My history with the Daily Pilot is a fond one.
It started in 1990, in the midst of my junior year at UC Irvine. I was looking for another job and stumbled across an ad for someone to deliver the Daily Pilot throughout the Balboa Peninsula, starting at 4 in the morning, using my own vehicle, no collections.
It was the perfect job. I'd wake up at 3:30, stumble out of bed, drive up to the old Daily Pilot building off of Newport Boulevard, deliver my truckload of small papers, and drive on a few sidewalks while checking out the early morning waves. I literally would be back in bed by 6 a.m. to rest up until my 10 a.m. classes while every two weeks I would get a nice check for something that I really didn't remember doing. Almost seemed like a dream. That was until the Daily Pilot changed its business plan and instead of going out to only subscribers, everyone got a copy. Talk about littering the streets.
As the years passed, and as I became more and more politically involved, Pilot columnists John Moorlach, Peter Buffa, Jim Righeimer, Dolores Otting, Barbara Venezia, among many others, kept me riveted and really let me feel "in the know."
So when I started newportbeachvoices.blogspot.com in 2006, I emulated the aforementioned columnists with the goal of one day gracing (liberally speaking) the pages of the Pilot.
My first step was to start writing for former Pilot publisher Tom Johnson in his web startup, the Newport Mesa Daily Voice, then into the print version, all the while sending out quarterly feelers to Pilot Editor John Canalis.
His response was always the same. No room, no need to meet for coffee, no thanks.
So I kept plugging away, writing my little weekly Newport Beach Independent column, hoping to build a good name in the community until I found myself sitting next to Canalis at Venezia's table at the 2012 Mayor's Dinner. A month later, I achieved my dream/goal of writing for the Sunday's editorial section in the Pilot.
The readers complained that I was too conservative/biased/kool-aid drinking, which led to my counterbalance for Costa Mesa issues and Jeffrey Harlanwho was writing a weekly column attacking the policies of the Costa Mesa establishment — although I didn't really write about Costa Mesa until Harlan was already there a month or so.
From there, as a result of budget cuts, Harlan and I were cut back from weekly to bi-weekly. When I offered to take half of my giant column fee (see my new Smart car?) to remain weekly, Harlan enjoyed the extra time off, and very understandably declined. He has principles and morals. I do not.
Or perhaps I have too much to say or complain about, even after the elections.
With all that said, it is with a heavy heart that I leave the Pilot. Next week I start writing a weekly column for the Orange County Register's Newport-Mesa Current. This is bittersweet in many ways because of my fondness for the Pilot and for fearless leader Canalis, but considering the Register's efforts to reinvigorate their weekly local papers, it's very exciting at the same time. Plus, my very first job was as a — you guessed it — a 12-year-old newspaper delivery boy for the Register.
Canalis has been nothing but gracious and generous, even suggesting that I write this goodbye. He's been my protector, my safety net and my friend. I cannot even imagine how much more trouble I would have gotten into had it not been for his cautious tendencies. Getting a phone call from Canalis on a normally peaceful Sunday afternoon, especially after some inflammatory column that I wrote, was already habit and familiar.
So thank you John for allowing me to fulfill a dream and thank you Pilot readers for allowing me to entertain/agitate/stimulate/annoy you ever Sunday. I look forward to many more opportunities to do the same on the pages of the Current.
JACK WU is an accountant who lives in Newport Beach and practices in Costa Mesa. He is a longtime Republican Party loyalist and a volunteer campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.