Monday, May 14, 2012

Costa Mesa Emergency Management Crisis

Much has been said about the plans of the current Costa Mesa City Council majority who have, under the heavy hand of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, disemboweled and demoralized a proud organization over the past 18 months.  Their rancor has been directed most specifically at the public safety groups - police and fire.  A year ago they ignored the best professional advice they could pay for in the form of consultants hired specifically to assess police department manning and one of the most respected law enforcement leaders in the state - Steve Staveley - and slashed the police department staff to 131 sworn officers, down from 164 just a couple years ago.  They just pulled that number out of the air.  And, they have refused to permit the CMPD to begin the hiring process for replacement officers for those planning to retire soon - a process that can take upwards of 12 months - until the association agrees to a new pension tier for new hires.  And they harp continuously about the money public safety staffers earn, most of which is a direct result of overtime required by current staffing levels - levels they created.

How has this affected normal residents like you, me and our neighbors?  Well, today I became aware of one very serious way all of us are being affected.  I've seen a memorandum from Sergeant Keith Davis, the officer in charge of Costa Mesa's Office of Emergency Management, distributed to all employees last week regarding an emergency response drill that will take place tomorrow, May 15th, as part of a regional training activity.  Here is the text of Sergeant Davis' memo. 
I have highlighted a particularly troubling portion of that memo in red.

To All,
I wanted to take a moment to inform everyone of an upcoming emergency management event.  On May 15, 2012, the Orange County Operational Area will be participating in the Golden Guardian 2012 Exercise.  This is a state-wide exercise intended to reinforce coordination between local community response entities and the Operational Area Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The Golden Guardian 2012 Exercise will be conducted at the County and other participating agencies’ EOCs throughout Orange County.  This exercise will test capabilities in response to a catastrophic earthquake. The exercise is scheduled to commence at 9:00 a.m. and extend until each jurisdiction has determined their exercise objectives have been met.  The Costa Mesa Office of Emergency Management is actively reestablishing the City’s Emergency Management Program and capabilities; however, we currently are not in a position to actively participate in this exercise.  I will be observing and assisting the City of Irvine during their participation and we look forward to participating in other exercises in the future.  Please contact me if you have any questions in regards to emergency management and/or the Golden Guardian Exercise.
Sergeant Keith Davis
Costa Mesa Police Department
Office of Emergency Management
(714) 754-5333 Office
(714) 754-4809 Fax

This bothers me because it clearly tells us that today we are less prepared to manage a disaster - an earthquake or an event at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, for example - than we have been in recent years.  The primary reason for this is staffing shortages, not only in the CMPD, but in all city departments that would play major roles responding to such an event.  Key staffers have departed throughout the city and their roles as part of the City's Emergency Management Program have not yet been filled.  And, our Emergency Management Plan is woefully out of date and does not presently meet federal requirements.  Police Chief Tom Gazsi is aware of this problem and has assigned Sergeant Davis full time to this project.
Couple that with the fact that so-called "part 1 crimes", the big crimes, are up 10% year over year and I know I sure don't feel safer today.
This week, at the Special Study Session planned for Thursday, May 17th, the City Council will again attack the Preliminary Budget.  Last week Righeimer demanded that Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young abandon the almost-balanced budget he presented to the council and return with one that will have a likely $10 to $15 million deficit because he demanded that his "wish list" be included.  That list is only the latest tool he is using to fabricate a crisis to further attack city bargaining units.  All the while, public safety teeters precariously on the brink of calamity.

It's time for all of us to inform Righeimer and his pals that we are tired of him playing politics with the safety of our city and families.  It's time for him to stop trying to force his own political ideology on us and get serious about working closely with all the employee units to find practical solutions to our fiscal problem.

Labels: , , ,


Anonymous Drop a dime on Mesa Crime said...

Wasn't it not to long ago when the phone-dropping chest bumper sat up on the Council and wouldn't take no for an answer when it came to crime statistics going up. FACT crime has and is going up here in Costa Mesa. Thanks Council Boys.

5/14/2012 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Yes! Crime has gone up dramatically, and there is more graffiti than ever. That means more gangs, that we really didn't have before. I'm furious. I see it on the Westside everyday. Night here is especially odd, as there are people coming up from the wooded Talbert Park, and roaming the neighborhoods (drug rehab house on Joann).
Seriously!! THIS CRIME NEEDS TO STOP. And it isn't just here. Its all over the city, AND I BLAME DIRECTLY OUR CITY COUNCIL.

5/14/2012 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

But at least we'll have slurried streets,sports parks and pop warner is $10,000 wealthier.

5/14/2012 05:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Rant Predicter said...

The rise in crime has to be the work of "union thugs." Any minute now we'll have more phony vandalism reports at a certain bar. Everyone know the councilMEN are the victims here, not the silly citizens. The little general will be on Fox News with a new rap, telling his soulmates that illegal immigrants, people of color, liberals, homeless, and skinny people have invaded Costa Mesa. Tomorrow night he'll ask Duarte and Jones Day what it'll take for him to declare martial law. Bever's so dumb he'll think it's about MARITAL law.

5/14/2012 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I remember when Righeimer stated...."Nobody is gonna die"...that was in reference to him cutting the helicopters.
Than a couple of months later a man was murdered a couple of houses down from him.

5/14/2012 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous ocgopfan said...

let's get a second tier pension for new hires in place asap. makes total sense. maybe becoming a charter city like nb will help. if htch got kiff's housing allowance you would go ballistic on our council.

5/14/2012 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Folks, tread lightly with this crime is up stuff. There are lots of reasons crime may be up. Police staffing certainly can be a contributing factor. It is true about the same number of officers patrol the streets. Where the service levels have dropped, thanks to your council, is in the special assignments, specifically the detective bureau. Caseloads are up and as a result detectives must prioritize their time even further. This results in cases that would normally be worked to arrest are pushed by the wayside since the detectives no longer have as much time to commit to them and they are forced to work those with on the best workable leads. Therefore, more crooks are likely getting away with their crimes allowing them to commit more.

Further, rumor mill has it that reducing service levels even further is part of Righeimer's overall plan. The feeling is he can then make the department over anyway he wants, or even gift wrap police service to the county for his buddy Moorlach if he can get the citizens of Costa Mesa to hate the CM cops as much as possible. He is already setting up a situation similar to the FF debacle where he will attempt to blame the cops for the increase in OT when the council refuses to allow hiring to fill vacancies. If you think service levels are inadequate now, wait until the OC Sheriff's Department arrives. The dirty little secret is OCSD Deputies earn more in pay and benefits than do just about every other agency in OC, including CMPD. Simple math dictates the only way the county saves money then is to provide lower service levels, something CM can ill afford to have. Not to mention the fact that once you go to the county for service, you not only lose control, you also lose your ability to negotiate directly with the cops for cost savings. Only the county can negotiate and they will always do what is best for the county, not any one individual city. The county can't pay Deputies in San Clemente one salary and pay Deputies in Lake Forest another salary because Lake Forest may need the cost savings. See Stanton which contracts with the county for fire and police service.

Standby dear readers, the fun has only begun on this story.

5/14/2012 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Seriously? said...


Do you ever think before you post? Again, exploiting a family's tragedy for political purposes. Sick. How would the helicopter have prevented that murder?

5/15/2012 12:15:00 AM  
Anonymous tomatoe/tomato said...

Gericault, the man who died would not have been saved by a helicopter. A helicoptor could have perhaps radioed down to cops on the ground how their chalk outline looked from above but that is about it. Some of our safest cities have NO helicopter program, CM has one and the guy still was killed.

5/15/2012 07:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Bottom Line said...

More evidence that Righeimer, despite all his bluster, ranting, and TV whining, is a FAILURE at leading Costa Mesa. He needs to go away and find another city to exploit. Beaumont and Indio need some help.

5/15/2012 08:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Super Chest Bumper to the rescue said...

The phone-dropping chest bumper is right, he might have been able to "bump" a thief who was breaking into cars at a Church. Get that man a cape and get him out on the streets.

5/15/2012 09:59:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home