An Omen Of Things To Come
At the very beginning of last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting there occurred an event that may be an omen of things to come.
Mayor Allan Mansoor made the presentation of the Employee of the Month to Reserve Police Officer Rene Meng for an example of exemplary behavior during a recent event at the Orange County Fairgrounds. As I listened to Mansoor read from the citation of Officer Meng's performance I found myself agreeing that this young woman was certainly deserving of this recognition.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR
At the end of his presentation Mansoor handed Officer Meng her citation and some gifts and then, in what turned out to be one of those "Be careful what you ask for" moments, he offered Officer Meng the speaker's podium to say a few words.
She stepped to the podium, citation clutched closely to her chest and spoke with great composure to the council and audience: "This award means two things. First of all, I appreciate it very much, from all of you. I've been a 20 year officer and, uh, it's semi-bittersweet because there is a chance I will be losing my job due to layoffs. Myself and seven other officers with over 150 years experience, uh, who love our job, we may be getting laid off. And I would ask the city council and the city manager to please consider keeping us. We are valuable to you and you are valuable to me. Thank you very much for this award. I really appreciate it."
HARD TO GET THE WORDS OUT
During her speech the words came with difficulty, as she became choked up as she addressed the council and City Manager Allan Roeder.
TOUGH TIMES AHEAD
In the weeks ahead our elected leaders and the city staff will face some difficult, painful decisions as they attempt to balance the municipal budget in these uncertain times. Among the things that will be considered is the issue of staffing. Officer Meng, who fears losing her job after 20 years of outstanding service, may be correct - reserve officers may be among the first to go if the city and the employee unions are not successful in finding ways to spread the pain of the cost-cutting that will be necessary. If they don't find common ground and open serious discussions within the next month or so the staff managers will have no options except to prepare layoff lists.