By Assemblyman Allan Mansoor
A few weeks ago, Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Keith Curry used these pages to imply that I am unwilling to work with the residents of Newport Beach. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It seems Keith is upset because Scott Peotter, a regular Indy columnist who has been critical of the Newport Beach City Council, is also a part-time staffer in my office.
I don’t think Keith’s implication that Scott’s writing is a reflection of me is fair. What Scott does on his own time is up to him. I don’t screen, review, edit, or in many cases, even read what he writes for the Indy.
I don’t always agree with Scott’s style, approach, or conclusions. This is a good thing. I think it’s important to have variety in ideas and approaches. I believe that I can be a better representative for the community when my staff is not comprised of people who are carbon copies of me.
I looked back at the exchange between Scott and Keith, and my advice to both of them is to stick with the issues.
Scott likes to use lots of emotionally charged and, at times, inflammatory language. Sometimes this is effective. Sometimes it’s not. In this case, I think Scott is overdoing it. His approach is distracting from his message.
Keith’s approach also distracts from the issue. Instead of focusing on Scott’s concerns about councilmembers’ compensation and the Newport charter amendments, it appears he is trying to silence criticism by threatening Scott’s part-time employment. I think that is wrong.
It looks to me like Keith is being a little oversensitive. The issues here are deeper than Scott Peotter or the Newport Beach charter amendments or anything else that Scott has written about in his column.
I’ve always had an open-door policy and am willing to meet and work with anyone. This goes back to my days on the Costa Mesa City Council. In the Assembly, I’ve been proactive in reaching out to city councilmembers in the cities I represent.
Most councilmembers I’ve met with have been very receptive to establishing a working relationship with my office. Keith Curry has been the exception, and this goes back before Scott ever worked for me.
I haven’t figured out why this is the case, but have always assumed he is uncomfortable with a few disagreements I’ve had with some of his votes on the Newport Beach City Council. One is the infamous $200,000 Newport Beach lifeguards. Another relates to their definition of pension reform. When the Newport Beach City Council asked its firefighters to make contributions into their pensions, then gave them a raise to offset the cost, they called this pension reform. I call it a raise.
It’s impossible to agree on every issue, and I don’t think the inevitable disagreement should prevent us from working together on issues we agree upon. In Sacramento, I disagree with my Democratic colleagues on issues like taxes, regulations, and illegal immigration. Despite these disagreements, we regularly work together on other issues.
Since last year, I have been working with some of my Democratic colleagues on a bipartisan bill in hopes of closing some licensing loopholes for rehab homes, helping patients and neighborhoods alike. I know this is an issue that has not been resolved in Newport Beach for nearly a decade.
I’m hopeful that every Newport Beach City Councilmember, Mayor Pro Tem Keith Curry included, can agree to disagree on some issues and work together on meaningful reform that will help Newport Beach residents.