The Newport Beach City Council approved a proposal to erect a statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan tuesday night by a 5-2 vote. Voting for the statue project were Mayor Mike Henn, Councilpersons Keith Curry, Rush Hill, Lucy Diagle Ed Selich, Steve Rosanskuy and Nancy Gardner voted against the proposal.
Columnist Bill Lobdell of the Daily Pilot (known to locals affectionately as ‘The Daily Plot’ for decades) can now put to rest his diabolical scheme to upend any official public honoring of former President Ronald Reagan by the City of Newport Beach. Just teasing you Bill, but when you hatch your next unsuccessful liberal column crusade, Laguna Beach would would in my opinion be a much better venue. There it stands a greater chance of success! Not a bad effort though all-in-all, despite your unseemly methods.
Councilman Keith Curry, the proposals leading advocate led off the council meeting with a lengthy rendition of why he believed the honoring the former president was warranted. In the name of compromise he offered a new proposal that altered his previous plan to place the statue at Newport Beach’s new Civic Center now under construction. Curry instead proposed to place the statue in Newport’s Castaway Park. He also added that a process by which the artist selected to create the statue would include input by a committee of private donors, the City’s Art Commission and the Parks, Beach’s and Recreation Commission would be used. The City Manager would ultimately make the final decision on who will create the statue and where it will be placed.
The only thing most people pro or con on the Reagan statue debate probably agreed on last night was that Newport’s City Manager Dave Kiff was not the luckiest guy in the room when the entire process fell into his lap! Kiff from what I’ve seen seems more than up to the job.
Before the council made its decision, members of the public had their chance to give their opinions of the proposed project. Many in the audience were pro-Reagan supporters and there were just as many or more anti-Reagan opponents as well.
Some of the speakers complained that the Council and Curry had violated the rules and spirit of how public art was supposed to be selected in the city in the case of the Reagan statue. The Council had previously approved a measure soliciting donations for a Reagan memorial earlier this year. Opponents believed that the Art Commission should be the primary way any art would be selected and placed within the city.
Newport Beach City Attorney David Hunt however advised the Council that they were well within city policy to make the final determination on how public art in the city was created, chosen and placed in Newport Beach. That didn’t sit well with some people in the audience, especially one woman who claimed she was appalled at seeing the “violent” memorial to 1st U.S. Marine Division in Castaways Park that was installed in 2008.
In the most pointed cheap shot attack on the project itself Dr. Suzanne Savary, President, Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club (see below) told the Council and the overflow audience that she would support and approve of a statue of Reagan if it were placed at Hoag Hospital to honor the former President’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease that he suffered from later in life.
Savary told the council she didn’t want her children being taught about the former President via a public statue honoring him. Even referring to the former President Reagan in her prepared comments to the Council members as “that man”.
I can’t wait for people like Dr. Savary to begin the process to raise the money and begin a project to honor whomever her and fellow Democrats in Newport opposed to the Reagan statue want, unless of course they only want tax payer money spend on public art and for only the city government to tell them who is worthy of such an honor. That notion never seemed very democratic to me.
Unitl then I won’t hold my breath in the meantime, but I will take my kid to visit the Reagan statue as I have the Marine statue in Castaways Park when its dedicated. As I would and have all the other pieces of public art in Newport Beach, regardless of who or what they honor. Of course, as long they are done in a respectful way to all the citizens of this fine city. So far I haven’t found one that isn’t.
Other speakers last night spoke in more glowing terms about Reagan and why they supported the project honoring the late U.S. President. In the end, when all is said and done Newport Beach wil have a statue honoring the 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan. A fitting tribute in my opinion to just one of many U.S. presidents deserving of the honor, regardless of their political views or party.