Mailbag: H.B. councilman’s stance on face masks troubles readers

Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz without a mask at a food giveaway.
Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz, a former UFC fighter, is approached from all sides with cellphones and a megaphone during a Kiwanis of Huntington Beach food giveaway in the Oak View neighborhood of Huntington Beach on Dec. 23. Readers say the newly elected councilman is displaying poor leadership by denying the importance of wearing a mask during the coronavirus pandemic.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

This past November, many people in Huntington Beach knew we were in trouble when Tito Ortiz was not only elected to the City Council but subsequently installed as mayor pro tem. Just as many knew we were in trouble when Donald Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016 and was subsequently elected president.

Neither has any respect for political and social norms. Neither has any respect for anyone but himself. We have paid for the latter’s disrespect for the system. We should not have to pay for the former if Ortiz continues to thumb his maskless nose at our community and its best interests.

In short, Ortiz must never be selected mayor and become the titular leader of our city. If Ortiz continues to embarrass us this year, any council member who supports him becoming our mayor in 2022 should be forced to wear a Scarlet “T” on their chest as a stigma of shame and disgrace.

Either of our other two new council members would make a much better choice. There is recent precedent for this. Former Councilman Billy O’Connell was passed over in the pecking order for mayor, and it was a wise choice. We need to consider the same remedy.

It is wrong to think of the mayoral position here as merely a ceremonial office. Just the power of appointments and the conducting of our City Council meetings is huge. Being the civic face of our city should mean something to our citizenry. We cannot afford to put our city through the chaos we have suffered on the national level. Cooler heads must prevail.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz refuses to wear a mask, calls the COVID-19 epidemic a “plandemic,” and says he’s “trying to give back for Christmas.” But what Ortiz is “giving” is a poor example of pandemic protocols as outlined by epidemiologists.

Along with his “giving back” Ortiz may be, like his apparent exemplar, Donald Trump, an agent of the super-spreading of this virus.

How did Surf City become a tsunami of such ignorance?

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

To Mr. Ortiz: First of all, I would like to thank you for participating in the Oak View food drive this past Wednesday. Helping those in need during this especially difficult holiday season is kind and thoughtful.

I’m also glad that you and your family have not contracted the coronavirus. It’s great that none of you have had to experience the gasping for breath, body aches, chills, fever, headaches, vomiting and other symptoms associated with this vicious disease. None of you has had to be put on a ventilator wondering if you will wake up.

Think, if you will for a moment, how it feels for someone to have to say goodbye to a loved one via Zoom, to plan a memorial service many cannot even attend. Think of the loneliness and isolation of those in the hospital or nursing facility or in their own home.

Simply put, masks save lives. It is a fact. There is no political agenda at work here, no desire to take away anyone’s rights. Sadly, some cannot or will not believe this. It truly makes me weep with frustration. Such a simple step to help save lives. Please consider the impact your words have on others and consider changing your message. It will benefit everyone.

Leslie Selder
Huntington Beach

While Huntington Beach seems never to be far from the headlines these days, it rarely is the type of publicity a city would be seeking. Rather than keeping the focus on our beautiful beaches and wonderful community, H.B. is now internationally known as the home of pro-virus rallies, science-denial and willful indifference to public health. Needless to say: This is not a good look Surf City.

After reading several articles by Daily Pilot reporter Matt Szabo, it was clear H.B. would continue to be at the center of more needless controversy because sadly, the city now has a new leading man for the nonsense: Mayor Pro Temp Tito Ortiz.

Mr. Ortiz is a newly elected city councilman, yet after less than a month on the job, you gotta wonder why in the world anyone so recklessly selfish, utterly irresponsible and completely unprepared would have run for public office in the first place. Huntington Beach residents must be wondering if they elected a public servant or just another aging athlete auditioning for a future reality-TV series.

Public service, whether as an elected official or simply as a volunteer, should always be commended. It is a selfless pursuit where one is asked to put one’s community ahead of personal interests. After reading about Mr. Ortiz’s recent antics, both from the dais and in public, it’s clear he has much to learn about the selflessness needed to serve one’s community effectively.

Huntington Beach, like so many communities, is suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. And for as much as Mr. Ortiz and his two other elected cohorts who regularly ignore public health recommendations might enjoy their alternate reality, actual H.B. residents aren’t afforded that luxury. We must face business struggles, coronavirus illnesses, and even the tragic loss of family members.

As a community, we deserve better, and for the good of all Huntington Beach residents, let’s hope Mr. Ortiz grows into his new position by finding some self-awareness, a bit of humility and embracing an opportunity to lead. A great first step in the right direction is easily achieved: put on a mask.

Steve Shepherd
Huntington Beach

Visits to hospitals might quiet deniers

For all those deniers out there (characterized in Gustavo Arellano’s column about Orange County as well as the protests by the deniers in Huntington Beach and most recently in Newport) who think that the coronavirus is nothing but a bad flu, I suggest a certain field trip that might serve as a reality check.

I suggest you visit all the hospitals that you can in Southern California, the county as well as private hospitals, large as well as small, and see for yourself what is happening — shortages of space and medical personnel, patients waiting in ambulances for eight hours in order to get a bed, hallways stacked with beds of people waiting to be seen by overworked doctors and nurses, many of whom are working outside their specialties, shortages of PPE, medical personnel who have to wear the same one-day mask for a week, nurses and doctors breaking down in tears as a result of watching their patients die, dying patients unable to see any loved ones at the end because of fear of contagion, people with cancer and painful conditions having their surgeries postponed because of the need of COVID-19 beds, and even soon if not already, the terrible decision that doctors may have to make in prioritizing urgency ... the sure loss of patients who could be saved if the hospitals were not in dire straits.

Don’t stop at the Orange County line, visit Los Angeles and San Bernardino also, or even Ventura County and the Bay Area. Everywhere you go, you will pretty much find the same circumstances.

Unfortunately, it seems that some people lack the ability to empathize, and some of those people only learn to do so when they or a loved one experience the harsh reality of a situation, even if the situation is not directly related. It doesn’t seem to be a function of intelligence either.

I have seen it in my own family coming from people who are normally kind and considerate. The reality of the pandemic just seems to be beyond some people’s comprehension level. The key to it all is empathy. If only we could develop a vaccine for that.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Beach

New Year’s resolution for NMUSD officials

Right before Christmas, I delivered a carload of presents and food to the Wilson Learning Center at which time I learned a great deal about the operations of the center and was shocked. The facility provides afterschool assistance to about 100 Newport Mesa students from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. They receive no assistance from the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and primarily rely on the church they are operating in and donations to operate. The church is receiving very limited funds from their members due to the virus, so they are providing little support.

I then called Wilson School to see what assistance they were providing to the English Learners and at-risk students during non-school or school hours. The answer was none.

I then checked with a friend of mine that works as a support person at Diamond Elementary School in Santa Ana in the Learning Lab with at-risk students who come to school and are on Zoom with their teacher.

They have two paraprofessionals for each grade level at Diamond. In the afternoon, students receive help from paraprofessionals on Zoom from 2 to 6 p.m. with the Engaged 360 program. This is paid for by the school district.

There is no reason why NMUSD cannot provide support to the at-risk students and also support these outside agencies that are doing the work of the schools. Maybe if you alternate meetings with the Costa Mesa City Council, the city leaders will better understand the great need for the children in their city and also provide support.

Once again, those who “have” are hiring tutors to support their children at $60-plus per hour. Those who “have not” are receiving no extra help from the district.

Let’s start the New Year out right and start supporting “at risk” students in January.

Shame on you. I know you can do better.

Martie OMeara
Costa Mesa

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