“The truth has, and always will be, our shield against corruption; our shield against greed and despair - BE THE TRUTH!”
USC School of Communication and Journalism Graduation
The work continues! I have a lot to say here, but I will try and be as concise as possible. Following our lobbying trip to DC in April, we are now having every-other-Thursday conference call meetings with the consultants working on our behalf, council members, city staff, and two representatives from the community groups working with us on the issue of airport noise and pollution. We have almost reached the point where we are preparing to approach each air carrier out of JWA with our “ask”. What that “ask” will actually be is dependent upon the data currently being generated by the consulting firm of HMMH on every type of flight leaving out of JWA and their ability to conform to our “ask”.
Our DC Lobbyist continues to work with key legislators on the FAA Reauthorization Bill that is currently being developed in the Senate.
We have been approached by three (3) of the six (6) major air carriers out of JWA about their willingness to engage in talks with us about our “ask”. Strategies are in the works for reaching out to the other three air carriers.
Next steps will be Focus Group Meetings conducted by Dynamic Strategies (PR Firm), followed by the development of a public relations plan to keep the community informed and involved. We are receiving some push-back from the FAA, so a soon to be scheduled meeting to deal with this is in the very near future.
So, as I said above, the work continues! Kudos to our outstanding City Manager, Dave Kiff, who is leading this entire effort! Stay tuned…….
Coming on a future City Council agenda will be Councilman Peotter’s wish to involve the community in long-term lease obligation debt. He wants the community to weigh in by voting on any long-term debt obligation that this or future council’s might consider for capital improvement projects. To me, this move on Councilman Peotter’s part is the last in a series of actions he has initiated against the building of our new City Hall.
While I respect any effort to involve the community in decision-making that will have a direct effect on them, it is important to understand that in the case of long-term debt there is a theory that has stood the test of time.
There is a legitimate purpose for debt that extends over a long period of time, In order to provide for the now, and well into the future, it is sometimes necessary to assume affordable debt that will be spread out over many years. The new City Hall is a perfect example of this. City Hall is a 100 year building that is serving the community now, and will continue to do so well into the future - perhaps even 100 years from now. The building was financed through a long-term lease obligation known as a Certificate of Participation. In order to provide for a community need now, and well into the future, financing that would have absolutely no impact on the taxpayer was sought. The Council took advantage of the best funding mechanism possible. We utilize, work in, and benefit from this new City Hall. Generations to follow will do the same, thus the justification for financing such a facility over an extended period of time.
I compare this to financing a home. When purchased, the typical financing period is over 30 years in order to make affordable payments on a house you are going to live in for 30 years. You spread your long-term debt over the period of time that you will live, enjoy and proposer in your home, Along the way you take care of the home, make improvements, all for the purpose of insuring that your home is safe, livable, and maintains its market value. This is the theory behind long-term affordable debt.
Certificates of Deposit do not include the power to tax in order to pay off the debt.
The consequences of not being able to secure funding to make repairs to our infrastructure, building, roads, utilities (all at the same time) without a public vote at a time when such funds are critically needed would be a disaster for the City. How would the community respond to a Council whose ability to secure long-term funding for the results of a natural disaster would be completely dependent on a vote from the public? What if the vote was not approved?
The fact that there are literally no municipalities in California, or throughout the country, that place such a restriction on lease-debt speaks for itself. It is simply not safe, nor a sound financial practice, to be left without lease obligation debt when given the responsibility for governing a city.
I was elected and given the responsibility to take good care of this City. I do not believe that a vote in favor of Councilman Peotter’s proposal would be taking good care of this City. Ideology has no place here, nor does a “get back” mentality. My vote on this proposal will be “No”, and I felt it important to let you know why.
One of the pleasures about serving on City Council is the annual granting of funds for the support of worthwhile programs and services throughout our City. The Council’s annual Discretionary Grant Program gives to organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Orange County, and the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen. Additionally, the City awards $40,000 of funding for Community Block Grants to organizations offering events and programs that benefit the community as a whole. These Community Block grants will be awarded at our next Council Meeting.
Balboa Island Benches
A number of constituents have approached me about the condition of the benches on the Island Boardwalk as well as those on Marine Ave. There are a total of 107 benches in all; 55 on the boardwalk and 52 on Marine Ave. The history behind the benches began with the Balboa Island Improvement Association (BIIA) offering the benches for purchase. Dedicating a bench was also part of the program. Over the years the program flourished to the point where there are now no spaces available for the purchase and placement of a bench. Because of this, as well as the cost of maintaining the benches, the BIIA eventually turned the Bench Program over to the City.
The purchase of a bench included the base price, the cost of the engraved plaque, and a $1,000 maintenance fee. This maintenance fee is enough to cover the cost of maintaining the bench for about 4 years which if the bench was purchased 10 years ago has clearly not covered the maintenance cost for the past 6 years.
I have been working with the City on this maintenance issue, and as a result, and RFP will be initiated for the refurbishment of all 107 benches. The estimated cost will be $100,000 plus, and will last a couple of years. The long-term solution to the maintenance of our Island benches needs to be worked on, and City staff and I will begin discussions on that within the next couple of weeks. I do have some ideas, but if you do, as well, I would appreciate hearing from you (see e-mail or phone at the end of this blog). Saying that the City can easily afford the every-other-year refurbishment of Island benches is not a solution. On a one-time basis, OK, but not for the long-term. Again, your ideas will be most appreciated and well-received.
The Balboa Islands have been targeted this year as well as 5 years into the future, for a number of capital improvement projects. With the Island infrastructure reaching the age of 85 years old, the need to begin a replacement program of basic services is receiving top priority within the City’s Capital Improvement Program for FY 2018 through 2020.
• The new water main project on Balboa Avenue is complete. Park Avenue water line replacement is scheduled for the beginning of Fall this year;
• The Seawall Extension is also completed (City Council will continue to place $5 million annually in a seawall replacement fund);
• The final phase of Grand Canal dredging will also be completed this fiscal year.
• The Marine Avenue Rehabilitation Project is in the planning stages with construction scheduled for 2020/21.
• Bayside Drive improvements will also begin next fiscal year. Included in this project will be an enhanced intersection design at Bayside and Marine Avenues (before the Island Bridge).
• The City is currently working with FEMA on removing some areas of the Island from the flood zone category which will eliminate the need for flood insurance.
• A Balboa Island Drainage Master Plan includes the evaluation of an automatic pump and tide valve system along with a new storm drain system. The first phase of this project will be coordinated with the Marine Avenue Rehabilitation Project.
What you have recently heard about power pole replacement on the Island and the upgrading of our power system from 4kv to 12kv is currently on hold. I will keep you updated as additional information is made available to me.
As always, I remain at your service. Please feel free to give me a call, or shoot me an e-mail with anything you would like to bring to my attention, or discuss.
Newport Beach City Council