Once again, Huntington Beach was splashed all over the news. And once again, it found itself wiping away more proverbial egg from its face.
Little did Robert Rizzo imagine how different life would soon become last March when he was arrested after crashing into a mailbox in the 1900 block of Pine Street — not far from his home. He had a blood-alcohol level of .28, more than three times the legal limit, and as reported in this paper, "He was allegedly so intoxicated and stumbling around 'that the officer could not have him finish the field sobriety test,' said Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff at the Orange County district attorney's office."
Soon, the world would learn about Rizzo, the highly paid Bell city administrator, and as he would become the poster boy for local city corruption after he and some of the members of the Bell City Council were arrested and charged with a mind-numbing litany of crimes.
As for those charges, Rizzo and his City Council associates will soon be in court where, no doubt, even more unctuous details will emerge about how they allegedly abused the citizens they were elected, or in his case appointed, to serve.
That's how the system works.
But as far as punishment for the drunk driving, part of Rizzo's sentence was court-ordered community service, and while there have been reports about where Rizzo has been serving, he was fully outed last week in a column by the Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times and in a news story carried by the Daily Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent.
Acting on a tip, Lopez high-tailed it over to the International Surfing Museum after learning that Rizzo was working as a parking lot security guard for the museum. The Lopez column created a firestorm of press, and as a result, Rizzo was let go from his "job" at the museum.
This brought a few things to mind.
First, when I think of "community service" for a driver who was as stone-faced smashed as Rizzo was proven to be, I'd much rather see him doing something that truly serves the community. I noticed a ton of garbage at the wetlands this morning. Why not make him skim that garbage and slime? Is there no actual serious labor that this city needs that could not be defined as "community service"?
Next, while I'm sure the museum felt like it was doing the right thing, you need to be aware of the ramifications when you place a pariah out in the public on your own behalf. Technically, I'm sure they are well within their rights to have him there, and if they felt strongly about it, they should have fought for him. But common sense matters, too, and, as it turns out, this one bit them back. But they're good people at the museum and I'm sure their hearts were in the right place
What are your thoughts on all of this?
I'd also like to add this note from Gail Page: "Please join us for an Authors Festival reception at the Central Library on from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 25. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Children's Library.
"Twenty-one authors and illustrators of children's books will spend the day at local schools, explaining the creative writing process and sharing their love of reading and writing with students. Fifteen of these authors are scheduled to meet the community at the library after their school visit. They will autograph and personalize their books; Barnes & Noble will be selling their books at the library that afternoon. Books are the perfect gift for all kids, so please stop by and meet these authors.
"At 3:45 p.m. in the library's Tabby Theater, there will be an awards ceremony for student winners of the 'Great Book Adventure' writing and illustrating contest, held in conjunction with the annual Authors Festival. The public is invited to this gala afternoon event."
Please come by and say hi as this is a wonderful event. I'll be there signing books, too.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.