April 2014.



NEWPORT BEACH – A new group is aiming to bring fiscal prudence and civility to City Hall.

Residents for Reform, a state-registered political action committee, will back City Council candidates in November’s general election who share its stance on spending, taxes, fire rings, trash outsourcing and other hot button issues, chairman Bob McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey, who previously opposed the city’s plans to raise dock fees, said Newport Beach needs more checks and balances over its spending. As an example, he cited the ballooning cost of the new City Hall, now estimated at $142 million, according to recent Register calculations.

At this early stage, McCaffrey said they haven’t raised money or identified whom they’ll support in the upcoming general election.

In November, four city council seats are open, including a seat held by Mayor Rush Hill, who is running unopposed. Six candidates are vying for the three other open seats, held by council members who are termed out.

As for the cost of City Hall, Hill said the figure went toward more than City Hall, and included a new park, emergency preparedness center, parking structure and Central Library expansion. He added that the $8 million annual debt service payment for the project amounts to less than 5 percent of the city’s gross annual revenue.

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Newport Beach bunny sculptures stir a hare-raising talegrounds-rabbit-hall-rockw

Carter Rockwood pulls himself up onto one of the rabbit sculptures that populate grounds near Newport Beach City Hall.

NEWPORT BEACH – Here, in a city of privilege and, apparently, spare time, the fight of the moment is about …


Not real bunnies; artistically rendered bunnies. And money. And taste.

At issue are 16 concrete cottontails, known in town simply as “The Bunnies.” For the past year, the 4- to 8-foot tall sculptures have, with their painted pastel eyes, kept watch over the ocean-view grounds around City Hall.



Dock tax opponents say watch out incumbents

Bob McCaffrey, stop the dock tax, newport beach,

DSC_0024cThis November presents Newport Beach taxpayers with a chance to return fiscal restraint back to city government.

I took a 20-year break from civic affairs until 18 months ago, when city leaders chose to raise taxes — which they termed fees — on residential dock owners, commercial marina operators and harbor businesses. They did it because they could.

There was no state mandate, court order or administrative finding requiring the tax hikes. The insatiable appetite of government for more money led our Republican City Council members to feast on their constituents.

At the time, they were sitting on a $130 million budgetary surplus, but they needed more to pay for the new City Hall and one of the most bloated bureaucracies in our region.

We recently settled the dock tax lawsuit against the city. The settlement restores the equity in our docks that the city hijacked in passing the dock tax ordinance. We now pay three taxes — property, boat and dock. The dock tax will increase 350% in five years. We are paying more than our fair share.

It took us 18 months, a lawsuit and $140,000 in donations to fight City Hall. I want to thank everyone who donated and kept the pressure on.

Representative government has broken down in our fair town with a complicit City Council delegating their elected duty to an invasive city staff.

The arrogance displayed by our elected council members needs to change.

Last week I instructed our campaign treasurer to start Residents for Reform, a political action committee that will support certain candidates in the November election.

We have been meeting for months to develop a set of guiding principles. We have launchedhttps://www.residentsforreform.com to keep residents informed and allow for donations.

During the next few months, Residents for Reform will give the community a choice between the big-spending arrogant ways of the incumbents or a City Council that is transparent, fiscally conservative and responsive to and respectful of residents.

I look forward to the conversation.

BOB MCCAFFREY was chairman of the Newport Beach Dock Owners Assn. and Stop the Dock Tax and is now involved in Residents for Reform. He lives in Newport Beach.