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Councilman Petrilla Gets Called to Active Duty; Questions Abound

Jesse Petrilla will be gone for 3½ months. He hopes to govern by teleconference.

Jesse Petrilla, a 2nd lieutenant in the California Army National Guard, has received orders from Uncle Sam that will take him out of state for 3½ months.

Councilman Petrilla has been assigned to active duty in Fort Knox, KY, from Feb. 22 to June 16.

"I signed up knowing that training and deployments are part of the job," Petrilla, 27, said through a press release on Tuesday."I appreciate the opportunity to serve both my country and my city."

Petrilla periodically trains on weekends as a tank commander, but this training will be more comprehensive. According to the Orange County Register, Petrilla said he will learn how to write orders for a tank unit, run through gunnery and firing tactics, and participate in field tests and tank maneuvers among other elements.

Petrilla did not respond to Patch after attempts to reach him by phone, text and email.

Petrilla will be in attendance at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, but he will not be available for any scheduled council meetings before the council is scheduled to formally adopt a budget on June 22. A couple of options exist for dealing with Petrilla's situation. One includes keeping his seat open and allowing him to continue to work on city business via conference call or teleconference.That's his preference.

A more extreme option, if the council votes by a four-fifths majority, would be to replace him for the period in which he is gone; in that case, the replacement would enjoy the full benefits and privileges of a councilman.

The military might make the determination for the council as to whether or not Petrilla can continue to serve the city while in training. Fort Knox is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, so any council meetings that extend to midnight—and they have occasionally gone later—wouldn't end until 3 a.m. on the military base.

According to Councilman Jerry Holloway, Petrilla would also need to be in a location that was accessible to the public while in conference with his colleagues for meetings. From an equipment standpoint, it would be easy to include Petrilla in discussions on city matters. Logistically, it could be a different matter.

"Is he going to be up in the middle of the night and drive tanks the next morning?" Holloway asked. "Budget time is coming up fairly soon. There are a lot of meetings; sometimes we have them on Saturday during the day. That's real important. We have study sessions. There's a lot of times where you'd want him to be involved, but will the schedule permit it?

"The best scenario is to have him involved. This may play out, military-wise, where it's taken out of our hands."

Lawrence (Larry) McCook February 09, 2011 at 04:15 PM
First, I wish Jesse God's Speed for a safe return. It is quite possible that he will be deployed to the Afghanistan for two years after training. He and I campaigned at the same time in front of Trader Joe's and Ralph's on a number of occasions If there will be a temporary replacement it should first be offered to Neil Blais who only lost re-election by a couple of dozen votes. If Neil does not want to serve any longer, then I should be next in line since 4,326 voters wanted me to serve on The RSM City Council. I think the RSM City Council has a duty to respect the will of RSM voters.

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