows strong character regarding family, loyalty, care and concern which are valuable qualities for all of us. 

Here are some truths and facts: Joy Brenner has continuously shown strong leadership, a thorough knowledge of issues, a willingness to listen to all points of view before making decisions and a strong knowledge of the financial issues that affect our city. Joy Brenner has worked continually non-stop as a City Council member to represent her district residents and ALL Newport residents. Joy Brenner’s leadership does not stop at her district boundaries. 

Our City Councilmembers swear to promote, protect and preserve Newport’s fundamental character and local atmosphere. Newport residents need City Councilmembers with independent voices to truly represent each and every Newport resident.

Nancy Arrache

Balboa Peninsula

Guest Letter

Melinda Hoag Smith

President and CEO

George Hoag Family Foundation

Seventy years later, Hoag still defines success by its service to the community

Melinda Hoag Smith

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Melinda Hoag Smith and Chuck Smith

I was asked recently what my late parents, would say about Hoag’s ever-growing stature as a nationally renowned center for world-class health care. Having grown up observing and learning from my grandmother and parents’ gentle and modest natures, I believe they’d politely deflect the question by saying something like, “Never mind what we think about Hoag; what does the community think about Hoag?”

I think they would be overjoyed – and exceedingly proud – to see that all these many years later, serving the community remains the driving force fueling Hoag’s relentless pursuit of new medical discoveries and innovative patient care.

As we celebrate Hoag’s 70th anniversary this week, its reputation as one of America’s best hospitals is personally gratifying beyond words. But I’m equally grateful for Hoag’s continuing commitment to the community and particularly to underserved residents. 

Through Hoag’s Community Benefit program, hundreds of Hoag physicians, nurses, therapists, volunteers and others provide life-changing care and education to those who need it most. From free health screenings, legal aid and mental health services to food assistance, wellness classes, breast cancer support and much more, every day they employ their skills – and dispense their compassion – as they help people of all ages and socioeconomic status live their healthiest lives possible.

Working in tandem with the Hoag’s Community Benefit program are more than 100 community nonprofits, whose remarkable employees and volunteers assist underserved individuals and families in gaining access to vital health care services, educational wellness programs and other needs.

Together, in both the community and at the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living in Newport Beach, more than 36,000 residents are helped every year. In the past decade alone, Hoag has invested more than $540 million in Community Benefit programs and services that are having positive impacts throughout the community.

In September 1952, Hoag welcomed the community through its doors for the very first time. My family was there, greeting everyone who turned out for the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Newport Beach. They couldn’t have been prouder that day, as Hoag’s opening portended an exciting new frontier in Orange County health care.

In 2022, as Hoag continues to usher in a new era of possibilities, I’m profoundly grateful that my family has been associated with an institution founded on, and sustained by, a promise to always put the community first.

Melinda Hoag Smith is the president and CEO of the George Hoag Family Foundation. Her grandparents founded Hoag Hospital in 1952 and her father was a long-time chairman of the Hoag board.

Letters to the Editor

Nasty, bullying comments and actions by O’Neill not a good look

It seems like a day doesn’t go by where a local resident isn’t reaching out to me to share a nasty post by (Will) O’Neill attacking me in one way or another via social media, a letter, or through an email list he buys. Their first question is usually “how do I feel about all these attacks,” followed by an apology to me for such tasteless behavior by O’Neill, to which I respond, “no apology needed and besides, these attacks aren’t coming from you.”

In addition, local businesses who have signs up in support of my campaign are telling me O’Neill has called them trying to bully them into removing any signs showing support of me.

He continues to spread a false narrative of my family just moving to Newport Beach a year ago, while the truth is, we’ve been here since December 2015 and in Orange County for 42 years. He also accuses me of trying to “buy” the election. If there was any truth to this, I certainly would not have come out against Measure B.

While I appreciate these calls, I want everyone to know, I DO NOT dislike Will, in fact, I have never officially met the man. The truth is, I have sympathy for him. He is obviously an extremely unhappy person attacking anyone who becomes a threat to his power and influence.

I’m told he is a man of faith, yet his actions show otherwise. My prayer for Will is for God to show him a path to peace and compassion. 

I look forward to working with Will when I win this race and I’ll commit to mentoring him on proper servant leadership. Imagine the good he can do for our community once he learns how to lead with humility. I was once his age and thought I had it ALL figured out, but one of life’s realities is wisdom comes with age and he still has a long journey ahead of him.

May God bless Will O’Neill as he navigates his way through life!

Tom Miller

2022 Candidate for District 1

Newport Beach City Council

Brenner rather than Kleiman

I am writing to set out why I believe people should vote for Joy Brenner rather than Lauren Kleiman for Newport Beach City Council.

Joy Brenner has been serving Newport Beach for many years, in many ways, even before her four current years on city council. For example, about six years ago, there was talk about closing the Corona del Mar branch of the library. The argument was that there was no need for such a branch – people could go to the main library – and that the space was needed for a larger, newer fire station.

Joy Brenner and my mother, Elizabeth Stahr, disagreed. They pointed out that there were hundreds of people who used the CdM library every week: older folks who walked there from their homes and could not walk to the main library; toddlers and mothers and caretakers who attended story times; students looking for a quiet place to study.

Joy and my mother and others persuaded the city to attempt something new: to develop the site as a combined fire station/library. The new buildings are a great example of what happens when people like Joy Brenner listen hard and work for creative solutions.

More recently, I worked closely with Joy Brenner to defeat the ill-advised Measure B – the attempt to change our city’s charter to weaken the city council and strengthen the mayor. Lauren Kleiman was on the other side of that issue: she and her husband donated in support of Measure B. Kleiman seems to believe that what our city needs is not a strong city council, of seven independent members, but rather a strong mayor, with subservient councilors.

We defeated Measure B, so one might ask: why does Measure B matter in this election? Because if you look at those donating to Lauren Kleiman’s campaign, they are in many cases those who wanted to foist a strong mayor on Newport Beach: Will O’Neill and his friends such as Dallas developer Fritz Duda. If Kleiman is elected rather than Brenner, we could well see the city council vote to put another version of Measure B on the ballot – another attempt to change our city charter to strengthen the mayor.

Finally, there is the question of age and experience. I do not know quite how old Joy Brenner is – one does not ask a lady her age – but I know from my many dealings with her that she has not slowed a single step. When Kleiman attempts to make an issue of Brenner’s age, as she did on Sunday, Sept. 11, by calling her “Gramma Joy,” she is simply calling attention to her own callow youth. The proper response is to echo Ronald Reagan, who said at the October 1984 debate that he “was not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Everyone laughed, including his opponent, Walter Mondale.

Joy Brenner has served Newport Beach capably, both as a private citizen and in the past four years on the city council. She deserves four more years on the council.

Walter Stahr

Newport Beach

O’Neill’s attacks are meant to mislead

Recently, a friend sent me a copy of The Honorable Will O’Neill’s letter to Republicans which was essentially an attack letter against Tom Miller. Attack with disinformation!

I use disinformation, instead of misinformation, as the content of the letter was obviously meant to mislead. Will has a tendency to do this sort of thing in support of a friend or anyone he wants to support for election. 

It would be better for Newport if the ex-mayor simply supported his friend and honored the honorable title. 

Tom Miller has a right to run, he owns a home and has lived here for some years. If he has the best ideas for making Newport prosper and keep our quality of life, then he deserves to win. Let’s get rid of the nasty politics. Aren’t we confronted with enough local, state, national and world problems that we need to pull together and solve?

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

It’s called O’Neill 4 Newport…it should be called 

O’Neill 4 O’Neill

In his recent missive to the community, Will O’Neill lauds the Newport Harbor Republican Women and then goes on to encourage them to read his op-ed piece slamming city council candidate Tom Miller.

Ole Will starts out with, “Tom Miller, a newcomer to Newport Beach.”  Actually, Tom & Eileen have lived in Newport for almost eight years. They are an upstanding couple, who started with nothing and built a successful business. 

Ole Will doesn’t get or understand what it takes to start a business from an idea, build it, market it…and most importantly, make it a success. Ole Will doesn’t get that because he’s a trust fund baby.

Ole Will goes on, in his op-ed piece, that we need to overlook Joe Stapleton’s “omissions of the truth.” 

Why not? The Republican endorsement committee did! Now, there’s an impartial body! If you are not the anointed one…you just don’t get their endorsement! 

Yes, Will, we are all willing to overlook Joe’s college transgressions. What we are not willing to overlook is that Joe, the adult, the professional man, the city council candidate, lied on his replies to the Republican endorsement committee and he lied to us, the voters.

What we are not willing to overlook is that – Joe Stapleton supported Measure B. Measure B was an Ole Will created and endorsed proposal that would have undermined our city charter. Joe supported Measure B as he was told to do. Guess what, Joe? Newport Beach wants and deserves more than that from its city council representatives. 

The days of mediocre are over. We don’t want councilmembers who drink on the dais. We don’t want city councilmembers who dump worthy city managers. And, most of all, we don’t want councilmembers who lie to us, even before they are elected.

Ole Will, your petty comments about Tom Miller are a bit stale. You continue to misrepresent the facts, distort the truth and exaggerate your Team Newport candidate’s abilities. He’s already shown us his true self. It falls short of what Newport Beach deserves! 

My vote goes to Tom Miller – an upstanding guy, who got his money the old-fashioned way – he earned it! My vote goes to Tom Miller who will represent this city with honesty and integrity. My vote goes to the guy who’s gonna win – Tom Miller!

Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

Implied endorsement of Kleiman was not that

Recently Costa Mesa resident and former Airport Working Group (AWG) board member Andy Smith wrote a letter to the Stu News Newport online community forum regarding Lauren Kleiman. Kleiman also served on the AWG board from 2017-2019.

Smith implied in his letter that AWG was actively seeking Ms. Kleiman to return to the board to “lay the groundwork for the upcoming extension of the John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement.” This was written in the context of supporting her election to the city council.

In fact, I had a brief informal conversation with Lauren in late 2021 and she indicated that she was not interested in rejoining the board. No formal offer was ever made nor voted on by the board (required by AWG Bylaws).

Subsequently, in 2022, AWG added two former Newport Beach city councilmembers with extensive experience on airport issues to the board of directors to broaden our policy strength.

It is important to note that AWG does not endorse city council candidates and it would be improper to imply such support.

We very much appreciate Lauren Kleiman’s past service on our board and her interest in airport issues. We also enjoy outstanding relations with the entire city council and are proud to partner with all current members of the council and city administration to protect our community from the impacts of John Wayne Airport (JWA) on Newport Beach residents.

As issues such as the impact of the General Aviation Improvement Program on private jet activity, the need to extend the Settlement Agreement, and, support the increased use of next generation quieter commercial airline aircraft at JWA, the partnership between AWG and the city council will be more important than ever.

Mel Beale, President AWG

Newport Beach

Michelle Barto – doing right for students in NMUSD

We support Michelle Barto for NMUSD Trustee Area 5. Not only did she push to get the kids back to school through a difficult time, but she also pushed to keep them in school. 

This is a non-partisan position which is really evident in how Michelle carries herself. Regardless of your political affiliation, she pushes herself to do right for the students within NMUSD, which ultimately helps all of the NMUSD families. She makes sure that as parents we have choices to opt out on situations that we would like to take ownership of as parents. 

Our vote is for Michelle Barto.

The Tokarz Family

Newport Beach

My years working alongside Lisa Pearson proves to me that she’s right for our School Board

I met Lisa Pearson back in those blissful days of volunteering in the Kindergarten classroom of our first-born children. We were wide eyed and happy to help. We quickly bonded over our shared hopes for our kids, and our love of Lincoln Elementary School. Soon we were attending PTA meetings and signing up for even more opportunities to serve. It is with complete confidence and unbridled enthusiasm that I write to you today to recommend my friend for NMUSD School Board Zone 4!

Over the years I’ve watched Lisa apply her classroom teaching experience, her motherly instincts, her fine-tuned organizational skills, and her endless generosity, to huge jobs like school play producer and PTA President. Under her leadership at both Lincoln and CdM High School, there have been great successes, much needed funds raised, educational goals achieved and all with a refreshing lack of controversy. Our kids have grown, but Lisa has never left the educational environment. As she shepherded her youngest through school choices based on specific learning needs, she even developed a special program at a local private school that has helped others as well.

Everyone in our community knows that our schools are some of the highest ranked in the nation, but recently there has been a politically motivated effort to denigrate those who work diligently to maintain that excellence we expect. The NMUSD school board position is non-partisan, and I can attest after 20 yrs. of lively conversations spanning countless election seasons, that Lisa respects political differences and always leads with a listener’s ear and a peacemaker’s heart; she will never let politics guide her decisions. Lisa Pearson cares about the mental health and well-being of the children, high standards in the classroom, respect for parental involvement and attention to keeping our schools safe. 

Vote Lisa Pearson NMUSD School Board Zone 4!

Summer Bailey-Bress

Newport Beach

Joe Stapleton’s years of community involvement and commitment has earned my vote for City Council

I know Joe Stapleton well. For almost two decades he has tirelessly worked to make Newport Beach a better place to live. He has led the Chamber of Commerce, the Newport Beach Foundation, served as a Harbor Commissioner and current on the Finance Committee. He literally worked to direct the Christmas Boat Parade, and he oversaw the investments to keep our harbor the best on the West Coast. His years of service is why the prior Citizens of the Year named Joe Citizen of the Year in 2020.

I do not know Tom Miller. Tom is new to town and does not have the record of accomplishment remotely approaching Stapleton.

What I do know is that he has stated he intends to spend $400,000 to win election to the city council. $400,000 for the city council? Clearly, he does not believe elections should be based on records of community service or accomplishment, but cynically, he believes he can move into town and buy a council seat.

If he spends so lavishly on his election ambitions, it raises questions how he would spend our tax dollars if he had the chance.

I know my vote cannot be bought no matter how much Miller spends. Join me in supporting a true community leader, Joe Stapleton for Newport Beach. 

Nicholas Prytherch

Newport Beach

Insights on the Speak Up Newport candidates forum

Just a few comments on Wednesday night’s council candidates’ performances (at Speak Up Newport, September 14)…

As expected, Joy Brenner and Tom Miller knocked it out of the ballpark, to borrow a quote from a friend of mine. Both of them are friendly, humorous and natural pathfinders.         

And you gotta love Jim Mosher for telling it like it is. We even discovered Jim’s dry sense of humor, which would have been put to the test many times had he been on the current council. All of Jim’s friends wanted to help him by donating money to his candidacy, but Jim has to do it his way and refused us all. He painstakingly put us through the rules and regulations for monetarily donating to a candidate. Jim never wants to break any of the rules or even gets close, and you have to admire him for that. Even if Jim loses, hopefully his honesty and integrity will have made an impact on future races. 

Interestingly, the young lady running against Jim, Amy Peters, has the same philosophy. She too, seems very down to earth, and amusingly commented that she has raised less than a thousand dollars from friends. Both she and Jim are in agreement about wanting to take the massive amounts of money out of Newport’s council races. Bravo to both of them. 

I did hear some flashes of rhetoric reminiscent of Team Newport, but on the whole, I was impressed by all of the candidates’ energy and interest in participating in an exhausting council race and it was uplifting not to hear any political barbs.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

You can learn a lot by watching and listening to our council candidates at these many forums

If last Sunday’s candidates forum hosted by the Next Up Newport and SPON organizations was not enough to convince you that candidate Lauren Kleiman would be the newest and third member of the power block that has governed our city for the last eight years, I don’t know what will. 

And then there was Joe Stapleton finally revealing under audience pressure how he voted on Measure B; both Kleiman and Stapleton voting “yes” and supporting one of the most flawed measures ever put before the voters of our city; a measure that would have literally given control of our city to one individual – the mayor.    

Then there were the “yes” or “no” responses to quick questions with each candidate using cards for their response. Questions like regulating the use of e-bikes, and another question regarding their position on regulating the newly surfaced Pacaso real estate investment scheme in our city. Kleiman responded “No” to both questions which pitted her against a majority vote of “Yes” by the other candidates. One more indication of her joining sides with the block of four that is trying to be maintained in this election.    

If we the voters are truly interested in returning our city to a citizen-run government and ridding our city of this power block of four that have been running things for the past eight years, then there is simply no question who we should not be voting for in this election, rather who we should be voting for…Joy Brenner and Tom Miller.

I was absolutely shocked at the disrespect shown by Kleiman to Brenner at this forum. Later she did apologize to Joy saying that the term “Gramma” was meant to be endearing and was understood by her to be a common name for Joy around the city. I’ve never ever heard Joy referred to as Gramma by friends or constituents. It is safe to say that almost the entire audience interpreted the use of the word Gramma as arrogant disrespect. 

Having participated in no less than 24 forums myself, there is a particular protocol for a candidate’s behavior and decorum. Showing respect to those who take the time to attend and take an interest in each candidate is an important part of that decorum. Starting with the first forum, I was very impressed with Tom Miller being the only candidate who stood when addressing the audience. Since then, I have noticed that all but Kleiman stand when responding to a question.  Kleiman stayed seated when responding to each question. 

What do you suppose her non-attendance at the Newport Heights/Cliff Haven forum the following evening was about? That’s two now that she has not attended. As I always say, “Suit up and show up!”

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Council, 2016-2020

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Joy Brenner

District 6

Newport Beach City Council

Time to stand up to airport noise again

It’s been said that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” and on no issue is that truer than jet operations at John Wayne Airport.

Under the prior airport management, buried in the minutiae of the lease agreements for General Aviation aircraft, is a revised definition of the types and size of aircraft to be housed. The effect of this definitional change is to potentially reduce the amount of space available to small general aviation aircraft and to significantly increase the number of private jets stored and operated at John Wayne.

As residents are painfully aware, private jets are not subject to our curfew times, and many of them can be louder than modern commercial aircraft. A shift to more private jets at John Wayne will have a substantially negative effect on noise and the quality of life in Newport Beach.

It appears that this new definition, designed to increase the desirability of John Wayne for larger private jets, may not be in conformance with FAA standards and requirements. Should the airport not be in compliance with FAA rules, its ongoing federal funding can be disrupted and serious repercussions will result.

The General Aviation Pilots Association, and our own Airport Working Group, have highlighted problematic contract provisions and are raising these issues with the FAA. As a practical matter, these new lease provisions raise the costs for small private aircraft and has the effect of driving them away from John Wayne in favor of larger private Jets.

Newport Beach residents have a vital interest in protecting small general aviation aircraft at John Wayne and the city should be advocating for adjustments to the design of leased storage space and lease terms that reduce the costs for small aircraft owners and operators and protects their ability to affordably use John Wayne for the long term. 

I will be asking the City Manager to immediately begin monitoring this situation and to report back to the city council. I will also be working with the Board of Supervisors to protect our residents. These lease changes were initiated by the prior management at the airport. Hopefully, the new management will use this opportunity to make good on promises to be a “good neighbor” to Newport Beach. 

Joy Brenner serves on the Newport Beach City Council for District 6. She presently is running for reelection in November.

Letters to the Editor

Independent voices like Brenner and Miller needed

Former Mayor Keith Curry recently raised some important concerns regarding the behavior of Mayor Pro Temp Noah Blom and the recruitment of Lauren Kleiman to provide the fourth vote to make Blom Mayor. Drinking during council meetings, defrauding his vendors, and ignoring health, safety and planning violations should clearly disqualify him from the position of Mayor, let alone his position on city council, and raise questions about the standards for public office by those who support him.

But bad as he is, Blom is not the only abuse of power by “Team Newport.” Voters should remember that the “Team,” along with Dave Ellis, were found to have violated 42 California Election laws by the Fair Political Practices Commission in 2020. The initial Sworn Complaint against them was filed with the FPPC in 2015. It took five years of investigation. After negotiating with the FPPC to reduce the number of violations, they stipulated to the violations and paid hefty fines.

They tried to force the high-rise Museum House on the public and cynically made the petitions to stop the project look like telephone books. They failed and the legislature passed a law to prevent this type of abuse in the future.

Team member Scott Peotter even proposed limiting the ability of citizens to recall their public officials.

In 2018 the “Team” forced out our nationally acclaimed city manager, Dave Kiff, and most recently with Measure B, tried to circumvent term limits and strip the city manager of the ability to place items on the agenda without the mayor’s consent.

Only the lack of a fourth vote prevented three of the “Team” members from costing the city more than $20 million by a non-economic refunding of the city’s debt and a reduction of the city business license fees that would have been equivalent to 20 police positions. A fourth vote makes a big difference.

It’s time to put Team Newport behind us. We need independent councilmembers like Joy Brenner and Tom Miller; not people beholden to the Team and Noah Blom like Lauren Kleiman.

Jeff Herdman

Former Newport Beach City Councilman

Newport Beach

Lauren Kleiman is a strong independent voice

I have genuinely enjoyed working with Lauren Kleiman as a fellow Newport Beach Planning Commissioner. In addition to being welcoming and encouraging, she has been a great example to follow with her preparation for meetings, interactions with staff, applicants and residents. She also has an impressive knowledge of the issues coming before us on the commission. I admire Laurens’s willingness to make her voice heard on the dais, even as the minority dissenting vote.

During her two terms on the Planning Commission, Lauren has been asked to represent us in every sub-committee created, including parking, council policy review and ADUs. In her first month as chair, she instituted a new training protocol for all Commissioners. She has demonstrated exceptional leadership during her appointment and is why she had the unanimous support to be the first woman chair of the Planning Commission in almost three decades. I am certain she would be a strong independent voice on the Newport Beach City Council.

Mark Rosene

Newport Beach

Lauren Kleiman is the intelligent choice

I got to know Lauren Kleiman through our time together on the Airport Working Group Board. She had previously served on the Newport Beach Aviation Committee and wanted to continue her work on airport noise issues after giving up her seat to accept her appointment to Planning Commission. Lauren dedicated countless hours to understand the complexities of aviation, noise and the John Wayne Airport. She worked closely with all of the community groups to hear their concerns, then identified a proactive approach no one else had taken; she relentlessly pursued airline stakeholder decision makers to come to the table to earn the support of residents by being better neighbors to those under the flight path. 

Lauren has been asked to return to the AWG Board to begin to lay the groundwork for the upcoming extension of the John Wayne Settlement Agreement. They and other community groups would like to see Lauren chair Newport’s Aviation Committee to continue her progress with incentivizing airlines to bring quieter planes and departure procedures to JWA.

In all of my dealings with Lauren, she has demonstrated tenacity, diligence and practicality. Newport Beach would be lucky to have her as their Councilwoman.

Andrew B. Smith, President

AvPac Insurance Services, Inc.

Santa Ana

Tom Miller is what our city needs

It is as if he rode in on a white horse and captured the imagination of Newport’s citizens, bent on making city government more responsive. I “was sold” when he contributed an unusually generous sum to defeat Measure B. And, in so doing, he took a gamble on backing the position of many long-term residents who were adamantly opposed to a measure that was ill-conceived.

The drama that Tom Miller is creating, doing things his way, by himself with no team behind him pulling the strings, is bringing excitement back to the potential of what city government can accomplish for its citizens.

Tom has an ambitious list of objectives. If he can succeed in bringing one third of them to fruition, Newport Beach will be reinvigorated by his influence. His platform focuses on the “hard” issues that we must face in the near future. Upmost on his list of concerns is public safety, certainly an issue that we have been focused on in Newport Heights with all the intended development on Pacific Coast Highway. His first goal is to strengthen the police department that is understaffed and overworked. Public safety has to come first.

Secondly, comes the ever-present plight of the homeless, which must be addressed. Miller recently visited the Bridge Homeless Center that Newport shares with Costa Mesa, to make sure the million dollars that Newport contributes to the project each year, is wisely spent. Meeting with the heads of the shelter and sharing ideas with them, gave Tom motivation to improve the sad plight of our homeless neighbors.

In a similar fashion, Tom plans on working with the new airport director to prevent expansion and ensure that the airport curfew doesn’t change. 

Providing clean beaches and parks along with the harbor is always a must as Newport’s reputation for beauty and safety is sacred. 

Finally, one of the most difficult and least glamorous issues that Tom knows must be faced is the RHNA housing element. And perhaps one of his most important and original goals is to see a percentage of the affordable housing demand be carved out and made available to our police, firefighters and lifeguards, as well as the employees serving us at our local hotels and restaurants. 

It is an ambitious agenda but one that can be accomplished with Tom’s willing partners on the council.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Previous letter writer had it all wrong

We all understand that as the political season gains traction, there is never a loss of individuals, like Kerry Sabo, to fill newspapers with deceptive statements about candidates. Tom Miller has now become a victim of such statements because “this newcomer to Newport Beach” believes that campaign contributions are a basis to judge the worth and integrity of a candidate. That might be how East Coast people assess a candidate’s substance but here in Newport Beach, voters are more astute and look beyond superficial campaign numbers.

Candidates run for elected offices because they believe that they can contribute to and make government more accountable and honest. Mr. Miller, an accomplished businessman, moved to Newport Beach in 2016 and has a vision for our city. Unfortunately, Newport Beach has allowed “Team Newport” to circumvent the “clean government card” and backed the flawed Measure B, which if successful, would have upended the current city council form of government. Even after they spent more than $500K on this flawed measure, the citizens did not buy the rhetoric. 

Mr. Sabo should learn who the candidates really are and what they stand for, and how they can share their successful talents with the residents if elected. 

My vote is going to a man with a clear vision, who has full-time hours to devote to the task at hand and the energy to make our community a better place for our kids and grandkids.

If you would like more facts about Tom Miller, please click on this link.

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Worked with Joe, he’s the real deal

As we move toward election day in November with a focus on the Newport Beach City council candidates, I’m looking at each candidate’s experience and hands down, Joe Stapleton’s experience qualifies him for the position. He’s a person who will not only initiate and lead efforts to improve our quality of life, but he will also roll up his sleeves to do the work. 

I have served on the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce board with him as well as on the executive committee of the Commodores Club – and those are just two of the numerous boards and organizations that he has served. 

Currently he sits on the city’s Finance Committee and has served on the Harbor Commission.

With that intimate knowledge of the city, he comes to the council with a solid foundation for his seat on the dais. I believe that Joe is an independent thinker and will do what needs to be done in the best interest of all Newport Beach residents.

Marie Case

Newport Beach

Disparaging reference from one council candidate to another met with concern

An attempt at humor? An effort to disparage? Perhaps “I am young, you are not.”

Whatever Joy Brenner’s opponent had in mind at Sunday afternoon’s NextUp Newport/SPON Candidate Forum when she called her “Gramma Joy,” it seemed to fall flat. From my vantage point, more than a few “in poor taste” eye rolls. 

But, you know, I kinda like the term.

This “Gramma Joy” is wise.

This “Gramma Joy” is experienced.

This “Gramma Joy” is seasoned enough to seek out the city’s senior staff of pros before voting on critical matters.

This “Gramma Joy” has more energy and spunk than most non-grammas.

This “Gramma Joy” stood up to deliver responses to questions.

If it’s happening in Newport, “Gramma Joy” is there. Not sure that is true for her “younger” opponent.

The green paddle/red paddle exercise was enlightening.

“Gramma Joy” quickly raised the green side showing support for more e-bike regulation. Her opponent stammered and refused to take a position until goaded by the audience and only then showed a barely visible green side.

“Gramma Joy” showed a red paddle confirming her vote against the flawed and failed Measure B (direct election of the mayor). Her opponent revealed support of Measure B with a green paddle.

More regulation of Pacaso Fractional Ownership: “Gramma Joy” – green paddle; her opponent – red paddle.

I saw enough on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 11) to confirm support for “Gramma Joy’s” re-election as our councilmember for District 6. I hope you will agree.

Paul Watkins 

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Brenner has firm control of City’s finances

One of the more sensitive jobs of a councilmember is negotiating labor agreements with city staff. The union’s role is to push for as much as they can get. The council’s role is to provide compensation packages that ensure we attract and retain the best people and at the same time keep in mind the long-term financial health of the city which can mean saying no to some requests.    

In her tenure, Joy Brenner has done a good job of finding this balance. For example, she has called for new police hires to provide better coverage in the city, but she has been firm in rejecting some union demands that she felt were both unnecessary and not fiscally responsible.   

In other words, she has said no to some labor requests in order to protect the city’s taxpayers. Supporting the safety of our city while keeping a firm hand on financial controls – this is just one of the reasons I am supporting her reelection. 

Nancy Gardner

Former Newport Beach Council Member/Mayor

Newport Beach

Questioning Miller’s finances

One way to gauge the support of our city council candidates is to look at their campaign disclosure forms. Newport Beach newcomer Tom Miller has threatened to spend up to $400,000 to win a seat on the city council, and he has so far given himself $125,000 to buy the seat.

What is unusual is that as of the most recent disclosures, Miller only has $49,100 cash on hand to start the campaign. This is far behind Joe Stapleton, Robyn Grant, Erik Wiegand and, even, Joy Brenner. Miller’s consultants must have kids in college given how they are spending his money. If he spends the taxpayers’ dollars like he is spending his campaign cash, the city will be broke by Easter.

The disclosure also shows that Miller has limited support except from himself. He raised only a measly $27,529 from other donors. This is far less than all the other candidates. Even worse for Miller is that over 56% of his donations are from people who do not live in Newport Beach. He does appear to be the preferred Newport Beach candidate of people living in Anaheim and Las Vegas.

Like a lot of other rich, entitled candidates, my prediction is that Tom Miller will find Newport Beach voters cannot be bought. Residents want candidates that reflect our values, our history and our unique quality of life. Voters respect those who put in the time over the years to make this a better community. Perhaps Miller should have picked another city to move into if he wants to be an elected official.

Kerry Sabo

Newport Beach

Tom Miller is not a politician and that’s a good thing!

It has been said that all politics are local, but city government is not a place for politicians. It is designed to be non-partisan. 

I took a close look at the Newport Beach City Council and the Planning Commission when Short-Term Rentals became a concern in my neighborhood. I began to see how a voting bloc on the council existed and it was controlling how the city was governed. STR regulation was not on their radar and without the four votes of the bloc, residents were not getting a voice despite most of the residents in favor of restrictions.

This and two other actions caused me to look even closer at how Newport Beach was being governed by Team Newport:

1. When Joy Brenner, who was the most experienced and most qualified candidate to be Mayor Pro-Tem, Team Newport voted in the most inexperienced and least qualified candidate to the position. This was done despite countless residents’ letters to the city and speeches at council. The bloc had made up their mind and had the votes.

2. Measure B was put on the council agenda and eventually the ballot by Team Newport because they had the four votes needed. Measure B would have brought more politics into the city and made it easier for the bloc to control how the city was governed. The bloc prevented any council discussion or input on the measure. Fortunately, voters turned it down. It was a shameful waste of money, and it divided the city. The only way to prevent another such effort is to break up the bloc through the election process.

The voice and the will of residents is restricted when councilmembers vote as a unit rather than working as a unit. 

I don’t want to worry that all voices are not being given equal consideration. I don’t want to attend every City Council or Planning Commission meeting. I want councilmembers to be independent and willing to work with the entire council. No behind the curtain deals and no special treatment. Council needs to encourage resident participation, not discourage it.

At the public candidate forums, a common theme is that city issues are driven by state politics. I will not disagree, but I will point out that our state is governed by a super majority. I have concerns that our current voting bloc, aka Team Newport, is a de facto super majority. We need councilmembers who vote and act independently and will do what is best for the city as a whole and not a result of endorsements and entitlements.

Tom Miller was the only candidate, not already on the council, to publicly support No on Measure B. Politics being political, it is understandable when a politician doesn’t take a stand on a controversial issue. Our nation, our state, and our city need more leaders and less politicians and that is why my vote goes to Tom Miller.

Gary Cruz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Joe Stapleton is the man for the job

When evaluating City Council candidates, I find it helpful to treat the process like hiring a CEO to run my business. Whether voting or hiring, I want the best possible candidate with the most experience and a proven track record of success.

If you rent or own property in Newport, you know we all have a vested interest in ensuring our City continues to prosper for future generations. We have an obligation to vote for the candidate we believe will proactively put our City in the best possible position to handle current and future issues, thus protecting our investment in this great City.

As a fourth generation Newport Beach resident, I can say with absolute certainty that Joe Stapleton is the most qualified candidate for City Council. In addition to starting and managing his own successful wealth management firm, Joe has shown his fiscal responsibility through his service on the City’s Finance Committee. Furthermore, Joe has served on the Harbor Commission, and was named 2020 Newport Beach Citizen of the Year. I can confidently say that Joe is the best candidate to entrust with our city’s future.

Grant Rawlins

Newport Beach

Don’t let the smear campaign dissuade you from voting for Joy

Joy Brenner is running for City Council District 6 re-election on November 8. She’s exceptionally well-qualified and deserves to be returned to the dais – perhaps this December (finally) as Mayor.

As we approach another election season, I’ve been told that the money power seekers who attempted to smear her in 2018, will rise again from the ashes and fictionalize issues against Joy’s sterling name. It’s already begun with individuals contacting her to endorse a candidate she doesn’t believe in, indicating that “they” will publicly go easier on her if she agrees. Joy doesn’t play politics and cannot be bought off by “Team Newport” or anyone else.

Anyone opposing Joy will have to forget about all of Joy’s achievements, experience and her exceptional reputation within our community the last four years.

Our community needs to see the goodness, the commitment and the sensible honesty that has been the hallmark of Joy’s first four successful years. 

Please help save our city from this corruption and re-elect Joy Brenner on November 8. No one is more deserving and no one has worked harder for Newport Beach than Joy.

Lynn Swain 

Big Canyon

This writer used to be a Republican

I grew up in a Republican family, graduated from USC, and worked for Republican Rep. Bob Dornan. As far as I was concerned, if a candidate had an “R” after his or her name, they could count on me to support their campaign. But that was then and this is now. This is why I am writing about Judie Mancuso, a different kind of Democratic candidate running in the 72nd Assembly District (which includes the coastal communities of Newport, Laguna, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach).     

For starters, Judie understands the critical connection between clean beaches and vibrant, local businesses. Personally, I view this relationship as vital to my family’s future health and welfare. Despite the fact numerous local elected officials attended a rally Judie organized after last October’s 25,000 gallon oil spill in OC, her current Assembly opponent, Diane Dixon, was nowhere to be found that day. 

Second, Judie is against raising taxes. That’s why she opposes Prop. 30, the tax on income above $2 million, on the ballot this fall. I am also against it. And lastly, Judie supports seniors like me. She believes the $35 monthly cap on insulin is a game-changer. I couldn’t agree more. (Interestingly, every GOP lawmaker in Congress, including our own Rep. Michelle Steel, voted against this provision in the new Inflation Reduction Act, but now she is campaigning like the cap was her idea. Go figure.)

Every election season is an opportunity to reset political priorities. I honestly believe Judie Mancuso’s priorities are right for Orange County. Even if you are a Republican who votes the party line like I used to, I urge you to take a serious look at Judie. I don’t think you will be disappointed. 

Stan Mullin

Newport Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Request that the City Attorney do his job

There seems to be a misunderstanding as to the City Attorney’s role in Newport Beach. In addition to emceeing the City Council meetings, his job description is simple: Make sure the city’s laws are understood and followed.

Why does Mr. Harp seem confused by the subject of short-term residential treatment programs (STRTPs), which are also called half-way houses or drug/alcohol rehab facilities?

After two of the three citizen comments at last week’s Council meeting complaining about the scourge of STRTPs in Newport Beach, Mr. Harp begins his revelations, “Traditionally, in Newport Beach, the way we’ve handled these issues, as far as facilities we’ve found that are unlicensed, if they can get licensed, whether a restaurant or other facility, if they can get into the license process, we typically stay enforcement, until we can see if they can get the license or not.”

Everyone knows that’s hogwash. 

These facilities must be shut down today. The threat is urgent. These are unlicensed medical facilities filled with drug addicts in our neighborhoods…next to our kids.

Here are the addresses of three unlicensed facilities operating today by the Mental Health Collective:

–Kings Road 

–Orchard Drive 

–Santa Ana Avenue

Please stop reading this letter and begin taking action to shut down these dangerous facilities.

When Councilor Dixon asked why he won’t shut down the Mental Health Collective now, due to their unlicensed status, Mr. Harp falsely stated, “They’re [MHC] going to be licensed in the next month.” 

Then, later in his meandering response, he doubled and tripled down on his clairvoyance, saying, “They’ve been approved at the state level.” And, “They’re going to be licensed.”

–Why would Mr. Harp falsely bestow license status on these rogue actors?

–Can restaurant operators serve alcohol before they receive their liquor license? 

–Can carpenters begin working on a home while they await their building permit?

Mr. Harp acknowledges that the Mental Health Facility uses a “bait and switch” tactic. They are applying to California DHCS for a license to operate a mental health facility, but while they wait an often-interminable license process, they are operating dangerous and unlicensed half-way houses that conduct drug and alcohol counseling. 

Why is Newport Beach treating the Mental Health Collective with kid gloves, instead of protecting its residents from blatantly unlawful and potentially dangerous activity? 

Apparently, their scofflaw status is common knowledge to Mr. Harp, the City Attorney. He claims to be in regular contact with the leadership of MHC.

For some unexplained reason, Mr. Harp thinks that he gets to determine which of Newport Beach’s laws get enforced and which get ignored. He emphatically does not. If he cannot figure out how to enforce the laws, he should be replaced by someone who will.

What if, God forbid, a resident were killed or maimed by these reckless scofflaws? Would the city of Newport Beach feel the need to enforce their laws then? 

Eric Spitz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Why we support the re-election of Joy Brenner

Four years ago, the citizens of Newport Beach elected Joy Brenner to the City Council. In response to the faith the voters showed in Joy’s leadership and ability, the community has been rewarded with her steady and thoughtful representation. The four years of her tenure have shown her honest, practical and transparent approach to the management of our great city. 

As a longtime resident and extensive volunteer in the community, Joy has continuously demonstrated a concern for all citizens and their points of view as she has listened and been respectful of all opinions before making her decision. At the same time, because Joy has worked extensively in the community before becoming a council person, she has the necessary institutional knowledge which allows her to weigh the long-time interests of the city as she makes her decision and makes her presence on the city council even more valuable.   

Joy is seeking re-election to the council. In addition to the qualities that led to her election, she has the additional benefit of four years’ council experience. It is accordingly sad to see, as noted in editor Tom Johnson’s most recent column, that Joy has been the subject of vicious and personal attacks in her re-election bid. Four years ago, Joy was similarly attacked but rose above those negative campaign tactics with a characteristic demonstration of grace and integrity. 

Joy is a person whose concern is always what is best for the city and its residents and she never places her own interests above that. Elected to a second term, she will do her utmost to steadfastly improve and preserve the city we call Newport Beach. That is why we are supporting Joy Brenner for City Council.    

Clarence Turner

Former Mayor, Newport Beach

Thomas C. Edwards

Former Mayor, Newport Beach

Nancy Gardner

Former Mayor, Newport Beach

Time to elect individuals and not more teams

The saying goes, “Those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it.” Let’s consider that adage from a local perspective to see how it pertains to upcoming council elections in Newport Beach.   

As I remarked in a previous letter, Jim Mosher is one of the only, if not the only, candidate who attends council sessions. You will not learn any gossip or misinformation from him. As a scientist, he will only give you the cold hard facts. And since I became a council watcher when I retired 10+ years ago, I can attest to some of those facts being pretty hard and cold.

I am not only referring to candidates for council, but also to residents of Newport Beach about not repeating mistakes from the past. If you don’t know anything about our council past and present, I would greatly urge you to learn what you can before you vote. 

For instance, if you know anyone who was an active citizen eight to 10 years ago, you would learn that the campaign literature could be filled with false claims and innuendo. Fortunately, in the last election, the campaign literature had improved. So, let’s hope that the days of smears and falsehoods have left us. 

Unfortunately, the most aggravating tradition of trying to establish a “‘team” of councilmembers who vote as a block has not. It has continued and seems to be an issue in this election as well. 

The “Newport Team” over the last several years does not really have many successes to brag about, particularly this last season. Their handling of the pandemic, particularly in the beginning, left much to be desired. They acted as if it never existed as a health hazard. Fortunately, people in higher places made decisions that prevailed and protected citizens. 

Only those who “supported the team” were able to get volunteer positions in city government. It all came down to who you knew. Finally, the team’s unsuccessful attempt to change the governmental structure in Newport to an elected mayorship cost the city thousands upon thousands of dollars.

It is time to elect individuals, not teams, who care more about Newport Beach than they do about personal power. And it is time to do away with block voting. 

We are very lucky to have some strong new candidates who are NOT supported by Team Newport. And we have a return Councilmember Joy Brenner, who represents the epitome of what a Newport Beach representative should be. 

Don’t just listen to others. Do your own research. Check out the archives on local news sites. Avail yourselves of objective information about Newport’s history. And weigh all the facts before you make your own decisions.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Presentation of Stapleton “lie” by Tom Johnson, former mayors’ letter and origination of donors causing concern

As my friends and neighbors know, I take the job of “citizen” very seriously. I do not merely complain about challenges facing my community and neighborhood; I actively seek solutions, and I am never hesitant to write letters, make calls, or circulate petitions. So, I wrote a letter to the editor of Stu News disagreeing with the way Joe Stapleton’s lie was presented. My letter clearly said that what Joe did as a 20-year-old is not the issue. He lied on an application directly related to the campaign of today. That is my issue.

I resent the letter signed by four ex-mayors which appeared in Stu News, the Newport Independent and the Daily Pilot which characterized the letters written about Joe Stapleton’s lie, which would include mine, as “shrill” and the writers, which would include me, as mudslingers who are surrogates of the Miller campaign. My letter was straightforward, reflecting my opinion about Tom Johnson’s presentation, without being shrill. I am not a surrogate! Just as Tom Johnson focused solely on the actions of a 20-year-old Joe, totally ignoring the lie he told, so did the ex-mayors. 

Which brings me to the point of my letter today. In the last Stu News, Tom Johnson reported on the neighborhood canvassing being done by Tom Miller. Having candidates and ultimately councilmembers who are devoted to their constituents they represent is paramount to me. I went through the most recent campaign disclosures of Form 460 for the period ending June 30, 2022, posted on the City of Newport Beach website for anyone to see. Of Joe Stapleton’s donations of $100 or more listed for that period, $50,120 is from OUTSIDE of Newport Beach or outside of California, as compared to Tom Miller’s report showing only $14,750 from outside the city and state. Nearly 1/4 of Stapleton’s donors are from the District #4 ZIP code 92660...twice as many as his donors in District #1 that he says he wants to represent. I am a resident of District #1 and a retired teacher and high school guidance counselor. I want someone who will represent me, not district #4, and someone who will represent “regular” hardworking folks here on the peninsula, not just the wealthy. One-third of Joe Stapleton’s reported donors are wealth managers, consultants, and real estate developers and investors. I can see teachers, firefighters, nurses and physicians listed in the Miller campaign. 

We will disagree on policies and decisions, but we must never disagree on how a councilmember represents his/her district and people. I spend these hours researching candidates so I know what they value, who they are associated with; all reflected in the donations to their campaigns. In this way, I gain insight into how they will represent me and people like me in the District. In any campaign, it is unacceptable that the majority of donors and monies comes from outside the very place a candidate wants to represent. Candidates should fundraise from their constituents to show the actual support they have from their constituents, not from special interests who will garner favors and special treatment if elected. 

Kathy Frazer

Newport Beach

Asking our Assembly candidates two questions

Because two talented women are running for the Assembly from the 72nd District, I’d like to know where Diane Dixon and Judie Mancuso stand on the following two issues. First, what were their reactions to the Supreme Court’s ruling to reverse Roe v. Wade; and second, how will each of them vote on Prop. 1, the women’s equality amendment this fall? 

As a mother and grandmother, I’d like to hear from both candidates. I have a feeling a lot of other women in Laguna would like to know the answers to my questions as well.

Diane Kloke

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Asking Assembly candidates their opinions

My interest in politics runs hot and cold. But given the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe vs. Wade, coupled with November’s ballot measure, Prop 1, to maintain equal rights for women in California, I am rapidly becoming engaged again. 

Because two talented women are running for the Assembly from the 72nd District, I’d like to know where Diane Dixon and Judie Mancuso stand on these issues. Specifically, what was their reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling and how will each of them vote on the state amendment this fall? 

Like I said, I haven’t been all that involved in politics; however, as a grandmother of two girls under 6, I’d like to hear from candidates Dixon and Mancuso. I have a feeling a lot of other women in Newport would like to know the answers to my questions as well.

Siouxzie B. Salisbury 

Balboa Island

There’s excitement with a CdM school board candidate who’s been showing us the way for years

It’s the first week of school. Lunches are being packed and carpools are lining up.

Already in the air is the excitement of high school football with great turnout by students and parents. There’s also huge excitement in our community for a highly respected parent leader running for school board in the Corona del Mar Trustee Area 4.

That parent leader is Lisa Pearson. Lisa is a 30-year Newport Beach resident who has raised her kids in our local schools. She’s served as PTA President for Lincoln Elementary School and Corona del Mar High School. Her years of involvement in our schools has earned the trust of our students, parents and the entire community.

Lisa Pearson is committed to ensuring that our kids receive an exceptional education, with age appropriate and challenging content, in buildings that are secure, in an environment where they can thrive. Lisa is the kind of leader that we can trust, unencumbered by political favors, and backed by the grassroots of this community.

I hope you’ll join me in voting for Lisa Pearson, who is determined to be a positive voice for parents and a leader that our kids can count on.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi, Parent & Community Volunteer

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Residents have a right to know their candidates

In last Friday’s edition of Stu News, a letter was published from Will O’Neill, Duffy Duffield, Rush Hill and Keith Curry regarding the controversy around Joe Stapleton’s candidate forms. I live in District One on the Balboa Peninsula so I have been following the two candidates and this issue surrounding Joe Stapleton. 

The two candidates running for the District One City Council seat are Joe Stapleton and Tom Miller. I have not decided which candidate I feel will best represent the interests of District One residents so I attempt to read as much as possible about each person. 

I found the recent letter published on Friday by these four former mayors to be very disturbing as it appeared to be a demeaning hit letter against Tom Miller. The authors of the letter accuse Tom Miller of using his “surrogates to try to keep the story alive in increasingly shrill and mudslinging letters.” The authors further write that Tom Miller “recently sold his auto detailing business, moved to town and decided it would be fun to be on the city council.” I found the entire tone of the letter alarming in its attack. I don’t know if we are to assume that the auto detailing business is unworthy or why that reference was even placed in the letter. Not everyone wears a suit and tie to their daily job but that does not indicate they are less capable, caring, dedicated or informed than a person who does wear a suit. Please do not demean a labor-oriented job as if it is beneath you.

Joe Stapleton took out his candidate paperwork and apparently made the decision to not tell the truth on his paperwork regarding his past legal issues. That was his choice and now he is being questioned regarding that choice. To viciously attack anyone questioning that decision is not acceptable. I believe he would be questioned even if he were running uncontested. 

Residents need to feel comfortable that the person they select as their representative will honestly listen to their concerns and make good, informed decisions. We need to know that our representatives will not mislead us or not tell us the truth because it is just simpler for them.

I will continue to watch these two candidates and I truly hope that we can restore some dignity to our election process.

Nancy Arrache

Balboa Peninsula

The truth behind the “alleged” Miller attacks on Stapleton

I read a letter to the editor in last week’s edition alleging an attack by Tom Miller against Joe Stapleton at the OCGOP endorsement committee meeting. I happen to know exactly how the meeting went down and it’s far from how it’s been depicted in this letter from four former Newport Beach mayors.

The true story is Tom Miller asked the committee if truth and integrity plays a part in their endorsement process. When the committee chair asked why such a question was being presented, Mr. Miller mentioned his opponent lied on the official endorsement questionnaire and felt the committee should be made aware of such an egregious error and should eliminate Joe from any such endorsement.

The attack on Mr. Miller for speaking the truth is one of the many reasons politics has become so toxic. He was NOT attacking Mr. Stapleton’s arrest record, in fact, he was questioning how a candidate can run a campaign in our city and get away with lying to cover up his shaky past indiscretions. It’s about the LIE, not his indiscretions. 

Mr. Miller has no agenda other than to continue to make our great city even greater and all “TEAM NEWPORT” wants to do is discredit him because they realize he is a threat to their attempt to take total control.

It’s time for us all to stand up and put our local government back in the hands of the people…SAY NO MORE TO TEAM NEWPORT!

My vote is going to TOM MILLER!

Frank Cammarata

Lido Peninsula

Jim Mosher’s apolitical position presents a rare quality in these divisive times

Most people who run for city council in Newport Beach seem to have a political agenda in mind. Consequently, it is refreshing to see someone like Jim Mosher step forward who only wants to fulfill what he perceives as a civic duty.

First of all, there is no one in the entire city who knows more about city government than Jim Mosher. Most questions that you pose to him can be answered immediately or he will refer you to the specific source where you can find the answer. He also frequently comes forward to offer helpful advice to the council because it is of utmost importance to him that our city and councilmembers abide by the rules and regulations set for them. 

How valuable it would be to council, as well as the community, to have someone with such valuable information in an official position!

Unlike any other candidate in Newport Beach, Jim regularly attends every meeting, not only of council, but of every other official meeting of the city. Which other candidates of Jim’s area have attended council on a regular basis? And yet, you would think that frequent council attendance would be a major prerequisite to running for that body as well as of personal interest to the other candidates.

Jim Mosher’s information and insight are beyond reproach. This is primarily because Jim is apolitical, a rare quality in these intensely divisive times. And after the intensely political environment set up by our current council, wouldn’t it be nice to have a councilmember who has only the betterment of the city in mind?
It is not often that we get to vote for someone with Jim’s level of experience and knowledge of city hall. And how often do we get a candidate with a Ph.D. from Caltech running for city council?

Jim Mosher’s incomparable level of intellect, humility and dedication to the betterment of Newport Beach make him a stellar candidate for that position.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Water from rainstorm runoff needs to be captured

As recently reported, the residents of Newport, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and Laguna are doing their part to conserve water. I’m sure this trend will continue in the months ahead. 

What’s not so certain is our ability to capture the runoff after a rain. Because water sustains both the OC and state economies, we can’t afford to lose a drop. If it’s true nearly 40% of runoff ends up in the ocean, then there is much work that needs to be done. We need to quickly solve this problem.

Judie Mancuso 

Candidate for Assembly District 72

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Miller’s attacks on Stapleton denounced by four former mayors

We are off to a poor start for the 2022 election. Tom Miller, a newcomer to Newport Beach who recently sold his auto detailing business, moved to town and decided it would be fun to be on the city council, has personally and through surrogates attacked the integrity of Joe Stapleton, one of the most ethical and community-focused candidates to run for office in a generation.

Without any connection to the community, Miller invested in out-of-town consultants who are gleefully spending his money on Thanksgiving cards and “opposition research.” They found that more than 20 years ago, Joe Stapleton (who does not drink) was the designated driver for his friends and was at a party where alcohol was served and some were under 21. He received a traffic ticket and wrote an essay as punishment. Let us note that many of us, and we expect many of you, may have been in this same situation.

As a political neophyte, Miller seized on this as his silver bullet and used this information to attack Stapleton at the Republican endorsement committee.  When the committee heard the facts, they not only unanimously endorsed Stapleton, they unanimously issued a rare negative recommendation on Miller.  This is essentially a finding that Miller is unfit to hold public office. That is a remarkable rebuke to his dirty campaign tactics.

Since this is the only issue his campaign seems to have, he has used surrogates to try to keep the story alive in increasingly shrill and mudslinging letters to the editor. It is a strategy that does not belong in our community.

Collectively, we have been active in the civic affairs of Newport Beach for decades, none of us had ever heard of Tom Miller until he started running for council last year. We often don’t agree with each other on the issues, but we all agree that Joe Stapleton has given decades of service to make Newport Beach a better city. As a member of the Finance Committee, he can hit the ground running on day one to ensure we stay a well-managed city. As a former Harbor Commissioner, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Citizen of the Year and leader of the Newport Beach Foundation, Joe understands our city, its unique character and is committed to keeping it strong and vibrant. 

One more thing, it is completely hypocritical and dishonest for Miller to challenge Stapleton’s veracity, when he himself has been called out for listing “endorsements” from former elected officials who have never endorsed Miller. Newport Beach cannot afford out-of-town amateurs moving in and taking over our city. We support Joe Stapleton and we encourage you to join us. 

Will O’Neill, Former Mayor

Duffy Duffield, Former Mayor

Rush Hill, Former Mayor

Keith Curry, Former Mayor

Letters to the Editor

Concerned with ocean pollution and potential damage to beaches

Living near the beach, I was shocked to hear the news last week that coastal DDT dumping is far worse than expected. In short, we now know the highly toxic pesticide wasn’t just dropped to the ocean floor in sealed containers, much of it was poured directly into the waters off Catalina Island.

As far as I am concerned, these revelations are as dangerous as any oil spill along our coast. Just so you know, even if I wasn’t running for the Assembly this November, I always wake up every morning thinking of ways to best protect Newport’s coastline.

One thing we all know is this: Polluting the ocean and damaging our beaches isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s bad for our local economy. You can’t uncouple the two. They clearly are linked together. 

Judie Mancuso, Candidate

Assembly District 72

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Jim Mosher is certainly more to this City than a “gadfly”

I enjoy your (Fair Game) commentaries however, I took exception to your recent reference to Mr. Jim Mosher as a “gadfly.” 

Webster’s definition of a gadfly is as follows:

1: any of various flies (such as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock. 2: a person who stimulates or annoys other people especially by persistent criticism.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Mosher from seeing him at all but one meeting (that I can recall) in the past six years for our Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commission. His contributions are always polite, succinct and many times thought-provoking. He appears to be an expert on our City’s bylaws and General Plan. I truly enjoy his perspective on issues and always give them consideration.

Mr. Mosher not only attends our Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commission meetings but most of all the City meetings open to the public that I am aware of. He also takes the time before every meeting to go through the upcoming agendas, do his homework and add valuable comment.

Does he do this for self-recognition or financial gain? To further his status in the community or his political career? Jim only wants what’s best for the City of Newport Beach, the City that he loves and calls his home.

So, gadfly? Annoying people? Definitely not! Jim is an altruistic, knowledgeable, generous and involved citizen. If speaking intelligently and the truth is annoying, maybe all politicians could learn something from Jim Mosher. I look forward to seeing his name on the ballot.

David Granoff, Commissioner

Parks, Beaches, and Recreation

City of Newport Beach

This type of deceit would disqualify any ordinary “Joe”

Recently we all learned that Newport Beach council candidate Joe Stapleton had prior violations of law when he was a 22-year-old that were not disclosed in his bid for endorsement from the OCGOP.

We all understand that mistakes are made during the college years, but this type of deceit would disqualify any ordinary Joe and any of us from getting a job in the Newport Beach government or any of its outstanding public service divisions such as fire, police, parks, etc.

Joe Stapleton says on his website, “Keep Newport…Newport.” This worries me – he has been spending lots of time with the Newport Beach government elite for years. Do they cover up inconvenient history? Was he trained by his sponsors to avoid the same standard of truth that a city employee would be required to meet? What else haven’t we been told the full truth about?    

Friends and neighbors – this is not the time for an experiment. Let’s elect an independent, honest leader, who is on a mission to help Newport Beach reach its greater potential. 

Mike Dutton

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

(The first two letters are in response to the Fair Game column in Stu News Newport on July 15 regarding two incidents from college related to City Council candidate Joe Stapleton. Joe was “ticketed” for driving a car where a friend had an open container in the backseat (went to court and was released without further incident) and on another occasion for having a college party without a liquor license. He was asked on a questionnaire from the Republican Party of Orange County whether he had ever been arrested. He answered no. The opposition claims he has.)

“They were tickets, he didn’t lie”

I lived in Newport (CdM) from 1956-1983. My parents and my in-laws lived there their whole lives. I now live in Berkeley, but love reading Stu News. I feel like your articles come from the “NBB4OC” mindset, which is great. However, I was disappointed that your article on Joe Stapleton didn’t end with a clear statement that he in fact didn’t lie, as accused. 

The question was, “Have you ever been arrested?” Citations, tickets etc., are not by any means arrests. I don’t know Joe, or any other candidate in Newport, but it only seems fair that your response to the accuser be “You are wrong, Joe did not lie!”

Bill Godwin

Santanella Terrace 1956-‘61

Seadrift Drive 1961-‘67

Vista Entrada 1967-‘77

Villa Balboa 1980-‘83

The truthful answer, “he lied…and yes, he was arrested”

I agree that we all have things in our youth that should not follow us forever, BUT you chose to overlook and thereby excuse the main point: he lied. To the question, were you arrested? The truthful answer was yes. 

This is not about his college age antics, and it certainly is not an amusing anecdote to chuckle at. This is about his honesty and character now. I have filled in many questionnaires, as I am sure you have, that had questions that were uncomfortable or embarrassing to answer, but you answer truthfully and explain at that time. All questionnaires I have been asked to complete have the space that says, if “Yes,” explain, so you have an opportunity to explain what happened.

If the results are not as you hoped, like not getting the GOP endorsement, then so be it. You were honest and principled. To lie, to cover up, even youthful missteps is wrong, period. 

And why is that endorsement sought for a council seat? This is supposed to be a non-political campaign.

Kathy Frazer

Newport Beach

Mayor Pro Tem Blom called into question over his prior drinking on the council dais

Whether it’s city council, a bank board or let’s say before a doctor does surgery…drinking on the job is ludicrous. Mr. Blom is a loose cannon. If he doesn’t want to follow common sense and courtesy he shouldn’t be on the council. 

Perhaps a policeman should give him a DUI test after every meeting or drive him home. He says he never apologizes for who he is. What arrogance. 

I knew his mother. She would be ashamed of him and make him apologize.

Patricia Dreyfus

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Still can’t get past what Joe Stapleton did to the Central Committee

(Tom – I’m still “stewing” over your defense of Joe Stapleton and his outright lies to the Central Committee. However, I do admire your loyalty to friendship.)

Recently, the story broke about Joe Stapleton’s arrests in Arizona for liquor violations. Joe Stapleton lied about this on his questionnaire to the Republican Central Committee. He now acknowledges that he – in fact – did lie. These actions were merely youthful indiscretions. Really?

The decision to lie on the Republican questionnaire was not the decision of a college student – it was the decision a mature, grown man – Joe Stapleton; supposedly an upstanding citizen, who is seeking public office to be on the Newport Beach City Council.

However, he does not seem capable of owning up to his past transgressions. Joe Stapleton knowingly lied to the community that he wants to represent…and withheld critical information that will affect his candidacy.

Joe doesn’t get it! The American people are tired of being lied to! They lied to us about COVID. They lied to us about the Uvalde massacre. They are lying again – telling us there is no inflation. Along comes Joe Stapleton who lied to Newport Beach about his two arrests. One there more?

What else is Joe Stapleton lying about? What else is yet to be revealed? Lying to protect oneself might well be the act of a college student. It is not acceptable behavior for a grown man who is seeking the trust and honor of representing the people of his community.

Joe Stapleton – by his actions – has already violated the public trust. By his behavior, he has clearly demonstrated that he doesn’t have integrity and does not deserve to hold public office. He won’t be getting my vote!

Marilyn Brewer, Assemblywoman ret.

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Is there more than one of her?

In the Tuesday, July 19 issue of Stu News Newport, Joy Brenner (along with Councilmember Diane Dixon) is shown signing the “Topping Out” banner for the new Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter. 

Got me thinking.

Joy seems to be everywhere. Maybe there are two of her.

Speak Up Newport. Wake Up! Newport. CdM Residents Association meetings (and Co-Founder/President). CdM Chamber meetings. District 6 Town Hall meetings. Actively opposed Measure B. Fire Station No. 2 groundbreaking and the recent dedication ceremony. Her participation in the early planning of the Balboa Library Branch/Fire Station Replacement Plan. Project Adult Literacy. Witte Lecture Series. Library Live Lectures. And, perhaps her crowning achievement: Leading the charge to not lose the CdM Library Branch as a Co-Founder of the Friends of the Corona del Mar Library and an inspirational speaker at the July 20, 2019 dedication of that new branch and the contiguous fire station.

I know from personal experience with one of her District 6 constituents that Joy is a willing listener to folks in her District and otherwise around town. She is positive, respectful, polite, and constructive; and she isn’t bashful about sharing her views – whether or not she supports yours. 

Not to mention her engaged, active, always well-prepared participation on the Council and her many council committee assignments. 

If my count is correct, she’s been around this City for some 61 years dating back to her days at Harbor HS, PTA service, chair/member of the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission, fundraising for the UCI School of Medicine, work with the Hoag Hospital Foundation, and support for the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UCI. 

Fast forward, I encountered her as a Board of Library Trustees rookie six years ago; she and a couple of colleagues came to every Board meeting. Joy, in particular, wouldn’t let our Board forget about saving the CdM Branch. She was deferential but direct with the Board; and to this day, I’m not sure we’d have the beautiful new library and fire facilities on Marigold but-for Joy’s positive activism and support.

I’m told Joy is running for re-election on November 8. She’s exceptionally well-qualified and deserves to be returned to the dais – perhaps this December (finally) as Mayor Pro Tem.

As we approach another election season, it’s my guess that the moneyed power seekers who attempted to smear her in 2018 will rise from the ashes and fictionalize issues against Joy’s sterling name. Anyone opposing Joy will have to overcome decades of Joy’s achievements and enviable reputation in our community. 

Our electorate needs to see the goodness, the commitment, the sane/sensible/respectful/collaborative approach which has been the hallmark of Joy’s first four successful years. 

Re-Elect Joy Brenner on November 8. No one is more deserving. No one has worked harder for Newport Beach.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Police Chief calls out candidate

I just read your piece on Joe Stapleton lying to the Republican Party. 

I certainly understand that the offenses were nothing that should follow him around for life, but you avoided the main issue, lying about it. He should have just told them the truth and the story behind it rather than just saying “no”. All he did was succeed in giving ammo to anyone trying to find dirt on him. As we know, politics is a dirty business. 

If this would have been a police applicant, he would be disqualified for lying for answering “no”, or by leaving it out of the application all together if he didn’t mention it in the application. 

My thought is that Joe should have explained it thoroughly why he answered no. 

Dave Snowden (former Chief of Police, City of Costa Mesa)

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Concerns remain for tennis and pickleball club

First, according to minutes from the City of Newport Beach Planning Commission, Mr. O Hill’s plans that he submitted (for expansion of The Tennis Club [and Pickleball] Club of Newport Beach) in 2012 have expired. The City of Newport Beach is currently reviewing his amendments to the Agreement from 2012 but he will be required to resubmit plans to meet current codes. He can then apply for permits.

Secondly, it is not good news for tennis players as there are only courts for pickleball players unless Mr. O Hill plans to stripe the tennis courts for tennis and pickleball. In which case tennis players still lose as you cannot hear anything when playing in the midst of the loud whack noise of pickle balls.

Susan Kramer

Huntington Beach

Letters to the Editor

Bikes on the sidewalk need to either slow down or move to the streets

I have a modest proposal for bicycles, whether electric or not, on sidewalks.
No faster than eight miles per hour.

My dog and I have been nearly injured several times on the segment of sidewalk on Dover near Bob Henry Park. It is a popular way for kids to go from Dover Shores to their schools.

Another dangerous stretch is on Newport Boulevard, the bridge near Lido Village.

I have seen kids going 15 or even 20 miles an hour on these stretches of sidewalk. In my view, NO bike should be going faster than eight miles on a sidewalk, ever. If you want to go faster than that, get out into the street, with the cars. I say this as a lifelong cyclist, who is occasionally on the sidewalks, because those are often the safe and easy way between A and B.

Let us not wait for someone to be seriously injured.

Walter Stahr

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Public safety and communication are crucial

Public safety should be the number one priority of our city government.  Unfortunately, it appears right now that there is a very serious failure of timely communication between the city government, law enforcement and the local residents. This failure to properly communicate in a timely manner is creating an environment where residents are suffering more than ever. 

Many of our communities are under siege and there is no warning, instruction or education from our city government. We are witnessing local panga boat landings which proceed to unload numerous people illegally entering our country and specifically our community. 

We are witnessing a growing homeless population that rejects shelters because they refuse to live under any rules or curfews and therefore become permanent “residents” in our communities. 

We are witnessing what appear to be open drug use and drug sales at our piers, our parks, our public bathrooms, our boardwalk, etc. It is difficult to walk along the boardwalk without constantly smelling drugs in use. 

We are witnessing roving gangs of people going up and down the Balboa Peninsula streets, the boardwalk and the piers attempting to start physical confrontations and fights. 

We are witnessing an alarming increase in home robberies and home invasions throughout our communities. 

We are witnessing an increase in thieves working in teams going along the beachfronts, the piers and the boardwalk looking to steal bikes that have been momentarily left unattended. 

As residents we should receive better communication from our city government. The information should be detailed and informative so that residents can have the knowledge to better plan their individual security needs and the security needed for our communities. 

The various law enforcement groups on the land and the sea need to communicate better between themselves and with the city government. This is not the time for rivalry between various law enforcement agencies. Everyone needs to work together. The real victims of silence are the uninformed residents.

Nancy Arrache

Balboa Peninsula

Guest Letter

Erik Weigand

Newport Beach Planning Commissioner/

City Council candidate, District 3

Moving forward

Guest Letter Erik Weigand

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Erik Weigand

Erik Weigand

As the dust settles on last Tuesday’s Primary Election, it’s important to recognize the strengths that our beautiful city has to offer. Obviously, our beaches, harbor and charming neighborhoods come to mind. But lost in the shuffle of our natural beauty comes those who are our decision makers. Those who strive to make Newport Beach a better place. 

To many, Measure B was a controversial proposal aimed at benefiting those in a position of power. To others, it was a simple ask: “shouldn’t the public get a say on who serves as Mayor?” Whatever side of the issue you might have been on, it’s time to pick up from those disagreements and work together for the best interests of our city.

Having served on the City’s Planning Commission for the past six years and now a candidate for City Council, I have had the distinct pleasure of personally knowing all seven members of our City Council. I can tell you that all of them are hardworking, highly educated and passionate about our city’s prosperity. Do they get it right 100% of the time? No. Do they disagree with one another every now and then? Yes. Do they make mistakes? Of course. But do they serve the community with the best interests to make our lives better? Absolutely!

For the past several years it seems like politics at every level has gotten to the point of where civility no longer matters. Where disruption and conflict are the norm. It’s time we do better and set an example for others to follow. By moving on from the divisiveness of this past election, we simply need to encourage more positivity. 

It is my hope our community rallies together to support those who are leading our city. We have less than six months remaining on the terms of Mayor Muldoon, and Councilmembers Dixon and Duffield. Whether you have disagreed with them in the past, we can all recognize the tremendous amount of time and commitment they have provided our city. It’s difficult to be in that arena and they have all worked hard to give back to the community they love. We should thank them. 

Councilmembers Avery, Blöm and O’Neill are guaranteed two more years of service, with Councilmember Brenner seeking reelection this upcoming fall.  Their leadership will guide us, and we must embrace their strengths rather than seek out weaknesses. With Sacramento’s constant erosion of our local control, it is important to rally around our leaders to protect us from crime, overdevelopment and an ever-decreasing quality of life. Newport Beach is a special place and we need our Council’s undivided focus to help us keep it that way.

With the Primary in the rearview mirror, we are five months away from the General Election. This upcoming election will decide three new members of our Council, as well as Councilwoman Brenner’s reelection. It will also bring forth three brand new representatives for Congress, State Senate and State Assembly, as well as the opportunity to choose a new member of the Board of Supervisors. I cannot think of a time when we will see so much potential for change. We must remain vigilant and pay close attention to who is seeking election to represent our city.

It is my hope that all Newport Beach residents show kindness and compassion to those who seek to serve us. Debate, engagement and even disagreement are encouraged. Anger, resentment and disorder should be left behind and permanently removed from our vocabulary. Newport Beach can set the bar for others to follow. 

Erik Weigand is a lifelong resident of Newport Beach and candidate for the Newport Beach City Council in District 3.

Letters to the Editor

There are lots of questions with road closures leading through the Heights

It is disconcerting when the Council grants special favors to individuals in a neighborhood which can impinge on the rights of fellow neighbors. Just as the Council should not grant these special favors, individuals should not request them as it tears apart the fabric of the community.

The question that was to be decided at this last Tuesday’s council meeting (June 28) was whether lower Tustin in the Newport Heights area should remain closed off to through traffic? The City Traffic Engineer, Tony Brine provided residents with some very useful information, particularly a map showing the differences in traffic flow which was developed as a result of the closure.

Additional statistics which I requested through the Public Information Act, and were provided by the Newport Beach Police Department, helped paint a picture of traffic flow and traffic safety in the Heights. I asked for the accident reports from the last 10 years for the areas affected by the closure. 

The area that was closed off from the rest of the Heights, lower Tustin and Oceanview saw a total of five accidents over the 10-year period. 

With the closure of Tustin, the number of cars on Tustin decreased from 834 to 276 daily while Oceanview saw an increase from 169 to 255.

However, with this closure, traffic increased on other streets. Cliff Drive saw the largest traffic increase, with 323 additional cars daily. I used the 2400 through the 2600 blocks that looked to me to be the area that was most affected. This area also had the largest number of accidents (other than Riverside) from 2012 through 2022 with 19 accidents.

The next area which bears the brunt of the traffic from the closure is Riverside Drive which had an increase of 1,200 cars weekly. They experienced six accidents in the 400-500 block in the last 10 years before the closure.

However, if you look at all of Riverside from Pacific Coast Highway to 15th St., which will become the single most popular thoroughfare through the Heights, it is not too unrealistic to look at what could happen in the future. Drivers will anticipate the closure of Tustin and will very likely get used to the idea of taking the Riverside thoroughfare exclusively to cut through the Heights. 

Imagine the accident count then. In the last 10 years there were 126 accidents on this thoroughfare (meaning from PCH through to 15th Street). Riverside would become the poor stepchild of the Newport Heights.

Upper Tustin had an increase of four cars daily, which doesn’t seem like much until you look at its statistics. Upper Tustin, one of the most beleaguered streets in the Heights, sees a total of 2,513 cars daily. It had a relatively high accident rate of 14 cars (more than twice that of Redlands and the 400-500 blocks of Riverside.)

Upper Tustin, Cliff Drive and Riverside have big traffic problems even without the closure of lower Tustin. These problems will only increase with the anticipated development on Pacific Coast Highway. We should be solving their traffic problems, too, instead of focusing on just one small area.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

(The Newport Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to direct staff to remove the barricade at Tustin and come back in the Fall with an engineering drawing of various options that could be considered in the future, such as adding sidewalks, widening lower Tustin or closing off the bottom rather than the top of Tustin).

Letters to the Editor

Getting back to Newport’s business

I do not speak for the Yes On Measure B folks. I do not speak for the No On Measure B folks. Like you, I am simply a resident of Newport.

Good, bad, or indifferent, the outcome of Measure B has been decided. 

As my Dad would’ve said about management issues in the law firm with which he was affiliated: “Once a controversial issue in the firm has been discussed and resolved, it is time to put the issue behind you, to join hands, and to look forward – not back.”

So, it should be with the Newport Council’s business. Homelessness/Be Well/Bridge Shelter, the budget, capital improvement projects (including Junior Lifeguard building, library lecture hall, Balboa Library Branch/Fire Station replacement, drainage improvement projects, Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter, infrastructure, etc.), the drought, the library, unfunded pension liability, the return of tourism/hospitality, John Wayne Airport/Aviation Committee, our harbor, film festival, boat parade, COVID-19 pandemic, our parks, our departments and their directors and their valued staff/employees, RHNA/City’s Housing Element/General Plan Update, PD/FD issues, waste disposal, group residential uses, a myriad of commissions/committees, and many, many, many more issues to tackle.

Soldier on – with civility and collaboration. 

Or as author Paulo Coelho tells us in his 1993 classic The Alchemist: “When you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.”

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Elect Our Mayor campaign flyers

Measure B is an important proposition for our city of Newport Beach and so warrants discussion and thoughtfulness. Thus, I have tried my best to read information for both sides of the argument.

However, there has not been much available information for the “pro Measure B argument,” so much was my delight when a huge flyer from “Elect Our Mayor” was in my mailbox at the end of last week. My hope was that it would contain relevant facts and details to help me reach my best judgement for supporting Measure B.

My anticipation was short lived and replaced by outright disbelief, when not only was there a lack of information, but the wording “why are opponents of Measure B lying to you?” was accompanied by a not-so-subtle image of Pinocchio. Surely, they could not and would not be using it in such shallow terms to merely brand all opposition as liars. That would mean any opposing voter being labeled as a liar.

Measure B was initiated by some members of the council, the flyer stated, “paid for by elect our mayor,” so I find it difficult to not believe that the councilmembers supporting Measure B have not bestowed their approval for the flyer. If that is the case, then name calling of opponents in such a childish and churlish manner would show the true disdain held for anyone who is of an opposing mind.

I do not usually like to quibble about ideas made by others; however, I think that the reference of Pinocchio may be interpreted another way and so in this instance I will quibble.

We are aware that Pinocchio was a puppet with a puppet master pulling the strings. Maybe it was a Freudian slip by the proponents of Measure B who see themselves more as Pinocchio with a puppeteer behind their scenes?

I would say to the people behind the campaign for Elect Our Mayor that if you decide to send such information to my home, then please have the decency to self-check what you are sending to me and how it may be offensive. I ask that you please treat us, residents and voters with respect regardless of what any voter’s stance is on any issue.

Gina Cruz

Newport Beach

Pro Measure B arguments – Where’s the beef?

Proponents of Measure B started out their campaign saying the issue was simple – do you want to directly elect your Mayor. But as opponents of Measure B have defined the numerous harms and flaws of Measure B, proponents have found a new “reason” for you to support it.

Recently in both letters and social media posts some proponents have claimed that the unelected, professional City Manager (who is hired and can be fired by City Council majority vote) has too much power because the City Manager creates the agenda, while it takes the votes of three City Councilmembers to place an item on the agenda. Therefore, agenda setting should be vested in a strong elected Mayor. This argument is totally disingenuous because the policy that requires three City Council votes to place an item on an agenda is a City Council policy (Council Policy A-1) that can be changed by Council vote any time the members see fit! At their next meeting the City Council could vote to allow only one City Councilmember to request an item be placed on the agenda if that was really an issue!

Measure B proponents have had to manufacture false issues to come up with reasons for voters to support Measure B. But Measure B will:

–Allow a powerful Mayor to decide what goes on and what stays off City Council agendas.

–Increase term limits to allow one person to serve 16 years combined as a Mayor and a City Councilperson. 

–Result in massive expenditures on Mayoral campaigns with outside interests becoming major contributors.

–Measure B is a political solution in search of a problem. There isn’t one thing Measure B proponents can point to that the City did not obtain over the past 67 years due to not having a strong Mayor.

Measure B is opposed by 12 former Mayors and many Citizens of the Year as dangerous to our community.

–Eliminates one City Council district, which allows the district the Mayor resides in to have twice the voting power as every other City Council district. 

Don’t be fooled by the power grab. Vote No on Measure B.

Homer Bludau, 

Newport Beach City Manager (1999-2009)

Measure B: A solution in search of a problem?

I read the “City Attorney Impartial Analysis.”

I read the “Direct Argument In Favor of Measure B” and I read the “Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure B.”

I get that the Mayor “should have to talk to you” – yes, presumably, to all 85,239 of us (according to the 2020 census) as promised by the Measure B proponents.

I get that the Mayor should “be accountable to all of us” – yes, presumably, to all 85,239 of us as promised by the proponents.

But, for the life of me and despite all this new knowledge from the “Voter Information Guide,” I have been unable to determine what problem the proponents of Measure B are trying to solve. 

I have concluded that Measure B may be a solution in search of a problem and may possibly be a one-person crusade.

Here are some questions to ponder:

–Is Newport one of the most financially stable and healthy cities in California?

–Does Newport balance its budget each year and also pay down the unfunded pension obligations each year?

–Has Newport’s fiscal management resulted in a surplus every year for the past 10 years?

–Does Newport’s current management structure (a City Manager and staff) create a superbly managed, collaborative, fiscally strong, highly rated city as concluded by residents, visitors, other cities, bond raters, investment participants, developers and others?

–Does the current Council/Manager governance model evenly disperse power among seven co-equals which model has served us well for nearly seventy years and results in the indisputable conclusion that (as Mayor Muldoon stated at the May 19, 2022 Speak Up Newport Mayor’s Dinner) Newport Beach is stable and strong?

If the foregoing questions can all be answered “Yes,” please help me understand what is broke in Newport and what problem we are attempting to solve by enacting Measure B.

As the majority of absentee votes have now been cast and as we approach the June 7 decision day, I cannot get the notion out of my mind that Measure B is not only a solution in search of a problem, but it is a deficiently drafted, poorly conceived and unnecessary idea that may lead to regrettable unintended consequences, conflict, enormous taxpayer costs and possible corruption not unlike what the City of Anaheim recently experienced. 

Please vote “NO” on the Bad for Newport Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

We deserve a mayor that’s accountable to the residents

2020 woke up a lot of people just like me. Moms who thought we didn’t need to engage much in politics suddenly saw that our disinterest in politics didn’t mean that politics wasn’t interested in us. 

During that time, leadership mattered. Having a person in charge as Mayor mattered. Having a city council majority that would keep beaches open, would push back on bad policy, and would fight for our kids mattered.

By the end of 2020, many of us suddenly realized that our system needed more accountability to us. We didn’t elect our Mayor? Seriously? We just roll the dice and hope for the best among seven people? Two of whom voted to close beaches and put mask mandates in place in our city? That’s how our Mayor gets chosen?

We deserve better and we deserve to have our Mayor campaign directly to us for that position.

At the end of the day, the question we’re asked is simple: should our Charter be changed to provide for the direct election of our Mayor. I’m voting yes and hope that you will too.

Annette Harper

Newport Beach 

What’s the problem that Measure B solves?

Let me revert, in the closing days of the Measure B campaign, to a question that has been raised often over the past few months.

What is the problem in Newport Beach that Measure B solves?

Are we spending too much money on civic improvements? Are we making mistakes in our police or fire policies? No. Almost everyone agrees that Newport Beach is well-governed, perhaps one of the best-governed cities in the state.

At no point have the Measure B proponents ever identified a real-world problem in Newport Beach that Measure B would solve.

At best, proponents of Measure B say that the “problem” it solves is that we do not elect our mayor. That is a rather circular definition of a purported problem.

The main proponents of Measure B, Will O’Neill and Noah Blom, said not a word about direct elections of the mayor when they ran for council in 2020.

Indeed, nobody in Newport Beach was talking about this issue until late 2021, when the proponents started soliciting signatures on a petition to change the charter. Surely, if our current council system was causing real problems, people would have been talking about those problems for more than a few months.

There is no problem in Newport Beach that Measure B will solve. Rather, if passed, Measure B would create problems in Newport Beach, by destroying our collegial city council in favor of an all-powerful mayor. Please, join me and the many former mayors, city councilmembers and other city leaders in voting NO on this ill-advised measure.

Walter Stahr 

Newport Beach

Look through the clutter and vote Yes on B

Have you voted yet? In the few days left to vote, I hope you’ll join me in answering the following question: Shall [the Charter] be amended to provide for the direct election of the Mayor, who would be nominated by residents and registered voters of the City of Newport Beach and elected by the voters of the City at-large?”

That’s it. That’s the question. Should the charter be changed so that we – the voters – can choose our Mayor?

My answer is YES on B. 

Have you ever seen the opposition to this question talk directly to what is on our ballot? Or to the City Attorney’s impartial analysis? I haven’t.

Instead, they want you to answer completely different questions. They have run mail pieces asking if you want an “elected King” or to spend “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on the Mayor position. They’ve sent out mail asking if you want a “Republican power grab” and even invoked Donald Trump’s name as a boogeyman. None of that is on our ballot.

So, look past the clutter, the irrational fear mongering, the made-up stories and the bitterness. Answer the question in front of us. If we do that, we’ll have a Mayor that is directly accountable to us for the first time. 

Ruth Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Closing argument on Measure B

I have followed the debate on Measure B very closely. I remain a strong YES on Measure B. I urge Newport Beach voters to read the actual measure and read the voter pamphlet and ignore the hyperbole from the opposition. If you do, you will most likely vote YES on B.

I must confess that I am extremely disappointed with the tactics of the NO on B group. There are, no doubt, many fine people in the NO on B group. But the group clearly rejected the path of an honest debate in favor of an “end justifies the means” campaign to defeat Measure B. Misleading slogans, half-truths and outright misrepresentations about Measure B are mostly what I saw and read from the opposition. To be sure, the best example of the misdirection is the central rallying cry of the NO on B group – “Stop the Power Grab.” This sounds sinister but it actually makes no sense. Exactly what power is being “grabbed” and by whom is it being grabbed? These questions were never answered by the No on B group because they are unanswerable. It was simply a scare tactic.

Measure B merely gives Newport Beach voters the right to cast a ballot for the Mayor of their City. Power to the people.

John O’Hara

Newport Beach

Measure B is all about one guy’s future political career

Although I recently moved from Newport Beach, we have many friends there and a sincere interest in the city. 

I am bemused at the entire Measure B issue. A revealing look at the Measure can be made by taking Mr. O’Neill’s (recent) op/ed penned May 8 and substituting his name in the text every time you see the word “Mayor.” It clearly paints the picture that Councilman O’Neill conjured up the measure with the sole purpose of him being the only likely choice in a free and clear election of a Newport Beach Mayor. 

I have never seen such an obvious self-serving proposal to keep his political life extended after his expected “terming out” of council in 2024! He obviously has sights on higher office than Mayor which makes his potential 8-year gig in that capacity a needed steppingstone to a state or federal post. Without something to step on and from, he is destined to be a former councilman and mayor with nowhere else to go. 

It IS a power grab, but not by a committee or PAC. It is an attempted power grab by the sole author of the self-serving Measure B. Don’t fall for it. Let Mr. O’Neill term out and fade away. 

Richard Weaver

Castle Rock, CO

There’s a lot wrong with Measure B, where to begin?

Newport As We Know It

Since our City’s incorporation in 1906, Newport Beach voters have elected a governing body of co-equal decision makers who, at least as often as new members are elected to it, select one among themselves to serve as their presiding officer. The City’s hired professional, and hopefully objective, administrative staff brings matters before this governing body when a decision is required of them, on behalf of our citizens. 

The presiding officer, as the governing body’s figurehead, has a duty to sign papers related to the decisions made by it as a whole, and, when asked, to articulate its majority’s position, whether or not he or she personally endorses it.

Originally referred to as the “President” of our City’s “Board of Trustees,” since August 1927 California law has described such a presiding officer as the City’s “Mayor,” and the body as a whole as the “City Council.”

This is not a perfect system. None is. But it does allow the council to choose as their presiding officer the colleague they feel will be most congenial and effective in executing the largely ceremonial duties attached to the office – and to immediately choose a different colleague if their first choice doesn’t work out.

The Promises

Measure B dangles before us the alluring fantasy of a new world in which – if we only vote “yes” – we will be able to impose on the Council a presiding officer aligned with our vision for the City who will, in a way “accountable” to each of us, magically guide the rest of City government precisely as we would like.

Much as I would like to have more control over how my city is run, I am voting “NO” because to accomplish its goals Measure B would enact a very specific scheme replete with poorly-thought-out details. Most of those details do not actually accomplish the stated goals and most could not be changed without another costly voter initiative. 

In my view, Measure B would permanently impose on us a system even less perfect than our present one. 

Shared Vision? 

First, since the Mayor would be elected in exactly the same way as all the current Councilmembers, I see no guarantee the person elected would be any more to my liking, or share my vision, than the seven from whom the Mayor is currently chosen.

At least equally important, unless the Mayor were to be elected through a system of primaries and runoffs – something Measure B does not propose – there is no guarantee the person elected will even be preferred by a majority of the people. 

When recently disgraced Anaheim elected Mayor Harry Sidhu ran for election in 2018, he was in an eight-way winner-take-all race in which only 49% of Anaheim’s voters participated. Of those voting, less than a third chose Mr. Sidhu. So, he became “the people’s choice” with five out of six Anaheim voters never having expressed a preference for him, and more than two thirds specifically wanting someone else. We can expect similar results in Newport Beach under Measure B.

Rotating the position among seven separately elected persons does not ensure any one of them will share my views, but it does seem likely more different people’s views will be held by the rotating Mayor at some time, than if we place all our bets on just one person for four years at a time.


Second, the Mayor under Measure B will clearly be less accountable to the people, not more. 

Currently, if we don’t like a Councilmember’s performance as Mayor, our Council of representatives can, on our behalf, at any time, demote that person back to the status of a regular Councilmember.

Measure B would remove that power. Once elected, the Mayor could act with much more impunity. For far from being more accountable to the people and their representatives, we would be limited to the options we already have for all elected officials: waiting for the end of their term or mounting a difficult and expensive recall campaign. 

If the Measure B proponents truly wanted a Mayor accountable to the people, why are they proposing to give the person a four-year term? Isn’t it axiomatic that a truly accountable Mayor should face the people more frequently – say by running for election every two years, or even annually? 

Moreover, if a misbehaving Mayor chose to leave office voluntarily, as Mr. Sidhu did recently in Anaheim, or if the seat became vacant for any other reason – such as the sitting Mayor moving, becoming incapacitated or being elected to another office – Measure B would generally require our City to hold an expensive special election to fill the vacancy, likely attracting few voters. Especially considering the many alternatives available, that is, to me, a completely unnecessary waste – much like the estimated $215,000 being spent to put Measure B on a non-normal City ballot – to fill what is supposed to be a ceremonial and ministerial position. 

Among the alternatives: the Council could simply continue to function with the Mayor Pro Tem serving as Mayor until the next election; or the Council could be empowered to appoint a caretaker Mayor pledged not to run for the position when, at the next regular election, the people would elect a permanent replacement.

Directing Government As We Wish? 

Third, Measure B proposes to afford the Mayor greater influence over the City’s direction by giving him or her unprecedented agenda setting power and cementing into our City Charter a rule that would suppress the ability of our other representatives, and their constituents, to be heard. 

The agenda is the way (and under state law, the only way) matters are brought before our elected decision makers for public discussion. The vast majority of these are matters presented by the City’s paid administrative staff that require a decision by the Council. A few others are items placed on the agenda by Councilmembers on behalf of their constituents or on their own initiative. The details of how the agenda is prepared for a particular meeting, including the City Manager’s role in that process, has always been left entirely to the discretion of the Council, so they are free to modify the agenda-setting procedures to meet changing needs. And the procedures have, indeed, changed over time.

By placing it in our Charter, Measure B would make permanent one particular and untried system of agenda setting. 

Matters could be placed on the agenda, and therefore come up for discussion, only with the permission of the elected Mayor. The Mayor, it seems, would be completely free to reject requests from staff and colleagues. The only exception would be that the elected Mayor may have to accept the request of three or more Councilmembers to place an item on some future agenda, likely of the Mayor’s choosing. 

Such rules are widely seen as tools to consolidate power by suppressing dissenting views, creating a government less responsive to citizen interests, not more so. 

Shortly after his election, the now-disgraced elected Mayor Sidhu in Anaheim pushed through his Council very similar restrictions on agenda setting (but milder since he still allowed staff to put items on the agenda without needing mayoral consent). Fortunately for Anaheim, he did not manage to get those restrictions cemented into their city charter, so the council is free to move back, as they appear to be doing, to the former system in which every councilmember, individually, had the power to place any item of interest to them, or their constituents, on the agenda for discussion.

More Problems

A final example of the many that might be mentioned as new problems Measure B would create – and one I do not recall having been pointed out in any previous letters to Stu News or the campaign mailers – is the imbalance it will create in the timing of our from-district Council elections.

Newport Beach voters currently elect representatives from Districts 1, 3, 4 and 6 at one election and from Districts 2, 5 and 7 at the next. Measure B proposes to rather arbitrarily eliminate District 7 to create a council consisting of a Mayor and six lesser from-district representatives. But the obvious problem (aside from why not seven plus a Mayor?) is that would leave four of the lesser Council seats up in one election and only two in the next. 

For so-called general law cities, Government Code Section 34906 provides a simple way to get back to even staggering (with three of the six seats up at each election). 

Measure B cements the uneven staggering into our City Charter, where it could only be corrected with a future initiative. 

My Conclusions 

In short, Measure B is more than some sort of advisory request for voters to say whether they support directly electing the Mayor of Newport Beach, with details to be worked out later. 

It is, instead, a request to vote “yes” or “no” on permanently instituting a very specific way of implementing and empowering a directly elected mayor. 

The specific way offered by Measure B is fraught with problems, just a few of which have been detailed above. 

In my view, Measure B’s way would be even worse than the admittedly imperfect system we have now.

Given that, one might ask: Why did the Council majority that put Measure B on the ballot not take the time needed to discuss and correct its many problems?

For, as currently written, B is bad for Newport Beach.

I am voting “NO.”

Jim Mosher

Newport Beach

The strong mayor and setting of the agenda

A recent mailer by the proponents of Measure B included the definition of “accountability.” According to Measure B’s supporters, the strong mayor will be “accountable” to each of Newport’s 85,239 residents. The mayor is gonna be busy.

Taking this cue, I decided to check out the meaning of “SOLE DISCRETION” which words appear in Measure B: one person “shall have SOLE DISCRETION to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agendas.” 

The “Law Insider” says that “SOLE DISCRETION” means “the right and power to decide a matter, which right may be exercised arbitrarily for any reason or no reason at any time and from time to time.” 

Wow! Pretty expansive “right” and “power,” eh?

The definition prompted the following hypothetical: I like cigars. The strong mayor may not. If I were a Councilmember or resident and if Measure B passes, can the strong mayor block my cigar bar proposal as an agenda item or, in the alternative, can the strong mayor put my matter near the end of the agenda when residents may have already left the chambers or dozed off? Or maybe – in the strong mayor’s SOLE DISCRETION – can my cigar bar proposal be blocked until a year from now? 

Sadly, I believe the answer to these questions is “yes.”

And, by the way, I believe the defectively drafted Measure B would allow the strong mayor to thwart consideration of my cigar bar on the agenda EVEN IF three other Councilmembers requested its inclusion. 


The Measure B language (unfortunately) is clear on its face: “With the concurrence of at least three members of the City Council at any public meeting, an item MAY [not “WILL”] be added to a FUTURE agenda.” 

Please note the ill-advised choice of the word “MAY” instead of the word “WILL” which word change, of course, would have compelled the strong mayor to add my cigar bar proposal if three other members agreed. So, as you can see, the strong mayor can decline to add my cigar bar to the agenda EVEN IF THREE OTHER COUNCILMEMBERS request its addition. 


And – even if added – the strong mayor has the SOLE DISCRETION as to WHEN (if ever) to add the cigar bar to a FUTURE agenda.

Does FUTURE mean in two weeks? Does FUTURE mean in a month? Does FUTURE mean in a year? Does FUTURE mean when the strong mayor develops a liking for cigars?

Sad (again).

As seen, Measure B’s agenda setting language is fatally flawed on several fronts. Please vote “NO” on the Bad for Newport Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Spirited community meeting discusses traffic and potential solutions

I was at the community meeting last night concerning the closure of lower Tustin Avenue which is being done on a trial basis in the Heights. It was nice to see the number of neighbors in attendance, particularly those who live on other streets which are affected by the closure. 

One issue that was brought up but that was probably lost during the spirited speeches was: What are the widths of all the streets whose traffic has increased during the time that Tustin has been walled off? My house on Redlands and a friend’s house on Riverside date back to approximately 1943. If I heard correctly, that was before the houses were built on lower Tustin and Oceanview. 

One of the main problems residents from lower Tustin and Oceanview expressed was that their streets were only 30 feet wide. That is why I thought the width of other streets could be of concern as well. 

Different alternatives to the closure which many in the streets around Tustin and Oceanview prefer (as well as a few from the latter who spoke), are one-way streets, the addition of sidewalks and increased policing to name a few.

Riverside, with traffic parked on both sides of the street, and visibility limited by a hill, seems particularly hazardous to residents who cannot let children play in their front yard, nor enjoy walks on their street. The closure of Tustin results in an increase of 200 cars per day or 1,400 per week which aggravates an already trying situation.

Also, the traffic on Riverside and upper Tustin is very fast moving which, when coupled with the number of cars that use those streets, creates great cause for concern.

As mentioned, traffic on upper Tustin is a nightmare. It would be interesting to know its width as well. Not to say that lower Tustin, and Oceanview don’t have their problems, but it would help the traffic discussion to talk independently about the problems of each street. Or as in the case of Tustin, the traffic of each half.

It never serves the community well in the long run to make changes that do not take all factors into consideration equally, not just those (to use an overworked metaphor), of the “squeaky wheel.” 

The map that was used at the first traffic meeting was very helpful to see the numerical effects on each street when the barricade was put up. We tried to distribute those maps in the community so that everyone started with the same amount of information. Some in attendance felt that the traffic counts should take summer traffic into consideration. Unfortunately, no one was there from Cliff Drive to express the new traffic problems that they were facing. Irvine, which has terrible traffic at certain times of the day was not represented either. Perhaps these streets trust that the Council will make decisions that take their problems into consideration.

After the meeting, one lady from Riverside spoke to me of a very bad traffic accident on that street. Yet there didn’t seem to be an opportunity to express such information from other streets as the residents from lower Tustin and Oceanview were a bit more aggressive than the others even though it seemed that they did not outnumber them. I tried to say something and was repeatedly interrupted by the people around me.

Between the time limited monologues at council meetings and a boisterous and over energized crowd is a happy medium. That said, last night’s discussion was handled aptly by Mr. Brine and Mr. Webb, despite the feeling among some spectators that perhaps the decision of what to do with Heights’ traffic had already been made.    

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Video was unacceptable and unnecessary

In our city’s politics, it is critical that we all demonstrate respect for each other. We need to spend more time listening than talking. We must call out threatening behavior when we see it. Most of all, we must condemn violence against each other, real or depicted.     

Last Saturday, the Good Morning Newport website posted a video on its social media platforms regarding Measure B. It featured the last of a three-part series entitled “The Godfather.” The ending of the four-minute video depicted a character playing the mayor of Newport Beach being shot by two other politicians. The scene was totally unacceptable and unnecessary.   

Fortunately, the video was taken down within 20 minutes of being posted on the No on Measure B website.

Apparently, a consultant for the No on Measure B campaign posted the video without reviewing its contents. The No on B Committee has taken responsibility for the posting and has apologized to anyone who felt threatened or concerned about the video’s content. While the Measure B campaign paid for a previous video (non-violent) it did not commission or pay for the final video of the series. Good Morning Newport has apologized and described the video as satire. 

Gun violence against political figures is real. In the final days of the contentious Measure B campaign, and during a period of extreme gun violence in our country, the ending of the video demonstrated a complete lack of awareness of our current national news cycle and this moment in our local election. 

We are fortunate to live in a peaceful city. This incident can be a lesson for us. While we have the right to speak and create, all of us, including political rivals, must remain vigilant against increasing to the erosion of societal norms which help keep us safe. 

Brad Avery, District 2 

Newport Beach City Council 

Inappropriate political satire video; divisive Measure B

I did not see the video. From reports, it was inappropriate and in bad taste.  Political satire run amuck. Not created or produced by “NO on Measure B,” I know, but nonetheless unprofessional and unthinking by those folks responsible for it.   

But as I mulled over the Measure B conflict which has divided Newport since it was announced by its chief proponent on Friday, September 3, 2021 (over nine months ago), it occurred to me that perhaps the proponents of ill-advised Measure B should long ago have DESAVOWED the firestorm they created resulting from the poorly conceived and sloppily drafted Measure B. I have not seen such community division in my 68 part-time and full-time years of residency in this great City.

The proponents must have seen the explosion of immediate and continuous opposition from former Mayors, present and past Councilmembers, current and past Citizens of the Year, numerous members of City Boards and Commissions, and other concerned influential residents. 

Would more thoughtful proponents have stopped the festering conflict?  Would more thoughtful proponents have DISAVOWED the idea? Would more thoughtful proponents have lobbied for an ad hoc blue-ribbon committee appointed by the co-equals Council to study the issue, hold public hearings, and draft a comprehensive, thoroughly researched, well written Charter Amendment for Council to approve and on which our residents could then have voted?

A DISAVOWAL in the face of clear overwhelming opposition would have sent the right message: the proponents would be taking the high road, the less traveled road, the ethical road, the more reflective less impulsive road, the democratic road. A costly campaign on both sides would have been avoided.

Well, unfortunately, the train has left the station and the voters will have the last say on what many view as a fatally flawed, defectively drafted proposal.

Please vote “NO” on Bad for Newport Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

A waste of money has been spent on Measure B

Anybody who is familiar with people who have played a strong role in the “No on B” campaign knows that they are community leaders who are strong on integrity. They would never knowingly take a foolish step to compromise their position. 

On the other hand, some of the leaders of “Yes on Measure B” put questionable things in their fliers; they exaggerate the truth, and they overreact to situations to try to influence voters. 

You need to look at the players of “No on B” and, if you know them as well as I do, you know that they want what is best for Newport Beach, not for themselves. 

If the “No on Measure B” campaign wins, and I sincerely hope that it does, we can look at all the money it cost the city and individual donors and say how much better it would have been to donate that money to a worthier cause, like the children in Ukraine or the homeless in Orange County, instead of trying to play with the minds of the voters. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Measure B opponents accused of lying

And we wonder why good people with honorable intentions don’t want to run for public office or to oppose ballot measures in good faith.

In its most recent costly mailer, the “Yes on B” proponents ask in bold red type “WHY ARE OPPONENTS OF MEASURE B LYING TO YOU?”

That same ad shows a slightly overweight, double-chinned, bespectacled accountant-type with fingers crossed asking the “why do they lie” question.

Additional accusations follow in the mailer:

–“Dishonest campaign”

–“Opponents have literally been lying to you”

–“Lie #1”

–“Lie #2”

–“Lie #3”

So, time for honest rebuttal to the proponents’ lying accusations. 

YES, Measure B IS a power grab. Measure B states that one person “shall have SOLE DISCRETION to set City Council agendas and to CHANGE THE ORDER OF BUSINESS on the agendas.” Sounds to me like a heckuva lot of discretionary power is vested in one person. How possibly can the proponents disagree with the meaning of their own words? 

YES, Measure B changes our form of government from seven co-equal collaborative representatives to a strong mayor with six subordinates. Please use common sense. Of course, a strong mayor form of municipal governance dramatically and radically changes our current co-equals governance. 

YES, and ask any city with a strong mayor: the expense of the strong mayor’s staff to administer the strong mayor’s Council subordinates, other City staff and the residents (all 85,239 of us to each of whom the strong mayor will purportedly be “accountable”) will cost a bundle.

I am not naïve. I get that politics is a blood sport as reflected by this latest mailer. But is it any wonder that able folks whose hearts, intentions and ambitions are in the right place are deterred from running for public office or from opposing ill-considered ballot measures? 

Please vote “NO” on Bad for Newport Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Problems in neighboring cities are proof that Measure B is bad

I’ve been opposed to the Measure B charter change since I first read the text and learned who was behind it. It’s amazing that so many of the dangers I and others saw in it are playing out in other cities just as we prepare to vote. 

For instance, we learned this week that in Anaheim, which has a system similar to what Measure B would introduce in Newport Beach (directly elected and incredibly powerful mayor), the elected mayor is now the subject of a federal corruption probe. He is alleged to have tried to ram through the sale of Angel Stadium to secure $1 million for his reelection campaign. 

This is one of the biggest risks Measure B poses in a city like ours: that the race to be mayor of Newport Beach would be astronomically expensive and open the door to corruption. The race could easily attract crooked politicians from other cities who would seek to buy the office by raising millions through back-room deals with actors who couldn’t care less about our city.

Meanwhile, in Westminster, which also directly elects its mayor for four years, voters will be asked next month if they want to scrap their system and return to one like ours, where the mayor position rotates annually between councilmembers. That city has often seen hours-long, rancor-filled council meetings and it is expected to file for bankruptcy within the next few years.

It would be naïve to think Newport Beach is immune from these kinds of corruption and chaos. 

As someone who’s been observing Newport Beach politics for years, I can honestly say that our system of government works. No one councilmember has too much power. Because the mayor position rotates annually and is mostly ceremonial, and thanks to the checks and balances built into the system, there is little incentive for corrupt and self-serving politicians to run for office. Instead, the system is designed to attract those who simply want the opportunity to give back to the community. 

If Measure B passes, all of this goes away, and all bets are off. 

I’m definitely voting NO and hope you will too. 

Dorothy Kraus

Newport Beach

What to do with Tustin Ave. traffic could be decided at community meeting

Residents in the Newport Heights area are beginning to wake up to the traffic problems that they will be facing if the city decides to block one end of ongoing traffic on Tustin Ave.

Residents are learning how much the changes in traffic flow on other streets will be impacted as drivers are diverted to alternate routes.

According to a traffic study conducted by the city, neighbors learned that the Tustin Ave. closure which greatly decreased its traffic flow from 834 cars to 276 daily, increased the traffic on the only other straight thoroughfare Riverside Ave., which runs from PCH to 15th Street, by 1,400 additional cars per week and increased their daily average by 200 more cars per day.

The other end of Tustin Ave., which reaches to 17th St., will get no break, pushing their total cars average per day to 2,517.

If you are a pedestrian, avoid walking on that street. You would do so to great peril.

Other streets which will see increased traffic from the Tustin Ave. closure, are Ocean View Ave., Avon St., Cliff Drive, Irvine Ave. and Redlands Ave. – literally all streets running parallel to Tustin Ave. will be greatly affected by the closure.

The reasons that Tustin Ave. residents give for wanting to close their street are not clear. Some say the street is very narrow, especially when cars are parked on both sides, that partygoers bring a lot of noise to the area and some councilmembers just said that the reason was because the street was ”unique.”

Actually, every street in the Heights is unique as it is a relatively old area.
But Newport Heights residents should not yet despair. They will have an opportunity to make their concerns known at a Community Meeting next Wednesday evening, June 1. It will take place at the intersection of Tustin Ave. and Ocean View Ave. at 5:30 p.m.

After the neighborhood meeting, there is a plan to place the item on the City Council agenda for the June 28 meeting. If you have any questions, please contact Tony Brine, City Traffic Engineer, 100 Civic Center Drive. Phone: 949.644.3329.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Cottie Petrie-Norris

State Assembly

74th District

Irresponsible operators with pending licenses for a social rehabilitation facility

Guest Letter Cottie Petrie Norris

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Cottie Petrie-Norris

Cottie Petrie-Norris

(The letter below is communication from Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris and Newport Beach City Attorney Aaron Harp.)

Thank you for your continued partnership with our office. I am writing in response to your letter dated April 11, 2022. My objective is to clarify a couple of key points and identify opportunities for local enforcement to curtail abuses in residential care facilities in the City of Newport Beach.

When the Legislature enacted Health & Saf. Code, Section 11934.23, subd. (a), the intent was to require that six-bed residential facilities be treated the same “as a family for the purposes of any law or zoning ordinance that relates to a residential use of property.” The Legislature determined that, if the rehabilitation program was structured to act like a family unit, then cities and counties must allow it to locate in single-family residential zones and not subject it to local permitting. The Legislature’s intent was to allow standalone facilities whose residents mimicked a family by their cooperative living arrangements, shared expenses and long-term residency.

Aware of the Legislature’s decision regarding six-bed facilities, operators attempt to exploit this family unit exception by acquiring or leasing multiple single-family properties within close proximity and sending residents of those homes to a single treatment facility where services and staff are shared amongst the residents of their various homes. Further, instead of treating up to six persons, they treat multiples of six, and therefore should be viewed in total as “7 bed and over” Integral Facilities that are subject to local ordinances and laws. In previous correspondence, you have recognized that these facilities should be treated as Integral Facilities. As we have seen in the City of Costa Mesa, there is indeed an opportunity to regulate these Integral Facilities under a City Ordinance.

Costa Mesa’s Ordinance has a very strong Integral Facilities definition that clearly states that two or more state licensed 6 bed and under facilities under common ownership and sharing services can be regulated by the City. Their Ordinance has been reviewed and upheld multiple times before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. At each court review the Integral Facilities definition has passed scrutiny, even though the Ordinance has a severability clause that would allow any section of the Ordinance to be struck. My office recommends that Newport Beach also prudently maintain its current Integral Facilities definition and reserve its right to regulate these facilities.

In order to curtail the proliferation of bad operators in the City of Newport Beach, we must take action at both the state and local level. I am continuing to push forward with much needed reforms in state statute and oversight in the recovery industry. Local oversight and enforcement of Integral Facilities must also be part of the solution.

If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my Chief of Staff Claire Conlon at 949.251.0074.

Cottie Petrie-Norris 

California State Assemblywoman

Guest Letter

Misagh Karimi, M.D.

City of Hope

Most men don’t know the warning signs of prostate cancer

Guest Letter Misagh Karimi

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Hope

Misagh Karimi, M.D., City of Hope

Do you know the signs of prostate cancer?

If you don’t, you’re not alone.

A recent poll of men in the U.K. found that 68 percent could not identify a single symptom of prostate cancer. The poll highlights the need to bring awareness to men in general, and especially here in the U.S., where prostate cancer affects one in eight men. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in U.S. men, trailing only skin cancers, and men over age 65 and Black men are at greater risk of developing the disease due to a range of factors.

Why is it so important to recognize the signs? Because when prostate cancer is detected at an early stage before it has spread beyond the prostate or the region around it, the treatment success rates are high.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

The prostate lies below the bladder and surrounds the urethra; most prostate cancer signs are connected to urinary symptoms. They include:

–The need to urinate urgently and frequently, especially during the night.

–Difficulty in starting to urinate or having weak urine flow.

–The feeling that the bladder hasn’t emptied.

–Blood in the urine or semen.

Prostate cancer may also cause more generalized symptoms, such as:

–Pain in the lower back or pelvic area.

–Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet.



Tips for early detection

So, men, what should you do?

First, know the warning signs. Worrisome or persistent symptoms should spark a conversation with your primary care physician.

Second, know your family’s health history. Most prostate cancers are not hereditary, but the risk can double if a man’s brother or father has had prostate cancer. The risk is even higher for men who have had several relatives affected by the disease.

Lastly, talk with your doctor about prostate cancer screening options and the recommendations that should go into making your individual decision to get screened.

Advances in the early detection of prostate cancer are opening up more options for treatment and saving men’s lives. What’s more, if you have early-stage, slow-growing prostate cancer, you may be able to take a watch-and-wait approach instead of starting treatment right away. If you have been newly diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer, there is much reason to feel hopeful and optimistic about your future.

Misagh Karimi, M.D., is the director of clinical operations at City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island and a medical oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal and genitourinary cancers.

City of Hope is a leader in prostate cancer research and treatment, successfully treating thousands of people with prostate cancer each year. To make an appointment at any of City of Hope’s four Orange County locations, click here or call:

Newport Beach Fashion Island: 949.763.2204

Newport Beach Lido: 949.999.1400

Irvine Sand Canyon: 949.333.7580

Huntington Beach: 714.252.9415

Letters to the Editor

“Let’s get into the weeds here answering these questions”

One of the most recent posts on Instagram by the primary proponent of Measure B asks, “Where’s the power grab?” As Ben Franklin said, when arguing against a king for these United States, “I am a mortal enemy of arbitrary government and unlimited power.” 

This proponent claims that the ballot question of, “Shall the Newport Beach City Charter be amended to provide for the direct election of the Mayor?” Says it all and doesn’t get any simpler.     

Do you want to elect your Mayor, and should your Mayor be directly accountable to you?

Let’s get into the weeds here in answering these questions…

Measure B itself goes way beyond those two simple questions. The proponent asks where the term “power grab” comes from. Well, it becomes very obvious when you get deeper into the Measure by reading the details. 

First, the “elected mayor” will be given exclusive authority and control of the city council agenda thereby controlling what comes before the council. Second, council districts will be reduced from 7 to 6, creating double representation within the district the Mayor lives in. Third, the city manager will be reduced in roll and authority making it difficult to attract qualified candidates for the position. Fourth, the position will be highly politicized. How? Candidates seeking the position will become very dependent on large, influential donors who hope to gain the favor of the Mayor when it comes to personal or business interests. Fifth, a “yes” vote on Measure B will create the potential for mayors intent on becoming politically powerful to back and raise campaign funds for city council candidates in order to line up consistent majority votes for their political benefit. 

And finally, and perhaps the most significant, is a loss of voice by the community in the business of the City. The Measure states, “The Mayor...shall perform such other duties consistent with the office as may be prescribed by this Charter, or as may be imposed by the City Council.” This wording takes us from having the City Charter define the mayor’s authority to allowing the mayor and three other City Councilmembers to decide, whenever they want, what the mayor’s authority will be. The residents would not have any say. This is the essence of the “power grab”…the authority given the mayor under this wording is both limitless and dangerous for the community.

There is nothing broken or wrong with the mayor’s position the way it is currently functioning. To change this model now is to risk losing the invaluable relationships among the city councilmembers, city staff and residents that have successfully guided Newport Beach for the past 67 years. 

From a sensible and rational position, as well as “What’s best for the City of Newport Beach?,” I urge you to vote “NO” on Measure B. 

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Council, 2016-2020

Newport Beach

Personally, I trust the advice of 11 former Newport Beach Mayors

Thank you for publishing the pro and con arguments on Measure B on Tuesday. 

The argument in favor of Measure B was presented by Councilmember Will O’Neill. He introduced the measure to City Council and did not support any form of hearing, study sessions or resident input. It was a rush to the ballot. I find it interesting that Councilman O’Neill’s term ends, and he is term limited out of running for city council, at the same time he could run for Mayor in 2024 to win another four-year term. Additionally, he could run for re-election in 2028. This is potentially too much power in one member of the City Council for too long a period. 

Having the City Council elect a member of the City Council to serve as Mayor annually is a proven and successful process. The primary duty of the Mayor is to chair the Council’s meetings and do other official duties for the City. This occurs without reducing the authority and independence of the other six councilmembers. If residents vote yes for measure B, the power shifts to the Mayor. Districts will be reduced from 7 to 6 and each councilmember, City Manager and department heads will have to always ask, “What does the Mayor support?” 

What impressed me about the arguments against Measure B is the list of past mayors recommending a no vote. These dedicated past and current officials have 33 years of cumulative experience as council-selected Newport Beach Mayors. This includes current city councilmembers Diane Dixon, (Mayor 2016 & 2019) and Brad Avery (Mayor 2020). They believe the current system provides equal standing for all councilmembers and supports a neutral professional services approach from our City management staff so there is no political alliance to any one councilmember. 

The current structure provides residents with a councilmember representing their area who understands their issues. Each councilmember votes to provide the best policy direction for their district and does not have to seek permission from the Mayor or worry about retaliation if they disagree. Each district gets one vote. A majority vote of four City Councilmembers is required to approve our budget, appointments to committees and boards, and policy issues. 

Residents should not be fooled by statements that an elected Mayor would be more accountable to voters. During a four-year term the Mayor will be in control and removal will take a recall effort or waiting until the next election. I prefer accountability and equal power to all councilmembers at every council meeting. 

I trust the advice of eleven (11) former Newport Beach Mayors who recommended we vote No on B and retain our current council organization of 7 equal members. I believe this will result in better policy and budget decisions for all Newport Beach residents. We need our City Council to be community-based representatives for their district and not requiring the approval of an elected Mayor for every district issue. 

I urge Newport Beach voters to vote No on Measure B. 

Ron Rubino, President 

Eastbluff Homeowners’ Community Association

Newport Beach

Preserve the city charter, vote No on B

It’s vital that voters ‘unbundle’ Proposition B. It reads like a ‘democratic’ idea. I treasure that we can vote and that our votes matter. However, Proposition B isn’t about voting. It’s about consolidating and concentrating power. That’s it pure and simple. 

I’m a conservative who believes power should be limited and, if possible, spread between individuals, agencies, local and state bodies and at the federal level between three branches of government. 

Prop B does just the opposite. It puts power in the hands of one person, a mayor, who would be elected for four (or possibly eight) years. It strips power from the city council, a council of seven elected people who represent all seven areas of our city equally. This proposition concentrates power in the hands of one individual who is given the authority to set the city council’s agenda. 

We’re all familiar with the mudslinging that fills our mailboxes during elections. It takes money to run for office, unfortunately lots of money. Most often this money is provided by special interests. “We do for you so you do for us.”  There are strings. Always. Politicians become beholden to special interests. Follow the money. Campaign purse strings are politically binding. 

Prop B sounds good, “democratic,” but it’s fundamentally the opposite. We have a balanced democratic system in place that spreads power to all councilmembers and their districts. Do not unbalance what works. Preserve the city’s charter and VOTE NO on Proposition B.

Lorian Petry

Corona del Mar

Measure B: The devil is in the details

Jump, I’ll catch you!”

Blue Buoy swim instructor Pete is standing in the pool out a little from the edge. His promise is reassuring to our 4-year-old. Nick trusts Pete and jumps. Pete catches Nick. 

A proponent of Measure B says that anyone who says that Measure B vests total control in the proposed strong mayor is making a false claim, “not just false, but provably false.” 

I disagree and, moreover, Measure B is so deficiently drafted that it only reinforces the notion that Measure B vests total control in the proposed strong mayor. Despite the subpar drafting, the proponent is, in essence, saying “Jump, I’ll catch you!”; trust me that there’s nothing wrong with the Measure as drafted. But let’s look at the precise deficiently drafted language of Measure B to see who is making the false claim.

Here’s the actual language: “…the Mayor will have the sole discretion to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agenda.”

But wait, there’s more.

The proponent says that the “total control” argument is “false” because of a toothless exception which was added (please read it with care): “With the concurrence of at least three members of the City Council at any public meeting, an item MAY be added to a FUTURE City Council agenda.” [Emphasis added.] 

Toothless, indeed, and here’s why:

–The new agenda item “MAY” be added; the deficiently drafted language does not say “WILL” be added. What good is it to the three councilmembers if their important item “MAY” (or presumably “MAY NOT”) be added. In my view, this language is deficiently written and does not reduce the clear total control of the strong mayor.

–The new agenda item may be added to a “FUTURE” agenda. When? This year? Next year? Ever? When the strong mayor decides to strategically add it – which may well be when the issue is no longer topical or of interest to our residents. 

Again, in my view, this language is deficiently written and does not reduce the clear total control of the strong mayor.

The foregoing specific samples are some of the many examples of the unsatisfactorily drafted Measure B. The proponent is saying “Jump! I’ll catch you!”; the proponent states, “No To Cynicism” and is asking for our trust and faith that all will be well. Does this remind you of Ms. Pelosi’s famous words: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it….”

The only problem with the “all will be well” logic is, of course, that Measure B changes the constitution of our City – FOREVER! (or at least until our residents are exposed to another outrageously expensive campaign to undo the damage).

Measure B is poorly drafted; it is Bad for Newport; vote NO on Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Duffy: Why I believe Measure B will be good

Former councilman Jeff Herdman’s recent letters opposing Measure B (voter-elected mayor) deserve a trip down memory lane.

As a former mayor, I support Measure B. 

For the past eight years I’ve witnessed the “selection” of the mayor in a private room at City Hall.

I also served with Jeff Herdman for four years until his defeat in 2020.

The November 2018 city council election was a spirited one. I was behind by a couple hundred votes on election day. 

That’s when Herdman pounced on the opportunity to be “selected” mayor. 

He shopped a “term sheet” with councilmembers hoping to cobble together four votes to become mayor. 

Herdman’s term-sheet included removing Will O’Neill from the Finance Committee, denying Will O’Neill from ever being mayor, making certain staff changes and guaranteeing the mayor pro tem position to the agreeable councilmember.

Over the next two weeks the Registrar of Voters counted the late ballots. I won in a 36-vote landslide dashing Herdman’s hope of being “selected” mayor.

Measure B stops these political shenanigans and lets voters decide our mayor. 

Voters have a way of purging bad behavior. Herdman was defeated in 2020 after a series of scandals.

Please vote Yes on B to elect the mayor.

Duffy Duffield, District 3

Newport Beach City Council

Measure B is a shipwreck…don’t let them steer our city into the rocks

Over 40% of Measure B is supported by donors outside our City and the State! Why? Who are they? What do they want? 

–Measure B gives the mayor primary responsibility for interpreting policies, programs and needs of the City to the people. This measure would allow the mayor to set agenda items and to change the order of business. This measure would let one person decide what should be on the agenda. There are competing interests in this city, and one person should not be in charge of what is discussed. We all want to be heard. Measure B gives an inordinate amount of unchecked power to just ONE person. 

 –The current charter allows the City Councilmembers to hold the mayor accountable. This relationship keeps checks and balances of power. Measure B would remove that protection altogether. The only way to remove a mayor would be through a costly recall process. 

–Measure B invites corruption – where there is money, there is a great potential for exploitation. To install a mayor for four years with the option to run again for another four years gives one person plenty of time to get their hands dirty by doing the bidding of special interests. What could this look like? The mayor could be in discussions with a developer and give them the contract. We could lose valuable bluff tops to a mayor that wants to show favor to a developer vs. what the people want. Newport is wealthy – not only for its money but for its natural resources, including Banning Ranch, Back Bay and the beaches. We want a mayor that will have to listen to all of us and not be influenced by outsiders with money.

–Corruption is already happening and is a sign of what is to come. The campaign in favor of measure B has received over 40% of its funding from donors outside our city, and some are even out of state. Why? Who are these people? And what are their true intentions?

The writing is on the wall or, better yet, on every dollar bill – a vote for measure B hands our beloved city to the fists of autocracy. 

 –Four City Councilmembers – O’Neill, Blom, Duffy and Muldoon overlooked Joy Brenner as Mayor. This dismissive arrogant action against a worthy, hard-working, fellow public servant is not what we need more of. They are the ones who support Measure B. We don’t need a crew of people like that at the helm to steer us into the rocks.

–Measure B is a takeover disguised as a democratic proposition. It is not for the people. It is the opposite. 

Don’t be duped by a measure that outsiders fund. 

I am not paid. I am not a politician. I have no other reason to speak out other than I care about you, and I care about our city and all of its natural beauty. Join me to protect it. This is true democracy. Vote NO on Measure B.

Jennifer Irani

Newport Beach

Is the Laguna Niguel fire a reminder for Newport Beach?

(The letter below was sent to the Mayor of Newport Beach and City Councilmembers.) 

You have seen the horrific damage done by the Coastal Fire. Immediate action is required to protect the health safety and welfare of the residents of Newport Beach.

What you will learn is that the damage in the Coastal Fire (Laguna Niguel) impacted an area that incorporated the latest “state of the art” fire protection planning, area incorporating fuel modification zones, fire access roads, fire retardant building materials, etc. There is no flaw to point to. While the cause is not known at this time, this fire could happen in Newport Beach. Immediate action is required to protect Newport Beach.

–We learned from the Santa Monica fire that Mutual Aide Agreements cannot be relied upon during major wildfire events. During the Santa Monica fire, needed emergency reserves were held back by local governments to protect their jurisdictions.

–We learned from the Santa Monica Fire that major transportation arterials (PCH and Freeway) were closed as a result of the fire, significantly impacting emergency evacuations and access of emergency equipment.

–Human life is valued over structures. Emergency responders and resources are prioritized to ensure all human life is evacuated and protected. Extinguishing the fire and protection of structures comes second.

–The size of the structures matter when protecting the spread of fires during periods of high winds.

–Electric power shutoffs/rolling blackouts are a reality. When this happens during a fire emergency more of our emergency resources will be deployed for traffic/intersection control to facilitate emergency evacuations.

–Southern California and the City of Newport Beach are in a period of drought projected to last years. Water supplies will be limited. Watering of yards will be limited. Vegetation will be drier, adding to the fire risk and vegetation’s percentage of volatile oils.

–Newport Beach, as is all of southern California, is subject to high wind conditions.

–Based on State housing mandates Southern California and Newport Beach are projected to experience a significant increase in population and residential structures. Structures are projected to be large high density infill residential structures.

–Based on State transportation mandates the percentage of the population dependent on mass transit will increase. 

Newport Beach is a major tourist destination. Total population is projected to increase significantly as development within Southern California increases significantly.

Please take immediate steps to address the existing potential fire threats to Newport Beach residents and the public. 

The City is in the process of updating its Housing Element and other impacted General Plan Elements to incorporate State housing mandates. Please ensure the General Plan Update and its Environmental Impact Report fully evaluate the fire risk facing Newport Beach, taking into consideration the State mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment, as well as, existing state regulations allowing increased developments beyond anticipated in the existing General Plan and the Final Environmental Impact Report last prepared for the General Plan.

Dave Tanner

Newport Beach

Curbing the effects of inflation, even in Newport

At nearly $5.90 a gallon for regular and more than $6 a gallon for diesel, Newport residents who own a car or a boat know California’s gas prices are the highest in the country. 

Back on March 11, when I first suggested in Stu News Newport’s sister publication, Stu News Laguna, giving all 27 million licensed drivers in the state $250, people laughed at the idea. 

Less than two weeks later, Gov. Newsom announced his plan to give people $400. I’m guessing no one in Newport was laughing then. 

So, here’s my question: Will anyone in Newport, or California for that matter, ever see a check or gas card? If that’s not going to happen, then please tell us.

In an effort to help curb the effects of inflation, even in Newport, maybe the DMV should eliminate the annual vehicle registration fee for 2022-23. 

I wonder how many people will laugh at that idea.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Anaheim scandal shows why Newport should vote NO on Measure B

Anyone in doubt about how to vote in Newport Beach on Measure B should consider closely the recent revelations about corruption in Anaheim.

The allegations are set forth in a sworn statement, signed by a senior FBI agent and filed on May 16 in state court, quoting recorded conversations between the mayor of Anaheim, Harry Sidhu, and others, as well as emails and texts sent by the mayor from his personal accounts. More details appear in the criminal complaint against Todd Ament, of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, close colleague of the mayor.

The FBI affidavit shows that, while Sidhu was representing the city in the high-stakes contract negotiation with the Los Angeles Angels for the sale of Anaheim Stadium, he was also sharing confidential city information with the Angels, including at least one document prepared by the city’s lawyers, in violation if the Brown Act.

Why would Mayor Sidhu, who is supposed to represent Anaheim, help the other side, the Angels, in this way? Because Mayor Sidhu, who was elected in 2018 for a four-year term, is involved in an expensive re-election campaign, seeking another four-year term.

In one of the taped conversations, the mayor tells a friend that he hopes and expects to receive a million-dollar donation from a senior Angels official to his re-election campaign. As the FBI agent said in his affidavit, “I believe Sidhu illustrated his intent to solicit campaign contributions, in the amount of $1,000,000…in exchange for performing official acts intended to finalize the stadium sale for the Angels.” To evade contribution limits, the mayor planned to seek the contribution not for his own committee, but rather for a supposedly independent political action committee that would support his re-election efforts.

As I read page after page of shocking, disgusting detail, I was thankful for one key provision in the current charter of Newport Beach, which states that the mayor serves at the pleasure of the city council. If similar conduct was engaged in by the mayor of Newport Beach, rather than Anaheim, the Newport Beach city council could replace the mayor at the next council meeting – without waiting for criminal charges, or for a criminal conviction. In Anaheim, even though three members of the city council have called for the mayor’s resignation, there is no such option.

If Measure B passes, however, the Newport Beach charter will be changed, so that the mayor no longer serves at the pleasure of the council. The only way to remove a mayor, mired in a corruption scandal, at that point would be to wait for a criminal conviction or to mount a recall campaign which would take many months or years to achieve.

Moreover, if Measure B passes, we are going to have expensive, contentious campaigns for mayor here in Newport Beach. The costs of a successful campaign to become Newport Beach mayor could easily exceed a million dollars. Candidates would seek contributions from those interested in seeing local projects or contracts approved, like the sale of Anaheim Stadium. And Newport Beach is a place where hundred-million-dollar developments are quite possible, so there will be high stakes issues akin to the stadium issue in Anaheim.

Proponents of Measure B might say something like “Newport Beach is not Anaheim; we would never see such corruption here.” But this ignores the close parallels between the system in Anaheim, in which a powerful mayor is elected for a four-year term, and can be re-elected, and the changes to our system under Measure B. In fact, Measure B gives even more power to the mayor than exists in Anaheim, power to control the council’s agenda.

Why shouldn’t we expect, at some point, if we pass Measure B, and create a system in which there are expensive direct elections for mayor, that there will be some corruption, or some highly questionable donations, as candidates scramble to become mayor of Newport Beach?

Please vote no on Measure B: protect our current city charter and save us from the expensive elections and the corruptive tendencies of a powerful four-year mayor.

Walter Stahr

Newport Beach

Confused and “insulted” by campaign mailers

When we vote on a measure, it should be because we think it will fix or improve something in our great city. I wanted to try to understand what the real reason or purpose for Measure B is, so I’ve read the materials in print and online. But I remain puzzled over the ongoing sales pitch by proponents of Measure B.

In last week’s Stu News, rather than explain what he believes are the benefits of Measure B to our residents, Councilman Duffield spent his words attacking Jeff Herdman for issues that happened years ago that nobody remembers or cares about. 

In the print mailers supporting Measure B, there are many points made about the details of how the Measure reads but the only “benefit” to residents appears to be a broad reference to better “accountability” although it’s not clear how that will be achieved by having a voter elected Mayor vs a Council-elected Mayor. Aren’t the current Councilmembers (which includes the measures authors) insulted by being told that they apparently are not accountable now or in the past? How has our city managed to survive all these years with no accountability?

And I am certainly insulted by the mailer that says, “Warning – Opponents of Measure B are running a false and misleading campaign. Don’t be fooled by their lies. Opponents are power brokers who do not want you electing the mayor,” signed by Noah Von Blom.

I find these mailers to be misleading because the reduction of the number of districts is buried in the fine print. 

The measure allows 1) an individual two four-year terms as Councilmember and two four-year terms as Mayor for a total of 16 years. That’s too long for one person and dramatically changes the term limit concept in place today. 2) we would go from 7 equal districts to 6 districts plus a more powerful Mayor. The Mayor and one of the Councilmembers will live in the same district causing one district to have two representatives. I don’t see how these facts can be considered “lies” or “false and misleading.” If I’m wrong on these critical points then someone needs to educate me. 

Read for yourself at Please vote No on Measure B. 

Mike Groff

Newport Beach 

That Certain Something

In his 2001 coffee table book entitled The Spirit of Newport, Steven Simon Jr. shares his poetry and paintings celebrating the beauty and charm of Newport Beach. Near the end of his book appears Mr. Simon’s closing poem, “That Certain Something”: 

Daylight the setting sun cannot elude

So this visit shall fittingly conclude

To a city blessed – one can see at first glance

With abundance, beauty, and riviera romance.

Ah, but amid these blessings there’s something more

Not easy to explain but simple to adore.

A place like none other I’ve found

Indeed, a certain spirit does here abound.”

Mr. Simon has it right. There is a certain spirit here. Long time and short time residents feel it –“at first glance” as Mr. Simon says. A magnetism made up of small friendly villages, of friendly residents, of friendly businesses, of friendly surroundings including beach and bay.

But some would have you believe that the “certain spirit” needs changing.

The proponents of Measure B say that we are ready for the Big Time. We need a strong mayor who can vault us into the Big Leagues. We need to copy big cities with a very powerful person who can lead us because nearly seventy years of unrivaled success and the universal envy by other cities apparently isn’t proof positive of that “certain spirit” of which Mr. Simon speaks.

Leave it alone. Our system for the annual election of the mayor has worked well for nearly seventy years. Left alone, it will work well for the next seventy years.

Don’t be fooled by the change agents. Vote NO on the Bad for Newport Measure B. 

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Measure B is not written to better Newport Beach

I have written previously about Measure B because of my great concern for how it will change city government, which in my opinion, is not for the better. It is unfortunate that the plan was not more thoughtfully conceived.

My reaction to the idea of “electing a mayor” was immediate. I knew that it seemed to come out of nowhere and was not conceived with the betterment of Newport Beach government in mind. Its intent seems to promote the political future of its creators as well as the financial future of its benefactors.

For those who think that Newport Beach will benefit from this plan that will replace the current system, I ask you to consider the following question: Would the “elect the mayor” system proposed by Measure B even exist if no one currently on council was able to run for the newly created office?

So unimportant are all the details of the plan other than electing a mayor that the system proposed has changed from its original configuration. On an election brochure this last week, an arrow was drawn from the constituents directly to the mayor representing the flow of power. There was no evidence of a city council existing between the two. It seems that Measure B has already changed, implying that there would be no council, or that the power of the council would meld into that of the constituents as in the diagram.

Was that a printing error or does it illustrate how little anything else matters, as long as there is an elected mayor? In light of this implication, do we really want to give all power in Newport Beach government to one person?

I have lived in Newport Beach a long time and I resent non-residents coming into the city to finance a major change in our government in an effort to make money or build a political career at our expense. Please consider this: The creators of Measure B definitely do not have OUR best interests in mind. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Newport Beach: Are you paying attention to Anaheim?

I have been wondering how many people in Newport have been paying attention to what is happening in Anaheim right now. The FBI is investigating Anaheim’s elected mayor for corruption in the sale of Anaheim Stadium and the activities of what is called “the cabal” running Anaheim. So far, the news has not reported exactly who is part of this “cabal” but there is some talk, of course, of the mayor and the head of the chamber of commerce, who is also being investigated. The court has put the sale of the stadium on hold for 60 days and the minority councilmembers who have been trying to ask questions feel vindicated. The full council has now asked for his resignation. 

When too much power is vested in a few, these things happen. I don’t think Newport needs an elected mayor right now given the way Measure B was written by one man and the devil in the details of it being unearthed. 

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

Do the math: Measure B doesn’t add up

The proposed Measure B has little if anything to do with electing a mayor and more to do with eliminating one council district; eliminating representation for the citizens of Newport Beach and consolidating power in one individual. In the very first sentence of the proposed Measure there is the elimination of one of our current seven council districts. It reads: “The elective officers of the City shall consist of a City Council of six seven members…” 

In 1954 when the City’s charter was adopted the population of the City was 12,120 and there were seven (7) council districts as there are currently. In the latest census the city has a population of 85,780, seven times greater than it was in 1954. Yet what many people don’t realize is that Measure B seeks to reduce the number of council districts from the current number of seven to six. It makes little sense and doesn’t add up. Will it be your council district that is eliminated or your neighbors?

In addition, the Measure further grants a mayor “sole discretion” to set the City Council agendas, in contravention of current City Council Policy embodied in City Council Policy A-1 C as well as the existing City Charter. 

And to be clear, “sole discretion” does not mean that such power would be wielded in a reasonable manner but rather it means power can be exercised in an arbitrary and capricious manner thereby giving a mayor expansive power.

Finally, to suggest somehow that the city needs to become a modern city like others in the state is a false narrative. One needs to look no further than Anaheim which finds itself and its directly elected mayor the subject of an FBI investigation. Consolidating power in one individual and eliminating a council district is not the power grab that the residents of Newport Beach need or want.

Vote No on Measure B.

Thomas C. Edwards, former Mayor

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Direct accountability matters

As a small business owner, I hold myself accountable for the service and quality in my restaurants. As your City Councilmember, you hold me directly accountable for decisions we make and the outcomes of those decisions too.

How do we make those decisions? We set public policy based on agendas set well in advance of a City Council meeting. As it currently stands, we delegate most of the agenda-setting functions to our City Manager. No matter how good a City Manager is (and ours is great), the City Manager is accountable only to the City Council and not directly to the people of the City of Newport Beach.

As City Councilmembers, we can also place items on the agenda if three of us agree that it deserves discussion. That, in fact, is how the Elect Our Mayor initiative will be on your ballots. I asked our City Council to consider the item, all seven City Councilmembers agreed, and then a majority of us voted to put Measure B on the ballot so that you get to choose whether you want to elect the Mayor (or whether you want us to keep choosing amongst ourselves every year).

Once you understand that, you’ll join me in expressing surprise that opponents of Measure B claim that the Mayor would be “too powerful.” No power would shift from City Councilmembers to the Mayor, we would still be able to place items on the agenda. The change would be moving the primary agenda setting option from the unelected City Manager to the directly accountable Mayor.

Direct accountability to voters matters. Learn more at and encourage your friends and neighbors to vote Yes on B.

Noah Blom, District 5

Mayor Pro Tem

Newport Beach City Council

Don’t buy into the slogans

I love my “all natural” ice cream.

I always buy “fat free” margarine.

My juice boxes have “no sugar added.”

The chicken my wife serves is “free range” because they are exposed to the outdoors.

The grandkids’ fruit roll ups are “made with real fruit.”

You get the point. Slogans can be (and often are) misleading.

So, it is with the campaign slogan, “Elect Our Mayor.”

Sounds good, yes? Democracy in action, correct?

Motherhood, apple pie, stars and stripes and “Elect Our Mayor.” 

The proponents repeatedly claim, “It’s That Simple.” I admire simplicity, but sometimes simple answers (or clever catch phrases) gloss over complicated problems and unintended consequences. In this case, “It Clearly Isn’t That Simple.”

Maybe we should first read the words behind the superficial slogan of “Elect Our Mayor.”

Maybe we should consider the significant taxpayer cost of the measure to add a strong mayor’s full-time staff which will inevitably be necessary. (Just ask any city with a strong mayor.)

Maybe we should consider the disenfranchisement of the other weakened councilmembers subordinate and junior to the strong mayor.

Maybe we will lose a preeminent educated and experienced City Manager who is stripped of prior duties and who is under the thumb of a powerful mayor.

Maybe the other weakened councilmembers will not be able to be responsive in the reconfigured districts (reduced from seven to six) with at least 2,000 more constituents to serve for each new district.

Maybe the Mayor’s district (already served by another councilmember) will become a super district with two representatives on Council to the significant detriment of the other five districts with only one representative.

Please think twice about the misleading catch phrase “Elect Our Mayor” and the many unfavorable consequences of the measure.

Vote “No” on the “Bad for Newport” Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

It’s time for Newport Beach to elect their own mayor

Measure B sure has brought out some interesting opposing arguments, often based in falsehoods and fear. Fear and name-calling don’t move the needle for me and I hope they don’t for you.

A recent rebuttal to the No campaign, written by John O’Hara, reflects the thinking that sealed my commitment to the Elect Our Mayor Campaign. 

–The power to select our Mayor should belong with the voters. 

–Term limits, as written in Measure B, are sound and actually better than what we currently have for the City Council in general.

–‘What if’…are we to let ‘what if’ determine how we lead our city? 

Fear is often used as a persuasion technique, particularly in elections. That certainly is the case with the “No Elected Mayor in Newport Beach” campaign. In fact, the campaign’s website says exactly that. As someone who holds sacred the people’s right to vote for their leaders, that statement alone is enough to reject this fear-based campaign that seeks to limit the power of the voter. No and Elected in the same sentence is baffling. 

A recent No on B mailer was filled with inflammatory language like “deceptive and dangerous,” “Pro-Trump Republicans” and “special interest power grab.”

Those words were used to demonize those of us who support Measure B.  Those words also demonstrate a lack of respect for neighbors who support Measure B and the importance of the power resting with the voters. 

“Special Interest Power Grab?” Yes, your interests and mine are special, and the power should rest with us.

It’s time for Newport Beach to have Mayors that go beyond the ceremonial, and it’s time to give the voters the freedom to choose their Mayor. 

Ruth Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Lee Lowrey officially withdraws from City Council race

(Yesterday, May 9, candidate Lee Lowrey officially withdrew from the 2022 Newport Beach City Council race scheduled for November. Lee cited business commitments. He also promised to refund all $30,000 of political contributions that he received.)

Dear supporters of my candidacy for Newport Beach City Council,

Effective (yesterday), I will be ending my campaign for the position of City Councilman (District 4) for the City of Newport Beach. Your support and encouragement for my candidacy has meant everything to me. It has been an overwhelming humbling experience. Coming to my decision has not been an easy one. As I thought about the time necessary to successfully represent the citizens of Newport Beach on the City Council, initially I believed it was a manageable time commitment. It has become evident with the recent changes in economic conditions more time is going to be required to navigate my company with its current workload, as well as more time needed to seize new economic opportunities. To be able to give the 110% that I have promised my customers, employees, investors, and business partners, the additional time I believed I would have had for City Council just isn’t there.

I decided to run for city council first for my love of Newport Beach and my fellow residents. Additionally, I believed my background in business both large and small, my position as your current Chairman of the Newport Beach Planning Commission navigating through the new and complex housing mandates Sacramento is dictating on local municipalities, and my knowledge of John Wayne Airport’s intricacies from my six years of service on the Airport Commission would have made my background a great fit for the City Council. Unfortunately, this will not be the time that I will be able to take my background and experience to the voters.

I would be remiss in not thanking Mayor Kevin Muldoon, Mayor Pro Tem Noah Blom, Councilman Will O’Neill, Councilman Duffy Duffield, Congresswoman Michelle Steel, Sheriff Don Barnes, Orange County Supervisors Don Wagner and Andrew Do, and former GOP Assembly Leader and OCGOP Chairman Scott Baugh for their early support. Also, I want to thank those that donated over $30,000 during the past three weeks. Your donations will be refunded in full.

As the field of candidates begins to take final shape and we get closer to candidate filing, I look forward to listening to all the candidates and their respective policy positions as they seek election. Newport Beach may have some challenges as we look ahead, but we are all beyond blessed to live in this wonderful city we call home.

All the best to you and yours,

Lee M. Lowrey 

Boats landing on the Balboa Peninsula

My husband and I have owned property for over 40 years on the Balboa Peninsula. I read numerous local news sources including major news publications, the Newport City weekly reports, the City Council updates and local internet network sources. I also receive email alerts from the Newport Beach Police Department. 

Lately I have noticed what appears to be a major omission of very serious activities in our local area. Several months ago, a boat approached the Balboa Peninsula and off-loaded numerous people who then raced ashore to waiting cars. On that occasion there were armed police officers and armed agents who arrived in time to surround and contain the people as they attempted to escape into our community. 

I could not find any news explaining the situation. 

Recently, about one week ago, I experienced another similar situation. I saw numerous police cars and ambulances with sirens and lights on racing east on the Peninsula toward the Wedge. There was a group of people hiding on a private property near E St. and they raced toward Balboa Blvd. to head west toward Balboa Village. The police cars returned from the Wedge and apprehended several people. 

Unfortunately, once again I could not find any account in any publication regarding this very serious activity. 

I was frustrated by this lack of a factual account so I reached out to the Police Department and found out that approximately 10 people jumped off a boat near the Wedge. The OCSD Harbor Patrol was on the scene and assisted. U.S Customs and Border Protection resources also responded and detained some of the individuals. 

I feel that keeping local residents in the dark about these potentially dangerous activities is wrong. As a longtime-resident, I believe that we need to know what is happening in our community so we can make appropriate decisions regarding our security as individual property owners and our security as a community. 

The Balboa Peninsula is a water-oriented location and therefore is completely exposed to both the ocean and the bay. We need to work together with our City Council, our Police Department and the various Harbor law enforcement groups and that starts through discussions and education – not through avoidance of the facts. 

Ron and Nancy Arrache

Balboa Peninsula

The acquisition of Banning Ranch is complete

In a victorious moment, a goal that has taken decades to come to fruition, the “darling” of the coastal preservationists, Banning Ranch, acquired $11.5 million from the Coastal Conservancy this last week to complete its acquisition as public land. It had taken many years for preservationists to first gain approval by the Coastal Commission and then secondly acquire the $97 million necessary to purchase the site. 

When I retired in 2008, the Banning Ranch Conservancy became the first charitable group to which I donated time and effort. I was drawn immediately to the cause after listening one evening to a presentation by Suzanne Forster and Dorothy Kraus, and consequentially meeting the President Terry Welsh, all three impressing me greatly with their knowledge of the precious attributes of Banning Ranch and their fervor for preserving it as the largest remaining private coastal parcel between Ventura County and the U.S/Mexico border. Many local citizens from the coastal area volunteered to make this dream come true.

The Banning Ranch Conservancy wants to refresh and repair the coastal resources which have been damaged by decades of oil production for its use as a public space. Eventually it will provide access opportunities such as trails and low-impact overnight accommodations.

Several local political figures have become involved in aiding Banning Ranch Conservancy to meet its goals, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, Costa Mesa Councilmember Arlis Reynolds, California Director for the Trust of Public Land Guillermo Rodriquez and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.

One would be remiss not to mention the generous gift of $50 million donated by Newport Beach philanthropists Frank and Joann Randall in 2019 to the non-profit Trust for Public Land which helped secure an exclusive agreement with the owners of Banning Ranch for the acquisition.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

I have questions and they need answers

Question Everything!

Since I was a teenager, I have made this my mantra. Maybe it is a generational thing. The other one that stuck with me is “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” Remember the Jonestown Massacre in 1978? 


Who wrote Measure B, and why?

First, who?

At the Speak Up Newport event on May 11th, Councilmember Noah Blom said that he wrote the measure along with City Manager Grace Leung. The following morning at the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce meeting, Councilmember Will O’Neill said that an attorney wrote the measure. 

Did Blom pass the bar while we weren’t looking? 

O’Neill is an attorney; did he write it? 

This seems like a fair question. To my knowledge, it has not yet been answered. In my mind, it goes to motive. 

What is clear is that the text of the measure was not discussed by the full council. At the City Council meeting on 10/12/21, Councilmember Blom asked to bring the matter of a direct elected mayor back to the council at a future meeting for consideration. What was brought to the next meeting was the text of the measure, complete, as you read it today, not for discussion, but for a Yes or No vote. No discussion was allowed. Why?

It is also clear that the author(s) did not seek public opinion on the text of the measure. There was no Study Session or any other public forum to debate the text of the measure, much less the need for the dramatic change. Why was there no discussion with the full council or the public? 

Which leads me to my next question…why was it written at all? 

Was it because the system we have operated under in Newport Beach for over half a century, no longer works? No one seemed to be concerned with the current system of appointing our mayor until this year, when Councilmember Joy Brenner was overlooked for Mayor Pro Tem. The appointment of our newest councilmember, Noah Blom, was blessed by the same four councilmembers who voted “Yes” to put Measure B on the June Ballot. This occurred after the four councilmembers had already voted to put Measure B on the June ballot. So that doesn’t explain why the council majority decided the Charter needed to change.

So why?

If the argument is that “horse trading” (Blom’s words) is taking place among the councilmembers in the process of appointing our mayor, and they themselves are participating in that process, then that brings up a whole other set of questions. 

In a democracy, it is our duty to discuss, and question, the issues and the decisions of those we elect to lead us, and to keep the pressure on until we have the answers. 

People who follow their leaders blindly, may find the decisions made on their behalf aren’t always made with their best interests in mind. We could talk about some of the recent decisions at the state and federal level, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole. Just think Jonestown. 

When we ask questions, we may not always agree with the answers, but the fact that we are paying attention, needs to be apparent to leaders. This helps avoid that nasty word, corruption. 

If we hope to avoid the fate of the city of Anaheim, which is now mired in legal issues, that will last years, cost the city thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of dollars and tarnish the reputation of that city’s government for decades, we need to be asking our council for more transparency. 

So, who wrote Measure B? And why do we need it now?

I think a truthful answer to those questions would be very helpful to the public who are now being asked to vote on this Charter change without any discussion as to its merits. The “Kool-Aid” answer is, it’s simple, you should be able to elect your mayor. I am not looking for the Kool-Aid answer. 

Before you cast your ballot on June 7th, please ask a few questions. Don’t just follow someone else’s “voter guide.” 

And when it comes to Measure B, don’t drink the Kool-Aid. 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

The passage of Measure B would significantly change our city’s governance

It has been disheartening to witness the turmoil created by the Measure B initiative. For those of us paying attention, June 7th can’t come quick enough. 

Over the past several months residents and business owners have asked me, in an almost apologetic tone, “What do you think of Measure B?” Often the question comes from long-time residents, including those who have served in our civic and non-profit organizations. A common refrain is often: “Where did this idea come from?” and, “I’m happy with the city as it is.” Others, younger with families and busy lives, are trying to get up to speed with a complex decision that requires going far beyond the tag line: “Wouldn’t you like to elect your mayor?” 

When proposed by one of our councilmembers last fall, Measure B split the council, eventually leading to a 4-3 vote to place it on the ballot. This brought some tension to the dais. I have great respect for all my fellow councilmembers as we continue to conduct council business professionally despite our differences on this issue. 

Our community is divided over Measure B, which is unfortunate given that council has a duty to work toward bringing citizens together. This is a good time to remember that the best council decisions derive from citizen impetus rather than a council led project out of nowhere.

Newport Beach will continue to move forward regardless of the Measure B result. However, the passage of Measure B would significantly change our city’s governance, adding additional risk. Newport would become vulnerable to the vagaries of one person, the elected mayor, who would have near total control of city hall. Even the best of humans make mistakes. Our country’s founders knew this and created checks and balances on power which allowed our nation’s democracy to thrive. We currently have such a system in Newport. It is a council of seven equals who, believe me, have no problem trying to keep each other in check. 

An elected mayor would be the “go to” councilmember for those seeking favor. He or she would operate in a different civic universe than the rest of the council. Indeed, the elected mayor would be the proverbial 800-pound gorilla of city hall. There are many examples of elected mayor cities which have come to grief. The current Anaheim mess is a classic example.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The government you elect is the government you deserve.” For the past 70 years Newport Beach residents have done a fine job of electing seven councilmembers who must work together when making the best decisions for our city. While our councils have had ups and downs, the vast majority of citizens elected to council served their neighbors and community admirably. 

Today our city is a testament to the success of the council-of-equals system. Over the past decades, Newport has gone from strength to strength. No city of our population provides its citizens with a better quality of life. 

We are all thankful to live here, in a beautiful and thriving coastal city. Our aspirational town reflects the optimistic hard work of its residents, businesses and civic leaders. 

We have the city we deserve. Let’s protect it. Vote no on Measure B.     

Brad Avery

Newport Beach Councilmember, District 2

Former mayor 2021 

Where was the discussion? Is this democracy?

In several public forums, I have heard Will O’Neill and Noah Blom publicize that the Newport Beach City Council unanimously voted 7-0 to discuss the changes to the charter that could pave the way for an elected mayor in Newport Beach.

I’ve learned that the council policy to put something on the agenda is a three-step process:

–Any councilmember can request a future agenda item and if two other councilmembers agree it goes on the agenda for a future meeting. Though not a policy but as a manner of courtesy, all councilmembers typically vote yes to put it on the agenda for future discussion. Hence the 7-0 vote to discuss the issue. Why not discuss?

–The agenda language is drafted and presented to the City Attorney.

–In this particular case (and perhaps for the first time) the agenda language was artfully crafted so there would be NO council debate or discussion on the contents of the initiative – the only action permitted was whether the item should be on the June or November ballot. None of the three opponents realized that the language dramatically narrowed the discussion options to NO DISCUSSION allowed.

I still don’t know whether lawyers wrote the language of Measure B or whether Noah Blom wrote the language with approval from the City Manager as he claims, but what I do know is none of the three councilmembers who opposed the initiative had any input into the writing of the initiative.

By now most have heard about a negative situation involving the mayor of Anaheim.

From former Anaheim councilmember Denise Barnes: “We need to clean this up,” Barnes said. She expressed to councilmembers how hard it was to be a taxpayer steward while being blocked from agendizing discussions, especially when it came to stadium negotiations.

“I just go back to the night of December 2020 when we were completely rushed to get that deal done,” added Barnes.

Does anyone else see a correlation between the current issues in Anaheim and how Measure B got on the ballot? Does anyone else have a problem with how it has played out in Newport Beach? Can anyone else recognize how an elected mayor can manipulate the agenda?

Gary Cruz

Newport Beach

Think about it…

Do we really want to create the potential for words like “affidavit, Brown Act violations, collusion, corruption, criminal charges, evasion and scandal” to be associated with our city? This is taking place right now, in real time, in the City of Anaheim. It could, in fact, happen in Newport Beach with a directly elected mayor with even more power and authority than that of the current mayor of Anaheim.

Mayor Harry Sidhu, along with the former Chamber of Commerce president, while representing the city in high stakes contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Angels for the sale of Anaheim Stadium, shared confidential city information with the Angels, including at least one document prepared by the city’s attorney – a violation of the Brown Act. There are actual voice recordings of the mayor and past Chamber president committing collusion regarding the sale of Angel Stadium.

Mayor Sidhu moved to Anaheim for the purpose of running for mayor and got elected thanks to hefty contributions. Now the council is asking for his resignation in light of the federal investigation taking place, and potential charges levied. 

Do we really want to risk something like this happening in our city with the type of directly elected mayor being proposed in Measure B (the textbook definition of a power grab)? When power is taken away from a collective group of officials and representatives, and concentrated in the hands of one politician, it’s a power grab. No other Orange County city has done what Measure B proposes to do: maintain the at-large voting system while taking power away from council representatives and transferring it to a “one-stop shop” elected mayor. 

Measure B is being bankrolled largely by donors from other cities. People support ballot measures in other cities and states to empower themselves, not local voters. These donors clearly expect to have the mayor’s ear, and to have their interests given precedence over those of Newport Beach residents. 

Early on, SPON took a position of opposing Measure B. With the events unfolding as they are in Anaheim, our position is clearly reinforced. 

Measure B proponents want to move us to a system that works better for professional politicians than for residents – exactly the opposite of what our current system is designed to do. Don’t roll the dice and risk all the hard work that has gone into making Newport Beach a uniquely beautiful place to live.  Don’t change a winning formula. 

Say No to Measure B. 

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Councilman, 2016-2020

Did they take the time to read Measure B?

Mr. Clarence (“Clancy”) Hoiles passed away in 1981. Mr. Hoiles was the Chairman of the Board of Freedom Newspapers Inc. which (among other daily newspapers) at the time published The Orange County Register (then known as The Register) (the “Register”). I did not know Mr. Hoiles well, but well enough so that he kindly sponsored my application into a local golf club 44 years ago.

I remember Mr. Hoiles as being reserved and conservative in thought and speech.

I believe Mr. Hoiles would have been surprised by the Register’s recent poorly conceived editorial suggesting that the residents of Newport Beach vote affirmatively for the controversial Measure B. 

Readers of the Register surely must be asking themselves whether the editorial board which reached its ill-advised judgment ever read in its entirety Measure B, analyzed its content, considered its potentially dire consequences and interviewed informed folks opposing the Measure.

In its zeal to write the editorial, one wonders whether the board considered ANY of the following points:

–Why did the proponent abandon the signature gathering effort (i.e., a conventional democratic means of gauging electorate interest and publicly looking at the pluses and minuses)?

–By reducing the council districts from 7 to 6, one district becomes a super district by having the mayor AND another councilmember representing that super district. Moreover, each new district will have at least 2,000 more constituents for whom the councilmember is responsible.

–The measure gives one person the ability to serve a total of 16 consecutive years on council, thereby gutting the 8-year term limit approved by the voters many years ago.

–Tell me one (just one) problem in the City Charter that the measure is trying to solve! Why haven’t any of the pro Measure B councilmembers EVER made the directly elected mayor a centerpiece of their concerns about the City until now? Is this a one-person crusade?

–The measure is on its face fatally defectively drafted, e.g., three other councilmembers “MAY” (not “WILL”) be able to place an item on a “FUTURE” agenda (When? In a month? In a year? Never? When the strong mayor decides to add it to the agenda?). What will the next measure cost our taxpayers to undo the damage of these and other defects in Measure B? And, in light of the defectively drafted measure, think twice if you think “your” councilmember will be able to put anything on the agenda.

–Measure B produces junior, subordinate, diluted, weakened councilmembers to the strong mayor’s will and power. (And, as is well known, power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.) Say goodbye to give-and-take, compromise and collaboration among the former co-equal councilmembers. 

–Why would an experienced, highly educated City Manager want to be stripped of duties and under the thumb of a strong mayor? We think our preeminent City Manager will be on the lookout for other City Manager-operated municipality opportunities where the City Manager can, through independence, make a difference and add value.

–Be ready for big money mayor elections – and some (perhaps a significant number) of donations will come from outside Newport Beach, all of which donors will want to curry favor with the all-powerful mayor.

The Register editorial board still has time to right its wrong. I urge the board to reconsider its hasty ill-conceived editorial and I urge a NO vote on Bad for Newport Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

May might be Bicycle Safety Month, but this cyclist isn’t one honoring it

May 21st – Not an uncommon sight on Newport Coast Drive. In front of me, a truck hits its brakes hard, stopping so as to not run over a bicyclist. Truck was turning left; bicyclist was going straight through the intersection. Trouble is that the truck had a green light to turn left. The bicyclist? He ran the red light without a care, in full view of all the cars that were properly stopped. And this was the second red light he ran that I saw; who knows how many other close calls there were. 

Is there any way to stop these idiots? Apparently, there aren’t enough “white bicycles” on the roadside, with flowers and pictures and memories written by loved ones. May is Bicycle Safety Month? 

Yea, sure. 

Matt Clabaugh

Newport Beach

The current system to elect the mayor has worked for 70 years

The proponents of Measure B just sent out a mailer basically calling their opponents a bunch of liars. Their strong language shows that the truth hurts and it’s gotten under their skin. 

Even more revealing is the email they blasted out saying it’s dishonest to draw a parallel between what’s happening in Anaheim and what could happen in Newport Beach if Measure B passes, since Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu was backed by a council majority. “But he didn’t act alone, therefore he’s not too powerful!” is a weird way to make a case for Measure B, but whatever.   

Let’s remember that two months after Sidhu was elected to his first four-year term, “his” majority approved sweeping changes to how the Anaheim city council conducts its business. And six months later, they appointed Sidhu to the team negotiating the sale of Anaheim Stadium to the Angels, over the objections of other councilmembers.

When asked why he wanted to be on the negotiating team, Sidhu responded: “What do you mean why? I’m the mayor. I would like to represent the city council…it is very simple. As the mayor, I represent the city, just like all of you. And I’d like to appoint myself as a council representative to the negotiating team. There must be someone from the council because we have a vision for the city…I think we have done enough discussion.”

Anyone else reminded of when Will O’Neill said he came up with the idea of the elect our mayor campaign because, after serving as mayor for one year then being forced to pass the baton, he realized, “Voters should be choosing the person whose vision matches the city’s majority?” Anyone else see the parallel with the Measure B team’s focus on the importance of getting Newport Beach’s mayor appointed to any number of boards and other interest groups?

If you don’t think a mayoral candidate in Newport Beach would pick a slate of candidates to run with to ensure a council majority, you haven’t been paying attention. All four councilmembers who put Measure B on the ballot ran as part of slates. They appeared together on mailers, were funded by the same sources, got the same endorsements. On the council, they usually vote together and always choose the mayor and mayor pro tem from within their ranks – even though our charter makes clear that the positions are supposed to rotate among all councilmembers and therefore all districts. 

Fast forward to today: Anaheim is engulfed in scandal. The stadium sale is on hold as the FBI investigates whether Sidhu shared confidential information with the buyer in exchange for a massive contribution to his reelection campaign. Councilmembers who’ve been in the minority are talking about how difficult it is to be blocked from putting discussions on the agenda, including about stadium negotiations…about how hard it is to watch the council majority shut down public debate when they don’t agree with the community members who are speaking. 

Of course, we don’t know if a similar scenario would play out in Newport Beach if Measure B passes, but it certainly could. And that’s reason enough to Vote No on B. 

Let’s stick to the system that’s served our city so well for nearly 70 years and make sure it works the ways it’s intended to – with the mayor position rotating among all districts and with all councilmembers having an equal voice in the conduct of the city’s business.   

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach

Elect Our Mayor is the right policy for our city moving forward

My name is Henry Park, the name that was recently used without my permission on a hit piece mailer sent by the No On B campaign. They lied about me and claimed that my donation to help elect our Mayor was “outside money.” Far from it, my wife and I have been raising our family here in Newport Beach for years.

Why would they lie about me? Why would they specifically name me and claim that I’m an “outsider?”

I donated to the Elect Our Mayor initiative because it’s the right policy for our city going forward. The Mayor should be elected by us and accountable to us. Policy should be made solely by the people accountable to us, not by people farther from us. If you agree, then vote yes on B.

I also donated because I wanted to see the truth go out to voters. The lies in mail coming from the No crowd claimed that the initiative created an unaccountable “king” and would require hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra spending every year. None of that is true, and even the Orange County Register called those claims “utter nonsense.”

I didn’t expect the No campaign to turn around and lie about me. But they did and that’s dirty.

It’s the current system, with these current behind-the-scenes politicos, that we need to move beyond. I’m exhibit A of the effect of their rot.

Stop the backroom deals. Stop the pettiness. Shine light and require the Mayor to campaign in the open to us.

I urge everyone to take my cautionary story and vote Yes On B.

Henry Park

Newport Beach

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

Sometimes you just have to start with a cliché – in this case in reference to Measure B on the Newport Beach ballot…If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! But, some folks with an agenda think direct election of the Mayor for Newport Beach is a great idea. Who are these folks?

Who should be FOR Measure B?

–If you, your spouse, son or daughter is a political consultant: This means full employment! We definitely need more misleading negative campaign expenditures which have been relatively few in Newport Beach. But don’t worry, at least someone is benefiting from this!

–If your family includes entities that need greater influence in city hall. Much easier to influence a mayor whose campaign cost you a lot of money – see above and let him or her use the new “strong mayor” position to control the debate. That is, unless you don’t think lots of money has any effect on policies.

–If you or a family member wants to seek higher office. Or is that too cynical? Again, a new elected mayor will have much more visibility than any councilmember and will be able to be an elected official for up to 16 years. However, I’m guessing we’ll see a number of “one and done” mayors who feel they are ready for Congress or whatever after one term. We have been fortunate that historically, the great majority of our councilmembers have the old-fashioned idea that service to the City alone is an honor and a duty.

–If you want to be mayor of Newport Beach but currently live somewhere else. Given the money that will be involved, you have a lot better chance of succeeding than one of those citizen politicians who’ve lived here for years that we keep getting on our council. And, your purchase of a house here will help the real estate industry.

–If you don’t believe that we already elect our mayor. In fact, we do! Each of our seven councilmembers, although they each represent a district, are elected “at large,” meaning all of us get to vote for each councilmember. Then, the members periodically select the mayor for limited terms. The council is a legislative body where the mayor is only temporarily the first among equals. Measure B would provide a very powerful mayor and reduce the councilmembers’ input and historic collegiality. In other words, equals have to cooperate. With Measure B, the council would only have to decide whether to support or oppose the mayor’s wishes. 

Who should be AGAINST Measure B?

All of the rest of us who recognize that this is an exceptionally well-run city and always has been in comparison to other municipalities. Our councils and city managers have, for the most part, collectively done the right thing without the “leadership” of a strong mayor.

Remember, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Please vote “No.”

Andy Rose

Newport Beach

The writing on Anaheim’s walls could mean trouble ahead for Newport Beach

Does Measure B protect Newport Beach from an Anaheim-similar FBI investigation?

All of us have recently read about the current FBI investigations of Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu and other city officials. Mayor Sidhu is alleged to have planned solicitation of $1M from the Angels for his re-election funds and to have shared city information with the Angels during negotiations for the current stadium land sale. 

The FBI investigation (also) reports that Sidhu, his council majority and possible other city officials allegedly hosted “retreats” with his majority bloc to discuss strategy for items coming up before council. This action was in violation of the Brown Act and essentially was a shadow government.

We say to ourselves that this type of reported illicit behavior wouldn’t happen here in Newport Beach. But as we all address risk management in our private lives, just what does Measure B provide Newport Beach residents in the way of “curbs or firewalls” for any future Mayor misconduct? How can we prevent or save our city from any similar public illicit notoriety or possible special interest corruption? 

Currently, the Newport Beach Mayor serves at the pleasure of the city council. If Measure B passes, both council and residents would have to wait until criminal conviction of any Mayor or a very expensive recall election. That’s it – our city would be tied up for months or years and undoubtedly would incur large legal fees. 

Newport Beach is a city resplendent with rich assets, both public and private, in which special interest groups often are interested in potential financial access and influence. While the proponents of Measure B are campaigning hard for a Mayor-centric city government and perhaps ignoring any protective limitations of power, who and what is protecting the rest of us?

Kathe Morgan

Villa Park resident

Measure B still brings in questions

There is only one thing that cities can do to make their government more democratic and that is to elect councilmembers by their constituencies, not at large. Or they could also increase the number of councilmembers elected by their constituencies.

Interestingly enough, the vast majority of cities who directly elect their mayor, also get to vote directly on the councilmember representing them. Now why did Measure B not propose that? The reason is – a more democratic government is not the goal of the proponents of Measure B.

So, how does electing a governor for over 80,000 people make Newport Beach more democratic or more efficient?

One person responding to that many people does not give residents more power. It just gives more power to that one person who is under no obligation to share it with councilmembers (recent flyers make us wonder if there will even be a council).

Many leading citizens are against Measure B. Those who own property in Newport Beach might be concerned with the stability of the city if there is a new system of government put in place which cannot be observed ahead of time in any other city. 

How can we expect that it will function efficiently in a short period of time? Might there be a bit of chaos? Why even gamble with the future of Newport Beach? Make the conservative choice, vote No on uncertainty – VOTE NO ON MEASURE B!

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Was the OC Grand Jury document on deployment and response by fire departments in emergencies flawed?

(The following letter was submitted to the Mayor and City Council challenging the Orange County Grand Jury’s document on deployment and response of resources in a recent report.)

The recently published document by the Orange County grand jury regarding the deployment and response of resources by Orange County fire departments to emergency medical calls for service is both stunning, and concerning in the inaccuracies, opinions and falsehoods presented as fact. The determinations made appear to be based on these failures or research, and lead to what may be a pre-ordained belief, without factual support. Because this document rehashes a 2012 effort of a similar matter, I am disturbed by the need for another review that fails to build on the earlier discussion.

Fundamentally, the local fire department deploys resources designed to respond to and to mitigate the unwanted effects of the environment on life, property and the environment itself. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that the environment is “everything but me,” referring to himself at the time. Except for specifically law enforcement related matters, unrelated to unwanted fire, this defines the responsibility of fire department emergency response. The two most time sensitive, or emergency responses, include fire suppression and emergency medical/rescue code-three (with lights and siren) response. The fire service is truly a multi-mission operation that serves to address many of the emergency needs of the community. The capability of the local fire department is only limited to the funding and leadership provided by the governing agency decisionmakers.

To fully understand the importance of emergency response it is necessary to carefully consider the concept of time, and the influence of time on the growth of uncontrolled fire and patients in extreme medical conditions i.e., coronary, stroke, blood loss et al. In all these situations the outcome is directly related to timely intervention. The sooner that trained personnel, operating efficiently, arrive at the scene and begin fire suppression or medical treatment the more likely that a desired outcome is probable. There are three components to the total response time of a fire department: call processing time, turnout time and travel time. The only component that cannot be manipulated to a great extent is travel time as rescue personnel can only travel so fast through the city streets to arrive at the scene of an emergency. 

The distribution of fire stations across the land mass of a city like Newport Beach serves to place fire department rescue personnel near potential fires or medical emergencies under static conditions. During times of fire department system stress due to uncontrolled fire i.e., Emerald Bay and Coastal Fire recently, in Orange County and specifically Newport Beach, a rapid and integrated system is employed to shift similar resources into areas of reduced coverage. This was recently demonstrated and reported to the City Council in a timely fashion by the fire chief regarding the Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel. Rapid intervention serves the people you and your fire department serve. 

Of the two identified time sensitive functions of the fire department, fire suppression and medical/rescue, resource deployment should be considered for the need based on a timely response to the incident, or potential incident. Because the building stock of a community changes slowly over time, the deployment of firefighting resources and staffing at the local firehouse responsible for initial fire suppression efforts should be based on factors related to risk, occupancy type and travel time to all areas of initial responsibility, or first due for the resources staffed at that firehouse. Earlier intervention of fire should equate a smaller fire that is extinguished faster, requiring fewer total resources from neighboring firehouses. This concept should result in a more efficient operation that has fewer fire stations assigned to a fire and committed to a fire outside the first due area.

Because the community will need the firehouses staffed for fire suppression needs, the use of these same firefighting personnel for emergency medical/rescue response was seen as a wise use of taxpayer funds. The report fails to understand the wisdom of this important concept, and in fact fails to consider this altogether. Fire apparatus, fully equipped to perform all the multi-mission functions, and available 24/7 unless committed to a prior emergency is the gold standard of the business. The idea presented to staff a two-person medic unit in place of a “second” engine at the Laguna Woods firehouse fails to consider the multi-mission functions of a fire station that protects a large hospital, a very busy complex of freeways and housing with mature residents who will need additional support under emergency circumstances. That Laguna Woods firehouse is staffed in that fashion because it is the busiest firehouse in a densely developed county of over 3 million residents. Drawing broad conclusions based on a limited, and often false understanding, has resulted in a bad recommendation. 

I found it unusual that Newport Beach in particular, with a somewhat unique deployment of resources only matched by the City of Orange, was not mentioned in the text of this report. This was especially noteworthy as the thesis of the report was focused on resource deployment, city operated ambulance services and the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA). The limited investment by the OC grand jury into the research on this important subject only serves to support the idea that the effort was biased from the start and will provide ample information for those intent on diminishing the value of a future OC grand jury report on a similar subject. 

Paul Matheis

Lake Forest

Letters to the Editor

Foley has done more, worked harder and deserves our vote for Supervisor

I have been a homeowner and resident of Newport Beach for nine years. For the past five years, I’ve worked to address the impacts of John Wayne Airport on surrounding communities in Orange County, and I’ve witnessed many elected officials talk about this issue. Katrina Foley is the rare public servant who actually delivered results. As Mayor of Costa Mesa, Katrina gathered 20,000 signatures of residents opposed to the operational expansion at JWA and she delivered those signatures to the Board of Supervisors alongside hundreds of concerned citizens during the 2019 GAIP (General Aviation Improvement Program) process.

At the time, I remember feeling like community members didn’t have a seat at the decision-making table when it came to the airport. That changed in 2021 when we elected Katrina Foley to the Board of Supervisors.

There is no better candidate for District 5 Supervisor than Katrina Foley. During the past year that she’s served as Supervisor, Foley has worked tirelessly on behalf of her constituents and has accrued an impressive number of accomplishments. Here are some highlights:

JWA Fly Friendly Program: As an Airport Commissioner, I witnessed firsthand, Supervisor Foley working collaboratively with residents, JWA staff, the City of Newport Beach and the General Aviation community to develop a Fly Friendly program which will soon begin to bring relief from GA aircraft noise to communities surrounding the airport. The fact that she managed to produce this entire program in a less than a year is an unprecedented feat.

Homelessness: Supervisor Foley tackled the problem of homelessness head-on the day she took office: She conducted an audit of the myriad collection of County homelessness programs and expenditures; directed a survey of homeless citizens to understand the issues they confront; and, she hosted an OC Homelessness Hearing to identify the drivers of homelessness and come up with solutions to solve this intractable social problem plaguing our communities. And it is especially noteworthy that, as Costa Mesa Mayor, she spearheaded the construction of a homelessness shelter. Katrina gets things done.

Sober Living Facilities: For more than a decade, Katrina advocated for regulatory reforms to protect patients and neighborhoods from abusive, profit-mill-style detox and sober living home operators. As Costa Mesa Mayor, she worked to adopt the first regulatory scheme that has been repeatedly upheld by the courts. The County adopted the Costa Mesa ordinance and added more protections in 2019. As Supervisor, Katrina’s office collaborated with Newport Beach to share ordinance details and Newport Beach initiated a code amendment to move an ordinance forward. Supervisor Foley serves on a newly formed ad hoc committee to examine and provide recommendations on residential treatment facilities. Notably, Foley testified before a CA state hearing on sober living facilities stating that by allowing the industry to regulate itself, the state endangers patients and neighborhoods and insisted that the state step up. “To achieve change to our sober living regulations, we need policy change across all levels of government,” she said. Katrina will work to make sure policies change.

This is a small sample of the work Supervisor Foley has done to help solve some of the most difficult problems confronting our communities. She’s smart and ethical, works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen, and she gets results. Please vote for Katrina Foley for District 5 Supervisor so she can continue this important work.

Sue Dvorak

Newport Beach

I just can’t be quiet in my opposition to Measure B

I have a right to keep silent, but I can’t! The most recent presentations by the proponents of Measure B – the proposed change to our City Charter to directly elect the mayor of Newport Beach – causes me to once again speak out. Last week, proponents of Measure B claimed that you need to be mayor to get positions on regional boards. Point of fact...Councilman (Will) O’Neill was just made the Chair of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (the Toll Roads), and he is not mayor. He was also not the mayor when his appointment to this Board was made in 2016. 

The proponent further stated that you need to be mayor to be a member of the OCTA Board. The current Board Chair of OCTA, Mark Murphy, was appointed to the Board in 2017 when he was a city councilman in Orange, not mayor. And he wasn’t actually elected mayor until Nov. 2018. The vice-chair, Gene Hernandez, who was just re-appointed to the board, is currently the Mayor Pro tem of Yorba Linda, not the mayor. 

Other than the OCTA, our city councilmembers, not the mayor, represent us on most Orange County agencies important to Newport Beach – 11 of them, in fact. 

Councilman (“Duffy”) Duffield has stated that he could not get the attention of the congressman in D.C. when he visited as a councilmember but could when he was mayor. The fact of the matter is that Newport Beach received the dredging money well after he was no longer mayor. If he thought it was so important to have the mayor present in order to get a meeting in D.C., the mayor should have accompanied him on this trip. 

It should also be noted that the City had previously received $16-$18 million for dredging despite not having an elected mayor. My experience when representing the City in D.C., on two different trips, is that you actually get a lot more accomplished when meeting with staffers as opposed to the actual elected representative. 

Let’s not forget that Measure B has been proposed by the council majority that was responsible for the firing of one of the most effective city managers in the history of our city, Dave Kiff. And, although this proposed Charter Amendment does not explicitly detail the cost in the measure that the City will incur, the experience of other cities that have an elected mayor is that they have expenses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the position and the staff that is needed for this newly created office to function. There is no reason to believe that this will not be the case in Newport Beach. 

To the proponents of Measure B I ask, “What didn’t the City get that we needed because we have not had a directly elected mayor?” And, “Why did you abandon the signature gathering process to place this measure on the ballot and resort to going directly to the Council majority for approval?” No public outcry, no demand from constituents, the city is and has been governed well for the past 70 years; the City is financially sound, citizens are not complaining, so where did this come from? 

I have the right to remain silent, but in this case I just can’t. I urge you to vote NO on Measure B. 

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Council, 2016-2020 

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Still the shining city on the hill?

Former Mayor Mike Henn’s talk at the Speak Up Newport Dinner on February 11, 2011 stuck with me. Mayor Henn described Newport as “the Shining City on the Hill.”

Yes, we heard from Mike about the City’s then current and future priorities (including “generational priorities,” which phrase is way beyond my pay grade), but that “Shining City” phrase is what I remember 11 years later.

That simple description bespeaks emotion, inspiration, and aspiration. Mike’s vision sorta made me proud to call Newport “home.”

But as I think of the town which has been a part time or fulltime home going on 68 years, I wonder if the vision is about to change.

Our Council of seven has worked collaboratively for nearly 70 years. They (all seven) debate vigorously, they (all seven) decide troublesome issues, they (all seven) put disagreements behind, they (all seven) move on to the next challenge.

I wonder – for all its perceived pluses – whether the direct election of the mayor plan will affect the thoughtful collaborative judgment by seven (former) equals. I wonder whether the “strong mayor” will overshadow the “lesser” remaining councilmembers and nullify our pre-eminent City Manager. I wonder whether we will still be “the Shining City on the Hill” after June 7.

A last thought as we prepare to cast our absentee ballots: If the direct election of the mayor is so worthwhile on its merits as contended by a proponent, why have so many prominent past and present Newport Beach Councilmembers, Mayors, Citizens of the Year, journalists, influential leaders, commission members, committee members, and committed citizens come out against the measure? 

Maybe these thoughtful folks have looked at the devil in the details – not swayed by a superficial catchphrase.

Please vote “NO” on Measure B. 

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Vote Yes on B, a rebuttal to the naysayers

I have now seen multiple misleading arguments in opposition to Measure B – the Elect Our Mayor initiative in Newport Beach. Here are some of those arguments and why I believe they are misleading. In the end, the voters of Newport Beach get to decide this important issue. Get educated and be sure to vote on June 7, 2022.

Argument 1 – This Is a Power Grab

How is allowing the people of Newport Beach to directly elect their Mayor a “power grab?” A “power grab” by whom? The people? Giving the people the chance to choose their own Mayor is democracy. It is simpler and more accountable government than the present system, which gives the power to appoint the Mayor to the City Council.

Argument 2 – The Proposed Terms for the Mayor Are Too Long.

Long compared to what? Certainly not the current system, where councilmembers can serve for 8 years, sit out a bit, and run again – over and over. Under the proposed measure, a person elected Mayor may only serve a maximum of two terms of four years each (for a maximum of 8 years served as Mayor in a lifetime). These term limits are in line with the limits in most cities. In fact, many cities set the limits at three or four terms of four years. Some cities even have no limits on the number of terms but simply limit successive terms. The proposed terms are not too long and are not unusual.

Argument 3 – Will O’Neill Would Make An Outstanding Mayor But What If the Voters Pick A Bad Mayor?

Most opponents of Measure B openly praise Will O’Neill and believe that he would make an excellent Mayor if Measure B passes and he runs and he is elected by the voters. But, they say, what if the voters of Newport Beach select a bad Mayor? I trust the voters of Newport Beach and believe it is unlikely they will select a bad Mayor. But if they somehow did, it’s worth remembering two important things. First, the proposed elected Mayor would only be one vote of seven, without a veto, and other councilmembers can add items to the policy agenda. Second, if a bad Mayor ever did emerge, the situation could be addressed through a recall process. Or the bad Mayor will not be re-elected. Do not assume that the voters are ignorant or incompetent. Trust the voters. Trust the democratic process. Elect the Mayor.

Argument 4 – The System That Newport Currently Uses Has Been Around a Long Time and Seems to Work So Why Change It?

The naysayers focus so heavily on wanting all the policy power to remain with the unelected City Manager. The Council-Manager system of governance is not democratic and in fact was originally devised to undermine democracy in city governance. The fact that many cities run this way, or that Newport Beach has long been run this way, does not address whether it is the best way to run our city. The origin of the Council-Manager system is enlightening and, in many ways, disturbing. In the early 1900s, when immigrants began to settle in large numbers in cities around the United States, the existing power structure of the cities feared that the immigrant hordes would vote together as a block and vote in one of their own kind. The solution to this “problem” was to develop the Council-Manager system of city governance and prevent the majority of voters from voting in the Mayor they wanted. Instead, voters were limited to electing several councilmembers whose power was diffused and it was up to the council members to select a “professional” city manager. [See 2006 article by Richard C. Schragger in the Yale Law Journal (115 Yale L.J. 2542) entitled “Can Strong Mayors Empower Weak Cities? On the Power of Local Executives in a Federal System”.] The net result is that in the City of Newport Beach, and in all cities that utilize the Council-Manager model, the person with the most power to set, influence and implement policy is the City Manager. The City Manager, however, is unelected by the voters and not directly accountable to the voters. 

A vote of “YES” on Measure B is a vote for democracy, accountability and a better way to run our great city. Please vote YES ON B.

John O’Hara

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Take the power back, vote Yes on B

Last October, I wrote a letter to the editor that called The Elect Our Mayor initiative “The People’s Power Grab.” I encouraged the City Council to let us, the voters, choose the Mayor directly. The City Council would have to give up that power and let us, the voters, take the power back.

And they did! We’ll be getting our ballots soon and will have the chance to vote yes on B to take the power to elect our Mayor directly and make sure that the Mayor is directly accountable to us.

So, I’ve been surprised to see opponents of this measure claim that they are trying to “stop the power grab.” Really? They want to insert themselves between the voters and direct accountability. They want to stop voters from getting power back. 

Any person who wants to become Mayor in the new system would have to go through the gauntlet of public elections. Debates, fundraising and asking for votes. We get the say in that situation. We, the voting public, have the power in that situation. 

I’m voting Yes on B and hope that you’ll join me.

Jeanine Bashore

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

We have inherent rights, and one of those should be voting to elect our mayor

I’ve heard some rather odd rumbling around town that even though the people don’t have the right to directly vote for our Mayor, this system “isn’t broke so we don’t need to fix it.” This suggests that our system was whole and right to begin with. But when the government holds back power away from the people – especially power as basic as selecting our city’s leader – then it’s an inherently broken system from the start. 

It’s time to vote to take back our rightful vote by voting “yes” on Measure B. 

Second to mothering my son, my absolute favorite job was teaching high schoolers about civics. It usually only took a few minutes in the first class to incentivize them to care and then we were off to the races with theories, concrete examples, and debates. Oh debates – the best part of it all because it not only showed what and how they were thinking but showed how much they cared. Our most basic question to answer was: what is the role of government? 

The government – according to the Enlightenment values our country was founded upon – is to bring order and protection to our basic individual rights of life, liberty and opportunity. We as individuals have powers and rights that are inherent in being humans. We release some of our individual powers over to the government because there are some circumstances in which a collective power structure better oversees the intersection of all our rights and powers. 

However, the government doesn’t have the same inherent right to power that the people do; its power comes from the consent of the people only when the individual power of the people can’t reasonably balance our rights with the rights of others. In sum, the people are presumed to have inherent powers and the government receives its limited powers from the consent of the people when necessary. 

Currently, the people of Newport Beach do not have the power to directly elect our mayor. We elect the 7 council members who then vote amongst themselves each year who will be our mayor. 

This is an unnecessary governmental power that should rightfully be in the hands of the people. Who is supporting keeping power in the government instead of with us; a small, politically active (read: few but loud) group with disproportionate influence in local politics whose power would be disrupted if we took our rightful vote back? 

We are a vibrant city that garners attention nationwide. We should have a direct say in who represents us as our mayor. By voting “yes” on Measure B, we are directly voting for our mayor and directly voting for our own inherent rights as the people of Newport Beach. 

Vote to vote, my friends. 

Erin Clark 

Newport Beach

Caution to the potential impact Measure B might have

This morning’s (4/26) Stu News starts with an article by Tom Johnson about Measure B. He opens by saying he likes Will O’Neill and considers him a friend but then goes on to explain why he ultimately is against Measure B. I completely agree with him for all the reasons he outlines and several more. 

It shouldn’t be about whether someone likes O’Neill or not but instead, what is the potential impact this change in electing a mayor would bring to our great city. One person having more power, the potential to give wealthy individuals more control because they will bring big dollars to campaigns, reducing districts from 7 to 6 are all reasons residents should be concerned. 

These reasons and more are why so many former council members, mayors and residents are against B. Vote no on B.

Mike Groff

Newport Beach 

Newport Beach

Lessons from Westminster for Newport

In June, residents in Newport Beach and Westminster, two cities in Orange County, will vote on mirror-image changes to their city charters.

In Newport Beach, voters will consider whether the mayor should be directly elected, for a four-year term, renewable for another four years, with considerable control over city policy. In Westminster, which has long had a system of direct election of the mayor, residents will consider something like the Newport Beach system, in which the five members of the city council would select each year, from among themselves, one person to serve as ceremonial mayor for the next year.

Many residents of Westminster are tired of their strong-mayor system, in which contentious city council meetings often last past midnight. The city council is so busy bickering, as Voice of OC has reported, that the city may well have to declare bankruptcy.

Among the points on the Westminster ballot, in favor of changing to the Newport system, are that it would “STOP potential corruption and abuse of power by politicians who hold the title of mayor for too long,” and “ALIGN Westminster with 26 other cities in Orange County who appoint their mayor annually” and “increase the likelihood that the mayor will have local government experience as a Westminster councilmember before serving as mayor.”

These are all good arguments, reasons why Westminster should change its charter, to provide for a one-year mayor selected by the city council. They are also reasons why Newport Beach should NOT change its charter – should retain its current system in which the city council selects a one-year ceremonial mayor.

It is striking that nobody, not even the current mayor of Westminster, submitted an argument against the proposed change to the Westminster charter to be printed on the ballot. It seems that, in Westminster at least, there is a consensus that a powerful, directly elected mayor is not a good idea.

Of course, larger cities, such as Anaheim, Irvine, and Santa Ana, generally have directly elected mayors. But according to the 2020 census, Newport Beach and Westminster are of similar size: 85,239 people in Newport Beach and 90,911 people in Westminster.

Some might argue that the ethnic composition of Westminster is different than Newport Beach, so that Newport Beach (even if it changes its charter) would not face the problems that Westminster has faced. This is a dubious if not racist argument. People are people. Good government systems draw out the best in people; bad government systems draw out the worst. If Newport Beach changes to the Westminster system, the odds that it will start to see the problems from which Westminster has suffered in recent years.

The current system in Newport Beach has worked well and should not be changed. Surely Newport Beach should learn from Westminster and not rush to change its charter in a way that has not worked there. Please join me in voting NO on Measure B in Newport Beach.

Walter Stahr

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

“Imagine disparaging the form of government that has helped make our city one of the most desirable places to live”

The way Will O’Neill is trying to spin his elected mayor project in letters to Newport Beach HOAs is truly astounding.

Imagine disparaging the form of government that has helped make our city one of the most desirable places to live just because we don’t directly elect our mayor. 

The truth is our current system works better than his proposal ever could. We elect all our council representatives, and they pick someone to serve in the ceremonial role of mayor for one year, then the position rotates. This way all Newport’s villages have equal representation and get equal attention. There’s no opportunity for a politician to spend eight years trying to make headlines as a prelude to running for higher office. 

Just because our form of government isn’t good for Will O’Neill doesn’t mean it isn’t good for Newport Beach.   

Next, while Mr. O’Neill swears up and down that his initiative isn’t a power grab, remember that it would transfer nearly total control of our city government to the elected mayor, and that he plans to run for that office when he’s termed out in 2024. (Conveniently, he has written Measure B to include an exemption from the term limits voters overwhelmingly approved in 1992 to allow someone like himself to run for mayor after being on the council for eight years.) 

Taking power away from all other elected city officials and the city manager, and giving it to one person, is the definition of a power grab.

Here are some questions Mr. O’Neill should answer if he wants voters to be fully informed:

Would he be working so hard to create this new office if he wasn’t eligible to run for it?

Why does he go to such lengths to avoid talking about one of the biggest changes that would result from his initiative: the reduction in the number of council districts from seven to six, leaving each council member with thousands more constituents to represent while the district where the mayor lives would have double representation?

We know the four councilmen supporting this measure committed $215,000 from our budget to put Measure B on the June ballot, but how much would the elected mayor office cost our city annually? And how much will it cost to redistrict the city, just a year after regular ten-year redistricting is completed? Would it be money well spent for residents or just for Will O’Neill?

–Why is Measure B attracting so much money from special interests and out-of-town donors?

–And finally, if Measure B is such a great idea, why didn’t its proponents, Will O’Neill, Noah Blom, Kevin Muldoon and Duffy Duffield, organize forums and panels to explain the details to the public, and why are they turning down almost every invitation to debate those who oppose it? 

Could it be they are hoping people will vote for Measure B because it sounds like a good idea, without reading the fine print? 

Based on what’s happened in the past with Measure Y and other calamities, it’s absolutely possible that they underestimate Newport Beach voters’ commitment to getting the facts and doing what’s best for our city even when politicians try to trick us into doing the opposite.

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach

There are lessons to be learned from history

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. We spent a day at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.

We learned that no lesser person than the Father of Our Country set an unofficial precedent in 1796 when Washington declined to run for a third 4-year Presidential term.

And on February 27, 1951, Minnesota became the thirty-sixth state to approve the Twenty Second Amendment (thereby ensuring ratification) which sets term limits on Presidential service to two terms. 

Washington’s voluntary decision was an exercise in wise self-restraint and a safeguard against tyrannical  power.

Despite some pluses, the Charter Amendment (which would permit a SIXTEEN YEAR span in office) seems to encourage the retention/extension of power/control beyond reason. And it is inconsistent with the spirit and intent of Newport Beach voters who adopted Charter Section 401 in November 1992. Our voters decided at that time that “no person shall be or remain eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council for more than two (2) consecutive four (4) year terms.”

Perhaps we should learn from the moderation and restraint of our forefathers.

Please vote “NO” on Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

The change of our City Charter to elect the mayor is bad for Newport Beach

Yesterday I learned that Councilman Will O’Neill, author and proponent of Measure B, the flawed and dangerous directly elected mayor proposal, has mailed a letter to individual Newport Beach residents and voters encouraging their support of Measure B. 

Today I received a copy of that letter and absolutely had to respond. 

He opens his letter with the following questions, “Should you choose who your Mayor is? Or should someone else choose for you?”

Here’s what is ironic about these questions…you already do choose your mayor every time you vote for city council candidates. When you vote, you really should remember that under our 70-year-old system of governance in this city, the mayor comes from those seven people you elect to represent you. So, in essence, you have been directly electing your mayor ever since our city fathers wrote and you approved our City Charter. 

He refers to “that power” to select a mayor being in the hands of the city council. This is simply not so. By electing who represents you on City Council, you are also saying that you would be OK with any of those candidates serving as mayor.

Next, he refers to the political action committee (PAC) that has been formed to oppose this measure, called No Elected Mayor. Initially, that was the name of the PAC, however a more recent name change to No Power Grab - No on B, more appropriately describes the intent of this PAC. 

On the surface, if you were asked if you would like to directly elect your mayor, of course the answer is going to be affirmative. However, in this particular case, it is absolutely critical to look further into this proposed change in our City Charter and system of governance. 

Mr. O’Neill claims that his proposal for a directly elected mayor is straightforward. If you go deeper into it, this measure grants almost complete authority and power to the mayor for determining the future direction of this city. So, what is wrong with that, you ask? Consider the fact that this proposed measure completely opens the door to anyone with enough money to fund a campaign for the office of mayor. Anyone! No short or long-term residency in the city; no experience in governing; no experience with serving on city committees, boards or commissions; no knowledge of the history or culture of our city. Our city will be completely politicized. 

Read a little deeper and you will discover why the above identified PAC chose the title of “No Power Grab.” This measure would give the mayor ultimate authority in determining the agenda of the city council. There are all kinds of ramifications resulting from this level of authority. 

Ben Franklin stated that he is “a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power.” Way back in the 1700s Ben knew the dangers of giving one person too much power and the ability to arbitrarily make decisions.” 

I’ll ask you a few questions now: 

–Are you willing to take the risk involved in this proposed measure and give such authority to one individual? 

–What is wrong with the current system of selecting the mayor from council members who you have already been elected? A mayor with limited authority and power. 

–What problem exists that needs fixing? 

–If approved, wouldn’t we, in fact, be creating the potential for the creation of a whole new batch of problems? 

Just look at the City of Westminster who will be asking voters to actually approve going back to the system that has worked so well here in Newport Beach for 70 years. The directly elected mayor proposal that voters approved in that city has resulted in nothing but corruption. 

On June 7th you will be asked to cast your vote for or against probably the most significant public policy proposal in the history of our city. A No vote will leave things the way they are; a Yes vote is predicted to change the entire face of our city. 

Do you really want to take that risk?

Jeff Herdman, Newport Beach City Council 2016-2020

Balboa Island

Measure B, electing our mayor, is bad for Newport Beach

B is BAD for Newport Beach 

In case people are not paying attention there is a ballot measure on the June ballot that could have major negative implications to the City of Newport Beach. But much of the mischief it creates is hidden in the fine print. The ballot measure is entitled Measure B, which attempts to rest power from the citizens of Newport Beach, the council members and create unfettered power in the hands of one person. 

For decades, Newport has successfully operated under the city council form of government. The City has seven (7) council districts with each council member having equal authority in representing their constituencies and the City of Newport Beach. 

That form of government has created the incredible City of Newport Beach where we all live. But the first thing that Measure B proposes is to eliminate one council district and establish instead just six council districts and thereby weakening the voice of the residents of Newport Beach. 

Eliminates a Council District 

But of graver consequence proposed, Measure B would give the mayor “exclusive authority” to decide what issues are even placed on the City Council agenda. In addition, under Measure B, one of the remaining six (6) council districts would have both a mayor and a council member in one district again creating unequal representation for other council districts and their constituents. 

The full power of the mayor is frightening. 

The Measure also weakens term limits. Currently a council member can only serve two consecutive terms of four (4) years; however, Measure B allows that a council member after serving two terms, could then serve two four-year terms for a total of sixteen years. 

The city does not need career politicians. 

What each one has to ask themselves is why would someone want to amend the charter of the city to allow for the elimination of a council district or why anyone would run for city council if Measure B were successful? The proposed measure grants the mayor exclusive authority to determine what is placed on the City Council Agenda; gives one district two representatives (a councilmember and a mayor) at the expense of the other remaining council districts and their constituents and all while weakening the authority of the council and weakening term limits. 

No Requirement that the Mayor Served on City Council Subject to Forces Outside the City 

Is the answer to this that the Measure is not supported by the residents of Newport Beach but rather forces from outside the city? As recent campaign filings in support of the Measure showed in Mr. Homer Bludau’s recent letter and analysis, 43% of donations in support of Measure B came from people residing outside our city and in some cases from outside the State. 

Forces outside the City controlling Newport may be a very real fear, as Measure B, does not require that a person running for Mayor have previously served as a council member. 

Don’t be misled by the title of Measure B. It has nothing to do with electing a mayor and everything about grabbing and concentrating power, eliminating accountability, and eliminating one of the current seven (7) council districts. Don’t allow our city to be a victim of a power grab by one person or group of people with little interest in our great city. Join me in voting NO on B. B as in bad for the City of Newport Beach.                                                                                      

Thomas C. Edwards, former Mayor Newport Beach 

Newport Beach

Study Session frustrating, leaving me with more questions than answer

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

When is a Study Session not really a study session? Last evening, I attended the City Council Study Session on the data collected in the Newport Heights area before and after Tustin Avenue received permission to close one end of its street on a trial basis. Perhaps a better title for the evening would have been, “Traffic Issues in the Heights” because the effect that this closure, if it becomes permanent, will have on the rest of traffic flow in the Heights will be substantial. This one change will engender many others. It was discouraging that more people from other streets did not attend. Have they learned from experience that the Council is going to do what the Council is going to do regardless of their input?

It turns out, with good visuals provided by the City’s Traffic Specialist, that after Tustin received the go ahead for a trial traffic closure of their street, the number of cars decreased from 834 to 276, but for the only other thoroughfare through the Heights the numbers increased from 1,862 to 2,053 to the tune of approximately 200 additional cars per day. 

I guess they figure that if you can handle that many cars, 200 more wouldn’t make much of a difference. Upper Tustin’s numbers go down, every other alternate routes’ numbers go up.

The reasons for providing this temporary closure were not clear. A few possibilities provided in passing were that this segment of Tustin was “very unique,” that it was used by “impaired drivers leaving the Mariners’ Mile bars at 10 p.m., not wanting to get pulled over on Riverside,” while one council member kept coming back to the excuse that the reason it might have been closed off was because it was” very narrow.”

It wasn’t until Councilman Avery spoke that Riverside, the alternate thoroughfare, was even mentioned. Equity, impartiality – those concepts were raised. I had many questions about information that was presented. I am sure that others did too.

Which takes me to another concern that I had about this meeting and about Council meetings in general. It is supposed to be a study session, but questions are not allowed after the statement period. When the City Traffic Specialist gave statistics, talking about results of the Tustin study, only council members could ask questions. At this point, as new information was being presented, questions from the audience simply were not allowed. 

It has been brought to my attention that there is nothing in state law that prevents a free-flow discussion with the public on items announced on the agenda. It is frustrating to not allow the audience to ask questions, particularly when the information being discussed is technical in nature. (Rumor has it that the City Council of one neighboring city does allow back-and-forth communication.)

You can try to write council members to get information. Some of them do actually get back to you. But despite the many emails I have sent to the council over the years, there are two on the current council who have never answered or responded to me, not once.

I hope that when we do elect new council members, we select those who have a proven record of interest and commitment to the community, not just to their own careers. If you have followed the Council the last several years, you will understand what I am saying. If you haven’t, hopefully you will start paying closer attention to the current council and the new candidates.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

I want to vote to elect my mayor and will vote “yes” on B

No elected mayor…why does that sound like a campaign to limit my ability to decide who leads my City? Because it does. Sadly, it’s the No On Measure B campaign’s intent. It should give everyone pause, to just think about those words.

The Elect Our Mayor (Yes On B) campaign has prompted many of us to consider how we think about the significance of the Mayor of Newport Beach.  Regardless of who any future elected mayor might be, I’ve come to the following conclusions: 

–The directly elected mayoral model delivers far more visible leadership of the city, which can be important in dealing with other federal, state, or regional agencies, or other cities.

–A direct election gives substantial democratic legitimacy and makes a mayor directly accountable…answering to the voters has a direct correlation to looking out for the good of the entire city as a whole.

–A strong leader is more likely to be effective in developing a forward-looking vision for the city…how can a vision be cast and implemented in a one-year term? No effective organization is set up this way.

–Four-year terms provide stable leadership. There is value in continuity and stability in good times and in tough times.

–Elected officials who can be held to account are the ones who should set the city council agenda, not unelected city managers, no matter how good any city manager might be.

Change can be uncomfortable and not entirely devoid of risk; however, the benefits far outweigh the risks for the Elect Our Mayor Measure B. I want to elect my mayor and will vote yes on B. I reject any movement that seeks to limit my ability to elect my civic leaders.

Ruth Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Was leaning toward voting yes on B, now I’m a definite

I want to have a direct say over who becomes Mayor of Newport Beach. And I want the Mayor to be directly accountable to me. It’s that simple.

That kind of power – the power to select the Mayor – should be with the voters. We’ve seen what it looks like when power is farther away from the people. It doesn’t go well.

When I’ve seen signs around town saying that voters shouldn’t have that power, that voters wanting that power would be accused of a “power grab” that should be stopped, I just shake my head.

Last week, I saw an ad on Facebook from these opponents. I commented: “Wait, so the people electing a mayor is bad? A power grab? Is anyone falling for this?” For hours, the official Facebook account for the opponents was attacked. And then my comments were gone from public view. And then I was blocked from even seeing the post.

Take it from my experience and don’t be bullied into voting against your own ability to vote. We should all want direct accountability and a direct say over who is our Mayor.

I was leaning toward voting yes on B to Elect Our Mayor. Now I’m a definite yes on B and will tell all my friends the same.

Coleen Tunney

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Dilruba Haque, M.D.

City of Hope

Four common breast cancer myths to set aside

Guest Letter Dilruba Haque MD

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Hope

Dilruba Haque, M.D., City of Hope

Women in Orange County are generally healthier than most women in California. But did you know Orange County has a higher rate of breast cancer than California counties overall? The exact reasons for that remain unclear, but one way to bring down that number is to educate women about what they can do to reduce their risk of getting the disease. 

Your physician is an excellent resource and should be a primary source of guidance. But despite the best efforts of health care providers, misconceptions about the disease persist.

Let’s take a look at – and correct – some of these myths.

Myth: Breast cancer always shows up as a lump. A lump is the most common symptom, but many women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t show signs. That’s why women are urged to both perform monthly self-exams of their breasts and talk to their doctor about when and how often to be screened for breast cancer. Women noticing worrisome changes to or unusual masses in their breasts should contact their doctor immediately.

Myth: People with a BRCA gene mutation are certain to get breast cancer. All women have BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. They help with cell growth and repair; however, they also can develop mutations associated with breast cancer. But having – or not having – these mutations does not guarantee you will – or will not – develop the disease. So, you may be interested in asking your doctor about genetic testing; having an accurate picture of your genetic markers can be a powerful tool for health care planning.

Myth: Eating gluten causes cancer. This is a myth that arose from the potential link between cancer and inflammation. The rationale goes something like this: If inflammation is linked to cancer and gluten is linked to inflammation, then not eating gluten might help prevent cancer. However, the truth is more nuanced. While gluten may be linked to inflammation, there does not appear to be clear-cut evidence that conclusively shows a gluten-free diet can help fight cancer or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

Myth: Men have nothing to be concerned about. While it’s much less common in men than in women, it is estimated that doctors will diagnose more than 2,700 U.S. men this year with breast cancer. As in women, men who feel a lump in their breast or see any other unusual swelling, redness, or nipple discharge should reach out to their doctor without delay.

The best way to treat breast cancer is to stop it in the first place. Understand your risk factors and talk with your doctor about preventive care, including breast cancer screening. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, seek care from a physician who specializes in your kind of cancer and can offer you access to the latest breakthroughs in breast cancer research, technology, and treatment.

Dilruba Haque, M.D., is a medical oncologist and hematologist at City of Hope Newport Beach Lido and City of Hope Irvine Sand Canyon who specializes in treating breast cancer. 

Visit to learn more. To make an appointment at any of City of Hope’s four Orange County locations, click here or call:

Newport Beach Fashion Island: 949.763.2204

Newport Beach Lido: 949.999.1400

Irvine Sand Canyon: 949.333.7580

Huntington Beach: 714.252.9415

Letters to the Editor

Grant gets my vote for Council

Over the years I have watched with great interest the consistent hard work and tremendous amount of time Robyn Grant has given to the City of Newport Beach and to various organizations and boards within our City. 

As a little background – Robyn Grant is a USC educated attorney with a specialty in real estate and environmental law and bachelor’s degree from the UCLA. She is also a small business owner and teaches college classes in Business Law and Business Ethics. 

Robyn served two appointments to the Civil Service Board of Newport Beach, as well as appointments to the Library Board of Trustees and the City Arts Commission. Robyn Grant has also served on boards of several nonprofits including Speak Up Newport, Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter and Leadership Tomorrow. 

A Newport resident for over thirty-five years, Robyn Grant has worked with the City of Newport Beach in many capacities, collaborating with the community to support local business, increase resident participation in City Council decisions, improve government services, promote community education, and support our first responders.

Robyn Grant understands that the major issues facing Newport Beach such as public safety, crime, homelessness, traffic, etc., do NOT fall neatly within district lines but do require ALL City Council members to work together and to respond to concerned residents regardless of the District designations.

Robyn Grant will listen intently to residents’ concerns. Robyn Grant is consistent on her positions on issues and does not change her position based on money donors who want to control our politicians by promising support and money. Robyn Grant has the integrity and independence of a strong leader and does not flip flop on election measures such as Measure B – Election of a Mayor.

Robyn Grant knows that when she is elected her job is to listen to and carry out the will of ALL the residents of Newport Beach. Please join my husband and me in voting for Robyn Grant for District 4 City Council.

Nancy and Ron Arrache

Balboa Peninsula

Rush to judgment seems in error

Bob Rush describes the many people opposed to the flawed elected mayor proposal as “the same unscrupulous culprits and miscreants of the past.” Why would I take umbrage from a man whose opinions consistently conflict with actual facts, it is well worth pointing out to your readers that these scurrilous opponents to the elected mayor initiative include virtually every past Newport Beach mayor, City Council person and City Manager. One might suppose that these are people who really know what they are talking about and appreciate that the collective wisdom of this group is that this is a very bad proposal for Newport Beach.

I will also point out that the proponent’s website contains no one listed as endorsing this proposal, likely because most people recognize it as the power grab that it is. In contrast, the opponent’s website ( has an exceptionally large list of illustrious people who understand that this proposal effectively creates one man rule in Newport by giving an elected mayor extraordinary powers. 

Please vote No on Measure B.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Thank you to city staff for a wonderful event

Too often we forget to say kudos for a job well done. Saturday’s event, hosted by the City of Newport Beach, which offered shredding, e-waste and free compost was a HUGE success. In addition, you could pick up an under the counter pail from CR&R, smart planning for sure.

Cars started lining up at 7 a.m. and went back for almost a mile. At 10 a.m., when I got there, the line was still long and I waited for about 25 minutes. It was well worth the wait. I utilized 3 out of the 4 services.

The city staff was very pleasant, professional and efficient. I was very impressed. Thank you, Newport Beach, for such a successful event. Most of all a BIG THANK YOU to all of the city staffers and CR&R staffers for a job well done. 

Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Measure B is about more than being friends with Will O’Neill

I was speaking to a group of people last week about how important it is to vote NO on B when all of a sudden, a person in the audience spoke up and said the following:

“I personally know and love Will O’Neill. I have donated to his campaign, I’m a dedicated follower of his posts, our kids are friends, etc. He does what he says, listens with an open mind, I think he’s great. But when he asked me to help with Measure B, I had to decline and he was very respectful of my choice. I think he would be great for the position that Measure B is creating, but just as I told him, the problem is who comes after him. 

“Will O’Neill would be a great leader for 4 or 8 years, but then who will be next? Someone power hungry, someone with higher ambition, someone without Newport in mind, someone funded by lobbyists. No doubt it will ruin the City.

“Keep the power divided among the council as it has been. Why do I care which councilman runs the meeting and calls himself mayor that year? I’m just happy the power is split and they hold each other accountable (...somewhat). This would change all that and turn the Council to yes men. How truly sad for our beautiful City.”

Very well stated.

As you all know the City of Westminster, population of 93,000, will be voting in the June primary to dissolve their directly elected Mayor position. The residents are fed up with the politics that have resulted from someone having too much control.

Let’s stop this now! I urge everyone to vote NO on B.

Please visit our website at

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Newport Beach, it’s time to say “no” again

NO! That’s the only answer to Measure B. Don’t vote before reading the fine print. We residents are in the same situation as in 2014, when we were told Measure Y would “reduce traffic” even though we knew it would have the opposite effect: the data was skewed and the measure would in fact have brought large scale development and traffic to Newport Center. 

This was the catalyst for our formation of Line in the Sand, to educate and protect the public interest.

In the case of Measure B, the only answer, again, is to just say NO. Again, we feel betrayed – not because the idea of an elected mayor is bad in itself – but because when you read and understand the fine print, you see that, as written, the measure would seriously erode democratic representation for the voters and load the power into the hands of one person, the Mayor. 

Some things to think about:

Who’s behind it? The mega dollars behind Measure B are mostly out-of-town dollars except for a $5,000 loan from Will O’Neill. What’s that all about?

Why is it? If Measure B passes, the Mayor would have an incredible amount of power, more than any one representative has ever had in our City. Agenda decisions would be made by the Mayor, and voter representation would be decreased by having one less district. The ability of the City Manager and other Councilmembers to drive Council discussions would be drastically reduced. How could that possibly be a good thing for our city?

What is it? The charter change we are voting on was initiated by one person – Will O’Neill – without review or discussion or community input at the Council meetings. It allows an elected Mayor to buy a seat with mega dollars and capture the bulk of the power in decision-making discussions among the Council. It allows a Mayor to stay in place for eight years even immediately after two four- year terms on the City Council. The big bucks could more easily prevail and the number of districts would be reduced to six. Why would decreasing our representation and lumping it more into one hand be a good thing for our city?

Where is this happening? This is Newport Beach. Our system of leadership through seven equally represented Districts has worked well for many decades even though big money and the cost of elections can have an undue and unfair influence. But – Measure B not only erodes the fairness and representation but allows big money to more likely drive the Mayoral election. Who thinks making matters worse is a good thing for our City?

NO! The only answer to Measure B is just plain no.  If you’re someone who’s frustrated by one-party rule in Sacramento, just wait until you see one-person rule in Newport Beach. That’s what Measure B would result in. 

Dennis Baker, Board President

Line in the Sand

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Working to preserve the special place we call Newport

I read with interest Publisher Tom Johnson’s analysis of the council race involving Robyn Grant. Like Tom, I have watched with interest Robyn’s hard work and admired her accomplishments through the years. She has continuously exhibited qualities of a true leader; her goal has always been to work for the betterment of all the citizens of Newport Beach. Whether it’s working to improve the City’s world class Newport Beach Public Library, helping future leaders of Newport with the Leadership Tomorrow program or participating in the Speak Up Newport program, Robyn has always been there to pitch in and help and, if needed, work with all parties to reach a workable solution to any problem. 

One of her outstanding qualities is her willingness to listen to both sides and make logical and reasoned decisions; she is not an operative of a particular position nor is she dismissive of conflicting views.     

Robyn Grant brings independent leadership qualities that are so crucial and essential to preserving the quality of life of Newport Beach. She will work to provide a voice for all of the citizens of Newport.   

I strongly endorse Robyn Grant for City Council, as she is the candidate to make responsible decisions, not decisions based upon personal power or future personal gain. Please join me in supporting her for Newport Beach City Council in the coming election. Your vote for her will maintain the special place we call Newport Beach. 

Thomas C. Edwards

Former Mayor and Citizen of the Year 

Newport Beach

What changed Lowrey’s decision to run for City Council?

In the final hours of filing, Lee M. Lowrey files papers for the 4th District seat for Newport Beach City Council. This – after months of “I’m not running.” What changed his mind? 

Opportunity…or a long-held desire to be elected?

Lee has had a long burning desire to be elected. Years and years ago, as a young buck, he hung out with a cadre of wanna be’s. This included the Peotter brothers, Jim Righeimer, Matt Harper and Tom Reneicke. They were a band of “Fuentes Flunkies” who aspired to elected office but did little to merit the honor. I know – firsthand – because when I ran for the State Assembly in the mid-nineties, Lee Lowrey was amongst those who were going to challenge me. I know that was a long time ago. That’s how long he has been salivating – and trying – to get elected.

Somehow, there are those who would have you think that serving on the City’s Planning Commission is a springboard to the city council. That is simply not enough. I’m not convinced that having a tract housing developer on the Planning Commission or on the City Council serves our community. 

Lowery is a strong supporter of more private jets at JWA and was working to defeat the “Elect the Mayor” initiative. Oh! Now he’s changed his mind and he’s FOR the initiative. Makes you wonder why? The LA Times listed him as a political fundraiser. 

His tenets, his beliefs go against everything Newport Beach stands for. He supports more private jets at JWA, supports Measure B and wants an elected mayor. What else do you need to know to defeat this man?

Well, yes, there is one more thing. He ran a few years ago in District 5. Now he’s running in District 4. As I said, for many years he has sought an elected position at any cost. The price for Newport Beach is too high. 

Vote NO on Lee Lowrey! Vote NO on Measure B!!

Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

Why does outside money support a directly elected mayor for Newport Beach?

According to campaign records kept by the Newport Beach City Clerk, as of April 1st, 43% of donations to the “Yes” side of Measure B (June Directed Elected Mayor ballot measure) come from people listed as residing outside our City, in some cases, even from outside our State!

If a $5,000 loan from Councilman Will O’Neil is included, 49% of all “Yes” donations come from either the Councilman or from out-of-town donors. In contrast, donations to the “No” side show only one donor from outside of Newport Beach, and that person was an involved resident of Newport Beach for many years. 

It begs the question – why does so much money from donors living outside our City want to see Newport Beach have a directly elected Mayor? What do outside special interests have to gain if Measure B passes? 

Newport Beach does not need its elections decided by money from people who live outside the community. If Measure B passes, this is just a preview of what is to come in the future. Stop the power grab and vote “No” on Measure B in the June primary election. 

Homer Bludau

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Noted architect wonders if the Superior bridge could be better?

(The following is a letter sent to a number of people including Arlene Greer, Chair of the City of Newport Beach Arts Commission, and cc’d to councilmembers Joy Brenner and Will O’Neill, among others, from noted local architect Ron Yeo.)

A friend of mine that lives adjacent to this project (Superior bridge linking Sunset Ridge Park) is losing his sleep because of it. He feels that it is a nice design but could be so much better in order to represent the best that Newport can offer.

The bridge will go from the expanded parking lot to Sunset Ridge Park which is a 10’ wide trail. The bridge path will be 12’ wide.

Letter SNN bridge photo 1

Photos courtesy of Ron Yeo

Proposed Superior bridge to connect Sunset Ridge Park

He feels that any project this important should be reviewed by the Arts Commission. Was that done? If not, do you think that it should it be reviewed?

He feels that by narrowing the bridge center (which lessens the structural load) and widening the ends (making the bridge entry more inviting) would result in a better aesthetic solution. Similar to the LA bridge photo below.

Letter SNN bridge photo 2

LA Bridge

My thinking is that Newport may not have to go over the top in design like Calatrava’s “Turtle Bay Bridge” in Redding, CA.

Letter SNN bridge photo 3

Calatrava’s Turtle Bay Bridge in Redding, Calif.

But the proposed 8-foot-high railing is way out of character. It not only detracts from the beauty of the bridge but makes the walk & bikeway feel like a cage. It also takes away the open view feeling when crossing the bridge.

I feel that the railing should be reduced in height in order to be consistent with the other bridges in Newport.

Letter SNN bridge photo 4

Coast Highway crossing of Bay

Letter SNN bridge photo 5

Arches bridge over Coast Highway

Let me know what you think?

Ron Yeo, FAIA Architect

Corona del Mar

I looked hard at all sides of Measure B – for me, it’s a no

Change can be a good thing and I try to remain open-minded about new ideas. That’s why I took an interest in the directly elected mayor initiative (“Measure B” on the June ballot) when councilman Will O’Neill first introduced it. I did what I usually do to draw my own conclusion: I researched the facts, listened to people I trust and followed the money. 

Here’s what I discovered.

1– If Measure B passes, the mayor would have an incredible amount of power, more than anyone has ever held in our city. He or she would decide what goes on the council’s agenda, and therefore which way attention and money flow. Challenging the mayor’s personal priorities and decisions would require massive effort and coordination on the part of other councilmembers and/or Newport residents and businesses. 

Our city has been successful for many decades thanks to the balance of power on the council. I see no reason to suddenly replace a system that works with one that gives one person the ability to rule like a monarch.

2– Opponents to Measure B include a long list of former mayors and mayors pro tem, former city officials, three current councilmembers and groups from across the political spectrum. 

Closer to home, I’ve had several friends and neighbors tell me they were open to the idea at first but decided to vote no after getting all the details. In fact, I haven’t spoken to a single person who has studied the issue in depth and supports it. 

That speaks volumes to me.

3– As a general rule, I look at the funding behind any candidate or ballot measure before forming an opinion. What shocked me most with Measure B is the amount of money it’s attracting from special interests and individuals from other cities – even other states! The only reason for these outside groups and people to contribute to Measure B is that they believe the change in Newport’s form of government will benefit them – that they’ll have the elected mayor’s ear and be able to influence his or her priorities and decisions. This is more than a red flag for me. 

It makes B a nonstarter. 

I’ve made up my mind to vote NO on B and believe my fellow Newport Beach residents will do the same if they get all the facts, listen to those who know our city best and follow the money.

Susan Rashap

Newport Beach

Vote yes on B and enable all of us to elect our own mayor

This June, the voters in Newport Beach will have an opportunity to approve a charter amendment that would enable all voters and all community members in the city TO DIRECTLY ELECT THEIR OWN MAYOR.

If approved, this means having a Mayor that is directly accountable to all of us – THE COMMUNITY – for the first time ever! 

If that sounds good, then vote YES on Measure B!

Presently in the City, voters elect a councilperson for each district and then this small group of seven people goes into a back room in City Hall and literally picks the Mayor themselves. And each passing year a group of seven councilpersons re-visits the process, and they pass around the mayorship like pinch-pint at a BBQ, regardless of the community’s opinion or that person’s past performance. 

Maintaining this archaic system is the real power-grab! Yep, hard to believe we still allow such an archaic process that promotes and rewards the game of political favors – “make me the chief today and I’ll make you chief tomorrow.”

People opposing Measure B are trying to keep this archaic approach in place. The “opposition” is headed up by some of the same unscrupulous culprits and miscreants of the past.

You know them…many of the city’s well-connected “good ole boys (and girls)” and “insiders.” These are the same folks who gave us a $240 million Taj Mahal. The same ones who aided and abetted and profited from the over proliferation of drug rehabs throughout the City, and many of these folks are ex-councilmen that couldn’t get re-elected in their own districts or even to a second council term – yea those same old insiders! The funniest part is that this cabal has decided to name their campaign “No Elected Mayor: Stop The Power Grab” – what a joke!

You’ll probably hear them claim next that a vote for their side saves the children and brings us clean drinking water too!

The irony is, when you read the actual ballot question you will see just how simple the issue is. But don’t take my word, here’s how an impartial City staffer wrote the ballot question:

….Shall Article IV, City Council, and Article X, Elections, of the Newport Beach City Charter be amended…to provide for the direct election of the Mayor, who would be nominated (and elected) by residents and registered voters of the City of Newport Beach…

In actuality, Measure B will DECENTRALIZE power and put it back in the hands of our voters and community members. If we don’t like the direction a Mayor is taking the City or if a Mayor doesn’t hold to his promises…we can vote that person out too!

The Insiders don’t want you to pick your own Mayor. They believe you aren’t smart enough and can’t be trusted to elect your Mayor.

Reject that cynicism and let’s put the VOTERS and COMMUNITY back in charge of deciding who should be the Mayor of Newport.

Let’s send a message to the Insiders and end THEIR power-grab...Vote Yes on B!

Bob Rush

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

First things first, go all the way to the end and vote No on Measure B

The most important thing voters who love Newport Beach can do when they get their ballots next month is to go all the way to the end and vote No on Measure B. 

This measure, crafted by one councilman and supported by only three of his colleagues, would drastically change the form of government that has served Newport Beach so well for nearly 70 years.

As written, the measure would in essence take us from a democratic system to one-man rule. The elected mayor would have total control over the agenda for city council meetings, meaning he would have total control over what gets discussed and how the future direction of the city gets decided. 

The number of council districts would be reduced from seven to six, and the six representatives would have no voice unless the mayor felt like listening to them. Residents and businesses could find themselves silenced and ignored. The city manager job would become no more than a clerical position. 

It’s easy to imagine a scenario where amazing people who love our city don’t want to run for council, top talent won’t want to apply for jobs with the city (who wants to work for a dictator?), and our incredibly smart and engaged citizenry stops wanting to participate in civic life because one man would be directing and starring in his own show. Hard to imagine anything more antithetical to the spirit of our city than that. 

Another immense privilege the elected mayor would enjoy is that term limits would not apply to him. In 1992, Newport voted overwhelmingly to limit the time a person could spend on the dais to eight years. Yet with this initiative, the person seeking to be our new ruler would get to spend twice that amount of time – 16 years in a row! – on the council. 

Interestingly, when the proponents of this measure are asked what’s wrong with our current form of government, they have no answer. That’s because there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s democratic, it includes checks and balances, and it’s one of the things that has made our city among the most desirable places in the country to live. 

The bottom line is that we have nothing to gain from Measure B, and everything to lose. Please join me in going all the way to the bottom of the ballot and voting NO on B. 

Ralph Wilson Jr.

Newport Beach

Mr. Lowrey’s decision to run in District 4 

I don’t know Mr. Lee Lowrey. From his photograph in a number of recent media publications, he appears to be a pleasant looking fellow.

Over the years, I have attended from time-to-time various community events/meetings including Council study sessions and Council meetings, WAKE UP! Newport meetings, Speak Up Newport meetings, the annual Mayor Receptions, Government Affairs meetings, Police Appreciation Breakfasts, Citizen of the Year events, annual Economic Forecasts, Scholarship Award Dinners, Athletic Award Dinners, Boat Parade Dinner and Auction events, the annual Sandcastle Contests, annual Mayor’s Dinners, the annual Fire/Lifeguard celebrations, Board/Commission meetings, and other civic events/meetings. Those who attend these and other civic events may get a feel for our town. 

Mr. Lowrey could certainly have been a frequent attendee at these events/meetings, but I don’t recall seeing/meeting him (which I’m sure could be my fault). Undoubtedly his attendance has been good as a planning commissioner.

If I am incorrect concerning Mr. Lowrey’s community involvement (other than his important service as a planning commissioner), I apologize.

I am a bit more concerned about reports I have heard that Mr. Lowrey repeatedly stated that he was definitely not going to be a District 4 Council candidate. He has apparently now reneged on that commitment. 

It has also been reported that he was originally leading a campaign against the direct election of the Mayor ballot measure but has changed his mind on that as well.

Are you as curious as I as to why Mr. Lowrey has had a change of heart on these (and perhaps other) matters? Will his commitments/de-commitments portend future decision-making judgments by Mr. Lowrey if he is elected to our Council?

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Characterization of Lowrey didn’t seem fair

Your characterization of Lee Lowrey struck me and my wife as pointedly harsh, especially compared to your recent write-up on candidate Tom Miller who, unlike Lee, has not spent years volunteering on the Planning Commission.

Just my two cents,

Sean Matsler

Newport Beach

Agree that Grant serves District 4 needs better

I support the points made by Tom Johnson in his March 29 Stu News editorial that concludes Robyn Grant is the best candidate to fill the upcoming District 4 City Council vacancy. Like Tom, I am concerned about Lee Lowrey’s lack of community experience and the immediate endorsement of his candidacy by four City Councilmembers who make up the current Council majority. 

This is the same majority that supports Measure B, the “Election of a Mayor,” to be considered by voters in the June primary election. I believe this endorsement is a power grab to maintain a “Gang of 4” council majority and is not in the best interest of our community. 

I agree with Tom that we need the District 4 City Council candidate to have a proven history of accomplishments for our community.

The current council majority is made up of Will O’Neill, Noah Blom, Duffy Duffield and Kevin Muldoon. They want Mr. Lowrey to fill the vacancy when Kevin Muldoon is termed out and are counting on him to fill the void to keep the majority in control. I believe they are providing their support in exchange for his support for Measure B. 

Mr. Lowrey will likely be looking at the council majority to determine how the “gang” wants him to vote and will direct future Political Action Committee donations to candidates and causes they support.

I have met with Robyn Grant on several occasions and found her to be knowledgeable of District 4’s and the entire City’s priorities and concerns. She is very experienced in numerous Newport Beach community organizations and will look at future issues individually to determine what is best for her district and the City as a whole. Her experience and positions on City issues and programs can be found at

We do not need to create a strong Mayor form of government for Newport Beach that deprives local districts of representation, and do not want political party-based offices. We need our City Council to be community-based representatives for their district. I urge Newport Beach voters to support Robyn Grant for District 4 City Council.

Ron Rubino


Guest Letter

Katrina Foley, Second District

Orange County Supervisor

Transitioning to cleaner energy resources is the best way to reduce the financial impacts of rising gas prices 

Guest letter Katrina Foley

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of 2nd District, OC Supervisor

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley

Gas prices continue to soar for Orange County residents with no end in sight. This week, the average cost per gallon reached an unprecedented $5.97 here in Orange County. There are many reasons prices are going up at the pump – Putin’s war in Ukraine, disruptions in the supply chain due to the pandemic, corporate greed by those raising prices and gouging consumers and California’s 51¢ gas tax. 

This is why I requested that my colleagues at the Orange Board of Supervisors join me to ask the Governor and State Legislature to provide taxpayers with a rebate or suspend the gas tax for one year, so long as that lost revenue is backfilled by the State budget surplus so we can continue to fund much needed infrastructure. 

We ultimately agreed on some issues, but some of my colleagues disagreed with the notion of a tax rebate, citing concerns about those not directly paying the tax should not get a break. Some also disagreed that we should suspend the gas tax for one year, stating that six months was more than enough. 

I strongly disagreed and so do many Republicans and Democrats in the State Capitol, who are advocating for a tax rebate. When the price of gas goes up, the cost of goods and services go up for all of us. The cost to do business goes up. The cost of public transportation goes up. The cost of groceries increases and we are all impacted. The more we can do to give the taxpayers back their money, in times like this, the better. 

While suspending the gas tax or offering an equivalent rebate will not completely solve the scourge of ever-increasing gas prices, it’s vital that we provide respite for Orange County families struggling to pay for gas during this challenging time. 

To truly reduce the burden of increasing prices at the pump and protect our way of life that was threatened by the recent oil spill off our coast, we need long-term planning to wean ourselves from oil and transition toward cheaper, clean energy resources.

In Orange County, we must work with the private sector and energy providers to add new electric, solar powered vehicle charging stations, which will make electric vehicle (EV) ownership more accessible and save families money on gas. Charging an electric vehicle costs less than $10, compared to gas fill-ups that now cost up to $100 or more, but there is still a lack of access at the workplace, in public spaces and at home. The market is telling us that electric vehicles are becoming a better economic option. We must listen.

Every Orange County resident deserves the option to walk or bike to work or school, instead of driving. Many of our streets remain unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. In 2020 alone, Orange County saw nearly 500 pedestrian injuries and 50 deaths. From 2016 to 2020, over 4,000 bicycle collisions occurred and 75 cyclists died in our County. That is an unacceptable record and we must do better. 

As a former City Councilmember and Mayor of Costa Mesa, I initiated an Active Transportation Plan and, now, as Supervisor and Director on the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), I am working to add miles of new protected bike lanes and walking trails so residents can safely and easily get around. 

Our dirty, under-utilized flood channels remain an untapped resource for this effort, so long as we also invest the public safety resources to patrol these areas.

Bike lanes and walking trails will make our streets safer and increase pedestrian traffic, which reduces crime and benefits small businesses. Providing residents with safe and reliable alternatives to driving will decrease oil dependence, gas expenses and traffic congestion.

Modernizing our public transportation system is essential as our County moves on from oil dependence and toward sustainable technology. At OCTA, we invested in 10 plug-in battery-electric buses and an equal number of hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses in our fleet, with the goal of 100 percent zero-emission technology by 2040. 

These simple and widely popular solutions reduce the impact of sky-high gas costs on Orange County residents – both during this crisis and in the future – and improve the quality of life for our residents.

Katrina Foley, Second District

Orange County Supervisor

Letters to the Editor

After months of denials, Lowrey enters city council race 

Well, after months of denial that he would not be a candidate, Lee Lowrey has decided to run for Newport Beach city council, or maybe not, today is another day. 

Having failed to be elected in District Five, Lowrey has moved into District Four. Perhaps next time District Three. 

In recent weeks, Lowrey has been negotiating with his controlled Atlas PAC to oppose the “Elect the Mayor” initiative, a blatant effort to evade term limits and concentrate political power in one politician. Apparently, Lee is “flexible” in his political philosophy because now he is suddenly in support of the measure. 

Could it be that he is falling into line as part of the Dave Ellis political machine? Indeed, it was Ellis who gleefully announced Lowrey’s candidacy while at the same time, setting himself up to funnel thousands of dollars outside of the city spending limits in direct mail hit pieces on behalf of Lowrey. 

You remember Ellis and four of his candidates were fined by the Fair Political Practices Commission for violating state campaign finance laws in the 2014 Newport election.

Exactly who is Lee Lowrey? A strong supporter of more private jets at John Wayne Airport and a tract housing developer who spends most of his time in Colorado and Texas. 

He is a business partner of former Costa Mesa mayor Jim Righeimer, who conducted a “reign of terror” in that city, fighting constantly with Costa Mesa police officers and firefighters. In his short tenure, Righeimer turned Costa Mesa from a Republican to Democratic city and damaged public safety services.

Perhaps that is the Lowrey playbook.

Lowrey’s Atlas PAC is a political action committee that funnels dark money to various anti-police candidates, most notably Righeimer, and other political extremists.

Lowrey is nothing more than a tool providing a fourth vote for the political gang that has been running and ruining Newport for the past few years. Just another Dave Ellis minion.

Please vote for Robyn Grant and a Big NO on Measure B. 

Gerald A. Giannini

Newport Beach

As issues gain footholds worldwide, we can’t forget what we’re facing right here at home

I am sure that we have all had a lot on our minds lately with the now monthlong war in Ukraine and the possibility of the resurgence of a sub variant of the Omicron strain making its appearance in LA County. But with all the international and national problems, let’s not lose sight of one very important one here at home – yes, here in Newport Beach. 

My focus was brought back to this local dilemma yesterday as I hammered my new “No on B – Stop the Power Grab” sign in my front yard.

Reflecting again on one person’s attempt to establish a mayoral government structure in Newport Beach, I am reminded of how preposterous a proposal it is. Because the reason for doing so – to establish a more democratic government in Newport Beach – will do just the opposite.

We are not a large cosmopolitan city like San Francisco or Los Angeles. And our population is considerably less than the eight other cities in Orange County which have adopted an “elected mayor” form of government (with the exception of Stanton).

At the council meeting where “Proposal B” was adopted by a vote of 4-3, there were speakers who lined up to speak on both sides of the issue. It seemed like there was an equal number of speakers and letters posted on the City website regarding the issue.

However, unbeknownst to me and most likely many others in the city, people who do not live in Newport Beach can both speak to issues at council meetings and post letters on the website. The city from which they come is not necessarily noted in either case.

That might explain some of the repetitive and very short verbal as well as written responses given by supporters of electing a mayor.

The first person to step forward with this surprising proposal has lived in Newport Beach less than 10 years. And the three other councilmembers who voted with that person rarely vote against him. (In my opinion) Most other long-term residents who have been involved in Newport City government are opposed to this major change in structure.

Why? Because the person who proposed it also wrote it and in doing so made provisions which will actually make the government less democratic. The Mayor would have increased power, the City Manager would have much less as would the city councilmembers who would be reduced by one in number and would not be elected directly by their constituents to balance the increased power of the mayor.

Instead of making this change that would render our city government less democratic by the obvious “power grab” of one person, let’s make Newport Beach more democratic by electing new councilmembers who are independent, not indebted to developers, do not vote as blocks and really do represent the wishes of their constituents.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Concerned that problems lurk with the process of electing our mayor

Some people in Newport Beach have been lulled into thinking that “electing” a mayor makes our city government more democratic. They are balancing “electing” with “appointing” and are attracted by the idea of directly selecting the mayor. If you are familiar with history, however, you know that there have been authoritarian leaders who were initially “elected” to office.

The biggest constraint to achieving a more democratic system with the new mayor proposal is that one person and one person only wrote the whole proposal, with no oversight. One person…think carefully about that. And that one person who wrote it for a city of 85,000 is the one most likely to run and possibly be elected unless we as a city wake up and realize what we are getting into. We are considering the adoption of a proposal that benefits substantially a newly elected mayor who has additional powers that were once delegated to other people.

In our current system, the mayor is selected from among the councilmembers and serves a one-year term. Indirectly, the best candidate usually ends up in the mayor role, selected by his or her peers to lead the city. 

But the mayor proposal is a recipe for disaster, if an unethical mayor is elected because he/she now has the power and duties that once belonged to councilmembers and the city manager and could have been elected by “outside” or “big money.” We have already witnessed the problems that come with “big money’s” influence on our city government. The problems would multiply if that outside influence came to bear on just one person, the one with the most power and influence.

In addition to rewriting the role of mayor, the new initiative eliminates one councilmember, meaning that councilmembers will have larger constituencies. Larger constituencies translate to less individual attention. To be more democratic, you would have to increase the number of councilmembers instead of decreasing that number.

So please be very careful of what you wish for.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Times and party preferences seem to be changing in the OC, but the sentiment towards supporting Ukraine is united

Nothing can arouse bipartisanship more than war, particularly this war. In a sharply divided America, the degree of approval for President Biden after his State of the Union speech soared to a rate of 78% from a dismal range preceding the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. 

Because of the bravery of the Ukrainian army, the fierce independence and presence of President Zelensky, and the vivid photos on television and in the newspapers of the citizens struggling to escape the violence, Americans’
public support for the Ukrainians is astoundingly strong. Decisions in Congress to send money and supplies to the beleaguered nation receive little opposition as they pass through that legislative body.

How is this war perceived locally in a highly partisan county? Newport Beach is very partisan, perceived for ages as a Republican stronghold along with the rest of Orange County. However, at the County level in the last election, 53.5% voted Democrat versus 44.4% Republican, with 2.1% Independent.   

In the last six local elections, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, Democrats prevailed in only one election, that of 2012. 

According to statistics, in Newport Beach only 22.0% of voters are registered Democrats. However, with the increasing number of voters who are registering Independent, the edge that Republicans have continually held is diminishing.

Do these statistics seem to matter right now when it comes to the tragedy taking place in the Ukraine? Apparently not so far. President Biden and the majority of Congress are in agreement to the extent to which the United States can participate in the war. Also, there is widespread support for Ukrainians in Southern California resulting in rallies, protests and vigils in the Southland. Much of this support is the result of the general public being in shock over the invasion of a sovereign nation and the fact that thousands of expatriates live here.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Candidate Tom Miller puts his money and weight behind stopping Elect Our Mayor initiative

If you like people who are transparent, have integrity and put their money where their mouth is, look no further than Tom Miller, candidate for Newport Beach City Council District 1. 

Case in point: Tom has just made a generous $25,000 donation to stop the disastrous “Elect Our Mayor” initiative (Measure B) placed on the ballot by councilmembers O’Neill, Blom, Muldoon and Duffield. 

Tom knows this measure would NOT be good for our city, and that its proponents’ arguments are nothing but lies: the measure would NOT strengthen term limits – it would drastically weaken them; it would NOT place power back in the hands of voters – it would concentrate it in the hands of one politician who for all intents and purposes would run the city single-handedly.

Over the past eight years, we’ve seen too many backroom deals and machinations on our city council. It’s often been a source of frustration and embarrassment for us residents. If Measure B passes, it will get much worse. As written, the measure would give the elected mayor the powers of a king. The rest of us – regular citizens, other councilmembers and city staff – would be subject to that king’s whims, no matter how outrageous. We’d be powerless and voiceless. 

Does that sound to you like a system that would work for Newport Beach? Me neither! That’s why I’ll be voting NO on Measure B in June. 

Tom Miller wants to get us back to a place where our city council is made up of ethical citizens who have equal power and whose only motive is to do what’s best for our city. People who will focus on their constituents, not their political ambitions. People who will act independently and fearlessly, and always step up to do what’s right – starting by defeating the flawed Measure B. 

Lynn Swain

Newport Beach

Past Mayor joins others in support of candidate Robyn Grant

This is an important time in our city, with four Council seats on the ballot, we have the opportunity to elect a majority of the Newport Beach City Council and positively influence how our city is governed for the next four to eight years. Robyn Grant is a good friend and philanthropic colleague running for Newport Beach City Council in the November 2022 state-wide election.

Robyn is a thirty-five-year resident of Newport Beach and spent many years serving as an appointee to the Civil Service Board, Library Board of Trustees, and City Arts Commission, as well as the Boards of Speak Up Newport, Leadership Tomorrow and the Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter.

Robyn is a “never stop” worker who understands how our city functions and what is important to our quality of life. She is a trained lawyer with a keen ability to listen to community needs and craft workable solutions to issues.

Robyn has community-wide support including dozens of former Newport Beach Mayors, Commissioners, and Board and Committee members, the Newport Beach Fire Management Association, nationally recognized financial strategist David Bahnsen of The Bahnsen Group and neighborhood leaders from throughout the city.

I personally support Robyn and trust her to make decisions based on facts and good judgement – not for any personal gain or political ambition.

When you see “Grant for City Council 2022,” join me to support her, endorse her, contribute to her campaign, and most important, vote for Robyn Grant For Newport Beach City Council.

Rush Hill (Former Mayor, 2014)

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

The time has come to reel in electric bike concerns

Electric bikes have become the “new” and “cool” thing to ride. As this has happened, and more people rent, own, and ride electric bikes, many beach communities have been experiencing issues concerning safety. We have all seen it at one time or another where someone on an electric bike speeds carelessly along weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic on the boardwalk.

About a year ago, Manhattan Beach took some steps to promote safety. They tried educating the public about electric bike safety through social media. When that wasn’t enough, they began enforcing the rules. Under their city ordinance, only bikes that are propelled by human power are allowed on the bike path. Electric bikes are allowed on the bike path, but people have to pedal and cannot use the electric power.

Earlier this year, after evaluating the concerns and complaints of residents regarding the speed of electric bicyclists and offering educational opportunities, San Clemente’s city council enacted a ban prohibiting electric bikes from beaches and beach trails within the city limits.

What about Newport Beach? What is our city doing about this? It appears not enough. Newport seems to be focused on education. Ambassadors have been hired to walk along the boardwalk and inform bicyclists who are speeding to slow down. But people only reduce speed until they are out of sight!

I know at city council meetings in the past, discussions around placing speed bumps were brought up as a possible solution. But this isn’t enough. As residents of the city have said before, and I will say again, we need rules around electric bikes and enforcement of these rules. Otherwise, I feel there will come a day – probably sooner than later – where someone will be seriously injured or even killed and the city of Newport Beach will end up all over the news for not properly responding to the numerous concerns of local residents over the years regarding this issue.

Electric bikes are becoming very common. Police need to handle the problem with enforcement of the rules that exist. If this is not possible, then I do believe and support a decision to ban electric bikes from the boardwalk and to implement similar restrictions like those that are now in place in Manhattan Beach and in San Clemente.

Manju Lal

Newport Beach

Bring back Coco’s

I was not too surprised to read that Fig and Olive is closing down. 

As a longtime resident of Corona del Mar, I would love to see a return of the very popular Coco’s restaurant that originally was in that location. I realize it might not fit the “image” of Fashion Island/Newport Center, but I can guarantee it will be busy!!!

Karen Carlson

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

It’s still a small town

Fond memories of a small town. Al Forgit Hardware. Wil Wright’s Ice Cream. Vincent’s Drugstore near Richard’s Market. The Jolly Roger. Bumper cars and the carousel. Flight of the Snowbirds. 1953 Boy Scout National Jamboree. Water skiing in the Back Bay. The Stuft Shirt. Bal Week. The Rendezvous Ballroom. The Villages – small and vibrant then, small and vibrant now.

But some would have us believe that we may have outgrown the memories.

We are larger now, they say. We need to emulate bigger cities now, they say.

We need a strong mayor (who may serve on the dais for a total of sixteen [16] years) to lead us. The collective wisdom of seven Council folks which has served us pretty well for nearly seventy years can’t work because we are bigger now.

There are certainly pros and cons to the elect the mayor discussion, but many would argue that we were a small town then, we are a small town now, and, God willing, we will remain a small town into the distant future. 

Please vote “No” on the direct election of the mayor Charter Amendment on June 7.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

Keep politics out of Newport Beach

I encourage voters in Newport Beach to study the Elect Our Mayor measure arguments and rebuttals as well as the No to the Power Grab arguments and rebuttals. Both sides have websites with valuable information. 

The current city council form of government has been in place for over 6 decades and has worked very well. In large part what has made it work is the checks and balances that are built in and the separation of power. You only must look to the state of California to see what can happen if one party has too much power. KEEP THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL SYSTEM IN PLACE. It works!

Sadly, politics and voting blocks are already in the Newport Beach City Council. This is how the Elect Our Mayor initiative got on the ballot overriding the conventional required number of signatures on a petition to place it on the ballot. This is also how Councilmember Joy Brenner was denied her turn to serve as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem. 

An elected mayor will reduce the representation of residents. Each district will grow and the district that the mayor represents will have two votes instead on one. An elected mayor will have greater control over the agenda of the city council.

Most politicians have powerful people behind the scenes. Many times, these people are also wealthy. One wealthy donor can easily fund the election of one person. It is much more difficult to control the election of seven people.

You may have strong positive feelings about the presumed mayoral candidate and are confident he (or she) will do a good job but what about the next election? What if two candidates from the party you support “split the vote” and the candidate from a party you don’t support wins the election?

Knowledge is power. Reach out to representatives of both sides to have open informational meetings and discussion. Don’t just look at the surface of the issue.

I am confident that informed voters will say NO TO THE POWER GRAB!

Gary Cruz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Traffic in the Heights is a huge concern, what can be done?

 I am writing not only for myself but also on behalf of other concerned neighbors in Newport Heights. Traffic flow in the Heights area is going to be adversely affected in the future with the new development being planned on Pacific Coast Highway, as well as the proposed closure of Tustin Avenue.

We would certainly not deny our neighbors on Tustin the possibility of fixing their unique traffic problem, but at the same time we hope that the city will address the problems of increased traffic flow on other streets in the Heights, particularly ones that run parallel to Tustin which will absorb more of the changes.

When you are not beginning to structure traffic flow with a clean slate, but moreover attempting to make traffic changes in an area which is over 50 years old, making a change in one area can impact the surrounding streets in unpleasant ways. We understand the problem on Tustin but ask that the city understands other problems as well.

We were told that counters were erected to gauge traffic flow in the area. 
Unfortunately, those counters will not be able to gauge the increased traffic in the Heights that will be the result of the developments planned for PCH. Nor should the counters have been used during the holidays which would inaccurately gauge traffic flow.

I have lived in the Heights for almost 50 years. When I retired, I began walking around the neighborhood for exercise. The Heights attracts many strollers because of its unique charm. Unfortunately, the narrow streets and lack of sidewalks, in addition to motorists’ bad habits of rolling through stops and speeding and most recently the addition of motorized bikes which completely ignore any traffic rules, all make walking there a “risky business.”

The busiest street in the neighborhood is Riverside. Already speedy motorists, and impaired visibility caused by the hill make it a hazardous area for residents as well as visitors. When I am walking, I never take Riverside Avenue for those reasons. Nor as a resident on that street would I be happy about an increase of traffic noise due to an increased number of motorists.

The city surely has some remedies in its “toolbox” such as traffic calming measures that could be applied that would make the Heights a safer area for all residents.

Thank you.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

In schools, children plus masks equals the wrong answer

This letter is not going to say anything new or inspiring. It is not going to make you want to change the world. I am going to likely repeat the same thing that 100 other moms or grandmothers have written to you in the past week. I am hoping and praying you have received that many letters and more. I am tired of sitting back and complaining about what has been going on the past two years (especially the past few months) and not doing anything. 

Vaccines have not done the job many have hoped they would. I get that and am not angry about it. What many of us see though – is that people are making trillions of dollars off of COVID testing, COVID vaccines and masks! It would appear that they are making “children need to be wearing masks, as many are not vaccinated” (those were Gavin Newsom’s words last week)... Now they are going to force parents to get their children vaccinated so they don’t have to wear masks. Do it our way…or else. Wear the masks or get the vaccine. I have heard the debate that children must be vaccinated already for school for other things. Yes, but those vaccines were made because the diseases were killing children. 

I am a grandmother to three. The idea that children have to be home schooled in order to not be forced to do things we don’t want to do is awful. More and more people are moving out of California because of these mandates (and many other reasons, saved for another day). 

This issue is the last straw for me. My grand babies deserve to breathe. That is all I want you to take away from my letter. I have tears in my eyes and am wanting just for you to hear me grand babies deserve to breathe. 

Ronnie Cancellieri

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Upset about heavy equipment parked on Jamboree

I live on Balboa and am very angry that you have closed the street on Jamboree between Bayside and Pacific Coast Highway. There are 2 lanes there and for almost 2 weeks you have used the area to park tractors. Our city streets are for public use not parking lots! I can understand if you were to start construction within a few days but this has been 2 weeks! Furthermore, use one lane and keep the other lane open!! 

Furthermore, using the Balboa streets to house your equipment for the undergrounding equipment is ridiculous! Tractors, loose pipes, etc. have been left on Garnet and other streets for months sitting as a storage area and taking up valuable parking. It is also a city lawsuit waiting to happen with loose yellow pipes piled haphazardly in the street. Please tell your public works manager to use the storage area on PCH and Dover instead of our streets. 

Martha Kerstner

Newport Beach

Editor’s note: Construction work began on or around Sunday, Feb. 6 in the northbound lanes of Jamboree Road, between Bayside Drive and E. Coast Highway to replace a large, nearly 100-year-old water main that serves the entire city.

The work requires nightly closures and will last some eight weeks. Unfortunately, because of the size and amount of equipment required to complete the project, much of it needs to remain on site for efficiency purposes.

Questions or further concerns can be directed to Alfred Castanon at 949.644.3314 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Michael Sinacori at 949.644.3342 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. from the City›s Public Works Department.

Letters to the Editor

Stop making dredging so difficult

It’s unfortunate that the city council recently threw a monkey wrench into our harbor dredging plan. Whether intentional or not, they voted 6-1 (Duffield voting no) to slow down and potentially kill our harbor dredging project.

I grew up on the harbor and have a business on the bay. I’ve seen the results of benign neglect of the harbor. The main channel hasn’t been dredged since 1936. Charter boats can’t use it at low tide. Large boats have to wait offshore for high tide. Residential docks can’t be dredged due to the cost of trucking the material to distant landfills.

The City’s dredging plan solves both problems. It buries and caps the dredge material in a deep sub-marine pit between Lido and Bay Islands. It’s a safe solution used in Long Beach, Port Hueneme, Humboldt Bay, Boston Harbor, Baltimore Harbor, New Bedford and Chesapeake Bay.

The federal, state and local agencies are on board. We’ve received nearly $16 million from Washington DC to pay for it.

An alternative plan has been proposed by some Lido Island residents that dumps the dredge material at Lower Castaways parking lot at PCH and Dover. The parking lot can’t accommodate all the material, so they propose dumping the remainder on the face of the Castaways cliff and the uplands park near the Veterans Memorial flag and statue. They propose to encapsulate the dredge material with a concrete cap.

The city council’s recent action calls for a “Third Party Review” of both plans that evaluates the city approved plan of burying the dredge material under 20 feet of water in a deep hole capped by four feet of dirt versus dumping it all at Lower Castaways and Castaways Park.

This “Third Party Review” is a waste of time and jeopardizes our federal funding by delaying the project.

Here’s an excellent explanation of the approved project by Councilman Duffield:

Gary Hill

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

What’s the deal with these green trash cans for condos?

All condos I’m aware of have a HOA which contracts to have the lawn and shrubs cut and then remove all the debris.

My inner patio clippings might fill 3 trash bags in a year. 

I know it is a Sacramento law so it should never be questioned and so that seems to be where any thoughtful explanation ends. 

Are we just supposed to warehouse a green trash can for life? I might be missing the obvious, but can you find out why the numerous condo owners in NPB, let alone the state are required to have a green trash can. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with the green trash can in my already cramped garage: store golf clubs and Christmas wrapping paper in it? Are they thinking about outlawing sink disposals?

Bob Moosmann

Newport Beach

Mask mandate expires tomorrow

Beginning (tomorrow) Wednesday, everyone who lives in Newport and is fully vaccinated and boosted can finally shop indoors again without face coverings. The only glitch is this: Unvaccinated people still will be required to wear masks indoors. Unless the unprotected are wearing something like a bright orange patch complete with the letters U.V. printed on them, how will anyone know who is and isn’t vaxxed? 

To date, millions of Californians have refused to roll up their sleeves and take the jab. Because I doubt any of them will wear an orange patch, I suggest that, once the mask mandate is lifted, authorities immediately begin to fine unvaccinated/unmasked indoor shoppers. How much should they be? Start at $250 for the first violation, followed by $500 for a second violation. A third violation would cost $1,000 and a fourth $2,000 plus 5 days in jail. 

Like a toll road payment, if a ticketed shopper fails to pay his or her fine within five days of it being issued, a 20 percent late fee automatically will be added to the total amount due. In my opinion, if the reluctants won’t get jabbed in the arm, then jab them where it really will make a difference – in their pocketbooks. 

This year marks the third year in our war against COVID. Now that three vaccines are readily available, the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur among the unvaccinated. I, for one, don’t want to spend another day wondering if an unmasked shopper passing me in Pavilions on Bayside or Nordstrom at Fashion Island is vaccinated or not. Starting tomorrow, I’m guessing fully vaxxed and boosted shoppers will feel the same way.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Elect Our Mayor “severely weakens term limits”

I would like to address the flawed elected mayor proposal that was put on the June 2022 ballot by Mr. O’Neill, Mr. Blom, Mr. Muldoon and Mr. Duffield. Specifically, I would like to call out the ballot argument by Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Blom implying that the elected mayor proposal strengthens term limits when it actually severely weakens them. As with many things in politics, you have to listen very carefully to hear what is NOT being said in addition to what IS being said.

In 1992, voters approved term limits allowing only 2 terms or 8 years on council but this proposal effectively erases those term limits. You would not know that from the ballot argument written by Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Blom, which states, “This measure also places the strictest term limits in our city on the position of Mayor.”

What the ballot argument doesn’t say is that the elected mayor is allowed to serve 8 years on council before running for mayor. In fact, the initiative specifically calls that out as being allowed. That means that one person can serve 8 years as a councilmember and another 8 years as mayor for a total of 16 consecutive years on council under this proposal. Most of us think that is far too long for one person to be in power.

These changes and other even more concerning changes are probably the reason why the Lincoln Club of Orange County is totally opposed to this proposal as are almost all former mayors, former councilmembers and former city managers from Newport Beach. 

Please vote no on this proposal in the June 2022 election. The changes put in place by this measure can only be unwound by another vote of the people, so what we will get with this initiative will be with us for a very long time. 

More information and a list of people publicly opposed can be found at

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Now’s the time to move ahead and dredge, delays could damage the process

Lower Newport Bay’s main channel (the harbor) has not been dredged to its required 25-foot “design depth” since 1938. Our harbor is the primary economic, recreational and water quality resource asset in Newport Beach.

We haven’t had the money or political will to dredge the harbor’s main channel to its federally required design depth, until now.

As part of the U.S. system of waterways, Newport Harbor’s dredging is ultimately the responsibility of the federal government. But we are in competition for federal funds with the nation’s major ports and naval bases.

Finally, after decades of lobbying, we are receiving nearly $16 million in dredging funds thanks to the hard work of Representatives Michelle Steel and Ken Calvert.

With funding in the bank, it’s now the city’s job to deliver a dredging plan that passes regulatory muster with the multitude of agencies that must approve the project. As the former Harbor Master, I can attest to the fact that the actual dredging will take less time than the permitting process.

Yet, we are at an inflection point in this critical process. Dozens of Harbor Commission and City Council meetings with robust public input have resulted in a certified Environmental Impact Report. It lays out a plan to bury and cap nominally contaminated dredge material (sand) in a hole between Lido and Bay Islands. It’s the same process used across the U.S. since the 1980s to decommission landfills. 

At last week’s City Council meeting the Council majority agreed to allow an open-end third-party review of the City’s approved dredge project and one advanced by well-intentioned Lido Island residents. This 11th hour review is a bad idea. It jeopardizes the federal funding and scheduling of the multi-million dollar dredging project for Newport Harbor.

A delay for an independent third-party review could set this whole project back years by putting a halt to all the momentum the process has at this time. This in turn could make the cost rise substantially if the City could get it back on track with the Federal & State governments’ dredging contractor.

Our window to dredge is open now. Confusing state, local and federal agencies will close it.

Dennis Durgan, Chairman

Newport Harbor Foundation

(former Newport Beach Harbor Master)

 Letters to the Editor

Stop trying to fix what’s not broken

Mr. Stahr makes sense with his NOT making our mayor an elective office…the present way of choosing the mayor is NOT broken, so stop trying to “fix it”…you all saw how (Katrina) Foley got elected…we don’t need a result like that!

Dorothy McDonald

Newport Beach

Are we over COVID yet?

Letter writer Lynn Lorenz made some very good points last week. While much of her focus was on local statistics, my view is broader. Let me explain.

Are we over COVID? Sadly, the answer is no. My hope is by Memorial weekend, when my son gets married, my answer will be different; but for now, I’ll stick with no. Here’s why:

Two years ago, then-President Trump said 15 people had contracted the virus. His expectation was it would quickly disappear. 

A month later, Mr. Trump was talking about the possibility of 100,000 infections. Today, nearly 500,000 people, coast to coast, test positive for COVID daily. 

I don’t know if those original 15 people lived or died, but I do know this: More than 2,000 people pass away each day from the virus, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated.

Take for example DJ Ferguson. He is married and the father of two young children. He also desperately needs a heart transplant, but the hospital won’t perform the surgery. Why? Because the 31 year old refuses to get vaccinated. 

I hope Mr. Ferguson changes his mind, but I doubt he will. So, when he dies, his children probably will think their father is a hero (for now). Sadly, my guess is when they turn 20, they will think their dad was foolish.

As we enter the third year of the war on COVID, I believe there is more hope than pessimism on the horizon. To the tens of millions of Americans who are fully vaxxed, I say thanks and stay vigilant. 

To the millions of others who refuse to roll up their sleeves I say this: Don’t end up a statistic like young DJ Ferguson. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner we can end this war.

I think Newport’s Lynn Lorenz would agree. 

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

As the virus settles following a holiday increase, difficult to tell what the future holds

I appreciate that StuNews presents the weekly coronavirus statistics for Orange County. Often, I do not check them unless an unusual statistic is evident. 

Last week I was very surprised to see that there were 756(!) new cases in Newport Beach, a number not out of line with the rest of the county. Yesterday the local paper confirmed that there were 709 confirmed cases among students and teachers in Newport-Mesa School District. That is a remarkable figure, but not in a good way. We must remember that Costa Mesa stats must be included and that there were 1,806 new cases in Costa Mesa. So given those figures, it becomes apparent that 27% of the new cases last week occurred in our schools!

First of all, all of those numbers are noticeably high. Part of that reason is that our schools are now open. As a former teacher, I could go on and on about that issue alone, but my focus is centered on the latest surge that we are experiencing, high numbers overall, and the future of the virus. 

It used to be friends of friends who got COVID, but few people that you knew. But now it has come down to cases of COVID in your own circle of friends, even in your family. And yet the vaccination rate of Orange County has not changed from many months ago. Don’t fool yourself that Newport Beach is way above the county average because it is not. Rates in Newport Beach hover around 70%, about the same as the rest of Orange County, lower than some cities like those in Irvine which are in the 90th percentile, slightly lower or above other Orange County cities. One area in Newport, Newport Coast was in the high 70s, last time I looked.

I know exactly the excuse that people are giving now, Omicron is a much milder variant, like the flu or a cold. First of all, if you are not vaccinated, it will be much different for you, particularly in the higher age ranges. Still however, if you are a senior and you are vaccinated and “boostered,” you will most likely survive with flulike symptoms. It is the unvaccinated who are flooding our hospitals.

We have all heard very recently the theory that Omicron marks a downward trajectory in the evolution of the virus. This information came from health officials in San Francisco and UCLA just this last week. These sources say that the pandemic could become an endemic because of the mild nature of this variant compared to others.

However, another source, the World Health Director General, says that the virus will not become endemic like the flu as long as global vaccinations are so low. Remember how Omicron came out of South Africa in November and spread like wildfire?

The theory is that until we approach herd immunity in the world, variants could crop up anywhere, and there is no certainty about what their characteristics will be.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

It seems apparent that the Council does not listen to residents

I am writing in response to Amy Senk’s article a couple weeks ago where she questioned whether or not the City Council is even listening to the residents of Newport Beach. 

Despite a valiant effort by some of my neighbors, the parking permit pilot, which was originally championed by the previous Council for the Peninsula, died supposedly due to lack of resident support. As a result, the parking in summer on the Peninsula continues to get worse. Did they really listen to the residents? 

This past year, Balboa Village lost its ability to use the local parking meter funds (approved by previous Council) to help maintain the condition of the Village and despite many residents and business owners presenting at the Council meeting, only Diane Dixon and Joy Brenner supported the residents’ view of the need for this localized support. I was one who corresponded with Council and presented, but it was clear that the majority of Council had already decided what THEY wanted. 

The Elect the Mayor proposal was hustled through Council rather than getting residents input and signatures which would have been the expected process. 

And most recently, the significant resident outcry about Councilman Blom’s attitude in general, and specifically his arrogance about drinking wine at Council meetings, a majority of Council still voted him in as Mayor Pro Tem. That was a slap in the face. 

Over the 20 years I have lived in NB, I generally thought of the various Councils as people who cared about the city and did their best to support the residents and their views. Now, I am really questioning whether many of the Councilmembers even care about what the residents think. 

Hopefully some resident-oriented individuals will run in the next election. 

Mike Groff 

Newport Beach

Is the fix in with Team Newport? Only time will tell

Is Council candidate Robyn Grant about to get shafted by Team Newport? Robyn Grant is a very well-respected candidate for NB City Council in District 4 but she may not get a chance to run if Team Newport pulls a fast one with redistricting next month. 

Redistricting occurs every 10 years and the changes are usually minimal. However, unethical politicians can use redistricting to eliminate potential opponents and many of us fear that Team Newport is preparing to change the districts such that District 4 no longer contains Robyn’s neighborhood, thus eliminating her from the election in one fell swoop. 

Here’s what happened that makes me think the fix is in: Councilmembers Diane Dixon, Brad Avery and Will O’Neill are the redistricting committee, usually a pretty boring job. The city consultant recommended a plan to keep the districts pretty much the same, which has been the norm in past redistricting. They voted unanimously to do so, which would normally be the end of it and the City Council would rubber stamp the recommendation. 

However, just before the meeting closed, Mr. O’Neill asked to bring ALL the maps to the council for discussion, a very unusual request. Why do that if you are all in agreement about the redistricting map, unless you are planning to have the full council change that decision and eliminate a powerful opponent? Remember that this is the same Team Newport who fired City Manager Dave Kiff in a truly underhanded way and recently voted to pass over Joy Brenner for mayor. 

There is some chatter that they may even change the districts enough to bump Joy out of her district. In Friday’s StuNews, Mr. O’Neill promised that there were no plans to redistrict Robyn’s candidacy away. Let’s just hope that Team Newport is not as unethical as I fear they are.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

John (Jeb) Brown, M.D.

Chair of the Robotics Committee


Hoag performs 20,000th robotic-assisted surgery

Hospital among only 10 nationally to reach this milestone, improving patient outcomes, reducing pain, easing recoveries, and lowering health-care costs along the way.

Robotic-assisted surgery first became available in the late 1990s, with a handful of specially trained surgeons venturing into a futuristic field that held significant promise for patient care.

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian recently crossed the threshold of our 20,000th robotic-assisted surgery. Only 10 other medical centers in the United States have reached this milestone. Today, Hoag performs the highest volume of robotic surgical procedures of any hospital in California and is 18th in volume nationally. Hoag ranks 15th in the country in the volume of gynecologic and gynecologic oncology procedures, and was also the first hospital in California to be designated a Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation.

Guest Letter Hoag Robotics

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

 Hoag Robotics Support Staff

We have been able to achieve this milestone due to the vision shared by Hoag’s executive leadership and surgeons. We performed the first gynecologic robotic surgery in August 2006 and our President and CEO Robert T. Braithwaite made it clear at that time that he shared our desire to use robotic surgery to improve the care of our patients. Hoag’s administration subsequently dedicated the resources for us to build a world-class program.

The data shows that, in many procedures, minimally invasive surgery is better for patients than open surgery. It is associated with less pain, decreased blood loss and fewer complications. Robotic-assisted surgery has extended the boundaries of minimally invasive surgery, allowing us to offer these procedures to patients who previously had no option except to undergo open surgery.

Hysterectomy is a good example of a procedure that has been improved significantly by robotic surgery. In the past, the traditional open surgery patient was in the hospital for three to four days and recovery took six to eight weeks. Today, approximately 80% of patients undergoing a robotic hysterectomy at Hoag go home the same day. Some only take over-the-counter medications for pain relief and many return to near-normal activity in three to four weeks. This has profoundly transformed the care of our patients.

Hoag’s robotic-assisted surgery program would not be where it is today without the support and dedication of the almost 70 nurses and surgical technicians who staff our operating room. We have grown from five surgeons in three specialties to 47 surgeons in 12 specialties:


–Gynecologic Oncology



–Urologic Oncology

–Cardiovascular Surgery

–Thoracic Surgery

–Colorectal Surgery

–Head & Neck Surgery

–Bariatric Surgery

–Hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) Surgery

–General Surgery

Hoag’s commitment to the robotic surgery program has allowed us to join an elite group of institutions in the country. Beyond reaching the 20,000-procedure milestone, the recent delivery of the da Vinci® SP Robot to our Newport Beach campus represents the ninth robot at our Newport Beach and Irvine campuses. However, it’s the tremendous health care benefits our robotic surgery program brings to our patients that gives us the greatest pride.

Letters to the Editor

Should Newport Beach City Council support the successful acquisition of Banning Ranch?

This week the Costa Mesa City Council passed a resolution to endorse the purchase of Banning Ranch to remain as open space. They cite 17 solid reasons that Costa Mesa should support the acquisition of Banning Ranch for open space. Among the reasons for their resolution, which can be found here (Text of Resolution), they reference the need to provide open park space for residents of their city and neighboring cities, the importance of maintaining the largest undeveloped private piece of land on the California coast between Ventura and the Mexico border, and the need to protect federal and state listed species and rare plants and animals. They further recognize that by restoring and reintroducing tidal flow to the degraded salt marshes within Banning Ranch this would address and mitigate anticipated sea-level rise along the coast. 

The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) has worked tirelessly for four years to negotiate the purchase of Banning Ranch with the property owner and to raise funds for the purchase. Environmental groups such as Still Protecting Our Newport (SPON) and Orange Coast River Park have supported the Banning Ranch Conservancy’s decades long efforts to save Banning Ranch from development of its wetlands, coastal bluffs and coastal open space for the enjoyment of the residents of Orange County and throughout California.   

TPL has raised $83 million toward the purchase price of $97 million. The momentum for this was initiated by a $50 million gift from Newport Beach residents Frank and Joann Randall. 

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris was able to secure an additional $8 million from the state.

TPL and the Banning Ranch Conservancy are so close that it appears to be possible that this goal could be achieved by the deadline of June 2022. TPL has applied for grants that would cover a large portion of the $14 million delta. The approval of those grants will hopefully be revealed in the coming months. 

Costa Mesa is the first city in Orange County to approve a resolution supporting Banning Ranch which would help secure the additional grants needed to complete the purchase.   

My question is, why hasn’t Newport Beach done the same? 

Banning Ranch is within our “Sphere of Influence”; our General Plan Vision Statement affirms that “We preserve our open space resources. We maintain access to and visibility of our beaches, parks, preserves, harbor and estuaries.”

All Newport Beach residents would benefit from an open space park for recreation and relaxation. 

Shouldn’t we encourage our City Council to be the second city in Orange County to pass a Resolution in support of the acquisition and preservation of Banning Ranch as open space for the enjoyment of our residents and all of Orange County?   

We really owe this to the next generation; our children and grandchildren deserve to have open recreational space. And what a great way to support our coastal residents! 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

There’s no Joy in boys town

There was a letter in this morning’s paper that so inspired me that, with “a little help from my friends,” to quote a Beatles’ song, I want to put an assortment of thoughts on the table regarding mayors and city government in Newport Beach. 

First of all, the author of the letter, Lenard Davis, told the story of how the first woman to be elected mayor in Orange County came about in 1954, in Newport Beach before Newport Beach was a charter city. And guess what? She was elected mayor on “a platform to get rid of the corruption in City Hall.” 

Do you see where this is going?

Lenard Davis was, in turn, responding to a letter written by Janet Clarke who was “bemoaning the ol’ boys’ network” which passed over Joy Brenner recently for both mayor and mayor pro tempore. We know that many residents thought that the choice was extremely unfair and that the talents of Joy are far superior to the newly elected mayor pro-tempore, not to mention her greater experience in office.

Well, those who support Joy, who are many, and those who are opposed to electing a mayor, who are many as well, may be able to turn a loss into a gain (if necessary) by talking Joy into running for mayor. Hopefully, the idea of electing a mayor will not come to fruition and that Joy will get her rightful opportunity to serve as mayor and mayor pro tempore when she gets re-elected to Council.

Many of us believe that Joy was not selected for the two positions of leadership because of her failure “to play ball.” Most of the good ol’ boys, however, will be termed out by then and we hope that voters elect councilmembers who serve the community rather than themselves.

Getting back to electing a mayor, there are so many reasons not to and they have been well expressed. The most obvious reason is that as far as anyone knows, despite Will O’Neill seemingly expressing at one time or another that his proposal was “carefully vetted,” no one seems to know the particulars. So, at this point, unless told otherwise, we can only assume that Will is the author. Shouldn’t that be something that we need to know for certain before voting on the proposal to elect a mayor?

The measure that has been placed on the June ballot by the Council in a 4-3 vote is exactly what Will posted on Stu News on September 3rd. This measure is a major change to the Charter, amending eight different sections, deleting roughly 123 existing words and adding roughly 647 new ones! You could compare those major changes to the mere four words in just one section that could change the city to “district” voting but that would have meant that the elected mayor would have to share too much power with the Council.

Pretty presumptuous isn’t it for a man who “rode into town” just a little over eight years ago!

For further information about the charter proposal to elect a mayor, you can refer to

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Assemblywoman applauds Hoag-Providence separation

Earlier this week, the announcement was made that Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and Providence Health were ending their long affiliation. Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris published the following statement on her social media sites.

Today is a great day for reproductive freedom! I want to make sure that you saw the news that Hoag Hospital has reached an agreement to end its 10-year affiliation with Providence Health. 

The separation of Hoag from Providence frees Hoag patients from religious restrictions on healthcare and expands access to vital reproductive healthcare services. I have been a staunch advocate for this separation and I will continue fighting to protect reproductive healthcare, here in Orange County and all across California. 

In May 2020, Hoag took legal action to dissolve its relationship with the Providence St. Joseph Health system. For years, community advocates like you raised the alarm that the affiliation between Hoag Memorial Presbyterian and Providence St. Joseph’s Health System imposed religious restrictions on healthcare, including women’s reproductive healthcare, LGBTQ care and end-of-life care. Vital services, including abortion care, miscarriage management, tubal ligation and contraception have been denied to Hoag patients, in direct violation of two Consent Decrees the parties signed in 2013 and 2014. Hoag doctors have detailed numerous instances in which they said Providence applied the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care to Hoag limiting care.

Over the past year, I have worked with Hoag’s doctors and leadership to resolve this issue, as well as former Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Rob Bonta, to ensure they thoroughly investigated this matter and pushed for an expedited hearing to dissolve the affiliation. 

As part of the settlement agreement, the Attorney General’s Office noted Hoag will expand its reproductive and women’s healthcare offerings, including creation of a program focusing on family planning, contraception and management of high-risk pregnancies and pregnancy termination in Hoag hospital-owned facilities. 

This is a big victory – and it would not have been possible without your engagement and advocacy. With reproductive freedom under assault across the country and here in our own backyard, (yesterday’s) announcement is a powerful testament to your advocacy and hard work. 

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my team if you have any questions or are in need of assistance with state-related issues.

Yours faithfully, 

Cottie Petrie-Norris

Assemblywoman, District 74

This Council is not listening to their constituents and that’s wrong

It is evident that some members on City Council require a basic lesson on how Represented Democracy is supposed to function. Some Councilmembers have a misguided idea of their role on the elected Council. Councilmembers are elected to formulate policy and to carry out the will of the citizens, and to listen to residents’ concerns. Their votes and actions should not be based on their own self-importance! Why does the City Council ignore residents’ concerns? Many times, Council’s actions consider public comment as an annoyance. They are not interested in what active citizens have to say. Why?

A prime example of the pompous working by Council (Will O’Neill) was the appointment of Noah Blom, as Mayor Pro Tem. There was a complete disregard and disrespect of the electorate that spoke to the Council on this subject. It was blatantly obvious that the deed was a fait accompli! This is democracy at its low point. 

The picture now becomes vividly clear as to the type of “game” that Will O’Neill is attempting to foist on the citizens of Newport Beach. His game plan of taking control requires a stable of minions, such as Blom, to do his bidding. Perhaps changing the approved/suggested council districts are next? This is not how democracy is to function and has no place in Newport Beach. 

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Letters to the Editor

Blom had a chance 

Noah Blom has a lot more time left on the city council and Joy Brenner has served with distinction for several years. It’s a shame that Noah Blom could not bring himself to do the honorable and gentlemanly thing, and the right thing, by backing Joy Brenner for Mayor Pro Tem. 

Barbara Peckenpaugh 

Newport Beach

There’s lots of discussion going on in and around the City…What does it all mean?

Fall has been an eventful and stressful period for City Council and the residents of Newport Beach. First came the vote on the charter amendment to Elect the Mayor and, secondly, the decision over the selection of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Both events elicited a considerable number of opinions expressed in the local news sources and on the City’s Public Portal.

The City Council’s two votes were a mirror reflection of each other, both ending in a tally of 4-3. For the selection of leaders there is no “redo,” while the election of the mayoral issue will be decided by the votes of the residents in 2022.

Regarding the expression of opinion on these two issues, I learned something interesting which may not be new to those who are active in city government. In previous years when I attended council meetings the letters of the residents were often printed in a packet that one could pick up at the entrance to the evening meeting. Not so now. 

When I talked to the City Clerk about the printing of my letter, she said that because of the vast number of opinion letters, the letters were printed only on the Public Portal the day of the meeting and were accessible to the public as well as the Council.

My first wish was that the Council would read those letters carefully, because I learned a lot when I perused those of the October 26th meeting. The first surprising thing that I learned was that you don’t have to live in the city to express your written opinion on the Portal, nor do you have to be to speak at City Council meetings. I thought back to those Council meetings where I saw myriad people line up to express opinions. I wonder now how many did not live in Newport Beach.

The same is true of the Portal. Councilmember Diane Dixon came to the same conclusion as I after scanning those letters when she stated at the beginning of her prepared speech at the October 26th meeting, that the letters written in favor of the election of the mayor consisted of formulaic letters written over and over, while the letters in opposition were written, for the most part, with thoughtful ideas which contained deep knowledge of the subject matter. (Her speech is available on YouTube.)

I found upon reading the support letters that many did follow formulaic structures. There were about 3 or 4 letter formats which were repeated over and over, sometimes as many as 25 times. There were also at least 25 copies of a preprinted petition and a final batch of letters with gargantuan type designed perhaps to take up space.

Many of the letters from both sides were very short; there were some long
detailed and thoughtful letters however, written in opposition to electing the mayor.
    In conclusion, I would say that the letters and speeches showed that this topic is very much on people’s minds. But when it comes to voting, only the residents’ opinions will count.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

In honor of my friend “Al” who also had questions about “Elect our Mayor”

My friend of over forty (40) years passed away shortly after Christmas. I will call my friend “Al”. Al was elderly. Ill health for several years. Smart guy – one of the smartest I’ve known. Longtime Newport resident. We talked about all things Newport. Mostly by phone as Al’s health declined.

Several of our discussions involved the upcoming June 7 primary in which the direct election of the Newport Beach Mayor will be on the ballot.

At first, Al and I agreed that “Elect Our Mayor” had a nice ring – yes, democracy in action.

But as our discussions continued this fall and as we studied the issues, chinks in the armor of the catchphrase “Elect Our Mayor” began to appear. 

Al asked:

–A desire to obtain/retain power? Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely?

–Why was the signature gathering effort terminated, i.e., a conventional democratic means of gauging electorate interest and publicly looking at the pluses and minuses?

–What problem are we trying to solve, i.e., if it ain’t broke, …? 

–It’s great for the Mayor’s “District,” but maybe not-so-great for the other Districts.

Isn’t it possible that after serving eight (8) years as a councilmember, the successful mayor candidate may be able to add on another eight (8) years as mayor for a total of sixteen (16) years on the council?

–Have we in the past provided one person with the right in that person’s “sole discretion” to (i) set City Council agendas and (ii) change the order of business on the agendas?

–Will the other Council folks be able to continue to add value or will the consolidation of authority result in less effective leadership for our other Districts?

–Is a “strong mayor” model best for our City where it is possible that he/she may lack appropriate training, education, and experience in municipal administration and finance? Is it possible that this model may tend to result in ill-advised decisions on hiring/firing of key positions? Will we be able to attract/retain accomplished municipal executives under this model?

–Is it an improvement to have one person’s judgment in place of the collective wisdom of seven?

Perhaps with additional study/research and changes to the text of this measure, some of the ideas expressed may be worthwhile.

But as we turn the page to the chapter entitled “2022,” my late friend, Al, has raised a number of legitimate questions about the “Elect Our Mayor” campaign. I am inclined to agree with Al that the City Charter on this issue has served us well for nearly seventy (70) years. The changes as presently proposed are not needed. I urge a “NO” vote on June 7.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

It seems as though Council doesn’t hear or care what residents think

Amy Senk’s observation about the manner in which the City Council seems to ignore residents’ concerns strikes a familiar note with me. In Council meetings it often appears as if there is a magic screen between the Council and the audience preventing the Council from hearing what is being said by the speakers in the crowd. 

An interactive atmosphere at meetings where there is an exchange of ideas between the audience and the Councilmembers would be much more conducive to a setting in which residents feel like their opinions are valued or at least acknowledged.

In the same vein, an acknowledgement of correspondence from residents would be appreciated. I have frequently sent emails to Councilmembers and at least half of the members have never acknowledged one of my emails. Perhaps it would be helpful if the Council were reminded of their job description as some seem to have lost sight of just what that is. By the same token, I appreciate those who do answer mail even if I don’t always like their answers. 

The issue of whether members serve the city at large first or the residents from their district, seems to be confusing to some. Representation, in reality, should be a balance between what the councilmember’s district wants, what the residents of the city at large want and what the councilmember thinks is best for the city. At no time should the desires of outside entities take precedence over the desires of the city’s stakeholders. 

When the Council makes a decision, such as the appointment of Noah Blom as Mayor Pro Tem, which ignores the wishes of both the residents of the district
as well as the city at large, it is a breach of trust with the community. And as one recent writer to Stu News acknowledged, the honorable thing to do would have been for Mr. Blom to refuse to take the appointment.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Who really won? 

As far as I am concerned Joy is my mayor. She sets the best example of what it is to be a leader. These men, Duffy, Muldoon, O’Neil and Blom can never do what she does and will never have the respect she has. They can steal the title and manipulate the system but they can’t earn our respect. They do not deserve it.

Jennifer Irani

Newport Beach

Brenner’s omission lends to hints of inequities and gender bias

I was one of many residents who either attended or watched the December 14 City Council meeting. That evening, many NB residents made public comments highly supportive of the election of Joy Brenner – as well as the spoken endorsements of both members Dixon and Mayor Avery. NB social media sites were also highly active in their support of Joy. It was also acknowledged that evening that CdM has not had Mayor/Mayor Pro Tem representation since 2012.

As a fairly new resident of Newport Beach (District 5), I have become interested in observing and supporting the success of our city. But it was difficult to watch when member Duffield nominated Blom with the remaining male majority falling quickly in line.

What many residents are still reacting to is the inequity and gender bias of that election. Ms. Brenner has been an active, committed and highly involved NB citizen – but who has not been voted in as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem during her elected term. Mr. Blom, a freshman Council member, has managed to bring bad press to NB with drinking from the dais – as well as other reported personal issues and having little civic involvement.

Council members, Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem are paid City employees who I assume must comply with both Appendix A (City of Newport Beach Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy) and CA Fair Employment and Housing Act. I am unaware of any City Charter provision which addresses selection criteria when council votes for leadership. 

So, what we ended up with that evening is gender bias, discrimination and ignorance of experience worthy of a promotion vote. As a female who worked in our Orange County business community for decades, I was both disturbed and offended. That type of behavior would not be tolerated in any of our respective businesses. Assuming that you all invite residents to become involved in our City, that vote is being seen by many as a political misstep.

Kathe Morgan

Villa Point

Letters to the Editor

My thoughts on Noah Blom being elected to Mayor Pro Tem

I recently witnessed Noah Blom in action at the city council meeting for the remodel of the gas station/mini mart vote.

Two or three times he chose to lecture the residents in attendance on what was best for the city and this project. 

It is my understanding this time is for the residents of the city to express their concerns and thoughts to the council on items that are going on in our city, up for vote or coming up for vote. 

I thought he was arrogant and condescending to the attending residents in the council chambers. 

As far as drinking at the council meeting. Noah Blom was voted to the city council to represent his constituents. It is a privilege to be voted in as a city councilmember. Noah Blom’s job is to represent the community, to engage with the community, encourage community participation and protect our city. 

This is a critical job for the future of Newport Beach. I do not know any responsible employer that allows their employees to drink on the job. Even if it’s not illegal, judges, doctors and a lot of other professional occupations, including councilmembers, should not drink on the job. In this case, it shows how little Noah Blom respects or cares about the residents and their issues that need to be addressed.

This is unacceptable!

Please do not elect Noah Blom as Mayor Pro Tem!!!

Anonymity requested

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

Maybe fingers are being pointed in the wrong direction

Mr. Johnson, concerning your wine investigation, I am always suspicious when I hear “The Pot calling the Kettle Black.” You should be more concerned about council members who come to meetings ill prepared because they haven’t taken the time to read staff reports and then wasting every one’s time having matters explained to them. To me that is a huge problem for an elected official and a huge disgrace. 

Never once has Noah attended a meeting of the council or any other citizen gathering without obtaining the knowledge that might be needed to make knowledgeable decisions. He has participated in Zoom meetings while being on a family vacation and attending his son’s rowing regattas, while some council members just don’t show up during vacations and personal activities. 

Dedication and diligence vs. a glass of wine? New ideas and “thinking out of the box” vs. pettiness and old guard mentality? Maybe the Pot needs to stop looking in trash cans and start seeing what really counts.

John Blom

Newport Beach

Alcohol consumption raises other issues for council

 I feel sympathy for Noah, knowing that he must have felt pressure the night that he gave his speech on personal freedom. I was not surprised, however, after listening to that rather lengthy speech that I personally could not follow, that alcohol was most likely involved. 

The extent to which his drinking is a problem, however, as much as we might feel sympathy for him, is a serious issue for our City Council. 

Also, the evening that his alcohol consumption was revealed is the evening that our Council made one of the most important decisions in its history. So, we really have several issues:

–One of our leaders has admitted to drinking on the dais. The extent to which the Council acknowledges and deals with the gravity of this problem, will reveal the quality of their leadership.

–The fact that he was drinking the night that an important vote was taken should invalidate the results of the vote in which he was involved.

–Not only should this issue be dealt with in a professional manner, but Noah should also, at the very least, not be appointed to a role of leadership on the Council.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Should we be concerned? Concealed consumption sometimes can mask other issues

Regarding certain members of Council imbibing during meetings, I note the following: knowing one or more of Council’s personalities, I am not surprised. What surprises me more than the act is the voiced approval by a number of supposedly rational citizens.   

Concealed alcohol consumption is a clear indication of a deeper affliction of alcoholism. We have a long-time friend who lost his executive position in a major corporation due to alcoholism. 

We were mystified, as for over two decades we saw only consumption of Sprite or 7Up as he was “sensitive to caffeine.” Lo and behold, when the curtain was pulled back, he was caught filling his Sprite can with…you guessed it, with wine! Sound familiar?

The one published supporter said that an operator of a local restaurant could not have an alcohol problem. Are you kidding me? Lots of small businesses are constrained by the albatross of owner alcoholism, especially in restaurants where the wine consumed is a write-off as a business expense. 

Dick Weaver

Castle Rock, CO

Letters to the Editor

Ballot initiative to restore local control

SB9 was passed and signed into law in October. It allows any single-family lot to be subdivided into two lots and then allows a duplex to be built on each of the lots. SB10 was also signed into law in October. With the approval of a future  City Council, SB10 would allow any single-family lot to have a 10-unit apartment built on it. None of these housing units are required, or likely to be, affordable. There are no provisions for infrastructure (water, sewers, streets or public services like police and fire). There are no public hearings and the City is required to approve plans with very few restrictions. You can use your imagination to think what Newport Beach will look like in 5 years....

There is a ballot initiative that would reverse these recent State mandated housing laws like SB9 and SB10 (and several other State housing laws) that threaten our single-family neighborhoods. This initiative would restore the City’s control over our local Land Use and Zoning! The City Council voted to support this initiative at their November 30th Council meeting. 

You can read the text of the initiative here:

This initiative will amend the California Constitution and reverse SB9 and SB10. If enough signatures are gathered, it will appear on the November 2022 ballot as the “Tripartisan Land Use Initiative” (The State Attorney General has the responsibility of assigning the name, so the fact that it is vague was not by the author’s choice.).

Within the State of California, we need to gather 1 million signatures in the next 150 days. Any registered voter in California can sign the petition. There is an active group of concerned citizens who are organizing groups of resident signature gatherers to circulate the petitions. We are looking for volunteers to talk to their neighbors and walk in their neighborhoods to provide information and petitions to their neighbors. If you are interested in helping with this effort, you can sign up at:

You can also email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will make sure that you get petitions, information on SB9 and other state mandates and instructions on how to gather the signatures.   

If we can get enough signatures from friends and neighbors, we can make a significant contribution to getting this on the November 2022 ballot!   

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

Joy Brenner for Mayor Pro Tem

Let me start by saying that I have confidence that Council knows what is best for the city and each individual Council member will do what they feel is in the best interests of the city. They are the most informed in the city and this important decision belongs with their capable leadership.

About two years ago, I became interested in city government after learning that a local issue was best resolved by the City Council. It started with inquiring whether anything could be done with massive amounts of local construction on Newport Island. The noise, traffic congestion and parking problems were becoming unbearable. I soon learned that was unsolvable but also learned that the growth in Short Term Rentals was exasperating the problem. I knew that, left unchecked, the Island would no longer be the safe, quiet, and peaceful community it once was. Construction issues would come and go, but STR problems would increase.

After reaching out to city staff, I contacted Diane Dixon who is the Council member for Newport Island and Mayor at that time. She helped to direct me to what would be needed to facilitate change. That expanded to addressing the City Council as well as the Planning Commission and city staff. 

What I soon learned was that city staff is capable, sympathetic and helpful. Knowing that working with City Council was imperative, I increased my participation by attending City Council meetings and communicating with City Council members. We received solid support from our district representative, Diane Dixon. We would not have received the needed relief without Mayor Avery, Council members Dixon, ‘Duffy’ Duffield and Joy Brenner, all of whom supported the concerns of the residents. Although she was not our district representative, Council member Brenner went the extra mile to inform, educate and support Newport Island residents’ efforts to address our growing STR issues.

Sure, I was a bit naïve. Naturally, I perceived the function of the Council was to represent the best interests of most residents in the city. No government touches residents quicker and closer than city government. As I observed that city government also represented city business concerns, I understood a balance was needed but I still believed that representing residents should be the primary function of city government.

The actions of Joy Brenner have resonated with me that she shares the same beliefs regarding protecting the rights of citizens. Perhaps more importantly, after observing her service for the city, she truly has the best interests of the city in her vision. She listens to all sides, is respectful to everyone, has an open mind, asks pointed questions, does her homework and casts her votes as an independent. In the years of watching the Council in action, I know of no controversy surrounding her, and her character and integrity are without reproach. 

I have learned about the rotating process of electing the Mayor and how Mayor Pro Tem typically is next in line. It is a good process, especially if time served on the council is taken into consideration. It seems to me that a certain skill set is needed and much of that skill set is ‘on the job’ training. 

I do think the Mayor Brad Avery has done a great job and personally I would give him another year, but I understand the process. I strongly advocate for Joy Brenner to serve as Mayor Pro Tem. She checks all the boxes and a vote for her is in the best interests of the residents in Newport Beach. It is also the right thing to do.

Gary Cruz

Newport Beach

For a lot of reasons, now is not Noah’s time

I am not alone in saying that I am absolutely disgusted by Noah’s behavior and his arrogant, flippant attitude. Would someone mind explaining what “results” Noah has ushered through at council?

He offers no new insights other than to back whatever vote Mr. O’Neill puts forth. He has stated he is not a politician and knows nothing about how our city works.

He can’t do anything for the people on Balboa Island because he has too many conflicts of interests to do them any good, so please explain the “results” Noah has accomplished.

Noah is a renter and not a stakeholder, so therefore he pays NO taxes to our City.

Noah took paycheck protection money that got forgiven. Wasn’t his restaurant open the entire time?

How do ANY of you justify not making Joy Brenner, the senior councilwoman, Mayor Pro Tem next week? Is it because she’s a woman? Shame on you!

Noah will have his turn; it just shouldn’t be now.

If Blom has any integrity being that he’s “cut from another cloth,” he will hand off the Mayor Pro Tem to Joy Brenner. 

I won’t hold my breath!

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

The question is, who makes the “grade” for the City’s top positions?

Although nothing quite surprises me when it comes to the actions of our City Council, I must say that the latest information that I have learned probably heads the list of inappropriate behavior and backroom politics with no consideration for their effect on the reputation and well-being of the city. I hesitate to use the term “inappropriate behavior” because it pegs me as the schoolteacher that I was and it most likely colors my perception. 

Joy Brenner is articulate, extremely professional, and popular in the community. She deserves an A and an O. 

These attributes seem not to merit the appreciation of a competitive group of members who put their own political future ahead of the well-being of our community. Anything other than her selection as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem is a poor choice because every other member of council has had his/her turn, some several turns. 

Only jealousy of Joy’s excellent standing in the community would motivate one not to champion her selection.

(I believe that there are among the council those who know what is fair to Joy and right for our city, and I hope that they will speak up.)

Secondly, the suggestion that Councilman Blom be considered as Mayor Pro Tem is not only most unfair to Joy Brenner but more importantly, to the city of Newport Beach. He is at the beginning of his first term as Councilman. 

I opposed his candidacy as I had done research on his professional credentials. Before the COVID vaccination was available, Noah Blum’s reputation for flouting safe COVID protocol in his restaurants merited him an F grade by a well-known food critic in an Orange County newspaper…A for food, F for community ethics

Next, Noah replaced an extremely articulate, professional councilmember
whose knowledge and leadership skills on Council are sorely missed by those of us who want to look up to Councilmembers, not down on political jealousies, maneuvering and unprofessional behavior. 

Having heard others whom, I trust speak of Noah’s unprofessional behavior and trying to personally follow the logic of his public speeches and political stances on personal freedom, I can only question the motives of those councilmembers who champion his selection.

I hope that our council will do the right thing: Vote for Joy as Mayor or at the very least, Mayor Pro Tem.

Lynn Lorenz 

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Elected mayor is just not right for Newport Beach for so many reasons

I am a resident of Newport Beach; my family moved here in 1972; and my parents were honored a few years back as “Citizens of the Year” in Newport Beach. 

I am writing to urge you to vote NO on the proposal for direct election of the mayor.

The key argument for the proposed change is that the “people of Newport Beach should elect their mayor.” But it is not quite right to say that the people of Newport Beach do not select their mayor. The citizens elect seven members of the city council and the council members select (each year) one of their number to serve as mayor for a one-year term. Given the small size of the city council, and the four-year terms of the members, and the frequency of second terms, most people who are elected to city council serve as mayor for at least one year. The people thus select their mayor indirectly, by electing a city council whose duties include selecting one of their members to serve as mayor each year.

Many other important positions in our governments are filled in a similar indirect manner. The people do not elect the Speaker of the US House of Representatives; the members of the House select the Speaker every two years. The people do not elect the federal attorney general, or indeed any other member of the Executive Branch; they elect a president (through another indirect mechanism, the Electoral College) who appoints (with the advice and consent of the Senate) the key members of the Executive.

The current system effectively ensures that mayors have experience in our city government. If you look at the men and women who have been mayor since 2001, all but one of them served at least one year as mayor pro tem and another year as city council member before becoming mayor. The only exception was John Heffernan, who was elected as mayor midyear in 2005, after serving eighteen months on the city council, to fill the vacancy created by the mid-year resignation of Steven Bromberg. 

Nothing prohibits the city council members from selecting, in December, a member who has just been elected in November, but they have not done so in more than twenty years, for good reason. There is a de facto requirement of at least two years of city council experience to become mayor of Newport Beach. 

Under the proposed system, there is no guarantee that the person elected mayor will have any prior experience on the city council or indeed in our city government at all. 

If you look at other cities in California, some of them have directly elected mayors (including Los Angeles and San Diego) but far more of them have city councils (like ours) that select a short- term mayor from among their number. The pattern is clear: cities with large populations almost always have a directly elected mayor, and cities with smaller populations almost always have mayors selected by the city council. 

Newport Beach is not a large city; the population according to the 2020 census is only 85,239 people. In a ranking of California cities by population, Newport Beach is (just barely) among the hundred largest cities. 

If you look at cities in Orange County with about the same population as Newport Beach, in other words 80-100,000 people, only one of them, Westminster, elects its mayor directly. Five cities in this population bracket, including Mission Viejo and Lake Forest, both with larger populations than Newport Beach, use the same system as Newport Beach, that is indirect election. 

And there are even larger cities, including Fullerton and Huntington Beach, that use indirect rather than direct elections to choose their mayors.

There is only one city in Orange County with a population smaller than Newport Beach that elects its mayor directly: Stanton. 

The current system of selecting the Newport Beach mayor from among the council members for a one-year term and limiting the mayor’s role to presiding over the council meetings, works well. The system encourages collegiality among the members of the council, for each member either has served or is likely to serve soon as mayor. The system encourages the city staff to treat each member of the council with respect, not to defer to the powerful mayor and to slight the weaker council members. 

To put the point another way, if we shift to the directly elected, more-powerful mayor envisaged by the proposal, the city manager would be demoted to something like chief-of-staff for the mayor. That would impede our ability to attract and retain a talented and dedicated city manager.

The current Newport Beach term limits ensure that no person serves on the city council for more than eight years. The proposed system would allow a person to serve on the city council for eight years and then serve another eight years as mayor. We should not create even the possibility of a single person having that length of tenure, that degree of control, over Newport Beach city government. 

The proposal would make another key change in the city charter; it would give the mayor “sole discretion to set city council agendas” unless three out of the six other members of the city council vote to place an item on the agenda. It might appear that this is not much of a change, because at present the support of three council members is required to put an item on the agenda. In practice, however, this is a major change, because it gives the mayor sole power to set the agenda unless three of his colleagues disagree—something not likely to happen often. Moreover, under the current system, a council member can often get an item on the agenda indirectly, through the city manager. The proposed system would take away the power the city manager currently has to put items on the agenda—another diminution of her role. 

The current system for selecting the mayor of Newport Beach has been in place for more than seventy years and has worked well. The advocates of the change have not pointed to any problem in the current system that needs to be fixed. They simply say that “the people should elect the mayor” without noticing that there are many other mayors who are not directly elected. Why does Newport Beach need a directly elected mayor when so many other cities do so well with indirectly selected mayors?

The proponents of the changes to the charter have not cited any social science evidence that directly elected mayors “do better” than indirectly elected mayors. 

It may be tempting for the city council, at the forthcoming meeting on October 26, to say “some people favor the proposal, some oppose the proposal, let us put the issue on the ballot and let the people decide.” That would be a mistake. We elect the city council to make some difficult decisions for us, including decisions on whether to place measures on the ballot. Not every measure that attracts some support (and I would note that we do not know how many people have signed the petition in favor of the change) deserves a place on the ballot. We already know enough to know that this measure would harm, rather than help, Newport Beach.

For all these reasons, I urge you to vote NO on the proposed city charter change. 

Walter B. Stahr 

Newport Beach

Electing a mayor or not electing a mayor, it’s about what’s best for Newport Beach

On Tuesday Oct. 26, the Newport Beach City Council will be voting on the possibility of putting an elect the mayor (directly) initiative on the June or November 2022 ballot. This idea has apparently been crafted by Councilmember Will O’Neill, as he is the only councilmember openly promoting it. On its face it sounds swell. Who doesn’t want to elect the mayor? 

However, the plan, as currently written and without any citizen or council involvement, is a clear consolidation of power. Currently seven councilmembers share an equal vote in our council/manager form of government. This proposal, in its current form, would give an elected mayor extra power over the rest of the council and preclude future councilmembers from serving in the largely ceremonial post as mayor.

In the 2020 election, Mr. O’Neill got a record number of votes to retain his seat on the council. He is very popular, especially with young folks and those that get their news from a mobile device. My guess is that if this is passed on the 2022 ballot, come 2024 when Mr. O’Neill is termed out on council, he would run for mayor. The folks that supported his Elect Our Mayor idea would be happy and likely vote for him as mayor. Maybe he even gets elected to a second term for a total of 16 years on council. Eventually he would be termed out and we would be voting for a new mayor.

Also, in the last election Tito Ortiz got the most votes ever in the Huntington Beach City Council election. A popular person like Mr. Ortiz, or any zealot with a following and financial support could move to town and get elected mayor. Come to think about it, that’s how Team Newport was created! That person could have four and possibly eight years to destroy the city for the special interests that got them elected. One person should not have that much power in our city.

The idea of an elected mayor in Newport Beach is not about how popular Will O’Neill is. It’s about what’s best for Newport Beach. Seven councilmembers with an equal vote works.

Please attend the City Council meeting on October 26th and let your voice be heard.

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Council can lead by giving voters the choice

On Tuesday night, the City Council has a pretty simple question to answer. Do they trust voters to make a decision about electing the mayor? 

Only the voters can change the charter. Only voters can choose whether they want to elect their mayor. And so, it’s time for the same people who rely on voters to occupy their positions on the city council to trust the voters again with this important decision.

Without question, we want to Elect Our Mayor. Many people agree with that basic statement and agree that the system proposed makes a whole lot of sense. Some people have disagreed with that basic statement. But we won’t know how many are on either side without an election. 

No one on the City Council could possibly speak for the “community” by voting against giving the community the choice.

In an era when governments across the board are taking away choices, Newport Beach’s City Council can be the light shining through as one that gives its residents the ability to take the power of electing the mayor back. 

We encourage the City Council to support voter choice by placing the Elect Our Mayor initiative on the ballot.

Michelle and John Somers

Newport Beach

The people’s power grab

Only the City Council currently has the power to select the mayor. We, the voters, don’t choose the mayor. We choose the city councilmembers who might become mayor. But we don’t choose the mayor directly.

Next week, the City Council can vote to do something pretty courageous. It can offer the people of Newport Beach the chance to take back power. To take back the ability to choose our mayor.

It would place the power in the hands of the entire city, not just a few. Maybe the community will want that power. Maybe not. We won’t know unless the issue is placed on the ballot.

Some opponents of this measure don’t even want to find out whether the people want this power to choose and are asking the City Council to insert themselves yet again between the voting public and choosing the mayor. Some opponents have even claimed that this is a power grab by a handful of people, which just doesn’t make any sense at all.

Any person who wants to become mayor in the new system would have to go through the gauntlet of public elections. Debates, fundraising and asking for votes. We get the say in that situation. We, the voting public, have the power in that situation. 

Let’s take that power back. Let’s Elect Our Mayor

Jeanine Bashore

Newport Beach

Tabling mayor decision for comprehensive study would allow for informed discussion

Over the years, I have had the privilege of participating in a number of the most significant political lawsuits emerging from our county. They range from restructuring how votes are recounted (Supervisor, now Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen) to First Amendment issues (Senator Pat Bates) to question of home rule in the appointment of individuals to vacant government positions (Supervisor/Senator Bill Campbell and Assemblyman/Supervisor/District Attorney Todd Spitzer). Then there are the numerous recounts and other political challenges that I have been involved in.

I bring these matters up not to toot my own horn but to establish that political and election law are one of the few areas where I actually do know what I am talking about. Furthermore, it is not my purpose here to advocate either for or against the proposal. My intent is to simply point out some significant flaws in how this matter is being processed and what might be done to make it a more coherent matter for voters to understand and determine.

Section 400 of the current and proposed charters defines the city council as the mayor and the members. The section goes on to state that any changes proposed or made that are “contrary to the intent and context of other such provisions” are invalid. The direct election of a mayor would allow for one person to serve on the city council, in one capacity or another, for a total of 16 years. This is directly in contradiction to the intent and context of the term limit provision passed by the voters.

Furthermore, the initiative envisions a process whereby the elected mayor will ascend from the ranks of the City Council. However, it does nothing to prevent an individual from being elected mayor for two terms and then running for city council, thus, again, circumventing the intention of the voters.

By any standard, the language is vague and ambitious, and perhaps contradictory, and thus subject to challenge.

At Section 404(b) of the proposed initiative, all power regarding agenda items and, essentially, all issues to be determined by the city government, are in the hands of the elected mayor. Thus, individual members of the City Council, and by extension their district constituents, are prevented from bringing issues to the council that might only impact a specific district, again barring voters access to the legislative process. This subjects both city policy and even the ability to raise city issues to the subjective, arbitrary and capricious whims of the elected mayor.

With regard to the nominating process, Section 1004 requires that a specific number of signatures be gathered on a nominating petition. Unlike City Council candidates who are required to secure signatures from the district that they want to represent, there is nothing in the mayoral requirements that discusses where the signatures must come from. As such, an individual can secure the entirety of the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot from a single district, or specific portion of that district. This provision again denies the average voter his due process rights since he has no say in who is nominated.

Reducing the number of districts from seven to six further disenfranchises voters and dilutes their votes, in direct violation of the California Voting Rights Act. As an aside, I have litigated several voting rights actions and, frankly, the bar for making the argument regarding disenfranchisement, and thus forcing all districts to be redrawn, is quite low.

Additionally, there is no analysis of how these substantive changes in our city charter will fiscally impact the city and its operations. This omission is in direct contradiction to the mandates of California Elections Code Section 9005. Additionally, the proposed initiative does not provide an impartial analysis by either the City Attorney or the City Manager as prescribed in California Elections Code Section 9008. It is impossible for the City Council, much less the general public, to make an informed decision as to whether or not the question should even be on the ballot until they are fully informed as to the potential consequences that will be realized.

The City Council is seeking to make substantive changes to how our city operates and how we choose the people who will represent us. This should not be a rash rush to an end that may not be justified or necessary.

It is respectfully requested that the City Council table this proposal for 90 days so that significant public input can be secured, a comprehensive study of the impact and ramifications of the issues presented can be conducted and, then, with an understanding of where we are potentially going, the City Council and the public can have an informed discussion about whether or not it makes sense to directly elect our mayor.

Phillip B Greer

Newport Beach

Undermining term limits is one of the many objectional things that this Elect Our Mayor proposal does

Barbara Eusey’s letter in Tuesday’s Stu News practically defines ‘people unclear on the concept’ when she claims that the elected mayor proposal “doesn’t change city council term limits.” 

In fact, undermining term limits is one of the many objectional things that this proposal does. In 1992, 83% of Newport voters passed an initiative enacting a two-term limit for our City Council. The elected mayor proposal would allow a politician to serve eight years as a city councilmember and then another eight years as an elected mayor, for a total of 16 consecutive years.   

How is that not changing our term limit requirement? The odd thing about this initiative is that a city councilmember can run for mayor, but a mayor cannot subsequently run for City Council. The logic of this is completely obtuse, but since the whole proposal is poorly thought out, I guess I’m not surprised. 

I certainly do agree with Ms. Eusey that everyone should read this initiative thoroughly because anyone who wants good governance will immediately recognize that this proposal is fatally flawed and should not be supported.

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Letters to the Editor

Today is Pearl Harbor Day

Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese fighter pilots attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t just the beginning of World War II for America, it was, as President Roosevelt solemnly told Congress the next day, “a date which will live in infamy.”

The war lasted more than four years. In the end, 407,316 U.S. troops fought and died so that future generations, like mine, could live in peace and freedom. Ironically, Col. Edward Shames, the last remaining officer of the historic WW II parachute infantry regiment, known as Easy Company, died a few days ago at age 99. So did Bob Dole. On Sunday, the 1996 Republican nominee for president, passed away at age 98. I’m sure Shames, this proud member of the Band of Brothers, and Dole, the former U.S. Senator, would have wanted us to remember Pearl Harbor Day.

Today, we are fighting several wars simultaneously. First, the war on international terrorism; second, the war against COVID; and third, the war against each other. After fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years, we owe it to the more than 7,000 U.S. troops who died there to continue guarding against threats to America. The same is true when it comes to the memory of the more than 750,000 moms, dads, brothers and sisters, who have been felled by the coronavirus. If you ask me, the sooner tens of millions of our neighbors get vaccinated, the sooner we can resume our pre-pandemic lives. 

And then there is the war Americans are fighting on street corners and in Congress. Except for places like Charlottesville, where Neo-Nazis marched in 2017, and the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where rioters tried to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power last January, today’s war is mostly vile, disgusting words. My fear is, if left unchecked, these words easily could escalate to hand-to-hand combat here at home. And that, my friends, is not what Col. Shames, Bob Dole – or the millions of U.S. soldiers who marched off to war in the 1940s – fought to protect.

Yes, Dec. 7, 1941 was a date which will live in infamy. For the sake of our nation’s future, I hope and pray we never see another one.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach   

A father’s eyes see no wrong

Mr. John Blom claims his son “thinks out of the box.” If a father will not hold his son accountable then why would his son accept responsibility for his poor choices? 

Unfortunately, Noah Blom chose to drink on the dais at a City Council meeting. He made that decision all on his own. He is mature enough to know what is expected of him. And he still made a poor choice. 

I’m all for new ideas and innovative ways to solve problems but Noah Blom’s behavior does not convince me he is capable of that. For every minute we have wasted on Noah Blom’s poor choices the Council could have spent on useful and meaningful issues. That is a form of theft. Time is valuable. Instead of contributing he has taken valuable time from all of us.

Jennifer Irani

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

The question remains, WHY?

Now that Newport Beach City Councilman Will O’Neill has gotten his wish and convinced three of his council buddies to vote and put the “Elect Our Mayor” initiative on a June ballot for voters to decide if Newport Beach needs a full time Mayor, and all the new expenses that it brings, it begs the question…WHY?

Let me be perfectly clear here. It isn’t like we had incompetent City Managers over the years…NO. Or incompetent City Councilmembers over the years…NO. Or the City of Newport Beach is in such dire straits that it’s crying out for help…NO.

What we have just witnessed is a blatant political power grab from people who want nothing more than to advance their own political careers at the expense of a city, plain and simple. And if they deny it, as I said at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, “they have peaked in high school.”

I sincerely thank Councilmembers Joy Brenner, Brad Avery and Diane Dixon, who showed their love and respect for the city and its history, by dissenting.

Roy Englebrecht

Newport Beach 

Stu News encourages Letters to the Editor and they should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Deadlines for submission are Monday noon, for Tuesday publication and Thursday noon, for Friday publication. Stu News reserves the right to approve and/or edit all letters.

Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO


Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


COVID-19 booster shot eligibility

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, M.D., FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

In our ongoing efforts to protect our community against COVID-19, we are pleased to update you about changes to booster shot eligibility. While we continue to provide booster shots to older adults and high-risk individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, we are now able to provide booster shots to eligible adults who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have authorized booster shots of any available COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals who completed primary vaccination with either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson inoculations, a strategy referred to as “mix and match.” This includes:

–Eligible individuals who received the Moderna vaccine for their primary series at least 6 months ago, and who are 65 years or older, or 18-64 years and at high-risk, can receive a booster vaccine.

–Eligible individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their primary vaccine dose at least 2 months ago, and who are 18 years or older, can receive a booster vaccine.

Hoag is offering the Pfizer vaccine at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine to eligible individuals ages 12 years and older. For information about appointments and to schedule a visit, go to Our Fly Well Clinic at John Wayne Airport continues to provide the Johnson & Johnson dose to eligible adults as well. 

“Third doses” are recommended at least four weeks after a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for people with weakened immune systems. This is not considered a booster. Instead, it is part of the recommended immunization schedule for people whose compromised immune systems inhibit them from generating a robust immune response after just two shots. 

Talk with your doctor if you believe this applies to you.

If you would like to receive the Moderna vaccine, visit Vaccine Finder to view available locations near you.

We continue to applaud our medical workers who have guided us from a pandemic to an endemic situation. We are deeply grateful for their skill, professionalism and enduring dedication. 

We are also grateful to each of our community members who have received the vaccine and helped to slow the spread of the disease. Your actions continue to protect yourself, your family and our community. If you have not yet received your first dose of the vaccine, now is the time to take action. 

As we have from the very beginning, Hoag is here to be your source of information, care and protection from COVID-19. As this situation evolves, we will continue to reach out and update our community about ways in which you can protect yourselves and those around you. 

Thank you for your continued support.


Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Letters to the Editor

Trust the voters to Elect Our Mayor

I respect the difficult decision it must take to run for City Council. Fundraising, knocking on doors, going to debate after debate and taking a beating sometimes on social media. So even when I disagree with the candidate, I respect the effort.

None of that effort exists, though, to become Mayor of Newport Beach. Once a person becomes a City Councilmember, they become one of only seven people eligible to become Mayor. 

Voters are trusted to choose City Councilmembers. We should be trusted to Elect Our Mayor. 

The initiative to do that is exactly right. Voters get to choose. Candidates would have to convince us, not just a few of their colleagues. 

Accountability, transparency and trust will all be improved if we can Elect Our Mayor.

Brandi Bagley

Corona del Mar 

Don’t like the idea of the Elect The Mayor proposal being possibly agendized by council

It was rumored that a sizable number of proponents were going to attend Tuesday’s, Oct. 12th City Council meeting to support Councilmember Will O’Neill’s Elect a Mayor plan. However, the supporters never materialized, leaving instead an audience primarily of opponents. It was not unusually large, but sufficient in size to chasten the council members for considering putting the mayoral plan on the discussion calendar for a future date. (O’Neill [reportedly] had abandoned the route of gathering signatures when he realized that doing so was a lengthy and expensive process.)

Not one person in the audience spoke in favor of electing a mayor. Instead, in measured and intelligent speeches, seven community leaders spoke against the proposal citing the fact that electing a mayor should be one vetted by the whole community not just the council before going on the ballot. This, said one speaker, would allow for more careful consideration of the proposal. 

The failure of the proposal to meet the term limits of the city charter, thus allowing the mayor to serve 16 uninterrupted years in leadership instead of eight years, sets an unbelievably long period of control by one person. This long period of leadership coupled with the expanded power that the new proposal would give the mayor in relationship to the council could easily lead to authoritarian rule. 

When it came time to vote, it appeared that Mr. O’Neill had already persuaded the council to support bringing the proposal up for discussion at a future date. My observations of the council members’ faces and gestures indicated to me that they were not overly enthusiastic about their votes or their role. In fact, not one council person commented or spoke to issues brought forth by the audience. 

Giving the council the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they thought that putting the plan on a future agenda would allow them to discuss the proposal at length. Unfortunately, this has not been a successful route in the past for opponents of an issue because public discussion will occur in only one meeting consisting of comments to the council. It excludes the public from any meaningful discussion regarding whether this major attempt to restructure our city government should even make it as far as the ballot.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

No shortcuts should be used in getting the ballot initiative Elect Our Mayor on the ballot

I am opposed to Councilman Will O’Neill’s initiative to Elect Our Mayor in