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Venezia: A Rush to judgment

May 01, 2014|By Barbara Venezia
  • Barbara Venezia, a columnist for the Daily Pilot.
Barbara Venezia, a columnist for the Daily Pilot. (Photo by Damion…)

Say the names Bob Rush and Rush Hill three times quickly and you have quite a tongue twister — almost as twisted as their continued political interaction, which seems to be playing out again.

It's no secret that Newport Beach resident and former Assembly candidate Rush has no great love for Newport Beach Mayor Hill — and the feeling seems to be mutual.

Rush, a Democrat, says he distrusts Hill, a Republican. Hill calls Rush's complaints against him filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission "totally politically motivated and verging on harassment."

Rush is crying foul at the FPPC for closing a case he filed against Hill with just a warning letter April 3.

To recap Round One, Rush filed a complaint with the FPPC against Hill, claiming the then-councilman should have recused himself as a member of the Neighborhood Revitalization Committee since he had interest in properties that were in the area the committee wanted to fix up in 2011.

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I talked to Hill after the complaint was lodged. He said he recused himself when the committee's boundaries were more specific regarding a stretch of Mariner's Mile, but in initial discussions they weren't. Officials only need to recuse themselves when a project in question is proximate to their property.

In the adjudication letter dated April 3, the FPPC wrote to Hill, "Some of the allegations do not appear to rise to the level of a violation of the (Political Reform) Act."

The case was closed with a warning letter to Hill.

But according to Rush, he never was copied on this and thus lost time to appeal the ruling.

However, a copy was sent to attorney Bob Hawkins.

Why Hawkins?

Apparently the FPPC merged Rush's complaint against Hill with Hawkins' complaint against then-Mayor Mike Henn since the complaints were about the same revitalization project.

Hawkins filed against Henn after it was reported that he had financial ties to the drug store in Lido Village where he'd championed revitalization.

By the way, the FPPC found no wrong doing on Henn's part either.

Confused yet?

Like I said, this is a twisted tale, and the similarity in the names doesn't help.

Fast forward to today: Both councilmen being seemingly cleared by the FPPC sets the stage for Round Two.

Rush, who is known for being active in the West Newport Assn.'s drive against rehabilitation homes, isn't happy because he believes the FPPC didn't follow its own rules, and he says his case against Hill should be reopened.

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