(Re: “Red Herring Cameras,” NB Indy, 9/7:)
For some time now, Irvine resident and Allan Mansoor Field Representative Scott Peotter has taken to the pages of the Independent to make various attacks on the city of Newport Beach and its City Council, most recently suggesting we are “pimps and panderers.” So much for the civility and high level of discourse at the Indy.
As the editor of the Independent is keenly aware, Scott’s articles have been rife with inaccuracies, falsehoods and outright self-serving, partisan flacking. For example, you may remember the column where he purports to provide independent “analysis” of the candidates in the recent assembly race before concluding (surprise!) to endorse his boss, Mansoor.
Before moving to Irvine, Scott resigned from the Newport Beach Planning Commission amid criticism related to his failed home remodel in the Port Streets. It is important to know Scott’s residency, background and employment to understand the motivations for his attacks on the city.
Now to the substance of his comments on Measure EE, a collection of proposed charter amendments recommended by a citizen’s committee of Newport Beach residents.
The current charter provides for “reimbursement for expenses” for council members but provides a specific amount that is completely unrelated to actual expenses. They get no more or less depending on actual out-of-pocket costs. This amount is indexed for inflation and is completely incalculable by average residents as it is currently stated in the charter.
Why is council compensation characterized as expense reimbursement? Well, we really don’t know, but it started in 1958, before the Kennedy tax cuts, when income tax rates were in the 70 percent range. It was amended in 1980, prior to the Reagan tax cuts, when tax rates were still more than 50 percent. Of course, deductions and exemptions were more liberal then, as well. My guess is that the council was trying to characterize its compensation so as to make it exempt from federal income taxes.
I don’t know if that scheme worked, but today, no matter what the charter says, the IRS calls it compensation, it’s reported on a W-2 form and it is fully taxable. Measure EE updates the listed amount so that residents can see what is actually being paid, and properly characterizes council pay for what it is.
What it does not do is increase council compensation in any way, or have an impact on health insurance, which has been provided since 1974.
Because we only have the opportunity to amend the charter every two years, I asked that a prohibition against the use of red-light cameras be added. Red-light cameras are an insidious revenue-raising technique, sold to cities by private vendors who participate in the profits. In this age of “no new taxes” they are often an irresistible option for cash-strapped cities. Costa Mesa, for example, has used them.
Measure EE is based on a similar amendment adopted by Anaheim in the last election cycle. It should be noted that our opponents, in their ballot statement argue that red-light cameras “may be beneficial to our city in the future.” That is why we are banning them today.
Read Measure EE for yourself and support these common-sense amendments to save taxpayers money and make our city more efficient.
Until recently, our local newspapers were part of the fabric of the community and contributed to our civic betterment. Today, they are becoming bulletin boards for partisan hacks with a personal axe to grind.
Until this year, our local legislators and their staffs, such as Assemblyman Don Wagner and, well, everyone who came before him, worked with the city and its residents to solve problems and enhance the community. Assemblyman Mansoor’s policy of allowing his staff to engage in name-calling attacks on local city councils is a strange way indeed to represent his district.
Mayor Pro Tem