OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Orange Planning Commission Controversy Makes National Headlines

Posted by Newsletter Reprint on November 19, 2013

The controversy in the City of Orange over the Planning Commission appointment of Michael Merino makes national headlines, as it was covered by William Bigelow at Breitbart.com this weekend…

CA Veteran Denied Reinstatement on City Commission After Deployment

by WILLIAM BIGELOW 17 Nov 2013

In a rather fishy development, Captain Michael Merino, a member of the city of Orange’s five-member planning commission and a registered Republican, was denied the chance for reinstatement on Tuesday after the Navel reservist took a two-year leave of absence when he was deployed to serve at Guantanamo Bay. The Democratic mayor of Orange, Tita Smith, is refusing to nominate Merino for the now-vacant post. Merino also served in the 1991 liberation of Kuwait and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Councilman Denis Bilodeau, also a Republican, is calling for the City Council to bring up the subject for consideration on Tuesday November 26th, with local veterans groups expected to attend.

Merino served on the Orange Planning Commission from 2006 through 2011.


Smith said Merino’s term expired during his deployment and because he had been on the panel more than five years, a new person was needed to replace him.

Bilodeau stated, “I am heartbroken that Capt. Merino answered his call of duty, and we are not honoring that by giving him his position back.”

Merino has asserted that he thought his job on the commission would be protected by federal regulations covering military personnel, but smith said the federal provisions do not cover the jobs on the commission.

Merino, who had run twice for city council, was disillusioned, saying, “I am disappointed by the council’s actions. I have no intention of running for council again. I don’t understand the politics behind this decision.”

4 Responses to “Orange Planning Commission Controversy Makes National Headlines”

  1. Matthew Cunningham said

    What is never noted by those waging this outrage campaign by cynically exploiting our esteem for veterans is that the man who has been pushed off the Orange Planning Commission — Mr. Bill Cathcart — is himself a veteran.

    Not just a veteran, but a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, where Bill served in the “brown water navy” that patrolled Vietnam’s inland waters, constantly exposed to hidden Communist fire from the riverbanks.

    How does it “honor our veterans” to push Bill Cathcart off of the Planning Commission?

    The sooner this unseemly wedge issue is dropped, the better.

  2. OCInsider#33 said

    After reading this article, I came up with an alternate version, see if there would be the same outrage.
    A State Senator wins a 4 year term in office. During the last year of his term in office he is deployed as a reservist. He is gone during his re-election and the voters do not return him to office. He returns after the new State Senator is sworn in and A YEAR LATER, the day after Veterans Day, he demands that he be put back into office because he had been deployed and didn’t get to serve his entire term. How appalling Mr Merino is exploiting his military status for political gain, and now it sounds a combat veteran was removed to clear the path for him. And in checking with political friends in Orange, I was told that Councilman Bilodeau was allowed to bring Merino’s name forward anyway and there wasn’t another member of the council who would agree to bring him back. Smells like the Mayor’s race in Orange is starting early.

  3. OrangeInsider said

    Actually the public paper trail on this is quiet different than the spin here. Captain Merino asked for a leave of a absence while he was deployed. He suggested in his letter to the council that Bill Cathcart serve on the commission while he was deployed. Bill Cathcart was honored to back up an active serviceman. Cathcart provided valuable selfless service to the commission, and resigned upon Merino’s return. Both men should be commended.

  4. OCInsider#33 said

    Orangeinsider, I checked with my “Orangeinsider” political friends in Orange before posting and yes Merino only asked for a leave, but the council accepted his resignation, that is a public record. And his term expired while he was away. And Cathcart did not resign when Mr Merino returned. It was almost a year later and he finally turned in his resignation after being harassed to do so. Nice way to treat a Citizen of the Year for the City of Orange and a combat Veteran. Cunningham actually got this one right when he stated something this unseemly should just be dropped.

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