Wu: Vote on bridge helps in Newport, hurts in Assembly race

Well then, last week’s column criticizing the Newport Beach council’s decision to remove the Corona del Mar fire rings got quite a reception.

I think the only thing I wasn’t attacked for was the Reagan quote. Even my attempt at sarcasm regarding the trashy harbor was skewered by my buddy Mike Whitehead, a columnist over at the Newport Beach Independent.

But I must address a couple of mistakes made by my, um, “fans”:

No. 1: I’m an opinion columnist, not a reporter, so if you don’t like my opinion, don’t read it.

No. 2: If you take what I write as gospel, then you need to go back to school for reading comprehension lessons.

Nevertheless, let’s see if I can aggravate the people I didn’t last week.


Can a Newporter move up?

In my crack research, I’ve found out that in the 106-year history of Newport Beach, not one sitting City Council member has been elected to a higher office.

And before you say it, “Saint” Marian Bergeson was on the school board when she was elected to the Assembly, while former mayor Judge Steve Bromberg was appointed, which doesn’t count as “elected.”

Other than that, a few tried, always with no success.

Will Councilwoman Leslie Daigle break that trend?

Will Daigle be able to appease the entire 74th Assembly District with Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Irvine as the major voting blocs, while doing a decent job on the Newport Beach City Council?

After her latest vote, her chances probably got much slimmer.

The headline from the March 28 Daily Pilot could hammer the nail in her coffin, “Newport to sue over 19th Street bridge.”

The Orange County Transit Authority, under threat of total anarchy by Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa residents, wiped any trace of a 19th Street bridge from Orange County’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways.

They didn’t study it, they didn’t do any environmental studies, and, as Mayor Nancy Gardner said in an email:

“They chose to eliminate the bridge without looking at the ramifications and without any mitigation. That’s not fair to our [Newport Beach] residents.”

So that’s bad for Newport? Not fair, right?

But the vote to sue was 6 to 1, with Mayor Pro Tem Keith Curry dissenting, and his sound reasoning was right in line with mine:

“I generally oppose public agencies suing other public agencies at the expense of tax dollars on both sides.”

But the crazy part of all of this?

Daigle voted in favor of suing OCTA for taking the 19th Street bridge out of the county’s Master Plan.

While Daigle emailed that she “supports the bridge’s removal from the master plan,” she is supporting suing “to request OCTA do the mitigation studies.”

To me it sounds like she wants the bridge gone, but is suing OCTA because she doesn’t like the way they’ve removed it. Or maybe she just wants it studied. (Full disclosure: I consider Daigle’s two opponents in the race, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor and council critic Bob Rush, friends, but that has nothing to do with my opinion on the bridge vote).

And while her vote helps her in Newport, Daigle’s position could irk some in Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa. After more than 600 Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach residents had a near riot in opposition to the bridge at a January meeting in Surf City hosted by Supervisor John Moorlach and H.B. Mayor Don Hansen, Newport’s two neighboring cities made it clear that they want that proposed bridge scrubbed from the plan.

And they made it clear to OCTA that the board didn’t bother studying the impacts of removing the bridge. Nope, they just took their eraser out and made it completely disappear without a peep faster than you can say fire pit.

Add that OCTA vote to Daigle spearheading a 2009 lawsuit against Irvine, over the Jamboree/Bristol expansion. The cities settled, but Irvine had to cough up $3.5 million in taxpayer dollars to Newport Beach, and Daigle has done quite a job to create some serious agitation for Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach residents, while collecting Irvine taxpayers dollars for Newport Beach city coffers.

So, how do you think voters in Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa will react to hearing that she wants to sue OCTA over the 19th Street bridge?

Yup, another few years before someone on the Newport Beach City Council gets to move up to the big leagues.


Feet to the Fire Forum

By the way I, along with Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, Voice of OC Editor Norberto Santana, Newport Beach Independent Editor Roger Bloom, The Current General Manager Tom Johnson and Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia, will be on the panel for the Feet to the Fire Forum, where we will get to grill the 74th Assembly candidates at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave.

Be there or be square.

Have any questions you want me to ask? Email me nicely (please) at

JACK WU is an accountant who lives in Newport Beach and practices in Costa Mesa. He is a longtime Republican Party loyalist and a volunteer campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). His column runs Sundays on the Daily Pilot Forum page.