Public Safety Event Canceled
NOTE: Did you miss me? This entry was all ready to go early Thursday afternoon but my host, Blogger, was offline to fix a problem they created a couple days ago while performing "maintenance". By the time you read this it might be just a little stale, but still edible.
HOW BAD ARE THINGS?
How bad are things getting in Costa Mesa these days? Well, friends, let me give you the latest in a long series of events and issues that are turning our once-great city into a pretty darn miserable place in which to live.
GREAT COMMUNITY OUTREACH EVENT
Earlier this week the Costa Mesa Public Safety organizations, partnering with Target on Harbor Blvd., announced a terrific community outreach event - it was described in the Public Service Announcement as a "public safety and community meet and greet." It was "designed to provide community members with an opportunity to speak with members of the police and fire departments." Visitors could ask questions, have photos taken with public safety staffers and check out emergency vehicles. Sounds like a great family-friendly event, especially in light of all the negative stuff going on in our city for the past few months. The event was to be held in the Target parking lot from 11-2 on this Sunday, May 15th.
FOLEY REVS IT UP...
Costa Mesa's version of the Energizer Bunny, former councilwoman and current School Board member Katrina Foley, saw the flier, had her staff fancy-it-up with some nifty public safety images - including some from her personal archive showing herself, family and friends at similar events - and did an email blast to several hundred people around this region to publicize the event. I "borrowed" some of those photos for this entry. She does this kind of thing all the time, promoting events throughout the city. I get several of these kinds of notifications a week from her.
ENTER THE GRINCH
Well, it seems one of the recipients - a well-connected political operative who sometimes works in Costa Mesa but doesn't live here - took umbrage with Foley's effort to publicize this event, passed his concerns on to "certain people" in high places within city government, who then told City CEO Tom Hatch of their concern about possible politically-charged demonstrations, so Hatch canceled the event. I'm guessing that you wouldn't do that if you didn't work for those "certain people".
BARBARA GRABS IT AND RUNS
Irrepressible Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia heard of this situation and reported on it Thursday morning. You can read her news piece HERE. I've spoken with her about this situation and she affirmed, as she said in her piece, that city officials - she mentioned Bill Lobdell and Tom Hatch by name - were concerned that Colin McCarthy's Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association and the Tea Party might disrupt the event by handing out their own fliers with public safety salaries. I found myself getting angrier by the minute.
HATCH & LOBDELL CONFIRM
I subsequently spoke with Lobdell and Hatch, who confirmed Barbara's story. Hatch told me that "some folks" were concerned that it would become a "political rally". I think I can safely guess the identities of "some folks" in this case. They are folks closely connected to the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association and could have asked them to NOT disrupt the event if they really wanted to do so - but they didn't. Instead, they chose to have this lovely, positive, family event canceled.
NOTE: Since the publication of this entry has been delayed by technical problems with my host, Blogger, some new information has become available. Based on comments on her Facebook page entry, Barbara Venezia has confirmed that McCarthy's organization had NOT planned to demonstrate at this event - which makes the cancellation even more suspicious. Were those "some folks" Hatch identifies above just making up reasons for him to cancel this event? If so, why? Might it have been because it might portray the public safety folks in a good light - something that works against their scheme to get rid of all pension-eligible employees by hook or crook?
TARGET DISAPPOINTED, TOO
I later spoke with a representative of Target management. He told me they were very excited about hosting this great, family event and were VERY disappointed when it was canceled. He did tell me that it will be re-scheduled for June. When I asked Hatch earlier about re-scheduling he gave me a vague answer about holding the event "when the time was right". I told him if he was going to wait for the political tensions in this city to subside he was in for a long, long wait.
A SLIPPERY SLOPE
Quite frankly, this whole thing stinks! If we have now reached the point - I think we have - where one or two people can arbitrarily command our CEO to cancel a positive and politically benign event because it MIGHT make them a little politically uncomfortable, then we've gone over the crest and are starting down a slippery slope that leads to dictatorship. Perhaps the most interesting part of this whole screwed-up mess is that "some folks" were concerned that their own associates would be the perpetrators of unrest at this event.
HATCH NEEDS TO PUSH BACK
I am of the opinion tonight as I type this that Tom Hatch needs to push back on these kind of things. Our city NEEDS more positive events like this one and he shouldn't let himself be pushed around by political operatives concerned only about their pathetic political futures. I know his job could be in jeopardy, which would make anyone reluctant to tell your boss that he's wrong - particularly when that person isn't used to having anyone say NO to him. However, part of Hatch's job is to do what is right for the residents of our city. Canceling this event was the wrong thing to do.