If you attended the city council meeting on Tuesday, you might have decided to leave before the real business went down. That’s because an angry mob descended on the council hall demanding justice for a young man shot by Tustin Police last week. If you watch the video, as I normally do, you won’t see much of the crowd. That’s because the city, in its infinite wisdom, decided to black out that portion of the video when the crowd got aroused and nearly stormed the dais. I’m sure that someone thought that was a good idea. What it really does is help inculcate a sense of a coverup.
Even though the city’s video cameras went dark during the protest, “someone” thought to notify the media who arrived with at least one camera crew to catch the action the city hoped they could squelch. So, if you want to see the missing 4 minutes, you can watch the entire sordid affair below.
In just over 4 minutes, the crowd of at least fifty people armed with protest signs, face masks and other assorted protesting paraphernalia, interrupted, yelled, screamed and wailed laments toward the dais and the few “regular” folks who looked around for an easy escape. Many of the protesters were obviously locals or friends and family of Villa. However, there were quite a few protesters who were just as obviously from out of town. Notably, at least one Guy Fawks mask was seen and it’s a good bet that an organized protest like this would bring out the professional rabblerousers.
To bring you up to speed, on February 9th Tustin Police responded to a domestic violence call in apartments near Redhill and Nisson Rd. When they arrived on scene, according to the TPD press release, they were confronted by 23 year old Robert Villa armed with a knife. What occurred next is unclear but “more than one” officer shot the suspect who was later pronounced dead after being transported to Western Medical Center.
As is often the case, so-called “witnesses” came out of the woodwork to refute the claim of a knife. The OC Weekly, which takes every opportunity to slam police regardless of locale or reputation, was quick to interview family members who weren’t there and accept at face value their opinions on whether deadly force was necessary. The family retained a lawyer (fancy that) who quickly disputed the police claim of a knife. They also indicated what a swell guy Villa was by saying he was reported to be working a regular job and attending college. He also had a family.
The lawyer, by the way, is Humberto Guizar who also represents the families of two men shot by police in Anaheim in 2012. Apparently, he makes a living on other peoples tragedies.
What no one bothered to say about the 23 year old Villa that you can pick up in the OC Register story (if you have a subscription) is that a man by the same name and birthdate had, “several previous run-ins with the law, including pleading guilty to felony burglary, felony inflicting corporal injury and misdemeanor violating a protective order in 2012, and pleading guilty to misdemeanor inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or significant other in 2011.”
At this point, there is not much to go on. Contrary to popular belief, the Tustin Police are not trying to hide evidence. There is no grand conspiracy to “get the cops off”. The truth is, like any investigation whether it involves cops or not, the facts must remain in relative confidence until it the situation can be sorted out.
But, the rabblerousers who hate authority and the police in particular, have been fueled by the Thomas Kelly murder, riots in Anaheim and recent officer involved shootings in Santa Ana. What they fail to understand is that Tustin Police Department, besides the OC Weekly’s meager attempts at slur, is an exemplary, accredited department. The former chief, with the help of our new Chief Charles Celano, had taken extraordinary steps to insure a high degree of professionalism and training of our department. I’ve had the opportunity to see that training in action more than once as they deal with mental health issues in our community. In fact, it was Chief Celano that initiated a short course in dealing with the emotionally charged, and often, mentally ill offender. The purpose of this training is, of course, to mitigate situations like the one that caused the death of Robert Villa.
For what it is worth, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, of which at least one investigator hails from Tustin Police Department, is investigating the officer involved shooting. So, no matter what the result of the investigation, in the eyes of Villa’s friends and family, it is already tainted and no outcome short of lynching the officers, whom they have already tried in the court of (their) public opinion, will satisfy their lust for vengeance.
As a former police officer and current peace officer with the second largest law enforcement agency in the county, as a 20 year resident of this community, I have a vested interest in this case. I don’t know any of the parties to the incident. What I do know is that we cannot take this case at face value. It is incumbent upon the community to await the outcome of the DA investigation and the city’s response. While I would like to think the officers conducted themselves in appropriate fashion and used the appropriate amount of force, I am willing to see what the investigation reveals.
In the meantime, if the family really wants justice, they should not buy into the kind of antics and rhetoric displayed by outsiders and “Occupiers” at Tuesday’s council meeting. Mob rule is no rule. Wait to see what the investigation reveals. If there was impropriety by the police, those responsible should be called to account for their actions. To do any less is to bring less than honor to the memory of their lost one.
If you have been following the race for Third District County Supervisor, you know that, so far, it has not been much of a race. In fact, for awhile, it seemed that Todd Spitzer, who entered the race early, had not even made up his mind whether he was running for Supervisor or for District Attorney, a position he has coveted since his days as a state assemblyman.
Early on in the race, Todd was pitted against another legislative alumni, Chuck Devore. Chuck, probably looking at Todd’s bank account and boyish good looks that could get him into a democrat’s fundraiser, finally decided to take his own advice and head for Texas. We wished him well and wondered if any worthy candidates would surface to take on the Spitzer machine. After all, Todd has the ear of many prominent Republicans in the county and he had over a million dollars to bankroll his campaign with even before any fundraising occurred on his behalf.
Almost the same day that Devore said goodbye to California and the Supervisor’s race, local Republican activist Mark Bucher threw his hat into the ring. The OC Weekly tied Bucher to the infamous rookie councilman, Jim Righeimer, who they call “arguably the most hated man in California politics” from the union perspective. That suited Mark, who has authored numerous anti-public union “paycheck protection” initiatives that, coincidentally, all failed at the starting gate. He is the penultimate Tea Party candidate in a non-partisan race. He had garnered much media attention with his announcement. Some of it was good, some of it was very bad. We have even written about Mark ourselves (who hasn’t). But that seems to be what those hardcore conservatives like. Oh yeah, and he’s a lawyer, too. But, you probably guessed that already.
So what happened? After his initial announcement, we haven’t heard anything from Mark. There does not appear to be any “Mark Bucher for Supervisor” campaign websites and there has been nothing written since the first of the year concerning his campaign. He has not filed papers with the Registrar of voters although he still has more than a month do so. Perhaps he is too busy trying to screw public employees with his initiative which, by the looks of things, has qualified for this year’s ballot.
So, what’s a person to do? Enter Villa Park Councilmember, Deborah Pauly. Pauly is also no stranger to politics or the media. Unlike Bucher, however, she hasn’t made her mark criticizing public employee unions. Instead, she has made her mark espousing hatred for Muslims. All Muslims. She has no use for them in any way, shape or form, apparently. Her hatred of Muslims has enamored her to many of her Tea Party friends and garnered the censure of her fellow Villa Park Councilmembers who endorsed Todd for the Third District.
She also hasn’t been able to hold a candle to Spitzer’s fundraising. In fact, her meager attempts at fundraising have netted her a mere $2,180. And, forgetting for the moment the million plus he already had, Todd managed to raise $30,430 among his friends and contributors. That’s without any union help that we know of. His campaign consultant, Dave Gilliard was succinct:
With over 336,000 registered voters in the 3rd supervisorial district, running a campaign in this seat is a very expensive endeavor. Todd’s opponent currently has the resources to spend about 1/3 of a cent for every voter.
It does beg the question as to whether Pauly is serious about running for Supervisor. Rumor had it that she only jumped into the race because of her hatred for Mark Bucher. But, that’s only rumor. And, as far as I have seen, Spitzer only refers to her as, “my opponent”. I have yet to see him call her by name and I don’t blame him. Spitzer has made a career out of being the champion of the underdog, people like Pauly despises.
In fact, his initial press releases after he announced his candidacy almost continuously espoused his support of causes for his clients and the public at large. He has attacked efforts to eliminate the death penalty, spoken at the Irvine City Council in favor or their proposed underage drinking law and championed a law he authored, Megan’s Law. He was running so much press for victims advocacy, many were starting to wonder if he really was running for the Orange County District Attorney’s office. His opponent wondered the same thing at a couple of debates they held in Orange and Tustin. The delusional Pauly, who attacked Spitzer’s vote on pensions and his supposed support of unions, thought she walked away with the debates while Spitzer walked away with a slew of endorsements including the (minus Pauly) Villa Park City Council who were quick to disavow any knowledge of Deborah and probably can’t wait for her term to end. Two more (long) years, boys.
But, others also apparently thought Spitzer was running for DA. When someone on Spitzer’s campaign sent out a press release that erroneously tagged Todd as a current Assistant District Attorney rather than a former one. It was corrected almost immediately and, sensing they would have an issue, he must have sent DA Tony Rackauckus’ spin doctor, Susan Kang Schroeder, a corrected release. Schroeder, who has been rumored to covet the DA position for herself when T-Rack disintegrates, shot off a letter to Todd upbraiding him for the faux pas. Funny thing was, Pauly got ahold of a copy of it a full day before it was postmarked and tried to use it against Todd. Todd cried foul, of course, claiming the DA was playing politics. Unfortunately, who is going to investigate the matter? Certainly not a DA who has been called by some the most corrupt DA in California for his non-investigations of his cronies and benefactors.
But, Schroeder, who happens to be the wife of GOP bigwig Mike Schroeder, says she is not conducting any political activity. She claims a complaint from a third-party (who could that be?) initiated the letter and that she disputed all of Spitzer’s allegations. “he’s mentally unstable and unfit to serve. … He’s got everything wrong factually. This is vintage Todd … ready, fire, aim.” That sounds like good old campaign mudslinging to me. And, if things work out as I suspect they will, Todd will, in effect, hold the purse strings of the DA’s office. If I were Susan, I would sit down, shut up and hope Todd was telling the truth when he recently reiterated that he would not seek the DA’s office if and when it were to become vacant. She should also hope that a truck hits Spitzer because that appears to be the only way he is not going to win the Supervisor’s race.
So, Todd Spitzer has made his choice. He publicly came out and said that he will not seek the office of Orange County District Attorney….yet. That is a good move on his part. For whatever reason, our current DA-come-used-car-salesman has no intention of leaving anytime soon and, if anyone honestly believed that he would ever support Todd (I didn’t) for the office, that notion has been clearly dispensed with. Spitzer has answered all the arguments against him made, chiefly, by Pauly and her friend, Schroeder. He has admitted his mistake in voting for enhanced pension benefits but rightly says that he was not the only one to do so. And, given what he knows now, he would not do it again. He has also proven that he is an effective, if exuberant County Supervisor. His track record in local politics, unlike his tenure in the Assembly, is solid. So, unless that proverbial truck we talked about hits him or Pauly suddenly sees a huge infusion of money (how much did Mike Schroeder promise you?) and a resurgence of anti-muslim supporters, it is doubtful Spitzer will have to spend much more than the thirty thousand he raised last year. And, the only thing the public will have to suffer is Todd’s somewhat opportunistic grandstanding. I think we can live with that.
So, everything is great, except… Todd recently admitted to the OC Weekly that he has tried to contact T-rack and has even had coffee with Susan. He has weakly admitted that he would like his old job back. From the OC Weekly Story:
Spitzer—who is often passionate in his endeavors—admitted he left voice mail messages for the DA. He cautioned me to appreciate the circumstances at the time of the calls: He’d just celebrated his 50th birthday, was unemployed for the first time after losing his “dream job” as a prosecutor, and was worried about how he would financially provide for his family.
I again asked him if he’d asked for his job back. He paused before answering, “I might have. . . . Okay, I probably did, but it was more of a global thing with Tony—where can we go from here?”
There is no doubt that Todd is running for supervisor. The question is, if the DA’s office were to suddenly open up, would Todd jump ship like Lou Correa did for the legislature and go for the job? My guess is a solid probably. After all, Todd still has a huge warchest that could easily accomplish running back to back campaigns. But, regardless of the OC Weekly story leaning that way, I have to believe as supervisor he would take great satisfaction in being Schroeder’s and even T-Rack’s boss. The real question is, after having coffee with Schroeder, has he made a promise to be a good boy?
One thing is for sure. Todd will pick and choose his opportunities. Susan, you might want to watch your back.