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Mailbag: There was no bickering during council debate

August 12, 2011

Daily Pilot staff writer Joseph Serna performed a valuable service to the community by clearly presenting the views of speakers who objected to the $10,000 grant to support Pop Warner Football ("Principle of helping fund Pop Warner while simultaneously looking to lay off city employees was challenged," Aug. 3).

Community speakers acknowledged the value of the organization itself, but, as Mr. Serna reported, opposed this grant when councilmen have been claiming that the city has no money.

While the focus of the objections is clearly and accurately stated, a couple corrections are needed in order to properly characterize the nature of the debate itself.

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Both arise from standard Council meeting procedures: Public comments are heard before council discussion, and no rebuttal to council comment is allowed.

First, because the public speaks first, speakers were not "supporting" Wendy Leece's point about priorities; the opposite was true. Ms. Leece was the only member of the council who understood the point of the community's opposition, and she did her best to explain it to the rest of the council, who chose to deny any validity to the opposition's view.

Second, there was no "bickering" between members of the audience and the council; this would be impossible because, as stated above, the public is not allowed any rebuttal. What Mr. Serna kindly described as "bickering" was instead an extended session by all of the councilmen (not Ms. Leece) of disparaging all "basic-city-services-first" speakers, using such words as 'bizarre," "obscene," "appalled" and "reprehensible." Ms. Leece, the only council member who looked at the problem from a business point of view, was also attacked.

One announcement made sitting through the abusive comments worthwhile. According to City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch, the City Council, for the first time this year, requested a "contingency" — read "slush" — fund, with a value of $900,000. Mr. Serna reported $1 million, which I believe is the figure mentioned by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer.

Tamar Goldmann

Costa Mesa

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Duda's event on Lido 'wonderful'

I recently attended a charity benefit at the Via Lido Plaza hosted by the Fritz Duda Co. and meticulously organized by Tristan Ritter, where Bill Medley sang and entertained in the historic Lido Theatre. It was such a wonderful evening, and judging by the smiles on everyone's faces, a good time was had by all. Newport Beach is in dire need of more events such as these! Once again, Mr. Duda opened his venue to allow Newport Beach to feel like a small town. We don't technically have a downtown, but the warmth and camaraderie in the air made it feel like one. I look forward to many more community events in the Lido Plaza area in the future.

Robin Sinclair

Newport Beach

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