Last night, Newport Beach City Council had several hot items on the agenda: City Manager Dave Kiff’s retirement package and all the drama that came with that, the renewal of the Balboa Peninsula so-called-“Trolley”, and a rejection of the “sanctuary state” laws, which prevent Newport Beach from working with I.C.E. to deport undocumented/illegal immigrants.
When I first arrived at the council meeting, I knew it was going to be a doozy. First, the Newport Beach Police were guarding the door, refusing to allow admittance to the council meeting and forcing people to go to an “overflow room”. I stated repeatedly that I wanted to speak on items and therefore needed to be in the main room, and they assured me repeatedly that I would be able to do so. When the Agenda Items came up, I was blocked from speaking along with everyone else. Literally nobody was able to speak on the Consent Calendar items– which included the Balboa Peninsula so-called-“Trolley”. I do not think the police did this intentionally, I think they were simply ill-prepared for the amount of people speaking at this meeting and it had an unfortunate effect on the public being able to lawfully engage.
The so-called-Trolley measure passed, with Councilmen Will O’Neill and Kevin Muldoon voting against it. Oddly, Councilman Scott Peotter voted for the trolley. I will be having a conversation with him later today. I will also be having a conversation with Mayor Duffy Duffield about the police preventing people from speaking, to institute policies or training to prevent this from happening in the future.
Next came open public comments. I was at the front of the line, and I played Diane Dixon’s voicemail (https://apps.newportbeachca.gov/quest/attachments/269919_VoiceMessage.wav) where she directed the use of taxpayer money to be used to investigate activists so that she could use information on them for her political campaign last year. With this information, Dixon lied from the dais, proclaiming that I owed the city money (after I forced the issue, a judge found later that I both don’t owe any money, and also that I never did). I had repeatedly asked for an apology from her, and did again last night. She sat silently from her throne and didn’t say a word. Classy.
Then came the SB54 comments. There were roughly the same number of speakers for and against it, with an eye-ball estimation of only about 40% being from Newport Beach residents. In the end, the council voted unanimously to oppose SB54 and join neighboring Huntington Beach and other cities in that vocal opposition to state law.
Being an undocumented immigrant in the US is illegal– unless you are in California, where there is no punishment for it any longer. Unless you are in Newport Beach inside California, which opposes California’s law. Weird, I know. In a case of “strange bedfellows”, this follows the oddity of marijuana laws, which are illegal on the federal level, legal in California, but production and sale is now illegal in Newport Beach. Strange bedfellows, indeed.
But perhaps the most interesting development is what happened right after the open comments section, where Councilwoman Diane Dixon was joined by Councilman Jeff Herdman in proclaiming that there was a secret cabal amongst them which sought to oust City Manager Dave Kiff. During those public comments, a Cure and Correct letter was served in accordance to a proclamation of a Brown Act violation. If no correction to the proclaimed violation happens, a Brown Act investigation occurs. It is important to note that just because a Cure and Correct was issued, this does not mean that a Brown Act violation actually occurred– only that the person who served it thought that one may have occurred.
By Dixon issuing a scathing response and personally naming Duffy Duffield and Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill as being supposedly ring-leaders by allowing Dave Kiff to retire on the schedule that Kiff had previously announced he wanted to retire on, Dixon has probably permanently severed any sort of friendly relationship with not just them, but any of the so-called “Team Newport” groups on council. This is actually a very good thing for Newport Beach, as it means that Dixon’s spend-heavy tactics are likely to come under more objective scrutiny in the future, and perhaps we can hope for a better government because of it. So I’ll close with something I never thought I’d say: Great job last night, Dixon, our community will be better-off with more watching eyes on your spending habits moving forward.