By Carolyn Fitz-Gibbon
1:04 PM PDT, August 26, 2013
Why do I feel that the Newport Beach City Council is slowly turning into a replication of the dysfunctional Costa Mesa council?
It's bad enough we have to witness the excessive and pointless antics of that neighboring body, which continues to make national news with its unwarranted actions. Now, in a gradual and devious manner, our city seems to be following Costa Mesa's dubious practices.
Leading the way was Newport's attempt to ban the beach fire pits. Then Councilman Michael Henn called the costly and unnecessary bridge across Avocado Street "the bridge to nowhere" — which it is — but then unexpectedly changed his mind. We were assured that
the cost of the new City Hall would be one price, but features keep being added that have caused the project to run millions of dollars over budget.
Now it seems that the Newport council members are slowly trying to convert our long-standing, efficient and frankly wonderful city trash pickup to a private enterprise.
Our city manager, Dave Kiff, says, "We've been a city that's been really compassionate about transitioning to the private sector."
When was it decided to transition to the private sector? Did I miss this decision by the City Council? When something like this is determined, "follow the money" is always the bottom line — that or trying to eliminate unions, which is Costa Mesa's obsession.
I have lived in Newport Beach for 37 years, my sons are both graduates of Corona del Mar High School, and I love this area. I have accepted the frequent, seemingly insignificant increases in my monthly city bill in no small part because of the services of our city-employed sanitation (garbage, refuse or whatever you want to call them) workers.
Over the years I have gotten to know them and have witnessed their efficiency, smiles and friendliness. This is what a city is about. This type of public relations is priceless to the people who live here. If the council is so concerned about cost, what about the excess expenditures on so many other things like the "bridge to nowhere?"
Here's a novel idea: How about putting this to a vote of the people who live here? How about asking us what we want?
Don't, however, do what the city did years ago when we voted against a new City Hall — at least twice! I never did understand how that maneuver was possible.
The City Council has so much power, and usually does what it wants with little concern for what the majority of the people want. I hope this is not another example of that mentality.
I urge people to call council members and Kiff to let their voices be heard.
CAROLYN FITZ-GIBBON lives in Newport Beach.