Wu: The council critics will rise up [Updated]

Clarification: An earlier version of this column described a telephone call Newport Beach council critic Bob Rush said he had with Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle in which she yelled and screamed at him. On Sunday, Daigle said she did not have such a phone call with Rush and that she was not contacted to verify the tone of any prior conversations with Rush. Rush told the Pilot Sunday that such a conversation did, in fact, take place, adding that Daigle yelled during the coversation but did not scream. The column has been updated with Daigle's viewpoint. In addition, the headline has been changed.

In apparent reference to "community watchdog" Jim Mosher, Newport Beach Councilman Rush Hill told Barbara Venezia in the Orange County Register, "My real thought — those that will spend their time complaining about benefits received by Newport Beach City Council members really need to get a life. Under the pretense of being some kind of community watchdog, they are instead wasting the valuable time of council, staff and community members."

Apparently in Hill's mind, government should not have to answer to the people, but rather take the people's money and build a Taj Mahal-like symbol of government decadence, aka the Civic Center.

I thank God for people like Mosher, who has enough time to make sure that all the T's are crossed and all the I's are dotted.

I thank God for people like Bob Rush, who had enough time to make sure the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce wasn't using city money meant to support the Newport Beach Boat Parade to fund council candidates.

Many more than just Mosher and Rush are doing this.

So, I thank them because I work and have no extra time to go to every city meeting like they do.

Because of them, we know that nothing extra, nothing special, nothing extracurricular will happen. If it does, Mosher will pick out the charter section the council is violating and Robert Hawkins will file Fair Political Practices Commission complaints against them.

What will happen if council members continue to take Hill's attitude? What will happen if they laugh from the dais as they dress down residents for having the nerve to question something? What will happen if they continue to abuse their power over and over again, almost telling others, "Don't you know who I am?" or that "I'm more important than you?"

I suppose it depends on the individual involved and how upset the community watchdog gets.

But most importantly, it depends on how much money the activists are willing to spend.

In Fullerton, Tony Bushala spent more than $200,000 to recall three council members in the aftermath of the Kelly Thomas beating that resulted in his death.

In wealthy Newport Beach, the council members should be a bit more wary of what a discounted community activist can do. After all, the Greenlight Initiative was put into law by a group of very motivated, very organized activists.

But obviously that didn't teach them to treat activists better, as eight years later, in the 2008 council elections, we saw three deep-pocketed Newport Beach residents pony up more than $350,000 to attack Keith Curry and Steve Rosansky, who were up for reelection.

More recently, Rush ran for the 74th Assembly District against Councilwoman Leslie Daigle. He said she laughed at him from the dais as he tried to get a point across in three minutes.

Daigle, according to Rush, had strong words for him on the phone when he tried to explain an issue to him. However, Daigle said Sunday afternoon that she has never spoken to Rush on the phone.

And she completely discounted his point of view regarding the financial missteps of the chamber's PAC, he said.

So when Rush realized that Daigle could possibly be his representative, this "community watchdog" put up $100,000 of his own money, stepped up and beat Daigle in the June primary election by thousands of votes.

Pay attention to the moral of this story, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach City Council candidates. Before spouting off Hill-like on the merits of the "community watchdog," think long and hard about it because any one these people you tell to "get a life" could become your competition.

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. He can be reached at jack@wubell.com.

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