After almost 20 months writing about Newport Beach politics for the Newport Beach Independent, here I am "gracing" (a term I use liberally) the pages of the infamous Daily Pilot.
If you're not familiar with my work, I'm sure you are reading this wondering who I am and why am I here.
I grew up in Huntington Beach and went to college at UC Irvine and graduate school at the University of Hawaii. My accounting office is in Costa Mesa, and I live in Newport Beach.
I'm a divorced father of 5-year-old triplets, and I've questionably decided to go "back to Shawshank," i.e. get engaged again.
I'm a conservative and a Republican (two distinct things). I am an activist for the Republican Party of Orange County and a voting member for the California Republican Party. I've volunteered as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's campaign treasurer for almost 10 years and used to be the treasurer for former Orange County Treasurer Chriss Street, who is also a conservative.
I am not easily intimidated, or easily pushed around; however, there are four women in Newport Beach of whom I am absolutely terrified: "Saint" Marian Bergeson, the former county supervisor and assemblywoman; Evelyn Hart, a former Newport Beach mayor and civic leader; Judy Franco, a Newport-Mesa school board member; and Barbara Venezia, an Orange County Register columnist.
Whatever those four — the idea of crossing them gives me shivers — tell me to do, not only will I do it, but I will make you do it too.
What have I written about? Let's start with the biggie that went international.
Last summer, I wrote about the $200,000-a-year in salaries and benefits received by some Newport Beach lifeguards. I sent the story to my buddy Brian Calle at the Orange County Register, who blew it up. Bill Handel even read my column aloud and discussed it on his KFI radio show. That scared the bejeezus out of me.
I followed that nugget up with a piece about I Heart Puppies in Corona del Mar. With all the animal rights people protesting the pet store when it opened, I felt compelled to visit.
Well, my fiancée bought a puppy there, and I wrote about it.
And let me tell you, you don't feel that you've properly arrived as a writer until the 1981 Penthouse Pet of the Year runner-up — and her 160 friends — call you a horrible person and the devil online, although, she should talk having appeared in cinematic masterpieces like "Piranha II: The Spawning."
Other than that, I've been a critic of Newport Beach's desire to borrow $150 million to build a new shiny symbol of government decadence, also known as a new city hall/civic center, which includes a $2-million bridge to nowhere.
I've railed against the Newport Beach City Council for its desire to ban plastic bags, fire pits, water, air and breathing, and have used my fancy accounting skills to determine that the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce uses its regular membership fees to pay for their Political Action Committee's activities ($30 does not divide into $5,717.00 evenly, ever).
They even possibly — "gasp" — used the city's taxpayer funds to, well, fund their political agenda.
You see, there are some misguided people out there who actually think Newport Beach and its City Council are filled with conservatives, to which I reply, "nay, nay."
After all, with all the hoopla with the Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh's no-union-money-taking manifesto, all seven council members have accepted money and the endorsements from the police and fire unions (they like to be called associations), even Assembly candidate Leslie Daigle!
So there you go, just a tip of the iceberg of the 50-plus columns that I've written about Newport Beach politics. None are as sexy or nefarious as Costa Mesa or Irvine politics, but it's something over which I am still obsessive.
I hope you'll enjoy reading my own version of therapy as much as I enjoy writing them.
JACK WU is an accountant who lives in Newport Beach and practices in Costa Mesa. He is a longtime Republican Party loyalist and a volunteer campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). His column runs Sundays on the Daily Pilot Forum page.