Monday, June 20, 2011

Chief Staveley Resigns Effective Today!

In a strongly-worded letter to the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department, Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley, a veteran of more than four decades of law enforcement and two terms as the interim chief in Costa Mesa, resigned his position effective the end of business today, Monday, June 20th.

The following is the text verbatim of Staveley's memo to the troops. The highlighted portions are my selections.



DATE: 6/20/11

SUBJECT: I am resigning as 1200 today and wish to say Goodbye

This path has been clear for me for some time now, and now that it is coming to fruition, I wanted to take this moment of your time to say goodbye. I also wanted to express to you how much I have appreciated your openness, honesty and your welcoming of me in my return to Costa Mesa. While it has been a brief stay, I have felt very much at home and have enjoyed my time greatly. I think it’s a great community and my affection for the department and its people is boundless. I will miss you and the community.

There are basically two reasons that I leave right now. The first is the 5/8 the council wishes to impose and the second is the layoffs of officers. Just before leaving on a very short trip to the river on the 16th of June, I was informed that all professional employees would be moving to 5/8s. When I first got to Costa Mesa this time, and met with two councilpersons they told me that they wanted everyone on 5/8s (cops too by the way). I told them it was not their responsibility rather that scheduling should match customer need (a scientific method of deployment) and not serve some off the wall bias that they had. More importantly, scheduling is the responsibility of the department head not the council. For council persons to demand such changes is meddling Later our CM told me that he was ordered to put everyone in the professional ranks (non sworn) on 5/8s. I told him I would not support that and for me it was a line in the sand. We had a rather heated discussion on the subject and frankly – I was not very polite – which I do regret. If you let council people meddle is such small matters, is it long before they tell us who we can cite, or arrest, or require us to release or whose burg gets investigated – I think not. It is simply a step to corruption and I won’t play in that arena. Never mind the lack of following the MOU or meeting and conferring on any such changes.

Here is the second reason and I wanted to be sure that you understood why I am resigning now right when I could well be of most value to you and the community. Here is why. It’s very clear to me that there is no fiscal crisis in the City of Costa Mesa. The majority of the council has created budget gaps in order to affect or create the appearance of a fiscal crisis. They have pushed finance and the budget process around to get the kind of numbers that benefit their position. They have in essence lied as they create the appearance of crisis in order to appear as the white knight to a narrow band of political followers. They have done this, I believe, because they have a political need to layoff police officers. This is completely unethical and immoral behavior and I will have no part in it. If I stay, and refuse to sign layoff and demotion notices (which I am fully prepared to do) then Tom Hatch will suffer yet more and be forced to fire me. If I resign prior, at least I save him some pain and he is a good guy, and not deserving of this situation. In fact, I think in the right circumstance (and this is not) he has the potential to be a great CM. In any case I will not help the council majority hurt you, undermine this department and halt the improvement of this community – I simply cannot do that – it would be wrong and frankly hurt my reputation as a professional. I do not expect at my age to have another chiefs job, but I do expect to continue to teach, mentor and be of value and so my reputation is important to me. Even more importantly I expect of myself to do the right thing – and this is the right thing and very painful for me personally. I wish I could stay and try to help you, but I cannot – so I bid you farewell.

When the majority of this council were busy playing in sand boxes in their mommies backyard, I was a policeman. I have been a policeman since 1967. I got my first police chiefs job in 1987, and have had 6 other chief’s jobs since then as well as one CEO position in a private sector enterprise. I spent 14 years as an elected school board member, served on the Anaheim Parks and Recreation Commission and the Community Services Commission in the same city. I have been president of the Orange County Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association as well as the chair of the Communications Committee and in that role led the development of the largest multi owner, multi user, trunked 800 Mhz radio system ever built in the world – the system right here in Orange County. I have led organizations with 1 paid employee and lots of volunteers and I have been the CEO of an organization with 1,600 highly skilled and trained professionals.

It is safe to say that the council majority – does not know more about the subject of leadership, or leading police departments or serving as an elected than do I – and yet they do not listen, they do not understand and continue to blunder along in complete ignorance and incompetence.

Over the years, I have had city councils I thought were smart and thoughtful and ones who were less skilled. In every case, I know they were trying to do the right thing – I did not always agree, but clearly they were trying hard to improve the communities we all served. I have never, however, seen a council such as this one. They lack skill, training, education, knowledge, they fail to study (or at least learn). The majority either lies or are so lacking in the necessary skills that they actually believe the junk they say. They act as if they are owners of the business that is the municipal government of the City of Costa Mesa, but they are not, they are merely trustees of these public assets both human and physical and they fail in that role completely. They are in my opinion incompetent, unskilled and unethical.

One of the interesting elements of this whole thing is I happen to agree that we need a two tier retirement system. Two tier because the courts will never allow the current system to be taken from current vested employees. I must have said before some 1,500 to 2,000 police officers in the past 10 years – all of them leaders and managers that 3% at 50 was a great boon to me personally but the worst thing we have done to policing. Why, because it drives people out of service before their replacements are ready. It causes the same mistakes to be made, organizational generation after organizational generation. Now it also happens that it is too expensive. The legislators and council persons who approved of those changes in retirement were wrong it turns out – the worst recession in the modern age has demonstrated that the 3% at 50 did cost more money, but only after more than 10 years of no increased costs. Retirement systems are an investment in the human infrastructure that makes a city a great place to live or not – nothing more, nothing less. If the investment needs to be changed, the decision makers should have the courage to change it and not continue to play some political game. Of course that would require they sit down with the employee associations and they seem not to want to do that. Another shortcoming or lack of understanding of the systems they are working within.

On that exact point (sitting down with the associations) I have been in “combat” with union leaders off and on for years – we just have different functions in our society and organization. But I never bash the folks representing the interests in the pay and benefits of our employees – and before they were association members they were our employees. Unions exist for a reason – because management abused the worker in the early 1900s and will again in many organizations without a defense system – the unions. But here is the point – anyone in a leadership role who bashes unions / associations and can’t find a way to do what they need to do and get the support of the folks you work with is either a weak leader or lacks courage and a willingness to engage and defend their decisions. Either case such persons should not be in a leadership position. Don’t blame a bird because it chirps and fly’s and don’t blame a union because it represents the needs of the employees. If you give those unions more authority over management rights, and let them engage in anything beyond pay and benefits then that is the hallmark of leadership failure. If your arguments are so weak that you cannot achieve success in that engagement then the shame is yours not the unions. That is the case here in Costa Mesa in my view and the council is covering itself with lots of shame.

I say that they (council majority) are destroying this police department with their incompetence and that means only one thing. The community building efforts that this department has invested in for many years will stop and the community will begin to deteriorate. No community can stand still and no community can grow and build itself without suitable police services. The cause of justice cannot flourish without those same services and this council has and continues to undermine this agency ability to do its job and for political and in some cases personal reasons – biases and even personal and individual animosity. As I have noted above, they attempt to meddle in routine department affairs for personal benefit and frankly several of them are rude and ill mannered and frequently boorish.

So I leave you, and I hope you understand. If you need me, you know how I can be reached. I will think good thoughts for you all, and willingly serve as reference should individually you find the need for such. I would be pleased if I could be of assistance as a mentor should you desire same.

I will say that in the end, this period of turmoil will subside and be replaced with opportunity. If there is not too much damage the department and community can, with time, effort and energy, survive and grow its services again. I caution that each of you should keep your eyes open. The council majority plays fast and lose with the law and ethics and I am certain as individuals they will step over the line and it won’t be long before the DA or more likely the AGs office comes knocking on the door. When that happens I know for a fact that you will handle yourselves professionally, as you always do. While such circumstance will be hard to take, there is a positive side it - will prevent Costa Mesa from following straight to Bell which is exactly where it is currently headed.

I have left Capt. Gogerty in charge of the department – he and Commander Ford are working well together and it should be seamless until the new chief comes on board.

Steve Staveley


This is a terrible event, but one that does not surprise me at all. Staveley said it many times throughout his memo. The residents and employees of this city deserve much better treatment than they are getting from this current bunch of amateurs on the City Council.



Anonymous Oh my God. said...

Oh my God.

6/20/2011 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

Wow. I have never heard a public official state the absolute truth with such candor. Most of the time they just leave and never say what needs to be said. I hope Hatch has the guts to do the right thing also and stick by the budget he has presented. Sometimes ethics is more important than a paycheck.

6/20/2011 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Another tragedy for the City; another success for the Four Horsemen of the City Council.

I didn't know Chief Staveley well, but what I did see and hear (even before this letter) led me to believe that he is an extremely competent professional, with a high sense of morals and ethics. His indictment of the City Council majority - and his willingness to give up his job for his beliefs - is further evidence of their wrongheadedness.

Chief Staveley's inside knowledge of the tactics and intent of these individuals confirms what many of us have thought - feared - for some time. Namely, that they will put their personal and political beliefs and goals above the advice and guidance of seasoned professionals and above the best interests of the city which they have sworn (even if not been elected) to serve.

Thank you, Chief Staveley, for your contribution to the City of Costa Mesa, and for your high standard of professionalism and ethics. You will be missed.

6/20/2011 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Honeyman said...


I cannot wait to see the imbeciles try and spin this one their way.

Bravo, chief!

6/20/2011 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

This City gets more insane each passing day. The Chief called the council "incompetent,unskilled,and unethical" That would be a more fitting motto for the chambers than "in god we trust"

6/20/2011 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous coppertone said...

I am an employee of the department and was disheartened to read the email I received today regarding Chief Staveley's resignition. I wish that he would stay and refuse to carry out the madmen's orders. The council needs to stop before we lose a brother or sister in blue and add another name to the peace officer memorial. The council is dismantaling the very force that keeps the streets safe at night. The price the community will have to pay for their mistakes is going to be unbearable. No one should have to lose a family member to a random act of violence or DUI driver because the council plays with numbers and wants to fund the vehicle replacement account or fix a pot hole. Our lives are worth more than that. Shame on you city council.

6/20/2011 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Costa Mesa is going..... said...

Very sad...Costa Mesa loses another one. I hope and pray the Attorney General does investigate this matter.

I believe there's something even bigger is coming down the pike. I believe Council has already made plans to outsource the police and fire department to Orange County Sheriffs.

I think Chief Stavely knows more than he can say in his letter
We are screwed! The residence of Costa Mesa and 90 percent of the work force.

Again, there is no fiscal problem. Riggy and Mensinger want every PERS invested employee gone!

Brown act violation after Brown act violation continues!

Please stop the destruction before someone ends up dying over minimum staffing..budgets cuts...The Chief is telling the truth! Wake up Costa Mesa's going to county!

6/20/2011 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Sick of it All said...

WOW!!!!! Hallelujah. Maybe this will be the tipping point, but nothing like a strongly worded letter from someone who has a clue, denouncing these jokers!

6/20/2011 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Thank you Steve for having the guts to say what needed to be said by a person whom the community respects. Hopefully this will be the action that puts the community back on a healing course. Sometimes the best action is not to play the game with the rules you are given, if the game is rigged against you.

6/20/2011 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Puzzled said...

Should we stand by for the next brick, stinkeye, and vandalism event with no evidence? Might deflect the truth.

6/20/2011 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous NBTRIXIE said...

Shame he can't arrest them before he goes!!!!

6/20/2011 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Judy Lindsay said...

Powerful letter Chief, thank you for calling it accurately! How can we get the citizens of our city actively interested and active in stopping this insanity?

6/20/2011 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Snowden, Sr. said...

Well, I guess a if a tragic suicide, losing most of the department heads to other communities, laying off half the work force and losing a GREAT interim Police Chief doesn't give the Council pause over thier mismanagement, nothing will. Well, maybe a well orchestrated recall election, which seems at this point could be approaching rapidly.
I spent nearly 18 years as CM's Police Chief and have never witnessed anything close to the complete and utter chaos and damage that is being caused by the actions of the current City Council.
I read Steve's letter and also Clay Epperson's piece in the Pilot. Both are right on the money in my opinion. A community without good public safety services will soon cease to become a community in any sense of the word.
Costa Mesa has long been a City to be very proud of. Since incorporating in 1953, it has grown in both size and stature (to world class status) in large part because of having the best shopping center on the continent and some of the best venues to encourage tourism. among the very best police and fire departments in the business and the most caring and supportive citizens on the coast.
Isn't it a shame to see all of this wither away to sate the egos of a few elected officials?
They call Costa Mesa "Ground Zero". Maybe after today it will be "Zround Zero" for another reason. The day the "COMMUNITY" rose up and said they were going to reclaim our city!

6/20/2011 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Watacher said...

Bravo Chief Stavely for having the courage to say what everyone knows to be the truth. Isn't it the CEO's job to guide the council? It's not his job to take his marching orders from elected officials. It's his job to guide them, help them make informed decisions and do what's best for the community. None of that is or has been happening on his watch. And what about the finance staff? Are they telling it like it really is? Or are they taking their marching orders from council members so save their jobs?

6/20/2011 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

There aint no spinnin that........1

6/20/2011 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous ETB said...

Having the pleasure to have worked for him for the past few months I can honestly say Chief Staveley is a great leader and a man of integrity. Chief Stavely cared about his troops and did whatever he could to take care of them. I know this decision must have been difficult for him and probably took a toll on him. Hopefully this will draw more attention to what Righeimer & Co. are trying to do in Costa Mesa. Chief Staveley, thank you for your service and for standing up for what is right!

6/20/2011 04:31:00 PM  
Anonymous You Can't Fire Me said...

You can’t fire me I quit. Talk about my ball my rules. I am taking my ball and going home.

Wow! Could this letter be any more indicative of the leadership void in our Police Department?

For Clay, Keystone Staveley or Snowden, not a one mentions a budget. Take care of me and mine is all they are about. Snowden, I don’t think any of the CMPD guys want to make the trip from the gated community in Coto to Beverly Hills. They can interview all they want over in Irvine. Irvine is not hiring now.

I saw some pictures of the Halecrest picnic. Looks like it was the safest place in all of Costa Mesa. Lots of cops stuffing their faces. Donut sales way down in the City. I wonder how much that cost residents to pay for cops to stand around and talk bad about the City Council. This is typical union crap. The cops sure do whine an awful lot. They seem to express safety concern. Yet there were double digit cops at that event at the same time So much for community concern.

And the Firemen came out with their pretty red show pony.

It is about time someone in this city set the right direction. I am glad the Council is making all the tough decisions so the new Chief does not have to. That is smart.

6/20/2011 04:59:00 PM  
Anonymous sad day said...

Emotional and unprofessional memo with vague and slanderous accusations. CM and CMPD needs a steady hand to dispense facts and find the middle ground.

6/20/2011 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Pete said...

Staveley quit over a 3.5% cut to the Department and forcing officers to work 5 days a week. What a joke. Glad he's gone. Calling our elected leaders corrupt is going to follow this clown to his grave.

Everything will be fine. Can't wait until we get a new Chief. Tom Hatch, you are my hero.

6/20/2011 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Lovin' It said...

I'm loving this more and more. One less inmate trying to run the asylum.

I'll concede that the next year or two is going to be a little tough. But Costa Mesa is on the verge of being greater than it has ever been.

First Wisconsin. Now Costa Mesa. Hopefully the rest of the state will follow. The only way to get our state back on track is to eliminate public employee unions and control government for the poeople.

I can't wait until 2012 when Costa Mesa voters reaffirm their support for Righeimer, Monahan, and Bever and all of you union lackeys will have nothing left to say.

6/20/2011 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

You Can't Fire Me, sad day, Pete, Lovin' It - So after the Tom Hatch counter press release, you guys got your marching orders to post to the blogs ? Couldn't even stagger it out a little to make it look less obvious ? From what I see driving around, those Cancel the Layoff signs are only growing, and I could be wrong, but I think you need the property owner's permission to post those.

6/20/2011 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

You Can't Fire Me, sad day, Pete, Lovin' It - So right after the Tom Hatch counter press release, you guys got the marching orders to post to the blogs, astroturf some support ? Couldn't even stagger it out a little, make it look less obvious, a little more organic ?

None of Hatch's items in the press release note Staveley's fiscal concern, that this year, we are not in a budget crisis, so why the scorched earth policy towards the budget ?

6/20/2011 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Do they let you guys out of your cages all at once?

6/20/2011 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

Mr. Stavely has it exactly right; and well written at that. For some reason, our city appears to have been chosen -- by a rapacious political party -- as a test case for busting our municipal employee unions. Thereby, as Mr. Stavely noted, they hope to bleed financial support from the opposing party. What they cannot obtain in Sacramento (a majority), they now propose to obtain by reducing our cities to penury and demonizing working people. This is utterly reprehensible. And as a resident of Costa Mesa I am utterly outraged. Let the recall begin.

6/20/2011 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger patches said...

Thank you Chief Staveley for caring enough about the people to post your reasons for leaving. Most would have just walked without explaining. I admire you for your honesty. What these councilmen are doing effects everyone. They should be known as the Costa Mesa Mafia.I want my city back before they completely destroy it!

6/20/2011 07:09:00 PM  
Anonymous donut jokes are for 5 year old turds said...

Several former CM officers are already wearing Beverly Hills uniforms so I guess they do make drive, Irvine isn't hiring because they just closed the process and are in the backgrounds with numerous CM officers, and 2 weeks notice has been given by several more officers. Anybody else want to play the "nobody is hiring CM cops game" because you guys need some reinforcements as your strategy of ignorance is failing.

6/20/2011 07:09:00 PM  
Anonymous who let the dogs out said...

time has passed nice mr. stavely by. it is a new era sir. the pay and benefits have been exposed. as gericault said, we have been let out of our cages and are out whompin and a thumpin. bring on the recall !! see how the voters feel, you will be very surprised apparently.

6/20/2011 07:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Original Max said...

I thought Staveley did a great job. Sad to see him go but I'm glad he spoke his mind. This isn't about busting unions. Costa Mesa could simply not get into union contracts for labor. It's about how Righeimer wants to be the ultimate power broker in this area. If you want a city contract, he'll be the one you have to "talk" to. We will have Mexico style corruption in no time. Only riggie piggie contractors will get rich while they employ rent-a-cops for law enforcement, illegal immigrants for manual labor jobs, and companies in India for their information technology and accounting needs.

6/20/2011 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

It is refreshing to witness so much integrity and courage in one man after enduring the lack of these character qualities in the four foxes guarding the hen house. We need men like this on our city council. Where can we clone Chief Staveley?

6/21/2011 12:39:00 AM  

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