Many of you know the story of how we started from my previous updates, but I’m going to say it once again, since many people don’t, and I think it is important to reiterate just how much of a difference one person (YOU!) can make in local politics. Several years ago, I had zero interest in local politics. I lived my life and went on like a “normal” person does. That is, until one day the local government decided that they were going to proclaim ownership over my business partner’s property. During the “Dock Tax”, about 850 docks were seized in Newport Beach, representing nearly one billion dollars of personal property which was seized by the Newport Beach City Council and proclaimed as government-owned property, as each dock increases a home value by approximately one million dollars (yes, that sounds insane, but the numbers don’t lie!)
Beyond-angry at the situation, we sat at his house and began the stereotypical angry-bourboning-and-cigars about it, loudly exchanging the cliche of “someone should do something” to each other. Eventually, one of us slipped up and said “I’m gonna do something about it”. Spoiler alert: that person was me.
I had absolutely no clue what I was doing at that time, but one thing I was certain of: No longer would I do “nothing” (also, I had a promise to fulfill).
I decided I was going to start being an activist… but I had no idea how that was supposed to work, so I just decided to wing it. I remembered my Fourth Grade teacher Miss Senhousen who told us kids that we could all make a difference– even as a single person– if we just applied ourselves. I was going to put this testimony to the ultimate test, and I was going to try my best for 90 days to make a difference.
I started going to the Dock Tax meetings, but like most city council meetings, the Dock Tax wasn’t the only thing on the agenda (there are usually 5-20 items up for review/discussion/vote). I didn’t know anything about most of them, but some of them really jumped out at me. They were talking about getting rid of the beachfront fire rings? Really?! I decided to go to those meetings, too. Loop this process ad infinitum, and I found myself going to all of the meetings. Suddenly, I was asking all the right questions. I “got it”. I was able to pick out the truth from the lies pretty quickly.
I began a Facebook page and invited all of my Newport friends to join. I think about four of them did. Ugh… This was not exactly off to an amazing start… but I was not deterred: I was going to give it my all for 90 days. At the end, at least I could say “I tried”, and sleep at night. A few weeks in, I began noticing people who were friends of my friends who were commenting and liking my articles. Then we broke 50 “likes”– now I was in the big-time!
Over time, we began rapidly hitting various ‘benchmarks’: 50 likes, then 100, then 200. It was crazy. Then we hit 500. Then 750, then 1,000. Then we hit 2,500 and 5,000 and now over 6,000 subscribers– and this is on Facebook alone! (we are currently being read about 10,000 times per day on average). We fought against the dock tax, the removal of the fire rings, the proposals to shut down bars and restaurants at 11pm, the raising of taxes, the attacking of other small businesses, the attempts to shut down Dog Beach and now the even-more-outrageous boardwalk bicycle ban.
And people have really responded.
I’ve never pulled any punches and I’ve always backed up my statements with verifiable facts– usually by the government themselves. While many of the papers around here simply regurgitate spin-filled government press releases (you know which ones they are), I dig into the numbers and determine whether or not they are telling the truth– and when they aren’t, you are sure to hear about it.
But without people reading, without people understanding the painstaking fact-checking and near-constant Public Document Request Acts (think: FOIA but for California) that I am routinely sifting through, and without people like you showing up at meetings or writing your councilpeople, I would be just another guy flapping his gums in the wind. So when I say that I appreciate your reading, your subscriptions, and your activism– I’m not just giving you lipservice. I spend tons of money here but I’ve never made a dime at it (my real job is that I own a software development company– so let me know if you have software questions or needs!). I’m telling you that I appreciate you because I do. Because without each of you here, my activism would be weaker and less effective. Thank you for every comment, like, share, email forward, or casual mention. Thank you for the petitions that you’ve signed and the papers and the councilpeople that you write to. It really does make a difference. It might be me with my name on the article, but without the additional legwork from people like you, this would be all for naught, and a complete waste of time.
But it’s not. And for that, I thank you, personally.