Voice of Our Commentators

Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.

Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question.

Does OC Trust Its Police?

The distrust of the police didn’t start with Kelly Thomas. If you’ve paid attention, there’s been one police scandal after another in Orange County for the last 10 years.

Go review the record. The taxpayers have paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements and judgments for police misconduct and abuse and wrongful deaths in the 10 years prior to the death of Kelly Thomas. The cops commit the wrongdoings, and we, the taxpayers, end up getting the brunt of the punishment. The violators mostly walk away without a scratch.

So it’s not like the Thomas incident woke us up. The only reason the Thomas beating drew attention was the public outcry and the involvement of Kelly’s dad. If not for that, Kelly would have been conveniently swept under the carpet, like the ones who went before him.

As a matter of fact, all six cops involved in Kelly’s beating and death were placed back on regular duty shortly after the killing. The only reason they were relieved of duty and the three got charged was due to the public outcry and the persistence of Kelly’s dad.

Go read the recent testimony of the Fullerton police trainer who swore under oath that after reviewing the beating video he saw nothing that fell outside the realm of departmental policy with regard to use of force.

So, I guess, repeatedly smashing an unarmed, skinny, 135-pound homeless man in the face with a Taser gun causing massive fractures to his facial bones, jaw and inducing internal hemorrhaging that impeded normal breathing and deprived the brain of oxygen while Kelly was held down by 1,000 pounds of cop is consistent with departmental police policy in Fullerton.

This is the problem as I see it, Mr. [Todd] Spitzer, [county supervisor]. You were so worried about a 19-year-old man having a beer in a private home that you wanted to enact yet another law that would have given the cops more power to interfere with a homeowner’s rights in order to make us “safer,” while you do absolutely nothing to clean up the culture of corruption in the police departments.

Why don’t you demand that Sheriff [Sandra] Hutchens release the dashcam video of the Manuel Loggins killing in San Clemente? That was the case where an unarmed Marine sergeant was shot to death by a deputy as he sat in his car only a couple feet in front of his two young daughters.

We the taxpayers were forced to shell out $4 million to his survivors, so obviously there must have been some wrongdoing. If we were good enough to pay the survivors $4 million, why aren’t we good enough to see the evidence, Mr. Spitzer?

This is why many of us simply don’t trust the system that you represent.

— Beelzebub

You could add the Sheriff [Mike] Carona scandal to the list of why people are increasingly distrustful of law enforcement. There is also the apparent attempt in Costa Mesa to frame one or more elected City Council members by the law firm representing the police union. Then just to our north there is the mess that is the LA Sheriff’s Department, particularly its jail operation.

Our police agencies have gradually become militaristic troops with sophisticated weapons and other toys, from six-figure mobile crime scene motor homes to Hummers and helicopters and, yes, drones.

Perhaps it is time to reign in these organizations a bit. Most certainly not the time to give them greater intrusive powers into our homes and daily lives.

— News Hound

Everybody is going off the deep end on this one.

First of all, [home underage drinking] ordinances just like the one proposed by Supervisor [Todd] Spitzer have survived judicial review, most recently in Rhode Island. There is no civil rights issue presented here. It’s actually about accountability and civil liability.

Spitzer’s assertion that the Kelly Thomas case had something to do with this is likewise off the mark. Judges and juries routinely choose to believe cops and prosecutors in this county and many others in spite of the evidence.

Here’s where it really gets strange: Supervisor [Shawn] Nelson accusing Spitzer of grandstanding. If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black.

What this is really about for Nelson and others is a chance to show how conservative they are. They are going to protect their constituents from state thugs, because that’s the libertarian way.

It’s got nothing to do with the Kelly Thomas case and everything to do with establishing conservative cred. Who cares what the ordinance actually says if there are some votes up for grabs.

— Regularguy7

First of all, Todd [Spitzer, county supervisor] or Nick [Gerda, Voice of OC reporter], what is “pro-law enforcement”?

Just the very phrase suggests that half of us — the half who may be sometimes critical of law enforcement — don’t want laws enforced, want a world without cops.

Don’t fall into that very simple verbal trap.

— Vern Nelson

Much Ado About a Blog

I was not “ridiculing the mourning rituals for young Latino men.” As I stated in the statement I sent you [Voice of OC] four hours ago, I did not have any particular person or incident in mind when I wrote it.

Furthermore, I was not aware that Dec. 12 was the anniversary of the death of Theresa Smith’s son or that there had been a candlelight vigil. It is misleading and prejudicial reporting for you to imply that I did know or should have known.

[From Voice of OC article:] Smith and other critics of the blog post said that it represents a strain of racial insensitivity among the city’s political establishment, including the current City Council majority.

That is baseless and unfair and equates “racial sensitivity” to support for a specific political agenda, and opposition to that agenda makes one “insensitive.”

[From the article:] …the post also made fun of activists’ efforts to establish what they claim would be a more representative voting system …

And when did that become newsworthy? If ridiculing political agendas one opposes is newsworthy, then I expect Adam [Elmahrek, Voice of OC reporter] to write an article a day about Orange Juice Blog, SaveAnaheim.com or Cynthia Ward’s Facebook page. Not that I’m holding my breath.

[From the article:] But after the reporter’s call, he took down the post …

More misleading reporting (and an illustration that facts are not the same as truth). It’s a fact that Adam called me. It’s also a fact that I removed the original content (five hours later). But the former did not cause the latter, as Adam’s reporting misleads the reader into thinking. I also removed that content after the sun went down, which also wasn’t the reason.

The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce is one of my clients, but Anaheim Blog belongs to me. I own it. I decide what I write about. No one directs me or gives me orders about its content. Anyone who implies or says explicitly that I am racially insensitive (especially to Latinos) just doesn’t know me. My beliefs and the facts of my life stand in direct opposition to any such claim.

I am sorry for anyone’s loss of a child. I have lost family members, and I know how it hurts. I have four children and cannot imagine losing any of them. I’m sure it’s the same for any parent, no matter the circumstances of the death or the path of decisions made and not made that led to it.

But I had absolutely no intent or thought of diminishing anyone’s grief or loss. It’s unsettling to know that a couple of people can level uninformed accusations against someone they don’t know (and whose politics they oppose), and that is enough to spur Mr. Elmahrek to so much energy on a nonstory.

— Matthew Cunningham

This is simply BS. Cunningham is backpeddaling faster than a defensive back trying to intercept a touchdown pass.

Look, you tried to be funny at the expense of horrific events that have plagued a marginalized community, and people actually stood up. Be a man, admit that you are a covert racist and I think people would be less offended.

The silver lining in this story is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Cunningham, you have inspired me to take action and to always keep folks like yourself on your heels through every legal means possible.

— Ipnatoredmyself

Here’s an opportunity for the OC conservative leadership to “walk the walk.”

They are always complaining about government not holding anyone responsible. Hold Cunningham responsible and terminate his chamber contract.

He posted the offensive material knowing it would create backlash, then twice tried to justify it as he removed the post, then finally apologized only under extreme pressure to do so.

So far the only response has been a weak, incorrect denial of connection to the chamber. Step up!

— You’re Correct

Mr. [Adam] Elmahrek [Voice of OC reporter], your use of the term “conservative blogger” is misleading and inappropriate.

The blog in question is not conservative but is a PR site for the handful of people who pull and persuade the strings of Anaheim city government; it advocates public giveaways of community assets for the enrichment of same. It engages in half-truths and disinformation.

There is nothing remotely “conservative” about this blog.

— David Zenger

Also, I wouldn’t have given it that title [“Anaheim Latinos Outraged Over Blogger’s Post”]. A lot of us were outraged when we saw Matt’s post, not just Anaheim Latinos.

— Vern Nelson

Take a look at the bigger picture here.

Social justice movements don’t achieve their ultimate goal within a day. The goal of Anaheim’s reformation to close the political and socio-economic gaps is still off in the future.

But this is still a small victory towards that goal. We have the chamber of commerce and City Council on their toes.

— Pellucid Perusal

Voice of Our Commentators

Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.

Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question.

Struggling Toward Public Comment Policies

This is such good news. Props to [Supervisors Shawn] Nelson and [Todd] Spitzer for taking a stand to head off what could have been a tragedy for civil liberties.

With respect to the “organized attack campaign against the mayor,” I feared the chilling effect it would have on free speech in the political arena. Seeing [Anaheim] Mayor [Tom] Tait come under attack, would elected officials around the country come under pressure to remove speakers during public comments when the speaker’s rhetoric could be seen as offensive?

Hearing Councilwoman [Kris] Murray on PBS insinuate that the mayor was homophobic and anti-Semitic for failing to remove a speaker, I felt that outcome was a serious possibility.

Such a chill on free speech would be a tragedy. Public comments may not always have substantive value, but they are critical to the democratic process. Giving the public at large a forum to sound off allows people to describe concerns and vent frustrations, even if the speaker does not articulate their grievance in a manner that is intelligible or politically correct.

In Anaheim, the average Joe/Jill has a mere three minutes twice a month to take center stage and go on the record. On the other hand, council members have nearly unlimited access to forums where they can speak to a large audiences.

With respect to the First Amendment, we need to keep the speaker in mind, and local political gadflies/concerned citizens deserve the utmost protection. We should be facilitating and encouraging public participation, not restricting it.

— Caldlamb

I do think that the expectation that Mayor [Tom] Tait could have stopped Fitzgerald midsentence was wrong. But the fact is that Tom’s soft-spoken manner on the dais seems to have created an atmosphere of “anything goes” at Anaheim City Council meetings.

People are calling out from the audience, constant applause after speakers, interrupting members of the City Council when they speak. It feels out of control. And that is on Tom, as Mayor, to bring order. Members of the public and members of the council have a right to feel like they can express their opinion in a safe environment.

Tait supporters, this isn’t an attack on Tom, just an observation on how he runs a meeting. I also get the feeling that as long as the catcalling is going against his “council opponents,” he doesn’t mind. At that is what is really sad.

— OCTaxpayer

The Mayor’s Real Estate Deal

Ah, it’s good to be king.

[Santa Ana Mayor Miguel] Pulido hides the truth, fails — i.e., refuses — to report the real estate transaction, gets stone-cold busted, thumbs nose, more pressure is applied, so he presto fixo jams in the “corrected” documents.

He gets his royal nose out of joint and hangs up the phone on reporters like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

And now the fake city attorney “investigation” can conclude that the mighty mayor did a goof, just a “mistake,” and now it is “resolved”. With this “finding” the general population can sleep soundly at night knowing all is well.

See how everything is fixable for the high and mighty?


— Insider2

The mayor would have never changed his filing if not stone-cold busted by the Voice of OC.

Politics in Orange County are downright disgusting in their greed and thievery. Where is this highly costly public integrity unit in the DA’s office? It sure would be nice if [District Attorney Tony] Rackauckas would do what the people voted him into office for — to uphold the laws of OC and hold all citizens accountable. It’s just sad the the state or the feds have to come into town and do his job.

— Cacityguy

The Kelly Thomas Trial

DA Tony Rackauckas came out of his office to prosecute this one personally. He’s up for re-election in November and needs a big win to use against cop-friendly Todd Spitzer.

T-Rack would never risk losing such a high-profile case this close to re-election. I think Rackauckas is 99.9% certain he’ll win this one or he wouldn’t be putting himself in front of the media so close to an election.

— OC Bureaucrat

The fault [for banning cameras from the courtroom] lies with the judge.

This is an important trial — the first time in OC history a uniformed officer is being tried for his actions on duty. Given the awesome responsibility and authority every officer is given by the citizens he/she protects, this trial deserves more transparency, not less.

The judge threw the baby out with the bathwater because of juvenile behavior by the DA. I love Orange County, but we have to accept some truths about our home. Our public officials and judges often reflect the insular, one-party provincialism of the past and not the ethnically diverse, urban metropolis the County has become.

Both the DA’s actions, including the “eye roll,” and the judge’s decision show an ignorance of media operations, rights and responsibilities you might find in a rural community.

— Regularguy7