Earning Their Pay

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Tuesday night I went to the Newport Beach City Council meeting. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything better to do, I just felt that it was time to re-engage and catch up with my friends at City Hall.

Boy, did I pick the wrong night. Three-plus hours later the meeting ended.

That’s about as long as a good football game, or a high scoring baseball game. It’s almost 18 holes of golf, for God’s sake.

And trust me, there’s not that much excitement.

It always gets me thinking about why someone would want to run for elected office (memo to self to ask Rush Hill and Ed Reno). After all, you not only get to go to these meetings twice a month, but also study sessions, public appearances and rubber chicken dinners.

Lucky them.

Anyway, in the end I came away impressed with the well-oiled machine of our council, our city manager and the city staff.

Tuesday night there were three potentially tricky items on the agenda.

The first was Morningside Recovery Homes that is looking at entering a development agreement with the city.

First off, let’s state the obvious: no one wants a recovery home as a neighbor, and I concur, but federal court rulings say that to the contrary, we can’t avoid them.

The good news is that the city, under the direction of City Attorney David Hunt, has fostered a tentative agreement with Morningside – that normally recovery homes wouldn’t have to agree to – that limits their number of residences. In the end it’s potentially a win-win for both sides to an otherwise awkward situation.

It comes back up next meeting for one more review and then final approval.

The second issue, which is ongoing, is the cost of the construction of the new City Hall. City Manager Dave Kiff, surprisingly without the use of smoke and mirrors, pointed out how the early bidding process has resulted in potentially large savings for the city, to the tune of several million dollars below estimates. And, it’s still early.

Kiff also clearly explained the financial protections being put in place over the long haul to protect the city’s best interests.

Again, a big win for the city.

Lastly, and probably the most uncomfortable part of the evening, was the potential naming rights for the Oasis Senior Center.

Recently, a groundswell of support arose for the idea that the center be named the Evelyn Hart Oasis Senior Center.

Hart, a two-time mayor, with 16 years of City Council service, a person instrumental in not only Oasis and its development, but also in the initial 1985 John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement, was as deserving as anyone to have a building named after them.

However, in the end, due to a divided constituency and prior rules governing naming of city buildings, the decision came to not name the entire center after her, but to instead designate the large multi-purpose room at Oasis the Evelyn Hart Event Center.

It passed unanimously.

And, as always, Hart was gracious and “thrilled” with the honor.

Congrats Evelyn.

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