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City Life: Voters need to be accountable, too

November 15, 2011|By Steve Smith

It is a phenomenon of the American voter. He is disgusted with Congress and believes it is the fault of every representative except the one in his district.

That's the way it has been for more than two decades of polling by CNN. Last August, however, all that changed.

In that CNN poll, only 41% of the people questioned say the lawmaker in their district deserves to be reelected. This is the first time that the figure has dropped below 50%.

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Locally, the discontent and accountability scenario does not reflect the CNN poll findings. Here, we have increasing discontent with the Newport-Mesa Unified school board, specifically its management of Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard's employment. Few, however, seem to understand that it was voters here, not the voters on Mars, who elected the people who are making these bad decisions.

We elected this board, folks. More accurately, you elected them.

Of the seven sitting trustees, I have voted for one. Katrina Foley got my vote last year because I believed she was going to try to restore accountability and progress to the panel. Foley is trying — she was the only trustee to vote against approving Hubbard's paid administrative leave.

Which brings us to one of the most honest letters to the editor I've seen published by the Daily Pilot in a while ("Smith column nails Hubbard issue," Nov. 13). Newport Beach resident Frank Feller expressed his disgust at Hubbard's paid leave and wrote, "Now, I understand that we the people elected the board…"

Feller gets it.

Trustee Martha Fluor doesn't get it. Last January, she defended Hubbard's highly inappropriate email messages to a former female subordinate by saying, "[It was between] consenting adults. Was it good judgment? That's for Dr. Hubbard to decide" ("Educators have different takes on Hubbard," Jan. 18).

Sorry, but it's not for Hubbard to decide; it's for everyone but Hubbard. Local teachers have already decided, casting a vote of no confidence in Hubbard earlier this month. Based on my 16 years of watching the school board, that vote is likely to be dismissed by the trustees as unrepresentative of the entire teaching force. Based on the communication I have received, however, that would be a bad call.

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