Political Landscape: Comparison to Pavlov's dogs brings protest from Newport activist

Political Landscape: Comparison to Pavlov's dogs brings protest from Newport activist
Newport Beach activist Susan Skinner, left, and other protesters show their objection Thursday to a recent letter by local political donor Bob McCaffrey. (Photo by Hillary Davis)

Susan Skinner wants Newport Beach to know she isn’t a “drooling dog.”

Skinner, a local activist and outspoken critic of several members of the City Council, took to the sidewalk on Balboa Island on Thursday evening with a handful of her supporters to protest a letter written by area political donor Bob McCaffrey and recently published by some local news outlets.


The letter — which the Daily Pilot did not publish — compared Skinner, council candidate Joy Brenner and others to Pavlov’s dogs. The reference is to dogs used in experiments by Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov in which they adopted a conditioned response (salivation) to sounds associated with being fed.

Skinner and others took offense to McCaffrey’s letter, saying it was degrading to women.


The protesters picketed on Marine Avenue not far from McCaffrey’s home, where he was holding a fundraiser for Brenner’s opponent in the District 6 council race, incumbent Scott Peotter.

More local council candidate forums on tap

Residents in area cities will get several chances to hear council candidates debate hot-button topics during election campaign forums in coming days and weeks:

  • A Feet to the Fire forum featuring the candidates for Costa Mesa City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa.

  • The Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club will present a Newport Beach City Council candidates forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Oasis Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Ave., Corona del Mar.

  • The Newport Beach edition of the Feet to the Fire forum series will start at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College.

  • A Laguna Beach candidates forum presented by resident advocacy organization Village Laguna will begin at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chamber at City Hall, 505 Forest Ave.

  • Another Laguna forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach, 286 St. Ann’s Drive. Admission is $20, with proceeds going toward “Tune In, Drop Out and Vote,” a public awareness campaign on local radio station KX/93.5 FM encouraging voter registration and participation. The station also will broadcast the forum live.

Group of former Newport mayors endorses Brenner and Stoaks for council

Six former Newport Beach mayors are throwing their support behind Joy Brenner and Tim Stoaks for Newport Beach City Council.

Evelyn Hart, Rush Hill, John Cox, Keith Curry, Mike Henn and Don Webb endorsed Stoaks in his race against incumbent Marshall “Duffy” Duffield in District 3 and Brenner in her campaign against incumbent Scott Peotter in District 6.

“Tim and Joy are longtime community activists who have worked for decades on projects like Oasis, the Corona del Mar library/fire station, Santa Ana Heights improvements like the fire station, trails and parks and our new animal shelter,” the group said in a statement. “They have been in the lead on reducing airport noise and they will represent the interests and values of residents.”

Faith-based coalition sets congressional candidates forum in Costa Mesa

A coalition of churches and civic and community groups is sponsoring a 48th Congressional District candidates forum in Costa Mesa next week, though organizers said incumbent Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has not yet responded to an invitation to participate.

Rohrabacher is running for reelection against Laguna Beach Democrat Harley Rouda.

The forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mesa Verde United Methodist Church, 1701 Baker St. The district includes Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach.

For more information, email

Congressional Feet to the Fire forum canceled

The Feet to the Fire forum meant to feature the two candidates in the 48th Congressional District race has been canceled after incumbent Dana Rohrabacher declined to attend, according to organizers.

The forum had been scheduled for Sept. 22.