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Support For Petrilla, No Support For His Agenda Item

Gone since April with the National Guard in Afghanistan, Jesse Petrilla returned to City Council in Rancho Santa Margarita amid hearty applause and a commendation, but his desire to make a statement about Prop 30 was met with silence.

Jesse Petrilla's first night back as a city councilman for Rancho Santa Margarita was quiet. As far as he was concerned, probably too quiet.

There was a light schedule on the agenda of the City Council on Wednesday. So light that, after commendations to Petrilla, among others, the only new business to discuss was an agenda item that Petrilla himself brought before the council.

Petrilla wanted the council to adopt an official stance that disapproved of Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown's tax initiative.

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No other councilmembers even discussed it, and after Petrilla made the motion, it died for lack of a second.

And that was it. Short and sweet. And silent.

The rest of Petrilla's night was considerably more successful. (See videos)

He was recognized for his duty in Afghanistan as part of the California National Guard, which had taken him away from council business since April. Although he had been expected to be gone for up to 400 days, his departure was closer to 150.

"We express our gratitude that you're home safely and the city may now remove those yellow ribbons that symbolized our collective concern and hope that our fighting men and women will return home," Mayor Tony Beall said, referring to yellow ribbons place in Central Park earlier this month until the return of Petrilla and the city's adopted 2/5 Marines from Camp Pendleton. "Welcome home."

Petrilla received applause in the council chambers from those who acknowledged his military service, and Petrilla—the youngest person ever elected to this City Council—presented the city with a gift, a flag that had flown over his camp in Afghanistan.

In other council news, city vector representative George Gutman reassured councilmembers that the West Nile Virus that had become such a big story in Dallas—1,093 cases, 43 deaths—was not an issue here.

"That outbreak was pretty much a matter of them dragging their feet," Gutman said.

In Orange County, flea-borne typhus is a greater threat, Gutman said; there were eight new cases last month, 24 for the year. So far, the cases were in Santa Ana, Westminster and Fullerton. As the weather cools, Gutman said vectors such as skunks and possums will move closer to human contact and that will help increase those numbers.

Gutman said the typhus starts with a sore throat and flu-like conditions and usually includes "a headache that doesn't go away"; there is also muscle weakness that eventually feels like the muscles are being crushed.

City manager Jennifer Cervantez told the council that RSM had received an "honorable mention" from the Association of California Cities-Orange County for its smart sale of Rule 20A utility credits to Laguna Beach, which netted the city $437,550.

Mark Jordan September 27, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Prop 30 is one more nail in the coffin for California recovery. Come election time we can look back at this meeting and remember the only council member who was considering our economic welfare - at least they've made it easy for us.
DAN K September 27, 2012 at 06:27 PM
THEY SHOULD HAVE APPLAUDED HIM FOR THIS INSTEAD OF SITTING ON THEIR HANDS. I'd like to know which members are for this proposition so I can vote against them.
Chris McLaughlin September 27, 2012 at 07:21 PM
I applaud and commend Jesse for his service and his safe return from harm's way. As far as his Prop 30 agenda item, I applaud and commend the rest of City Council for ignoring it. It's a State-wide ballot proposition, a piece of direct democracy to the people of California. Our city, as a city, has no say in the matter, but just because the City Council ignored Jesse's attempt at political theater, doesn't mean they support the Proposition. I'm sure they'll all vote against it personally, it's just that four out of five Council Members recognize Jesse's move for what it is and don't want to waste any more of our time talking about it at Council. <-- That's worth a standing ovation!!
April Josephson September 27, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I disagree, Mark. This is a state issue that has no relevance to a city council agenda. Making a proclamation is a waste of time. Our city council should be focusing on local governance issues, where they can actually impact our welfare. I support the four council members who chose not to comment on this state proposition. On another subject— Welcome Home, Councilman Petrilla. Thank you for your service in Afghanistan!
April Josephson September 27, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Well said, Chris!
Martin Henderson (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 10:06 PM
One of the conditions for Petrilla's proposal to disapprove of Prop 30 is that there's no money earmarked for new schools. Of course, (as I understand it) to vote against Prop 30 could mean the loss of hundreds of teachers jobs for schools that already exist (and money that CUSD among others desperately need). Why would a council take that stance in front of their constituents? Council members can endorse the ideology of no new taxes and fiscal responsibility -- heck, RSM's city council is the model for it -- without taking sides and telling many of their residents who may benefit from Prop 30 how to vote. If this was a no-brainer, they might have done it. It's not a no-brainer. One could easily assume this was political grandstanding by a councilman who wanted to make a splash upon his return. Instead, at least politically, it was a thud. However, and I said this before his departure, thank you for your service to this country.
Mike Proctor September 28, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Spot on Chris.
Gina September 29, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Welcome back Jessie! Well now that you are back I can see that Chris McLaughlin and Martin didn't waste any time with their attacks against you "political grandstanding by a councilman" 'it was a thud" "Jesse's attempt at political theater" Geez.... ...you both are predicable. You can never post a comment about Jessie without some scathing criticism attached to it. We certainly know you have a negative opinion of him, its very apparent, but give it a rest. He just returned from Afghanistan and presented a flag to our community. So, he wanted to see if the other council members wanted to take a position on Prop 30, and they didn't, so what, move on. These personal attacks against Jessie every time an article contains his name are getting so boring.
Mark Jordan September 29, 2012 at 09:50 AM
The cause for the possibility of teacher layoffs is not the unconditional defeat of Prop 30 - it's the habitual and recalcitrant spending of more than the state requires to sustain itself. I am forever perplexed how it is the most fundamental component of economic sustainability is neglected at the alter of sewing patches over puncture wounds. California is being phlebotomized by overspending. Not until Californians demand of its legislature what it requires of its own households will our state, and the efficacy of its education, have a whisper of a chance in restoring itself. Prop 30 is yet another cosmetic bandaid to conceal a fiscal hemorrhage of the worst order. I understand the desire to acknowledge California's financial woes, as well as those who prefer to preserve its insulation within appropriate powers. What does concern me, however, is the apparent display of discourteousness toward a council-member. Granted, my sensitivity may be a product of ignorance of council protocol, as well as the Patch report - in particular, "No other council-member even discussed it..." It seemed to infer that some degree of courteous discourse was possible, maybe obligatory, but none was offered.
Mark Jordan September 29, 2012 at 09:51 AM
As a resident of RSM, it's disheartening to read the apparent disunity amid our council-members. Regardless of whether or not I share unanimity with a council-members's agenda item, I could not in good conscience sit on my hands, allowing the dead air make one feel they're hanging in the wind. Friends of a common bond (i.e. the city welfare) don't treat others this way. They put petty differences behind them and comport themselves and city business in a professional manner - if not for the integrity of their own character, at least to assure residents that RSM is being managed by adults. I appreciate considerations for all residents/voters of RSM, but I am reluctant to judge another's motives, especially to the extent of labeling them "grandstanding." Being a leader is just that - braving to stand for one's convictions amid the silence - even at the risk of a thud.
glen p September 30, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Mark, You hit the nail on the head! This council seems to regress in age as they sit in their chairs. The rudeness they show towards Mr. Petrilla is discusting (sp?)at best. These are suppose to be adults representing our city and they can't even show respect to another member, not asking them to agree, but at least to show respect. This is not the first time I have seen or heard about this behavior. Would like to see a city council at least united with respect for each others comments, beliefs, etc. We had that in the past, but with some of the members now sitting on the board we seem to have lost it, so sad. Let's see some adult behavior City Council please
April Josephson September 30, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Mark and Glen, I was there and did not see disrespect for Councilman Petrilla. IMO, there is no reason to speak on or debate an issue that doesn't pertain to the job of the council. I think a debate or unnecessary discussion is more likely to lead to disrespectful behavior. The council has been running rather smoothly for the past few months. Interesting comment about past councils being more united, though, Glen. Prior councils included three of the current five council members. The two elected in 2010 were the only ones not on united councils, which always functioned well, regardless of whether the council members agreed or disagreed upon a particular issue. Food for thought...
glen p September 30, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Having a completely silent council after Mr. Petrilla spoke, I see as rather childish, rude and disrespectful IMO. Everyone can have their own opinion April as agreed, but to disrespect someone for having an opinion that's different than yours I see as disrespectful and certainley don't want to see if on MY city council, yes My, I helped elect them acting like that. These are suppose to be adults and just sitting there waiting for someone to say something, other than "does anyone know a good joke" is just plain juvenile. That's not the way I want my city council to behave.
glen p September 30, 2012 at 11:01 PM
They remind me of my kids when they were young teenagers, when someone new would come into their group that they didn't really like, some of the friends would ignore, belittle, embarrass, etc. them so everyone else would not like them. I understand Mr. Petrilla might not have as much experience as the standing council members have, but they all started at the bottom . If it's a case of only having "experienced" political minded members on a city council then be honest and state that the only qualified people who can run for city council have to have lots of experience. But I see running for city council an opportunity for the average Joe Blow to get involved, bring some other experience to the table, represent the average citizen, and much much more. Let's not let our city council become like so much of the other political BS that's out there. Grow up, be respectful, listen politely and speak with kindness. All this bashing candidates is not productive and really puts those who are doing it in a bad light. As for your comment on the previous council, are you saying that all was well before the 2 new ones came on board? That may be true, but to blame all the discord on the 2 new members is just wrong, it is taking all 5 to create what's going on right now, so I hold them all responsible :) My mother use to say " it always takes 2 to fight"
Mark Jordan October 01, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Thank you April for sharing your perspective; I understand your POV. I don't mean to belabor the point, but was wondering how difficult it would have been for the council to simply have made a brief statement to diffuse the situation, mitigating a possible controversy. Maybe something to the effect of: "Thank you Jesse for your concerns regarding Prop 30. However, the council has decided to refrain from commenting on it. We had considered allowing the motion to die without comment but did not want to risk having our silence be misinterpreted as being disrespectful. We also wanted to act in a responsible manner that demonstrated to our residents that the city council is working together regardless of not agreeing on every issue. Should you'd like, any one of us would be more than happy to share our concerns afterward." Regardless of the rationale now presented, after the fact, the actions of the council have left a bitter after taste. Some talk as if the council's action was mere ceremony, but the average resident is savvy - we know better. At best, the council's behavior has the appearance of amateurs on parade. Unfortunately, we all know it's something worse. After all, were Councilman Petrilla's motion managed properly, with everyone's best interest in mind, we would not be having this civil discussion. You see April, when people care about other people, it shows. When they don't, no degree of political gamesmanship can substitute for sincerity.
April Josephson October 01, 2012 at 05:54 AM
Mark and Glen, I attend virtually all city council meetings and have attended numerous council meetings in other cities. IMO, the behavior of the majority was very professional in that city councils typically do not have one council member who is not the sitting mayor continuously adding items to agendas meeting after meeting as Councilman Petrilla has done (especially gratuitously political items that aren't within the perview of the council's duties). I, for one, had hoped that upon his return, Councilman Petrilla would have matured, and not gone back to immediately adding such items to the agenda. Prior to his departure, there were several such items added by Councilman Petrilla that led to extensive debate. That is why I think it was through experience that the remainder of the council decided it was better not to waste time on discussion that could turn disrespectful. We can debate this point endlessly, and will continue to disagree. Since Councilman Petrilla has been on the council, I have not seen him contribute one piece of feedback on the two years' city budgets that have been the biggest part of the council job. But I have seen multiple politically motivated items added to the agenda by him. This is disappointing to me, and why I stand firm in my opinion that it was through wisdom that the other council members chose to respectfully allow Petrilla his platform and not make unnecessary comments on an item that they did not think worthy of comment in that forum.
April Josephson October 01, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Mark, I have a couple of questions for you with regard to your suggested comment: "Thank you Jesse for your concerns regarding Prop 30. However, the council has decided to refrain from commenting on it. We had considered allowing the motion to die without comment but did not want to risk having our silence be misinterpreted as being disrespectful...." 1. In your opinion, Which council member should have made this statement? 2. If anyone did make this statement, wouldn't it have been a Brown Act violation? How would anyone have known beforehand that any of the others felt the same way that they did and weren't going to comment? It is a violation of the Brown Act for a majority of council members to discuss upcoming council agenda items in private prior to a public meeting. I understand your sentiment, but it isn't a realistic option IMO. Given the options, the other council members did the most polite thing they could.
April Josephson October 01, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Glen, please see my response under Mark's comments. Do you attend council meetings? If so, please introduce yourself to me. I attend regularly. Your remarks sound like you think the other council members intentionally belittled Councilman Petrilla. I disagree with your characterization. They listened respectfully, gave everyone an opportunity to weigh in, and continued with their meeting. We are almost two years into Councilman Petrilla's four-year term. To suggest that it is lack of experience that brought Petrilla to add the item to the agenda does not make sense to me. Further, your statement about not letting our council become about political BS is misdirected, as the item brought to council by Councilman Petrilla was a state political issue-not about our city's governance-which is what I believe our city council was elected to manage. As far as candidate-bashing, again, I find your statement misdirected. There is a candidate who is doing a lot of bashing, and out and out lying. To judge people such as me for calling them out on it by requesting the truth is not logical. Regarding the discord, this council has taken time to find a way to work together. That is what they did at the meeting. There was no discord-just respectfully honoring one councilmember's request for a political platform, and moving on. Your whole premise is much ado about nothing.
Mark Jordan October 01, 2012 at 04:51 PM
PART A - Answer #1 Thank you again April for your kind reply. I was not prepared for such a extended conversation but am happy to answer your two questions. First, in interest of full disclosure, my daughter is a Marine. The extraordinary sacrifices the men and woman in service make for our country to secure our freedoms make any hint of disrespect raise my suspicions. I am far from alone in my exceeding gratitude for our armed forces. That not a single council-member took this into consideration when sitting on their hands (i.e. not the probable reality but how it could be perceived) brings me to your first question. 1. I have no preference as to who might have broke the silence and said something appropriate regarding Councilman Petrilla's motion. A single voice would have been sufficient and would have assured me (from a non-attendee's perspective) that the meeting demonstrated respect and all was copesettic (no furtive intent) within the council.
Mark Jordan October 01, 2012 at 04:52 PM
PART B - Answer #2 2. As to the Brown Act, I had considered your concern but had also reasoned three scenarios were possible: 1. a provision existed for a quick corralling of members to briefly discuss a particular item that would be aired/disclosed within the confines of the imminent meeting 2. the rules were stretched a tad (to accommodate a legitimate concern) 3. it had been violated In any case, I was unfamiliar with your knowledge of council meetings and thus, did not want to go there. Not being wholly familiar with every facet of the Brown Act, and not wanting to assume the worst, I opted for the first option and left it at that. The solidarity upon which the council-members acted upon Petrilla's motion made it unambiguous that a prior decision had been made as to how they would respond. Dredging up the Brown Act seemed far afield and reactionary (if not paranoid). Present concerns aside, my sense that something is afoul within the council is not assuaged by questions of protocol. I don't know if it's ideological or mere jealousy, but the silent voices appear to harbor a grudge toward Mr. Petrilla. We can skirt around the issue ad infinitum, however, the feeling in my gut remains. They don't like him and were not bothered by allowing him to hang in the wind. From a resident's perspective, it's unbecoming. I'm merely taking note.
16 Falcon October 01, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Jesse, my family and I thank you for your service providing all of us on these pages the opportunity to exercise the Freedoms granted under the Constitution. "Liberty" and "Freedom" invite discussion and discord. I enjoy the fruits of the current council members by letting them do all the heavy lifting. A few months back it came to my attention that RSM's tremendous progress over the years may come to an abrupt end. In my humble opinion (IMHO), the community can not allow the dysfunctional disingenuous and dishonest elements infest our community. We have a "Barbarian at the Gate" campaigning on a negative platform and it is time to stop the Barbarian. I attended the Sept. 26th meeting thinking there would be a large community turnout, especially in support of Jesse but failed to see any alliance members attending. April was "On Point" with her last comments! As April stated so succinctly "There was no discord-just respectfully honoring one councilmember's request for a political platform, and moving on." No abuse, no waste, just good government.
April Josephson October 03, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Mark, thank you for your reasoned response. With regard to what you call the solidarity of the lack of response, this is one of those things where "you had to be there" to get the full picture. It was clear to those of us in attendance that there was no prior decision. In actuality, one council member left the dais at the beginning of the agenda item to take what the council calls a "comfort break." The rest of the council did not know how to proceed, or whether to move forward without him. After some discussion as to what to do, they decided to wait to see whether he wanted to contribute, which—as reported—he did not. This is something that you don't understand from the press, which merely summarizes the actions taken (not that there's anything wrong with that). I, for one, try not to judge things too closely when I am not a personal witness, because it requires assuming facts that I do not know. The meeting audio is on the City's website. It won't necessarily have the same impact as watching, but it may be worth a listen. As far as the Brown Act, I am on several boards and committees subject to it, so I do have familiarity. To my mind, it would be a clear violation to have said what you suggested, and not at all reactionary or paranoid.
glen p October 03, 2012 at 03:35 PM
April, I do listen to all the audio meetings, not able to attend at this time, I participate at a distance. I realize you can't get the full effect by just hearing what was said (or in this case NOT what was said) but still, the slience in the room was almost deafening, In, what appears to show, your vast knowledge of all the city councils actions, words, etc. was there a prior disscussion, behind closed doors, regarding the council discussing a stance on the state immigration issue? And if so is that privy to citizens eyes?
Mark Jordan October 03, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Thank you April. You've been one of the more reasonable voices I've had the pleasure to discuss such matters. All things considered, I think it best to side with the point of view of an actual witness. For now, I believe it's prudent to remain cautiously vigilant - options open. I cannot shrug the feeling of intrenched animus amid the council, of which I've not a heard a whisper of disavowal, but as to possible Brown Act violation and an orchestrated effort to embarrass Councilman Petrilla, I've put my appraisal on hold. Thank you again.
April Josephson October 03, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Thank you, Mark. I appreciate both your demeanor and your thoughtfulness. I've enjoyed hearing your point of view. I have had the opportunity to work on committees with four of the five sitting council members, including Councilman Petrilla. I don't believe what happened was meant to disrespect him or the military.

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