Friday, February 26, 2016

Anna Vrska's Apology

Thursday evening I received correspondence from Anna Vrska regarding the firestorm of controversy that resulted from her use of the word "Nazi", directed at the Sergeant-at-arms during Public Comments at the Planning Commission meeting on Monday, February 22nd.

She had been interviewed by Bradley Zint for his Daily Pilot article on the issue, HERE, but could not be guaranteed that her complete apology would appear due to possible space constraints, so she reached out to me.  In my opinion, the Daily Pilot article would be the appropriate place for this apology, but...

Even though she and I have spoken about the event and I have a clear understanding of what preciptated her use of the word, I believe her own words in the apology are sufficient, so I will not attempt to paraphrase, editorialize nor in any way modify her words as she presented them to me for publication.

She was clear to me, though, that she did not feel she was representing the Costa Mesa First organization when she made that specific comment.  As I said in my blog post about this event, HERE, it was clear to me that she had completed her Smart Growth Initiative presentation when she paused and made the comment that included that very offensive word.
And, it was also clear when we spoke that she knows Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's plan for her expulsion from the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee is on the City Council meeting agenda for March 1st - next Tuesday.  I wrote about that HERE.

So, without further comment, the following is Anna Vrska's apology, which I accept, by the way:

"I apologize for my poor choice of words at Monday night’s Planning Commission meeting.  Over the past months, I have grown increasingly concerned over the continuing erosion of First Amendment rights for Costa Mesa residents.  I did not intend to speak on this issue Monday night.  However, an incident involving the Sergeant at Arms, and a resident, occurred right before I spoke.  What I perceived to be discriminatory and intimidating behavior sparked my comment.  That said, my heat of the moment reaction was disproportionate to the incident itself.

As a descendant of a Holocaust survivor, and as someone whose great-grandparents perished in a concentration camp, I do not take the work “Nazi” lightly. In the context I used it Monday night, “Nazi” meant:  exemplifying a person with extreme authoritarian views—and that infringement of rights, no matter how minor, in aggregate, can lead to very scary places.

Though my word choice was, indeed, unfortunate, I fervently support First Amendment principles.  I also support residents’ rights to express themselves and, their concerns, without fear of persecution from officials, which their comments may be directed towards.

Finally, in moving forward, any disciplinary action, or retribution for speaking out, not only functions to erode speakers’ first amendment rights, it creates a chilling effect, wherein residents may not speak out, in the future, due to fear of retribution."

And, finally, I must say that I agree with her final paragraph.  History has shown us over the past five years that the men in charge of this city work very hard at stifling dissenting viewpoints, regardless of the forum.  Her assessment is very likely accurate.  Simply the fact that Righeimer had this issue placed on the agenda will likely send shivers down the spines of folks who might wish to step to a speaker's podium and present a critical comment or an observation that is divergent with their world view.  And, whether you like the word or not, it is part of her free speech protections in this country that she may say it if she wishes.

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Blogger kwahlf said...

Thank you, Anna.
And thank you, Geoff for
publishing her apology.

2/26/2016 12:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

Robin Leffler I think it took courage for Anna to write this. Thank you Geoff for relaying it verbatim.

2/26/2016 12:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

There have been several complaints made in public about this particular reserve officer. Perhaps it is time his attitude was brought to light. Too bad it had to be this particular woman.

Anna Vrska is twice the man that Righeimer will ever be. Now watch his guaranteed retribution.

2/26/2016 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

If for some reason you had to choose between either Riggy or Anna Vrska to entrust your life to and you could only choose one, who would you choose?

Me: Vrska.

2/26/2016 06:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Someday in the not too distant future Anna Vrska will be selected mayor of Costa Mesa while the present mayor pro tem will be out in a place like Indio or Victorville trying to fool some people there.

2/26/2016 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger OC Public Square said...

Thank you Anna for your apology. That should be sufficient for everyone. Righeimer is grandstanding and using his office as a bully pulpit to silence opposition. How dare anyone disagree with him! When he arrived in 2006 and rolled out his agenda he did not anticipate Costa Mesans would push back on his plans to transform our city.He thought the takeover would go smoothly. The Constitution and our Municipal code allow us to speak. He is imposing his own consequences to show his power and control of everything in Costa Mesa government. His actions are petty and I hope will backfire. I hope others are not afraid to speak but are emboldened now. Wendy Leece

2/26/2016 07:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anna is my hero

2/26/2016 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

I am reluctant to fully speak my mind for fear of losing my place at the table of the City's Bikeways and Walkability Committee.

Over a period of years, I applied three times to serve on the Cultural Arts Committee, was nominated but voted down (because of my participation at council meetings as a concerned resident) by the male majority.

Finally, last year, the male majority voted to accept my application for the Bikeways committee. Here's hoping I am able to serve for several more years.

2/26/2016 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Cindy Lou Who said...

Thank you Anna for not only speaking up but your brave apology. It was the right thing to do. You are one of the smartest and nicest ladies I've met in Costa Mesa. What a shame it would be if the MPT's little hissy fit finds you off the FPCAC. You are such an asset on that committee. But it wouldn't surprise me. They want their stacked deck so they were looking for any excuse. When you run, you'll get my vote!

2/26/2016 06:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

This might please everybody: In the future, instead of searching for words, as Anna did, to describe behavior “exemplifying a person with extreme authoritarian views,” we could simply use the label, “Mensheimer.”

Everyone would know instantly what the connection is, and Mensheimer could happily view it as yet another 15 microseconds of fame – or infamy, as Mensheimer apparently doesn’t much care that there is a difference.

2/27/2016 11:07:00 PM  

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