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Newport Beach has served its first subpoena for records in its investigation of possible petition fraud in the unsuccessful recall effort against Councilman Scott Peotter.

The subpoena, which the city confirmed Monday, orders Angelo Paparella, president of Calabasas-based petition circulation firm PCI Consultants Inc., to produce documents related to the recall signature gathering as the city conducts a probe parallel with a criminal investigation by the Orange County district attorney’s office. The Committee to Recall Scott Peotter, the primary recall proponent group, contracted with PCI to circulate its petitions.

The district attorney’s office seized the recall petitions from the county registrar of voters in January over concerns about “potential irregularities.” Recall organizers have said they believe an outside petition circulator may have forged signatures, though the DA’s search warrant is sealed, so specific allegations are unavailable.

According to the subpoena, Paparella has until April 4 to hand over all communications that mention compliance with state election law on use of signatures and actual or alleged fraud by a signature gatherer. He also must hand over invoices for signature-gathering efforts, contact information for all signature gatherers, and forms signed by gatherers attesting that signatures would not be used for any purpose other than qualification of the recall measure for a ballot.

A split City Council agreed last month to have the city, a non-prosecutorial agency, issue subpoenas in its investigation. Newport’s charter allows the council to subpoena witnesses and question them under oath “in any investigation or proceeding pending before the City Council.”

The city also is authorized to subpoena the treasurer of the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter; campaign consultant Desnoo & Desnoo; and Campaign Compliance Group, which helps candidates, political committees and donors with campaign reporting requirements. As of Monday, only PCI had been served, a city spokeswoman said.

Council members Diane Dixon and Jeff Herdman, who voted against the investigation, wanted to avoid redundancy as the DA conducts its own inquiry. Recall organizers and their lawyers have said the city’s examination could impinge on constitutionally protected communications among activists and amounts to political retaliation.

A few weeks before the DA’s office seized the petitions, the registrar’s office announced that it had validated 8,339 of the 10,696 recall signatures submitted. That was 106 shy of the 8,445 — representing 15% of the city’s registered voters — needed to force a special recall election.

The recall committee racked up more than $130,000 in expenses, with about $108,000 for PCI’s services, according to campaign finance statements filed this year.

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Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

The Newport Beach City Council may vote Tuesday on whether to move ahead with a suggested probe of possibly fraudulent signature-gathering in the recent unsuccessful recall effort against Councilman Scott Peotter.

A city-led investigation is allowed under a section of the city charter that gives members of the council the power to subpoena witnesses and question them under oath “in any investigation or proceeding pending before the City Council.”

In this case, the investigation would be to follow up on the possibility, raised publicly by recall organizers, that paid petition circulators retained last year by the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter forged signatures.

In January, the Orange County district attorney’s office seized the recall petitions from the county registrar of voters office over concerns about “potential irregularities.”

A few weeks before, the registrar’s office announced that it had validated only 8,339 of the 10,696 recall signatures submitted. That was 106 short of the 8,445 — representing 15% of the city’s registered voters — needed to force a special recall election.

The search warrant affidavit is sealed, so specific allegations of irregularities are unavailable. However, recall organizers said they believed an outside petition circulator may have forged signatures.

Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill said the council is obligated to look into such a serious claim and called for the probe at the council’s Jan. 23 meeting. He asked that, as a second step, formal consideration of the matter be placed on a future agenda.

As a third step, the council would vote on whether to hold a hearing.

Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield quickened the process by placing the vote on whether to have the hearing on Tuesday’s agenda, eliminating the second step, as allowed under council policy.

The item is on the meeting’s consent calendar, where items are usually voted on en masse with no discussion, although council members can pull items for discussion and separate votes.

Police headquarters and airport issues

In other matters Tuesday, the council may vote on a proposed $554,000 remodel of the Newport Beach police station.

City staff recommends awarding a $496,000 contract to Santa Clarita-based TL Veterans Construction Inc., plus setting aside about $50,000 for contingencies and $8,000 for incidentals.

The police building was built in 1973, and its last major interior remodel was in 1985.

The council also will hold a study session covering John Wayne Airport issues, including a settlement with the Federal Aviation Administration in January, departure paths and procedures and additional noise monitoring. The council had planned to discuss the matter at its annual planning session Jan. 29 but ran short of time.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. with the study session, followed by the regular session at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

Mayor’s Dinner Highlights ‘Year of the Harbor’

Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield illustrated why 2018 will be the “Year of the Harbor” during an event last week.

Duffield gave a “State of the City” speech at Speak Up Newport’s 37th Annual Mayor’s Dinner on Feb. 2. About 450 people attended the event at Marriott Hotel & Spa in Newport Center.

His main harbor-related talking points were the city taking over management of moorings in the harbor, the harbormaster program, and dredging.

A variety of users crowd the harbor on any given weekend during the busy season. They are now taking more of a “park ranger” approach, he explained. Friendly code enforcement so everyone can safely enjoy the harbor.

“We found many issues going on out there that need correction and we are in the process of making it happen,” Duffield said. “After all, the harbor is a fun place.”

Phase two of the harbormaster program will start after the city reworks Title 17, the city regulations for the harbor or the “bible for the bay.” He also noted that they are looking into getting a fire boat.

Duffield talked about replenishing the beaches and increasing water flow through dredging.

He suggested a pipe be installed under Balboa Blvd., to empty out into the ocean. When not dredging, it could bring ocean water back into the harbor, which would increase circulation.

The public works department is working on the feasibility of the idea. It could be accomplished within five to six years, he added.

“In the meantime, we still have 700,000 cubic yards of sediment that needs to be removed,” to get the harbor’s ideal depth, Duffield said.

They are actively pursuing funds from the Army Corps of Engineers for a major dredging project, he noted. Smaller projects on an annual basis are challenging, but doable, Duffield added.

“We just can’t give up,” he said.

The night was full of amusing moments as well.

Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield talks with residents after the event.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Duffield, who led the 2014 slate of candidates self-dubbed “Team Newport,” joked that the “real” Team Newport is city staff. He expressed gratitude for a number of employees, including City Manager Dave Kiff, who Duffield said somehow manages to keep all seven Council members happy.

In classic “Duffy” style, he joked that his speech for the night was prepared by Team Newport “boss” Bob McCaffrey and political consultant Dave Ellis. As the crowd cheered and laughed, Duffield added that he “can’t write a speech.”

There were serious moments as well, as Duffield touched on a number of issues facing the city.

“The financial state of our city is healthy and in good hands,” Duffield said.

Once again, revenues are strong and Newport Beach ended the year with a surplus, he pointed out. Although, the trend of people buying online, instead of locally, has had an impact on the city’s revenue from sales tax.

“So the city doesn’t get much of a share anymore,” Duffield said.

He encouraged the audience to buy from Newport Beach shops.

Duffield also revisited an idea he’s mentioned previously: Evaluating the actual usage of development projects, particularly on the waterfront or projects that replace marine-related businesses.

“Is it working as designed? Or is it failing to live up to its intentions?” he questioned.

He suggested requiring developers to produce a “report card” on projects.

He also mentioned that Toshiba is pulling out as title sponsor of the annual golf tournament held in Newport Beach.

Former mayor Ed Selich (right) was honored with the annual SUNshine Award during the event. Fellow former mayor and SUN board member, Rush Hill, presented the award.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

The Toshiba Classic raises more than $1 million annually for Hoag Hospital Foundation and other charities, and provides exceptional national press coverage for the city, Duffield noted.

The city doesn’t contribute to the event, which Duffield said “has to change.” Although last year Council members agreed to up to $15,000 in fee waivers for the 2018 tournament.

Duffield also spoke about the city‘s “practical and affordable” approach to fixing or update the seawalls, the unfunded pension, John Wayne Airport, and more. He gave a personal account about his history in Newport, learning to sail, and developing the Duffy electric boat.

Also during the event, SUN officials handed out the annual SUNshine Award to former mayor Ed Selich.

The award recognizes the “long-term positive impact on the community” of the recipient. Selich has helped “shape numerous elements of our quality life,” said fellow former mayor, Rush Hill, who presented the award. Selich served on many study groups, commissions, committees, and a record number of years on City Council.

“It‘s really been an honor and a pleasure to give back to the community,” Selich said. “I love this town.”

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Former mayors laugh and chat as they pose for a photo during the event (left to right): (top row) Don Webb, Tod Ridgeway, John Heffernan, Kevin Muldoon, Steve Rosansky, Ed Selich, and Mike Henn; (bottom row) John Cox, John Noyes, Evelyn Hart, Nancy Gardner, Rush Hill, Tom Edwards, and Clarence Turner.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

The crowd cheers as current Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield walks to the stage to give his speech.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Former mayors Evelyn Hart (left) and Nancy Gardner laugh and chat as they sit down for a group photo of past mayors during the event on Feb. 2.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Former mayor shake hands, laugh and chat as they pose for a group photo at the event.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

SUN board member and city Finance Committee member Joe Stapleton (left) helps former mayor and fellow SUN board member, Rush Hill to the stage.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Current Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield gives his “State of the City” address at Speak Up Newport’s 37th Annual Mayor’s Dinner on Feb. 2.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield’s State of the City speech Friday night focused on how he’d like to improve the harbor.

On waterfront development, he suggested a report card-style assessment to see if projects are living up to their stated intentions.

For example, zoning tweaks on the Rhine Channel allowed mixed uses, but “what resulted was simply an inexpensive way to build a house on the bay,” Duffield told the audience at the Marriott Hotel & Spa in Newport Center.

“Had we gone back and studied those developments, we would have seen that it wasn’t working as it was intended,” he said. “The commercial element on the first floor was simply a ruse for having a residence above.”

The ground-floor businesses have little parking and street exposure, leading to unsuccessful ventures, he said.

He also cast a critical eye on the Vue condominium-retail project on Balboa Boulevard near the Newport Pier, saying it displaced a boat yard, a boat sales lot and five other marine businesses.

Duffield praised sea wall improvements being added around Balboa Island and the city’s new in-house harbor operations department and said he has longer-term plans for a new fireboat and less-expensive, more efficient dredging.

In off-the-water issues, he committed to protecting residents from noise and pollution from nearby John Wayne Airport and suggested a city charter amendment to allow residents’ input on major taxpayer-funded debt obligations, like the $140-million Civic Center complexthat was completed in 2013.

“Voters should have been able to vote on the Civic Center certificates of participation [a financial instrument for issuing bonds] that funded the project,” he said. “Maybe voters would have supported it, but they never had the chance. That should change.”

In 2016, the City Council tabled a proposal to put a measure on the ballot asking voters whether they want to require public approval before the city could use a certificate of participation or lease revenue bond greater than $10 million.

Ever the waterman, Duffield closed his speech by telling the origin story of his Duffy electric boats.

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

Critics of Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter raised close to $100,000 and racked up more than $130,000 in bills in their unsuccessful attempt to recall him last year, spending more than $2.50 for every dollar Peotter and his supporters spent in his defense.

Campaign statements filed last month detailing financial activity through December show that the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter collected $98,270 during the roughly five-month recall effort, mostly in cash donations from individuals. The biggest chunk of contributions — about $43,000 — happened in the July-to-September reporting period. Recall organizers began collecting petition signatures in early June and dropped off the petitions to the city on Oct. 27.

The top five recall donors overall were:

  • Marilyn Brewer, former California assemblywoman: $10,625;
  • Petros for City Council, the campaign committee for former Newport Beach councilman Tony Petros: $9,500;
  • Paul Blank, Newport Beach harbor commissioner and a vice president of Urban Decay cosmetics: $8,179;
  • Susan Skinner, a local activist and neurologist: $7,309;
  • Sharon Wohl, homemaker: $4,000.

Other contributors included three former Newport Beach mayors — Mike Henn ($3,000), Rush Hill ($1,500) and Keith Curry ($1,000) — and two residents who plan to challenge Peotter for his District 6 council seat when he is up for reelection in November.

Mike Toerge, a former planning commissioner who lost to Peotter in the 2014 race for the seat, gave $5,000 (a $1,000 contribution and a $4,000 loan). Corona del Mar resident Joy Brenner gave $300.

The recall committee tallied $132,634 in paid and unpaid bills.

Most of the expenses were for petition circulation. Records show the committee made 13 payments last year to Calabasas-based PCI Consultants Inc. totaling $66,734. As of the time of filing, the committee owed the petition-management firm an additional $41,863.

Pro-Peotter funding

Meanwhile, the pro-Peotter camp raised a total of about $45,000 through two committees.

Newport Beach Residents Against Recalling Councilman Peotter raised $27,312. Records show that only $312 of that was raised in the recall effort’s final weeks.

Fieldstead & Co., an Irvine-based philanthropy run by savings and loan heir Howard Ahmanson Jr. and his wife, Roberta, contributed $15,000 in cash and $2,312 worth of campaign consulting, almost entirely in the July-to-September period.

The Newport Beach Residents group spent $32,637, largely on campaign literature, mailers and automated phone calls.

The Committee to Oppose the Recall of Scott Peotter was run by Peotter himself to focus on a counter-petition for people to withdraw their signatures from the recall petition. It spent all $17,502 that it raised and closed out the campaign with no debts.

The committee received $5,000 in cash. The rest of the contributions were earmarked for petition services funded by the Scott Peotter for City Council 2018 committee.

The Orange County registrar of voters office announced in December that it had validated 8,339 of the 10,696 recall signatures submitted. That was 106 shy of the 8,445 — representing 15% of the city’s registered voters — needed to force a special recall election.

In January, the county district attorney’s office seized the recall petitions from the registrar’s office in Santa Ana over concerns about “potential irregularities.”

The search warrant affidavit is sealed, so specific allegations are unavailable.

Recall organizers have suggested that a paid third-party petition circulator may have forged signatures.

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

The Newport Beach City Council could hold its own investigation into possible petition fraud in the recent unsuccessful recall effort against Councilman Scott Peotter.

Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill on Tuesday called for the probe, citing a section of the city charter that gives members of the council the power to subpoena witnesses and question them under oath “in any investigation or proceeding pending before the City Council.”

Earlier this month, the Orange County district attorney’s office seized the recall petitions over concerns about “potential irregularities.” The DA’s office took the petitions from the county registrar of voters office in Santa Ana.

The search warrant affidavit is sealed, so specific allegations are unavailable.

However, recall organizer Susan Skinner said she believed a paid third-party petition circulator contracted by the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter may have forged signatures. Other recall proponents have raised that possibility on social media.

California election code makes petition circulators “criminally liable” for false or forged petition signatures.

In suggesting a city hearing on the matter, O’Neill said the council is obligated to look into such a serious claim.

“That is indeed, if true, an assault on the integrity of our election process, and we as a city should not take that lightly,” he said.

O’Neill said he would want to subpoena key people from the petition-circulating company, not members of the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter.

The committee’s campaign finance filings show that a company called PCI Consultants Inc. of Calabasas circulated petitions. As of October, the committee spent or owed a total of about $50,000 to the firm.

O’Neill compared the city’s potential hearing to a Senate hearing rather than a court proceeding.

For any such hearing to happen, O’Neill first had to ask that formal consideration of the matter be placed on a future council agenda. Next, the council would vote on whether to hold the hearing.

The registrar’s office announced in December that it had accepted as valid 8,339 of the 10,696 recall signatures submitted. That was 106 shy of the 8,445 — representing 15% of the city’s registered voters — needed to force a special recall election.

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

Mayor Pro Tem Discusses City, Budget, Harbor

Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill spoke at the NB Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee meeting Thursday morning, covering a range of topics including the city budget, the harbor, and public safety.

He also explained the economic stability of Newport Beach to an audience of about 30 people.

O’Neill provided a “comprehensive update of the state of our city,” said former Mayor and Chamber’s Civic Affairs President  Rush Hill.

“Will O’Neill also gave us insight into the importance of making financial decisions that contribute to the quality of life for future generations,” Hill added.

As far as city finances go, O’Neill explained that there are steady revenue sources, consistent surpluses, and healthy reserves. The city budget is balanced and overall in good shape, but there are issues that need to be addressed, particularly the unfunded pension liability and replacing the sea walls.

The total 2017-18 projected general fund revenue is about $209.3 million. Nearly half (47 percent) of the revenue that goes into the general fund comes from property taxes, O’Neill explained. For the 2017-18 year, just over half (54 percent) of the proposed operating expenditures (which total to $202.5 million) are going to public safety functions, he added.

Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill speaks at the NB Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee meeting Thursday morning. — Photo by Joyce Lau ©

With longtime harbor expert Marshall “Duffy” Duffield as the 2018 mayor for Newport Beach, they expect this to be the “Year of the Harbor,” O’Neill commented.

With that in mind, he looked back to the past year and the success of taking over management of the moorings from Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol and creating the Harbomaster program.

With phase one complete, it’s time for the next step, which includes more active code enforcement, O’Neill said.

“Moving forward, we will need to discuss as a Council whether Title 17 of our Municipal Code [which covers the harbor] needs an overhaul and whether to take a proactive or reactive code enforcement stance,” O’Neill said. “Our city has historically taking a reactive approach city-wide, which is cost effective and non-invasive.”

During the meeting O’Neill also discussed another important topic in the city: Public safety.  He mentioned the plans to replace the Lido and Corona del Mar fire stations, both of which are more than 60 years old.

The CdM “fibrary” plan could be revived. A Request For Proposals for the fire station and library combo project is currently out. The RFP closes Feb. 8, followed by bids brought to City Council.

O’Neill concluded by discussing a quote from George Will that an “infielder’s mediocrity is obvious; umpires aspire to an unnoticed excellence.”

“Council Members often strive for that same unnoticed excellence because residents simply don’t need to think about us when we are doing our jobs correctly,” O’Neill said.

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Inventor of the electric Duffy boat addresses his plans to improve the Newport Beach Harbor as city’s new mayor.

NEWPORT BEACH — In the efforts to track down Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, the new mayor of Newport Beach, it seemed quite ominous his reply to an email correspondence about scheduling an interview stated, “I’m around,” with his phone number attached.

The Duffy name is certainly “around” in many corners of Newport Beach Harbor, as it’s literally everywhere you turn – in the form of a “Duffy” electric boat.

As a long-time Newport Beach resident (more than 50 years) and the inventor of the electric boat bearing his name, many of us would consider Duffield the quintessential image of the dreamy Southern California yachting life.

A car insurance agent once told me we pay such catastrophic prices because “it’s a privilege to live” in Southern California. In a lot of ways, Duffield has taken such privilege and created an empire from it – him, and most other residents of California’s coast, live in a Technicolor world of scenic beauty that others across the country may never see in their lifetimes.

And Duffield remembers the earlier years of his life in Newport Beach fondly.

“Summers as a kid in the late 50s and early 60s was special,” Duffield told The Log in an email. “Growing up on the bayfront with my 14-foot dory with a 5.5 Evinrude outboard and racing my sabot was the best. I had a lot of great times waterskiing in the Back Bay too – wish that place was still open!”

Duffy is synonymous with Newport Beach. While we might think of the man who met John Wayne as a child and has been a mainstay in the boating world for decades, he’s also the man who is busy visiting his factory out in San Bernardino County the week leading up to Christmas and who has a hefty agenda to carry out that he’s already been planning and working toward.

“As a conservative I struggle with big government,” Duffield told The Log. “I’m all about doing it for less money, [with] fewer people and doing it quickly. Not everyone agrees with me on this but here’s an example. A week ago we opened a new dinghy dock next to Lido Village. It was sorely needed and is very nice, but it cost way too much money and took much too long to implement – crazy. I want to put expert experienced boaters in charge of running the harbor so we can do things at a reasonable cost and do it in a logical way.”

A mover and shaker, Duffield is a believer things shouldn’t be stalled. He feels one of the hardest parts of being a government official is working at the slower pace to get things done.

“I’m afraid I’ll run out of time to accomplish my goals because everything works so slowly in government,” Duffield said. “I’m not sure anything prepares you for this job, but my angle is simple: I’m going to just be Duffy. I plan on asking staff and the council for their advice. The council and city staff is full of high-quality, qualified people each with their own area of expertise and I want to use this resource to get through my year.”

However, Duffield still has a few initiatives mapped out.

“The Harbor Commission and the council will re-work Title 17 that spells out how the bay is run and managed. At the same time I’ll be leaning on our finance committee to find the funds for phase two of our new Harbor Operations,” Duffield said. “My goals for the harbor are to improve water quality by increasing circulation. Keeping the harbor dredged beyond the standard design depths and allowing the ocean to flow in from more than one place would be fantastic.

“We can accomplish this with smart and proven technologies. As I mentioned before we will operate and manage the harbor more efficiently,” Duffield continued.

In the past, the idea of replacing moorings in the harbor with “Duffy Docks” was tossed around and it seems like it could still be a possibility in the future.

“Multiple boat moorings are in use today with Harbor 20’s,” Duffy said. “It’s hard to justify one little 20-foot boat using a mooring where you could have stored several, so we came up with a way to make it happen. It has worked very well for more than a decade. I can’t see why we wouldn’t expand on this concept.”

One of the early wins for Duffield may be addressing the aging sea walls at Balboa.

“I am so happy that we are finally addressing this issue with a practical and affordable fix,” Duffield said. “Again, government works in mysterious ways but in this case, we are going to provide a solid answer to a very important problem. We’ve identified the parts that are severely in need of attention and are addressing them.

“We are increasing the height of the seawall that faces the storm surge and heavy winds with a cement cap averaging about 9 inches tall beginning soon,” Duffield continued.

Duffield also mentioned the possibility of opening up a second public anchorage.

“We brought [a second public anchorage] to the attention of the public at a Harbor Commission meeting many years ago,” Duffield stated. “The upper turning basin had boats on moorings in the 40s and 50s, so this is nothing new. A large amount of commercial operations are inches away from this basin. Public access is now available for local and visiting yachtsman on shore. The turning basin east of Lido Island is extremely congested on weekends and during the summer. Having two mooring fields will help create more open space on the bay.”

He also believes liveaboards can make positive contributions to the boating community.

“Liveaboards are great for the mooring fields,” Duffield said. “They keep theft down and are good ambassadors of the bay. It’s a hard life out there when you do it legally. That’s what needs to change. We must enforce the liveaboard rules.”

Of all the things he accomplished, what he’s still most proud of is keeping Duffy boats a household name in the boating industry for nearly 50 years.

“I’d have to say after thinking about it for a while that I’m proud to have kept a boat company in business for almost 50 years.” Duffield told The Log. “It doesn’t take a genius, but it does take perseverance and passion. We went through three major recessions, which takes its toll on boat builders. Selling something that nobody really needs and has limited use for is challenging to say the least. Our customers love the Duffy boating lifestyle and I’m proud to be a part of their good times on the water.”

A purveyor of the boating communities of Newport Beach’s Harbor, Duffield has much planned to improve one of the city’s greatest assets.

Duffield can be reached by email at [email protected]

“Just Duffy” – Catching up with Newport Beach Mayor Marshall Duffield

Organizers of an effort to recall Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter said Monday that they will not further challenge the examination of their petition that narrowly failed to force a special election.

After the Orange County registrar of voters office determined that the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter was 106 signatures short, the group said last month that it would seek a reverification.

But after getting a quick look at the rejected signatures, recall organizer Susan Skinner said Monday that the county had appropriately disqualified some of the endorsements.

“Regardless of the registrar’s count, the signatures that we submitted are a remarkable repudiation of Peotter and his poor record on behalf of Newport Beach residents,” she said in an email. “We look forward to redoubling our efforts to defeat Peotter in November.”

Peotter, who represents District 6, which includes the Corona del Mar area, is up for reelection this year.

The committee submitted 10,696 signatures Oct. 27. The county threw out 2,357 as invalid, including 205 from signers who requested to have their endorsements revoked.

That left the group with 8,339 valid signatures, 106 shy of the needed 8,445, representing 15% of the city’s registered voters.

Recall supporters cited several issues of policy and civility in seeking Peotter’s recall. In addition to his support of the now-scuttled Museum House high-rise condominium project, the group says he insulted residents and colleagues and made poor financial decisions for the city, such as his August vote — along with four other council members — to decline the city’s share of state gas tax revenue in protest of the tax.

Peotter has said the recall targeted him for being “politically incorrect.”

The county billed the city of Newport Beach $41,871 for the signature verification, according to City Clerk Leilani Brown.

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Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office seized the petitions used in a failed attempt to recall Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter over concerns regarding “potential irregularities,” the city said Friday, Jan. 12.

A search warrant to take the petitions was served on the Orange County Registrar of Voters office in Santa Ana, according to an email from City Clerk Leilani Brown to the City Council, City Manager Dave Kiff and City Attorney Aaron Harp.

No other details about the seizure, allegations or date the petitions were taken were made available.

“The search warrant was served under seal and we have not received a copy of the search warrant,” Brown’s email said. “I am in contact with the DA’s office and hope to receive more information next week. I will let you know as soon as I have more information.”

District attorney spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden did not immediately return calls for comment.

A group formed to oust Peotter, the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter, turned in 10,696 signatures in October in an effort to force a special recall election. More than 2,300 were deemed invalid.

That left 8,339 valid signatures, 106 short of the required 15 percent threshold of registered voters in the city.

Peotter has called the effort against him dishonest, adding that the seizure of petitions “just adds to the discrediting of the recallers.”

Phil Greer, the recall committee’s attorney, said Friday he doesn’t think anyone from the committee acted improperly.

“My understanding is that nobody from the volunteer committee is involved [in the irregularities] or anything of that nature,” he said.

Recall committee organizer Susan Skinner said a third-party circulator may have forged signatures.

“Apparently the warrant is sealed, but I understand that one of the paid petitioners allegedly forged signatures,” Skinner said. “This is a big, bad violation of election law and not a smart thing to do. It was not one of our volunteers.”

Forging petition signatures is a misdemeanor, according to the California election code.

Peotter has maintained that the effort to unseat him is because of his politically incorrect personality.

Recall supporters cited his support for the failed Museum House high-rise project, what they call poor financial decisions, his vote to decline the city’s share of extra gas tax revenue in a protest of the controversial tax hike and his behavior – they said he insulted residents and colleagues.

‘Potential irregularities’ prompt DA’s office to seize petitions in failed effort to unseat Newport Beach councilman