May 2014.

Our state is in trouble because of big-government politicians like Curry. We should reject his Assembly candidacy and keep him here in Newport Beach, where he can be recalled and replaced.

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http://www.dailypilot.com/opinion/tn-dpt-me-0601-mailbag-20140530,0,1622217.story

 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Where can Curry do least harm?

I recently read a commentary by Newport Beach Councilman Mike Henn and former Mayor Dennis O’Neil supporting Councilman Keith Curry for Assembly (“Commentary: Curry is the best choice for Assembly,” May 15).

I disagree with the headline. But I must confess, I am torn overall.

Curry’s government-knows-best philosophy is best suited for Sacramento — not Newport Beach. We recently witnessed his too-cute-by-half explanation for the Lincoln Club rescinding its endorsement of him. Very Sacramento-esque.

If Curry is elected to the Assembly, he can’t hurt Newport’s taxpayers anymore. But that’s the wrong way to look at it.

I am a native Californian, and I love this state. I am saddened to see it deteriorate at the hands of an incompetent Legislature that is growing the government at an unsustainable pace while driving business to Texas. Curry will only add to this trend.

Our state is in trouble because of big-government politicians like Curry. We should reject his Assembly candidacy and keep him here in Newport Beach, where he can be recalled and replaced.

Bob McCaffrey

Balboa Island

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This chair is not part of the Mr. English’s column, but we couldn’t resist

 

Newport Independent

 

By Kurt English on May 24th, 2014

Take a Seat—in a $1,000 Chair

 

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Residents For Reform (residentsforreform.com) and their concerns about excessive city spending.

I discussed a 2013 Orange County Register article stating that the new city hall was “furnished with high-end furniture and fixtures, including 204 leather Herman Miller chairs designed by modernist designers Charles and Ray Eames, at a cost of $1,073 each, according to city invoices.”

I was so surprised by the $1073 chair that I asked city officials for copies of these invoices but I did not get them.

I spoke to Steve Badum, the Assistant City Manager. He was the city’s project manager for the construction of the new city hall.

I asked Badum about this Register article and the $1,073 chairs. He responded that the cost might be accurate for Herman Miller conference chairs but can’t verify it without reviewing the invoices.

dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-me-0523-duffy-announces-council-run-20140522,0,4473620.story

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Duffy boat inventor running for City Council

By Emily Foxhall

6:12 PM PDT, May 22, 2014

Duffy - Head ShotThe mayor of Newport Beach now has a challenger for his City Council seat.

Supported by more than 50 people who gave more than $60,000 at a “Draft Duffy” partyWednesday night, Marshall “Duffy” Duffield agreed to run for the District 3 seat — a decision that the businessman said did not come naturally to him.

“It’s shocking to me,” he said. “I don’t aspire to this. It’s just out of necessity and others pushing me, supporting me to do this.”

Many residents are fed up with a local government that they believe spends too much and is out of touch with its constituents, said Duffield, who is well known in the city for the electric boats that his namesake company produces.

But Duffield noted that a significant opportunity to change the direction of the seven-person council has opened up with four council members reaching their term limits and Mayor Rush Hill facing reelection.

He just hadn’t anticipated that he would be the one to take advantage of it.

A resident of Newport Beach since he was a child, Duffield recalled nights spent sitting around the dinner table, listening to his father discuss efforts to stop a freeway from being built through town.

It took seven years of fighting to stop that project, he said, but the lesson in civic engagement has stuck with him.

“The bottom line is that if you don’t do anything about it, you don’t have any right to complain about it,” he said.

And so, Duffield entered the council race.

Duffield hopes the city can get a better handle on its long-term debt. He also believes that the council should reevaluate the city’s revenue sources — for instance, whether residents are being taxed too much or charged too much for permits.

A harbor commissioner for 10 years until 2012, Duffield criticized the current council for a lack of respect for its commissions. He said he believes council members should be better listeners rather than ignore recommendations in favor of their own agendas.

“The council does what it wants,” he said of the current group. “It doesn’t do what the people want.”

With respect to the harbor — the “crown jewel” of the city, he said — Duffield wants to pursue more frequent dredging in smaller amounts using city-owned equipment that could be leased to contractors.

He dismissed Hill’s idea for a water taxi as one that simply sounded cool but could not be sustained. And it doesn’t warrant a city subsidy, he added.

As for Hill’s push for floating docks? He said the concept was nothing new and should be implemented slowly, as the need arises.

“Not everybody wants it,” Duffield said. “Again, it’s a question of listening to the people and giving them what they want, not telling them that they need these docks.”

He said he does not believe that his business would preclude him from voting on harbor issues unless he stood to reap a direct financial gain.

Duffield said his business experience and past community involvement enable him to deal with other aspects of city government beyond management of the harbor.

He noted that he has had a payroll since he was 19 years old — “I have a very clear understanding of hiring and firing people” — and that his boat manufacturing business is extremely labor intensive. He calls himself “one of the few people that make anything anymore.”

He attended Newport Beach schools, married his high school sweetheart and raised his three children in the city.

As Duffield put it: “This is my place. I know this place.”

dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-me-0525-muldoon-candidacy-20140523,0,7121558.story

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Lawyer becomes third candidate for Newport council seat

7:04 PM PDT, May 23, 2014

Muldoon - Head Shot 2014A third candidate has entered the race for a seat on the Newport Beach City Council representing District 4.

Local lawyer Kevin Muldoon announced his candidacy in a news release Friday. He will face Newport Beach Planning Commissioner Tim Brown and fight promoter Roy Englebrecht in the election.

With self-described expertise in issues related to tidelands and private property rights, Muldoon said his goals will include reducing spending in the city and bringing long-term debt under control.

“I believe we have fallen into the trap of many wealthy cities that spend too much because they can,” he said in the release.

Muldoon’s has served as the Orange County chairman of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign and as a deputy district attorney, according to the release.

He is currently general counsel at the Irvine-based company 5 Bars Inside, which provides Wi-Fi networks.

—Emily Foxhall

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Duffy boat inventor jumps into Newport Beach City Council race

BY NICOLE SHINE

2014-05-22 12:50:59

NEWPORT BEACH – Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, an inventor and longtime owner of the electric boat business that bears his name, will file papers Thursday to take on Mayor Rush Hill in November’s election.

Duffield reached the decision Wednesday night at a local fundraiser that raised more than $60,000 for his bid, he said. But the 62-year-old former city Harbor commissioner said he mulled over the decision for a year.

He said the city has long neglected the harbor, instead spending on expensive and unneeded infrastructure, such as the $2 million bridge to the dog park at City Hall.

“I want to be more fiscally responsible and listen to the people,” Duffield said.

Although the current council is made up of “good people,” he said their ideas don’t mesh with what residents actually want. He said he realized that after an outpouring of support Wednesday night at the home of Bob McCaffrey, who leads a new political action committee, Residents for Reform.

“We want to get the city back to the Balboa it used to be,” Duffield said. “It doesn’t need to be this grandiose place. We’re not interested in putting Newport Beach on a world map.”

Duffield was born in Santa Monica and spent weekends on Balboa as a youth. His family moved to Newport Beach in 1958.

Duffield, inventor of the Duffy electric boat, started the business in Newport Harbor in 1970 and attended Orange Coast College until his business consumed all of his time, he said.

Today, the company employs about 200 and includes a 5-acre manufacturing plant in Adelanto along with operations on Pacific Coast Highway.

“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’m just a regular guy.”

Duffield, who said he would file papers Thursday with the city clerk, called November’s election, where four council seats are open, a “historic opportunity.”

If elected, Duffield would represent District 3, which includes the neighborhoods of Santa Ana Heights and Dover Shores.

“We are excited to bring this whole new fresh approach to the council,” he said.

Contact the writer: nshine@ocregister.com or Twitter:@nicolekshine

dailypilot.com/opinion/tn-dpt-me-0521-commentary-20140519,0,2324756.story

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Commentary: Why residents want to ‘draft Duffy’ for City Council

By Jack Wu

2:45 PM PDT, May 19, 2014

With no offense to Diane Dixon versus Michael Glenn, or Michael Toerge versus Scott Peotter, or even Tim Brown versus Roy Englebrecht, we may soon have a Newport Beach City Council race to watch.

On Wednesday, the “Draft Duffy” movement will start with a fundraiser at dock fee opponent Bob McCaffrey’s house on Balboa Island, where Marshall “Duffy” Duffield will get to see all the folks in the community who want him to be a councilman, presumably because they like the idea of him challenging Mayor Rush Hill.

The fundraising goal out of the gates for this event to draft Duffy? Thirty-thousand dollars.

And with a $1,100 limit per person, only 27.27 people need to show up (and pay full freight) to make the goal.

Is that attainable in the wealthiest ZIP code in Newport Beach? Probably.

So how did we get here — to where the current mayor of the city can draw such a big-name challenger? After all, who has not heard of Duffy and his electric boats?

Let’s look at Hill’s record. His 2010 City Council campaign exploded out of the gates with a telephone poll asking if the voters should elect someone (Ed Reno) whose company (Allergan) performs vivisection on bunnies. (The company has since made a pledge to move away from such practices.)

He went from there to proudly proclaiming at a fundraiser that should he get elected, he’ll guarantee that the Newport Beach City Hall (Civic Center/Taj Mahal/white elephant) would never get more than $90 million. The City Hall settled in at $142.2 million.

Within two years of being elected in 2010, when discussing the “dock tax,” he ended up using a curse word with constituents who had come to a council meeting. And later he received two warning letters (though no fines) from theCalifornia Fair Political Practices Commission.

Which leads us back to the “Draft Duffy” movement. The rumors of a Duffy candidacy have been running rampant for many months now, with me even chasing out potential lesser-known candidates since 2013 to keep the field clear for him.

And it worked.

While there are three open council seats, the Hill versus Duffy race will be the one to watch.

Newport Beach accountant JACK WU is a conservative columnist for the Orange County Register’s weekly Current edition and a former Daily Pilot columnist.

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dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-me-0518-duffy-newport-council-20140517,0,6257000.story

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Duffy maker may challenge Hill for Newport Beach City Council

Marshall Duffield is weighing a run, plans to decide after Wednesdayfundraiser.

By Emily Foxhall

4:31 PM PDT, May 17, 2014

Under mounting pressure from friends, electric boat builder Marshall “Duffy” Duffield is considering a run for a seat on the Newport Beach City Council.

If he chooses to compete in the November election, Duffield would face Mayor Rush Hill in District 3.

Well-known for his popular namesake boats, likened to golf carts on water, Duffield is one of the most knowledgeable people on the harbor, said Balboa Island resident Bob McCaffrey.

The potential candidate also served on the Harbor Commission for 10 years, until 2012.

“There is nothing more important as far as attracting people to Newport Beach than the water,” said McCaffrey, who is hosting a “Draft Duffy” party at his homeWednesday.

With three council members — Mike Henn, Leslie Daigle and Nancy Gardner — reaching their term limits this year and Hill up for reelection, McCaffrey said 2015 offered an opportunity to bring change to a government that has been overspending.

Councilman Keith Curry would also give up his seat if elected to the Assembly.

Still, Duffield said he does not plan to decide whether he will run until after the fundraiser.

“I am looking forward to the outcome of the event before I make a decision,” he wrote in an email Friday.

Hill — whose mayoral agenda has included looking into a pilot program for floating docks in the harbor as well as a water taxi system — said he believes Duffy is a great asset to the community with respect to the harbor.

But he added that he looked forward to hearing Duffy’s thoughts on other issues, such as labor negotiations, general plan amendments and revitalization efforts.

“My only exposure to Duffy has been discussions with the harbor,” he said.

The election is set for Nov. 4.

 

Source: DUFFY MAKER MAY CHALLENGE HILL FOR NEWPORT BEACH CITY COUNCIL

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dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-me-0516-newport-charcoalenforcement-20140515,0,195406.story

Newport enforces charcoal-only rule

New workers, education and free briquettes are part of plan to keep beachgoers from burning wood in firepits.

By Emily Foxhall

8:54 PM PDT, May 15, 2014

A Newport Beach city department head believes she has a plan in place to prevent beachgoers from burning everything from wooden planks to pizza boxes in the city’s fire rings.

Laura Detweiler, director of the Recreation and Senior Services Department, says eight newly hired employees, plus some educational materials, will go a long way toward keeping visitors from using anything but charcoal in the fire pits at Corona del Mar State Beach and near the Balboa Pier.

The new staff includes five recreation leaders and three park patrol members, only one of whom is full-time, she said. They were brought on board using existing funding after restrictions on fire rings went into effect in March. Whether the workers stay now falls to the City Council to determine during its budget approval process.

Detweiler proposes using $147,000 from next year’s budget to continue paying for the added staff, who greet visitors and explain the changes to the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Rule 444, which banned wood and other materials starting March 1.

Since then, the city has spent $13,000 on education efforts and the new staffing positions, Detweiler said.

Already, signs reading “charcoal only” hang on fences and traffic barricades. Staff has distributed information about the ban and the relative air-quality benefits of burning charcoal over wood.

The city even provides charcoal free of charge to weekend visitors who may be caught unaware.

“It’s gone pretty well,” Detweiler said. “We’re doing everything we can to get ready for the summer months.”

The rule was not enforced in Newport Beach until March 24, after Persian New Year and its annual tradition of jumping over bonfires had passed. The city didn’t want people arriving only with wood to be disappointed.

No citations have been issued, a trend the city hopes will continue, Detweiler said. First-time violations would draw a $100 fine.

Meanwhile, the city is working on a proposal to remove some of its 60 rings and spread the rest farther apart. Under Rule 444, this would allow for wood burning again.

The rule changes say fire rings in a “contiguous beach area” must be at least 100 feet apart from one another unless there are 15 or fewer. In that case, they must be at least 50 feet apart.

But until the city is cleared by state regulators to remove some rings and spread out the remainder, Newport Beach fire pits will feature only charcoal, which is considered cleaner-burning. Natural gas fire rings may eventually be installed as well.

City brochures soon to be printed will include warnings about wood smoke’s potential harm to children, carcinogenic nature and ability to aggravate heart disease.

They will also note that a $13 bag of lump charcoal will serve to provide warmth just as well. Flames are visible for up to an hour, while the charcoal can generate heat for up to three, providing for what a sample brochure calls “an equivalent experience to a wood fire” — just cleaner.

Another Empty Campaign Promise

It’s been a while since I’ve criticized the Civic Center/City Hall/White Elephant/Taj Mahal/Albatross-around-our-necks/Espresso Stand in the Park.  So long that I don’t remember where I left off … almost.

With all the summer excitement (only in my head) over the Re-Districting, the crazy Nanny State ordinances, my new puppy, and the Lifeguards’ Super Pensions, I feel as though I’ve been neglecting the $125-$150 million boondoggle.

But fortunately, truly important and desperately expensive topics always come flying back in one’s face, and Orange County’s newest example of Government Excess is no exception.

You see, Newport Beach has barely 10% of the total Civic Center Project cost saved up, but who needs to pay cash, right?  Let’s use Credit. So last summer the Magnificent Seven opened up a $150 Million Dollar American Express Black Card to build it.  But it’s a credit card with extremely good rates on it, so that makes it OK.

So for my six readers’ sake, let’s start from the beginning…

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Newport Beach decided to hire, hire, and then hire all the Government employees they could find, creating the largest Government Employee per Resident ratio AND the highest Pension Debt for Capita of any City in the County, with a total of $300 million bucks in unfunded Pension liability (Yeah!  We are No. 1! … But I’ll get deeper into that honor another time.)

In the early to mid-2000s, without space to put all these new Government employees, the Geniuses in the City decide to put portable offices on the lawns of City Hall, thus creating a super-embarrassing eyesore – but lowering the landscaping costs.

At the same time, discussions start about moving City Hall vs. keeping City Hall where it is.

In 2008, with a price tag of $50 million dollars at the time, the City Hall in the Park plan was passed, to move City Hall to a new, larger location.  Beautiful drawings are created and a building is designed to accommodate “future employee growth” as then-City Manager Homer Bludau said.

Right after Measure B is passes somehow the price doubles to $100 million dollars, and for that reason, the Newport Beach City Council decides to authorize $150 million dollars of municipal debt, just in case the Espresso Stand needs extra gold, I suppose.

The excesses of Government become a campaign issue for the 2010 City Council Elections with the longtime involved guy/self-proclaimed Eighth Councilman/Architect Rush Hill squaring up against the brash/new to Newport Beach politics/Allergan lobbyist Ed Reno.  Reno says that the City’s Civic Center project is way too expensive and that we shouldn’t be mortgaging the City’s future to build more Government.  Rush says that he’s been in the process the entire time, he’s been involved with the City for more than 30 years, that the City desperately needs the shining new beacon of Government Magnificence.

Hill even promises, during a recorded campaign speech that was recorded and posted on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPEe3jx4P_E), at the 4:25 mark, that it’ll be his “task” to make sure the Civic Center costs don’t exceed $90 million dollars.

Rush Hill wins the City Council election, and the Civic Center’s price settles in between $125-$150 million dollars.

So where is the Civic Center project today?

Before I answer that, have you ever seen the movie “The Money Pit”?  Tom Hanks and Shelley Long are building their dream home, but there are constant delays, constant costs overruns, and every time they ask the Contractor how much longer it will take, the Contractor ALWAYS responds, “Two more weeks.”

Two More Weeks…

So, true to most construction projects, the Newport Beach Civic Center project has been delayed and the Contingency Funds, which were set up just in case delays happen, are already being burned through.

Yawn … That’s no surprise to anyone right?

Fortunately the representative of the City’s contractor, CW Driver, explained it perfectly by calling this boondoggle “very complicated.”

Good … had he not said that, I would have thought building a Taj Mahal was easy.

Two more weeks, right?

Still, newly-minted Councilmember Rush Hill commented, “I feel as if they’re watching the money as if it was theirs.”

Mr. Hill, no they are not, otherwise, however complicated this project may be, they would not ALREADY be behind and ALREADY burning through CONTINGENCY funds.

And what happened to your campaign speech?  You said that it would be your TASK to keep the costs at $90 million dollars.  Where is that Campaign Promise in your list of priorities once you got elected?

Empty questions for empty Campaign Promises.

http://www.newportbeachindy.com/residents-reform/

A new political action committee has been launched to advocate that Newport Beach city government cut spending and taxes. It is Residents for Reform and can be found at residentsforreform.com. The PAC was started by local activist Bob McCaffrey.

On its web site, Residents for Reform makes a number of serious allegations against the city for financial mismanagement. I’ve asked the city to confirm these numbers. Unfortunately, they failed to respond by the publication deadline.

City Budget Escalation

The Newport Beach city budget has risen from $109 million in the 2002-03 fiscal year to over $289 million in fiscal year 2013-14, according to a city of Newport Beach report titled Budget Details found on the city’s website.

That is an increase of more than 2.6 times in 11 years.

By comparison, neighboring city Costa Mesa has a budget of about $139 million, including about $19 million for capital projects and has a much larger population of about 110,000 people.

Unfunded Pension Liabilities

In 2011, the Orange County Register listed Newport Beach as the worst offender of unfunded pension liabilities in Orange County at $303,170,402.

That piles $3,489 of additional debt on each man, woman and child in Newport Beach. Even more alarming, the unfunded pension liabilities are increasing over time.

State and federal government unfunded pension liabilities are frightening as well. Government employee pensions at all levels cannot continue to grow at this pace, otherwise they will consume the entire gross national product of the United States and become unaffordable. That would cause the governmental bodies to default on the pension obligations which would harm those retirees and the rest of us.

The New City Hall

First, the old city hall was to be upgraded for $40 million. Then we were told the new city hall would cost $90 million. But as reported in the Orange County Register, the costs exploded to $142.2 million, more than a 50 percent cost overrun. What government program do large cost overruns remind you of? Obamacare. What would happen to the people in charge of a project in a business if they mismanaged a project to the point of a 50 percent cost overrun?

To add insult to injury, the city financed the over-budget project with approximately $228 million of long-term debt, according to documents on the city’s website. That increases the cost per man woman and child of the new city hall to about $2,600 each, or about $11,000 per family of four. Do you believe you got your money’s worth on the city hall project?

Thousand Dollar Desk Chairs

According to a 2013 article in the Orange County Register, the new city hall was furnished with “high-end furniture and fixtures, including 204 leather Herman Miller chairs designed by modernist designers Charles and Ray Eames, at a cost of $1,073 each, according to city invoices.”

That is a gross waste of taxpayer money and demonstrates indifference and contempt toward the hard work taxpayers do to generate income to fund government. As I look at the office store web sites, there are plenty of “Manager/Executive Chairs” for sale from $60 each to a high end of $200 each. I couldn’t find a $1,000 chair in my search. Only a bureaucrat could bring Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to city hall, not a business owner.

$225,000 for Decorative Bunnies

According to Residents for Reform, the city spent “$225,000 for decorative bunnies, and a park our children can’t throw a ball on.” Charitably, that could be characterized as a decoration on taxpayer funded buildings that would appeal to a narrow band of tastes. Taxpayer advocates call it a complete waste of money.

Mayor Rush Hill’s Legal Expenses

Residents for Reform states that the city paid Mayor Hill’s legal expenses (which the website says totaled $50,000) for investigations and matters before California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. The PAC has a warning letter to Rush Hill from the Fair Political Practices Commission and the law firm Rutan & Tucker on its web site.

Long Term City Debt

The city hall debt is about $228 million. There is an additional $40 million of other debt. The unfunded pension liabilities were estimated to be $303 million as discussed above. So Residents for Reform understated the long term debt, which is $571 million. Newport Beach has more than 86,000 residents. So each man, woman and child’s share of that debt is about $6,500. If you are part of a family of four, your family’s share of that debt would be about $26,000. Do you believe you got your money’s worth?

Reform?

Groups like Residents for Reform seek to impose financial responsibility on government before government outspends taxpayer resources. I’m looking forward to finding out more about their efforts.