Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Paradox - Defending Freedom And Stifling Dissent

On a humid, overcast morning fewer than 100 residents and city staffers met on the City Hall lawn this morning for a brief remembrance of the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce coordinated this remembrance, which included a brief speech by him, recognition of a flag that had flown at the World Trade Center site and a moment of silence.

A fire truck and crew were on-hand, as was Deputy Fire Chief Fred Seguin, to help with this remembrance.  

Police Chief Tom Gazsi and members of his command staff were also in attendance.

City Council candidates Harold Weitzberg and John Stephens attended and signed the banner that will be shipped to New York City.  The only current elected official I saw at the event was Jim Righeimer.

The members of the city staff and from the community paid their respects.

It was a great irony that, as this group gathered to recognize the threat to our freedoms that occurred eleven years ago, some city employees are having some of their freedoms abridged.

In a two-page memo to employees, City CEO Tom Hatch, shown here contemplating the 91101 event, provided them with "Guidelines for City Employee Involvement in Political Campaigns", a list of five things employees may do and eleven things they should not do regarding political activities.

Among the things that are prohibited is this statement, "Don't make public statements or press appearances in favor of or against a candidate or ballot measure during normal work hours, during official city meetings or break times."  That emphasis is mine.  The way I interpret this prohibition, City employees will be forbidden to speak out at City Council meetings on, for example, Jim Righeimer's Charter.  I suspect this is a violation of their protections under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

I also wonder what the penalties are for NOT signing the forms and for violation of the "guidelines"?  Nothing in the memo indicates the penalty for transgression.


I also wonder how this applies to City Council members who are, after all, employees of the city, receiving a salary and benefits for the performance of their jobs?  Who will enforce these "guidelines" with members of the City Council?

In my opinion, this is just one more example of the current government of this city attempting to stifle dissent.  The City Council majority does it on a regular basis by chiding speakers before them and disparaging their views.  Now they are trying to silence opposing views from within the city operations, too.  This is just one more example of why Jim Righeimer's Charter is a terrible idea.  It will provide the structure for the installation of a dictatorship - the signs are clear as crystal.

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Blogger just wondering... said...

Does this apply to council members and city employees who "blog" here daily on company time?

9/11/2012 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous History Channel said...

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Martin Niemoller

9/11/2012 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

The saddest part is that this will be one of these "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" sort of rules. Everyone will know it but the spirit of the rule will be mocked and ridiculed.

9/11/2012 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Level the playing field said...

Since the City Council and many members are management that do not receive overtime compensation aren't they always on "company time"? If so then they aren't able to comment at any time correct? Of course the council has shown a repetitive disregard for rules so why start now?

9/11/2012 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

This is ridiculous and yes, it is a violation of the employees first amendment rights.
Are we a dictatorship yet?

9/11/2012 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Karen, only if you work for the city.

9/11/2012 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Sue Lester said...

Asking an employee not to take part in political activities while on the clock is reasonable, however, an employer can not tell an employee what they can or can't talk about (with the exception of confidential business issues) while on a break or at lunch or on their own time.

If an employee is in uniform in public and his/her statements can be construed as the opinion of "the City" then each individual should exercise some restraint and temper their comments, but what about Council, Commissioners, Directors, etc? Their own clothes are their uniform, their statements should be tempered as well.

I remember not too long ago, many on our council said "why don't our employees live here? We should have a Police Chief and Fire Chief that actually live here!" Many of our employees are residents and now our Fire Chief and Police Chief are residents...their opinions as residents matter and they should be able to share them while not acting in their official capacity. Is this why the some on the council wanted all our employees to live in Costa Mesa?

So it either must apply to everyone or no one "while serving in their official capacity or while representing the city" only.

If Costa Mesa's work environment hadn't become a political battlefield aka hostile work environment no one would probably be saying anything as it relates to politics anyway!!!

So what have we learned from all of this???

Attitude reflects leadership, Sirs!

9/11/2012 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Faye said...

I don't actually think it is a violation. A company cannot restrict your activities on your own time, but on their dime they can. It is actually quite standard to require a no comment policy on part of employees.

9/11/2012 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous roboto said...

shiny object. take your pills and relax. lol

9/11/2012 04:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Central Valley Farm Animals said...

Come back Stevie, we need you here! We'll moo, the voters will boo! You're used to that ;>

9/11/2012 08:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Loose Canon sinks ship! said...

Keep in mind Fitzpatrick is the guy who admitted on one of the city's websites he spied on people at a council meeting peeking over their shoulders reading what they were texting.

I didn't think this lowlife could get any lower. I guess I was wrong.

Does anyone think Newport wants to work with Fitzpatrick after he calls them arrogant and blames thme for Costa Mesa's problems. This is just so wrong on so many levels!

Jim Fitzpatrick · Top Commenter
I have lived in Newport Beach for a long time. I like Newport Beach and many that live there. Now I call Costa Mesa home. What I don’t like is the arrogance that is alive and well in Newport Beach. I love it when NB pushes its issues up on the Mesa, like services for the homeless (instead of @ Hoag Hospital) or boat yards, etc. Then turns around and says how wonderful NB is, or turns up the proverbial nose at the issues NB helps create in Costa Mesa.

Think about this NB … do you really want to be dealing with Sandy Genis on important issues like SR 55, Airport, or Banning Ranch? Neither do we. Time to get involved. Show some solidarity and boot this Police Union Thug organization. Then figure out what other elements to stand up and be counted on. I think you will see a very receptive Costa Mesa neighbor that wants to work with NB to solve many common issues together.

9/11/2012 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous roboto (hermanos troll) said...

didn't know Fitzpatrick was running for council Mr. Loose Cannon. another shiny object for everyone's wonderment. Oooh, so shiny.

9/11/2012 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous roboto said...

Well what about the Estancia football players and cheerleaders who support the 3 M's? Don't they need to be told what they can and can't do. Same for the teachers. What? the school deistrict also issued guidelines, months ago? Didn't see any protest on that. Maybe because they supported the 3m's so it is ok to impose rules there.

9/12/2012 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Steve, Fitzpatrick couldn't run down the street! In fact, it doesn't look like you're going to be able to either.

9/12/2012 07:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Muzzle that dog said...

Thanks Loose. Your anger betrays you. Thanks for making more people aware of Fitzpatrick's comments.

We all need to be aware of Sandy's issues in dealing with other cities and the business community. We recently learned that when Sandy ran for the water district she could not even win her own neighborhood. Reminds us of Katrina. Neighbors can't stand that woman.

Great job by Hatch. Disappointing that such a memo is required to remind employees of the rules.

We don't think it is for all employees. Many good ones. But this memo provides a fact that not all are good employees.

9/12/2012 07:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Troll Tracker said...

Troll posing as Mensy:
"We don't think it is for all employees. Many good ones. But this memo provides a fact that not all are good employees."

Are you an employee of anyone? What do you do all day other than blow hot air?

9/12/2012 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Tired said...

'But this memo provides a fact that not all are good employees.'

WTF does that mean? What is factual about a memo?

I agree public/city employees shouldn't be commenting on blogs and whatnot during work hours while being paid with taxpayer dollars, but outside of work they are free to do whatever the hell they want.

I guess this memo doesn't apply to city council members campaigning from the dais, though?

9/12/2012 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous roboto said...

mike eh, troll tracker: you are clueless. roboto is not Steve. I will post during the next council meeting so you can try to figure out how I did it from the dais. So, Mr. Hermanos, have fun tilting at windmills trying to track the trolls. You are definitely tilted! watch your back, check your six.

9/12/2012 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous EDD said...

Do Mensy and Fitzy have jobs or do their wives carry the family water?

9/12/2012 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Early Halloween said...

Boooo! Booooo!

That's the sound of Costa Mesa voters seeing through the Central Valley Simian's * lame rap at Feet to the Fire!

* Mensy

9/12/2012 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Loose Canon sinks ship! said...

Really Robot troll Steve, I thought USC produced better thinkers. Guess I was wrong there too!

Let me explain it to your little brain. Mr. Fitpatrick is an elected Public Official. Plus who knows what office or task force position he could hold in the future.

You talk about arrogance. Fitzpatrick telling Newport not only they were arrogant but then telling them what they need to do show solidarity is laughable. Then he tries to tell them they need to find other elements to STAND UP and be counted on. Fitzpatrick is a tool.

Maybe I should email Newport's Council Fitzpatrick's comments and see what they think.

This was kind of like you Steve the other night at the Forum. You condescendingly telling a pillar in our community, John Stephens, he needed to spend more time in the community. Then you tell Sandy Genis she needs to show up to ,ore meetings and pay attention to what is really going on.

Does your arrogance know any bounds Steve? We know your brain is controlled by Riggy.

Steve is certainly no one of SC's best products.

9/12/2012 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Loose Canon sinks ship! said...

Muzzle, also Steve, your idocy and arrogance betrays you. Your claims about Folsom and Ruhl people see right through. You are such a Fake and Phony.

I agree though everyone should be aware of Public Official Fitzpatrick trashing Newport. They also should be aware of his character. You know the guy who sits behind people and spies over their shoulders to see what they are testing.

Like you flashing some honorary badge you bought by supporting that criminal Carona to some little girl presenting yourself as an OC Sheriff.

Mensinger you are like Fitzpatrick a disgusting person.

9/12/2012 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Mark C said...

Steve is classless and I honestly wonder how bright he is. I read some comments by him on an article in the OC Register. I honestly thought a USC education would have ensured he knew the difference between their, there and they're. Apparently not. Also, if you are going to give a half hearted politically pandering complement to Tim Vasin, at least learn how to spell the guy's name. It's the little things like that, the inattention, that tend to show you don't really care about the actual people. It's all about the politics for you.

9/12/2012 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Dean of Farm Animals said...

Mark C:
"Steve is classless and I honestly wonder how bright he is. I read some comments by him on an article in the OC Register. I honestly thought a USC education.."

We're still waiting to hear whether he actually earned a college degree or just attended..

9/12/2012 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous roboto said...

who's on council? not you! haha. literally talked foley out of her seat and she is a lawyer? maybe no degree but sure outsmarted her. wait till my master gets her next month, she will melt down in public. beautiful.so sad this is the best you can bring to a major chestbumping.

9/12/2012 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Good Question said...

The council majority and its supporters have no qualms about discussing and criticizing everything about everyone else, but the silence on whether or not Mensinger has a college degree is deafening.

You'd think the likes of Fitzpatrick, Fisler, Dickson, etc., would have provided 50 copies of the diploma to the media by now.

Righeimer would have been on a dozen news shows plus John and Ken, proclaiming a "conspiracy" to somehow belittle his little buddy's accomplishments.

9/12/2012 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Sorry, I'm not "Troll Tracker". I have a very proud, unblemished record of using my real name on this forum.

I have much better things I am doing than guessing the anonymous. Nevertheless, I will continue to watch my back. Vigilance never takes a day off.

9/12/2012 11:34:00 PM  

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