The possible reuse of the Westminster Civic Center has turned into the longest-running soap opera in the All-American City. Back in 2017, a proposal came from Steve Sheldon of Sheldon LLC to build a new city hall – and perhaps more – in exchange for the right to build a condominium complex on the grounds of the center, located on Westminster Boulevard between Jackson Street and All American Way, and north of 13th Street.
Sheldon has an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city for the project, but it’s been extended three times (the last time on Nov. 11, 2020). The latest extension gives Sheldon and his company to November 2021 to make the deal work. Critics have complained that the public benefit was questionable and that Sheldon’s conduct suggested – at the very least – an inability to get the deal moving.
The latest hiccup came on Nov. 23 when William and Christine Kelly of Kelly Associates, a consulting firm working on the project on behalf of the city, wrote a letter backing away from the project. The letter states, in part:
“From Day 1 of our involvement on this project, Mr. Sheldon has been aggressive and often hostile, whether in person, on the phone, or on Zoom calls, often towards me (Bill Kelly) specifically. He seems to move his target based on who is requiring information, studies, or actions relating to this project, with Alexa [Smittle, the city’s development director] being the recipient of his aggressive behavior prior to my hiring as project manager.”
Sheldon did not return requests for comment from The Tribune. Smittle had this response to whether the withdrawal of Kelly Associates would slow things down: “Staff is committed to the timeline presented at the November council meeting. Nothing stops, just adjusts.”
It seems like the controversy never stops, either. As they say on other soap operas, tune in tomorrow.
Round 1 was rough for Tito Ortiz
A retired professional mixed martial arts fighter Tito Ortiz, a long-time resident of Huntington Beach and the new mayor pro tempore of the city council, is making … pardon the pun … waves outside of Surf City. In remarks after being seated at the Dec. 6 council meeting, he cracked wise about the virus that has killed over 300,000 Americans.
While thanking his supporters and donors and the chance to “speak in front of large groups … say this right. Plan-demic or pandemic.” The term “plan-demic” is a term generally used by people who believe that the coronavirus pandemic was planned by an evil cabal that deliberately launched a worldwide plague for nefarious purposes unknown.
He also made reference to his willingness to “take a bullet” for the city, recalling the time he wore a bullet-proof vest when he showed up to confront a Black Lives Matter rally in the downtown area.
It got worse. Call-in comments attacked him for “spouting conspiracy theories” from the dais of the city council. Nationally syndicated sports broadcaster Jim Rome mocked Ortiz’ labored taking of the oath of office. Ortiz stumbled through the oath being administered by City Clerk Susan Estanislau. He ended up promising to “discharge the Judys” instead of “duties” of his office.
Born Jacob Christopher Ortiz, he attended Huntington Beach High and won a CIF wrestling title in the 189-lb category. From there he went to Golden West College where he won two state championships for the Rustlers. He later turned pro, winning a light heavyweight crown in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2000. He later competed in something called “Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.” He’s also had a bit of an acting career, appearing in a 2012 episode of “CSI:NY” and in the film “Boo 2!: A Madea Halloween.”
Some folks are saying that Ortiz, now 45, is embarrassing a community already taking some hits for allegedly being a center of extreme right-wing activity. Others say that, at the very least, he’s bound to liven up the Huntington Beach City Council chamber every first and third Monday.
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