Op/Ed: Transparency is Under Attack in Newport Beach

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By Keith Curry

Civic transparency continues to erode in Newport Beach.

First, Team Newport refused to address campaign finance loopholes that allowed two of them to escape the consequences of violating our campaign contribution laws.

Incumbents continue to raise funds from those doing business before the city council, years before the actual election, in an effort to amass an insurmountable fundraising advantage. Of course they also blocked efforts to require the public disclosure of lobbyists such as Team Newport puppet master Dave Ellis, who is lobbying in the background for the Museum Tower project.

Secondly, Team Newport took my proposal to require a super majority to put a tax measure on the ballot and put their own names on it, in a dishonest and cynical exercise in order to help their favored candidate.

Now, they are proposing to limit “groups we can’t control” from having the ability to use city meeting rooms to host candidate forums or to have their forums broadcast on NBTV.

Clearly puppet masters Dave Ellis and Bob McCaffrey have already decided which candidate forums Team Newport is going to skip in the next election and don’t want those empty seats broadcast citywide. They know that with a reduced media presence, if they can control what you know about the candidates to what they say on slick mailers, they will continue to hold power and be able to direct city funds and contracts to their political supporters.

Has there ever been such contempt shown to the voters of our city by elected officials?

Who exactly would this proposal impact? AirFair, Feet to the Fire, Line in the Sand, the California Republican Assembly and Newport Beach Democratic Women are some of the groups that have used city facilities in the past to host candidate forums.

Of course they included individuals such as myself, since their candidate failed to show up for my District 7 forum.

It is argued that we need this prohibition to prevent “Neo-Nazis” from hosting a forum. Really?  In the 110 years of the existence of Newport Beach, has this ever been a problem? I can’t think of a single candidate, winner or loser, who would appear before a Neo-Nazi group. But I will say this: if one did, and tried to pander to bigotry, racism or opposition to the city’s anti-discrimination polices, that is precisely the type of forum that would benefit from wide distribution so that every citizen could see the positions of such a foolish and flawed candidate.  Indeed, the bootleg videos of Scott Peotters performance before the Costa Mesa Tea Party and his Watergate-like efforts to cut 11 minutes out of it when it was shown he violated the Brown Act, told us a lot about the character of Mr. Peotter.

We are one vote short of Team Newport having complete power to push through the development plans of their supporters and to continue the use of public contracts and fee cuts to benefit their supporters.

The power to stop them in in your hands.

Keith Curry is a Newport Beach council member.


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