A FEW CONCERNS... Today the Daily Pilot, our local newspaper of record for more than a century, included in the online version a commentary I sent to them recently. It may appear in print sometime soon. You can read it HERE.
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS When you read through that piece you'll find several questions, but no answers... those will have to come from the trustees of the Newport Mesa Unified School District and the elected leaders of the City of Costa Mesa.
SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS One of my major concerns is, and has been, the removal of the School Resource Officers (SROs) from the Costa Mesa High Schools. That move - a result of the draconian budget cuts by the former city council - created a huge vacuum in those schools. Legendary SRO Jess Gilman (shown here at his retirement ceremony with his wife, Rhonda, and Chief Tom Gazsi) was removed from Estancia High School and placed on patrol. He subsequently retired and is working in a security capacity at a university not too far away. All reports are that he was an excellent patrol officer, but those close to the issue acknowledge that his best utilization is that of a School Resource Officer based on his experience and history in that role.
AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE EQUATION
As I said in the Daily Pilot piece, during the study session on December 18th at the NMUSD headquarters the common thread throughout most of the discussion was the need for SROs in the schools. Of course, there were many other issues addressed - I wrote about them HERE- but the question of the missing SROs is a critical element in the discussions and seems to be a pretty easy one to address. The commitment by the Trustees and council members to fund SROs in the future needs to be reached, but the SROs could be replaced immediately by using some of CEO Tom Hatch's $1 million slush, er, contingency fund to bridge this fiscal year until funding could be allocated for the 2013-2014 budget. IGNORANT COUNCIL MEMBERS DON'T HELP THE PROBLEM
Part of the problem is that some members of the current city council seem to not be in touch with the situation. For example, new Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger - who arguably spends more time at Estancia than other council members because of his strong interest in youth sports there - apparently is oblivious to the fact that we don't have SROs there any longer. I'm not sure how that level of ignorance can exist, but it does. The short, 2-minute video clip below - from the last council meeting of the year right at midnight, - confirms it as he attempts to set new council member Sandra Genis straight on the subject. Perhaps if Mensinger spent more time paying attention, reading the staff reports and not fiddling with his Ipad and phone on the dais he'd actually understand what's going on up there. Two years is plenty of time for him to grasp the procedures. YES WE DO! NO, WE DON'T...
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