Yesterday, I reported on a breakthrough in some comments by school board club member Charlene Metoyer that were uncharacteristic. I finished my comments by writing, “Is there a spine growing there somewhere?”

I don’t hesitate to throw barbs, as most readers know, but most of the time the club members and the administration deserve them. This time, Metoyer did not. At a time when I should have been supporting her behavior – challenging the status quo instead of remaining silent over something about which she felt strongly – I seized an opportunity be snarky. It was wrong and I am sorry. Instead, I should have given her a high five.

I believe that new club members such as Metoyer and Vicki Snell are under great pressure to conform to the system; to go along instead of taking the risk of being an outcast. We have seen this many times: Dana Black was elected as a fiscal reformer in the wake of the Stephen Wagner scandal but over the years has voted to spend more money than ever, thanks in large part to two tax bills (you know them as ‘bond measures”) approaching half a billion dollars. Club member Karen Yelsey complained during her initial campaign that there was too much rubber stamping. Last night in seven votes, Yelsey voted “yes” seven times. I cannot recall the last time she pulled an item for discussion.

The rubber stamping and the spending are out of control. We see it month after month of 7-0 votes with very little public discussion and we see it in the decision to pay Deputy Paul Reed not to retire.

I hope that Metoyer will continue to publicly ask questions about spending and programs. Taxpayers deserve as much transparency and accountability as possible and if asking questions and raising objections costs her the love of their fellow club members, she can take solace in the fact that she is doing the right thing for the people who pay for all of this – the hard-working taxpayers of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

Steve Smith