I first met City Manager Dave Kiff back in 2013 when I originally considered running for office (at that time, I decided against it). Our first meeting left me with a negative impression of him because he lied to my face. However, in that first meeting, he also told me that he was going to begin winding down for retirement. He continued to tell people this fairly openly and it was well-known that he was going to announce at towards end of the year. However, the Newport Beach Rumor Mill pushed his announcement date earlier.
On Sunday, I was forwarded an email by about a dozen people which proclaimed that “Peotter, Duffield, Muldoon and O’Neill” had been “secretly negotiating for Dave Kiff to leave under threat of being fired.” I spoke to some of these people this morning, and they all told me that this was entirely fabricated.
Let’s just take a look at this real quick, logically. Why would Kiff want to leave voluntarily instead of being fired? This is his last job– so do you think he cares about his legacy more than he cares about the health of the city? If Kiff was being “forced out”, wouldn’t that necessarily mean that he wasn’t the person to execute the will of the current-council, and therefore likely thought that they would take the city down a bad path? Wouldn’t he announce this and warn the public, if this was true?
The only reason that Kiff wouldn’t announce this is if he was scared for his job, however, he’s retiring. He’s fully-vested in his pension plan and whether he retires willingly or is removed from his position, he still gets his pension (I spoke with a representative from CalPERS earlier today on this subject for verification). Therefore, the only logical reason that Kiff wouldn’t protest is if he wanted to use his position as a reference for his next job. But Kiff isn’t going to have a “next job”– again, he’s retiring. So if he’s fully vested and doesn’t need a job reference, then people must ask one simple question: Is Kiff a man with such a high opinion of himself and such a low quality person that he would rather leave in good graces and watch Rome burn with a bad council, or is this whole grand conspiracy of him being “pushed out” instead of retiring merely an election-year fabrication?
Additionally, if it is the former– would you really want a person like that to be our City Manager anyway?
The truth is– according to Kiff himself– that no such meetings took place, that he has been long-preparing to retire in 2018, and that this has been well-known to anyone who has any resemblance to a pulse about what is happening in our city. Not only is this the truth, but the only alternative to this truth is the one where Kiff cares more about his own reputation than he does for the city, as mentioned above (and if this WERE true [it’s not], then I hope everyone could agree that he should not have a position with the city).
The people over at StuNews– whose traffic is mainly generated via Yellow Journalism crime reports– have dedicated an enormously large column entertaining this notion, coming in at an eye-popping 1,400 words of pure speculation entitled “Fair Game: Kiff out at City Hall…others cry foul”, with their original text archived for posterity, here: Stu News Article 03-27-2018 – Tom Johnson – Fair Game – Dave Kiff Retires
So who started this rumor, and why? Well, after Councilpeople Diane Dixon and Jeff Herdman were apparently the last to know of Kiffs plans, Herdman was convinced by Dixon that this was a grand-conspiracy by her “Team Newport” cohorts, and Herdman was then further convinced to take the public lead on this, bashing the atrocity of an imagined conspiracy theory that doesn’t even make any sense if it was true.
Why is Dixon doing this? Close sources tell me that she is attempting to “grow a base” in the community by sensationalizing conspiracy theories and recruiting energetic followers to push them for her. Just as Dixon publicly opposed the Peotter recall, she actively helped behind-the-scenes to organize and influence signature drives to recall him. She is now energizing this movement in the election year with patently false information, making public fools out of everyone who listens to her, but hopes to spin these people into vocal supporters in her election year.
So did Dave Kiff actually get forced out of office? In short, no. The only way that this has any merit is if the people who proclaim this is true also simultaneously proclaim that Kiff has no integrity, as Kiff has outrightly stated that this did not occur.
So enjoy your retirement, Dave. Sorry that your final months had to be mocked in such a public fashion by people who claim to support you. But, after all, that’s politics for ya.