On Nov. 29, Newport Beach City Councilmen Scott Peotter was one of the leaders as the City Council engaged in a remarkable act of legislative arrogance and attached 3,700 extraneous pages to the Museum House referendum petition.
He knew exactly what he was doing because he fought down a motion brought by then-Councilmen Keith Curry and Tony Petros to exclude those pages as a threat to opponents’ constitutional rights to “referend” the council’s decision.
The result of this action was the 10-pound Museum House referendum petition circulated in December through a scrum of blockers and the flurry of misleading fliers and lawn signs paid for by the developer. What may not be as well-known is the continuing cost of his utter disregard for his constituents.
Line in the Sand is a grassroots organization founded to protect the quality of life for Newport residents. Like any grassroots organization, its money is raised in mostly small amounts from the many people who support its goals.
When Peotter added those thousands of pages, he added a complexity to the referendum petition that was unnecessary and unprecedented. The printer and the attorney for Line in the Sand had never seen anything like it before. The final cost of the petitions was $46,506, more than many families in America make in a year.
The complexity of the petition also opened the door for the Orange County Museum of Art to file a lawsuit against the petition, an unlikely event if the petition had been a typical length of 50 to 75 pages. This lawsuit continues, at immense and continuing cost to Line in the Sand.
The right to challenge our government’s decisions is precious. When Peotter made his decision, he undermined the constitutional rights of the residents to petition their government. It was absolutely the action of a bully.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a councilman who works for us instead of against us? We deserve better. It is time to restore respect and integrity to the Newport Beach City Council. It is time to recall Scott Peotter.
Newport Beach resident SUSAN SKINNER is helping to lead the recall effort.