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Venezia: Canceling of wake for man killed in police shooting was the right thing to do

I received a message Sunday from Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan, saying he’s decided to cancel antique dealer Jay Pinson’s memorial event at his restaurant, Skosh Monahan’s Irish pub, originally planned for 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“Due to the publicity,” Monahan said, he felt that canceling the event was best for the family, but he’d continue taking donations for Pinson’s girlfriend and her son. Anyone interested should contact him directly at gary@skoshmonahans.com.

He asked that I help him get the word out about the cancellation of the wake.

The whole controversy started Jan. 19, when I received an email invitation to the former antique dealer’s “celebration of life” at Monahan’s. I was taken aback.

The column questioned why he’d hold a memorial for a guy who on Dec. 16 died in a shootout with Costa Mesa Police Department officers trying to serve him extradition warrants from Texas and New Mexico for alleged embezzlement, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal sexual penetration of a minor.

“What happened in the past I have no clue,” Monahan told me at the time. “I’m concerned with the girlfriend and the kid and helping them move on.”

He was clear that he intended the event to be a fundraiser for the family — nothing political — and that it certainly wasn’t a statement against the CMPD.

Unfortunately that’s not what readers took away. Many were upset and felt the memorial was a slap in the face to the cops who’d put their lives on the line in this gun battle.

Resident Mary Spadoni felt so strongly that she put plans into motion for a rally to support the police. The rally was supposed to take place on the same day as the wake — and across the street from Skosh Monahan’s — but she changed her mind Sunday after she got word that Monahan canceled his event.

I told Monahan I was glad he had this change of heart. It’s no secret I felt holding this memorial for Pinson was in poor taste.

Though I never questioned that Monahan was acting out of kindness for Pinson’s girlfriend and her son, I felt that the councilman could have gone about it in a different way.

Putting that aside, Monahan wants to move forward.

He’s been in contact with David Trotter, an ex-pastor and the man who first approached him with the idea of having the memorial at his restaurant. Monahan tells me Trotter will take it from here and find the family a local place of worship to hold the event.

Monahan has also reached out to Spadoni. He wants to help her with her rally, which she now says will include the Fire Department and be held at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 3 in front of City Hall and the Police Department at 99 Fair Drive.

Resident Teresa Drain is serving as chairwoman and, so far, I hear balloons, light refreshments and lots of enthusiasm will be on hand.

“I want to thank Councilman Monahan for rethinking his position on hosting the wake,” Spadoni wrote in an email Sunday. “Over this weekend I was inundated with calls, emails and responses in support of the rally, in numbers I never imagined. It has been decided that a joint rally for fire and police will be rescheduled for a later date. It became obvious the huge community support required a permit. Thank you to all the residents for your overwhelming support for our officers.”

In speaking to Spadoni and Monahan, I got the impression that both wanted something good to come out of last week’s controversy.

Spadoni said she welcomes the councilman’s help on the rally and hopes it will be the first step of many in bringing the community closer together.

Could this be a turning point in Costa Mesa politics?

Let’s hope so.

It’s time for people in this city to find some common ground. A rally for the men and women who keep them safe is a good starting place.

Who knows? Maybe it will even heal some old wounds.

I applaud Monahan for not sticking to his guns on this memorial thing. Leadership sometimes takes rethinking a decision.

And I’m glad these two are working on the rally together.

I get the impression they probably haven’t seen eye to eye on many things in the past, but the fact they’re willing to build at least one bridge is a move in the right direction.

I know some people will feel that I’m a little naive to think Monahan’s motivations here are pure. Quite frankly I don’t care if they are or not; sometimes just acting right gets you the right results.

And in the end, aren’t results all that matter?

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.


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