Author Archives: Jeff Gallagher

On the Agenda

Pat yourself on the back, members of the Tustin City Council. You got through another year without much trouble; at least none that we noticed with the pandemic breathing down our necks. The city is lucky to have you. What, with all the remote meetings that most people couldn’t figure out how to log into, you could have really done some damage and you didn’t. Thank you.

The last meeting of the year is pretty pro forma. Send off the lame ducks and welcome the new crew in their place. Letitia Clark will be hanging around for another 4 years. She will be joined on the dais by veteran Beckie Gomez and newcomer Ryan Gallagher. Of course, you have those bastion of good ol’ boys, Barry Cooper and Austin Lumbard, to round things out. it should be an interesting year.

Tustinites finally righted a terrible wrong foisted on them eight years ago by Three Amigos. As a parting shot of total disrespect to the city of Tustin and the remaining city council members, then Mayor Jerry Amante talked his cronies into putting a salary elimination proposal on the ballot. At the time, the city was pretty fed up with the boys and that dissatisfaction resonated -in the form of a yes vote- with the electorate of the city. I’m sure I saw Jerry skipping with glee down the sidewalk of city hall as he left for the last time. Too bad he didn’t slip and break his neck.

Fast forward to 2020 and, lo and behold, the residents of this fine city saw the error of their ways. In an overwhelming 2 to 1 vote in favor, salaries were restored to the Tustin City Council. Rightfully, the stipend the city councilmembers will be paid is sans the old healthcare and retirement benefits. It will be above and beyond any out-of-pocket expenses paid by the city. Considering the amount of work a city councilmember does, even in our quiet burg, the $600 per month stipend is well deserved. Don’t spend it all in one place, guys.

In a way, I am sorry to see Chuck Puckett and Alan “Doc” Bernstein go. They have served the city well, even though Alan had trouble making a two line speech without looking at his notes. Chuck is an oldtimer and brought a wealth of knowledge to the dais, even though he associated himself with the conservatives. I honestly think it was his years of expertise and public service that moved the city council along most of the time.

So, for the first time in a long time, we have a fairly young city council that, I hope, will work together in keeping our city the great place it is to live. The most immediate threat to that, of course, is keeping our businesses afloat during the pandemic. Another immediate threat that needs to be reigned in is city staff. This city council has an opportunity to take a more hands on approach to city business, making sure the city manager and his staff are in tune with the residents of the city, not doing things the way they see fit. That will be helped along by some internal staff changes that have recently occurred. It wouldn’t hurt if they made a few more.

What with three new councilmembers and reinstatement of stipends for the work expected of them, Tustin City Council is off to a good start. I’m sure Chuck is wishing them well (after he breathes a sigh of relief) as the step up to the dais. We wish them good luck in their coming term. And, you can be assured we’ll hold their feet to the fire.

Masks, Curfews & Smirks

Courtesy of the

It seems like only yesterday we were sitting at the restaurant table, enjoying a glass of wine, laughing with friends and celebrating birthdays. Oh, wait that wasn’t us. That was Governor Gavin Newsom who, as has been typical, ignored the rules he has been touting for 8 months and had a grand old time with friends at the The French Laundry Restaurant in Yountville (that’s Napa for you peasants).

Never mind that he got caught red-handed with photos of him going bare-faced and everything. He actually had the nerve to go on television and , with his most insincere smirk, said that he “owned” the mistake and that was that, you should just forget about it because we all make mistakes, right? Right…..

So, I did something I rarely do, I actually watched the conference where he apologized, gave alarming statistics and said something to the effect that he was “studying” the use of curfews by Germany and Saudi Arabia. That was actually double speak for “we’re going to implement curfews in California,” because -two days later- he did.

In implementing his order for the curfew, Newsom said,  “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.” Now mind you, I’m not sure this applies to Newsom or the elite in Orange County. Although Tustin issued a press release, it basically referred to the governor’s press release. Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce can shed some light on this.

Of course, there are a couple of questions. For one, it has been my observation that most businesses are already closed by 8pm. I work on the other side of the county several nights a week and often find myself looking for someplace besides the usual fast food joints to get a meal on the way home. It is a rare night when anyone is open. So, I kind of wonder just how much this curfew will accomplish. Does Covid-19 actually become more virulent between the hours of 10pm and 5am? Will I need to double mask?

Then, of course, there is enforcement. Countywide, Sheriff Don Barnes has reiterated his long standing view on the issue. “At this time, due to the need to have deputies available for emergency calls for service, deputies will not be responding to requests for face-coverings or social gatherings-only enforcement,” read a statement from the Sheriff’s office. Barnes had previously said his deputies would take an inform and educate approach to mask enforcement.

Here in Tustin, things are a bit vague. Back in March, when we shutdown the county, the city issued a press release stating that non-essential businesses must be shut. Other than that, there was no discussion of enforcement or any other action to be taken by the police or code enforcement. if TPD arrested anyone for violating the shutdown, I’m not aware of it. The governor’s strike teams didn’t even show up, darn it.+

I suspect, as of Saturday night, it will pretty much be business as usual from 10pm to 5am. Most businesses in the city already close much earlier than that. I doubt the SWAT team will descend on the outdoor patio of Roma d’ Italia if there are a few lingering customers finishing off their wine. And don’t expect your mother-in-law who likes to take late night walks through old town with her corgie to suddenly disappear when armed men dressed in black suddenly fly out of an SUV and whisk her away. Not gonna happen.

Chief of Police, Stu Greenberg, has not issued a press release regarding the curfew. I doubt that his office will, as much as I doubt he will direct his officers to take any enforcement action at all. That’s not to say if you are out and about past 10pm and are acting like an idiot you won’t be stopped. I’m sure at that point the fine officers of our city will pay some attention to you. But, walking your dog after 10pm. Well, that’s essential, isn’t it?

Seriously, Art?

At some point each day, I try to peruse the various blogs and news sites that I support on this page. I admit most of the writers have either better contacts or more time to waste perusing blogs than I do for story ideas. Art Pedroza, who publishes the pseudo-news-blog “New Santa Ana” is one of the latter.

On Wednesday, the Tustin Police Department published an entry to their Facebook account regarding a recent mitigation action concerning a homeless encampment. The officer who responded to the call found personal belongings and and obvious signs of occupation but not warm bodies to speak with. They left a notice directing the occupant to clear the area. Homeless Liaison Officer DeLeon went by the next day and found nearly everything gone. City personnel then cleared the remaining items from the area. Good Job and no one got hurt (maybe a little inconvenienced but not hurt.

So, imagine my surprise when I am slogging through the various blogs and I read on New Santa Ana about the incident. I mean, it wasn’t anywhere near Santa Ana. It must have been a slow news day in his city, with new, as yet uncorrupted city councilmembers and all. Art did a good job of copying the TPD Facebook entry nearly word-for-word but I suppose there are different rules for professional bloggers. It was the last paragraph that really bothered me.

Homeless Encampment Before Removal Courtesy of TPD

Pedroza writes: “Hurray for Tustin but where did the homeless people in question go? Tustin does provide a homeless shelter. But in the example above the homeless people in question just left. Where did they go?

Well, gee Art, how would DeLeon know? There was no one there to speak with and, obviously, police officers don’t have time to hang around on an admittedly low level service call. More important than that, as Pedroza pointed out, Tustin has a homeless shelter. In fact Tustin has several, including the Orange County Rescue Mission which serves the entire county and has been in service since 1963. It has been on the old Marine base for about 14 years now and has been joined by multiple other organizations that provide housing to homeless veterans and others in need.

Tustin has been a leader in working to get the homeless off the streets of our city without burdening other cities like Santa Ana, who has been fighting tooth and nail against a homeless shelter, and Irvine who has some pretty interesting ways of dealing with their homeless population. Tustin’s officers were also some of the first in Orange County to receive training in homeless and mental health issues among the homeless. That training pays off for them every day.

So, Art, before you go bashing a neighboring city, maybe you should take the time to do a little actual research instead of just plagiarizing Facebook pages.

Purple is not My Color

Ah, you have to love the bravado by which Governor Newsom holds his news conferences. If you were watching at noon, he makes a big deal out of taking his mask off whenever he steps up to the microphone. I wonder how many times he has practiced that move in front of the mirror.

So now, we head back into the most restrictive mode, Purple Tier, because who knew there would be a fall spike in Covid cases? I did, I did…..and you did, too, probably. For something that isn’t the flu, this virus certainly acts like the flu. And, we have been responding like it is a flu. Common sense tells people at risk to avoid crowds and go out only when necessary. Yes, we are all wearing masks (well, most of us). We may have defined social distancing but really….didn’t you do that last year with people you suspected had the flu? I mean, who wants to get sneezed on….

I hope you enjoyed eating inside at our fine restaurants. They will be forced back outside in 24 hours (rather than 72) because Newsom pulled what he likes to call the “emergency brake”. As we head back out, I expect some of them to close not because of a lack of outdoor space but because of a lack of outdoor heaters. While many restaurants, notably in the District and the Marketplace, own their own heaters or have them permanently installed, most of our eateries do not. Restaurateurs were grateful to the city, county and state bureaucracy in giving them outdoor space and making it easy to obtain the proper permits (ABC requires a Covid permit to serve alcohol outside the normal boundaries of a restaurant). The now familiar orange barricades in the streets of Old Town don’t look like they will disappear anytime soon.

Not that I’m complaining. I really think the outdoor dining has caught on and folks I see dining in Old Town seem to really be enjoying themsleves. Of course, that was before the cold snap and the lack of heaters. Unfortunately, we can’t expect the restaurants to suddenly come up with them. Patio heaters are expensive to purchase – if you can find them. They are also getting suddenly expensive to rent, due to price-gouging by those that had the foresight to purchase them in the hope of making a quick buck. So, you may have to say goodbye to your favorite dining spot for awhile. There’s always delivery…

Also say goodbye to your favorite gym, movie theaters, spas, and a host of other businesses that were allowed to reopen just a few short weeks ago.

Then there is the threat of the curfew. Yes, our dear leader is flexing his muscles again and said that a statewide curfew is a very real possibility. Now, before you conservatives get all riled up about how the “lawsuit” eliminated his ability to make executive orders, it didn’t (next time read the fine print). It has, in fact, better defined what he can and can’t do. He can’t make law but he can make orders that affect the welfare and safety of the state. And implementing curfews is one of those time honored orders that governors have been making for safety and security reasons almost forever. So, if he implements it, don’t expect the courts to overturn it. To my knowledge, Los Angeles is the only place considering a curfew on their own. That could change under the governor’s order.

On the other hand, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, who has previously stated he is not the mask police, is not likely to enforce a curfew. Barnes deputies patrol unincorporated area and a third of the incorporated cities in the county.

Will Tustin enforce the curfew? I think that depends on whether the city council gets behind it. Tuesday’s council agenda only has one non-consent item on it. Curiously, it is for a renewal of the city’s current ordinance regarding Covid restrictions. I’m not sure if they can amend the agenda at this late date but they should just so they can discuss this latest state update. Otherwise it will be another two weeks or more before they address the issue. Hopefully, they will at least discuss the possibility of a curfew and and their possible response.

Oh, I almost forgot. Governor Newsom apologized for joining that birthday party for his friend last week. He spent most of the apology justifying the actions and saying “everyone makes mistakes”. I guess my concern was that he was looking like he was snickering the whole time.