Barbara Venezia...
Stirring the pot of controversy
 one column at a time...
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Newport activist's spat with

Councilwoman Dixon raises 

questions


8/18/17

Last week, Newport Beach community activist Mike Glenn filed a small-claims lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court against the city, naming Councilwoman Diane Dixon, City Clerk Leilani Brown and Assistant Clerk Jennifer Nelson as defendants.

Glenn, who unsuccessfully ran for council in 2016, is suing for slander and libel, stemming from a go-around he had with Dixon at the April 11 council meeting.

After he made his public comments regarding the Balboa Peninsula trolley — which he wasn’t on board with — Dixon accused him of owing the taxpayers $600 from the public documents he requested but never picked up. Dixon also said city staff has spent more than 500 hours fulfilling Glenn’s requests, for a total estimated cost of about $25,000.

If you watch video of the meeting, you’ll notice how things heat up as Glenn denies asking for printed documents from his requests. He says he only asked for the records digitally, which would be free. Glenn also says it was the first he had heard of owing the city any money for his requests.

Glenn accuses Dixon of planning to embarrass him in public. After the meeting, he acquired a voicemail Dixon left for Brown prior to the April 11 meeting.

In it, Dixon asks Brown how to file a records request, then for all of Glenn’s document requests, and to calculate how much he owes for them, as she anticipates he will be at the April 11 meeting and wants to be prepared.

So is it proper protocol for a council member to act as the city’s bill collector 

rom the dais?

If not for the sole purpose of embarrassing Glenn, then why not address this with him privately after the meeting or via email?

I asked Dixon about the lawsuit.

“The city’s policy is to not comment on pending litigation,” she wrote. “Mr. Glenn should apologize to the taxpayers of Newport Beach for wasting their taxpayer dollars on a frivolous lawsuit.”

Glenn tells me after that council meeting he demanded an apology and a retraction from Dixon as well as from the city.

Via the city attorney, Aaron Harp, Glenn said he was told there wouldn’t be one.

That prompted his lawsuit.

Glenn says he originally wanted to sue for $1, but felt Dixon wouldn’t show up for that amount. So he opted for the maximum of $5,000 allowed in small claims.

Should he win, he says he’ll donate the money to an organization that helps folks fight similar situations.

“This is about principle,” Glenn says.

But what about the money Glenn supposedly owes the city?

On April 17, Nelson, the assistant city clerk, wrote to him: “This is not the first time the notices of determination (a.k.a. invoices) have been sent to you. Each notice is individually dated on the day it was sent to you. As you will see in the attached documents, you have received 17 individual notice of determination or ‘invoices’ since 2015, which show $619.93 due to the city for records requested by you. To date, you have not picked up the documents you requested, nor have you paid the outstanding balance of $619.93 owed to the city.”

Nelson also wrote, “We are not interested in continuing to debate this with you, as it is a waste of staff time and city resources.”

Glenn fired back, insisting this was the only time an “invoice” had been sent to him.

But are notices of determination actually invoices? Or is their purpose to just let folks know what the costs would be for hard copies?

Brown told me, “Our current records request policy is that nothing is produced until payment is received.”

So if a person agrees to the fees, payment must be made in advance of the documents being produced and ready for pickup?

“That is correct, per our current policy,” Brown told me.

So then how could Glenn rack up $619.93 when the policy is not to prepare documents unless the person pre-pays?

Brown said the city changed its policy because of the situation with Glenn and now requires prepayment.

It’s important to note that if people only want to view city documents and not take them with them, that’s free, as are digital copies of records.

Glenn claims, “They always have given them to me digitally, and a few times they wanted to print them out.” Glenn says he insisted on digital copies.

Brown told me Glenn “changed his original requests for copies to be produced to ‘electronic or inspection’ after the fact.”

Last March, I asked Nelson what the city spends on filling record requests. She estimated costs at approximately $54,000 annually, and whenever possible they do fill them electronically.

The city’s website has a page that shows everyone who has made a recent request, including Glenn.

It’s quite interesting.

A court date in this case should be set in the next 15 to 30 days, according to Glenn. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

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Because city doesn't check them out, commission applicants can avoid disclosures

By Barbara Venezia

AUGUST 9, 2017, 12:30 PM

It’s been another interesting week of reader response as I continue delving into the appointment process for municipal boards and commissions.

Though this week my focus is on Newport Beach, I began looking into this subject three weeks ago, and again last week, suggesting the process in both Newport and Costa Mesa could use more applicant background scrutiny.

Looking over applications these past weeks, it seems there are more qualified people applying for these positions in both cities than there are available openings

Truth be told, these are political appointments. Only the naive would believe they’re based solely on merit.

Like it or not, politics weigh heavily in this game, and winning an appointment is largely based on how well-connected you are.

If you’re looking for fairness in politics, you’re bound to be disappointed.

As was Newporter Lynn Gosselin, who recently lost her bid for the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission.

Gosselin called foul on what Newport Councilwoman Diane Dixon claimed in my last column.

Dixon told me that through her efforts with Women in Newport Networking, or WINN, she’d hope to get more women applying for commission and board positions.

Gosselin, who has attended a WINN event, wondered then why Dixon hadn’t voted for her or any of the female applicants for the parks commission?

But should these appointments be made with gender bias in mind?

One could argue that Dixon opened the door here, giving female applicants false hope.

In the end, David Granoff received the parks appointment.

Gosselin wasn’t happy.

“Needless to say, I was appalled when City Council filled the only open position on the committee with a man with a questionable background,” Gosselin says. “I came away from the whole process completely disgusted by current city politics.”

She tells me she won’t reapply.

The “questionable background” to which she refers is an incident in 2005 involving Granoff and neighbors who hired a bulldozer to lower city sand dunes in front of their oceanfront homes in order to improve their views. Though the homeowners admitted no wrongdoing, they were required to pay $225,000 in fines and have the dunes restored.

On June 13, Newport Beach resident Jonathan Pederson addressed the City Council, saying he was concerned that Granoff’s commission made no mention of the incident involving the bulldozed dunes.

“The very first question asked, `Have you ever been convicted of any crime or any violation of any law or statute other than minor traffic violations?’ Mr. Granoff checked no,” according to a copy of Granoff’s comments to the council.”

Now Granoff wasn’t charged or convicted of a crime or violation, so his decision not to check the box is honest, but I would argue that there should be a place on the city applications so that issues like this can be disclosed.

About a week later, on June 20, Granoff sent an email to council members in reply to Pederson’s statements.

“Approximately 12 years ago a group of neighbors, including myself, assumed responsibility for the leveling of sand dunes seaward of our residences,” Granoff wrote. “In discussion with the California Coastal Commission (CCC) we were informed that these and the surrounding areas were deemed Environmental Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA) and the sand and habitat in this area are fragile and environmentally important Coastal resources.

“We learned of the sensitivity and importance of this area and the dunes for the protection of various threatened and endangered bird and plant species. We worked with the CCC, their staff, and biologists to restore the dunes and plant life. The CCC acknowledged our efforts and stated, ‘The restoration that occurred here is one of the most successful we have seen enhancing some of the rarest coastal habitats on the southern California coast.’”

Now, had I not read the complete Coastal Commission report — and just Granoff’s email — I’d tend to believe this wasn’t any big deal.

But that’s not my takeaway after reading the report.

This was a very big deal and a blatant disregard for city policy since homeowner requests to have the dunes removed by the city were previously denied.

And this wasn’t the first time they were stopped attempting to have dunes removed.

Granted, the incident took place years ago, and Granoff has made restitution, but was he really the right choice for commissioner when there were other equally qualified applicants without bulldozer baggage?

Which brings me back to the original point in this series of columns about how applicants really need to be vetted.

You can see Granoff’s application,, and the complete CCC case document, below the column here. 


Researching this appointment issue these past weeks, several things became clear to me:

Undoubtedly the application process has flaws.

It’s not fair, unless you’re the one chosen for the position.

And there’s plenty of room for improvement here.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

 Political ties, shared ideology clearly influence commission appointments

8/3/17

I  love it when a column fires people up, and mine last week certainly did.

Examining the application process in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa regarding boards and commission appointments in both cities got people talking.

Discovering that neither city clerk’s office verifies anything on these applications (other than if the person is a resident and eligible for the position) was news to me and to readers.

Though each city says council members have the option of interviewing prospective applicants, is anyone really verifying information presented to them?

Newport Councilwoman Diane Dixon wrote me, saying since 2015 each mayor has appointed a “council working group of three council members to review applications for council appointments.”

The group interviews candidates it believes are qualified.

“We personally interview candidates over a two-day period,” Dixon says of the group she’s been a part of for three years. “We submit our recommendations (in rank order) to the full council.”

Dixon says she’s attempting to get more women to apply for city appointments via her efforts with Women in Newport Networking, “a loose confederation of women in Newport who care about public service,” formed in 2015.

As far as the larger issue of background checks, criminal records, etc., Dixon wondered if other cities do this.

It’s a question I’ll look into and keep readers posted.

But in this day and age, maybe Newport should initiate this practice, regardless of what other cities do.

Several readers wondered if a background check had been done in the case of former Newport resident Jack Wu before he was appointed to the Finance Committee. Maybe his self-dealing with his former employer, Russell Fischer, would’ve been discovered before he was arrested and convicted of embezzling from U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) while serving as his volunteer treasurer.

The overall “fairness” with which applicants are selected was another subject on readers’ minds.

I only heard from Newport residents on this --- not Costa Mesans — which is very telling. Costa Mesa seems to have righted its political ship, while Newport’s still in rough seas, as far as the appointment process goes

Newporter Jamshed Dastur’s been rejected six times for the Harbor Commission because he’s not part of the “good ol’ boys club,” as he puts it.

On May 19 Dastur wrote to council members after his last rejection:

“I believe that I have a stellar academic background, an outstanding professional career record centered on Marine/Harbor Engineering and Construction, extensive service in National, Local & Civic affairs and 24 years of residency in Newport Beach. So what is missing?”

Is it because he’s not a Republican and critical of their policies?

Is it that he's an “immigrant from South Asia (42 years since I became a U.S. citizen) with an Iranian/Muslim sounding name?”

Dastur admits he didn’t promote his candidacy to council members, thinking his resume would speak for itself.

Dixon says every candidate should promote themselves to the council, but regardless, hers was the only vote he received this go around.

Why wasn’t he selected?

Councilman Scott Peotter, who wasn’t on the interview committee, wrote “maybe the whole man-made global warming/sea level rise thing influenced me.”

He told Dastur not to be “discouraged” and offered to have coffee with him.

Councilman Will O’Neill was “disappointed” in the tone of Dastur’s letter and suggested Dastur “find avenues to use that great Stanford education toward our community betterment.”

“Most applicants for Harbor Commission that are given serious consideration, at least in my eyes, are avid boaters,” wrote Mayor Kevin Muldoon.

Guess Dastur missed the boat here.

Councilman Jeff Herdman didn’t know he’d applied before, suggested he try again, as he’d have his vote next time.

But Dastur says he’s done.

Is his case unique?

Tim Stoaks has 12 rejection letters dating to 2007 in his bids for Newport’s Planning Commission and keeps reapplying.

Stoaks is an architect, served on the Santa Ana Heights Redevelopment Project Advisory Board, is a member of Line in the Sand and a founding member of the Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter. With that kind of pedigree of local involvement you’d think he’d be a shoo-in.

Apparently not. Stoaks jokes he can’t win appointment because he’s a friend of mine.

But another one of my friends, Lynn Selich, won appointment to the Newport Art Commission.

She’s also married to former Mayor Ed Selich, and I’m sure that outweighed her friendship with me, but even so controversy followed her latest appointment.

In June, Selich resigned days after being reappointed to the commission!

Selich tells me she quit in protest after fellow Commissioner Mike Kerr wasn’t re-appointed.

Tired of the political wrangling, Selich has moved on, but something tells me the appointment process controversy in Newport isn’t going to anytime soon.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

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ADVERTISING

“We personally interview candidates over a two-day period,” Dixon says of the group she’s been a part of for three years. “We submit our recommendations (in rank order) to the full council.”

Dixon says she’s attempting to get more women to apply for city appointments via her efforts with Women in Newport Networking, “a loose confederation of women in Newport who care about public service,” formed in 2015.

As far as the larger issue of background checks, criminal records, etc., Dixon wondered if other cities do this.

It’s a question I’ll look into and keep readers posted.

But in this day and age, maybe Newport should initiate this practice, regardless of what other cities do.

Several readers wondered if a background check had been done in the case of former Newport resident Jack Wu before he was appointed to the Finance Committee. Maybe his self-dealing with his former employer, Russell Fischer, would’ve been discovered before he was arrested and convicted of embezzling from U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) while serving as his volunteer treasurer.

The overall “fairness” with which applicants are selected was another subject on readers’ minds.

I only heard from Newport residents on this --- not Costa Mesans — which is very telling. Costa Mesa seems to have righted its political ship, while Newport’s still in rough seas, as far as the appointment process goes

Newporter Jamshed Dastur’s been rejected six times for the Harbor Commission because he’s not part of the “good ol’ boys club,” as he puts it.

On May 19 Dastur wrote to council members after his last rejection:

“I believe that I have a stellar academic background, an outstanding professional career record centered on Marine/Harbor Engineering and Construction, extensive service in National, Local & Civic affairs and 24 years of residency in Newport Beach. So what is missing?”

Is it because he’s not a Republican and critical of their policies?

Is it that he's an “immigrant from South Asia (42 years since I became a U.S. citizen) with an Iranian/Muslim sounding name?”

Dastur admits he didn’t promote his candidacy to council members, thinking his resume would speak for itself.

Dixon says every candidate should promote themselves to the council, but regardless, hers was the only vote he received this go around.

Why wasn’t he selected?

Councilman Scott Peotter, who wasn’t on the interview committee, wrote “maybe the whole man-made global warming/sea level rise thing influenced me.”

He told Dastur not to be “discouraged” and offered to have coffee with him.

Councilman Will O’Neill was “disappointed” in the tone of Dastur’s letter and suggested Dastur “find avenues to use that great Stanford education toward our community betterment.”

“Most applicants for Harbor Commission that are given serious consideration, at least in my eyes, are avid boaters,” wrote Mayor Kevin Muldoon.

Guess Dastur missed the boat here.

Councilman Jeff Herdman didn’t know he’d applied before, suggested he try again, as he’d have his vote next time.

But Dastur says he’s done.

Is his case unique?

Tim Stoaks has 12 rejection letters dating to 2007 in his bids for Newport’s Planning Commission and keeps reapplying.

Stoaks is an architect, served on the Santa Ana Heights Redevelopment Project Advisory Board, is a member of Line in the Sand and a founding member of the Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter. With that kind of pedigree of local involvement you’d think he’d be a shoo-in.

Apparently not. Stoaks jokes he can’t win appointment because he’s a friend of mine.

But another one of my friends, Lynn Selich, won appointment to the Newport Art Commission.

She’s also married to former Mayor Ed Selich, and I’m sure that outweighed her friendship with me, but even so controversy followed her latest appointment.

In June, Selich resigned days after being reappointed to the commission!

Selich tells me she quit in protest after fellow Commissioner Mike Kerr wasn’t re-appointed.

Tired of the political wrangling, Selich has moved on, but something tells me the appointment process controversy in Newport isn’t going to anytime soon.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2017, Daily Pilot

Newport Beach and Costa

Mesa should do background

checks on commission

applicants


7/28/17

I've seen a steady rise in community interest as it relates to residents applying for city boards and commissions in Newport and Costa Mesa.

I’m not the only one noticing this trend.

Newport Beach City Clerk Leilani Brown says the city recently held a “workshop on this very thing because many people have been inquiring.”

What’s driving this interest?

Serving in these capacities has long been a pathway for future City Council runs. Many former planning commissioners, for example, have found their way to council seats.

Of course there are those with no political ambitions, just a sense of community pride and a desire to make a difference.

Good intentions aside, getting appointed to a position on one of these boards or commissions is another story, and not without controversy.

When appointments roll around in either city, I receive a flurry of emails from folks complaining either about the lack of an appointee’s qualifications — or claims that “the fix was in.”

That got me thinking: How well does each city vet these applicants?

Let’s start by examining the applications Newport and Costa Mesa offer online.

It’s important to note that filling out an application in either city becomes public information.

The Costa Mesa application is pretty basic, requiring information like name, address, etc., and asks what committee the applicant is interested in, why and what beneficial experience they have. It suggests a resume be included and asks, “As a committee member, what ideas or projects would you like to review or propose?”

Newport’s application goes further, asking if the applicant has ever been “convicted of any crime or violation of any law or statute other than minor traffic violations,” is “currently employed by the city or contracted services and, if applying for the Finance Committee, whether they’ve declared bankruptcy in the last 10 years.”

Applicants are also asked to state any “past, current or foreseeable future financial interests of any kind that may conflict with the Board, Commission or Committee you are applying for, as well as current civic positions held, occupational history,” and the names of two Newport residents as reference who aren’t officially connected to the city.

​With what little information Costa Mesa asks online, and all the info Newport does, seems neither city clerk’s​ office verifies anything on these applications other than if the person is a registered voter ​in that city and eligible to serve.

“Sometimes certain council members will meet with the applicants,” says Costa Mesa City Clerk Brenda Green. “In January of this year special meetings were held with the whole council to interview commission applicants. This is not a set process; it is council’s choice.”

“The city takes the appointing of a volunteer to a board or commission very seriously, and many times, council will do their own fact-checking on candidates and conduct interviews,” Brown says.

That being said, shouldn’t someone other than council members thoroughly be vetting these applications, checking background, calling references and certifying applicant claims?

How about a simple Google search?

Let’s face it: If you’ve lied on the application — even by omission — the smart move is here to continue leaving out pertinent information when interviewed by council members.

​I've watched the political scene long enough to know if you want one of these appointments it’s best you’ve at least voted for the majority of council members in power in your city. Or better yet, ​donated or worked on ​one or more of their campaigns.

If you’ve been an outspoken critic of them or their policies, don’t even waste your time ​ here. ​

Quite frankly, before you even fill out an application, the prudent strategy would be to reach out to people politically connected and have them lobby council members on your behalf.

Depending on the feedback you’ll know if you have any chance of landing an appointment. ​

As I looked into the appointment process in both cities this week, it’s apparent to me that they should be revamped. And applicant information should be fully verified by a third party, not council members who could be accused of cronyism.

But there’s something else I discovered looking at Newport’s application online that I found telling.

Included is a copy of city policy on “Decorum and Order for City Commissions, Committees and Boards.”

In a nutshell the policy governs “the actions and deliberations of City commissions,​ committees and boards so that their public deliberations and actions be conducted in an atmosphere free from personal animosity and hostility.” (You can download Costa Mesa and Newport applications from my website, bvontv.com)

​Does there really need to be a policy to remind appointees they can’t act like jerks to the public?

Apparently common sense isn’t that common these days.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

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Fairview’s $2-million mystery is solved, and it doesn’t look promising



7/21/17

Last week I started to track down the parameters of the $2-million site survey the state is planning for closing the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa by 2021.

What prompted this was my column last month about Fairview and Sen. John Moorlach’s bill, SB 59, which would require the state to include the city and county in any decision regarding repurposing of the state-owned property. Currently, Sacramento doesn’t have to do that.

I also talked about how Moorlach, a Costa Mesa resident, was working with a coalition from Hoag and St. Joseph hospitals, as well as county and Costa Mesa city officials, to address mental health issues and homelessness as part of a network.

Included in this coalition’s scope is how a portion of Fairview could be used by such a network.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley says of the more than 105 acres at Fairview, 50% could be set aside for single-family housing, 25% for open space, 15% for mental health institutional services of some sort and 10% left for an undetermined use.

In that column, Moorlach mentioned a $2-million site study in the state’s budget for the property. A reader wondered what that “site study” meant.

That simple question certainly lacked a simple answer. It has taken me two weeks of emails and calls to get somewhat of an answer.

Moorlach’s office tracked my progress. They too were interested in the details of the survey.

The question on everyone’s mind was: If you don’t know the scope of the survey to begin with, how do you price it at $2 million?

The answer would finally come from the state Department of Finance in a seven-page budget summary request document, which I posted to bvontv.com.

The summary starts out explaining how on April 1, 2016, the California Department of Developmental Services submitted a closure plan for Fairview that was approved by the Legislature.

It also said the state Asset Management Branch (AMB) is responsible for identifying alternative reuses for the Fairview campus and is requesting $2,168,000 toward contracting consultants.

It goes on to say the “consultants will assist with the evaluation of appropriate re-use options in order to identify constraints and opportunities; to make revenue estimations; to work with the city of Costa Mesa to identify local stakeholder interest in the reuse of the property; and to identify options that will generate the highest return to the state.” Such a return could include revenue to fund programs for the developmentally disabled community.

With Californians paying a high rate of income taxes and the large government bureaucracy in Sacramento, you’d think there’d be staffers who could handle this and not have to spend $2 million on consultants. Apparently not.

The document states that for a “project of this size and complexity, AMB needs to contract for external consultants with expertise in stakeholder outreach, biological and cultural resource assessment, property condition and infrastructure capacity assessments, traffic studies.”

It also says in phase one and two, if required, will need “environmental site assessments, hydrology and water resource studies, master planning studies and collaboration, alternatives analysis and adaptive repurposing studies, market studies, economic modeling, cost estimating and financial analysis, appraisal, and contract negotiations that are not available within existing staff.”

This wordy document is drafted in the broadest of terms with the sole purpose of justifying hiring consultants.

Between the legalese and repetitiveness, it seems this was written so no one could actually understand the specifics totally — a prime example of government circle jerk at its best.

So here’s what’s budgeted in the $2,168,000 for consultants:

Project management: $160,000

Civil engineering and “site related”: $210,000

Environmental assessments: $740,000

Market and economic analyses: $210,000

Traffic analysis: $75,000

Structural engineering: $30,000

Architectural and planning services: $485,000

Cost estimating: $60,000

Disposition costs: $130,000

Distributed admin: $68,000

I question how they can budget for architectural and planning services, as well as structural and civil engineering, when there’s actually no building plan in place.

And taking into consideration how Fairview has operated since 1959, why is there $740,000 for environmental assessments? Shouldn’t they know its impact already?

Do we really need to start from scratch here?

I could go on and on taking this consultant list apart, but this proposal is only the first step for the state to determine what to do with the property.

It has nothing to do with a post-closure plan, which will eventually fold into this multistep process. Who knows how many millions each step along the way will cost.

I’m sure consultants are already lining up for those paydays.

So how much of our tax dollars will the state eventually spend on this Fairview closure?

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

 

The Fairview  Developmental Center and its $2-million mystery

7/14/17

From time to time I like to update readers on storylines they’ve shown interest in/.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, which is slated to close in 2021 and state Sen. John Moorlach’s Senate Bill 59, which would force the state to include the city of Costa Mesa and Orange County in any decision regarding future reuse of the Fairview property.

Moorlach proposed the bill to address concerns about how Sacramento could hypothetically do whatever it deems fit with the state-owned land without consulting local governments.

Moorlach noted $2 million in the governor’s budget for a site survey. That prompted a reader to ask me what exactly a $2-million site survey includes.

I went back to Moorlach.

The Costa Mesa Republican explained this price quote was also given by the state Department of General Services for the Sonoma Developmental Center, which is also closing.

Speaking with spokeswoman Monica Hassan from the Department of General Services, she really didn't have any information other than saying the survey should take place before the closing of Fairview, and no parameters for it have been determined.

She said part of the survey would most likely include options as to what to do with the property moving forward.

That left me wondering: If you don't know the scope of the survey to begin with, how do you price it at $2 million?

Hassan suggested I call the Department of Finance. I’ll keep readers posted when those folks get back to me.

Vist on KOCI radio program


On Sunday, I was a guest co-host with my Feet to the Fire pal Tom Johnson on his radio show, Stu News Sunday on KOCI 101.5 FM

Johnson tackles controversial issues in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, as well as sports and community events.

His topic on this particular show: the recall effort of Newport Councilman Scott Peotter.

At the top of the show, Newport resident Susan Skinner from the Recall Scott Peotter effort called in.

Skinner rehashed the reasoning why she felt the community should recall Peotter now, before he starts working on updates to the city’s general plan and before he’s up for reelection in 2018.

She raised many of the issues I’ve written about in past columns, such as Peotter’s votes in favor of the Museum House condo project and ensuring that some 1,000 pages got tucked into Line in the Sand’s referendum to fight that development. Skinner questioned Peotter’s personal finances and her recent complaint filed against him with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Next up was Peotter, who was in studio.

I’ve been critical of the councilman in many columns, so he’s not a fan of mine, but, to his credit, he was cordial and sat next to me.

I found it interesting as Johnson asked him about his accomplishments on council.

Peotter began by saying, “when we were elected,” rather than “when I was elected.”

This showed me he thinks of his “Team Newport” as one voting bloc. Could he influence his “team” during the general plan update to see things his way?

He is certainly high-density development-oriented.

This concerns me. It concerns Skinner’s group too.

Peotter claimed Team Newport was elected because residents were unhappy with unfunded pension liabilities unaddressed by previous councils and overspending on the Civic Center project.

He called the former council “tone deaf” and criticized the way council members — like former Mayor Rush Hill — spoke to residents at council meetings.

Well, isn’t Team Newport now guilty of these same things — being tone deaf, especially when it concerns high-density development?

Peotter didn’t agree.

I asked him if he felt the whole recall issue was really about his personality, not his political principles.

Here, he agreed.

That being said, doesn’t Peotter have to own up to his behavior?

People liked him enough to elect him. Have they soured over time as a result of his behavior on the dais and his numerous snarky email blasts?

Peotter claimed he was “speaking the truth.”

I reminded him how council members have always disagreed but in a much more civil manner than what he’s exhibited. As I’ve said in previous columns, his behavior steps over the line of decorum in my book.

It was an interesting interview. I give Johnson kudos for presenting both sides of the recall argument.

I’ve kept an open mind on the recall, but after sitting with Peotter and listening to him answer our questions and give his reasoning, I’m now convinced he’s got to go.

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Fairview site could be a cornerstone for addiction and mental health services
6/29/17

You can’t talk about addressing the mental health crisis in this county without including the issues of homelessness and addiction.

This is why a coalition of addiction and mental health experts from Hoag and St. Joseph hospitals, as well as local and state government officials, have been meeting to come up with a plan.

No one facility or community can bear the burden, but networked campuses countywide just might.

Could a portion of the Fairview Developmental Center property in Costa Mesa be one of these?

Fairview is slated to close in 2021, with a proposed plan to transition residents into smaller regional centers.with a proposed plan to transition residents into smaller regional centers.

The state Department of Developmental Services has the ability to lease the land to a nonprofit organization or sell it without any say-so from local city or county officials.

Faced with this possibility, Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) introduced Senate Bill 59 .

Co-authored with Sens. Ted Gaines (R-Redding), Mike McGuire (D-Eureka) and Jim Beall(D-San Jose), the bill would give local cities and counties a voice in repurposing the land.

Now that Gov. Jerry Brown is ready to sign a new budget, and there’s $2 million allocated for a site study for Fairview, Moorlach says it’s time to move SB59 forward.

Moorlach has been meeting with Hoag and St. Joseph and county and Costa Mesa city officials, as the group looks to address mental health issues and homelessness as part of a larger county network.

“We are meeting on a regular basis, and the coalition we are building is phenomenal,” Moorlach says.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley says of the 105 acres at Fairview Developmental, 50% could be set aside for single-family housing, 25% for open space, 15% for mental health-institutional services of some sort and 10% to be determined.

I’m hearing 25% for mental health, however, is being discussed by the coalition.

The mental health aspect of this plan would be part of a larger countywide public-private partnership.

Costa Mesa City Manager Tom Hatch likes the regional approach because trying to solve the county’s homeless and mental health crisis with just one site isn’t the answer.

Hatch wants help available in every community.

As part of this coalition’s research, a group including Hatch, Foley and former assistant City Manager Rick Francis, hospital and county mental health officials, made a trip to Haven for Hope in San Antonio.

Haven for Hope is a successful model of how combining services with a public-private partnership, including local nonprofits, state and local agencies, can make a difference in addressing mental health services, addiction and homelessness.

A center there allows law enforcement to bring those needing to sober up only for the night as an alternative to taking up space in jails. Individuals opting for longer addiction care programs can stay.

Haven of Hope also has transitional housing for homeless families, along with more than 80 service providers, to help folks get back on their feet with training and job skills.

And it has a shelter for those looking for a safe haven for a night, rather than a long-term stay.

With a capacity of 1,500, the Haven of Hope model could be applied here.

In theory the concept being explored holds promise, but will political difference hamper progress?

Though Moorlach has reached across the political aisle, there are those with reservations.

Foley, a Democrat, is concerned the state’s assessment study could value Fairview at a high price, making it prohibitive for any kind of affordable project.

She questions why there isn’t another O.C. senator supporting Moorlach’s bill. Until I told her two Democratic senators co-authored it, she was unaware of the bipartisan cooperation and went online to look up the bill’s progress for herself.

Foley admits her trip to Haven of Hope was enlightening, and there are components — like having service providers for the homeless in one location and the transitional housing concept — that could work here.

But she isn’t counting out another concept being considered by the city for Fairview: affordable housing. And she tells me there have been talks with a provider.

There’s certainly a need to address the full scope of local mental health issues. The coalition’s plan may be a good start to a comprehensive solution, barring politics getting in the way.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2017, Daily Pilot

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Remembering Charlotte Dale and her beloved Villa Nova
6/22/17

Charlotte Dale, the former owner of the Villa Nova Restaurant, died of complications due to pneumonia on June 7. She was 93.

Dale was a staple in the Newport restaurant scene for decades when she took over management of the restaurant after her husband, Allen, died in 1971.

With six children at home, Dale was faced with either entering a male-dominated industry or selling the business.

She blazed a new trail.

Dale had some business experience helping her husband with back office duties, but there was more to learn.

In time she’d turn the Villa Nova into a waterfront landmark.

“What I always appreciated about my mother was her courage, strength and ability to prove to those around her that she could indeed run the Villa Nova successfully after my Dad died in 1971,” said son Jim Dale. “Believe me, there just weren't many female fine dining restaurant owners in that era, and she proved all of the naysayers wrong.”

The Villa Nova and Dale have an interesting history.

Charlotte Dale, the former owner of the Villa Nova Restaurant, died of complications due to pneumonia on June 7. She was 93.

Dale was a staple in the Newport restaurant scene for decades when she took over management of the restaurant after her husband, Allen, died in 1971.

With six children at home, Dale was faced with either entering a male-dominated industry or selling the business.

She blazed a new trail.


Born on June 24, 1924, in Duluth, Minn., to Margret and Duncan Wilson Frick, Dale’s family moved to Beverly Hills in the 1930s.

Graduating from UCLA in 1946, Dale worked for a time at the William Morris Talent Agency and was a personal assistant to “F Troop” star Forrest Tucker.

The Frick Family had a summer home on Lido Isle, where Charlotte and her brother, Andrew, spent summers and holidays.

In 1948 she married Allen Dale, who had changed his name from Carlo Alfredo Di-Lisio when he came from Italy to Hollywood in the 1920s, finding work as an actor and stuntman.

He opened the Villa Nova Trattoria on Hollywood and Vine in 1933 with financial backers Charlie Chaplin and Vincente Minnelli.

According to Alison Martino’s Vintage Los Angeles website, that’s where the couple met. After marrying, they ran the restaurant together, which moved several times before settling on the Sunset Strip in 1944. The site is now the location of the Rainbow Bar and Grill, a rock star hangout. The site has an interesting article about Dale’s visit to the Rainbow when she was 90.

Villa Nova was frequented by Hollywood’s elite on the Sunset Strip. Legend has it, it’s where Marilyn Monroe had her first date with Joe DiMaggio and Minnelli proposed to Judy Garland.

In 1967 the Dales relocated their family and business to Newport, where they flourished.

But by 1992, trends and changes in the restaurant business forced Dale to make the tough decision to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy and retire.

Andy Crean bought the place in 1993. He ran it for 20 years, selling the land and business at auction in 2013.

The iconic site is now home to the Winery.

My friend Artie Dinucci worked at the Villa Nova from 1978 to 2013 and remained close with Dale. We talked this week about his special relationship with her.

Dinucci started as a waiter at the Villa Nova and then became assistant manager and, later, maître d'.

“I worked the door, and Mrs. Dale worked the register,” he said, noting that Rat Pack member Joey Bishop and singer Buddy Ebsen were among the celebrity regulars.

In its heyday the Villa Nova had lines outside every night before opening, he remembers.

Dale made everyone feel special.

“It’s was good food, and everyone knew your name,” Dinucci said.

After closing, “We’d sit, and she’d share stories about her husband and their time in Hollywood,” recalled Dinucci. “Her intellect was incredible.”

Dale was involved in her community. Through the restaurant she supported organizations like the Assessment & Treatment Service Center Coastal Orange County (ATSC), Hoag Hospital and the Newport Chamber of Commerce. She was also recognized by the National Organization of Women Business Owners.

Her generosity extended to her employees.

In 1985 Dinucci was facing a long recovery after back surgery and unable to work.

“She was my savior,” he said. “Mrs. Dale paid me for the whole year, and I never forgot her kindness.”

Dinucci says Villa Nova staffers were a “tight knit family,” which carried on after Crean bought the business.

In her later years Dale lived in a care facility close to Dinucci’s home in Costa Mesa.

The last time he visited this year, he could see her time was coming to a close.

“We sat and talked about old times, and I wanted to let her know how she affected my life in my time in need,” Dinucci said. “She will always have a special place in my heart.”

Dale and the Villa Nova remain an integral part of Newport’s fine dining history.

And for those, like me, who enjoyed family dinners, birthdays, anniversaries and countless boat parade evenings dining on the bay there, we mourn the loss of Dale and an era gone by.

But everything has a season. Dale and the Villa Nova certainly had an amazing one, leaving a legacy of wonderful memories for many.

She’s survived by her children: James, Thomas, Margaret, Laura, Andrea, Jeff and Charles, as well as many grandchildren.

Funeral services will take place at 10:30 a.m. July 29, 2995-A Airway Ave., at Saint James Anglican Church in Costa Mesa.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2017, Daily Pilot
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Foley is ready to talk

 about elected mayoral

 run; Monahan’s not.

6/16/17

In 2018 Costa Mesa will directly elect a mayor for the first time. Previously, elected council members took turns at this ceremonial role.

When this new mayoral concept was being discussed and presented to the voters in 2016, it didn’t make much sense. In this new incarnation, mayoral power structure and duties remain largely the same as before.

I agree creating voting districts -- where candidates only have to run within those districts, making it far more affordable and manageable to campaign -- forms a more-diverse council. But I didn’t think coupling this issue with the mayoral one on the ballot made sense.

To be clear, anyone can run for mayor, even if you’ve served on council and are termed out. Now there’s no need to wait the required two years to be able to run again.

This newly elected mayor will have a vote on issues, so in essence that person really becomes another councilmember. And because of redistricting, one district will have two voices.

Putting those facts aside, whoever becomes the first elected mayor at large certainly takes their place in Costa Mesa’s history books, which is a big deal.

So far it seems Mayor Katrina Foley and former councilman Gary Monahan want the job.

Announcing intentions to run this early is a smart move politically and could deter lesser-known candidates.

Both Foley and Monahan have their own fan bases and each has the ability to raise money, making them hard to beat.

As I’ve watched Costa Mesa politics these last 10 years, I’ve noticed that voters are issue-oriented and tend to recycle their politicians. That’s certainly been the case with Monahan, who’s served multiple turns. Foley, who left for the school board for a stretch, is on another council tour.

I contacted them both, hoping to talk about issues important to them, their choices for political consultants and why they decided to run.

Foley was happy to chat.

She’s enjoying her role as mayor, “working with business leaders, connecting people and problem-solving,” and wants to continue this momentum she explained as her reasoning for running for mayor in 2018.

Foley had the option of running for re-election of her four-year council term in 2018, so why is she opting for a two-year mayoral term instead?

She “only wants to serve another two years” and feels it will be a good time to transition new people into leadership roles with the new district concept in place and new folks serving on city commissions.

Foley is proud of the progress made during her mayoral year so far. Projects like completing the staffing of public safety and affordable housing top her list. She’d also like to see motels on Newport Boulevard once again attract tourists and feels she needs two more years to accomplish these goals and more.

“We have a good momentum and stability; that’s important right now as we transition into directly elected mayor and districts,” she says.

Foley also plans on working with her same team of “DeSnoo & DeSnoo, Michele Mullen, Kimberlee Belli and the hundreds of volunteers” that brought in her last council win.

With an elected mayor, I wondered what will happen to the position of mayor pro tem.

“That’s a good question,” she says. “You’re the first person to ask it.”

Apparently the council still needs to figure that out.

And as I mentioned in my May 16 column, former Councilman Gary Monahan posted on Facebook: “OK I have Steve Mensinger, Jim Righeimer, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Fisler, Lee Ramos, Dana Rohrabacher, John Moorlach and a heck of a lot others behind me… Let’s do this.”

At the time he told me, “Nothing is final,” but that’s changed.

"My run for Mayor is now ‘officially’ endorsed By Congressman Dana Rohrabacher & Angel’s Auto Spa Owner Surat Singh,” he posted June 8.

On June 9 he posted a link to his fundraising page, as well as announcing a fundraiser for June 29 to coincide with his restaurant Skosh Monahan's 17th anniversary. He also asked for suggestions on a campaign theme song.

I was especially interested in talking with Monahan, because after he was termed out in 2016, he told me he was done running for council and wanted to focus on his business and family.

And though he’s posting on social media about running for mayor, I guess he didn’t want to talk to me, as my call and email went unanswered.

I am ready to share his ideas with readers whenever he is ready to talk.

In the long run, it will be interesting to see if voters welcome him back.

Or has he “jumped the shark,” as they say in TV when a show’s been on too long and has lost its sizzle?

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

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As recall effort moves forward,Toerge clarifies views on high-density development

6/9/17

As Newport enters new waters with the Councilman Scott Peotter recall effort, the first in the city’s history, there has been some innovation alongside the continued controversy.

Tasked with obtaining about 8,500 signatures by October to bring the issue to the voters, the Recall Scott Peotter Committee is taking advantage of the digital age.

Typically, petition drives in the past set up tables in front of grocery stores and other high-traffic public areas with volunteers collecting signatures.

And the committee is doing this, but it’s added another component by launching a massive email campaign with the actual petition.

Supporters are sending the petition, along with specific instructions as to how to fill it out, print it and mail it back to the committee at 2618 San Miguel Drive, No. 1708, Newport Beach, Calif. 92660. The petition can also be downloaded at recallscottpeotter.com.

This move is groundbreaking. They’ve made it convenient to sign in private , and they’re urging supporters to forward it to their friends. If successful, this could change the way petition drives are conducted from here on out.

But even with the modernized method of signature gathering in addition to manning tables in the community, the recall effort still has a way to go.

I will continue to examine the complexities of the issues surrounding the recall effort. In my last column I raised the notion that with only one candidate at the moment running against Peotter, his former opponent in the 2014 election Mike Toerge, there were those in the community who questioned Toerge’s past decisions on high-density development.

Toerge supported Measure Y in 2014, while residents overwhelmingly did not.

Toerge and I spoke about that this week.

Reflecting on 2014, Toerge admitted that not supporting No on Y cost him the election.

“I got bad advice,” he said in reference to political consultants who urged him to support Y, though his initial instinct was not to.

“I made a mistake,” he said. “I made the decision, and I own it.”

He went on to say he’s always been a “residents-first guy, and I compromised my ideals. I’ve dealt with it, I’m past it and moving on.”

Toerge tells me this experience will make him a better councilman, should he prevail in this recall.

But I had to ask, is this recall really just “sour grapes,” as Peotter and his supporters claim?

“Absolutely not, I didn’t organize this recall, but I am supporting it,” Toerge said.

Now is the time to replace Peotter, as a new General Plan update is being discussed, Toerge said.

Toerge served with Peotter for a time, when both were planning commissioners, and says Peotter voted overwhelmingly for land-use changes and development during that time.

With “little land-use expertise on the current council,” Peotter, an architect, could have “undue influence” over current council members, Toerge said, adding that Peotter’s propensity toward high-density development worries him.

Toerge said that as a planning commissioner he made his decisions based on residents first and city economic gain second.

He also touts his past experience working on the last General Plan update in 2006, zoning codes and the current local coastal plan. His expertise in review, and analysis of code compliance, is what he feels the city needs in the council mix right now.

“In this political arena people want to label you either pro- or anti-development,” he said. “I support the General Plan.”

But even if Peotter is recalled, Team Newport would still dominate the council.

Toerge said he’s not worried, feels he has a good relationship with Brad Avery -- they hike together -- is impressed with Councilman Will O’Neill and has no issues with working with Councilwoman Diane Dixon or Mayor Kevin Muldoon.

“Jeff Herdman is going to need someone with conviction who is realistically prepared to change his mind when confronted with compelling factual information,” he said.

Toerge believes all on the council would welcome his planning experience and says he “can work with anyone who is rational and wants to help community — but not someone with an agenda.”

And Peotter has been accused of having a very specific agenda, according a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint filed by activist Susan Skinner.

Among her allegations, Skinner questioned Peotter’s alleged financial ties to Capitol Ministries in Washington, D.C., which according to its website, “plants and develops biblical ministries of evangelism and discipleship to public servants.”

As a strong believer in separation of church and state, I found what I read on the organization’s site, capmin.org, regarding its political and religious agenda disturbing.

Skinner also raises questions about Peotter’s 700 financial reporting forms, as Newport Beach planning commissioner from 2006-10, where he reported no “reportable interests,” including income, spousal income, business interests, investment income and gifts received, yet he managed to live in Newport.

Peotter later told the Daily Pilot he was out of work during the recession and didn’t have income to report. He was living off savings.

He also explained to the Pilot that he stands by everything on his forms and has no problem answering any questions by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

“I don’t have anything to hide,” he said. “That’s why we file these things publicly.”

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

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Can Toerge carry the recall torch now that Brenner is out of the running?
5/26/17

Who is, and who isn’t, ready to rumble with recall this summer?

As the political temperature rises in Newport, the recall process of Councilman Scott Peotter took another step forward this week when City Clerk Leilani Brown approved the recall petition.

“The petition format is sufficient,” she wrote to proponents.

The Committee to Recall Scott Peotter can now start gathering the approximately 8,500 signatures needed in the next five months to bring a recall vote

Symbolically, what happens here is a game-changer, regardless of who prevails.

If the recall is successful, it sends a message to council members and their power brokers that there are consequences when the voice of the people is ignored.

If this fails, Peotter and his supporters both on and off the council become stronger than ever.

But like any good summer mini-series, this recall is already presenting unexpected twists and intrigue.

As I reported back in April, if signature-gathering successfully leads to a vote, residents will be asked if they want to remove Peotter, and, if yes, choose someone to replace him.

Mike Toerge, who lost to Peotter in 2014, is still a candidate if Peotter is recalled, but apparently Friends of the Corona del Mar Library chairwoman Joy Brenner isn’t any longer.

Back in April, Brenner was enthusiastic, saying she felt “compelled” to serve and had been urged by friends and neighbors to run for office for decades.

This week she’s singing a different tune.

“It is with a huge sense of relief and some sadness that I have to announce my decision NOT to run for Newport Beach City Council,” she said in an email to supporters.

Brenner did some “soul searching, and with so many dear friends battling illnesses, I feel like I need to make the most of whatever time I have left. I still have traveling to do and many other things.”

Though I respect Brenner’s reasons, I wasn’t convinced it was the whole story.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen it before, that moment when a potential candidate realizes the depth of the ugliness ahead, how negative politics is in this town, and concludes they want no part of it.

When Brenner and I spoke, she admitted this weighed greatly on her decision. She just couldn’t see herself in that kind of fight.

Brenner still supports the recall effort and is hoping someone else will throw their hat into the ring.

But with Brenner bailing, this changes the dynamics of the recall’s success, in my opinion.

I’ve heard from more than a few in town who feel that as much as they dislike Peotter, they’re not crazy about longtime planning commissioner Toerge either. And faced with a choice between the two, they’d stay with the devil they know, so to speak.

Some aren’t convinced Toerge opposes high-density development, a divisive issue in town with Museum House and other issues. Though he says he now opposes new high-density, he supported Measure Y, a failed initiative that would have allowed more large development at Newport Center, in the 2014 election.

Many saw Brenner’s entry into the recall race as a welcome alternative.

Now that she’s out, I feel that unless the recall committee attracts other candidates, betting the farm on Toerge might be a fatal mistake.

If an alternate candidate, who is a longtime resident, well-respected and without political baggage, doesn’t jump in over the summer, I don’t see this recall effort being successful.

On the flip side, in Peotter’s camp, he continues to send out his email blasts using a photo of the city seal and stating the email isn’t official city business.

He’s been reprimanded before for using the seal, but I guess he’s technically within the rules by using a “photo” and the “unofficial” label to make it clear his missives aren’t from City Hall.

But this is just another example of a guy exhibiting behavior unbecoming his office.

In this latest blast, May 15, he claims the “Recall is being used to Stifle Free Speech.

“Seems as though the Recallers are trying to intimidate me and others by using the recall to scare us into inaction,” he writes. “They have even said that they can’t let me vote on another budget. They really can’t have me stopping their tax-and-spend ways.”

From where I sit, this whole recall is not about stifling speech, spending or scare tactics.

Simply stated, there’s a growing section of the community who may not like the councilman’s behavior or opinions, but, more importantly, disagree with his vision for the city, especially when it comes to high-density development.

In interviews with recall committee members, I’ve never heard anyone once say Peotter isn’t entitled to his views; they just don’t agree with where he’s taking this city.

So is a difference of opinion really censorship?

Or is this recall merely a civic way to hit the reset button when enough constituents disagree with whom they elected?

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

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Meeting a `Soprano,' hitting the Press Club dinner, talking to Monahan about his run

5/18/17

From pasta sauce to politics to the OC Press Club Awards, there’s lots of interesting tidbits to report this week.

On Mother’s Day, Stasha the Wonder Dog and I sat in with Tom Johnson on his weekly KOCI-FM radio show, “Stu News Sunday,” and was delighted to meet actor Steve Schirripa, who was in studio hawking his new line of organic Italian pasta sauces.

Schirripa, who played Bobby Baccalieri on “The Sopranos” and currently portrays Detective Anthony Abatemarco on the CBS show “Blue Bloods,” listened to the show in his car a few weeks ago. He has a place in Laguna and told his publicist to see if he could get him on the show.

Schirripa’s created a line of pasta sauces based on his mother’s recipes that are now available at Vons and on his website.

I haven’t tried his sauces yet, but they’re on my grocery list!

Fairgrounds on the Fourth

Costa Mesa Councilman John Stephens also stopped in and talked about the OC Fairgrounds and the city's collaboration on the upcoming July Fourth safe and sane fireworks events.

As reported in the DP, Stephens was successful in raising the $50,000 needed to pull off an event that he hopes will discourage illegal fireworks.

Fines for those naughty, noisy illegal fireworks will now be $1,000, if the cops catch you. Stephens hopes this event will be a deterrent.

Stasha, like most animals, hates the loud booms of July Fourth.

Stephens, a dog owner, says the fireworks display won’t have those scary noises; it will be more of a “pyrotechnic” display.

Stasha gives Stephens four paws up and kudos for his efforts.

Starting at 3 p.m. on the Fourth, the event is free to the public and will include entertainment, food, games and fun. Parking is free up until 5 p.m. Fireworks are later in the evening.

Gary Monahan weighs mayoral run



And speaking of Costa Mesa, former Councilman Gary Monahan raised a few eyebrows Sunday when he posted on his Facebook page he was planning to run for mayor in 2018.

“OK I have Steve Mensinger, Jim Righeimer, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Fisler, Lee Ramos, Dana Rohrabacher, John Moorlach and a heck of a lot others behind me,” he wrote, “… Let’s do this. ”

When I emailed him Tuesday about his plans he wrote: “Nothing is final”.

Yes, the 2018 elections are going to be interesting, and not just locally.

GOP backer raises money for Newsom



This week I received an invitation from neighbor Jim Glidewell regarding a fundraiser he’s having at his home for California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018.

Newsom is a Democrat, while Glidewell is a Republican and Lincoln Club member who previously held a fundraiser at his digs for Marco Rubio during the presidential election.

Why the switch?

Glidewell said Newsom “will make an excellent governor of California,” though he readily admits some have questioned his choice.

“The Republican Party, of which I am a staunch supporter, will not have a viable candidate for office this coming election,” he said. “I feel Gavin is the obvious winner, and I’d like to vote for someone who can actually win for a change.”

Glidewell says he introduced Newsom to his conservative friends, and were impressed with Newsom’s grasp of the issues and his moderate views on some issues.

Glidewell is among a growing number of O.C. Republicans who are fiscally conservative, but feel the party isn’t in line with their social beliefs.

“I’m liberal socially, I take care of my employees,” said Glidewell, president and CEO of Glidewell Industries. “I’m trying to improve industry and my employee’s lives; that’s my focus, not just profits,”

The fundraiser is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. June 6 at Mesa Manor, 2300 Mesa Drive, Newport Beach.

And if this address seems familiar, it was formerly the Village Crean. Glidewell bought the estate at auction in 2013, and renamed it Mesa Manor.

If you’re interested in attending, RSVP by contributing $250, $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 online at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/june6glidewell

A win at the OC Press Club Awards



Rounding out this week, I attended the annual OC Press Awards at the Balboa Bay Club Monday night.

Winners included: Best Feature Story, honorable mention, the Daily Pilot’s Hannah Fry, who also received second place for the Real OC award; Best Food/Restaurant Story, third-place prize, the Pilot’s Bradley Zint. Pilot contributor Nuran Alteir also won third place for feature writing in Weekend, a sister publication of the Pilot.

And the David McQuay Award for Best Columnist went to my buddy and Feet to the Fire cohort Norberto Santana Jr., publisher of the Voice of OC.

I was awarded second place.

Stasha unfortunately didn’t win in the Best Lifestyle/Family Blog category she’d entered. But when I broke the news to her she didn’t seem to mind, she just yawned and went back to watching DOGTV.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2017, Daily Pilot