Wu: What a year it was and will be

The thing I cannot believe is how fast this political year went.

It seems like just yesterday when Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle was the favorite for our newly redistricted 74th Assembly seat until spoiler Democrat Robert Rush jumped into place in the primary and then essentially handed the seat back to incumbent Republican Allan Mansoor of Costa Mesa.

From there, the months whizzed by, and while the Newport Beach City Council race was unreasonably quiet, the fire in Costa Mesa kept all the local opinionists busy, with a post-election hangover that still lingers.

For me, my first 10 months at the Daily Pilot have proved to be fascinating. While I experienced some colorful comments in my 22 months at the Newport Beach Independent, it only took a couple months at the Pilot for some anonymous commenter to ask for my home address so he could fight me, a few more months for a council member to threaten legal action, and another few months for a Costa Mesa council candidate's wife to call me creepy while I stood two feet away.

Add that to all the other colorful comments and emails I received and I'd say that it's been a good year. Plus, one reader still owes me $10 for a wager (she hasn't returned my emails for payment).

With Christmas zooming up, it is for those things, and all the good people I met, spoke with and shared meals with, I am thankful, and those memories are the best presents I could get.

So on to 2013 and my New Year's resolutions. Never mind that I've tried the resolutions before and usually break them by the end of the column, so let's see how 2013 will be for the Newport Beach political scene.

As an off-election year, it should be quiet, but fortunately the six republicans (small r on purpose) on the Newport Beach City Council decided to end the year by celebrating $131 million in new government loans in their shiny new Tax (Taj) Mahal/Civic Center/Espresso Stand/Dog Park in the — well, park. And how did they do it? By putting the final jewel in their triple crown of harbor fee increases.

With the Democrats, it's normally called tax and spend, but in Newport Beach, the republican city councils spent and then taxed (raised rents). The Newport Harbor and beaches are paid for with the Tidelands Management Budget, so with no discernible regard to income, they spent and spent, giving some of the full-time lifeguards $200,000 a year with pensions of more than $100,000 a year after they retire at the ripe old age of 50. The city spent so much, with more than 70% of this budget going to these salaries and pensions, that all of a sudden this budget was more than $10 million short each year.

Let's get the people who use the beaches and benefit the most from these well-paid lifeguards to pay the difference, right? Nope, let's get the mooring folks, then the commercial dock folks, and now the residential dock owners to pay for us to use the beaches and harbor.

So thanks goes out to you generous folks like Bob McCaffrey, John Vallely and Duffy Duffield for paying your additional dock fees to pay for the beach lifeguards who will watch over my young children at the beach. And a thank you goes to the Newport Beach council for having these harbor people cover the bill for the millions of annual beach visitors.

How 2013 turns out with this can make for a very, very interesting 2014 Newport Beach council race. Three open seats will be up for grabs, while Mayor Pro Tem Rush Hill will be up for re-election.

I look forward to the year of Mayor Keith Curry, part deux. In his first turn as mayor, Curry proved to be very patient, very fair and very regal, so I expect much more of the same, which will be very, very different than the local-feeling year of Mayor Nancy Gardner, and the very-under-the-radar year of Mayor Mike Henn. As far as mayors have gone, Newport Beach has enjoyed a great run for the past five years, and there's no reason to expect that to change in for 2013.

So to all of you, thank you for reading, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to your angry comments and fight challenges in 2013.

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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