[UPDATED: Police Chief Hiring Update] Costa Mesa Police Chief Resigns With a Letter, Calling City Council 'Incompetent' and the City's Fiscal Crisis a Lie

Tom_Hatch_0621.jpg
Chasen Marshall/OC Weekly
City CEO Tom Hatch

UPDATE, JUNE 22, 6:15 P.M.: While Costa Mesa residents praised former interim police chief Steve Staveley's decision to write a scathing and accusatory letter on his way to resignation at last night's city council meeting, City CEO Tom Hatch didn't make much mention of him. Hatch did assure the city council that the search for the next police chief is progressing as planned and that he would be sitting down with the remaining candidates in the coming days. He did not have a particular timetable for when an announcement would come.

UPDATE, JUNE 20, 10:30 P.M.: Hours after outgoing interim police chief Steve Staveley announced his resignation in a dramatic fashion (see the original post below), Costa Mesa issued its response. In the press release by Bill Lobdell, City CEO Tom Hatch said he was "shocked and saddened" by the "unprofessional" nature of Staveley's parting shots. Based on the "incautious and potentially libelous words," Hatch confronted each accusation individually in the press release (which appears in full after the jump).

Hatch indicated he had a sense that the divide between he and Staveley on the matter of 3.5 percent police-department budget cuts ran deep, and therefore had already been interviewing other candidates. The city has hired Dennis Kies, a former La Habra police chief with 35 years of experience.

Hatch was very clear in his indication that the fiscal crisis Staveley denied exists is very much a real issue. While Staveley didn't provide any fact or context to prove his assertion, Hatch countered with a few of the city's major talking points on the subject--points that still haven't convinced the majority of the parties who've been following along. Hatch also pointed out that "anyone who follows the news" should realize there are crises throughout the state. 

Hatch goes on to counter most of what Staveley presented, point by point. It appears we have a very public political spat on our hands. 

The following is the statement from the city in its entirety:

Costa Mesa CEO Tom Hatch 'shocked and saddened' by interim police chief's letter over proposed 3.5 percent budget cut, new interim chief hired

The following is a statement from Costa Mesa Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch:

I am shocked and saddened by the unprofessional resignation letter sent today by interim Police Chief Steve Staveley to our police department.

I know that Mr. Staveley is angry at some of the changes being proposed for the police department, but this reckless parting shot does not help our organization or the community. Since his incautious and potentially libelous words have the capacity to do harm to our community, I've responded personally below to his allegations.

But first, I wanted to underscore that Costa Mesa will be fine--we are debating a 3.5 percent cut in our police-department budget. We will remain safe.

And knowing the differences that stood between Mr. Staveley and myself, I had been interviewing for a replacement interim police chief while the search concluded for a permanent police chief. Today, I hired Dennis Kies, former La Habra police chief, for the interim position. He has 35 years of law-enforcement experience and will provide a steady hand.

Within the next couple of weeks, I expect to hire a permanent police chief. The finalists for the position are all top members of the law-enforcement community and bring with them many innovative--and some old-fashioned--ideas for policing in the 21st century.

We will get through this challenging period, and with the help of our police chief and the fine men and women of our police department, we will continue to make Costa Mesa a safe city that scores high marks from residents, the business community and visitors.

As for the individual allegations:

Mr. Staveley's base contention is that the budget crisis in Costa Mesa doesn't exist. This just isn't true--and anyone who follows the news knows that cities across California, from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond, are struggling with how to bridge large budget gaps created by drops in revenue and steeply rising pension costs. Like Costa Mesa, many cities have had to propose cuts in public safety--and I'm sure many more municipalities will follow. The money just isn't there at this time.

Costa Mesa's financial numbers are simple and alarming. Our city has used more than $33 million of its reserves since 2008 and, within the next several years, faces the prospect of using 25 percent of its budget just to cover pension costs. In recent years, we've eliminated more than 140 positions and cut some of our services to the bone--and still have spent significantly more money than we've taken in.

Costa Mesa is in a financial crisis.

For the next fiscal year, we are asking the police department to cut just 3.5 percent from its budget. I've tried as much as possible to keep budget cuts away from public safety. We, along with a respected consultant, have developed a plan to maintain the same level of patrol hours while increasing the number of non-sworn personnel for support. In some areas, the level of service won't be the same for residents and the business community, but unfortunately, this is what we can afford. And I feel strongly that a 3.5 percent cut--about $1.35 million for the next fiscal year--in the police-department budget during these times is reasonable and our community will remain safe. I live here with my wife and daughters. I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize their safety.

Mr. Staveley is correct that I'm asking non-sworn personnel to work five days a week. For the city, it's more productive, for the most part, to have a five-day-a-week schedule for its employees--similar to the private sector. I don't think most people outside of government would have a problem with this. Many of our employees work five days a week now without complaint. I haven't asked sworn personnel to work five days a week.

If Mr. Staveley has any evidence that anyone on the council is corrupt, he should have come forward with any evidence immediately. If he doesn't have any evidence, his allegations are simply libelous and, I assume, intended to inflame the police department and the community. I've never seen any council member do anything that was corrupt or against the law. If I did, I would report that council member to the authorities immediately.

Mr. Staveley says Costa Mesa is heading toward being the next Bell. In fact, we are the anti-Bell. In my nearly four months as CEO, I can say that I've seen no city  that has worked harder and made tougher budget decisions to make sure its finances got back on track. And in the process, we've done it with a transparency that's been second-to-none. 

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47 comments
junior
junior

Staveley would be singing a different tune if he were going to be selected - like cut whatever needs to be cut in order to save CMPD jobs.

junior
junior

Sounds like sour grapes from an interim Chief who found out that he was not going to be selected for the permanent post and is on his way out the door.

Albert King
Albert King

Longbeachloser 1 day ago in reply to ele I was not referring to occupation when using the term PIG. I was accusing him of being greedy and taking TWO pensions. Be honest, this guy didn't take a job in a city thirty miles from where he lives "to help out" he is a greedy trough feeder.  As a society we have placed a tremendous "overvalue" on the law enforcement profession. Gotta go, I am looking out the window of my Trailer and see the waves breaking. Go back to Tustin.Two pensions? More false information from the shitbags.  

Lake mead taxpayer
Lake mead taxpayer

So the burning question REMAINS:

Does Chief Staveley file PIT in California? What about Nevada?

The rumors of this guys personal financial gamemanship lend to his credibility as a spokesperson. Let's check that out. Then let's build the nice sturdy platform. Otherwise it's a shaky stage.

He did get his KTLA story out so maybe thats enough.

bettyandy
bettyandy

     Julia, my best friend, is announcing her wedding with a multi-millionaire young man Ronald, who is the CEO of a MNC. What's more interesting? The pair met at a high class millionaire dating club  ---WEALTHYCHATS.CoM---, which is noted for the high quality of its members and its friendly atmosphere. However, you don't have to be rich to join them, as you will be able to meet someone rich. Enjoy it!

Anaheim Not Costa Mesa
Anaheim Not Costa Mesa

This looks like a political stunt from Anaheim politician Steve Stavely. Staveley ran for Mayor of Anaheim in 2002 with the backing of Tam Daly and the Democrats. Is Staveley  looking to get in the newspapers to relaunch his failed political career!

http://www.smartvoter.org/2002...

Wingranger
Wingranger

Of course Tom Hatch is going to side with the city council. They are the ones he reports to. He doesn't want to lose his job so he's got to tow the line for them. Steve Stavely is a man of unquestionable integrity who I'm sure chose his words very carefully and did not make any accusations that he can't back up. Several of the current council are local businessmnen with personal axes to grind against the Police Department and they are taking advantage of the opportunity to get their pound of flesh. They are destroying their own community for a personal vendetta. The ones who will really suffer are the citizens of Costa Mesa! It's time for a recall of the city council and a new city manager!!

zovannee1
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Joeymv
Joeymv

I've known Chief Staveley for decades and always found him to be an honest man of integrity. His well thought out letter of a direct result of what he felt to unethical behavior. I would hope that most law enforcement managers would be bold enough to speak out when confronted with the same circumstances. 

RET
RET

Steve is an honest Chief and I know for a fact if Steve is making these statements against council I can only support him 110 percent. Steve would never, and I mean never would put himself in a position against Council unless he feels it is necessary to support the Public. Oh by the way, don't worrry I also know Dennis Kies, and he will DO WHAT EVER THE COUNCIL wants him to. Between both men they have a difference in ETHICS. Don't believe me, go check the records at La Habra where Dennis was Chief and made that police department the PITS

Kenlaysnotdead
Kenlaysnotdead

Let's look at something:

Steve is a LONGTIME Anaheim resident, in fact he ran for Mayor against Pringle as a union backed Democrat.

He is rumored to live and file taxes in Nevada (Lake Mead) which means if true, he does not even pay state taxes here! UNFORGIVABLE.

His interim position was short term and this episode was a catalyst for the next step in the battle.

The view from the curb.......

Century21minuteman
Century21minuteman

Dear Readers, I cast my vote for the former Costa Mesa Police Chief, Steve Stavely, albeit that support limited to his indignation to the $1.35 million (3.5%) cut to the police department's annual budget.   Law enforcement presence is the essential insurance that our communities remain safe and our society remains civilized.   What is the $1.35 million savings worth to Costa Mesa if even one person is murdered, killed, or maimed in the city due to law enforcement cutbacks?  That kind of irreparable carnage is something you cannot put a price on.   Criminal mentalities never take pay cuts.  They are an ever-present threat just waiting for law enforcement to be "thinned out" so they can more easily find another victim to pounce upon.  That is not paranoia, ladies and gentlemen.  It is reality. In my opinion, law enforcement members deserve compensation and benefit programs that properly reward them for the dangers they are exposed to as they put themselves at  serious risk protecting the rest of us from those same dangers.Jim Gilchrist, Founder and President, The Minuteman Project

mitch young
mitch young

Both the police chief and the 'CEO' (since when did cities get CEO's?) look like aging homosexual lovers. Is this perhaps a closeted homosex love-spat emerging into public view? 

RobE
RobE

What's sad is that the incompetence he cites also informs the city councils of Irvine, Yorba Linda, the City of Orange, Santa Ana, Anaheim and probably others. The leadership class in Orange County is one big cesspool of mediocrity (or worse). 

Layoff Supporter
Layoff Supporter

I can understand how many of you would support him, and the effort to cancel the layoffs. But you supporters most likely don't really understand the cost of city employees, so I will try to make this as simple as possible. Every city employee is part of the California Public Employee Retirement System. It can best be described as a defined benefit plan. That means each city employee receives benefits based on their years of service, not their contributions. The level of benefits depends on which union you belong to. CM public safety employees (police and fire) get 3% at 55. That means they get 3% of their highest salary for every year of service. So, if a police officer with 30 years of service gets 90% of their highest salary for the rest of their life. Do any of your realize how much that costs?

Look, CM forecasted their expected cash flows and future contintribution requirements and determined it was cheaper to privatize the 200 positions. Sure, they may pay a little more right now to the contractor, but the city also won't have to make as big a contribution to Cal PERS. If your argument is that 200 people lost their jobs, guess what? 200 people got new jobs. There really isn't a loss overall.

If you want to blame someone, don't blame the city council. Blame the unions. They are the ones who created the situation. There just isn't any way to continue to fund the Cal PERS contributions. The money just isn't there.

Now before you start saying I have no idea what I am talking about, let me say this. For over 8 years I audited more than 30 different cities. That is over 100 audits. I understand city finances better than most city council members, and I am sure I understand more than most of you. It's not a put down, it's a matter of experience.

It

Longbeachloser
Longbeachloser

His words might ring a little more genuine if he wasn't set to recieve a HUGE pension.

Another example of the public employees feeding at the trough: PIGS

Wilferose
Wilferose

I volunteered at CMPD in 1991, volunteering wasn't as sopisticated as it is now. what a sad thing to happen to a great department. Counsil members best realize where they are located and the need for police officers. Santa Ana and Newport border this town SA has high criminal activity, NB has high tourist activity and CM is in the middle. CMs helicopters, K-9s  watch over this city, it's a crying shame to hear what has happened to this town in the past 19 years. what ever happened to the people who made this a super place to live.

Newportblue65
Newportblue65

This cop will not be missed. The taxpayers don't work for him!!!

Fox News Sucks
Fox News Sucks

Chief Staveley put those Faux News worshipping, GOP ball-blowing city council assholes in their place.

Bravo, Chief Staveley!

Jackg3
Jackg3

I think he meant to say that the council does not behavelike every other council the police dept and city employees controlled.   Thenerve, the boorishness...how dare they stand up to him and the public employee unions.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

It seems the Costa Mesa Village Idiots that call themselves the City Council have blown away another great public servant! Perhaps the Emperors would like some new Clothes? What does it take to get a drive to recall these idiots? (considering only 20% of voters bother to show up)

HBGraceman
HBGraceman

Best Letter Ever! Immediately begin recall proceedings against all council members and impanel a grand jury to investigate charges contained in the letter.

Sir Lordbaron
Sir Lordbaron

THANK Goodness for Steve Staveley,  This Man is so right, now I have something more for the book I'm working on, as How Many Stupid People are Working in this Country Today, there are so Many and in the Wrong  Places where they do so much hard to the People in General.  The Police and Fire and the Back Bone of this Country, Yes they get too much at 3% at 50, and yes like the Engineers there isn't anyone to replace them with Any Command Knowldge with Experience that Can Stand the Test of Time.     I Agree with Steve Staveley, he did the right thing by Retiring Tomorrow.   The Comunity at Large needs to Impeach and Remove the City Council, get the Idiots out and get a City Counsel that has their Act Together.        Sir Lord Baron

Randall
Randall

He doesn't understand finances..  Just another city employee who doesn't live in Costa Mesa.  He'll continue to cash his retirement checks while the city goes broke.. 

Gericault
Gericault

Holy Crap........this guy nailed it.This is what I've been saying all along, and so far the council and thier cronies have accussed me of being an out of work gigolo that abuses his kids and vandalises school property using hate slogans. Wonder what they are going to say about the Chief of Police.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I believe they recently changed the position name from City Manager to City CEO. an attempt to make a city look more like a corporation, (shows they are just as greedy as any corrupt corporate master)

Bitterenemies
Bitterenemies

The City did not do any studies before they decided to lay off 1/2 the work force.  Do not give the Costa Mesa City Council any credit for understanding how government financing works.  In three short months for four idiots on the City Council have made Costa Mesa the laughing stock of the OC.  Righeimber is a carpet bagger who has no does not care about Costa Mesa.  He only care about his future political career.

RobE
RobE

It is the price we pay for trying to keep corruption within government civil service ranks at a manageable level. If you want to see what paying government employees peanuts does, look at Mexico, where corruption is more or less out in the open, many government employees quit to become illegal alien farm workers since their wages in Mexico are so low and police and army members help out drug cartels.

ele
ele

Well your name says it all "Longbeachloser". I know you haven't read the whole letter the Chief wrote (I know it's to long for a 3rd grade reader), but if you look at his tenure, experience and how articulate he is..I think he very much deserves the pension. Unfortunately for the citizens that do respect Law Enforcement and doesn't refer to them as pigs, well I feel sorry for the one that has to live next to you in your trailer. Don't call 911 if you need help, handle it on your own and see where it gets you. Actually loser isn't good enough, but then again I'm sure you didn't read this far..enjoy your freedom!

Fox News Sucks
Fox News Sucks

If you knew anything about him you would know he was already retired and was working on an interim basis. Oink Oink................

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I understand the Costa Mesa Air unit was de-funded and is being grounded.

Fox News Sucks
Fox News Sucks

Oh, fuck off. You probably don't even pay taxes anyway. I heard Hannity is on, go away.

jim righeimer
jim righeimer

Grand jury won't work because it is controlled by t-rack, another gop puppet

HBGraceman
HBGraceman

Your charge that Steve doesn't understand finances seems ridiculous in light of Steve's experience. His efforts are all the more impressive BECAUSE he does not live in the city and does not have a political axe to grind. Steve's words seem to be those of an honorable man while your's Randall are more like the guy who whines about how much he had to pay. So Randal if you understand finances, as your posts suggests, then I suppose that can be construed as an excuse for your social, moral and logic shortcomings. Thanks for he math, man.

lydiawow
lydiawow

Best Letter Ever! Immediately begin recall proceedings against all council members and impanel a grand jury to investigate charges contained in the letter.I am seeking a good man who can give me real love , so i got a username Andromeda2002 on--s'e'ek'c'ou'ga'r.c óm--.it is the first and best club for y'ounger women and old'er men, or older women and y'ounger men,to int'eract with each other. Maybe you wanna ch'eck 'it out or tell your friends!

Guest
Guest

Your argument doesn't make sense. Since when did corruption have to do with the level of compensation someone receives? It happens at every level. Are you saying that if we pay them more than they deserve that they won't be corrupt? Come on. That's like bribing them not to be corrupt.

City employees would make a very good living even without having a defined benefits plan. They definitely aren't making peanuts.

Longbeachloser
Longbeachloser

I was not referring to occupation when using the term PIG.

I was accusing him of being greedy and taking TWO pensions. Be honest, this guy didn't take a job in a city thirty miles from where he lives "to help out" he is a greedy trough feeder. 

As a society we have placed a tremendous "overvalue" on the law enforcement profession. Gotta go, I am looking out the window of my Trailer and see the waves breaking. Go back to Tustin.

Jesusismylawnboy
Jesusismylawnboy

That's what we call DOUBLE DIPPING! He's a trough feeder.

Observer
Observer

Yes, Fox News, he's already receiving 190,000 a year from the last job he retired from. This job was gravy, double-dipped. I really appreciate a man who makes such a statement -- when it was his hobby job anyhow. Be part of the solution, Chief. You're paid to lead.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Okay, you're obviously not the carpetbagging Riggy, so please at least make a pun of his name...

Anaheim Not Costa Mesa
Anaheim Not Costa Mesa

Anaheim politician Steve Staveley is a partisan Democrat looking for some ink in the daily papers - he got it. Look for him to run for office again, like he did in Anaheim with his new found fame.

Jim is a Loser
Jim is a Loser

You obviously have no idea what you are talking about because you don't understand the difference between corruption and fraud. Corruption happens at the top because they have the power to control certain things. Someone at the lower end of the pay scale would be more apt to commit fraud. In other words, someone just like yourself.

Bitterenemies
Bitterenemies

Since corruption runs in your veins, or course you would know it's history and abide by it's rules.

jim righeimer
jim righeimer

What you get paid as an employee has everything to do with the chances of corruption. It is human nature, common sense, and simple economic principles. Pick up a history book and actually read it... a good starting place would be around the time political machines still existed. You can go from there.

RobE
RobE

The irony in your statement is that you are one of those Republicans who support the GOP's unwillingness to cut defense spending even though the Pentagon is rife with triple dipping generals on the take from weapons manufacturers. Not to mention that its bureaucratic structure is still on a WWII basis and is thus highly inefficient and wasteful.

And btw, none of you guys even blinked when those shrink wrapped palates of cash headed to Iraq vanished into thin air. The Bush Administration didn't investigate even though taxpayers were on the hook for the $8 BILLION that was absconded. I mean, let's face it, the Republican pose as deficit cutters is just that. So fuck off.

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