Petrilla Called to Active Duty in Afghanistan

City Councilman will begin a one-year deployment at the end of the month.

Jesse Petrilla, the Rancho Santa Margarita city councilman whose actions and comments seem to be , will begin a one-year deployment to Afghanistan at the end of the month.

Petrilla, 28, made the announcement Tuesday via a press release on his website.

Elected in November, 2010, this is the second disruption in his term as a city councilman. He was absent nearly four months in 2011, from February to June, when he underwent training at Fort Knox to become a tank platoon leader.

Jesse Petrilla, a second lieutenant, is a member of the California Army National Guard and will be part of Operatin Enduring Freedom.

“I am very proud to be given the privilege to serve the greatest nation on earth,” Petrilla said in his release. “In the event that Uncle Sam called me to go, I have always stood ready to deploy, and am deeply honored to serve our country and state.”

Petrilla, in the release, "expressed full confidence in his colleagues on the City Council of Rancho Santa Margarita to carry on with city business while he is away." Petrilla will resume his duties as a member of the City Council when he returns.

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City attorney Greg Simonian said Tuesday morning that he had not seen the orders but had every reason to believe they were accurate. "We do know it's a legally authorized absence," Simonian said. "He doesn't lose his office because he goes on active duty."

Petrilla was elected to a four-year term in November 2010 when, after a two-year campaign in which he knocked on every door in the city twice, he received an election-high 22.9 percent of the vote, finishing ahead of Steve Baric (21.4 percent) and incumbent Gary Thompson (21.2 percent). All three took council seats. Incumbent Neil Blais (21.1 percent) was defeated.

When Petrilla left for his earlier stint with the National Guard, the four remaining council members by majority chose to replace Petrilla with a temporary councilmember. Shortly after that decision was made, Thompson resigned and the notion of replacing Petrilla during the appointment process for Thompson's replacement was scrapped.

MagicCharm April 11, 2012 at 06:53 PM
That was sure a nasty comment about someone who is putting his life on the line for all of us and our country.
Chris McLaughlin April 11, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Not really, Nancy. Were you at the last City Council meeting when Jesse dodged the direct question of when he canceled his benefits, and then another City Council member had to clarify that he was in fact still currently receiving benefits after he emphatically asserted he had rescinded his benefits?? How would you characterize that behavior? Deceptive? Not forth-right? (That's how I would.)
Chris McLaughlin April 12, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Mike, it's not slanderous if it's true. I couldn't find anything online as to the average notice National Guard Soldiers are given before deployment, but 30 days sounds kind of low. These things are planned MONTHS or YEARS in advance, from an overall troop-level perspective, and units basically know when they haven't been deployed in a while and it's their 'turn', so even before the official orders are cut and transmitted, the 'gouge' comes down the pipe and the people affected know what's going on. My Brother-In-Law knows he's going BACK to Afghanistan sometime soon this year, and has known since last year, since he had to go to a school before going back, so he went to that school, and now is in final preparations to deploy with his new unit. He's on Active Duty, so that's a little different, but for Jesse to make a big deal about revealing this information, that he's probably known for a while, and just now letting us in on, is pretty suspect to me. If I'm wrong, Jesse can simply show us the orders, we can see the date on them, and see what he knew when. At that point, I would stand corrected and apologize.
Sharon Y. April 12, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Nancy, you might not want to throw stones when you live in a glass house yourself. I sat behind you at the last meeting and heard the awful things you said about one of the speakers who happens to give a lot of time to the city and for the good of the community, I must say you sound like a political hack or hypocrite , you choose which you are most comfortable with, your political agenda is clear to me.
April Josephson April 12, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Mike, I have to agree with Chris on this. If you attended city council meetings regularly like we do, you would have witnessed Councilman Jesse Petrilla being disrespectful, rude and violating protocol on a semi-regular basis himself. He has out-and-out lied and been called on it more than once. I appreciate his volunteering to serve our country, thank him for his service, and wish him a safe return. IMO, though, even if Petrilla didn't have his written orders in-hand when he opted out of his benefits, he KNEW he was going and thus could safely cancel his city-paid health benefits without a lapse in coverage. Think about it: he requested that the so-called bill of rights—which included the removal of benefits—be put on the agenda in January, yet continued his own benefits. Why didn't he opt out then?
Chris McLaughlin April 12, 2012 at 02:18 PM
So Mike, I asked Jesse publicly at City Council last night when he received his orders, and he said it was on March 29th, the day after the last City Council meeting. He didn't show a copy or anything with any dates. This is 2012. This country has been at war for a decade. They don't surprise you out of the blue with orders that you're being activated for a year without prior notice/rumor mill advance warning. My guess is that March 29th may be the day he officially received his official/final orders, but he had actually had verbal notice/confirmation from his chain of command weeks or months in advance. Think about it, Jesse says he got his orders on the 29th last month, and made his big announcement two days ago. (About ten days later.) See how he keeps what he wants to himself and reveals what he wants people to know at the best time for his benefit?? I stand by my statement that Jesse would only rescind his health benefits in time for maximum political advantage, in this case to try to get his ballot measure approved in his second-to-last meeting before going away for a while. BTW, isn't there another meeting in two weeks? Jesse's not getting deployed until the end of the month. Is he not going to be here for that meeting??
Chris McLaughlin April 12, 2012 at 04:45 PM
MagicCharm, Have you seen a picture of Jesse in uniform lately? The only ones I've seen are of him are driving around Ft. Irwin in a tank. You can tell a Soldier who's put his life on the line for all of us because he'll have one of these in the upper left section of his dress uniform, above all the other campaign medals and personal awards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat_Infantryman_Badge I'm guessing hundreds of thousands of US Soldiers have earned their CIB in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last ten years. As a side note, my Dad spent most of 1969 in VietNam and doesn't have a CIB. (I guess being in an engineering unit and only getting mortared at lunch doesn't qualify.) If Jesse comes back from Afghanistan with one of these, you'll see a big change in my tone, and hopefully Jesse's maturity-level.
Lawrence (Larry) McCook April 12, 2012 at 06:28 PM
It was totally expected (I verbally expressed this to a couple of council members) by myself that Jesse Petrilla would be deployed to active duty within a year of his tank training at Ft. Knox, KY. In my opinion, this has again created a conundrum with only four sitting council members starting in May. What will be the solution this time? In spite of his detractors, I attend all of the council meetings and have observed Jesse Petrilla mature considerably and grow into his council position. Some of his suggestions have validity but, these ideas are not accepted with a positive attitude for consideration by some council members. At any rate, we should all wish Jesse a safe return from his deployment. It is not an easy task fighting against the Afghans who have held the high ground fighting positions for hundreds of years. Again, like Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan, you are also never quite sure who your Allies really are I have and always will "actively support" our military!
Mike Proctor April 12, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Chris, You may have a legit argument about Jessie playing politics, thats great, I'll give you that, but I feel your choice to make such a accusation was disrespectful at the least, and should have been made either at a council meeting, to his face, or in another forum, and reflected poorly on you, at the most. JMO Public figure or not, politician or not, this was an announcement about the councilman leaving for war. Your comments about CIB again reflect poorly on you. What you are implying is that if you didn't see combat, your service is some how less sacrificing, or less worthy of praise and respect.....tell that to all those who left family behind to give support to those on the front lines....how about you tell that to Jessie's wife and new born child. Have you ever left your family for nine months to a year? Have you ever eft your new born child for nine months to a year. I don't care if Jessie is going on Rambo Missions, or flipping burgers in the mess hall, his service and anyone else that serves deserves the same respect. Have you served in the military, or wore a badge, taken a oath to serve and protect? From what I have read here on Patch, you have done neither, which is why I assume you like to partake in arm chair war games so much.
Mike Proctor April 12, 2012 at 07:38 PM
April, Simply, it was said in the wrong forum.
Nancy Thompson April 12, 2012 at 09:20 PM
sharon my only comment to you is you must have been bullied as a kid or been the bully
Brent Hoff April 13, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Mr. McLaughlin, Every man and woman that dons the uniform of the U.S. military should have your support and RESPECT. Especially those that are stationed in a war zone. Those are the people that have made it possible for you sit back in a comfy chair and make snide comments on the blog. You see Chris, there's nothing free about freedom and there are military cemeteries all over the world that can show you what that cost is. How about visiting some of the military hospitals or the V.A. hospitals and see if those fine men and women qualify for your respect. If the only way Mr. Petrilla can earn your respect is to come back with a CIB, you're not worthy of that. Besides if you knew about military awards you would know that a CIB is reserved for Infantry and certain Special Forces units. As you pointed out Mr. Petrilla is a Tanker, thus an armored unit which is not eligible. Maybe you would like to earn some respect from us, why don't you go on down to the recruiting office and sign up.
Gina April 13, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Mike, Nancy, MagicCharm (I like that name) you are so right, I've lived in RSM for 25yrs now and I'm PROUD to have a member of the Armed Forces representing us. Jessie you don't need to show any papers to anyone. If people have info. that they are relying on to make accusations against you, then they should bring it forward. Otherwise, if what they say or write is false then that is defamation. GI Jessie we are proud of you, hope you spend these last few weeks with your family, be safe, and we will keep your seat warm for your return.
Chris McLaughlin April 13, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Hi Mike, FYI, I spent all of calendar years 1995 and 1996 in Okinawa, Japan. It wasn't as a tourist. I was age 21 to 22 at the time. Why don't you ask Jesse what he was doing when he 21 and 22, while Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom were in full swing?? I think he was still sort of in college, or had started developing first-person shooter video games by then. This article was about Jesse going to war, but my comments were about his timing with using his deployment for political purposes, and being intentionally deceptive about his health benefits, and the supposed principles he has about them with respect to public policy. As far as Jesse finally earning the reputation some people already have of him as being a war hero, I fully support it. Heck, I'd support a resumption of the Draft. Love it or Leave it, Mike. Freedom isn't Free. It's guaranteed by Veterans, who these days are all-volunteer. I truly wish Jesse success and safety while out there defending our freedoms, but on the issue of why and when he canceled the health benefits the taxpayers of RSM have been paying for since as soon as he was eligible for them, he's full of it. The funny thing is that I don't even hold it against him for taking the benefits. I think the City Councilmembers deserve what they get paid right now, so much so that I wish they would put it to a vote, so that we could reaffirm them, then put it behind us once and for all, and move on to more important things.
Gina April 13, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Well said Brent...everyone serving in the Military, especially during a time of war, should have our support. For someone to even suggest that a soldier who comes back from war without a CIB is not worthy of respect is ludicious, and I'm sure many of our military families would be disgusted by that remark. To make fun of a soldier during training bec. he doesn't have medals? who does that? To make snide remarks about a soldier, who is called to war, getting health benefits from "Uncle Sam?" Are u kidding? They are out there getting their limbs blown off in a foreign county and u insinuate that they are getting a free ride in medical benefits compliments of "Uncle Sam." Simply shameful. Thanks to our Military, who risk everything for us, we wake up every morning in a free country. I can't imagine what it would be like to leave your new baby and return after they turned 1yr and they are walking. I've been to Arlington cemetary and the VA hospital in Long Beach and you are right, there is nothing free about freedom. A huge price is paid.
Mike Proctor April 13, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Chris, Thanks for your serves, sincerely. I assume it was in the Navy, from where you stated that you served. Now, can I say...your arrogance and condensing remarks just keep coming. You simply can't admit that your comments were at the least, disrespectful, and not in the appropriate forum. They are two separate issues, black and white...but your bitterness has taken over. On top of it, you attempt to dismiss Jessie's service because he didn't volunteer or serve during "Operation Desert Storm", (one of the shortest "wars" in American history), because he may have been in college. IMO, ODS, was the start of, and lead to what we (the US), are now involved with. I can't help think that you simply hold any type of Government authority in contempt. City Government, Police Authority or US Military. You served when you were 21 years of age. I know you should never ask a question when you don't know the answer, but were you married, did you have kids? And not to dismiss your service, because i don't....but did you serve in a combat zone? and did you sign up when the country was at WAR, did you sign up because you saw the college benefits, and thought this would be a respectful way to fund my college fund? See part II
Mike Proctor April 13, 2012 at 05:47 AM
Part II From what i know, Jessie has a wife and newborn child, a career, a home owner, and routes....and is leaving it all, to go serve in a war zone.....which he sighed up for, knowing that a WAR was ongoing, and he could, one day be called up to fight in. Did you sign up during "war time". Again, not dismissing your service, but I am questioning your authority to pass judgment on Jessie and his sacrifice. Lets be honest...this is a Army, Navy thing LOL ;-P
Chris McLaughlin April 13, 2012 at 06:52 AM
Hi Brent, Thanks for the info. I read up more on the different badges and you're right, the CIB is expressly reserved for the Infantry or SpecOps, and so Jesse will probably earn the Combat Action Badge, which is the one for other Combat Arms units that engage in combat. That's the one my friend from back home earned on his tour in Iraq in 2010, who was an artillery officer by specialty, but I'm not sure what kind of unit he was in. As far as me re-enlisting, I think I'm too old now, but I could probably get a waiver, after being Honorably Discharged with an R1 reenlistment code. I don't really care if you respect me, though. I first went into the recruiting office with my Mom at 17 so she could co-sign my life away with me while I was a senior in high school. Forgive me if I'm not overly impressed with a 28-year-old who decides to become a Reserve Armor Officer 7 years into a shooting war that doesn't have a pressing need for Armor Officers. Jesse's already officially missed combat operations in Iraq. It wouldn't surprise me if it comes out that Jesse volunteered for this deployment, so he wouldn't 'miss out' on Afghanistan. That would be impressive. That takes serious guts. Afghanistan is awful. Lord knows the units from Ft. Lewis, WA have been there too long/often. I'll be interested to see if there's an announcement when Jesse leaves on the CA Natl Guard website about whether it's a whole unit deploying, or if it looks like he volunteered by himself...
Chris McLaughlin April 13, 2012 at 09:05 AM
Okay, Gina, now you're twisting my words, or just really misunderstood what I meant. I never said Soldiers who don't earn a CIB aren't worthy of respect, and BTW, you should always capitalize Soldiers when referring to United States Soldiers. (It's a proper noun, look it up.) Everyone who has more time-in-service than junior servicemembers makes fun of them (the junior servicemembers), regardless of rank. Usually not in front of them, if they outrank them, but sometimes. I remember riding in a car once with LCpl Alvarado, when he asked our Supply Officer, "How long have been in The Suck, Sir?". To which the Lieutenant replied indignantly, "Excuse me??". Alvarado said, "Um, I mean, how long have you been in the Marines, Lieutenant??" I make no disparagement to Jesse for taking full medical benefits from the military. I would, too. I used to get them while I was in, and used to help provide them. They're the best medical benefits you can get and I think it's a national shame that we don't do more for Veterans healthcare. I was simply pointing out the timing of the switch was very convenient given Jesse's big to-do about how damaging City Council benefits are to our City, and how he finally saw the light about bad they are for public policy, just in time to get full medical while on Active Duty. Anyone who was at the meeting two weeks ago knows what I'm talking about as far Jesse's big to-do about giving up his benefits, which he actually really hadn't yet...
Chris McLaughlin April 13, 2012 at 09:36 AM
Thanks Mike, I'm not sure how this got turned into me getting skewed for having an opinion on Jesse's timing of benefits rescission, and some kind of comparative military service thing, but since you asked, and I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, here it is: Desert Storm went down when I was a junior in high school. I enlisted as a senior with guaranteed Hospital Corpsman school after boot camp, because I wanted to have the option to be in a source rating to be a SEAL, or a field medic with the Marines, or to get trained in the medical field/go to college when I got out and work as an EMT maybe. I totally flaked out on trying out for SEALs, and Marine Recon, but did pick orders to 3d Marine Division instead of going to the Naval Academy Prep School out of Bethesda, my first permanent duty station. So I spent two years on Okinawa, 6 weeks each in training deployments to mainland Japan and Korea and then ended up in Hawaii for three years working in the clinics and being an EMT on base. 7 years total in 'Bill's Navy', wedged neatly between Desert Storm and 9/11. I don't rate a CAR (Combat Action Ribbon), and don't pretend that I do. Heck, apparently earlier today everybody was convinced there was no way I was ever in the military. I guess it's been a while and the de-programming is coming along nicely... I don't have some basic angst against authority. Distrust? You betcha! Don't get me started on all the lies I've been told by our Government...
Chris McLaughlin April 13, 2012 at 10:07 AM
This isn't an Army/Navy thing. If anything I identify more with the Marines than the Navy anyway. My total sea time is only three days, and that was as an embarked Marine on an LST from Yokosuka back to Okinawa. I don't think the benefits debate/decision and deployment situation are two separate issues. I think they're all wrapped up in one big political campaign. Yes, that's my opinion. I'm entitled to mine, and I respect your right to have your own different one. I don't have any proof of this, and I don't need any. I'm not accusing him of anything, like legally. I'm not saying what he did broke any laws, I'm just saying it's disingenuous and cheesy. I mean to get all indignant about how principled you are against health benefits for City Council, then mislead and dodge about the reality of your own benefits, and than to expect me to believe the great serendipity of getting news the very next day that you'll be receiving full benefits soon is too much to believe for someone as shamelessly politically calculating as Jesse. Did you see the pictures in the equivalent OC Register story about this? It's like he hired some professional photographer to take politician/model shots with the flag in the background and everything. Reminds me of something our Congressman would do. You know, Gary Miller, who loves to cast himself as a strong military supporter, but personally spent just 7 weeks in Army Boot Camp in 1969... (Yes, I have an email from his office.)
Sharon Y. April 13, 2012 at 10:16 PM
No on both counts..... you might want to look in the mirror when you use the word bully
Mike Proctor April 14, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Chris, Nice delete and rephrase, and repost? I was going to ignore it, but I think is important that its pointed out that you reworded your original comment toward Jessie, because it was your original rude comment (IMO) that got this whole BS going. There is a unwritten rule about editing ones posts in a blog/forum (for other then spelling and grammar). Normally, when a poster gets flack for their comments, and the poster defends their comments fiercely, (write or wrong), it is only proper to leave the original comments that were written, posted. Other wise, it can take away the validity of the debate or discussion, as the entire context and dialog can appear different to a person who may have read the comments at a later date. If one does edit said comments, it is only proper blog etiquette, to explain why the edits were made, other wise it may appear as that the poster is trying to make those who disagree look poorly. Or it may even come off as you are just being a bit disingenuous or deceptive. IMO, I think you just can't admit that your "original comment" was out of line, or at the VERY least not in the proper forum, so you reworded it so it didn't come off so brash and disrespectful. I'll give you the last word, as this will be my final comment.
Chris McLaughlin April 14, 2012 at 06:30 AM
Hi Mike, I almost hate to break it to you, given your lengthy breakdown on blog etiquette, but I didn't revise or delete any of my Comments. If you're talking about the one that shows as Deleted at the very top, right underneath your first one (and it only shows on the iPhone/Mobile version, not the Desktop version that I have to switch to so I can Reply to your Comment here), I think that was an accidental double-post from Gina that she later went back and deleted the duplicate. If my comments seem revised/less offensive now in any way, they've actually always been that way. ;) Something I want to mention, that even though I think Jesse's false principles on City Council benefits and the timing of his orders and what that entails are actually one issue, I do believe that his continued shenanigans as a politician and military service/merits as a Soldier are separate. Being a Soldier these days automatically means you volunteered to shoulder a burden that we all benefit from, but very few brave souls have the courage to bear. I truly wish Lieutenant Petrilla spends the next 12 months focused on doing a difficult job well, accomplishes his missions, takes care of his troops and comes home safe and sound to make us all proud. Now if he manages to pull a Brian Chontosh or something and get some extra glory out of the deal, go for it, Sir!!
Mike Proctor April 14, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Chris, you are right...I thought about it after the fact, but due the "pending approval" I could not remove my post until it had been approved. And it did still seem just ass offensive to me LOL. My apologies.
April Josephson April 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Mike, you made me laugh;-) I knew when I read your post about deleting comments that Chris didn't edit his original one. Regarding the wrong forum, I believe this is definitely the appropriate forum to comment on Councilman Petrilla's actions within the city. It has nothing to do with his service to our country. Petrilla is a press machine more than he is a public servant. He decides what information he wants to make public. He writes press releases, sends mass emails, posts on blogs, Facebook (but blocks you if you challenge him) and Twitter, and posts to his former campaign website. He holds "Fireside chats," to give the appearance that he is working hard for the people. He is very careful to only release information that is beneficial to him. In so doing, he twists facts. Because it is in print, the general public believes him—they do not attend council meetings. So, speaking only at a council meeting does not address the issue. Petrilla contacts his friends at the OC Register anytime he wants publicity, and grants them interviews. The OCR pays virtually no attention to RSM—reporters rarely attend council meetings, and don't report on all of the goings on at the meetings—only Patch does. Yet, OCR reporters, columnists and the OC Watchdog have written about what are supposedly Petrilla's efforts, beyond what the rest of our city council does. In reality, he has done the least for our city. I can cite numerous examples (PM me if you want details). - See Part 2 -
Flannery4 April 15, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I'm confused. Petrilla is gone for a year, but the city needs five council members. Will there be an election for the position? What about the council appointing somebody? Given what is happening lately, I fear that Whittingham is going to step into the void.
April Josephson April 15, 2012 at 02:04 AM
- Part 2 - The current council story ( http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/city-ok-s-revised-trash-hauling-deal ) mentions that RSM Patch editor, Martin Henderson asked Councilman Petrilla some hard-hitting questions, which he did not answer. Mr. Henderson even gave him the opportunity to respond via email the next day. Why would the editor of the city's number one local news source ask questions in council chambers on the public record? From what I understand, it's because Petrilla has made a conscious decision not to talk to him. It is unfortunate to watch a council member refuse to talk to the press unless he is in control of the topic and conversation. Petrilla has avoided speaking to Mr. Henderson since the first month of Patch's existence (less than a month after Petrilla was seated), after Patch published a story that included information that did not shed Petrilla in a light he wanted. All Henderson did was report the facts. Given Petrilla's behavior, I feel that this is the most appropriate forum to discuss Petrilla-related issues, regardless of his being called to active duty. He has been given every opportunity to provide information to Patch and to put it on the record in council chambers. Where else would we discuss this than here? IMO, Petrilla will do well in Afghanistan, as I know that is where his heart is. I appreciate his service to our country. I truly hope that he comes back safe, with a new mature attitude in representing our city.
Chris McLaughlin April 15, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Hi Flannery, They didn't really talk about it at the City Council meeting after the announcement by Jesse. Last year when Jesse went to Ft. Knox for training, they made a big to-do about filling the seat temporarily and needing a full 5-member Council on principle, but I think they may want to avoid that drama this time and just go with the 4 other Councilmembers for now and see how it goes. Either way, I doubt there's any chance of Peter Whittingham being appointed. Jesse would probably agree with appointing Peter in his seat temporarily, but I don't think he has the power to appoint his own temporary replacement, and the rest of the Council is not going to go for that move...
April Josephson April 15, 2012 at 09:37 PM
I agree with Chris. IMO the honorable thing would have been for Petrilla to give his blessing to temporarily filling his seat, as RSM residents are entitled to a full five-member council. Instead, he said this, in his interview with the OC Register about his impending one-year absence, conveniently published the day before the council meeting where his departure was to be announced: " Q. ...How will your absence affect the council? A. I have full confidence in the abilities of my highly professional and competent colleagues to carry on with a council of four while I am away."


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