Many of you know of Jon Pedersen from Lido Isle, the gentleman that worked with me side by side on the Dog Beach issue. Well, neither of us have stopped working on it, and I’ll be doing a recap of that in a later article, but what happened last night at the council meeting was nothing short of jaw-dropping. I asked him for the paper he was reading everything off of, and he emailed it to me. Note that his paper and his speech are actually slightly different, and each contain additional whoppers of info. This will take several days to verify and unpack.
Here is his video: https://youtu.be/DDSo5MkCp60
And here is his text:
Roughly a year and half has passed since Diane Dixon’s proposal to enter into an MOU with the County of Orange in an attempt to shut down a local community dog beach enjoyed by thousands of residents annually. Diane Dixon was sworn in as Mayor on December 8th, 2015, a Tuesday, and three days later Friday December 11th Diane floated her proposal in the Daily Pilot announcing a “survey” about banning dogs at the county owned land at the river jetty. The survey was fraught with errors and to put it politely “irregular voting”. In the end the vote was 87% in favor of leaving it alone. An additional poll on SaveNewport.com resulted in nearly 6,000 people voting to leave the Dog Beach as is.
I emailed our new Mayor to share my thoughts on her Dog Beach proposal. Diane responded with “I will let common sense prevail and see what the residents prefer” and “Let the citizen process proceed”
So, trusting her and her word, I let the “citizen process proceed”
The PBR commission denied the staff recommendation to bans dogs, at a beach they don’t own, by a vote of 7-0, further.
Diane Dixon finally conceded and showed up in support of Dog Beach at an April 15th media event hosted by Michelle Steel. Diane’s comments quoted in the Daily Pilot from that day were “This is a win-win” and “A way to meet residents’ needs and the needs of our four legged friends”
County of Orange Board of Supervisors voted on April 26th 2016 5-0 allowing dogs off leash. Before the second reading of the ordinance a campaign of mis-truths from a small handful of residents resulted in no less than three government agencies and two environmental groups questioning something that has existed for decades. To respond to those inquires Supervisor Michelle Steel initiated an environmental study which concluded that there could be “no significant harm” to the wildlife and to allow the dog beach.
Even with a clean environmental study, something happening behind-the-scenes was preventing the Dog Beach from becoming official, and I could not seem to put my finger on it.
I did a public records request from the City of Newport Beach looking specifically for communications between Diane Dixon and Supervisor Michelle Steel’s office regarding the dog beach issue, the request came back on March 6th with no documents related to the dog beach, however, the city did documents which had nothing to do with what I asked.
Concurrently, I did a public records act request the County of Orange and magically the County located a document that Diane Dixon wrote on February 6th, 2017 to Michelle Steel, on city letterhead, using the city seal from her SECRET and PRIVATE email address rescinding her support of dog beach.
In a unanimous decision the California Supreme Court ruled on March 1st, 2017 that communications sent on personal cell phones, computer MUST be disclosed to the public. Justice Carol Corrigan wrote “A city employees communications related to the conduct of public business do not cease to be public records just because they were sent or received using a personal account” I will note that this decision is retroactive.
Note the dates. The law went into effect on March 1st, and I received the documents back on March 6th, not only violating the public trust, but violating the law.
Aside from the legal and ethical issues using a secret email account to conduct city business the city has council policy A-8 which states that members of the council are authorized to use City stationary only when corresponding on matters related to official City business.
I will close with some open questions. What else is Diane Dixon hiding in her secret email address? On what other items has she violated policy by using the city seal to do the opposite of what was voted on by council? And how can we trust someone with such a flagrant history of talking out both sides of their mouth?