“Speak Up Newport” Puts Heavy Cronyism On Display

Speak Up Newport bills itself as a “Community Forum” in Newport Beach, but the reality is a lot more dirty than that, as you are about to find out.  To prelude: This is not a selfish article about disappointment for not being able to speak (although I am sure it will be framed that way by the ones I am exposing here).  Indeed, this is a snapshot displaying how a previously-well-respected organization has been hijacked by cronies.  Moreover, this is just the beginning in a series of “tell all” posts I will be doing about people in the city, showing how they operate and why you should be concerned.  Now, let’s get to the meat and potatoes:

Recently, Mayor Diane Dixon has ramped-up attacks on the beloved 104-year-old Dog Beach, on the ocean between Newport and Huntington, and Speak Up Newport decided that they would have a forum on “Dogs in Newport”, with the headlining item being all about Dog Beach.

So who are the speakers at this event?  They are:
– Sean Levin, a city employee who makes $225,000/year and works at the City of Newport Beach, where Dixon is the mayor.
– Nick Ott, a dog catcher earning $130,000/year working in the City of Newport Beach, where Dixon is the mayor.
– Garry Brown, the president of “OC Coast Keepers”.

None of these people support our Dog Beach– but all of them have been active in the anti-Dog Beach community for years.

Hearing about this meeting coming up, I texted former Mayor Ed Selich to volunteer as a speaker so that the forum could have some semblance of balance, as Selich was the one who was making the phone calls to find speakers, and frankly, I don’t know that anyone knows more about Dog Beach or has spent more time digging through papers on it than me.  This would ensure at least a “somewhat” fair balance to this “Community Forum”.

He said I was not welcome as a speaker, and instead would prefer to have the current panel, as currently listed.  “Why”, you might ask?  One quick look at the board members should tell you all you need to know.  Here is who is on the board of directors for Speak Up Newport:

– Ed Selich, President & former Mayor of Newport
– Diane Dixon, current mayor and leader of the charge to shut down Dog Beach,
– Tom Fischbacher, Police Lt and overseer of the Dog Catchers, making an eye-popping $314,877.26/year from the city of Newport, where Dixon is the mayor.  (I wish I was joking– follow the link for public records which document this),
– Joe Stapleton, a Dixon-endorser, fundraiser for Dixon, and someone openly admits that– under Dixon’s term on council– he has taken YOUR tax dollars (from Newport Beach & Co) and used them to create his OWN private, crony organization(s).

To say that the deck is stacked against honesty and transparency on the subject of Dog Beach would be an understatement of epic proportions.

To be fair, Ed Selich has told me that the final call was his own, but even if that were true– and he truly wasn’t receiving pressure from these people on his board– this clearly puts “Speak Up Newport” in a position of promoting a single side of an issue– hardly a “community forum”, indeed, this puts “Speak Up Newport” squarely in the realm of “Crony Forum”.

(NOTE: Others, too, are on the board– but the ones listed are the ones to pay attention to when it comes to certain things, including cronyism and/or corruption)

All of this is happening as both the city and county have begun taking steps to illegally shut down our long-time Dog Beach, ramping up right as National Dog Day was upon us.

If you haven’t already signed up, please sign the petition to help Save Dog Beach at http://savenewport.com/dogs

We are going to need all the help we can get to stop Dixon from turning Dog Beach into a private beach for homeowners.  In the meantime, if you ever see anyone out on Dog Beach “enforcing” against dogs, please text me immediately on my cell at 949.229.0096.  We need to document this illegal behavior by our government in order to stop it.  If you have been given a ticket or if you know anyone who has, please contact me at the above number via text.  I would love to hear from you.

Stay tuned, as it seems like this Dog Beach issue– which the city AND the county said was over– is far from over.



About Mike Glenn

Mike is the founder and publisher of Save Newport and Chair of Government Relations for the Elks Lodge. He writes, shoots photos, and edits, but much of the time, he's just "the IT guy". He can be reached at: Google+, Facebook, or via email, at michael.glenn@devion.com