Billy Folsom Announces His Retirement
There will likely be cheers and toasts all around as the male members of the Costa Mesa City Council and their sycophants belly-up to the bar at Skosh Monahan's when they hear the news that Billy Folsom has decided to retire. Folsom, who has put more than three decades into serving the residents of this city, will retire after more than 31 years on March 4, 2013.
MORE THAN JUST A "JIFFY LUBE" GUY
AN ADVOCATE FOR EMPLOYEES AND THE CITY
He also has been active in the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA), including a tour as that organization's president. He has been part of the negotiating team that met with city officials on contract issues. He's been described by folks on both sides of the table as a reasonable negotiator who always represented the employees well but also never lost sight of the bigger picture. When it was clear that the City needed help from the association he was there to help craft ways for that to happen.
HELEN'S STRONG RIGHT ARM
Helen Nenadal, current president of the CMCEA, said she will be sorry to see him go because he was always at her shoulder helping her through the tough times - especially the past couple years. She told me he always represented the employees with class and tenacity and they trusted him to present their side of issues with courtesy and clarity. She emphasized that he always put the employees first.
WENDY LEECE'S VIEW
When asked about her reaction to Billy retiring councilwoman Wendy Leece said, "Billy's passion for his job, his city and the people of Costa Mesa inspires all of us to be true to ourselves and to stand on principle no matter the cost. Thank you Billy for serving the good people of Costa Mesa for more than 30 years and maintaining all our vehicles. As a resident, I hope you will continue to stay involved in city politics."
KATRINA FOLEY'S OPINION
“As a Costa Mesa City Council member I knew that we could always depend on Billy as a top notch mechanic to extend the life of our city vehicles, and ensure that city patrol vehicles and motor bikes were always safe and running well. He saved us a lot of money over the years in vehicle maintenance and purchase costs. I’m appreciative of his community involvement and I’m sure it’s not the last we will see of Billy. I wish him well in retirement... He earned it.”
NO COMMENT FROM "THE BOYS"
I did not solicit comments from other members of the council for very obvious reasons. Maybe the best one is this photograph, taken the evening last year when Billy received his 30 year service award. As he stood with the other recipients for the obligatory group photograph he opened his sweat shirt to reveal his t-shirt with the clear statement of how he felt about how that council was doing business. Chuckles throughout the auditorium could be heard and, even though the message sent was accurate, it did get him reprimanded. Such is life in the trenches among Costa Mesa city employees lately.
Q & A WITH FOLSOM
I corresponded with Billy Folsom today after I learned of his pending retirement and asked him a few questions. Here's how that Q&A went:
Cauldron - How many years with the City? I think it's 31, right?
Folsom - 31 years as of Dec 14 2012
Cauldron - What was your progression - first job, etc.?
Folsom - I started out as a Mechanic l after a year Mechanic ll after another year Mechanic lll spent 18 months as a Supervisor though they stiffed me on that.
Cauldron - Best part of your experience as an employee?
Folsom - The best part other than having the honor to serve the people of Costa Mesa was the fact that as a shop we were asked to do a whole host of projects that no other vehicle shops would normally do. An example would be fabrication of a number of things like roof ladders, trailers, camera systems for the jail.I built many "bait cars" and "bait bikes" that were remotely controlled some of which are still in use. I also built our armored SWAT vehicle from a Brinks armored truck. It was always fun working with people from the DEA to help them find dope in drug runner's cars and I assisted in somewhere near 300 accident investigations as a mechanical analyst which included many high profile cases. I had to testify in court against my friend Sid Soffer and had to give many depositions in relation to many fatal traffic accidents. Of course other than the variety of duties which always kept things fresh and challenging were the great people I worked with, to many to mention and I would forget someone if I made a list.
Cauldron - Worst experience (s) as an employee?
Folsom - There have been a few grizzly investigations dealing with human remains especially when children were involved but the worst thing has been the systematic dismantling of a great organization, whether by design or default, in the last two years knowing the whole time it could have been avoided with must less heartache and expense. To see so many really good people leave for greener pastures and the sadness of my fellow workers who felt betrayed and confounded. I absolutely hate leaving my co-workers in such a state of uncertainty but I had already put my retirement off a couple of times and a new business and other family matters require most of my time so it was time to pull the plug.
Cauldron - How will they replace you, with all the varied things you do?
Folsom - No one is irreplaceable and there are others out there with many of the same skills and even more that could pick them up in short order.
Cauldron - You were President of the CMCEA, right? When, and for how long?
Folsom - I was President of the CMCEA a few times. I think it totaled 18 years or so.
Cauldron - Your take on Mensinger's COIN plan - to have negotiations out in the open?
Folsom - The biggest problem with the two cents ordinance is that it only goes half way. It should have included all contract negotiations with all vendors with all communications between council people, commission people and contractors open to public scrutiny. Failing that it's just a publicity stunt.
Cauldron - Plans for your retirement?
Folsom - I am starting a new business, Dumb Biker Visions which will be essentially a photography business with the core being stock shots and the fruit promoting local bands and small business. I have one son starting a business also who I hope to help get off the ground then I'm planning another business if all goes well but all this pales to the vast Honey Do list that has amassed over the years. I will still be doing the biker thing and posting on Facebook and it will all tie in to the photography thing and maybe get expanded to a little video log ala Huell Howser.
Cauldron - What will you miss, if anything, when you retire?
Folsom - I will miss interacting with my co-workers and getting projects completed knowing it is keeping the city as a whole running. I hope not to miss the people as I plan to hang with them as much as I can.
Cauldron - Anything else you wish to say?
Folsom - It's been a good run, I was "incorporated" the same year as Costa Mesa and hope the city celebrates all it's great citizens and heritage so we don't forget why we live here and in that vein I hope to see some of the new organizations like CM4RG stay active and keep Costa Mesa Costa Mesa. Who knows where I'll pop up.
Billy later added that he neglected to mention that he met the love of his life eleven years ago, stating that he would not be where he is today without her and that he plans to do more surfing and is building a new skateboard for the park... watch out for that flying beard!
HE WILL BE MISSED
Billy Folsom has served the City of Costa Mesa with dedication and distinction for more than half his life and will be missed. His creativity, flexibility, dedication and institutional knowledge will be very difficult to replace. We wish him well and suspect we've not seen the last of him.