MATT QUAN, San Clemente

San Clemente must reject Jackson Hinkle and Chris Duncan, for opportunistically sowing discord for political gain upon the death of Mr. Kurt Reinhold.

Their exploitation is what we’ve come to expect, inflaming conflict and inviting outside extremists to potentially destroy this community. They are non-starters and would only result in more acrimony on an already dysfunctional city council.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is a tragedy that Mr. Reinhold, a homeless man who, during an altercation, reportedly grabbed an Orange County Sheriff Department officer’s weapon, was killed. The Orange County District Attorney is conducting an independent investigation, and San Clemente should accordingly hold OCSD accountable.

However, OCSD’s service has been exemplary despite these tumultuous times, managing no less than five demonstrations across the political spectrum, including support of BLM and against the coronavirus shutdown, largely without incident and better than anywhere else in Orange County.

In contrast, OCSD has put San Clemente on notice twice. First, in an impossible situation when council couldn’t agree upon a policy on a parking lot and beach closures, and second, when council almost failed to approve the city’s contract with OCSD, risking the safety of San Clemente.

San Clemente needs unity and leadership; instead, it is failing. The council is on its third and currently vacant mayor in little over a year, and could not even agree on the honorific of Acting Mayor.

It is on its third and currently interim city manager, after the first resigned, then by inaction by failure to renew the interim position, leading to the assistant city manager to assume it by default. Council again was almost deadlocked on the budget, and the latest argument is who has the authority to declare a possible curfew for the protests Hinkle brought upon the community in the first place.

None of this addresses the actual existential problems facing San Clemente, from an aging and declining population, homelessness, rehab centers, short-term rentals, hospitals, coastal erosion, and a damaged economy. San Clemente is not prepared for the coming decade, and this community must demand more from itself and its supposed leaders.

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