Sunday, June 26, 2011

A.B.L.E. - End Of Watch

On Thursday, June 30, the final official flight of the AirBorne Law Enforcement (A.B.L.E.) helicopter, Eagle, will take place. On that date the Eagle will have its wings clipped and will be grounded forever. Effective July 1st the helicopter program that, in one form or another, has served the Newport-Mesa communities for more than four decades will simply cease to exist, de-funded by an ignorant City Council "Working Group" - Gary Monahan and Jim Righeimer - that hatched the scheme in private and convinced the other two members of the majority to go along with it.

The original local helicopter patrol program was founded by Costa Mesa in 1971. More than two decades later, following a tragic mid-air collision in 1987 between two helicopters - one from Costa Mesa and one from Newport Beach - that might have ended the helicopter program, A.B.L.E. was formed by Costa Mesa and Newport Beach in 1997 to provide a coordinated effort for air support of local public safety agencies. It became the model for all other local airborne law enforcement entities throughout the country.

A.B.L.E. has provided air-support service to the cities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. A.B.L.E. patrolled a diverse area which included commercial and residential areas, a state park, one of the nations busiest small craft harbors and 10 miles of coastline.

In addition to provi
ding patrol oversight and responding to calls for service. It trained annually, deploying lifeguards into the water from the helicopter and providing rapid transport for victims. It was equipped with a "Bambi Bucket", a 108 gallon fire suppression tool used to rapidly quench small fires before they became bigger ones. They've been essential tools in locating lost hikers and mountain bikers in the state park and other back-country areas.

A.B.L.E.'s mission statement reads as follows: "The mission of Airborne Law Enforcement (ABLE) is to provide air support to our member public safety personnel and neighboring agencies. We will enhance the protection of public safety personnel and the security of our citizens with efficient, proactive air support. we are dedicated to accomplishing our mission in a safe and professional manner." Anyone paying attention for the past few decades will have to agree that, right up to the end, they've continued to meet that goal with courage, skill and professionalism.

In March of 2011 Costa Mesa Police Officer and one of the senior A.B.L.E. pilots, Rob Dimel, wrote a commentary about the possible dissolution of A.B.L.E. in the Daily Pilot, HERE.


In case you need another reminder of just what A.B.L.E. does, sit back for a couple minutes and enjoy this little recent video clip from Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia's "Barbara's Bits" archives. This will help you understand just what's been taken away from us by a guy intent on getting a boost up the political ladder.


The current Costa Mesa City Council, led by Righeimer, used their fabricated
budget "crisis" as a sledgehammer to shut down the A.B.L.E. program and decided to do so effective the beginning of the new fiscal year, July 1st, even though the July 4th holiday is typically one of the times when the helicopters are called upon the most by police and fire agencies for support. This year, also demonstrating their lack of wisdom, the Costa Mesa City Council has chosen to pander to the youth sports community and is permitting the discharge of fireworks not just on the 4th, but on the 2nd and 3rd, as well. That would typically mean a greater demand for A.B.L.E. support over the entire holiday weekend.

Even though there is enough money - estimated at nearly $5 million - in the A.B.L.E. reserve accounts to fully fund all operations for at least two years, the council stubbornly refused to even consider extending this outstanding public safety service. In fact, Righeimer pointedly refused to even extend it four days, until July 5th - giving his pal, Steve Mensinger, a stern "NO!" when he asked him to do that at a recent council meeting. It is that kind of heels-dug-in thinking that is presently tearing this city apart and placing all residents and visitors in jeopardy.


As each day passes it becomes more and more clear to me that there's much
more at play here than simply trying to balance a budget. Righeimer very obviously has a very hard place in his heart for the Costa Mesa Police Department and any entity, like A.B.L.E., that's closely associated with it. He's apparently willing to put the public safety of all residents and visitors in jeopardy to satisfy whatever grudge he's carrying around with him. I assume it's because the CMPD actively campaigned against him last year. In fact, if you have any doubt about it, just listen to his lapdog, Planning Commissioner and member of the Sanitary District Board Jim Fitzpatrick, at the last council meeting. This pathetic man is still "hearing voices", and has not had an original thought pass his lips in the past couple years - ever since he became Sancho Panza to Steve Mensinger's Don Quixote. When he returned to his seat after this little speech I wanted to offer him a tissue to remove that brown stuff from his nose. NOTE: After much contemplation I decided to switch images. The other one offended too many readers. Such is life...


So, defying all logic and good judgment, the A.B.L.E. program will soon
be only a memory - part of the rich history of the City of Costa Mesa and a proud element of the public safety organizations that has protected us for more than four decades. Barring some miracle in the form of a private/public partnership or a regional helicopter program that will utilize our team intact, A.B.L.E. is done on Thursday. There are no words to adequately tell those folks who supported and protected us in that fine program all these years how I feel, so I'll just let Mariah Carey do it for me... hit it, girl.

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Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

This is so sad. Too bad Newport Beach couldn't help out.

6/26/2011 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous A.B.L.E. Not Needed said...

The car dealerships have been using A.B.L.E. as their private air force for forty years. If they don't want to support it, why should residents?

Illegal fireworks have been shot off in large numbers in my neighborhood for decades and not once have I seen a helicopter fly overhead, or heard of anyone being arrested.

The only time those helicopters fly over my neighborhood is late at night when people are trying to sleep. The next day there is never anything in the newspaper about any crime being stopped by the noisy helicopter.

How much can A.B.L.E. possibly accomplish anyway? The helicopters are in the air so all they can do is communicate what they see from the air, which is usually the same thing the cops on the ground can see.

The cost of 2 sets of eyes on the same "minor" crime is ridiculous. A.B.L.E. should have been disbanded a long time ago.

Two men lost their lives over that lame idea.

6/26/2011 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Original Max said...

Good post. Thanks Pot Stirrer.

6/26/2011 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Kent, Costa Mesa could have split the proceeds with Newport Beach and still kept the program going for a year.

Original Max, thanks... enjoy. Just can't get enough of JimmyFitzy and his "I hear voices" routine - it's like a bad stand-up comic when his set bombs. Then, again, we have Mariah Carey to offset Fitzy. :-)

6/26/2011 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

P.S. re your comment "As each day passes it becomes more and more clear to me that there's much more at play here than simply trying to balance a budget."

It's grudge payback, yes. But I think there's even more. Think Tammany Hall. Think Chicago politics ...

I had an epiphany about the $6.5 million that city hall is going to spend on "Citywide Street Improvements" in the coming year. I had wondered where all that money had come from, when the past spend rate had been roughly $1 million per year. I just now looked ahead at the following 6 years (page 167 of City Budget) and found that the spend rate drops drastically after the coming year ... $4 mill, then $2 mill, then $1.5 mill, then constant at $0.5 mill, much less than we used to spend.

The analogy is "burning the deck chairs -- AND THE DECK ITSELF -- to get a burst of speed."

We've been able to win transportation grants when many other cities couldn't, because Allan Roeder had the strategy of squirreling away funds so there was enough unspent budget to meet the matching funds requirement. Other O.C. cities couldn't or wouldn't set aside part of their revenues to meet the matching funds requirement and so augment their tax money with outside funds such as Measure M and Federal grants. Net effect: their streets broke down and they couldn't afford to fix them.

Here's the dirty business I think is happening. De facto Mayor Righeimer demanded that Tom Hatch turn over Roeder's prudent set-asides so he could spend a lot of money and look like a hero ... at least until after the next election.

It's no secret that politicians can count on voters to prefer candidates who have a record of fixing pot holes and repaving streets. I suspect Righeimer's plan is that, by the time he has burned up the saved money, he will have been promoted by the ecstatic GOP to, say, Dana Rohrabacher's safe seat in Congress.

Of course, once he's there, he'll deny any responsibility for the crash and burn. He'll blame successor councils for it, just as he has blamed previous councils for the pension "crisis."

If my hypothesis is anywhere close to being correct, the prudent homeowner and prudent business owner will sell out in the next three or four years, before house and business values start to plummet, reflecting degraded city infrastructure and public safety.

Ironic, isn't it, that one of his big talking points is "improving our infrastructure" when what he's really doing is getting a one-time bump, then condemning us to lousy infrastructure for decades!

6/26/2011 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Really? said...

My, my, Mr. Egan. What an over active imagination you have!

It should be rather obvious, even to a child, that the council is filling many years of unfilled pot holes. It stands to reason that the need to continue doing so at such an accelerated pace is bound to diminish as the potholes are filled.

I'm not a rocket scientist but even I can see the logic in the council's planning in this case.

6/27/2011 12:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Really?, I have asked this same question of you and others many times over the last few months. Please provide a list of the streets in town in dire need of repair. Give me 20, 15, 10 or 5 we can verify for ourselves.

6/27/2011 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Before we have to listen to any more crap about how terrible our roads are, and how neglectful we've been on fixing them.......(insert "Budget Crisis" here).....lets have a few more "Facts", it's like Kryptonite to the Riggy crowd.

Most spending on major roads and maintenance of neighborhood streets comes from special funds, rather than the City’s General Fund budget. On April 5, 2010, the City received recognition for its excellence in securing over 59 million in Measure M through OCTA which was used for road projects and repair. Costa Mesa also receives Gas Tax funds every year, which are the major funding for maintenance of neighborhood streets. Costa Mesa’s budget for next year includes over $8 million for street maintenance from Measure M and Gas Tax funds.

Using an index from Pavement Management Plans required by OCTA, Costa Mesa’s roads are less than 1% below those of Newport Beach, 3.2% better than roads in Fountain Valley, and 6.7% better than roads in Huntington Beach.

6/27/2011 06:31:00 AM  
Anonymous barewire said...

how do other cities manage without helicopters? are any of them among the safest cities? yes, they are.

6/27/2011 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

The latest propaganda/Newspeak from the extremists re the "Stop the Layoff" signs is calling them the "Illegal Signs."


"If it's against my agenda it's now illegal."

What will they claim when the RECALL signs go up?

Given their vendetta against CMPD, will Riggy/Menssy bring in some sort of outside law enforcement to stay in power?

You laugh. The old-time extremist Bob Dornan dragged a Congressional committee into Santa Ana when he didn't like election results.

6/27/2011 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Darn, Geoff,

You mean I left the other night before Fitzpatrick spoke?

After seeing him all disheveled and seedy-looking, I assumed he would be watching his shopping cart instead of the dais.

Lemme guess- he's not homeless, but is simply modeling a "Costa Mesa Post-Righeimer" clothing line.

6/27/2011 07:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Larry said...

Looking forward to our new helicopter service. I'm disappointed to see ABLE go, but much more disappointed to see our Police Association sit on the sideline this budget cycle and not offer a single solution to help stave off some of the Police cuts. Where were they?

6/27/2011 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous barewire said...

Gericault: "facts" are kryptonite to Jennifer Muir and OCEA. OCGOP deal is facts, that is why you hate us. We Righeimer crowd gals know where all that road money comes from, Righeimer informed us all. Apparently Egan does not know so thanks for posting.
JOE, Signs: many illegal signs around town in medians, at fire stations, and today at NMUSD headquarters. Please don't try to debate it, they are ILLEGAL, period. They are a blight. Put out all you want legally. You are so reactive that as soon as we point out they are illegal you immediately shout out they are not when you know you are wrong (or should know).. You don't think , you just fire back stupidly JOE. Keep up the blight , it is backfiring like all your efforts. Bring on the recall !! LOL

6/27/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Francesco said...

Larry, the police association sat this one out, because it's clear wht their agenda is. There will be no changing of minds, these guys on council have it all figured out. They know what the city needs for protection. According to Riggy, "you can double the number of cops and it won't affect crime". He is the expert, so why bother trying to convince them of anything different?

If the police step up, they are "union thugs". If they play the role of good soldier, you complain as well. In my opinion, the police should continue to be cops and let the council fail. And fail they will.

6/27/2011 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Original Max said...

barewire, I think Righeimer might have lied to you if he said signs posted in public areas on the weekends are illegal.

He also might have lied if he said signs that are on private property are illegal.

I feel sad for you if you are only getting information from the one council person that is known most for their disingenuous facts. You know, on a side note, you might like North Korea. Especially if we could send Righeimer there. He's got unique enough hair and could easily find a pair of silly glasses. The people there are used to not thinking for themselves and doing what their told. Sounds like paradise for you.

Anyway, In the meantime, at least we agree on the recall. I am in full support.

6/27/2011 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

barewire - Why are they illegal ? Can you point me to the part of city, county, state law that says they are ? Otherwise they stay up. Sorry they aren't saying things you want to say, and sorry they are growing more and more everyday. My guess is you guys don't like seeing this actual level of support. It kinda kills your whole "Nixon Silent Majority" line you guys are floating.

6/27/2011 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Muni Code said...

Sec. 13-123.5. - Portable signs within public right-of-way.

Standards. A portable sign may be placed on or within the public right-of-way without a permit, provided it complies with the following requirements:

Size and height. The maximum size shall not exceed five (5) square feet and the maximum height shall not be more than three (3) feet above grade.

Identification. The owner of the sign(s) shall affix its name, address and telephone number to the sign prior to installation of the sign.

Location. The location for installation of a portable sign within the public right-of-way shall be subject to the following:

The sign may be placed in any landscaped parkway but not within the center median of any street or highway. Tree wells shall not be considered a landscaped parkway for the purposes of this section;

The sign shall not overhang any street, curb, sidewalk, or driveway;

The sign shall not be within fifteen (15) feet of any fire hydrant;

The sign shall not be within fifteen (15) feet of the edge of any driveway nor within fifteen (15) feet of any intersection of an alley, street, or highway, as measured from the midpoint of the corner radius;

The sign shall not be placed within the public right-of-way adjacent to any property zoned I & R, or I & R-S;

The sign shall not be affixed to traffic control devices, government signs, light standards, utility poles, bus shelters, or other structures, posts, fences, shrubs or trees.

Installation. The installation of the portable sign shall not cause damage to the public right-of-way;

Time period. A portable sign shall only be displayed during the time period between 6 a.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday of any week period.

Number. The total number of portable signs per owner or its agent pursuant to this section shall not exceed ten (10) signs in the city at any one (1) time.

Exceptions. The requirements of this section shall not apply to a portable sign with a total area of not more than five (5) square feet that is carried by a person within the public right-of-way unless prohibited by section 13-112

(Ord. No. 99-10, § 6, 7-19-99)

6/27/2011 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Brown act violations are illegal too, which do you think have done more damage to this city?

We shouldn't have those signs in medians on weekdays , I agree......we should get some city employees right on that....

6/27/2011 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

Is it me or did the Fluffer look a little drunk, speaking and trying to hold back a big belch. The drinking would explain the voices. On my side of town I see a lot of those blue and white "blight" yet legal signs. More and more daily. I see neighbors look at mine then I see they have one too.
I like Egans "hypothesis", he seems educated on politics, and doesnt seem to follow the river wherever it tells him to go.

Just a frustration, a lot of people are barking out recall like the boy who cried wolf. When and who is going to lead this campaign?

6/27/2011 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous RUBRON said...

How much can A.B.L.E. possibly accomplish anyway? The helicopters are in the air so all they can do is communicate what they see from the air, which is usually the same thing the cops on the ground can see.


Are you drunk?

6/27/2011 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous barewire said...

original max and colin: i never stated Righeimer says the signs are illegal. I know the sign code and you have many illegal signs. I said Righiemer explained the money for fixing roads, please re read my post if you disagree.
I could care less if I don't agree with your signs as long as they are legal and not such a blight. They are very disrespecful to the city to have them in medians, on fences and on public right of way Monday through Thursday and at NMUSD and fire stations all the time. Quit reacting so quickly and showing how stupid you are about the law and what I said. And actually I don't want the layoffs. I want you to get to the table and save the jobs but you have put a condition on it that will not fly. Union bosses are willing to sacrifice workers jobs by being stubborn. Hopefully this will change. Layoffs are happening all over the state in many cities. What is the big gripe here? Please don't say it is because they issued pink slips first. You have (had ) six months to bargain. Tic toc tic toc...

6/27/2011 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

barewire wrote:

"...We Righeimer crowd gals know where all that road money comes from, Righeimer informed us all.."

Since you claim to be in the know, kindly help us out:

1) What were Monahan and Bever promised?

2) Is Biff really as "size-challenged" as his bully persona suggests?


6/27/2011 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

One of the really cool things Able has (oh, had) is the ability to see infrared at night. They can see who is hiding under and behind things or sneakiong around your back yard, kinda impossible to see from a patrol car.

I lived behind a school and late one night some loud angry punks were partying. People had come over the wall into the backyards before, it sounded like they would do it again. I called 911, Able showed up, megaphoned them to remain in place. A few minutes later squad cars showed up. If Able hadn't pinned them down first, they would have jumped into back yards the minute cars showed up. So that's couple of things Able can do(oh, could have done) that cops from cars can't do.

A Million Thanks, ABLE. I will miss you. Hope you figure out a way to come back.

6/27/2011 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Original Max said...

barewire, why are you labeling me as a city worker or implying they are my signs??? You are wrong on both counts. I think you are still clueless about campaign sign laws. Whoever is putting them up is doing a much better job than whoever put up Righeimer signs during the election. I remember lots of Righeimer signs that were posted in illegal areas including right next to a voting location.

What is it that attracts a follower like barewire to Righeimer? His plan to use our tax dollars to buy hotels? His plan to put us into debt to buy the fairgrounds through his Sell The Fair campaign? His plan to deregulate and contract everything out to create a fertile environment for corruption? His plan to cut the number of cops while the state is conducting prisoner release programs? His plan to make sure we don't have E-Verify so that Costa Mesa can indirectly employ illegal immigrant labor? His plan for communist HOA laws? His plan to manufacture a disingenuous financial crisis to push his ridiculous plans through. I just don't get it...

I haven't met one person that doesn't agree the city needs to cut back on spending. However, there is no reason why we need to put up with all of the other crap Righeimer is trying to do. Plus, most of his decisions are flat out reckless, fiscally and otherwise. He might have been able to do this quietly in another city. Unfortunately for him we tend to follow politics more than most cities.

6/28/2011 03:50:00 AM  
Anonymous DISABLED said...

I just found out a interesting thing about the "new" helicopter service that Newport and CM will be enjoying with the HB bird.
I doesn't even have moving map technology onboard. They'll be using a Thomas Guide to figure out where they're going during the day and they'll be finding a call at night by looking for the patrol car lights already on scene. I guess that's alright when they're limited to the confines of HB where they know the territory but this "offering the same for less in NB and CM" is a not so funny joke.
ABLE has arrived first on scene most of the time due to their sophisticated GPS mapping technology and being centerally positioned to respond quickly and directly to a call.
HB will be sucking up that extra $150k this summer by extending their beach cruising range down to Crystal Cove and being last on scene in Costa Mesa when needed.
How's that for right sizing?

6/28/2011 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Thanks for Nothing...... said...

Did anyone else notice the HB bird surveying their new CM territory last night? It's quite a bit louder than "our" helicopter and I assume it was flying over Mesa Verde and Halecrest as a "thank you" to Riggy & Menso for their flood of cash to HB.

Thank you gents for reducing public safety AND increasing neighborhood noise!


6/29/2011 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Original Max said...

Huntington Beach has consistently ranked as being one of the safest cities in America. They operate three of their own helicopters. I'm not surprised barewire did not know that.

We have always had conservative law and order councils that were pro public safety. Now we have Righeimer The Disingenuous trying to convince us we will somehow be safer with less law enforcement.

At least he's not president. Imagine what our military would be like. We'd be renting our helicopter support from other countries, using command centers in India, and buying military hardware from China because to him, it would be a good deal.

6/29/2011 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Original Max said...

Thanks For Nothing, Apparently the HB helicopters have noisier rotors. We had it good with ABLE.

6/29/2011 12:35:00 PM  

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