The Times’ article (March 16) spoke of the jury verdict against Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates in the Guillory case. The jury felt that Gates had abused his powers. An accompanying article spoke of the views of some Orange County Republican politicians regarding that verdict.
In that accompanying article, state Sen. Marian Bergeson stated that Gates was " . . . not going to be hurt in the long run. . . . I think he’s pretty well entrenched.” Mission Viejo City Councilman (Robert A.) Curtis doubts that Gates need worry much about the verdict and County Supervisor (Thomas F.) Riley spoke only of the money involved.
As a longtime registered Republican, I ask those politicians when they are going to address themselves to their responsibilities as leading residents (not Republicans) of Orange County to see that the people get a sheriff-coroner who doesn’t abuse his powers? These aren’t slip-and-fall lawsuits out of some supermarket! How many abuse-of-power lawsuits does it take? Without their (and other civic leaders’) support or neutrality, Gates wouldn’t make it in any election.
The mind-set of “my party right or wrong” has no place in civic leadership. The county paid off $357,000 in the first suit (the Wright case) because it didn’t want the facts of that suit to be revealed in the newspapers and it feared a far greater judgment. The Guillory suit with attorney fees will probably equal that. What makes politicians so blase about a sheriff-coroner who abuses his powers and then gets the taxpayers to bail him out? Twice! And one to go!
I strongly suggest that they inquire about the evidence of the case pending against Gates and that they then stand up to be counted.