Commentary: Stephens wrong on police, policy

Re. “Commentary: Campaign flier misstated facts about police” (Oct. 31): In his editorial, City Council candidate John Stephens challenges City Councilman Steve Mensinger and myself on public safety. Here are the facts.

In an Aug. 17 story, the Orange County Register reported that Costa Mesa Police officers are the highest paid in Orange County with an average total compensation of nearly $14,000 per month. This report mirrors the police union law firm, which recently proclaimed that Costa Mesa police were the highest paid in all of Southern California.

Our police contract currently allows police officers to retire as early as age 50 with up to 90% of their salary in retirement. This is simply not economically sustainable, as evidenced by our city’s $230 million unfunded pension obligation. Mr. Stephens thinks otherwise.

Mr. Stephens references the parolees who have been dumped onto our streets by the state. His solution is to simply hire more police officers. He fails to mention that most of these parolees live with sex offenders and other high-risk criminals at one of our many low-end motels. These motels account for the vast majority of our police service calls.

I support a holistic approach to law enforcement that looks at the root causes of crime, not simply promising more police officers to give us a false sense of safety. I support shutting down the problem motels and getting rid of the criminals. I support letting our police chief and city manager set the staffing levels for police, not the employee unions.

I have a strong record on public safety. I was elected to lead our neighborhood association when crime was at its peak in 2006. We teamed up with our police to successfully implement the graffiti ordinance which has given our police new tools and resources to fight crime. We instituted numerous neighborhood watch programs. We took back Paularino Park from the drug dealers. Where was Mr. Stephens?

The fact is that Mr. Stephens is a high-priced, out of touch, Newport Beach lawyer. He cost the residents tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal fees when he sued our city to stop you from voting on a charter proposal in the June election. Shockingly, Mr. Stephens is proud of his efforts at suing our city and his actually campaigning on them. Now he wants to represent you on our City Council?

We get Mr. Stephens and his game. He woke up and decided to run for City Council to add to his resume. His only shot at winning is to make personal attacks on those he is running against and paint them as soft on crime.

Fortunately, the residents of Costa Mesa see through this charade. They will vote for leaders who have a plan to keep Costa Mesa moving forward. Leaders use verbs and not just adjectives to lead. They will not support those who simply denigrate others to gain power.

City Council candidates COLIN MCCARTHY is president of the Mesa North Community Assn. and a candidate for City Council.