And the band played on….in Newport Beach!


There are moments when funny thought balloons appear in your brain because someone says something or some event happens that strikes a cord of resonance in your memory bank.  Today, the Newport Beach Civic Center officially opened with a grand opening, speechifying, taste of Newport restaurant treats and a variety of Newport Beach city employees standing by their areas of responsibility and praying that no one would ask questions regarding the operation or specifics of the new facility.  “Old Casey got hit with a bucket of spit………….and the Band Played On!”  We will not go into further descriptions of the images brought to mind.

Not to fear, each employee was nicely dressed with a professional light green Alligator type shirt and Docker slacks – standing by their assigned duty station  Each employee was forthcoming and tried their best to imbue the atmosphere with a sense of responsibility and professionalism.  Everyone, seemed to have their act well honed and it was fun to chat it up with employees who live several cities away, but make their living – right there in the tourist capital of Orange County – Newport Beach!

Perhaps we should start from the beginning.  Some call it the Taj Mahal……others the Mausoleum.  You may never seen more glass and composite faux wood in your entire life.    This self described Civic Center Complex will be home to about 400 employees, but one thing is sure:  You could fit three Taj Mahal’s into the area being dedicated to the purpose of governing a town of  89,000 souls.  If they painted it pink……they could call it “The Pink Elephant”.  If they painted it purple….they could call it “The Purple People Eater”.  The reality is that it may take you weeks just to find out where to go….once you arrive at the new $130 million dollar facility (which with the use Capital Appreciation Bonds – may end up costing the folks of Newport Beach….just about $230 million dollars in 30 years when the bill comes due!).

OK, the first thing you notice is that there are no Electronic Search Kiosks that allow you find out the location and floor plan of where you may want to go:  For example:  Enter City Clerk into a search box:  3rd Floor – Office E-4….for example.  Which all means of course – that someone….like a greeter will need to be employed at about seven entry locations to direct folks to where they want to go.  The elevators are small and not prolific.  If you get claustraphobia in elevators you will have a golden opportunity to renew that concept.

What seems interesting is that the City Employees have not moved in yet.  There are lots of computer screens, wood, glass and stone floors.  There are no papers, although some chairs seem available – but certainly, only for the big guys and their offices:  The City Manager, Public Works and the Mayor – for example.  When everyone will be evacuated from the current City Hall on the peninsula will be interesting to observe.  One City employee remarked that her office was 1/16th of a mile from her Department.  The logistics are going to be a nightmare.  People Movers or Segways eventually are going to have to be options.  Stairs?  Oh boy, do they have stairs.  Several sets of stairs, three stories plus an underground bunker…which may or may not be used as an Emergency Center in case of Earthquake  Emergencies; for example.

The proceedings all began at 10 am sharp on the green cement riser out the back door of the Newport Beach City Library Complex…   As Mayor Keith Curry began his official pronouncement with rave reviews on the design, excellence and forward thinking that was required to reach this civic pinnacle….one of the “Stop the Dock Tax” folks had a Bi-Plane fly over saying “$130 Million Taj Mahal”.  Meanwhile, about 20 local restaurant passed out samples and chow of varying degrees to the approximately 2000 folks scattered around the grounds and in the complex proper.  No water…..but lots of chow.  Meanwhile, a Raggae Band was tuning up on the sidelines.  Many departments had attractive support folks giving out commemorative city gear……like the Recreation and Senior Center that gave out a nice vinyl hand carry bag in dark green.

As we went around looking for the local gentry we ran into the usual suspects:  Barbara Veniza and her handsome husband,  Supervisor John Moorlach and his lovely wife Trina, ex-mayor John Heffernan and even the old Potstirrer – Jeff West and his lovely spouse.   All the city council members were in attendance, but didn’t look that to open to a possible interview about the facility.  Don Webb looked great, ex-city council member – now Public Works Director ….again…..and no doubt supported the design so he can keep his fit self up to par….walking all the long hallways and climbing all those stairs.  Well, maybe not!  But, we take nothing for granted.

Several months ago, we remarked that there should be motion activated cameras in the humongous parking structure.  Late night or during the winter that structure could be dangerous without security and surveillance.  Right now…….no cameras are in evidence.  Worse than that is the fact that there are no cameras within the facility itself.  They have included motion activated lighting however to their credit.  However, without an adequate ability to watch every corner of this huge complex……..the city is putting itself into a very compromising position; related to both employees and visitors.  But hey, we can only mention the possible need for a 24 Hour Security & Communication Center and if those involved in the process are not convinced, we guess we can only say: Don’t forget we mentioned it folks!

Without a doubt, the opening of the Newport Beach Civic Center……was shocking.  It was shocking in the apparent waste involved.  As our world becomes more and virtual and more and Federal, State, County and City business goes to the Internet, we can only wonder why 400 folks, which of course will not all be working at the same time…….need this giant abyss to reside in.  We officially welcome all in the County of Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside….to put yourself out and come on down to the new Newport Beach Civic Center.  We don’t have Hot Dog Vendors, Starbucks Carts or In and Out or McDonalds….on the grounds just yet – but we can only hope.  First things first – let’s get a nice Lunch Truck coming out, so all the employees can run out and get their sandwiches, diet cokes and donuts… time for their breaks.

The shake down cruise for the Newport Beach Civic Center may take some time…..maybe a year or two.  We look forward to know the maintenance bill for this facility on an annual basis.   We look forward to the excuses for raises in fees and licenses within the city in the years to come.

But hey, “and the band played on…….Newport Beach – and we are just proud as punch, the worst part is over!

About Ron & Anna Winship

Independent News Producers/Writers and Directors for Parker-Longbow Productions. Independent Programming which includes a broad variety of Political, Entertainment and Professional Personalities. Cutting Edge - a talk the flagship of over 30 URL websites developed or under development. The Winships have been blogging for the Orange Juice since back when nickels had buffalos on them, and men wore onions attached to their belts, because it was the fashion back then.