As many readers know, Mayor Diane Dixon is running for an Assembly Seat.
What many readers don’t know, is just how dirty politics can get when it comes to spending your tax dollars for personal campaigns.
Dixon recently proposed adding an additional two police officers, which the police chief has repeatedly refused to ask for– even when asked to ask for them– because we don’t need them. Why don’t we need them? Because the police chief had been under-budget for his department’s hiring for the last many years. There are still positions budgeted for which haven’t been filled. For years. Because we’re in the lowest-crime years that Newport has ever known, and there’s no reason to add additional police when there is no additional crime.
Again: We’re in the lowest-crime years in history, for a city that is known for having generally low crime to begin with.
But Dixon wanted to use a line in a campaign flyer about her advocating for “more police”, because statewide there is a crime problem, and it would look good as a line-item on her campaign flyer, which she is supposed to fund through her campaign account.
Let me repeat: We are in the lowest crime years ever, in a city who has historically low crime rates to begin with, there are open positions in the police department that haven’t been filled for years, and Dixon has proposed spending your tax dollars to add new police positions so that she can make a campaign flyer touting additional police so other cities will like her. That’s fiscally irresponsible, sure– but it’s also an insult to our police, who have repeatedly stated that they don’t need extra officers, and she is acting like she knows how to police better than the police do.
And Kevin Muldoon joined her on it.
But that’s not even the worst part. Do you know how much we actually spend on our police department, which has the highest police-to-civilian ratio in the entire county? During Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill’s blistering counter-point which highlighted both the non-need for police, the fact that the police have repeatedly refused to ask for this, and the fiscal responsibility aspects of it, O’Neill showed the rest of the council that for the 2019-2020 year, we are going to spend $66,083,985 on police alone.
But he put that number in context, too. That’s larger than the entire general fund budgets of most of all of the cities in Orange County:
Aliso Viejo $19.6m
Buena Park $63.7m
Dana Point $39.9m
Fountain Valley $59.5m
La Habra $43.6m
La Palma $11.7m
Laguna Hills $22.2m
Laguna Niguel $41.1m
Laguna Woods $5.5m
Lake Forest $47.4m
Los Alimitos $13.5m
Mission Viejo $58.3m
Rancho Santa Margarita $18.2m
San Juan Capistrano $27.7m
Seal Beach $34.3m
Villa Park $3.5m
Yorba Linda $36.5m
And just barely missing the cut from having our police budget alone surpass their entire city’s operating cost:
San Clemente $67.6m
Laguna Beach $69.3m
In addition to highlighting the absurdity of our total expenses, the unreasonableness of adding police when even the police say we don’t need more police (try finding a spot where that’s happened– ever!), O’Neill even offered a measured reasoning on how to get more police hours without impacting the CalPERS retirement pensions, which we are upside down on to the tune of $1.3 billion: By using overtime, we can eliminate nearly a third of the current costs (additional police cars, etc), and prevent an additional position from rolling into CalPERS– which we literally don’t even have a budget for.
Instead, Muldoon did the worst of all possible options: He asked for BOTH overtime AND a new officer.
A fiscal conservative, he is not.
Muldoon was joined on this absurd vote by his friends Jeff Herdman, Joy Brenner, and Diane Dixon. None of those three are known for their fiscal conservatism, either.
This is the message they are sending to our police force, and our police chief: They are telling them that as councilmembers, they know how to police the city better than the police do, and regardless of the fact that our police flatly refused to ask for more officers, the police were gonna get more officers whether they thought they needed them, or not.
If Muldoon thinks that our current police chief– who has overseen the lowest crime rates in Newport’s history– doesn’t know how to do his job, then logically, without a doubt, Muldoon should to move to fire our him– because if Council knows how to police a city better than the police do, clearly, our chief isn’t doing a good job, right?