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Lobdell: Watching the weather in Newport-Mesa

January 27, 2011|By William Lobdell

The predicted high Friday is 72 degrees. But that's only one way to take the temperature in Newport-Mesa. Here are some other forecasts.

Newport Beach's new Civic Center: early overcast giving way to sunny skies.

A Catholic bishop once told me, "You never want to be the guy who built the cathedral. You want to be his successor."

The same can be said for city leaders and civic centers. I'm excited about the prospects for the new Civic Center, which promises to be a vibrant town square befitting a city of Newport Beach's stature.

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The price tag — somewhere in the neighborhood of $123 million — will be quickly forgotten once residents began flocking to the Newport Center property where a new city hall, three parks and an expansion of the Central Library is planned.

City officials have received some criticism for the project's expanding scope and price. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime project and needs to be done right. And, as with the Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, no one will complain about the cost once the Civic Center is completed.

The proposed President Ronald Reagan statue at the new Civic Center: suddenly cloudy.

I was surprised at the strong (and mostly positive) response to my recent column about the wrongheaded idea to erect a Reagan statue at the new Civic Center. The Newport Beach City Council decided to commission a privately funded statue of Reagan to commemorate his 100th birthday, and Councilman Keith Curry suggested it be placed at the Civic Center.

Some of Newport's most esteemed leaders wrote publicly and privately that no national political figure — Republican or Democrat — without a connection to Newport Beach should be canonized with a statue on the grounds of city hall.

I'm also informed that some long-time activists are looking to launch a grassroots campaign geared at prohibiting the Reagan statue from being placed at the Civic Center. As one of them told me, "It would be better for everyone if it were placed at the Balboa Bay Club."

Costa Mesa Police Department: 80% chance of thunderstorms.

I've received several tantalizing tips about the Costa Mesa Police Department since writing recently about Chief Christopher Shawkey and Lt. Ron Smith being put on paid administration leave for unspecified reasons.

Smith has since announced he'll retire Feb. 5. Shawkey remains on leave, presumably awaiting the outcome of a city investigation.

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