One For The Books (UPDATED)
Monday, June 20, 2011, will go down in the annals of Costa Mesa government as one of the most bizarre and contentious days in city history - a date not soon to be forgotten. It was on this date that Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley - a highly respected member of the law enforcement community with more than four decades of experience under his belt - stormed off into the sunset, lobbing a hand grenade back over his shoulder as he left in the form of a four-page letter to the troops outlining his reasons for the abrupt departure. That memo, published first on this blog, HERE, has gone viral and has been reproduced and addressed in most local and regional media outlets.
HATCH'S ANGRY REJOINDER - OR WAS IT?
It was a day when - according to some reports - mild-mannered Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch interrupted a press interview Staveley was giving and immediately ordered him to leave the premises. Later in the day a press release was issued by Interim Communications Director Bill Lobdell quoting Hatch, HERE, and refuting much of what Staveley had to say in his memo to the troops. There are many in our town that believe few of the words in that press release are actually Hatch's.
REPLYING TO A MEMO THEY HAD NOT SEEN
And, in an interesting bit of timing, following the release of that press release I received a telephone call from Lobdell, asking me to send him a copy of Staveley's letter. It seems they didn't have a copy. One can only assume that they generated their scathing press release without the benefit of seeing Staveley's words first-hand. I don't know if they used my transcription of the memo - which was verbatim and left out only the Chief's telephone number and email address - as the basis for their diatribe, or not. One might suppose so. If they were expecting to find that my transcription was different from the original, they were surprised when I sent it to them. Funny - you'd have thought they might have asked for the memo BEFORE they jumped off the end of the pier with their press release. But then, that's the way things have been happening at City Hall the past few months - doing things backwards.
UPDATE: Tuesday, 2:20 p.m. - I've heard from Bill Lobdell this afternoon about my characterization of the events that led him to ask me for a copy of Staveley's memo AFTER he issued the press release. Apparently they, he and Hatch, had a copy of it, but Hatch had departed with it and Lobdell was still being inundated by telephone calls and needed to refer to it.. so he asked me for a copy. See what happens when you ASS-U-ME things? Good thing I'm not a reporter, huh? I jumped off the pier without a life jacket... bad form and I apologize for mischaracterizing Lobdell's intent. I'll try to do better...
RAPID REPLACEMENT IS CURIOUS
One of the curious parts of Hatch's press release was the fact that he already had a new Interim Chief of Police ready to start to work almost before Staveley's door closed behind him Monday afternoon. Dennis Kies, former chief of police in La Habra, will take over until a new, hopefully-permanent, chief is selected and starts to work. I've heard mid-August as a possible start date. That seems optimistic, but we'll see.
EPPERSON AND MC CARTHY
The events of Monday are the culmination of events leading up to the consideration of the 2011-2012 budget Tuesday evening. Within the past few days commentaries from retired Costa Mesa Police Lieutenant Clay Epperson appeared in the Daily Pilot. You can read that HERE. That was followed-up with a rebuttal by Planning Commission Chairman and President of the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association, Colin McCarthy in the same publication, HERE. McCarthy and his group are simply the vocal front organization for the Orange County GOP in its efforts to turn Costa Mesa into the tip of the lance in pension reform nationwide. He has been the main purveyor of fabricated "facts" since the inception of the group, A practice he perpetuates with his most recent drivel.
COLIN MC CARTHY IS A LIAR!
McCarthy flat-out lies in this piece of garbage when he says the following: "Costa Mesa is not dismantling the helicopter program." There may be no bigger, blatant lie uttered by a Costa Mesa official in decades! In fact, the ABLE helicopter program is breathing fumes and WILL BE DISMANTLED as of June 30th. His buddy and puppet master, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer - who was all over local television again Monday night, waving Staveley's memo around and expressing disbelief that he wrote it - acknowledged as much when he rejected his buddy, Steve Mensinger's request to extend ABLE through the July 4th holiday weekend at a recent council meeting. I won't attempt to quantify all the fabrications in McCarthy's commentary. Suffice it to say that every time he gets that Cheshire Cat grin on his face he's about to lie through his teeth. Consider yourselves warned.
As if those presentations were not incendiary enough, Monday's correspondence by Staveley and Hatch have turned a crackling campfire of controversy into a roaring bonfire invective and reprisal. I wonder what impact all this rhetoric will have on the attempt to produce a balanced budget Tuesday evening? I expect the proceedings to play to a full house - probably an overflow crowd - and will very likely produce many 'motivated' speakers, eager to share their views with the council before they take their vote.
TONIGHT AT 6...
The council meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in City Council chambers at City Hall. I'm thinking I wish I had the valet parking concession for this event.