Resident Challenges Pace of Updating Newport’s Charter

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A Newport Beach resident is questioning the speed of plans to change the city’s charter, contending that city leaders overlooked rules in state law last week in appointing a panel to review changes to the city charter.

Jim Mosher, a regular speaker at City Council meetings, told the council that it hadn’t given the legally required amount of notice for people to apply for the new charter update committee.

“I don’t think the appointments can be properly made tonight” unless temporarily using an emergency process, Mosher said at the council meeting last week.

Council members appointed seven residents to the committee, which is charged with examining 42 proposed changes to the charter before the council votes to place it on the November ballot. A charter is essentially a city constitution.

Before the council made the appointments, Mosher pointed to a provision in state law that requires cities to wait at least 10 working days after posting notice before filling an unscheduled committee vacancy.

In Newport’s case, the appointments took place after nine working days.

“Your appointments cannot legally be made until at least 10 working days after the Clerk posts the notice,” Mosher wrote in a recent email to city officials.

Because the committee positions weren’t on the scheduled appointments list, he considered them unscheduled openings. The point of the law, Mosher added in his email, is to ensure that all residents have enough time to learn of and apply for committee positions.

City leaders didn’t respond to Mosher’s timing concerns during Tuesday’s meeting.

Mosher also took issue with the 4 p.m. starting time for committee meetings.

“By doing that you’re disenfranchising a very large part of the city population,” he said. “A lot of those people are working. They can’t show up at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”

Councilman Rush Hill, however, didn’t see that as an obstacle.

“I’ve worked all my life, and I’ve never had a problem making daytime meetings when it was important and serving on committees when it was important,” said Hill, a real estate consultant. “So I do not agree with that assumption.”

The committee members are Paul Watkins, a real estate and contract attorney; Joseph Stapleton, a financial advisor; David Bahnsen a finance executive; Jeffrey Herdman, a retired school principal; Suzanne Savary, a management consultant; Paul Glowienke, a financial advisor; and Daniel Wampole, a retired owner of a legal staffing agency.

— NICK GERDA

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