Commentary: Candidates' policies are harmful to public safety

I am a longtime resident and retiree from the Costa Mesa Police Department.

Despite the fact that I have been a lifelong Republican, and despite that I believe in fiscal conservatism and balanced budgets, I cannot support the candidacy of the "3Ms": City Councilman Steve Mensinger, Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy and Councilman Gary Monahan, nor can I support their proposed charter, Measure V.

The 3Ms have failed in the most basic and primary function of local government: to provide for the safety of the community. The 3Ms, along with their allies, have decimated public safety in Costa Mesa. The Police Department has staffing levels that we have not seen since the early 1980s.

The Police Department is so understaffed that it can barely handle calls for service, let alone engage in the proactive type of enforcement that reduces crime. While the rest of the state is enjoying unprecedented decreases in crime, Costa Mesa suffers from a 32% increase in stolen vehicles, 38.9% increase in burglaries and a 39% increase in aggravated assaults (year to date through August compared with 2011).

Overall, felony crimes are up 14.49% YTD for 2012 and up 9.7% in 2011. Crime is rising, and the rate in which it is rising is going up too. I have never seen the Police Department so understaffed, demoralized and ill-equipped to deal with crime in this community. This is the result of the 3Ms' attack on public safety, the people they refer to as "union thugs."

If you are wondering why things are so bad, the current council has downsized the department, cut civilian support staff and now is refusing to hire new police officers because they do not want to hire them under the current pension plan. They are holding the city hostage to make a political point, but we are the ones who suffer.

Mensinger has been quoted in the Daily Pilot comparing his war on the various city labor groups to the Cold War with the Soviet Union. In other words, he views the city employees as the enemy. Is this healthy for the city? Is a demoralized, angry and frightened workforce in the best interests of the city? I think not.

The 3Ms are zero-sum gamers; that is to say it is win-lose with winner take all and then rig the game in their favor. There is no room for civil discourse or compromise.

In their total war on the city labor groups, they have moved rapidly with little consideration for city rules and regulations. As a result we are mired in expensive litigation — all on the taxpayer's dime.

So no, I will not vote for the 3Ms, and I encourage others to not support them either. Vote for Sandra Genis, John Stephens and Harold Weitzberg.

CLAY EPPERSON is a retired Costa Mesa police officer.

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