Here’s monday’s Leftovers column. This week we chose to look at the criticism surrounding Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Beilke’s support of two of his son’s friends in a case where a reserve deputy’s gun and vehicle were stolen.
I have to say, when I called Beilke Friday to talk about the issue, he was less than pleased that we — like other news outlets, according to him — were getting this all wrong by focusing on tagging. Well, the two he’s supporting are alleged taggers … but that’s another story, I guess.
Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Beilke said Friday he is “absolutely, positively in no way in support of taggers.”
But he supports 19-year-old Miguel Perez and 24-year-old Ivan De Jesus Marquez, who Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators believe are members of the “Pico Drunk Punx,” a Pico Rivera tagging crew.
The two are suspected in a case where a reserve deputy’s .45-caliber revolver and vehicle were stolen.
They are also employees at Beilke’s Wienerschnitzel and friends of Beilke’s 17-year-old son who was originally detained by deputies in the case, but wasn’t charged.
“I’m as confused as anyone as to why this has turned into a tagging story,” Beilke said. “They are not being charged with any tagging crime.”
Beilke’s right. The two face charges of receiving stolen property — namely, the gun — charges Beilke thinks will eventually go away.
But some of Beilke’s colleagues are concerned with the fact that Beilke is “throwing his weight” behind these alleged taggers, even if the case has nothing to do with tagging.
“It doesn’t look good for the city for something like this to be happening,” said Pico Rivera Councilman David Armenta. “It just sends a bad message, possibly a wrong message, to the kids that if they do something as serious as this, that there could be someone to bail them out.”
Beilke reportedly told The Los Angeles Times, “There’s tagging crews and party crews, and nine times out of 10, you find out it’s a party crew. A few may tag, and all of a sudden, they’re all called taggers.”
Armenta took issue with the quote, especially since the city is trying to “send a firm message: no tagging, no party crews, no gangs.”
Councilman Gregory Salcido said the issue, while personal, has now become the city’s problem.
“Once city employees become involved to protect Ron, it becomes city business,” he said.
Salcido said the city manager, assistant city manager and public information officer have spent hours working on ways to “spin” the mayor’s involvement in the issue.
Beilke said he doesn’t know of any staff time being used on the issue — which he called a “non-event.”
Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said if staff time is being used, it could be considered insignificant, depending on the kind of work they are doing.
For example, if staff members are just putting out a press release on the mayor’s position, that’s not such a big deal.
“Basically, (this is) propaganda from some of my colleagues,” Beilke said, adding that his opponents on the dais are using the incident as a political tactic.
Beilke said he’s known the kids for years and is just trying to provide them with direction in their lives.
“If you have the sheriffs going around saying they are taggers I’m not going to disagree or argue with (that) … I think they are good kids.”