The Newport Beach Foundation— an organization funded by tax dollars in order for city staff to train their new bosses– was founded originally in 2013, with the stated intention to influence the 2014 election cycle. Not a bad idea wholesale– but the problem comes when we find out who is funding it, and who is organizing it– so bad, that the OC Register called the entire scheme “unethical”.
This organization was founded by “Newport Beach & Company“. A bit of history behind Newport Beach & Co: They are the entity that the city selected to “market Newport Beach” for the hotel industry, and receives millions of tax dollars per year to do so, from a “transient occupancy tax” aka Hotel Tax of a whopping 10% of all income from people who stay here 30 days or less.
“Marketing Newport Beach” is the *only* thing that Newport Beach & Co are legally allowed to do with that tax money. In fact, that is their only designated task by the City of Newport Beach. The only one.
They then took that money and created “The Newport Beach Foundation“– using tax dollars– and gathered up the top dog city employees– who are paid for by tax dollars– and invited people to join them to “learn how the city works” and “groom them for city leadership”, using your tax dollars to fund the events, and using city employees being paid with your tax dollars to entertain for the event. Needless to say, this rose-colored picture of the city will give newcomers the idea that the city is running perfectly. Why would they want to do this? Because there was such unrest coming into the 2014 election that the city staff themselves felt threatened, and coordinated with Newport Beach and Company to quite literally use tax dollars to recruit and train incoming councilmembers.
To put that a different way: City Staff conspired with a city-funded company to use city resources to recruit unwitting members of the public to go through a course specifically designed to indoctrinate them, in order to choose their own bosses– off your dime.
This was such blatant corruption that upon the winning of the election (by the slate that the city staff DIDN’T want), the entire concept was dismantled, immediately. Even a writer at the OC Register (ironically, later convicted for embezzlement) wrote about how horrible it was, here: https://www.ocregister.com/2014/07/28/jack-wu-newport-beachs-unethical-investment-of-city-funds/
You will note that along with Diane Dixon, another name pops up as someone who was invited to complete this “course in cronyism”: Diane Dixon’s most staunch supporter, endorser, event organizer, and fundraiser, Joe Stapleton. But why are we writing about a 2013 event in 2020?
Because a little over a year ago, Joe Stapleton– who now happens to be on the Board of Directors for “Newport Beach & Company“– went right back to the source of the money and started the whole process all over again. Joe tells me that Newport Beach & Company [illegally] gave Joe the startup capital to begin the organization yet again, and yet again, they seek out unwitting participants and lure them in with fancy soirees, introducing them to upper city management and stories about how fantastic the city is, and how they are totally-not-corrupt, not even in the slightest.
This time, they have fabricated a program called the “Distinguished Citizen” program, which they give out to people who go through their “education” courses run by people funded by your tax payer dollars. They paid to have trophies made and even give them out to people to make them feel like something has been accomplished– making public spectacles out of people, much to the delight of those who they are publicly hoodwinking.
So who will be giving presentations at the “Distinguished Citizen” program?
Let’s go down the list, as-advertised by the Newport Beach Foundation:
– Will O’Neill, Mayor of Newport, City of Newport Beach
– Homer Bludau, former City Manager, City of Newport Beach
– Grace Leung – City Manager, City of Newport Beach
– Carol Jacobs – Assistant City Manager, City of Newport Beach
– Leilani Brown – City Clerk, City of Newport Beach
– Aaron Harp – City Attorney, City of Newport Beach
– Barbara Salvini – City HR Director, City of Newport Beach
– Jon Lewis – Police Chief , City of Newport Beach
– Fred Navarro – Superintendent of Newport-Mesa School District, City of Newport Beach
– Tim Hetherton – Library Services Director, City of Newport Beach
– Laura Detweiller – Director of Recreation & Senior Services, City of Newport Beach
– Mario Marovic – NB Business Leader
– Dan Matisoewocz – Director of Finance, City of Newport Beach
– Seimone Jurjia – Community Development Director, City of Newport Beach
– Dave Webb – Public Works Director, City of Newport Beach
– Mark Vukojevic – Utilities Director, City of Newport Beach
As you can see, every single person– save one businessperson– is literally being paid by your tax dollars.
Now I’m not saying that the people who attend these things are “in on the scam”. They are simply being manipulated. Most are good people who are simply oblivious and trusting. Saul Alinsky (a bad person) would infamously come to describe to describe these good and intelligent people as “useful idiots”– good people who are being manipulated by bad people to further the cause of the bad people.
To reiterate, your tax dollars are being diverted by Newport Beach & Company who then throws parties with your tax dollars in order to get people into a local government “we’re not corrupt, we’re good people!” program, and if they like you and think you fall for it, they introduce you to campaign donors and encourage you to run for office.
They are literally using your tax dollars to launch and fund the campaigns for those who they are choosing to be their own bosses, while making unwitting fools out of everyone in attendance. And we wonder why our dog catchers make $182k/year and get raises every time we turn around? Because of blatantly corrupt and crony events such as these, where the city misappropriates your taxpayer dollars to pick their own bosses– that’s why.
So what should people be doing who want to know more about the city? Attend city council meetings! Watch them on TV, or right here at http://savenewport.com/council — listen to what people say, especially people like local watchdog Jim Mosher, who routinely calls the city out on their shenanigans. Don’t ask the wolf whether or not he is a nice guy. Watch it from afar, and when you are ready– get involved! If you’d like to write articles on things, reach out to this outlet! We always need more active, engaged, and informed citizens who pay attention to what is going on. But don’t ask the wolf whether or not he is a nice guy. They’ll fill your head with nonsense, and you’ll never come away smarter by doing that.