Mailbag: Climate change volunteers work to influence policy in Orange County

A humpback whale flaps its damaged fluke in the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of Oxnard.
A humpback whale flaps its damaged fluke as it prepares for a deep dive in the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of Oxnard, Calif. on Sunday afternoon, April 19, 2009. The offshore oil platform “Gail” is seen in the background. Readers respond to Daily Pilot contributor Patrice Apodaca’s recent columns about climate change.
(Mike Eliason / AP)

In addition to UC Irvine researchers studying climate change (Apodaca: Recognizing Orange County warriors in the fight against climate change, Daily Pilot, Sept. 15), there is a local group of more than 3,000 Orange County volunteers working to implement climate solutions we have at hand. Many experts assure us we now have the technology necessary to meet the Paris Accord goals. What we lack is the political will to reach those goals.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan, nonprofit established in 2007 in Coronado, Calif. now boasts 590 active chapters, including five in Orange County, 43 in California and more than 70 in foreign countries.

CCL members promote a price on carbon emissions with the collected fees returned equally to all Americans thereby tapping the power of the market to influence, but not mandate, every purchase choice. Analysts predict a measurable impact in nine months and 50% emissions reduction by 2030. A border adjustment encourages worldwide action while protecting and promoting our domestic producers.

Tom Hazelleaf
Seal Beach

Patrice Apodaca reports research from local academics, which may be interesting but does nothing towards stopping global warming.

These researchers are working on ways to adapt to or limit the damage from climate change. Beach nourishment projects will not stop the sea from rising. Prescribed burns will not prevent more frequent and intense wildfires. More green spaces or more air-conditioned buildings will not stop Earth’s temperature from increasing.

We don’t have to be academics to understand that the root cause of climate change is carbon pollution from burning coal, oil and natural gas. Global warming is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. Human societies have created the problem by choosing to fuel their economies with life-destroying planet-debasing fuels.

It doesn’t take huge brain power to know what we must do: phase-out fossil fuels and transition to clean energy. The policy solutions we need are not complicated. Economists recommend policies that charge fossil fuel companies an increasing tax on their carbon pollution to depress their demand and spur investments in alternatives, use the revenue to ease the transition to clean energy and establish a border carbon tariff to protect U.S. businesses and motivate other nations, including China, to adopt similar policies.

Bob Taylor
Laguna Niguel

Initiative would give N.B. mayor too much power

Since when does one person get to decide major policy changes for the whole city? That is what is occurring with the push to elect our mayor in Newport Beach. Right now, the role of mayor is a one-year term and rotates among the current council. There have been no committees considering this. No discussions about the pros and cons of having an elected mayor have surfaced. Even the existing City Council isn’t a big fan of doing this, perhaps because the initiative is driven by only one person without apparent consideration of any other viewpoints. Initiatives have a long life since they can only be changed by another election. Shouldn’t we at least discuss this in a larger venue before it comes up for a vote or are we just stuck with one man’s opinion of what the role of mayor should be?

Tom Baker
Newport Beach

An elected mayor? This is just a bad idea, and it is not what is best for Newport Beach; rather, it is what’s best for a few power-hungry individuals. If we could be guaranteed that persons who would run for mayor were completely honest, transparent, had impeccable integrity and would always be elected by a well-informed citizenry, then I’d be all for it. But what are the chances of that happening now and in the future? And why would the people of Newport Beach change our City Charter to support something that is riddled with so many potential problems?

Take for instance that section of this proposal that gives the elected mayor sole discretion on the agenda for each council meeting and to change the order of business on the agenda at his/her discretion. And consider how difficult it would be for a particular council member to get an item on the agenda that has been asked for by his/her constituents with the requirement that half of the council must agree to agendize. This clearly shoots holes in the concept of “representation.”

Eight years is just too long, as well. And when you add to this the ability to have complete control over each council meeting agenda … you are giving absolute power to the mayor. Look to neighboring cities to see how well that has worked out! It just isn’t necessary. There is nothing wrong with our current system.

Although my tenure on council was cut short, and I was not able to experience the honor of being mayor, one of the attractive features of serving on council is the potential of being selected to serve as mayor. This is a current feature of our City Charter that serves to attract people to run for City Council. The current proposal would eliminate that feature. Moreover, who would really want to experience the frustration of serving on a council where the City Charter provides the mayor with absolute authority and power and places an individual council member in the position of not being able to represent the constituents of his or her district?

Here are a few other reasons for not supporting this initiative:

• Do we really want carpetbaggers moving to our city, establishing the required residency and then running for mayor? Individuals who have no longevity in or a history of service to our city?

• A mayoral bid is going to be expensive, and the influence of campaign donors would likely be concentrated behind a single person or group in the city. Ordinary citizen concerns could be less a consideration if the elected mayor has an allegiance to a donor or group making large donations in order to insure reelection, and to elections beyond that of Newport Beach mayor.

• Our city would have to go through redistricting (from seven to six), with each district having one council representative except for the district that the newly elected mayor lives in. Could this be a potential problem? Double representation?

If this idea of an elected mayor is such a good idea for Newport Beach, why isn’t the current council not approving this as an item on the ballot for the next election and foregoing the signature-gathering process? Why is it just the effort of only one current council member? Again, this is just a bad overall idea!

Jeff Herdman
Former City Council member

Before I’d be ready to vote one way or the other as to whether or not the Newport Beach city charter should be amended ( I assume that amendment would be required), I’d like to have three questions answered:

1. What is the problem with the current process, and will the proposed change remedy that problem?
2. Have unintended consequences been considered?
3. What will the budgetary impact be?

Dave Goff
Newport Beach

Newport Beach City Councilman Will O’Neill is collecting signatures to make our mayor an elected position. This might sound like an innocuous change, but it is not. This initiative will create an immensely powerful politician who could serve up to eight years as a council member and another eight as mayor, and it removes substantial authority from other decision makers. There is no logical reason to abandon the seven existing City Council districts with a rotating mayor, but Mr. O’Neill has embarked on a solitary quest to completely remake our system of city government.

It is worthwhile noting that his council colleagues don’t appear to support this change. If they did, they would have placed it on the ballot with a majority vote. It may be they don’t support it because they see that having an abnormally powerful mayor silences the voices of others with differing viewpoints. Perhaps they are annoyed that the initiative excludes the mayor from the term limits set by the voters in 1992 but maintains term limits for them. Maybe they don’t like having one man decide how the government should run, especially if that one man is positioning himself to become that powerful mayor.

Now imagine if this particularly powerful mayor is beholden to special interests. Might those special interests pressure the mayor to support their project over the best interests of the residents? This is not farfetched. Many of us feel that Team Newport’s campaign consultant, Dave Ellis, exerts that power over his successful candidates. Remember the Museum House condo approved by the City Council in 2016 over the objections of literally thousands of residents? The developer told me that Mr. Ellis was a consultant on the project because “that is how it is done.” A mayor who controls the council agenda will be a particularly attractive target to the likes of Mr. Ellis.

Any way this initiative is sliced, it does not serve the citizens of Newport Beach. If you are asked to sign this petition, please politely decline. You would be signing away a style of government that has worked well for Newport Beach residents.

Susan Skinner
Newport Beach

Questions for O.C.'s GOP

The unofficial results are in: Orange County voters beat back last week’s recall election by a margin of four points (52 percent opposed to 48 percent in favor). The proverbial GOP home of Richard Nixon, the incubator of the John Birch Society and Ronald Reagan’s favorite place to kick off his presidential campaigns is no longer bright red.

In the weeks leading up to the recall, I was urging friends to grant me my Sept. 14 birthday wish. Thankfully, they and millions of other Californians did just that. While I am truly pleased with the outcome of the vote, I have two questions for O.C. Republicans now: How do you like the color bluish purple, sometimes referred to as violet, and are you going to accept the will of the people?

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

Let’s evoke Lennon

Hate crimes have risen 35% in 2020 (Report: Orange County hate crimes, incidents reach record highs in 2020, Daily Pilot, Sept. 17). Not only is there a COVID-19 pandemic ravaging our planet, hatred is ravaging so many hearts. What’s the solution? Commonality. We must emphasize what we as human beings share in common. We all wish to be free of disease. We all want a clean and healthy environment. We each long for love and acceptance.

Can we all acknowledge what we share in common with other inhabitants of our community, our county, our country and the world? To evoke a memorable and meaningful title from the late, great John Lennon, “imagine.”

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

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