Op-Ed by Newport Beach City Councilman Keith Curry
On November 22, I had proposed that the Newport Beach City Council adopt a resolution condemning the use of anonymous Farsi language signs designed to suggest the “foreignness” of one of the candidates. My proposal was gaveled down by Mayor Diane Dixon, who misrepresented council policy to prevent discussion, and for the first time ever since I have been a member of the council, refused to hear any public comment. The following are my prepared comments which were blocked by Mayor Dixon, followed by the text of the proposed resolution.
The use of Farsi signs in the last election was a campaign tactic that went over the line of decency and propriety. It reflects badly on our community and reflects a bigotry and racism that is unwelcome and deserving of being denounced.
All of the three District 7 candidates in the recent election have denounced this and we as a council should denounce it as well.
This measure tests our moral clarity.
I warned that if we failed to address the loopholes in our campaign laws we would see additional violations in this election cycle. That is exactly what happened.
If we fail to denounce this despicable campaign tactic, we can be sure that similar measures will darken our community in the future.
It is important to note that this sign failed to identify the party paying for it as required by law, and we assume it was not reported as an expenditure as is also required by law. Many members of the council ran on a platform of “law and order”. Each of us took an oath to enforce the law, without concern to person or privilege. This resolution tests our commitment to fulfilling our oaths of office.
Frankly I cannot understand how any member of this council can disagree with this proposed resolution. I hope those who do will explain to our residents your tolerance for this activity.
Let us speak with one voice, in unity to say that these campaign tactics are repulsive, they will not be tolerated in Newport Beach, and the parties who violated our laws and printed them should be identified and brought to justice.
Whereas; The City of Newport Beach has a vital public interest in ensuring free, fair and truthful elections for city office, and;
Whereas; The City of Newport Beach has established a voluntary Code of Ethics for political campaign statements in municipal elections, and
Whereas: In the 2016 City Council election, signs were used in the Farsi language to suggest a candidate was “foreign” and to draw attention to the candidates ethnic and national background, and
Whereas; The use of such signs were part of a larger effort to focus on the candidate’s ethnic background and were inherently racist and bigoted, and
Whereas: The signs did not identify the party paying for the signs as required by state law, nor did the signs appear on any of the campaign expenditure reports related to the campaign, as required by law, and
Whereas; All three of the candidates in the race for District 7 have denounced the signs and have condemned their use in this campaign, and
Whereas: The City Council wishes to demonstrate its condemnation of the use of these racist signs in the campaign and to communicate in the strongest possible way that such tactics are out of place in Newport Beach and will not be tolerated.
Now therefore be it resolved; That the City Council condemns the use of these signs in the 2016 campaign, demands that the party responsible come forward and take responsibility for this black mark on our community and encourages the appropriate enforcement agencies to take action to enforce violations of the California Elections Code and the Political Reform Act related to this incident against the responsible party.
Keith Curry is a Newport Beach Council Member