Thursday, September 14, 2023


Last night I had the pleasure of attending a forum hosted by the activist group, Speak Up Newport, at the community room at Newport Beach City Hall.  The program consisted of a panel of experts on journalism, and local journalism in particular.  It included former Daily Pilot publisher and current publisher of StuNews Newport, TOM JOHNSON; former Los Angeles Times reporter, Daily Pilot Editor, podcast host and award-winning author, BILL LOBDELL and former Daily Pilot Editor, public relations expert,  college journalism instructor and current Public Information Officer for the City of Costa Mesa, TONY DODERO.


Among the 80 or so people in attendance were current and former Newport Beach council members and commissioners, Daily Pilot columnists and a wide array of community activists.  Among them were folks who had, in the past, been named by the editors of the Daily Pilot as among those 103 most influential in the community - like yours truly, who was named on that fun array of movers and shakers 8 times (but who’s counting?).


President of Speak Out Newport and former Newport Beach Mayor ED SELICH kicked off the evening, then turned the discussion over to Johnson, who moderated the conversation among his friends at the table with him.  He introduced his staff - his former wife, LANA JOHNSON, who is the editor of Stu News Newport and the person who actually gets things done, and SHAENA STABLER, his partner in the publication.


The panel recalled their early days at the Daily Pilot.  When Johnson and Lobdell took over the newspaper in the early 1990s it was a struggling, poorly-run operation, described as probably the worst community newspaper in the state.  They built it into a profitable operation, recognized as the best in the state.  When they ran the operations, and later with Dodero at the helm of the news operations, the publication did outstanding work.  According to the discussion, when the Los Angeles Times acquired the Daily Pilot and several other local community newspapers the wheels began to come off.  The Daily Pilot is the last one standing and it’s teetering on the brink.


Johnson shared some of the strategies that helped them become successful.  He said they “had to keep thinking of new things” to keep the Daily Pilot on the cutting edge of community engagement.  He cited the creation of the Daily Pilot Cup - a youth soccer tournament that exists  to this day, although no longer under the auspices of the Daily Pilot.  He also mentioned the Jones Cup, a women’s golf tournament.  And, of course, he spoke of the almost capricious creation of the “DP 103” - for which Lobdell, chuckling, took full credit.


According to the panelists, large newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register, were very slow to react to the digital realities on the news business.  The only large publications that have figured it out are the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  Social media, with all it’s faux urgency and rampant inaccuracy, have become the go-to source of “news” by many in our society.  The iPhone has replaced the daily newspaper. According to Lobdell, there are 60% fewer journalists today than there were just a few short years ago.  They also cited mismanagement of many smaller newspapers.  The management of those operations were slow to react to the financial realities of the competition for advertising dollars in the digital world.  The failure of the Santa Barbara News Press was cited as an example.


Johnson gave us a brief tour of what it’s like at Stu News Newport, which produces a new product every Tuesday and Friday for both the Newport Beach operation and their sister publication in Laguna Beach… that’s four digital newspaper editions a week with a shoestring staff.  As I mentioned earlier, he gives LANA JOHNSON full credit for pulling off those four small miracles each week. One acknowledged shortfall is the production of true investigative reporting.  They are successful selling advertising for the “good news” they produce twice a week, but ramping up to produce a more hard-hitting product is expensive.  A discussion was held about the possibility of using interns - but that really doesn’t provide the skill set necessary for the tough reporting.  In our area there really is only one source of investigative reporting - the non-profit Voice of OC, published by former Orange County Register reporter NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.   They do an excellent job of digging up the dirt on issues, although sometimes they anger folks - a byproduct of tough reporting.


There was a brief discussion of the possibility of “re-branding” Stu News - to give it a change of look.  Specifics were briefly discussed, and a January 2024 date was mentioned for a possible “new look”.


At the end of the evening Johnson entertained questions from the audience.  Fewer than a dozen people stepped to the microphone.  One person mentioned the curiously fortuitous timing of a column published that very day in the Daily Pilot by columnist PATRICE APODACA on the subject of the decline of local newspapers.  Another speaker  complimented them for their work on the Daily Pilot, and described how family members always visited those pages for family members names in box scores and social events.  Others spoke of the need for strong investigative reporting and the fun that was had when one’s name appeared in the DP 103 list.

So there you have my summary of the highlights of the evening.  I did not provide you with a word-for-word account, but it was a very worthwhile event.  The three

panelists are my friends.  Each one nurtured me as a 50-year-old fledgling writer who offered commentaries to the Daily Pilot pages before launching my blog in 2005 - and later, too.  I admire each of them for their positive contributions to my community over the past few decades. I suspect that they may put their collective experiences to work to continue finding workable solutions to the evolution of credible digital media.  I hope so.

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Sunday, July 30, 2023


The Costa Mesa City Council meets again on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 and, among the many issues on the agenda, are two involving cannabis retail sales in the city.  One is an appeal of a previously denied application by the Planning Commission.  The other is a discussion on possible changes that might be made to the current ordinance that governs retail cannabis sales.  After much contemplation I decided to share my views on this issue with the City Council and wrote the following email to them this afternoon.  Take a few minutes to read my thoughts.


TO:  Mayor John Stephens, Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Harlan, Council Members Arlis Reynolds, Manuel Chavez, Andrea Marr, Loren Gameros and Donald Harper.

SUBJECT:  Cannabis ordinances in the City of Costa Mesa

Dear Elected Leaders,
I write to you today as a 50-year resident of Costa Mesa with some significant concerns about how cannabis is being managed in our city.  You will address some of these concerns during your meeting Tuesday, August 1, 2023.

Several years ago the residents approved the non-retail sales uses of cannabis to be conducted north of the I-405 Freeway - an area known as the Green Zone.  Those activities were to be taxed at 6% of sales.  After a short time the operators of those businesses began to whine to the City Council that the tax was making it difficult for them to make a profit, so the Council knuckled under and reduced the tax to 1% - barely enough to provide administrative oversight of those activities.

More recently the voters of this city overwhelmingly authorized the retail sales of cannabis products, approving a rapidly-crafted ordinance that, as it turns out, left too many loopholes in the process, including the total number of cannabis outlets to be approved and some laxness as to locations thereof.

On your agenda Tuesday night is an appeal of a recent Planning Commission denial of a cannabis outlet.  I watched that meeting and think the Planning Commissioners reached the proper conclusion. I hope you will uphold that denial.

Also on your agenda Tuesday night is a request to revisit the cannabis ordinance with an eye to tightening up rules about total numbers and locations.  I wish to address that item.

First, I’m not a fan of cannabis sales.  There is irrefutable scientific evidence, which can be found with a simple Google search, that cannabis use can be - and many times is - a threshold drug, leading to the use of much more addictive substances.  As you know, our area is in the midst of a very serious opioid epidemic and there is reason to believe that easy availability of cannabis may contribute to that epidemic.  That being said, we have an ordinance that authorizes retail cannabis sales, so...?

Currently there are 21 cannabis dispensaries approved for our city, with MANY more in the hopper pending consideration/approval.  At one time the total was over 60 applications pending.  While nobody can tell us how many should be approved, logic tells us that 5 dozen dispensaries - several with a home delivery element - are just too many for our city of around 112,000 souls.

Some council members - and some shills for the industry - tell us “the market will take care of itself” - meaning that if there are too many dispensaries some will drop by the wayside because they cannot compete with others.  We see no evidence that this assumption is valid so far.  Logic tells us that a finite number should be established and controlled.

As the approvals have been made we’ve seen some long-established businesses forced out of their locations because cannabis businesses can pay steeper rents.  Some moved while others just packed it in.  As some of those unsuccessful cannabis businesses drop by the wayside they leave in their wake those ousted businesses AND vacant storefronts at their locations.

As applications have been approved we have seen several venues throughout the city that now have “clusters” of cannabis retail outlets in close proximity to each other.  In my view, this is bad for their business, and bad for the other businesses and residences nearby.  We should designate minimum spacing between retail cannabis outlets.

In response to that assumption, some folks - including some elected officials - trot out the facts of the number of places in our city where alcohol and beverages containing it, are widespread in our city, citing restaurants,  bars, liquor stores, markets, mini-markets, etc.  In my view, this straw man is an “apples and oranges” situation.  Since the end of prohibition nearly a century ago, alcohol sales has been a federally-monitored activity.  Bars and restaurants permit on-site consumption of alcoholic products.  There is no such permission for on-site consumption of cannabis products… yet.  Liquor stores typically also sell other products.  Markets and mini-markets have alcohol sales as only a small segment of their total retail sales.

Overuse of alcohol is monitored by the police when they stop impaired drivers and administer blood alcohol tests.  No such test currently exists for the cannabis-impaired.  We rely on the training and skills of our police officers to make assumptions about the level of impairment of drivers under the influence of cannabis or other drugs.

In their recent meeting the Planning Commission chose - unwisely, in my view - to shove an application for a cannabis store to their next meeting, apparently hoping the discussion held in the Joint Study Session about the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance might provide some guidance on that issue.  I can’t understand how that would be relevant nor timely.  Regardless, one of the concerns expressed about that particular location was the proximity to a residential rehabilitation home.  Yes, that should be a codified concern.  Just as is the case with churches,  schools and playgrounds, cannabis dispensaries should not be permitted near a known rehab home.  The quandary here is that there is NO control over where such homes may be located.  AND, further complicating this issue, is the fact that cannabis products may be delivered to locations in our city - without restriction - by drivers from cannabis outlets.

Another factor I see coming into play soon is the 7% tax on retail cannabis sales.  It will not surprise me at all if, in the very near future, existing cannabis retail operators band together to complain to the city officials that the 7% tax is unworkable for them, and request (demand?) that it be reduced.  There is a history of this happening with businesses in the Green Zone.  One of the selling points used to promote the ordinance authorizing the retail sale of cannabis products was that it would generate significant sales tax dollars.  I expect, if pushed, this council will, once again, knuckle under and reduce the sales tax on retail cannabis stores.  That, in my opinion, would be a “bait and switch” move -  a failure to follow the wishes of the electorate, who passed the ordinance, at least in part, because of the potential tax revenue.

Summarizing this long-winded essay, I feel the following issues, and probably others, should be addressed and clarified/modified regarding cannabis sales in Costa Mesa:

1-Restrict the total numbers of such businesses in the city.

2-Redefine the restrictions on locating near drug and alcohol rehabilitation homes.

3-Make it clear that the sales tax burden of 7% WILL NOT be reduced for any retail sales cannabis business.

4-Modify the ordinance to prohibit “clustering” of cannabis businesses in the city. 

As a long-time resident of Costa Mesa - one who actually has paid attention to municipal issues for most of the past couple decades, studied them and offered opinions on them - I don’t want our town to become known as Orange County’s “Cannabis Central”.  I know this view is not shared by some of you - some who have established close relationships with some applicants and their representatives and see the siren-song of sales tax revenue worth the diminishing of our image in the community of cities.  I don’t want our city to be the “go-to” place for drugs.  This city has SO MUCH to offer the broader region - wonderful cultural and artistic venues, unparalleled shopping venues, proximity to nearby beaches, etc. - that it would be a real shame to have our image darkened by the proliferation of these businesses. 


As a group you’ve demonstrated great leadership managing the homelessness issue - you’ve shown the way to all other Orange County cities on that subject.   It’s NOT TOO LATE to do the same on this issue - to throttle-back and implement significant controls on cannabis businesses.  As you hear the discussion and the views of folks supporting and opposing the issue, please give it careful consideration Tuesday night. 

 I continue to be grateful to each of you for your dedication to our city and the time you take to manage such important issues.  Most of you read the staff reports, consult with the staff on sticky issues, visit sites in question and represent our city at ceremonial events.  That, of course, is why we pay you the big bucks and I appreciate most of you for your efforts on our behalf.  Thanks for that.


Geoff West


I know the council will be interested in opinions of the residents on this issue.  Please attend and speak, or call in during the appropriate "comments" segment.  I'm going to share this post on my Facebook page.

Sunday, June 18, 2023



Today, June 18, 2023, is Father’s Day… a day we all remember our fathers and celebrate their contributions to our lives.  In years past I would recall MY father, Robert J. West - the man who gave me guidance, demonstrated what it means to be a good man and helped me become the man I am through his example.  I will link to something I wrote about him a few years ago at the bottom of this entry.


Today I want to recognize my “other” father - my Sweet Susie’s father, David Livingstone Cunningham


David was a very special man.  An adventurer at heart - one of the family stories we recall with great love is of the time he and his pal, Jack Harbutt, climbed a church steeple in his native Bath, England.  When the press refused to believe they did it, they did an encore late at night and tied a white towel at the highest point to prove their feat.


David decided to make a new life for himself and emigrated to the United States in 1937 - just 

as Europe and his native England were about to be embroiled in World War ll.  He came to New York City aboard the Queen Mary, hooked up with his boyhood pal, Jack, to see the sights, then rode a Greyhound bus to the West Coast where his uncle Larry Cunningham - a haberdasher in Oakland - awaited.


He spent a couple years seeing California, then got a job working in horticulture. He was technically an illegal immigrant, so he had to go to Mexico for a few weeks to sort things out.  Eventually he was given permission to return to the United States and work.


He became very successful and managed to coax his lady love, Joan Sabina Adams, to join him.  She was his 17 year old girl when he left for the US.  Through several years of love letters (all of which Joan kept) he convinced her to join him in November, 1940.   They married in Whittier on December 7, 1940.

Upon her mother’s passing my Sweet Susie discovered the small diary her father kept during his immigration adventure, plus all the love letters he had written to her mother over all those 

years.  In order to preserve those precious memories, Susie transcribed them and created a 112 page hard-bound book, including era-appropriate photos, and distributed copies to her brothers and their children.


He and Joan had four great children - James, Susan, Lawrence and Robert - and created a wonderful life for them in Newport Beach.  He also sponsored his brother-in-law and his family
to emigrate to the United States in the 1960s.

David became one of the most respected men in the southern California horticulture community.  As a past President of the California Association of Nurserymen (C.A.N.), Past President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the C.A.N. and the Past President of the California Chapter of the American Association of Nurserymen, he was a guiding light in the growth of that industry as post-World War II Southern California grew.


He worked for a couple different nurseries, including as Vice President of Descanso Distributors in La Canada/Flintridge and Chino, before he began his own company, David L. Cunningham, Inc., which served the nursery industry and developers all over the state.  It became the “go-to” source for hard-to-locate trees and shrubs and was the benchmark for superior service. Eventually my Sweet Susie and two of her brothers, Lawrie and Rob, took over the business and expanded it exponentially for the next 40 years.


Among David’s many accomplishments was the opening of the world famous Descanso Gardens in La Canada/Flintridge to the public.  He suggested to his boss, newspaper publisher Manchester Boddy, that the public might actually pay a dollar to tour those magnificent gardens - at the time a private garden complex that surrounded Boddy’s residence.  They built a small cinderblock building to house a lemonade stand on the front and restrooms at the rear, hoping to recoup the $5,000 cost eventually.  That first year 100,000 people paid $1.00 each to view the gardens.  David was known in the industry as “Mr. Descanso”.


As a British immigrant, one of his proudest achievements was shepherding the introduction of the “Queen Elizabeth Rose”, developed by Dr. Walter Lammerts in the mid-1950s, into the marketplace.

I’m grateful to have become part of the Cunningham Clan when I married my Sweet Susie.  She and her brothers share their father’s quick wit and joy of life and have passed that on to their own families. 


This year you get two great men for the price of one.

Here’s the link to the blog post I created to honor MY father,
Robert J. West, a few years ago, HERE.

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Monday, October 03, 2022



My city, Costa Mesa, California, like many others in our state, is in the midst of campaign season for city, county, state and national elections.  On November 8th we will choose three city council members and a mayor, chime in on a very important municipal ordinance, plus vote for members of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, Mesa Water District and the Orange County Board of Supervisors.  This is about the city races…


There are three council seats available this time around.  The City began electing city council members by district PLUS a directly-elected mayor in 2018, having been extorted by a Malibu law firm into converting from at-large voting to “give our Latino population a greater voice in government”.  Costa Mesa is 37% Latino, most of whom reside in what is known as the West Side - those areas represented by Districts 4 and 5 - two of the seats up for election this time.  The remaining seat is District 3, an area roughly surrounding the Orange County Fairgrounds near the center of the city.


Let's review some history so you can understand why I think this election is so darn important.


When the city was forced to go to district voting the then-Republican majority, led by Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger, tried to quick pitch the process when putting the District voting on the 2016 ballot.  Instead of using the 5-District configuration preferred by 100% of the residents who attended all the meetings held by the demographer, they had him conjure up a 6-District and Directly Elected Mayor choice, figuring they could field a group of like-minded individuals to control the city council.  That was the only choice on the ballot for the voters to consider and it passed with 64.8% of the ballots cast.  In an interesting sidebar, the existing mayor, Steve Mensinger, was ousted, finishing 4th the race for 3 open council seats.  And, further demonstrating the ire of the electorate, controversial Measure Y was passed by an even greater margin - just over 68%.  That citizen-generated measure was designed to slow, or stop, development in the city by requiring a “vote of the people” if certain triggers were met.  Since that measure passed not a single project has moved forward - no “vote of the people” has been taken.


In the next election - November 2018 - council members were elected by district for the first time.  Districts 3,4 and 5 - the same ones up for election this time around - chose new council members.  Interestingly, all three of them chose persons with a Latino heritage.  In District 3 United States Naval Academy graduate and former Navy officer Andrea Marr defeated a Republican-supported candidate soundly.  In District 4 Manuel Chavez - who grew up in that district and was the youngest council member ever elected - was chosen over a hand-picked contender favored by the council majority by a wide margin.  In District 5 local woman and MIT-graduate Arlis Reynolds defeated seated councilman Allan Mansoor - a former mayor and state Assemblyman - by more than 20 points!.  And, in the biggest news in that election, Katrina Foley - who had been ousted as mayor by the majority in a bit of pure partisan politics just a few months earlier - soundly defeated the woman who replaced her, long-time councilwoman Sandy Genis.  That was a stunner and certainly made the point that the voters had had enough.  


One must think back on what it was like back then.  Republican activists - Jim Righeimer, Steve Mensinger, Gary Monahan and Allan Mansoor - controlled the city and made some very controversial moves.  For example, on March 17, 2011 - St. Patrick’s Day - their council decided to issue layoff notices to 213 “regular employees” - non-public safety staffers.  This was their idea of how to control large unfunded pension liabilities.  In a tragic result of their actions young maintenance worker Huy Pham, upon receiving his layoff notice, leaped to his death from the roof of city hall.  This was the darkest day in our city in my memory - 48 years and counting.  There was a huge public outcry and outpouring of sympathy for Pham’s family and his entire city family, too.  Monahan, who was mayor at that time, didn’t bother to come to City Hall to console grieving employees - he was too busy pouring green beer at his bar, muttering something like, “What am I supposed to do?  This is the biggest day of the year for me.”  That was a quote from a news reporter who sought comment from him as he pranced around his bar in his kilt.  Disgusting!  Even worse, courts later determined that the layoff notices were illegal!


About that same time friction ensued between certain members of the City Council and the Costa Mesa Police Department.  The council members sued the Police Association’s law firm and the association.  That went on for several years, but was finally settled.  In the meantime, the toxic atmosphere created by that council provoked several members of the Costa Mesa Police Department to abandon their jobs, choosing to either retire early or bail out to another police jurisdiction.  For more than 8 months the Righeimer/Mensinger council refused to permit recruitment efforts to fill more than 50 vacancies.  It’s been more than a decade since all that was going on and we still have not achieved proper police staffing levels.  That same council decided that the A.B.L.E. helicopter program - a joint venture between Costa Mesa and Newport Beach that provided police helicopter support for both cities and was a model for all municipal helicopter programs nationwide  - should be disbanded.  They proceeded to do just that, selling off the assets - 3 multi-million dollar helicopters - and reassigning the pilots back into patrol duties.  That was another low-morale moment in the CMPD.  This group also decided to privatize both the police jail and street sweeping services - causing more layoffs.  It was rumored that the successful contractor for the jail services was operated by family members of Jim Righeimer.  That unfortunate experiment has failed and the jail is, once again, under control of members of the CMPD.


Another bellwether of discord was Allan Mansoor’s scheme to deputize every single Costa Mesa Police Officer as an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officer so they could randomly snatch up members of our Latino community and process them for deportation. For his efforts Mansoor was anointed as an honorary “Minuteman”.  That scheme failed, fortunately, but it terrorized the entire Latino community to the point where they seldom expressed concerns about city issues.  That has changed under the current council.  Recently we’ve seen Latino’s bravely step to the speaker’s podium and air grievances.  They know they will be given a fair hearing on issues important to them and no longer worry about being hunted down like stray dogs in the street and deported.


The atmosphere in our city during those years was very tense.  That council decided that they were tired of hearing residents stand before them during the Public Comments segment of their regular meetings and gripe about issues - things that were important to the residents - so they bifurcated the public comments.  Only the first 10 people in the queue could speak early in the meeting.  Any remaining speakers had to wait until the very end of the meeting - sometimes midnight or later.  Few speakers stayed around that late.  At that time we saw several highly skilled senior staffers choose to retire early instead of dealing with the atmosphere created by that council.


Well, in the four years since the core of the current council was elected - those choices clearly sent a message to the Republican establishment with the ouster of Mansoor and Mensinger and the rebuffing of Genis , who was soundly thumped as a directly-elected mayor by Katrina Foley not just once, but twice - a lot of important things have happened in our city and it’s appropriate to talk about how they were handled.


The city, for years, has had a growing homeless population.  The current council found a way to manage that issue by first contracting with a local church to provide temporary housing until a new facility could be created.  They then found and purchased an industrial building not far from John Wayne Airport and created a 70-bed shelter and worked out a deal with the City of Newport Beach to use 20 of those beds for a fee.  That system is working.


More than 2 years ago the hellish Covid-19 pandemic hit us, just as it did in every other city in America.  Our council, led by the tireless Mayor Katrina Foley (who has earned your vote for her seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, by the way) and John Stephens as Mayor Pro Tem, helped provide the leadership to get out ahead of this issue before any other Orange County city.  Right off the bat they rejected the Governor’s scheme to house 60 infected people from an airliner in northern California at the under-used Fairview Developmental Center - right in the heart of our city.  They crafted emergency ordinances to govern mask-wearing, short-term rental assistance, rules to keep covid-affected renters from being evicted, and much, much more.  And, they made the tough decisions and managed to keep a balanced budget without tapping municipal reserves.


Recently the State slammed our city with the demand for us to plan for 11,760 new dwelling units during the next 8 years (now 7 years), then told us our “Measure Y”, constraints passed by the voters in 2016, effectively created a roadblock to preclude the city from completing a required satisfactory Housing Element.  The failure to do so would cause the city to be penalized $100,000 per month, become ineligible for ALL State grant funds and - the worst part - lose all local control over development in our city - the State would take over.  So, with that gun to our head, in January the council appointed an Ad Hoc Committee of Mayor Pro Tem Marr, Councilwoman Reynolds and Councilman Jeffrey Harlan - a land planner and lawyer - to assess this problem and come up with a solution.  That effort resulted in what is now known as Measure K.  This ordinance, which is on the November 8th ballot, will basically de-fang Measure Y and thereby permit development of the much-needed (and State-demanded) new housing units, some of which will be affordable housing units.  To facilitate that action an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance is being crafted and will be presented to the council for consideration by December.


The Ad Hoc Committee has been roundly criticized by the people who conceived and marketed Measure Y, stating it would gut their product and “take away the vote of the people” on development decisions.  This, of course, is a flat-out lie!  Should Measure K pass next month ANY project submitted to the city for consideration will have to run the gauntlet of bureaucratic hurdles - including approvals from the Planning Commission and City Council.  At every step of the way residents or other interested parties have the opportunity to express themselves before those official bodies and/or write to them in detail with their concerns.  Measure Y was passed 6 years ago and, as I mentioned above, not a single project has been placed before the voters.  Any developer - every developer - will simply take their development dollars and expertise elsewhere when faced with spending tons of money and time, only to be informed that they now must go before the vote of the people.  Our city will shrivel under these constraints.  Our major commercial and industrial corridors will atrophy and our economic vitality will wither.


I wrote all the above to make a point. This time around Mayor John Stephens, a former council member who was appointed mayor when then-mayor Katrina Foley was elected to the Board of Supervisors, is being challenged by Republican John Moorlach - a partisan who has held positions on the Board of Supervisors and in the State Senate.  Moorlach’s record in those roles is undistinguished, although some tout him as being a financial expert because he predicted the Orange County bankruptcy two decades ago.  Stephens, on the other hand, has been an instrumental part in leading Costa Mesa through a series of crises including the homelessness issue and the covid pandemic.  In both those cases Costa Mesa has led the way among all Orange County cities in dealing with those issues effectively, in great part due to the wisdom, energy and leadership of John Stephens.


In this election only the seat occupied by Manuel Chavez is safe - he has no opposition.   Andrea Marr is being challenged by a Republican-supported newcomer, John Thomas Patton, who brings absolutely no governance experience to the party.  And Arlis Reynolds is being challenged by Rob Dickson, a former Righeimer/Mensinger sycophant who was part of “the problem” back in those days as he rubber stamped the council majority wishes while on the Planning Commission.  They have joined the creators of Measure Y to oppose Measure K - something our city MUST HAVE - and spread the lies provided to them.  This is not only disappointing, but very dangerous for our city.  Should all three of these men be successful that would change the balance of power on the City Council and combine them with lazy, hapless, hopeless, partisan hack Republican councilman Don Harper - the worst councilman in my memory - and we could be right back where we were nearly a decade ago.  This is NOT GOOD for our city..


Candidates Moorlach, Dickson and Patton constantly harp about the “unfunded pension liability” facing Costa Mesa, as though this is something this council created and fails to “fix”.  Well, this is not a new issue - every city council in the state that subscribes to the CalPERS retirement system is facing the same thing and THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT at the local level.  The problem is the way the system was conceived.  It is managed by a board that understands little about municipal finance.  Their plan is to receive a 7.5% annual return on their investments to keep their ship afloat.  However, if the markets in which they play fail to generate that kind of return they simply bill their subscribers - hence the “unfunded liability”.  The only way this actually becomes a problem for our city, or any city, is if every single employee decides to retire simultaneously.  Then there wouldn’t be enough cash in the till to fund the retirements.  Of course, that’s not going to happen.  Predecessor  councils - the Righeimer/Mensinger group, for example - decided to “solve it’ by putting a paltry million dollars each year towards the debt, knowing full-well that would do nothing at all to solve the problem.  Their other solution, mentioned above, was to lay off over 200 employees, and we all know how that turned out.  This “issue” is really a “non-issue”.  It’s a straw man to attempt to burnish the candidacy of Moorlach, a theoretical finance expert, and the others are just piggybacking the issue.  If Moorlach has a solution let him speak out for the public good.  Otherwise, he should quit barfing up that politically-charge rhetoric.


Some non-incumbent candidates are making a big deal about campaign funding by “out of town developers”.  Well, yeah!  The city is in desperate need of housing - affordable housing, for the most part - and the people that build that stuff are…. DEVELOPERS!  Of course they want to see a council in place that will give them a fair hearing, and that will help with the negative quagmire Measure Y has created.  All that jabbering about “out of town developer money” is a smoke screen, designed to inflame the voters into voting against Measure K.  The smartest guy I know on land use and planning issues, current Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman Byron de Arakal, has expounded frequently, loud and clear, why Measure K is critical to the future of our city, and has given us example after example of what happens if we don’t comply with the State rules.  That’s good enough for me.


Yeah, I know… you’re saying to yourself, “But Geoff, you’re a lifelong Republican and you’re asking us to support Democrats!”  That’s true.  I’m asking you to support proven, rational, clear-headed, non-partisan leadership who have effectively guided our city through multiple crises simultaneously instead of a trio of partisan hacks who march to the tune that caused chaos in our city in the recent past.  Because the future of our city is at stake, I implore you to not be bamboozled by those who lie about the issues.  Please re-elect Mayor John Stephens, Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Marr, Councilwoman Arlis Reynolds and Councilman Manuel Chavez.  And, if you hope your children and their children will be able to afford to live in Costa Mesa, please vote YES ON MEASURE K. 

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