At the local level, the games of political chess are being played out throughout our communities. Sides have been taken, lines in the sand have been drawn and coming soon to a mailbox near you will be an onslaught of slick brochures. One race, however, must not be overlooked. It is the contest for Orange County sheriff. Of all the polarizing issues before us, this is one that can unite us for a change.
As residents of Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, we are blessed to have our own police departments, funded by the residents of our respective cities.
Not to be overlooked, however, is the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which has a countywide budget of nearly $1 billion, employs 3,800 sworn and professional staff (as well as over 800 reserves) and has a significant but often overlooked presence in our local communities.
The Sheriff’s Department is responsible for the countywide jail system, protects our courthouses, provides surveillance at John Wayne Airport, patrols the Orange County Fairgrounds, staffs the Emergency Operation Center, monitors the Orange County Transportation Authority transit system and handles the public safety of our harbors, including 42 miles of coastline and up to three miles off shore with the Harbor Patrol division. During special events, like Newport Beach’s Fourth of July festivities, the Sheriff’s Department is one of several contracted agencies committed to keeping the peace.
Running to succeed the retiring sheriff is Undersheriff Don Barnes. Barnes is the candidate with the most credentials, experience and integrity to lead the department into the future. He has a proven track record of success and knows the ins and outs of the agency.
Barnes has worked in the department for three decades, moving through the ranks from patrol deputy all the way up to second in command. He possesses the wherewithal to work with the rank and file members of the department while earning the respect of upper management and the executive leadership team.
In this race, experience matters and Barnes is the only candidate with the managerial proficiency to deliver results, safeguard our taxpayer dollars and protect our communities.
Consider airport issues when voting
Newport Beach council members Diane Dixon and Kevin Muldoon’s recent trip to D.C. to share local concerns about John Wayne Airport impacts with national lawmakers sounds like another hollow effort to convince residents that our council members are effectively addressing JWA-generated noise and pollution.
This is not the first time they have tried to coddle us into believing that relief from the incessant roar of departing jets and ubiquitous sooty deposits was just a few months away.
One year ago, for example, residents were anxiously awaiting implementation of the much-heralded “two-turn departure” (part of the city’s settlement with the FAA) that would put a very small percentage of JWA departures on a path more closely resembling the curves of the Back Bay and theoretically keep planes over the water, not our homes.
When the new departure path finally debuted in spring 2018 (almost a year late) residents were dismayed to learn that it made virtually no difference in overall noise levels and perhaps even moved some planes closer to the east side of the bay.
Prior to the two-turn departure we have, over the years, been given many similar assurances that our officials were working diligently on our behalf and that relief was just three or six months out. Months turned into years and still, nothing has changed.
We can hope that current discussions involving the airlines and community groups will move the needle on this critical health and safety issue. And we can also vote on Nov. 6 for new council candidates — Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks and Roy Englebrecht — who promise to provide more than lip service in response to our long-standing and still unresolved concerns.
Others should have signed letter
It has been a few weeks, but I just couldn’t get out of my mind the action Mayor Sandra Genis took regarding the needle exchange program. I have read the articles and letters in the Pilot about the possible Costa Mesa needle exchange program, including, “Costa Mesa mayor agrees to revise her candidate statement in response to complaint,” (Sept. 6). Based on this information, I believe that Genis put the city at risk with her needle exchange opposition letter to the California Department of Public Health because it was written only on her own behalf.
In order to have maximum impact, it is customary for mayors to write letters on behalf of the entire City Council when the council is unanimous on an issue. And the council was in unanimous opposition to the needle exchange program.
However, at the potential expense of the city’s well-being, Genis wrote the letter just from herself. As a result, it probably had less impact on reversing the decision of the Department of Public Health to have the program in Costa Mesa.
Genis did this and then tried to claim in her candidate statement that she was the only one that opposed the needle exchange program based on her letter to CDPH.
Genis’ candidate statement was challenged by former Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece and, as a result, it has now been revised. However, whether you support or oppose the needle exchange program, any candidate for mayor who would attempt such a political maneuver at the potential expense of the well-being of the city and its residents can’t be trusted and should not be supported for mayor.
Team doesn’t have the pulse of the city
If anyone running for office in Newport Beach needs to feel the pulse of the city it shouldn’t be difficult. Measure Y, which in 2014 would have modified the General Plan to allow further development in Fashion Island and boosted traffic to an already congested area, a vision a multiplex with Newport Beach as its dazzling center, was defeated with 70% of voters opposing it.
All the council members who supported Measure Y were decisively ousted in the 2014 election, except for then-Mayor Ed Selich, who was not up for re-election. Unfortunately, the incoming Team Newport learned nothing from this and brought with it an arrogance and boorishness, which has disgusted the public and been condemned by six former mayors. This year things will be different.
Challengers Joy Brenner, Tim Stoaks and Roy Englebrecht are known to be people of decency and honor who share the residents’ desire for civility and opposition to growth. They can be assured of resounding victory in November.
Corona del Mar
Water commentary written by someone unaffected
I take great exception to the points and conclusions raised in the recent commentary, “Huntington Beach desalination project would help meet region’s water needs” (Sept. 29) by Dr. Allan Bernstein.
First, readers will notice that Bernstein is a Tustin councilman who will not be suffering the costs, downsides and negative impacts of this project. He will not be directly affected.
I, on the other hand, have been a 35-year resident of Southeast Huntington Beach, the area directly affected by the proposed plant. I have been a vocal opponent of this project since it first was floated in front of the City Council over 15 years ago.
It goes without saying that Poseidon has been a corporate bully from the East Coast, using money and influence to secure partisan support for this boondoggle. They did this with a partisan majority on the Huntington Beach City Council, and they have done this with the partisan majority on the Orange County Water District.
As a civic affairs activist and founding board member of Residents For Responsible Desalination (R4RD), I probably have a greater understanding of the project and its impacts than Bernstein than many often clueless, conflicted or co-opted supporters employ. He is flat out wrong on equating opposition to Poseidon with concerns about the Ground Water Replenishment System in Orange County. I supported the current and expanded ground water system capability both because of its promise and it not being run for profit by the Orange County Water District.
Bernstein says nothing about the threats of this project to our coastal environment or the threats of the communities affected by the transmission lines and other infrastructure needs necessary to distribute the water. He says nothing about the exorbitant costs of desalinated water over current sources.
There is no provable time on the horizon when supposedly rising water costs from elsewhere would begin to be offset by the costs of desal water. Rising energy costs alone to produce desal water would keep it several times more expensive than what we pay now. We should not have to pay for the profits to Poseidon’s investors for decades under the OCWD term sheet schemes.
I recently attended the Huntington Beach Southeast Area Committee meeting where we received an update on the desalination project by a Poseidon spokesperson. Many concerns about risks to residents, taxpayers and water ratepayers were voiced. There were no easy answers provided and many so-called benefits of the project were flatly refuted.
Bernstein’s support for this desalination project must be measured against the water organizations he belongs to and the political spin he puts on issues. He may be a respected reconstructive ankle surgeon but his foot is in his mouth when it comes to hawking desalination for Poseidon.