A Look Back at 2018, Part 2

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Indy reporter Sara Hall compiled this look back at what made headlines in the Newport Beach Independent during 2018. This week, July through December. Last week covered the top news stories of the first half of the year.

 (click on the text to see original story)



Linda Ann O’Keefe
— Photo courtesy NBPD

Newport Beach Police Department gave a “voice” to Linda Ann O’Keefe, an 11-year-old girl who lived in Corona del Mar and whose 1973 murder is still unsolved, through re-telling her story on social media on July 6, the 45th anniversary of her abduction.

The young girl was last seen alive walking home from summer school on July 6, 1973. Her body was discovered the next morning in the Back Bay area. Her killer was never found.

Police shared O’Keefe’s story by publishing tweets in Linda’s “voice” throughout the day and the next morning, narrating the last hours of her life.

Evidence, including photographs from the original investigation and a new Parabon Snapshot (technology that uses DNA phenotype) of the suspected killer, were shared throughout the event.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/nbpd-gives-voice-to-unsolved-murder-on-45-year-anniversary/



Several Newport Beach residents joined together to file a lawsuit claiming the argument opposing a measure on the November ballot is misleading, the author is actually a supporter and opinion against the measure is just a ruse.

Former Mayors Mike Henn, Rush Hill, and Keith Curry, along with former Mayor Pro Tem and local leader Jean Watt, filed the lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court on July 19.

They argued that Bob Rush isn’t a “true opponent” and that his opposition argument is a “political ploy to deny true opponents of the measure the opportunity to be heard.”

In his opposing argument, Rush said it was a “good first step” but that it “doesn’t go far enough.”

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/lawsuit-claims-ballot-measure-argument-misleads-voters/



A young man jumped from Lido Bridge on July 24 and landed on the awning of a passing duffy boat, breaking through and hitting a female passenger on the head.

A duffy boat passes under the Lido Bridge, a popular spot for people to jump off of into the water, despite it being prohibited.
— Photo courtesy the city of Newport Beach

He swam away and fled the scene, but was arrested on July 27. Cody Green, 27, of Costa Mesa was charged with assault and felony vandalism.

The woman’s injuries were not life-threatening and she was transported for medical attention.Following the incident, city officials announced that lifeguard personnel will be posted near the bridge through the summer.

At a later Harbor Commission meeting, city staff shared some stats that lifeguards have reported, including 231 code enforcement actions, or “contact made with potential or actual jumpers,” between July 26 and Aug. 7. They have had to call for police backup twice when some weren’t complying. 

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/lifeguards-posted-at-lido-bridge-watching-for-jumpers/ 

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/efforts-to-prevent-bridge-jumpers-jumping-stats/



(left to right) Newport Beach Firefighter Javier Gonzalez and NBFD Fire Captain Chad Spiker look over information while fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire.
— Photo courtesy NBFD

• On July 25, 10 Newport Beach Fire Department fire personnel were deployed as part of the California Mutual Aid System to assist with firefighting effort on the Cranston fire in Idyllwild in Riverside County.

After a few days of fighting the Cranston fire the teams were released and deployed to the Mendocino Complex Fire.An NB paramedic also headed up to the Carr Fire in Redding in Shasta County to act as a single resource Public Information Officer on July 27. 

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/newport-assists-in-fighting-norcal-wildland-fires/ 

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/local-firefighters-headed-home-from-mendocino-carr-fires/



• Bird electric scooters were unexpectedly “dropped” on Balboa Peninsula, without any advance discussion or notification to the city, on July 28.

City staff later said they received an “immediate and somewhat negative response from the community” after the scooters were dispersed.

During a City Council study session and regular meeting on Aug. 14, Council members and residents criticized Bird’s implementation without authorization strategy, which appeared to be an attempt to sidestep complying with the local codes.

Council voted to take no action unless an operator comes up with an acceptable plan for a permit that works completely within the city’s current municipal codes, which would then head to the Planning Commission.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/council-on-fence-with-shared-electric-scooters-plan-needs-to-fit-current-laws/



Corona del Mar resident and 2018 City Council candidate Joy Brenner speaks to the Council about the city manager recruitment process during the special meeting on July 30.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

• Following a contentious Newport Beach City Council special meeting on July 30, the search for a new city manager was narrowed down to the final two, eliminating a candidate whose name was leaked.

Council interviewed seven people, from the 72 applications received, on July 23. Rumors circulated that one of the finalists was Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson. Critics were calling Nelson a “political” choice without the appropriate experience for the job.

The special meeting came after a last-minute date change for the interviews with the final three. More than 50 people attended the meeting, with 17 passionately speaking during public comment.

Remarks from the audience ranged from questioning the sudden move and the seemingly rushed process of finding a new city manager to urging the Council to hire someone who is appropriately qualified and has experience.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/city-manager-candidate-name-leaked-residents-react-at-special-council-meeting/



• The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed an amended complaint on Aug. 2 with a hate crime sentencing enhancement against Samuel Woodward, 21, of Newport Beach for murdering 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein due to the victim’s sexual orientation.

The updated charges came after investigators found additional evidence on Woodward’s cell phone, laptop, and social media. It increased the maximum possible penalty to life without parole.

Investigators found evidence that Woodward was in possession of “racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and anti-government.” texts and images that spewed hate toward almost every protected group, OCDA Tony Rackauckas explained.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/newport-man-charged-with-murder-will-face-hate-crime-enhancement/



The 2018 Newport Beach City Council candidates answer a question about if the city should have a role in funding public art during the first forum of the campaign season, hosted by the NB Chamber of Commerce, on Aug. 23.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

• The first Newport Beach City Council candidate forum of the year on Aug. 23 featured a range of topics, both agreement and disagreement between candidates, and a few jokes and jabs.

About 100 people attended the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce hosted event. All eight candidates attended.

A lot of the comments from the challengers focused on the need to change the current direction of Council. The incumbents focused on what they’ve accomplished the past four years.

In later forums, things got a bit contentious and personal, including questions about a Balboa Island resident’s letter comparing one candidate and a few other locals to slobbering “dogs.”

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/jokes-jabs-and-hot-topics-at-first-council-candidate-forum/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/candidates-tackle-rumors-name-calling-and-peninsula-issues-at-forum/



Retiring Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff at the community celebration honoring his 20 years of service, Dave 2.0 Jamfest, on the Civic Green at the Civic Center on Aug. 30.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

• After 20 years of serving the city of Newport Beach, retiring City Manager Dave Kiff worked his last official day on Aug. 31.

Kiff called his time with the city the honor of his lifetime and said there were numerous highlights over his two decades in Newport Beach.

Dave 2.0 Jamfest, a community celebration for Kiff’s retirement, was held Aug. 30 on the Civic Green at the Civic Center.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/retiring-city-manager-dave-kiff-highlights-next-steps-and-farewell/





Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung at NB civic center, where she started her new position on Sept. 4.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

• Newport Beach’s new city manager, former Irvine official Grace Leung, started her role in the top administrative spot on Sept. 4. On Aug. 14,

City Council unanimously selected her to fill the position.

Leung participated in her first City Council meeting on Sept. 11, which included writing her first “Insider’s Guide” newsletter.

She found the Council to be an “engaged and committed group of policy makers.”

It’s been fantastic getting to know the city, she said during an interview Sept. 12.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/irvine-administrator-selected-as-newports-next-city-manager/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/first-week-top-issues-for-new-city-manager/



A handful of forums throughout September and a few in October kept most of the candidates busy answering questions from the public, addressing rumors, and explaining some of their previous comments.

The most contentious moments during the campaign included questions or debate about the business relationship between two incumbents, publicly posting candidates’ home addresses without their consent, angry criticism and rude comments, and who was notably absent from several forums.

Other topics included their differences, overdevelopment, district specific issues, law enforcement, Museum House, traffic, the harbor, Team Newport, and much more.

Newport Beach City Council candidates answer a question about whether they own the home in which they currently reside during the Corona del Mar Residents Association forum on Sept. 26.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/third-candidate-forum-offers-new-interesting-remarks/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/council-candidates-speak-up-about-differences-hot-topics/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/set-of-council-candidates-forums-tackle-absent-incumbents-gender-diversity-environment/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/lively-candidate-forum-addresses-rumors-partisanship-campaign-museum-house/



• Newport Beach orthopedic surgeon and reality star Grant William Robicheaux, 38, and his girlfriend Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, of Brea, were charged on Sept. 11 with multiple felony sexual assault counts as even more victims were coming forward.

Grant William Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley’s Newport Beach Police Department’s booking photos.
— Courtesy NBPD

After announcing charges relating to two Jane Doe victims during a press conference Sept. 18, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said that they received more than 50 calls on the case and established about a dozen credible leads on potential victims.

There are several videos on Robicheaux’s phone that show women who appear to be highly intoxicated, beyond the ability to consent or resist, Rackauckas explained.

They are “barely responsive” to the defendant’s sexual advances, he added. There are “terabytes” of digital evidence.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/dozen-new-credible-witness-leads-against-doctor-girlfriend-charged-with-rape-sexual-assault/



• The hunt for a fugitive and murder suspect from Newport Beach intensified as he was placed on a federal most wanted list and the reward for his capture was set at $100,000.

Newport Beach Police Department held a joint-agency press conference Sept. 19, announcing that Peter Gregory Chadwick, 54, had been placed on the U.S. Marshals Service 15 most wanted list and that the reward was higher than ever.

Police also announced their new “Countdown to Capture” true crime podcast on the case, written and produced by the NBPD.

Chadwick is accused of killing his wife, Quee Choo “Q.C.” on Oct. 10, 2012 and left her body in a dumpster in San Diego County. He was out of police custody after posting $1 million bail and made 13 court appearances before disappearing in 2015.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/authorities-intensify-search-for-murder-suspect-with-podcast-most-wanted-list-and-100k-reward/





Officials talk about the Clever Buoy shark detection system near an equipment cabinet at the end of Balboa Pier on Oct. 10.
— Photo courtesy the city of Newport Beach

• The city and Smart Marine Systems launched an advanced shark detection system during a press conference on Oct. 10 at the Balboa Pier.

The event kicked off a two-month pilot program of the Clever Buoy system, which will monitor marine life off the coast.

The program’s software algorithm can recognize and identify individual swim patterns of sharks, officials explained, calling it “the facial recognition software of the ocean.”

A couple City Council members also briefly mentioned the program at the Oct. 9 meeting.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/clever-buoy-shark-detection-system-launched/



• The annual Newport Beach & Company’s Marketing Outlook dinner on Oct. 18 at The Resort at Pelican Hill highlighted how vital tourism is to the local Newport Beach economy.

According to NB & Co., it booked 216,118 room nights into the city during its last fiscal year, a 16.8 percent increase over the prior year, and generated $102.5 million in overall economic impact to the city, a 9.08 percent increase from 2017.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/record-economic-impact-from-tourism/



The solar-powered, debris-gathering water wheel in Baltimore, the same concept that is proposed for Newport Bay.
— Photo courtesy of Billy Dutton/Baltimore waterfront ©

• Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield traveled to Santa Cruz to address the Ocean Protection Council at its Oct. 25 meeting about the Newport Bay Water Wheel Project.

The city later announced that the OPC awarded a $1.68 million grant to the city to move forward with a solar-powered, trash-collecting water wheel.

The wheel, which aims to capture garbage flowing down San Diego Creek before it ends up in the bay, the harbor, and the ocean, previously got a unanimous nod of approval by Newport Beach City Council on Sept. 25.

Staff hopes to get the required permitting by summer of 2020. A more detailed design should be ready by winter 2020, with construction proposed to start around spring or summer of 2021. Construction should take about six to eight months.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/council-approves-next-step-for-trash-collecting-water-wheel/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/water-wheel-project-awarded-1-68m-grant/



• In a letter released on Oct. 30, the Fair Political Practices Commission rejected to pursue any enforcement related to the most recent complaint filed by a resident about the business relationship between Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield and Councilman Scott Peotter.

The FPPC cleared both Peotter and Duffield of several submitted complaints earlier in the year as well. The FPPC complaints contain numerous false claims and were being used as a “political weapon,” Peotter said.

The latest complaint included the recently revealed details of the paid consulting work Peotter did for Duffield and his company, DC Developments, LLC, while parceling property in Adelanto.

Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield (left) and Councilman Scott Peotter.
— Photos by Sara Hall ©

City and state records show that Peotter represented Duffield and DC Developments before the city of Adelanto last year when Duffield requested to subdivide a parcel of land where his company, Duffy Boats, has a warehouse. Records also show that Peotter was paid more than $10,000 by DC Developments.

Records explain that the property is used as a boat operation but that the applicant planned to apply for a Minor Conditional Use Permit for cannabis cultivation.

State records also show Duffield as the manager of Adelanto-based Muskrat Consultants, LLC, which holds a distributer license for medicinal cannabis.

On Oct. 14, Duffield explained that the cannabis licensing was to increase the property value and make it more appealing as he moves his facilities to Utah. Peotter was not involved with any of the work regarding medicinal marijuana, Duffield confirmed.

Peotter explained that although the information in the most recent complaint was new to the public, it wasn’t new to the FPPC. The board had all of the details when they first investigated it, he noted. And they cleared both Peotter and Duffield knowing the full extent of their business relationship.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/fppc-rules-no-conflict-of-interest-new-complaint-filed-against-council-members/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/fppc-again-clears-city-council-members-of-conflict-of-interest/




City Council election had some clear winners on Nov. 6 (left to right) incumbents Diane Dixon and Kevin Muldoon, and newcomer Joy Brenner; but the race Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield (top) and challenger Tim Stoaks was too close to call for several weeks.
— Photos by Sara Hall ©

• The Nov. 6 Newport Beach City Council election resulted in challenger Joy Brenner unseating incumbent Scott Peotter for District 6, while incumbent Diane Dixon solidly beat out challenger Mike Glenn in District 1, and incumbent Kevin Muldoon firmly won the District 4 seat over challenger Roy Englebrecht.

The race for the District 3 seat was much tighter. On election night, and for most of the next three weeks, challenger Tim Stoaks was ahead of incumbent and 2018 mayor, Marshall “Duffy” Duffield.

On Nov. 27, as the counting was drawing to a close, Duffield overtook challenger Stoaks by a mere 22 votes and held onto it until the results were certified.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/council-election-results-a-mixed-bag/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/some-close-races-still-tight-others-declared-victory/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/duffield-takes-lead-in-narrow-council-race/



Harley Rouda, the Laguna Beach Democrat who beat out 15-term Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher for the 48th Congressional District, speaks with supporters at his election night event at the Marriott Hotel in Newport Beach on Nov. 6.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

• In two historically Republican-represented districts that cover Newport Beach, the Democratic challengers from the Nov. 6 midterm won out.

Both races were tight for several days after election night. 

In the hotly contested 48th Congressional District, Harley Rouda, a Democrat from Laguna Beach, unseated the 15-term incumbent, Republican Dana Rohrabacher.

In the 74th Assembly District, Cottie Petrie-Norris, a Laguna Beach Democrat, beat out Huntington Beach Republican incumbent Matthew Harper.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/democrats-challenge-in-tight-house-assembly-races/




• On Nov. 13, City Council unanimously approved a sidewalk vending permit program on that allows the movable merchants, but with heavy restrictions on where and how they conduct business.

The municipal code bans using public property for commercial purposes, but Senate Bill 946, which went into effect on Jan. 1, allows street vending activity, provided that it complies with local rules and regulations.

Amid some concern, particularly about the litter, the second reading of the sidewalk vending permit program was unanimously approved on Nov. 27.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/council-sets-restrictions-for-sidewalk-vendors/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/amid-concerns-council-allows-sidewalk-vendors-with-restrictions/



• Newport Beach Harbor Commission hosted their biennial special ferry tour meeting on Nov. 17.

Residents look over the water during the Harbor Commission ferry tour on Nov. 17.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

About 50 people attended the meeting, which launched out of Marina Park on the Balboa Peninsula.Commissioners discussed harbor-related topics as one of the Balboa Island ferries cruised approximately 6.7 nautical miles around Newport Harbor.

The most notable issue discussed was the upcoming revisions to Title 17, the section of the city’s charter and municipal code that covers all harbor activities.

Commissioners also mentioned bridge jumpers, dredging, moorings, speed limits, liveaboards, and more.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/harbor-tour-highlights-issues-projects-upcoming-changes/



• The Balboa Island Museum and Historical Society after it moved to 210 Marine Ave., the former home of Art for the Soul, which closed earlier this year.

The Museum’s new facility, which officially opened to the public on Nov. 30, allows for expanded exhibits, new collections and other amenities including an interactive children’s area and space for community gatherings and events.

The new exhibit space includes sections on Newport Beach pioneers, odes to surfing, fishing, the Wedge, the Balboa Fun Zone, noted local landmarks, and some famous local residents.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/balboa-island-museum-moves-to-new-home/





A photo posted on social media of Aquinas Arrigo Kasbar.

• Newport Beach Police Department detectives arrested local Aquinas Arrigo Kasbar, 18, on Dec. 1 in connection to several residential burglaries over the last few months.

He was charged multiple counts of burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, identity theft and resisting arrest.

Search warrants were served at various locations around Newport Beach in connection with Kasbar’s arrest.

In one storage unit, police discovered a large amount of suspected stolen property valued at several hundred thousand dollars.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/serial-residential-burglary-suspect-arrested/



• Only 36 votes separated the two candidates running for the District 3 Newport Beach City Council seat in the results certified by Orange County Registrar of Voters on Dec. 1.

Incumbent and 2018 mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield received 18,458 votes and challenger Tim Stoaks tallied 18,422.

A recount was requested by three residents on Dec. 5. But they “ultimately made no real headway in the ballot count,” they explained in an email on Dec. 17.

Orange County Registrar of Voters confirmed that 27 actual physical ballots were challenged and came from both candidate teams, about 40 percent from Duffield’s side and 60 percent from Stoaks’ side.

The total cost for the recount was $19,408.32, Kelley noted. Funds were raised by recount supporters before and during the process.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/recount-requested-in-council-race-other-results-finalized/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/supporters-call-off-recount-results-unchanged/



Newport Beach’s new Harbormaster Kurt Borsting first day on the job was Dec. 10.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

• Newport Beach’s new Harbormaster Kurt Borsting first day on the job was Dec. 10.

He introduced himself during the Harbor Commission meeting on Dec. 12.
He was “blown away” by his first week, the welcome he’s received, the passion for the harbor, the engaged residents, it’s been a great start, he said on Dec. 19.

“This is the crown jewel of the city,” Borsting said. “Getting the chance to be one of the caretakers of this super valuable community resource is one of the things I’m looking forward to.”

Borsting was most previously employed as the marine operations superintendent for the city of Long Beach’s Marine Bureau.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/new-harbormaster-hits-ground-running/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/meet-the-new-harbormaster-kurt-borsting/



Diane Dixon is sworn in for another term on the Newport Beach City Council during the Dec. 11 meeting.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

• It was a night of olive branches, healing, and moving forward, during the Newport Beach City Council meeting on Dec. 11.

In Newport Beach City Council’s “changing of the guard” meeting, a slightly new lineup of Council members voted for a new mayor, as scheduled, but it was not the same process as previous years.

Typically, the mayor pro tem is selected as the next mayor, but in an unusual move, Will O’Neill stepped aside and nominated Diane Dixon. Understanding the symbolism of the action, he called it an opportunity for reconciliation. Dixon nominated O’Neill for another year as mayor pro tem.

The meeting also included the swearing in for Council newcomer Joy Brenner, and re-elected incumbents Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, Diane Dixon, and Kevin Muldoon.

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/new-mayor-council-emphasize-working-together/



• Newport Beach’s annual holiday “postcard to the world,” the Christmas Boat Parade, kicked off its voyage on Dec. 19 with a firework display from the Newport Pier followed by a parade of elaborately decorated yachts, sailboats and small electric boats that circumnavigated Newport Harbor for several hours.

Over the five days, more than half a million people lined the shores or watched from local restaurants as the boats made their way around the harbor.

A special VIP reception was held at Marina Park to welcome and honor the Boat Parade Grand Marshal, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols.

The accompanying land-side event, the Ring of Lights home decorating contest, also kicked off this month. 

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/110th-annual-christmas-boat-parade-lights-up-newport-harbor/

ORIGINAL STORY: https://www.newportbeachindy.com/penguins-and-angels-sparkle-at-ring-of-lights-homes/

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