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Mailbag: Newport-Mesa Unified must address learning loss brought on by the pandemic

A boy rides his scooter as students head to class at Rea Elementary School in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang/Daily Pilot)

These are my comments to the Jan. 26 Newport-Mesa Unified School District board of education meeting in a study session to discuss student learning loss due to the pandemic:

As an educator, former board member and more importantly a resident of the Westside for almost 50 years, I have a passionate concern for the board to address learning loss. Trustee Ashley Anderson has asked the board to designate facilitators at each school. Now is the time. Not next year. The pandemic has forced you, the elected board members, to take responsibility for each child who has fallen behind, regardless of which district you represent.

Our Newport-Mesa community expects you to be fearless in your determination. My recommendation is for each school to form a “team” to include the facilitator, the office manager, the librarian, paraeducators, tutors, special ed liaisons, even music teachers, to identify each and every child.

A chart should be made for each child listing the resources to support the child. Mental health resources should be accessed as well. No stone should be left unturned. Meetings should be held to monitor each child. School personnel should reach out to the family and not wait for the family to contact the school. It will take effort, but in the long run you will be giving these kids a future.

Please don’t tell us you don’t have the money to hire extra staff. I know too well the Irvine Co. Endowment sits there waiting to be used for this purpose — for such a time as this.

Also, it is time for NMUSD to join the real world and offer the public the opportunity to express our concerns and for you to hear our voices by using the webinar/Zoom format. The city of Costa Mesa and the Orange County Fair Board allow for real-time comments. It’s time NMUSD figures out a way for the public to give our comments in real time, not through written email comments due by 9 a.m. the day of the meeting.

Wendy Leece
Costa Mesa
Note: The writer is a former Costa Mesa city council member and NMUSD board trustee.

Council voted right on carwash

On behalf of the entire Canyon Mesa community in Big Canyon, we would like to express our gratitude to Mayor Brad Avery, council members Kevin Muldoon, Marshall Duffy, Diane Dixon and Joy Brenner for the courageous stance they took at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, in listening to the people and voting against the proposed General Plan Amendment to allow a carwash to be added to the already over-utilized Shell Station at 1600 Jamboree Road.

Councilman Will O’Neill tried his best three different times to intimidate the other members of the council by saying there was no basis to deny the application and that it complied with all zoning ordinances and that the applicant’s sound study proved there would be no noise impact from the carwash.

The project doesn’t comply with all city ordinances in that it cannot fit on the property without a reduction of 50% in the required setback, which would mean building it 15 feet closer to our properties, which didn’t seem to even register with O’Neill or our newly elected councilman in District 5, Noah Blom.

While I understand Blom represents both the residents and businesses in his district, he did not serve the residents of Big Canyon well on his first vote.

Contrary to what Blom indicated in his comments Tuesday night, this project does not comply with all the city ordinances. Perhaps over time he will better learn the rules?

I trust that in the future Councilman Blom will be able to review the needs of the residents in his district with a greater perspective.

Gerald A. Giannini
Treasurer, Director
Big Canyon Community Assn.

Does Georgia rep have a friend in Steel?

South County’s new member of Congress, Michelle Steel, and her House colleague, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, share considerable common ground: First, they both are Republican first-term lawmakers; second, they both voted not to impeach Donald Trump; and third, they both have been appointed to the House Education and Labor Committee.

All of this serves as an important backdrop to what’s happening in Washington these days. With impeachment looking dimmer by the day, some say the Senate should vote to censure Donald Trump instead. I’m not sure how that would work now that the former president is a private citizen, but I do know how it should work when it comes to a current member of the House.

After winning election in November, Taylor Greene told her constituents she would introduce articles of impeachment against Joe Biden on his first day in office. On Jan. 21, the QAnon-leaning lawmaker made good on her promise.

Her publicity stunt was covered by the national media but fell on deaf ears in Congress. Even the GOP House Minority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, turned his back on the idea. But this isn’t why Taylor Greene deserves to be censured.

CNN, the Washington Post and other sources have now confirmed citizen Taylor Greene endorsed or “liked” social media posts calling for the execution of Democratic lawmakers back in 2018 and 2019 (the timing of which coincided with entertainer Ted Nugent urging his followers to shoot Democrats like rabid coyotes). High on the list of posts Taylor Greene supported was the murder of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Was anyone surprised when the Speaker recently called out Taylor Greene, who carries a gun and believes the school shootings at Sandy Hook and Parkland were a hoax, as an “enemy from within”?

When is enough more than enough? I’m asking this question because our politics don’t simply seem polarized, they appear to be rapidly becoming weaponized. If you were paying attention to what happened in Michigan last fall, where a handful of homegrown militia forces planned to kidnap the governor, or witnessed hundreds of armed rioters breaking into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, you know what I mean.

Private citizen Marjorie Taylor Greene had every right to express herself two or three years ago, but elected Rep. Taylor Greene must be held to a higher standard. If it comes to a vote to censure the Georgia lawmaker, I wonder how Rep. Steel will vote?

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

GOP hopefuls prompt Foley thoughts

In the article “3 GOP hopefuls battle for vacancy” (Jan. 30, Daily Pilot), a Republican challenger for the 2nd Orange County Supervisorial District seat vacated by Michelle Steel, Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo, asked voters to reject the candidacy of “a recycled career politician.” That referred to former state Sen. John Moorlach, recently beaten by Democrat Dave Min.

Indeed, a lackluster Moorlach served undistinguished terms in both the O.C. Board of Supervisors and the state Senate before voters wised up to his ineffectiveness. He is hardly the “experienced and principled legislator” to address our most pressing issues as touted by the Republican Party of Orange County.

As Dana Rohrabacher found out, it is involvement and results that matter far more than experience. Moorlach is cut from the same “do nothing” cloth.

If Vo and fellow GOP challenger Kevin Muldoon want to look at a well-qualified, involved and successful candidate, they should look no further than Democrat opponent Katrina Foley.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

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Currently the Board of Supervisors is very much out of balance. Four seats (including Rep. Michelle Steel’s) are held by Republicans and only one by a Democrat. Because the electorate in this county is shifting dramatically from conservative to liberal, it will serve our communities better to have better balance on the Board. A 3-2 balance will not necessarily affect the votes the supervisors take, but it will provide a chance for broader discussion of important issues.

I’m a lifelong Republican and among the many of my fellow Republicans who are becoming increasingly frustrated by the arrogant incompetence of the Orange County Republican Party leadership. Perhaps the best example is the disaster that ousted 30-year Congressional representative Dana Rohrabacher a couple years ago.

In the election we face today the ballot contains four Republicans, of which former Supervisor and state Senator John Moorlach would be the better choice from that group. However, also on the ballot is my mayor, Katrina Foley, a Democrat and a formidable opponent, even if Moorlach was the only Republican running.

I’ve watched Katrina Foley during her entire political career. She is a true leader. She is bright, articulate, full of energy and has only the people of her constituency in mind as she helps craft solutions to problems. I’ve watched her lead Costa Mesa as our first directly-elected mayor — a seat she won twice by crushing her opponents at the ballot box, including former mayors. She and our City Council have faced the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resultant economic downturn plus the ongoing homelessness issue, with intelligence and skill, charting the course and relying on our excellent city staff to implement plans to soften the impact of this triple-threat to our city. Foley has been the leader — the tip of the spear — in these efforts.

I will wholeheartedly endorse and plan to vote for Katrina Foley for Supervisor of the 2nd District and hope you will do the same. The future of our county — including the management of COVID-19 issues — is too important to be left in the hands of one political party.

Geoff West
Costa Mesa

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It is reported that the Orange County GOP endorses former state Sen. Moorlach as a known commodity. The article fails to speak of the qualifications of Mayor Katrina Foley of Costa Mesa running for District 2 on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

As opposed to Mr. Moorlach, Mayor Foley will follow science in promoting vaccinations and mask wearing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Costa Mesa was the first city in Orange County to recommend mask wearing. Mayor Foley works with unions on pensions that didn’t add to the unfunded pension liability. Even in state office Moorlach made no changes to public service employee pensions. Mayor Foley worked with the private sector to provide homeless shelter in Costa Mesa.

Mayor Foley has consistently provided leadership in securing public safety, providing economic and residential stability, and public health.

We need to elect Katrina Foley for positive change on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Margaret Mooney
Costa Mesa

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While I understand “3 GOP hopefuls battle for vacancy” intended to focus on Republican candidates, you don’t give Mayor Katrina Foley sufficient consideration as a serious candidate against these three men. Though I live in Huntington Beach, I have been impressed with Mayor Foley’s leadership next door in Costa Mesa, particularly in the areas of health and safety (COVID-19), homelessness and affordable housing and environmental protections. She has led the way for other cities in O.C. and could do the same for us as a Supervisor.

Rather than recycling the same perspectives that have dominated discussion at the Board of Supervisors for decades, Mayor Foley brings fresh ideas, energy and accomplishments to whatever she does. She would make a significant addition to the County Board of Supervisors and would bring far more to the table than the other candidates.

Lorraine Prinsky
Huntington Beach

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