Aaron F Park

Reality is a stubborn thing.

Sep 212021

Capitol Weekly wrote an article about the death of Scott Lay.

Scott Lay was a good dude, a democrat, but a good man. He ran a publication that aggregated articles and was widely read by insiders. I knew that Scott had an off and on problem with substance abuse. I knew that Scott had a big heart but he was a lost soul who was always trying to do good but could not chase his addiction.

That generosity and passion was evident in much of Scott’s pursuits. I know from experience the amount of hours he would dedicate to a new passion project, not because he expected some big financial reward, but simply for the sake of doing it. Of course, he was motivated at least in part from some of the rush that comes from putting something out into the world that other people read and react to. For all of his talents as an advocate and budget guru, Scott was a generous spirit who lived to publish. His biggest rush came from informing and entertaining others.

But he also struggled with demons that created distance with even his closest friends. While he would post enthusiastically on social media about his latest score from the farmers market, or the taco stands in front of Southside Park on Sundays, those who knew him best knew that Scott was sick.  Over the years, many of us tried to support him in efforts to confront some of those demons. We failed.

Like anyone who passes too soon, it is impossible not to look back on Scott’s life with some sadness and regret. But it also demands celebrating his generous spirit, his willingness to help others, and the role he played in helping shape and inform the Capitol community.

The people at the Capitol Weekly pretty much told people that Scott’s death was related to his substance abuse and possibly suicide.

The author wrote: Over the years, many of us tried to support him in efforts to confront some of those demons. We failed.

To the folks at the Capitol Weekly – I want to share something that is part of the “How it Works” portion of the AA Big Book

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

I’d posit that Scott missed something in his program. Alcoholism is self-diagnosed. Only Aaron Park can admit he is an alcoholic. Only Aaron Park can ask for help and weather or not that help is effective is contingent upon Aaron’s ability to be honest.

I know this does not make it hurt any less. I can not imagine what my father in law felt when he found my Brother in Law dead at age 46 in a halfway house. My wife still cries occasionally for her brother Casey. But, when she and I talk (Jodie is also public about her sobriety of now 16+ years) about it we are reminded that Casey never surrendered his will to his higher power nor was he able to be consistently honest.

So to those of you at the Capitol Weekly – you tried to help. Many people try to help addicts and alcoholics. I am closing in on 19 years of sobriety without a relapse. The odds of reaching 5 years without a relapse are 1.4%. It is a tough road for even the strongest among us.

Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!

It is not your fault, Capitol Weekly. Please let go of Scott, he is gone now. Please move on without guilt, Alcoholism/Addiction kills without regard to much of anything and only God has the power to stop it.

IN Honor of Scott Lay, Mike Spence and a list of others I have known in politics, I am linking https://nationalrehabhotline.org/california/

This link will be on the blog permanently. Help is out there but you have to want it and be willing to do whatever it takes to stop using or it won’t work.

Sep 202021

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Gene James experience. 100% Credit to the San Clemente Times and several fine folks from San Clemente that sent me all kinds of stuff. I had to wait until the Recall Election was clear and the recriminations before I could get to this. I am reprinting the SC Times article un-edited and with no commentary. We all know Gene James is a disaster with liens, judgements, several busted marriages with abuse… so this fits right in. Recall this loser, people.

By Shawn Raymundo

An audio recording of a June 25 traffic stop involving Mayor Pro Tem Gene James made public by a local media outlet has the elected official taped in a “confrontational” encounter with a deputy sheriff.

In the nearly 11-minute recording of the stop first published by Local Story TV, James, who campaigned on a pro law-enforcement stance, denied any wrongdoing, and was—as police describe in subsequent written reports—“confrontational,” “visibly upset” and “defensive,” while also accusing Deputy J. Medina of ulterior motives.

“I stopped you because you came off the freeway offramp without stopping before you made the right-hand turn,” Medina explained to James in the parking lot of the McDonald’s off Avenida Pico and the 5 Freeway. “Did you see the red light?”

“Look, of course, I saw the red light. If you think I didn’t stop, let’s just go with that. OK?” responded James.

“Because I know what this is about,” James added.

Replying, Medina asked the councilmember, “What is this about?”

“Your (expletive) boss, (Edward) Manhart,” James said, referring to San Clemente’s then-chief of police services.

After a brief pause, Medina said he didn’t know what James was talking about, nor did he know who the elected official was.

“All I know is, you ran that red light,” the deputy said.

San Clemente Times made multiple attempts to reach James for comment over the phone and through email, but as of this posting, he had not yet responded to those requests.


In the run-up to last year’s city council race in which James was seeking reelection, he campaigned for standing “with our sheriff deputies.” His campaign materials also touted the construction of a new OCSD substation at City Hall as an accomplishment.

“Under my leadership as your councilman, a new sheriff substation was approved and a new Public Safety Committee with community representation was created,” his website stated. “Let’s strengthen the bonds between our city and OCSD and not weaken them.”

The city on Tuesday, Sept. 21, is set to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new substation.

James demonstrated support for law enforcement during an April 2019 council meeting in which he, speaking then as a private citizen, slammed Councilmember Kathy Ward, the city’s current mayor, for making critical remarks about OCSD’s handling of the homelessness issue.

Responding to an interview request with the “John and Ken” radio show on KFI AM 640, Ward had stated in an email that “Our Council cares very much about the situation. It wasn’t until the sheriff’s ‘wussed’ out on us that programs stopped working.”

Irked by the use of the word “wuss” to describe the “brave and dedicated men and women” who serve as officers in San Clemente, James had demanded Ward issue an apology for her comments, which he called “grotesquely beneath contempt.”


“Blaming our deputies for inadequate measures and actions of the previous council is grotesquely beneath contempt,” he had said, later adding, “Ms. Ward, you owe the men and women of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department an apology. It’s called courage, class, ethics and leadership.”

Those comments and demands for an apology, however, contrast with James’ behavior as described by a pair of internal OCSD memos. Following the June 25 stop, Medina, along with his superior, Sgt. M. Hudson, filed reports directly with Manhart that outlined the elected official’s confrontational and defensive manner.

“I explained the reason I stopped him. Gene admitted he saw the red light and became confrontational and visibly upset,” Medina, recounting his experience with the councilmember, wrote in the memo.

“When Deputy J. Medina approached his vehicle, James was immediately on the defensive, making statements about knowing why he was pulled over,” wrote Hudson based on his own listening of the audio recording. He added that “James continued to raise his voice at (Medina).”

Hudson had been listening to Medina’s radio communications during the stop, when he overheard police dispatch confirm James as the owner of a gray pickup truck. He requested that Medina contact him immediately after the stop.

“I recognized the name as possibly San Clemente’s Interim Mayor. I waited for Deputy J. Medina to clear the car stop and advised him to call me asap,” Hudson wrote, later praising Medina. “I listened to Deputy J. Medina’s PVS audio. Deputy J. Medina was professional and explained in detail to James what he needed James to provide to him, and why he was stopped.”

For James, the late-June traffic stop wasn’t his first open disagreement with members of the sheriff’s department.

In a Facebook post in December 2019, weeks after being sworn in to office, James publicized his frustration with Sheriff Don Barnes, accusing the sheriff of failing to answer questions related to the enforcement of “service-resistant” homeless people.

James had written then that he saw Barnes make “conflicting statements” related to OCSD’s position on the subject, which “only muddied the waters further.” He added that communications with Barnes had the councilmember “pondering the city’s relationship with OCSD.”

“I have spoken with Sheriff Barnes, and there is no doubt in my mind he has an extreme level of frustration with San Clemente,” James had written in the Dec. 29, 2019 post. “His words to me in a recent meeting at his office were, ‘I have no obligation to provide law enforcement services to the City of San Clemente.’”

This past June, during a city council budget workshop meeting, an exchange between James and Manhart got heated when the councilmember cut the former chief off from finishing his objection to an idea James had floated moments earlier.

“When I look at one deputy costing us about … $325,000—I don’t want to send shockwaves through OCSD—but it appears, to reduce by one deputy, that would give us some leverage in the budget to do some other things,” James said.

Citing the protests that San Clemente and other cities throughout the nation saw last year, Manhart opposed such a proposal and explained that he was concerned with the thought of eliminating public safety positions.


“I don’t know if you were paying attention last year to all the civil unrest issues and how many deputies,” Manhart said. “Additionally, I would never support anything like that, but you’re going to do what you’ve got to do, but I would absolutely never recommend that.”

“Capt. Manhart, I was paying attention,” James later responded.

“Then that wouldn’t be an issue then,” Manhart said, “because we would not be talking about losing a deputy if you saw the challenges that we have …”

“OK, I’ve had it,” James interjected, holding his hand up. “OK, that’s enough.”

It would be a month and a half later when James would find himself in the parking lot of San Clemente’s McDonald’s challenging an officer’s decision to pull him over for an apparent traffic violation.

During the recording of the stop, James reaffirmed his innocence, stating that he did stop at the red light before again inferring that Medina had pulled over the councilmember because of Manhart.

“I stopped, but I know what this is about,” James said.

“You did not stop, sir. I would have had no reason to stop you if you had come to a complete stop like you were supposed to,” Medina responded. “I don’t know what you’re inferring.”

“Yes, you do,” James said.

“If you’d like to enlighten me, I’d be glad to hear it,” Medina said.

“Listening to James yell at Deputy J. Medina and accusing him of pulling him over for ulterior motives, as well as having to be told multiple times to provide his insurance information, made me thankful the interaction was recorded,” Hudson concluded in his memo to Manhart.

In an emailed statement regarding the incident, OCSD spokesperson Carrie Braun described the relationship between James and Manhart, who was reassigned to OCSD’s air support in mid-July, as a “professional working” one.

“Captain Manhart’s relationship with Councilman James was a professional working relationship,” Braun said in the email.

Answering a question on whether Manhart’s reassignment out of San Clemente had anything to do with James, Braun said, “Captain Manhart’s reassignment to the Air Support Unit was in no way related to this incident, and in fact was planned prior to the traffic stop.”

Braun declined to provide further comment related to the incident.

Since July 16, Capt. Tony Benfield has taken on the role of the city’s police chief.

Sep 182021

Two College Republican Clubs Emailed your intrepid blogger. It looks like the leadership was brow-beat in to sending a second release after the first well-circulated release blasting Jessica Patterson for her failure.

This sure beats a couple of weenies calling the cops on your intrepid blogger, but it also shows the glass jaw of the oligarchy of controlled failure. Don’t worry kids, your intrepid blogger has your back. The leadership of the CAGOP hate me more than pretty much anyone else in politics for exposing corruption and ineptitude. I’ve been told if I was homeless and they had a dozen cheeseburgers in the passenger seat they’d drive right by me. Just remember who you are dealing with and it will all be put in perspective – there is no making nice with these people once you’ve crossed them. That is my message to the kids that sent this second release, you will gain nothing from it at all.

There are some master meme makers in the California College Republicans.

This is the meme of Controlled Failure. Well done by the kids on this one

Keep ’em coming kids… You have a GenX Fan #REALTALK #MEMEWARS

Sep 162021

So, um the recall went down by something like 20-25 points on the final tally and this is what the idiots at the CAGOP staff send out:

Take a look at the email Jessica Patterson and Brian Watkins sent out. I wonder if team Faulconer wrote this for them too…

I could find more competent staff and consultants from the SPCA, but I digress.

Dear Brian and Jessica – you guys should resign and find new careers.

Don’t worry folks, team Faulconer is reloading for a third run at purchasing the CAGOP. Coming to a convention near you.

Sep 162021
Make no mistake. The blame solely falls on the shoulders of Jessica Millan Patterson and Peter Kuo, CAGOP Chair and Vice Chair
She failed to unite the party.
She failed to endorse a candidate.
She failed the party.
She failed to lead.
The grassroots showed up.
Where was the party?
Guess she didn’t actually knock all those doors.
The College Republicans of Orange County are officially calling for Jessica Millan Patterson to STEP DOWN and VACATE her current role as the CAGOP Chairman. Her inability to lead can be summed up to the California Republican Party’s performance, a big joke. Since we’re on the topic of jokes and memes. Enjoy these memes from the CR’s at UCI.