Mailbag: Newport Beach’s future mayor may be exemplary

 A seagull on overlooks the ocean in Newport Beach.
A reader expresses her hopes for the future leadership of Newport Beach.
(File Photo)

This has certainly been an eventful and most challenging year for city government in Newport Beach. Mayor Will O’Neill’s year of service is drawing to a close according to custom, and I would think that he would feel a sigh of relief. I am sure that to our City Council and mayor that this last year seemed like a long one.

We are thankful for Mayor O’Neill’s dedicated service during an extremely demanding year and look forward to the passing of the guard to the Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery, as is the custom. Brad and Joy Brenner are the only two members of council who have not had the opportunity to be mayor, while others have served twice. Yet we know that both of them would be exemplary mayors. And Brad would be representing a district from which a mayor has not come in a long time.

Although the procedure for the selection of mayor has changed since the early 1900s, the original policy to change officers each year was consolidated with many others and appears on page 11 of the City Charter which reads: “Effective with the selection of the mayor and mayor pro tem during November of 1984, it is the policy of the City Council that the mayor and mayor pro-tem election shall occur every year thereafter. The election shall take place pursuant to Section 404 of the City Charter.”

Although the intent of the council who wrote the amendment to the charter was for mayors to serve only one term, there were four in the ’90s who served two terms. However, since 2008, no mayor has served more than one year, albeit some have come back to serve after a hiatus.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Beach

Steel’s replacement

It is unfortunate that Orange County‘s Second Supervisorial District (my district) has always been considered a partisan prize that has usually gone to the strongest but not necessarily most competent Republican running.

It is the curse of its GOP registration advantage. This has condemned the nonpartisan constituents of roughly 10 communities in the district to suffer neglect and misrepresentation for decades. The special election to replace Michelle Steel is shaping up as another partisan bar fight.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a choice among the candidates who would fairly, honestly and competently represent this district for the next two years?

A choice like Fourth District Supervisor Doug Chaffee who pledged to treat others as “human beings” and not just votes or markers. A choice who would solve problems and join in solutions instead of partisan posturing. I am still waiting for that choice to declare. It’s a choice we all deserve.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

Defending Surf City

In response to the article “How Huntington Beach became Angrytown, USA,” we have lived in Huntington Beach for over 50 years, so have seen the city grow and develop.

The city has been through good and bad times, but the citizens have always striven to have a place where all were accepted. Certainly mistakes have been made, but overall we think that we have much of which to be proud.

Gustavo Arellano’s article emphasized the ugly and indicated that we all acted in an irresponsible way. Did we support the position of the protests that have been held at Pier Plaza?

The answer is a very positive no! However this is what American is all about — the right for people to say what they believe, even if is not what we believe. This is what is called a democracy! Did your reporter stop and ask from where most of the people came? Pier Plaza, because of its size and location adjacent to PCH, is a convenient place for people of all differing points of view to gather and many times, in the past, a number were not from Huntington Beach.

We would have hoped your reporter would have done a little research to see the kinds of things that the citizens of Huntington Beach do and stand for. During these very difficult times, people have reached out to help their neighbors, churches have spent their dollars buying food for those who are homeless or lost their jobs, our nurses and doctors are on the front lines at our local hospitals, the city built the first facility for the homeless, its leaders urged people to wear masks, and a recent election brought forth two new council members who have already contributed much to the betterment of the city.

One of things that we are very proud of is our Human Dignity Statement which we co-authored. It says that all of our people will be protected against racism, intolerance and will be respected no matter their religion, sexual preference and color.

With this statement a Human Dignity Task Force and an Interfaith Council was created, so that the city can continue to educate its people on what tolerance means and how to conduct their lives and when anyone in the community is attacked because of their differences they will be protected.

There is so much more about our community than a protest, and we who have been working for years to make this city the best that it can be would like to see a little more in-depth reporting.

We can never forget what a democracy means. It means that all people have a voice, even if that voice is not one that we can respect. Democracy is sometimes hard to define and even harder to understand, but in our country it means we can always make our voices heard.

Former H.B. Mayors
Dr. Ralph Bauer
and Shirley Dettloff
Gustavo Arrellano’s recent article regarding anger and Huntington Beach painted Surf City with too broad a brush. Any city with a population of 200,000 has it share of conservatives.

There are some easily influenced by leaders and who believe the pandemic is a contrived political power play and refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing, never mind obey a curfew, all of of which are restrictions imposed to curb the spread of a virus that has already brought about the death of more than 260,000 Americans.

These protestors who are not all from Huntington, as the article points out, believe that their right of assembly and freedom of speech are being violated. They may not have realized that these constitutional rights do not permit them to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. If they wish to violate a curfew and assemble without wearing masks they should weigh the risks, after all what do they have to lose? If the police department refuses to enforce the curfew they are leaving the city open to litigation.

Richard C, Armendariz
Huntington Beach

Mayor Lyn Semeta should check her facts. I was the lead organizer of the Huntington Beach Huddle Candlelight Vigil for Ruth Bader Ginsburg (200 people, 100% masked).

We did not go to Pier Plaza. We started at Triangle Park and walked down Main Street to Orange Avenue and turned around. We did this specifically to avoid the COVIDIOTS who frequent downtown now and are absolutely hateful and selfish beyond belief. I say this as a 40-year H.B. resident, who loves my city.

I have friends from all over the world who call me to ask what is happening here. It’s more than embarrassing. It is going to hurt the tourist income our city counts on and the property values of those of us who own homes here.

Don’t get me wrong — I believe in peaceful protests and have been a participant in many. What I don’t believe in is a bunch of out-of-towners and a few locals congregating without masks or social distancing and then stopping at our stores and gas stations spreading this virus to those of us doing our part.

Bethany Webb
Huntington Beach

Steel campaign signs

Julie Bixby’s response to my earlier letter is both ill-informed and presumptuous.

In its original form, the crux of my letter submitted to the Daily Pilot was to point out the numerous Steel campaign signs still up well after the deadline for their removal was just the latest in a series of city of Huntington Beach zoning code violations; including, but not limited to, their placement on street medians or in excess of height limitations. The first paragraph of my letter enumerating those prior violations was edited out.

Irrespective of who put them there, I contacted the Steel campaign and made them aware of the signs prior to the election, yet its members did nothing to remove or relocate them. I also contacted the Huntington Beach Code Enforcement Office to notify them of the signs.

Lastly, to infer I’ve not done my part in cleaning up campaign signs is incorrect and a personal affront. In point of fact, I’ve picked up scores of signs, including fishing them out of our waterways, and dutifully recycled them. However, I will not risk life and limb trying to retrieve them from the Beach Boulevard median while 50-mph traffic whizzes by, nor will I carry a ladder around to try to reach and remove signs placed 10 feet high on sidewalk lampposts. For safety’s sake, I pray Ms. Bixby does not attempt this either.

And yes, as of Dec. 3, several Steel campaign signs remain on the Beach Boulevard median and on some sidewalk lampposts.

Mark Scott
Huntington Beach

The impact of 275,000 COVID deaths

If you are having trouble assessing the impact of 275,000 COVID-19 deaths, then picture this: It is the equivalent of wiping out more than 95 percent of Newport and Huntington Beach residents combined or nearly everyone who lives in Irvine.

Another way of wrapping your arms around 275,000 fatalities is this: If each death was represented by a piece of paper, the tower would stand more than 90 feet in the air. That is as tall as this year’s Christmas Tree at Fashion Island.

One last perspective to think about: From December 1941 until August 1945, 407,316 U.S. troops lost their lives during World War II. 487 of them were from Orange County. Today, we are approaching 1,600 COVID-related deaths in O.C. in less than a year.

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly told his supporters, “All I hear now is ‘COVID, COVID, COVID.’ By the way, on Nov. 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”

I didn’t believe the president then and certainly don’t believe him now.

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

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