Officials Playing Defense?

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In football, they teach you that you cannot win without Defense.  Doesn’t matter if you can score 48 points, if you give up 56, you still lose.

Baseball?  Without pitching and a solid defense, teams don’t win the World Series.

Does the same ring true with the City of Newport Beach?

Over the summer and into the fall, one can’t help but notice Mayor Keith Curry and City Manager Dave Kiff all over the local newspapers and email distribution lists, playing defense.

Defending the spending, and massive borrowing, on the City Hall/Civic Center Project.

Defending the Upside-Down Budget.

Defending the Rehab Agreements.

And one can’t help thinking, why are they so defensive?

At a recent fundraiser for Keith Muldoon for South Orange Community College District trustee, the first person I saw was Mayor Curry talking to a couple of other well-heeled folks.  After saying hi to Keith, he introduces me to the other fellas as the “Guy who doesn’t think we should build a parking structure.”

Really Keith?  Really?

Is this the time or place to get into a full-on debate about (I apologize in advance for my upcoming rant/run-on sentence) how when Measure B was voted on, everyone thought it was supposed to only be about City Hall in the Park for around $50 million, and not about an espresso stand/dog park/library expansion/white elephant/albatross around our necks/boondoggle which would bring the total price tag to $105-$150 million dollars (depending on who you believe, what you read).

I don’t want to hear about how this is a good time to borrow and to build.  The bids are coming in under original projections.

Great! That means that in a down economic time, when everyone else is asked to cut back, when people are losing their jobs, savings and homes, the City of Newport Beach will only be BORROWING $100 MILLION DOLLARS instead of $120 million dollars.

But instead of saying all that, I just made some flippant comment about how I only wanted to start a betting pool on how much this Grand Project will cost, because no one in all of God’s green earth knows how much it’ll cost right now, and walked back outside to finish my Cuban Juan Lopez #2 cigar.

Anyways … deep breath … back to topic.

This summer and fall hasn’t been about Ed Reno running against Rush Hill for City Council, not about the lack of candidates against the other incumbents, it’s been about the defensive responses by Mayor Curry and City Manager Kiff that have been scattered throughout the local newspapers.

Former Mayor John Heffernan questions the City Hall/Civic Center project costs, and a couple of days later comes almost 1,000 words by Mayor Curry defending it.  The tone and defensive nature of Curry’s letter bewildered everyone I talked to about it for weeks.

Around the same time, City Manager Kiff sends out the City Manager’s report, via mail, explaining the costs of the City Hall/Civic Center project.

Local activist Bob Rush emails out a dartboard for determining the City Hall/Civic Center costs, and later that day comes City Manager Kiff’s rebuttal, also via email, with spelling edits, corrections and explanations.

More letters to the editor start peppering the local papers, and City Manager Kiff responds with over 1,100 words, defending, defending, and more defending.

When I talk to my circle of Newport Beach politicos, it’s always the City’s overzealous defense that comes up first.

Years ago, when Greenlight was dominating our “world” and questioning the City Council, I don’t recall seeing Mayor Bromberg or Mayor Ridgeway responding in the local papers with continuous columns of defense.

Or when Concerned Citizens of Newport Beach, Inc. were spilling blood over the rehab proliferation in West Newport and the Balboa Peninsula, I don’t remember reading Mayor Rosansky’s or Mayor Selich’s desperate defense of the City’s position in the Orange County Register or the Daily Pilot.

But that’s what we have now, and you can’t help but wonder why so defensive?

 

 

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