Sign Vandal Identified As City Employee
Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia and her colleague, reporter Mike Reicher, reported tonight in an article HERE, that the person captured last weekend on video tape vandalizing campaign signs is a Costa Mesa Maintenance Worker named Steve White. According to the article, councilman and candidate for election, Steve Mensinger provided the identification to the press.
PILOT PROTECTS HIS IDENTITY
The Daily Pilot, in an article this evening by Bradley Zint and Lauren Williams, HERE, also identified him as a city employee, but withheld his name "because he has not been arrested or charged with a crime." Of course, that seems to be the prudent course to take.
"VOLUNTEER" OR "PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR"?
There seems to be some confusion about just who did the video taping last weekend. Proponents of the 3Ms and Yes on V have identified the videographer as a "campaign volunteer", but the press release issued by the Costa Mesa Police Department identified him as a Private Investigator hired by a councilman who was running for election. It is widely assumed that councilman is Mensinger.
I view this information with mixed feelings. First, I'm glad the vandal has been identified. As I've said many times here, the vandalism of campaign signs is a stupid, petty and ineffective act that's been going on with too much frequency by parties on both sides of the issues. I'm glad someone has been apprehended and hope it will cause others to cease these acts.
GASOLINE ON THE FIRE
I'm saddened, however, that it apparently turned out to be a city employee because it will be like tossing gasoline on an already-roaring campaign fire. According to the Register article, Maintenance Services Manager Bruce Hartley confirmed that White had been placed on paid administrative leave and is under investigation.
FITZPATRICK'S ILL-TIMED PRESS CONFERENCE
I'm sure soon-to-be-former Sanitary District Director and current President of the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association, Jim Fitzpatrick, will be giddy at the press conference he's called at City Hall tomorrow at 10:00 to address this issue. Sadly, his circus will be held at the same time the ceremony for retiring legendary School Resource Officer Jess Gilman is being held in council chambers.
IMPROPER ACTION BY MENSINGER
I'm concerned about the propriety of a sitting councilman, Mensinger, announcing to the press the name of a city employee who has not been charged with a crime in this matter. This is unacceptable, unethical behavior on Mensinger's part and is only the most recent example of his disregard for the rules that govern council members' behavior. His premature public identification and condemnation of White may jeopardize any prosceution and/or any administrative punishment that might be levied on him by The City. Remember Tom Johnson's recent description of Mensinger as a "bull in a china closet"? This is a perfect example of what he may have meant. This behavior should make every employee and voter shudder when considering him in office if Jim Righeimer's Charter passes. That document is virtually a blank check for malfeasance, with insufficient controls to prevent these kinds of acts.
UNWELCOME OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE
Just when you think things can't get any more bizarre in Costa Mesa during this campaign season, something like this pops up. It's bad enough that the OC GOP and developers are pumping thousands of dollars into the campaigns and outside unions doing the same. They all just need to butt-the-heck-out of our city and let us sort out the issues without their interference. Of course, that's not going to happen.