Mailbag: We can do better than misleading political mailers

A political flier sent to homes in Huntington Beach, endorsed by the Police Management Assn.
A political flier sent to homes in Huntington Beach, endorsed by the Police Management Assn., was critical of City Council candidates Natalie Moser, Dan Kalmick and Oscar Rodriguez. A Daily Pilot reader says the flier was misleading and inaccurate.

I am a longtime resident of Huntington Beach. I recently received a flier titled “Don’t Let Radical Politicians Turn HB into Portland” stating that Natalie Moser, Dan Kalmick and Oscar Rodriguez want to disarm and defund the police, build high-density high-rises and increase taxes.

I have volunteered with Natalie for over four years, and know this is not what she stands for. The flier said that the police officers warn about this, but it was from the Police Management Assn. and private contributors. The residents of Huntington Beach don’t need to be told untruths about candidates and don’t need to be subject to fear instilling tactics.

To all residents, fact-check any flyer you receive. We can do better and you deserve better.

Cheri Atkinson
Huntington Beach

Support for Weigand

As a former elementary school teacher at Newport-Mesa Unified School District, I wanted to take a moment to express my support for Krista Weigand’s candidacy to the board of trustees. I took great interest reading her recent commentary in the Daily Pilot.

Something lacking these days is communication. Her writing exemplified leadership — something our district needs at this exact moment. I was impressed that she took the time to not only thank our hardworking teachers but to offer up solutions. Studying up on her background also gives me credence that she will use her real-world experience to bring forth much needed common sense to Newport-Mesa.

Lastly, the fact that she has younger children attending our local schools means a lot to me. We need parents who see exactly what is happening in the classroom and can make the changes needed to ensure everyone gets the best education possible. Krista has my utmost respect and support. I hope everyone will see the same and cast their vote in her direction.

Scott Singer
Newport Beach

Krista Weigand is the candidate in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Area 6 that will move the district forward. As a former NMUSD parent, I’ve watched the local races closely. It’s a contentious time, filled with many challenges. In the school board landscape, many are spending a great deal of time complaining, but very few have stepped up with a fresh and constructive approach to leadership.

We need new board members who can assess what’s working and what’s not, who are bright and creative and who truly understand healthy and effective governance.

Krista has the skills to work with budgets, the commitment to hold people accountable and the insistence that the school district must function at the highest level. She will embrace our community with clear and frequent communication, and most importantly, she will make her decisions based solely on what is in the best interest of our students.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi
Newport Beach

The choice is clear

As we enter the final phase of this election cycle and my retirement from the Newport-Mesa Unified Board of Education, on which I currently serve as president , I continue reflect on my contributions to my community and how I can best convey my passion, commitment and vision for the district. Most who know me know that I am not a person who seeks the limelight; I don’t seek out publicity but rather allow others to shine and be recognized for the amazing work or contributions they are making.

As you are deciding on which candidates to support, I ask you to reflect on the qualities of leadership identified by Ron Mirenda in his 2009 article: “Leaders Lead by Serving: Do You?"

Take a good look at all the candidates — do they reflect the values, vision, commitment and leadership you expect them to provide? Can they be impartial, are they beholden to special interest groups? Have they received much of their campaign funding from the very people and associations/federations the board will be voting on in future contracts and labor agreements?

Campaign financial disclosure forms are required by law to be filed with the FPPC and the OC Registrar of Voters. It may surprise you to learn that Leah Ersoylu, a candidate in Area 1, has received funding from the teachers union PAC. She is running against community leader and experienced board member Vicki Snell, who has consistently rejected money in any of her campaigns from special interest groups or unions to maintain her impartiality and integrity.

Vote smart — the choice is clear.

Martha Fluor
NMUSD board member
CSBA Past President

Pleased with Peters

This is a school board election in which experience matters. Amy Peters is the candidate with the experience to help steer Newport-Mesa Unified toward opening all grades in our district to offer our children the full educational experience they deserve.

I met Amy in 2004 when she was my oldest son’s first preschool teacher. She shepherded the children through their first year of early education with kindness and respect. I had no idea that she was a warrior for our children until Swun Math was introduced to our district. Amy and her husband fought alongside other informed parents to hold Supt. Fred Navarro and the board responsible for this disastrous math program. The Peters’ unrelenting focus led to the district to dropping this program and adopting one that was more effective.

Amy ran for school board in 2016, hoping to unseat the incumbent. Though that run was unsuccessful, she continued to advocate for the students of our district, both on campuses and by attending nearly every school board meeting over the past four years.

She understands the responsibilities of the superintendent and his administration and the role of the board in terms of guiding the district and being sure that the district administration are serving the students. She understands the enrollment trends, the finances of the district, the opportunities for additional federal and state funding programs that are available and the politics of the district. She has close relationships with nearly everyone in the district from principals and teachers to janitors and is able to get accurate information on what is happening at the schools.

We need to elect someone who understands the landscape and the immediate actionable steps that can be taken to expedite our children returning to the educational experience they deserve. We need to elect a board member who will hold the district administration accountable. We need experience. We need to elect Amy Peters.

Teryn Clarke, MD
Newport Beach

Amy Peters is the most qualified candidate to join the NMUSD school board representing District 6. She has been involved in solving problems at the schools for the past 15 years.

She has a student in the schools and knows the issues first-hand. Until someone has served on the PTA/PFO and Foundation boards, they don’t really know how difficult it is to address problems. Amy has spent over eight years on PTA and foundation boards at various levels of school.

When NMUSD forced the disastrous SWUN math program on elementary students, Amy was instrumental in getting that horrible math program replaced. Rats had been showing up for years in the classrooms at Newport Harbor High School, but Amy got involved and was instrumental in getting the issue addressed and exterminators on campus.

Only a person who has had her children experience all the levels at NMUSD (elementary, intermediate, high school) has the insight to identify problems and solutions. There are issues at the schools that only parents who have been there can solve. Amy Peters is that person.

Linda Duffy
Newport Beach

Time for Dixon to retire

We supported Diane Dixon through two elections. During her second term on the Newport Beach City Council she lost her independence and fell under the sway of outside interests, ignoring constituents’ welfare. She opposed COVID-19 safety measures, favored opening beaches and restaurants before safe practices were in place, saw restaurant staff members and lifeguards become infected and put residents at risk. Result: Newport Beach has as many COVID-19 deaths as the entire country of New Zealand.

Craig Smith
Newport Beach

City budget in good shape

Through budget cuts and good management, Costa Mesa’s finances are sound. As stated in both Tom Arnold’s and Ralph Taboada’s letters in the Daily Pilot, Mayor Katrina Foley, Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens, the council and city staff are to be commended for their management of a budget that was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few candidates for Costa Mesa mayor and City Council have made misleading comments about the budget. Some have argued that we overused budget reserves. However, preliminary results indicate no budget reserves were needed to balance the Fiscal Year 2019/20 budget that ended June 30.

While constructing the current (2020/21) budget, the council and staff wisely planned for reduced revenue due to continued impacts of COVID-19. They cut expenses and authorized, if needed, the use of reserves that are specifically set aside for declared disasters.

Use of reserves is a last resort, but these are unprecedented times. The impacts of the pandemic certainly justify the use of reserves, which are set aside just for this purpose. If we do not use reserves under these conditions, then we would likely see cuts to essential services, such as fire and police.

Much of the candidate commentary about the budget is campaign rhetoric, some by those who don’t understand the budget, and some by those who are trying to plant fear in the minds of voters. While the future of the pandemic is uncertain, I am confident that Foley and Stephens will continue to be the good leaders that Costa Mesa needs.

Cynthia McDonald
Costa Mesa

Budget view is too optimistic

Recently, Ralph Taboada and Tom Arnold, chair and member, respectively, of the Costa Mesa Finance and Pension Advisory Committee, publicly wrote optimistic views of the city’s finances. Taboada and Arnold are diligent and respected members of our committee; however, we believe the picture of Costa Mesa’s finances they depict is too optimistic.

For example, to arrive at a surplus of $251,000, the expenses related specifically to the pandemic were set aside in a special account. That amount was roughly $3.3 million. The city has been reimbursed about $1.1 million. Therefore, there is a deficit of approximately $2 million for the Fiscal Year 2019-20. These numbers are preliminary, unaudited and subject to significant change.

For the current year, our general fund budget shows revenues of $126.4 million and expenses of $136.6 million. The $10.2 million difference will be met from our disaster fund plus hoped for money from FEMA and the CARES Act. That is an actual deficit of $10.2 million without drawing on reserves and anticipated but not guaranteed funding. Our reserves will only last so long, and the funding may or may not come.

Also, as Taboada and Arnold accurately point out, city management, staff and the advisory committee worked diligently to quickly reduce expenses. But that included layoffs, furloughs and deferred capital projects. This is just a deferral, not elimination of costs.

We too want to be optimistic but also face reality.

The FiPAC is a nonpolitical committee, appointed by the City Council to advise on financial matters. Members of this committee should not use their status in thinly veiled commercials to promote the reelection of our mayor and mayor pro tem.

These are personal opinions and not those of the whole committee.

Bob Juneman, Al Melone, Tom Pollitt, Anna Vrska
Finance and Pension Advisory Committee members

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