A Bittersweet Morning At City Hall
This morning more than 100 family, co-workers and friends (that may be redundant) gathered in the City Council Chambers at City Hall for the "passing of the badge" ceremony for retiring legendary School Resource Officer, Jess Gilman. I'm sure the event turned out to be everything Jess hoped for and more.
Police Chief Tom Gazsi, shown here with former Chief Dave Snowden, was the master of ceremonies and recounted Jess' long and illustrious career. He became a police officer in Baldwin Park - hired by then-chief Snowden. When Snowden moved to Costa Mesa Jess followed him to our city, where he served in a variety of policing roles. His biggest impact, though, has been the last thirteen years as a School Resource Officer.
In addition to Gazsi honoring Gilman, City CEO Tom Hatch, Newport Mesa Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Fred Navarro, Estancia High School Principal Kirk Bauermeister and the aforementioned Snowden also spoke in glowing terms about Jess' impact on our community.
SLIDE SHOW WAS A HOOT
In addition to the speakers a short, very funny, slide show was presented to the audience that covered his career from beginning to the end.
I'm sure I'll miss someone, but among the dignitaries attending the ceremony were retired City Manager, Allan Roeder - looking like retirement agrees with him - School District Trustees Katrina Foley, Dave Brooks and Walt Davenport, Chamber of Commerce honcho Ed Fawcett and many of Jess' Costa Mesa Police Department co-workers. I also met several people who had worked with Jess before his tour in Costa Mesa. Clearly, he's a man with many friends.
POLICE FAMILIES SUFFER
As the speakers and Jess recounted stories I noticed many in the audience dabbing their eyes with tissue... it was a very emotional morning. For me, the most moving part was when Jess - near the end of his speech - looked down at his children sitting in the front row and apologized to them for not being with them as much as he and they would have liked as they were growing up. I know the toll being a police officer can take on families, so his remarks really hit home for me. I hope Jess finds a way to make up for that lost time now.
GOOD-BYE AND GOOD LUCK
So, congratulations to my friend, Jess Gilman, on his retirement and thanks to him for his service to our community. We at A Bubbling Cauldron wish him and his family all the best in the future. Due to staffing constraints - the current City Council still refuses to permit Chief Gazsi to fill vacancies - there are no plans to replace Gilman as a School Resource Officer. The impact of THAT decision will be felt for at least a decade if not remedied soon.
In an unfortunate and mean-spirited usurpation of the Gilman ceremony, Jim Fitzpatrick - unemployed president of the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association, the OC GOP shill organization - held a press conference only a few yards away from council chambers at the same time. I did not attend his gloat-fest, so I don't know first-hand what he said to the one or two members of the press who attended. We must assume he chose to, once again, identify the person caught on tape damaging campaign signs last weekend.
VIOLATING THE RULES - AGAIN
I do know, however, that he flagrantly violated the rules by displaying campaign signs on city property - again. And, once again, he had to be chastised for it. This time Hatch did a wind-sprint from his office on the 5th floor of City Hall to Fitzpatrick's location to remind him of the prohibition. I watched from the Council Chambers porch as he begrudgingly removed the signs - and I smiled.
In an unfortunate bit of irony, members of the Costa Mesa Police Department - including Jess Gilman - were forced to walk directly past Fitzpatrick and his new lackey, Kent Mora - the temporarily presumed plagiarist - who joined Fitzpatrick at his farce/press conference. I can only imagine the thoughts going through their minds as they passed that location. I suspect they might not be suitable for publication here.