The Kings of Newport Beach

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lead·er·ship noun \ˈlē-dər-ˌship\ – Definition of LEADERSHIP :1: the office or position of a leader 2: capacity to lead 3: the act or an instance of leading 4: leaders (the party leadership)

Examples of LEADERSHIP: 1. a politician who lacks leadership 2. What this country needs is the exercise of strong leadership!

The above definition of leadership was taken verbatim from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Over the past week, the City of Newport Beach has been making the news for a couple of reasons, both extremely positive as far as I am concerned.  Yet something has been bothering me, actually bumming me out, and it didn’t really occur to me why until this morning.

City Manager Dave Kiff, faced with a serious budget and pension liability crisis, showed true leadership and eliminated 50 City Positions, which includes having to lay off 25 plus current employees. This by itself irks me because I will no longer get to declare that Newport Beach has more City Employees per Resident than any other City…but I digress.

Dave Kiff is doing what truly needs to be done and took what was deemed a Political issue by the Public Employee Unions, and has made it a purely Real issue.  A Real issue that needs to be addressed, and the elimination of City Employee positions is a Real first step.

Next up, West Newport and the Peninsula have been known as the “War Zone” for many, many years now, so at a recent Newport Beach City Council study session, Police Officials introduced an ordinance restricting “loud and unruly gatherings.”  Essentially, if a house parties with 8 or more folks, they will get fined big dollars, with the fines growing up to $8,000 for repeat violations.  If you rent and party, then your landlord will be able to evict you in order to avoid getting fined big bucks themselves.

After living right smack dab in the middle of the War Zone for years, I kinda would have liked anything which would have prevented seeing vomit on the sidewalk and trash on my patio (or any combination of the two) every Saturday and Sunday morning …but I again, I digress.

Anyways the point of mentioning those two extremely newsworthy and potentially controversial items is that they came from City Staff and not from our Elected Leaders.

Now I fully understand that it’s our Magnificent Seven City Councilmembers who “instructed” City Staff to come up with ideas to balance the budget, or keep the crazy partying down, but I would have loved seeing the ideas, like them or not, come from who our City elects.

When I think of Leadership, the Costa Mesa City Council majority comes to mind.  They were faced with a similar budget and pension crunch like Newport Beach, yet THEY took the lead (as leaders do) in laying off City Employees, and they are now taking the criticism and enjoying the kudos (as leaders do).

And as much as it pains me to say, I think of President Barack Obama.  As much as I disagree with what he’s been doing, President Obama still took the lead in getting the soon-to-be repealed Health Care reforms shoved down America’s throat.  It’s difficult not to admire and respect his leadership (but I still don’t…).

The Newport Beach City Council?  They are sitting back like the Kings (and Queens) of Newport Beach waiting for City Staff to come up with the Great ideas and then inanely commenting on them in the newspapers.

And by letting City Staff come up with these tremendous ideas, they can successfully avoid taking the criticism if they fail.

If, God forbid, a tragedy like what happened in Costa Mesa occurs in Newport Beach because of the layoffs, our Kings and Queens can blame the City Manager for coming up with the idea.

If renters and homeowners in West Newport and the Peninsula start revolting at the heavy fines and evictions, our Kings and Queens can blame the Newport Beach Police Department for proposing the ordinance.

But if both succeed, who will take the credit?

It’s good to be the King …

So I leave with a quote from the movie “The American President”:

“In the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert to a mirage and when they discover there is no water, they will drink the sand.”

Enjoy the sand.

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