At last week’s City Council meeting in Orange the Mayor, Tita Smith, took a former Planning Commissioner’s service in the military as an opportunity to deny him his spot back on the Commission. Mike Merino, a Republican and former candidate for City Council, vacated his post on the Planning Commission while serving our nation in the Navy at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. Upon Captain Merino’s return home was greeted by the news that he was no longer welcome to serve on the city’s Planning Commission. Mayor Tita Smith, a Democrat, blocked his appointment and offered little reasoning beyond saying she thinks he’s served on the Commission long enough. It’s absurd that the Mayor would suggest that it’s okay for Mr. Merino to serve his country on a military base that borders a Communist adversary and houses some of the world’s most violent terrorists, yet she doesn’t grant him the courtesy to return to a post he vacated to defend her way of life.
This is not the first time this issue has come up in Orange County, the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council sought to replace Councilman Jesse Petrilla, albeit temporarily, while he served in the Army overseas. Ultimately Petrilla wasn’t replaced due to an additional resignation on the council and likely a wise change of heart from councilmembers who sought to replace him. However, there is little indication that a similar change of heart will occur in Orange.
Despite these distasteful moves, this story is now catching momentum. The idea of disrespecting the service of Soldiers, despite political differences, does not sit well with the public. The Orange County Register reported the story last week a day after the item was brought up publicly. Just yesterday Breitbart News picked up the story, and it has been reported on by KFI Radio.
Those who know Orange know it is a nice community rich city, Mayor Tita Smith probably thought she had earned enough goodwill to get away with this one. However, something that comes before community is respect for Veterans and our Military, it’s time for Tita Smith to put her country first and building a little fiefdom in Orange second and allow this hero back on the Planning Commission.