Letters to the Editor

May 04, 2012

Zimmerman in reverse

To the Editor:

The rush to judgment regarding the case of Santa Paula Police Chief, Steve MacKinnon, is very much like the George Zimmerman case in reverse, in that the media and others rush to place blame on our current City Council and City Manager before the facts are known: Zimmerman in reverse. I like the Chief personally, and he does a lot of good social work for the city, but that has nothing to do with the performance of his job duties or whatever other issues may be troubling the City Manager and/or the Council. We just do not have the facts yet. We cannot jump to any meaningful conclusion without the facts. 

Among those rushing to judgment to feather their own nest by throwing stones at our current City Manager and Council is our former Mayor, Maryann Krause, who, in my opinion, came very close to completely ruining our small city through bad decisions, a wrong-headed social welfare philosophy (“economic justice”) and by pushing through policies and actions that were taking our city down the primrose path of insolvency. Could Krause’s surfacing at this time be a trial balloon for her running for Council again? Is that what the letters and ads are really about? 

Imagine for a minute having Centex’s Fagan Canyon project, promoted by Krause, being a big hole up in the canyon, and a bigger hole in Santa Paula’s budget!; “affordable housing” being built all over the City at a time when just about everything is “affordable” at today’s depressed prices. I could make a long list of her wacky goofy proposals, but going further would take more space and time than I have right now. Our current governance is still working to resolve these past problems, many of which were created on her watch. Are our memories that short? 

The present Council is doing an excellent job and should be thanked for doing it, not attacked by those who have a bag full of sour grapes. Why don’t we let the investigation unfold, and then we can judge based upon the facts, not emotion? As I understand it, the MacKinnon support group is intent on knowing the charges right now. Obviously, our current City Government is not presently at liberty to give out information based upon an on-going investigation, but MacKinnon can clarify the matter, if he wants to, but he has no obligation until the facts come out independently. If knowing more is what Krause and her group want, then direct your question to the Chief and let the City proceed in a professional manner. 

Larry Sagely

Santa Paula

RE: Steve MacKinnon

To the Editor:

Steve Mackinnon, Chief of Police, a respected and admired member of the Santa Paula community has been treated in a thoughtless and unexplained manner by the City Council and the City Manager.

Are we to believe that a simple contract dispute can lead to actions by the City that have damaged the professional reputation of this fine man. We have been told that the confidential nature of the matter precludes release of information that could help the public understand the issues. If this were the case, how did detailed information about the Chief’s suspension find its way to the press? 

A reasonable person would expect that suspension would be justified if a criminal act was suspected. If criminal acts were involved would not the City be compelled to turn to the Ventura County District Attorney for an investigation? If the District Attorney elected not to investigate, would not the matter be referred to the California Attorney General? If this were not a criminal act under investigation, why would the City resort to suspension? What possible justification could there be for suspending the Chief without pay while a contract dispute is resolved. Hiring a private investigator to investigate the Chief seems an unusual step to take. This paid suspension leaves the City without the important services of its lead law enforcement officer at a time when the Police Department is already short staffed. As an uninformed concerned citizen, I’m compelled to suspect that there are issues of a personal nature driving this so called investigation.

Statements made to the press by members of the City Council would have us believe that the Council was not informed about the investigation or the suspension. Was this an action taken by City Manager Fontes without the knowledge and approval of the City Council?

Councilman Cook is reported by the Santa Paula Times to have said “the Council has not discussed Mackinnon as a group or with Fontes”. Could this mean that Council members may have discussed the issue one-on-one with Fontes or among themselves individually outside the legally scheduled and published Council Agenda?  

There certainly has been time to complete the investigation. Prompt acceptance of the results of the investigation and a decision on either lifting the suspension and exonerating the Chief or terminating his employment for cause is the only way to bring this unfortunate chapter in the City’s history to a close.  

Terminating the Chief’s employment without just cause will certainly open the City to a wrongful termination lawsuit. At least such a suit would provide the opportunity to fully explore, in public, the reasons and motivations for the City Administration’s actions.

David Hanson

Santa Paula

Looking at the situation

To the Editor:

Looking at the current situation with our police chief I have to say ‘enough is enough.’ At this time we have an interim city engineer presumably with an interim assistant. We have an interim recreational director whose previous position is probably occupied by an interim person. Our fire chief also handles building and safety so perhaps an interim position. Perhaps on my next gig I should announce that I am just the interim guitar player because the top guy couldn’t make it.

At times, in the past, I have found the politics of our lovely small town to be borderline hilarious. Obviously by writing this letter I am feeling a sense of light relief, which may be shared by others (or maybe not). To be a little more serious, this is no laughing matter. I am sure that the outpouring of support from the community (including myself) for Chief MacKinnon will be simply overwhelming.

This growing firestorm needs to be extinguished immediately. Personality clashes (if there are any) need to be put aside and left there. The matter needs to be examined and addressed in a dignified and professional manner and then we should move on. The chief doesn’t deserve this and neither do the people of Santa Paula.

Barry Cooper

Santa Paula

Re: Former Mayor Krause’s S.P. Times article on Chief Steve MacKinnon

To the Editor:

Calm down liberal/progressive folks and put down the pitchforks; let the administrative process run its course and see the results of the investigation before you get your underwear in knots. The S.P. police chief had made plans of departing our lovely city of Santa Paula, regardless of the outcome, his departure is inevitable. Krause mentions Wally Bobkiewicz in her article but then again he’s long gone after corroborating with Krause and implementing her social values into his city management. Former S.P. Mayor and Councilmember actually had the gall of rallying a small group of people to influence public opinion and hopefully sway the MacKinnon outcome, whether innocent or guilty. Where was this mayor’s conscience when the greater part of Santa Paula was against the development of Fagan Canyon? It seems that some diehard “do-gooders” can’t rest during their retirement! To their credit the present city manager and city council have followed good fiscal sense and judgment but the records show that during Mary Ann Krause’s tenure, this city was in the red and thanks to her and her cronies that perpetuate income distribution programs in the name of “social justice”. These liberal/progressive folks will not stop their agenda until they have driven our cities, counties, state and country into bankruptcy!

Andrew Castenada

Santa Paula

Why did you do that?

To the Editor:

I can’t believe that something like this would happen to a good person. Well it did, and it happened to Police Chief Steve MacKinnon, putting the chief on administrative paid leave for whatever reason.

I don’t know why, but I do know one thing about this - the City of Santa Paula told the City Council to keep it hush-hush about this whole darn mess, so that way the community citizens and the residents of Santa Paula wouldn’t know anything about it. Well, to me in my mind that is a bunch of hogwash about putting a very good person, or in this case the police chief, on paid administrative leave.

Come on, what did Chief MacKinnon do to deserve this? I don’t think he did anything wrong to deserve this. 

I mean, look at this, he made sure that crime was down here in the City and that the crime rate would drop, stay down, and diminish significantly and that it would continue that down trend, just like the last two chiefs that we had before Chief MacKinnon that are now retired - and they are former Police Chiefs Walt Adair and now Councilman and Mayor Bob Gonzales. They made sure that crime was down and the crime rate was also down, too, and they were not put on administrative paid leave and Chief MacKinnon was.

Again, come on - look at what he is doing, too. He is very active with our community in a number of things, like the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Paula - now that is where he devotes a lot of his time to - and this is the thanks he gets for doing what he did.

I don’t think so. Hey listen City of Santa Paula, as well as the City Council, you only put someone on administrative paid leave only if they are working law enforcement and if they did something wrong that will spark off an internal affairs investigation. You don’t put them on administrative paid leave if they did good by doing something good in, out and for the community; and Steve has done a lot of good and is continuing to do a lot of good in and for our community. And Steve didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this, and I think that there is a mongoose rumor going around smearing this kind of gossip.

And in finish, I think that the community citizens people and the residents of Santa Paula should go to Monday’s City Council meeting to show their displeasure over this situation, demand some answers, and to help Steve get back on the job, because I think Steve deserves to get back on the job and not be treated unfairly this way for what he has done in our community and for the city.

And just to let you know, I’m showing my support for Steve and the Police Department on how I feel and felt all about this, and to help Steve get back on the job so he can continue to do more good for the city and our community for years and years to come.

John Bravo

Santa Paula

Stunned disappointment

To the Editor:

I am very disappointed by the way Mr. Fontes is handling the rumors concerning our police chief who I support.

I was stunned to read his comment telling the city council what and when they can review something. Mr. Fontes needs to get connected to the citizens & activities in our beautiful city. We don’t need an imperious manager. 

Gerald (Jerry) Schmidt

Santa Paula

I have faith in our city’s officials

To the Editor: 

Please withhold comments about our friend the chief of Police until all the facts are in and made public. Unfortunately there are some that need the recognition very badly and love to see their name/picture in the paper. There is a name for them - narcissistic. I have faith in our current council and city manager that will work things out as they have been doing for a number of years. Let those without error throw the first stone.

David Kaiser

Santa Paula

The facts should be controlling

To the Editor:

I have no special knowledge about the current state of affairs regarding Chief MacKinnon’s relations with the City, City Manager Fontes or the City Council. But I take the City at their word that there is some issue worthy of investigation, as has been reported in the newspapers. The large ads and letters in the SP Times of April 27 seem a little over the top, since those writing the letters admit they don’t know what it’s all about, either. What is the all fired-up big rush about to come to a resolution? Won’t the facts win out in the end? What has happened to the virtue of patience?

Could it be that columnist Maryann Krause has some personal agenda here? She was on the Council previously, but then voted off after the Centex (among others) debacle. Imagine what Fagan Canyon would look like today - all dug up and denuded of vegetation with Centex no longer listed on the stock exchange, now a mere shell of its former self, having been absorbed by another smaller company (Pulte)? Centex left projects “hanging” in several states when the housing depression hit 5 years ago. And what about the $150 million custom-designed wastewater treatment plant the City was going to have to sign on the bonded-indebtedness line for when Mrs. Krause was in control, remember that? And all of that “low income” housing Krause and that prior Council favored all over town? One thing we do know is, Santa Paula housing is certainly “affordable” in 2012 with homes prior listed at $500,000 having problems selling at 1/2 that value. Wake up and smell the coffee.

The current Council stepped up to the plate and found a better solution for the wastewater treatment plant, got Cabrillo’s large affordable housing project on Santa Barbara Street totally redesigned and down-sized (thanks Councilman Ralph Fernandez and the Council), privatized trash collection, and eliminated “dead wood” wherever they found it (thanks City manager Fontes) and just generally have moved the City in the right direction. No, let’s hope that Mrs. Krause and her supporters aren’t about to launch a new campaign to take the City backward to the last century (pre-2001) or whatever! Cities all over California are on the verge of bankruptcy, including Los Angeles, and the state is in a huge mess with outlandish pensions and bonded indebtedness. The liberals in this state still think the recent and current downturn is just a temporary glitch; they are wrong. We do not need more “affordable housing”, higher taxes and fees, or new fees and taxes to raise up to a billion dollars a year for more “affordable housing” as the Democrat Socialists in Sacramento are now proposing. I’m sorry, is that “name calling”? No, I cannot understand why the followers of the Fabian Society, or “socialists” or even “communists” don’t just stand up proudly and admit their true beliefs. What are they ashamed about or afraid of? Could it be that they still don’t think the majority of Americans want “socialism” or cradle to grave “Big Mama” government? That would be right! What we need in this country, state, county and city is austerity and common sense, something the Democrat Socialists cannot comprehend, but I believe they are in for a big surprise come Nov. 6, 2012.

We need to support our current Council and City Manager, and yes, Chief MacKinnon too. Above all, let’s be guided by the facts as they are developed.

Richard Main

Santa Paula 

Chief of Police MacKinnon put on administrative leave

To the Editor:

It was sad to read that a good man like Police Chief MacKinnon has been put on administrative leave.  

Since arriving in Santa Paula six years ago, Chief MacKinnon has been actively connected with the Santa Paula community and involved in many activities. He has participated in Moonlight at the Ranch, the Citrus Festival and the Santa Clara Valley Boys and Girls Club, both professionally and as a volunteer.   

Having worked with the Chief in coordinating emergency preparedness and other vital programs with the schools, I found him to be a consummate professional who always has the safety and best interest of the community in mind.

Highly respected by the community and strongly supported by his police officers, one can only imagine what “personal agenda” is motivating individuals to malign his character. Chief MacKinnon is the best thing to happen to Santa Paula in a long time and deserves to be treated fairly. This, however, does not seem to be the case and the image of the community has been tarnished.

Transparency in public service is not to be taken for granted. Santa Paula residents should not tolerate the unfair treatment of their Police Chief and need to voice their concern to ensure that the highest ethical and professional standards are used in handling this matter. The Santa Paula City Council will be meeting next week Monday evening to deliberate this action against the Chief MacKinnon in closed session.  

I encourage the people of Santa Paula to voice their opinion regarding the treatment of their Police Chief during the public comment portion of the city council agenda on May 7. 

David Luna 

Retired Educator 


RE: Chief of Police

To the Editor:

I was extremely surprised when I read in the Santa Paula Times that the Chief of Police, Steve MacKinnon, was placed on administrative leave. Although I do not live in Santa Paula, I consider this community my home away from home since I have worked here for the past 25 years. I think that it is important for the community to learn about the work that Chief MacKinnon has done in the schools to create a partnership between law enforcement and the school community. Thanks to Chief MacKinnon, the Santa Paula Elementary School District was able to co-locate a School Resource Officer at Isbell Middle School. Chief MacKinnon assisted with the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Santa Paula and the school district and placed a newly hired officer to get directly engaged with the community via his interactions with students and parents. The officer provided services such as substance abuse prevention programs for students and their parents, served as a positive role model for students interested in law enforcement and his presence on campus provided a higher sense of security to the school site. 

Chief MacKinnon served as a partner in on two School Community Violence Prevention committees at Barbara Webster and Isbell Middle School. Chief MacKinnon’s input and interaction with the committee members was always positive, respectful, and honest and his presence was a significant asset to the violence prevention efforts not only at the school level but for the community as a whole. Since Chief MacKinnon came to Santa Paula, the School Attendance Review Board for the district has had the added benefit of having a police officer present at their monthly meetings. The presence of an officer at these meetings has been invaluable. Chief MacKinnon has made sure that the officer is not there just to “ticket” families for truancy issues but to assist families in making better parenting decisions. Many students are now attending school regularly and potential criminal activity by juveniles has decreased due to the police officers’ interventions through the School Attendance Review Board activities and the violence prevention strategies at the school sites. 

I urge the city of Santa Paula to reconsider their decision regarding the employment of Chief MacKinnon. The image of Santa Paula as a safer community has been promoted through his tenure. 


Frida Goldstein-Friend

Agoura Hills

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