Mailbag: Cannon that memorializes sacrifice of war should stay where it is
I am sorry the Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees’ sensibilities were offended by the World War I-era cannon on display in Costa Mesa (Daily Pilot, Aug. 19.) Please know I was one of the donors to the restoration project done by a local Eagle Scout eight years ago and I am a SAL (Son’s of American Legion) member of American Legion Post 291, the original donor of the cannon.
This artillery piece serves as a quiet reminder of “The war to end all wars,” as WWI was known, and honors those Americans who died in that war.
Did Rev. Voorhees look directly across the street and notice children climbing all over the Korean War era F9F Panther jet that is part of in Lions park? Should this weapon of war also be moved to “a better place?”
If we continue this thought process perhaps the brass plaque at the base of the Newport Harbor High School flagpole that honors those alumni who perished in World War II should be removed as it is associated with a war?
Leave the cannon where it is as a silent sentinel and remember those who perished.
Facts vs. political theater in N.B.
On Tuesday night the Newport Beach City Council entertained and approved by a 6-1 vote a resolution brought forth by Councilman Noah Blom; “Supporting local schools as they return to normal and parental choice in deciding whether children should be masked or vaccinated at school.” It was hard to watch as moms and a few dads repeated fake facts and studies about mask wearing and COVID-19. A telling point was when a couple of those moms stated that “No doctor in Newport Beach will write a medical exemption.” Where was a Hoag hospital representative to enlightened these parents? Why did the City Council not work with Newport Mesa Unified School District on this resolution?
The following facts remain true even after the council presented a new redlined version of the resolution minutes before the meeting commenced.
Fact: Newport-Mesa Unified School District schools opened for the 2021-22 school year on Monday, Aug. 23, and there were no mask incidents reported at any school.
Fact: Students admitted to TK/K-12 are required by state law to have multiple vaccines/immunizations for entry into schools in the state of California.
Fact: Cases of COVID-19 continue on the rise in O.C. and Newport Beach.
Fact: Children under age 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated and vaccination rates for those between 12 and 17 remain relatively low according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Fact: According to O.C. Deputy Health Director, Chinsio-Kwong, on Friday, the current surge is predominately among younger people, who have received fewer vaccinations. The case rate in children and teens is the highest among 15- to 18-year-olds.
Fact: Pediatric hospitalizations are at the highest point since the Department of Health and Human Services started tracking them last year.
Fact: This resolution relies on outdated information from the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The guidance WHO posted was dated August 2020, over a year ago, and before vaccines were available. The guidance, which the resolution does not site, is the very first sentence which states: “WHO advises that people always consult and abide by local authorities on recommended practices in their area.”
Fact: Current guidance from the California Department of Public Health is for “all students to wear masks inside classrooms.”
Fact: The American Academy of Pediatrics press release dated July 19, 2021, recommends in-person learning and “urges all who are eligible to be vaccinated to protect against COVID-19” and further recommends “that everyone older than age 2 wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.”
Fact: The city of Newport Beach has no jurisdiction over NMUSD.
Fact: The Orange County Board of Education’s lawsuit against the state’s mandate for masks in schools was denied by the California Supreme Court.
Based on the facts above, this resolution is meaningless, unenforceable, contrary to state law and education code. It was nothing more than an opportunity to feed into the false information, accusations about COVID-19, masks and vaccines for political theater. And such a resolution works against our school district and its trustees trying to ensure our local schools stay open during the fourth wave of this pandemic. The citizens of Newport Beach deserve better!
State takes aim at local control
The bad news first — SB9 and SB10 passed the state Assembly last week.
You may have heard about these two bills. They’ve been in the news a lot over the last few months.
SB 9 will unwind single-family zoning throughout California including here in Orange County. It allows a single R1 lot to be split into two, where each lot is allowed to have duplex on it and possibly an accessory dwelling unit. This translates to four or six rental units where once there was one. It’s frightening to think what our neighborhoods will look like in a few years.
SB10 allows any City Council to approve a 10-unit apartment building on an R1 lot. SB10 also invalidates all citizen’s initiatives (think Greenlight).
Neither SB9 or SB10 require any of the units to be affordable, so they won’t contribute to our RHNA allocation. They will stress our infrastructure because there is no consideration for water, police and fire, traffic, schools, open space and on and on. There are no public hearings required. A developer can get a ministerial approval. Wall Street and hedge funds will compete with families to buy single-family homes, driving up the cost of real estate, putting affordable housing further out of reach for young families, our local workforce and lower-income community members.
The state legislature has been trying to pass these bills in some form or another for several years now. They finally got enough Assembly members to drink the Kool-Aid this year, and both bills are in the final stretch on their way to the governor for signatures. With a looming recall vote, the governor may decide to sign the bills as quickly as possible to ensure their passage, or he could postpone signing them in hopes that it will boost his chances of retaining his position. In either case, there’s a pretty good chance we will be seeing these become California law soon.
Developers are salivating over this. I get a letter every week from some investment group masquerading as a local real estate company with a family looking for a home “just like mine in our neighborhood.” I’m sure many of you have received similar correspondence.
These bills strip cities of any local control over their zoning and land use. Sacramento lawmakers have determined that they understand the unique nuances of every city in California, and they are convinced that they know what’s best for all of us. We should just take our medicine and be quiet.
So that’s the bad news … the good news is that there is a California ballot initiative for an amendment to the California constitution which was submitted last week. It would return control of land use and zoning decisions back to cities. The plan is to have it on the November 2022 ballot. There is a lot of work ahead, but the process is underway. It’s an interesting initiative and you can read its current form online at CommunitiesForChoice.org.
The organization behind this initiative is Californians for Community Planning. Right now, what they need most is money (donations can be made at the same website). In a few months the signature-gathering process will begin. You’ll be hearing more about that later. For now, take a look at the initiative and allow yourself a small sigh of relief. Maybe we can fix this mess!
Thoughts on the Newsom recall effort
I don’t know exactly when, but it seems that election politics has become a team sport. “Are you on the red team or the blue team?” The rules of the “game” have been subverted to win at all costs, at the expense of the intent of the rules.
Recalls are intended for removing an elected official for dereliction of duty or for committing a crime. The process was never intended for the losing side to have another bite at the apple. We have regularly scheduled elections every two to four years when we get a chance to evaluate our officials and decide if we want to remove them. Interrupting the regular process with recall elections wastes time and money that could be used to solve real problems. We want our legitimately elected officials to focus on serving the public, not dedicate months fending off a recall for no other reason than the opposing team didn’t win the last election.
California’s economy is rebounding despite all the challenges we have faced the past year. We should be applauding our governor for his accomplishments, including ensuring that all school-age children can receive free lunches and seniors can get food assistance, significantly reducing hunger in our state. I celebrate that healthcare coverage has been expanded to cover a million more previously uninsured residents. These achievements and more, while our budget has the highest reserves in history!
Our state is battling climate change, wildfires, a COVID-19 surge and homelessness. We are resisting attacks on women’s rights and voting rights. Instead of focusing on those things, we are wasting $276 million on an unnecessary recall.
Please don’t reward those that have wasted your taxpayer dollars on this frivolous attempt to overturn an election that was lost at the ballot box. Doing so not only sets our state on a backward course, it fuels those that will use the recall rules to continually waste our money as they attempt to get into office through a back door because they cannot win a majority of the votes. I urge you to vote “no” on the recall by Sept. 14.
Mandates are the answer
Throughout the period of the pandemic, I have been in favor of mandates. As far back as Spring 2020, I was pestering our City Council in Newport Beach to put them in place.
The federal administration is starting out by requiring nursing homes that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding to mandate vaccinations for all staff members. And legal action is going to be taken through the Department of Education against governors who attempt to prevent school districts in their states from enacting mask mandates.
Those who adamantly oppose vaccinations and masks are not listening to science and common sense but to some political leaders and other spokespeople, among whom are conspiracy theorists who protest against being inoculated. Because it is probably impossible both physically and politically at this point to pull off a blanket public mandate, I think that the mandates will need to be put in place layer by layer. And that has already started to happen. Recent polls show that two out of three people in the country support their state or local government to have mask mandates for public buildings.
Even closer to home is the courageous response of the Newport-Mesa School Board president last week who said to a strong and noisy contingent of parents who showed up to protest mask mandates in local schools: “I know some people don’t agree with certain things, [but] I think we need to keep our eyes focused on what we want and that’s to keep schools open.”
Among private companies, more and more are requiring vaccination and mask mandates as well as tests. I walked by the Apple Store yesterday, which limits the number of occupants in their buildings as well as requires masks. The most surprising group of all to require vaccinations to play is the NFL. So things are beginning to happen. Unfortunately, the more time that passes, the more opportunity there is for the coronavirus to mutate and come up with a strain that will be impervious to the current vaccine. So until mandates speed up we are basically being held hostage by the coronavirus as well as the defiantly unvaccinated among us.
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