Mailbag: Residents, officials should resist Poseidon project

Artwork against the Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach.
Artwork against the proposed Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach appeared outside a Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Board meeting in December 2019.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

I am an almost 40-year resident and homeowner in southeast Huntington Beach, a couple miles from the proposed Poseidon Water desalination plant. I have been against it from the beginning. However, while most residents here have opposed the desal plant on environmental and energy-use grounds, I additionally oppose it on fiscal and ethical grounds. When Poseidon promoters rolled into town about 20 years ago, they were peddling snake oil instead of drinking water. They promised that the project “wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.” Now, this charlatan of a water company is trying to grab every break it can get (using taxpayer dollars) and fleece local ratepayers for millions of dollars over their decades-long contract. Its backers have bought local and regional politicians with plenty of cash and partisan influence. While the Republican Party at all levels has uniformly supported this billion dollar boondoggle, I regret that even some Democrats in high places have been compromised. Only the California Coastal Commission can hold back this existential threat to our community and coastal environment at their hearing next week. Poseidon has proved untrustworthy in all of its representations and dealings to date. The Orange County Water District board has been all too willing to sell its constituents down the river and into the ocean. It is time for affected residents and ratepayers to shout “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore!”

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

Movement has historical backing

Re: Patrice Apodaca’s recent column in the Pilot, “As proposals to ban books rise, librarians stand guard”: As many of us know, the people who make the most noise get more of a hearing, and usually they are a minority. This is also the case regarding banning books that offend a small minority of Americans.

Let’s be informed that it’s not just a call from the lunatic fringe, representing extreme views. It’s a political movement wanting to achieve a minority purpose, a cause that is flush with big money. Christopher Rufo, a right-wing provocateur, who helped instigate the panics against “critical race theory” and LGBTQ ideas and educators, openly says that he hopes to destroy public education in the United States. That coincides with corporate right-wing goals pushed by the Republican Party over the last generation or more, centered on privatizing education.

And it is deeper than that. It has a social and economic base — and cause. The proposals to ban books relates to a national cause financed by deep pockets, people who fear a progressive multiethnic sway. It is rooted in power and control. It reoccurs in our history. We had it before in slavery, McCarthyism and the Red Scare. The current movement is beyond the lunatic fringe and librarian defense, the latter mentioned in Apodaca’s column. It encompasses a great deal of money and a whole political party. We the majority must oppose it.

Jim Hoover
Huntington Beach

Still the Shining City on the Hill?

Former Mayor Mike Henn’s talk at the Speak Up Newport Dinner on Feb. 11, 2011, stuck with me.

Mayor Henn described Newport Beach as “the Shining City on the Hill.”

Yes, we heard from Mike about the city’s then current and future priorities (including “generational priorities,” which phrase is way beyond my pay grade), but that “Shining City” phrase is what I remember 11 years later.

That simple description bespeaks emotion, inspiration and aspiration and made me proud to call Newport “home.”

But as I think of the town which has been a part-time or full-time home going on 68 years, I wonder if the vision is about to change.

Our council of seven has worked collaboratively for nearly 70 years. They (all seven) debate vigorously, they (all seven) decide troublesome issues, they (all seven) put disagreements behind, they (all seven) move on to the next challenge.

I wonder — for all its perceived pluses — whether the direct election of the mayor plan will affect the thoughtful collaborative judgment by seven (former) equals. I wonder whether the “strong mayor” will overshadow the “lesser” remaining council members and nullify our preeminent city manager. I wonder whether we will still be “the Shining City on the Hill” after June 7.

If the direct election of the mayor is so worthwhile on its merits as contended by a proponent, why have so many prominent past and present Newport Beach council members, mayors, Citizens of the Year, journalists, influential leaders, commission members, committee members and committed citizens come out against the measure? Maybe these thoughtful folks have looked at the devil in the details — unswayed by a superficial catchphrase.

Please vote “no” on Measure B.

Paul K. Watkins
Newport Beach

Last week at the Corona del Mar Resident’s Assn. annual meeting held at Sherman Gardens and a breakfast meeting held at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, proponents of Measure B — the proposed change to the Newport Beach City Charter to directly elect the mayor — claimed that you need to be mayor to get positions on regional boards.

Point of fact, Councilman O’Neill was just made the chair of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (the Toll Roads), and he is not mayor. He was also not the mayor when his appointment to this board was made in 2016. The current board chair of OCTA, Mark Murphy, was appointed to the board in 2017 when he was a city councilman in Orange, not mayor. And he wasn’t actually elected mayor until November 2018. The vice-chair, Gene Hernandez, who was just reappointed to the board, is currently the mayor pro tem of Yorba Linda, not the mayor.

Other than the OCTA, our City Council members, not the mayor, represent us on most Orange County agencies important to Newport Beach.

To the proponents of Measure B I ask, “What didn’t the city get that we needed because we have not had a directly elected mayor?” And, “Why did you abandon the signature-gathering process to place this measure on the ballot and resort to going directly to the council majority for approval?” No public outcry, no demand from constituents, the city is and has been governed well for the past 70 years; the city is financially sound, citizens are not complaining, so where did this come from?

Jeff Herdman
Newport Beach

On the sheriff and watchdogs

Re: Ben Brazil’s TimesOC report, “After overhauling ‘ineffective’ O.C. law enforcement watchdog agency, director Sergio Perez is leaving”: Who polices the police? This has been a longstanding question, especially in a “free country.” Nevertheless, to ensure law enforcers abide by the law, a watchdog agency — with subpoena power and the power to levy criminal charges against criminal and regulatory trespasses committed by agents of law enforcement — must be part of police culture.

And speaking of police culture, elected county sheriffs are a relic of the old west, no longer consistent with the requirements of modern-day law enforcement. Like police chiefs, county sheriffs should be an appointed position, based on a civil service process of scrutiny and merit.

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

Liking Foley for supervisor

There is no better candidate for District 5 Supervisor than Katrina Foley.

As airport commissioner, I witnessed Supervisor Foley working collaboratively with residents, JWA staff, cities, and the general aviation community to develop a fly-friendly program that will bring relief to noise-impacted Orange County communities.

Foley tackled homelessness the day she took office by conducting an audit of county homelessness programs and expenditures, directing a homeless survey and hosting a hearing to identify homelessness causes and solutions.

For years, Katrina advocated for reforms to protect patients and neighborhoods from abusive sober-living-home operators. As Costa Mesa mayor, she implemented regulations upheld by courts and adopted by the county, and is now on the O.C. ad hoc committee on residential treatment facilities. Recently, she testified before a state hearing that allowing the industry to regulate itself endangers patients and neighborhoods and insisted that the state step up.

Katrina Foley is smart, ethical, and she gets results. Vote for Katrina Foley for District 5 Supervisor so she can continue this important work!

Sue Dvorak
Newport Beach

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