Usually, when an oh-so-controversial issue raises its ugly head in city politics, there are those on the periphery who have enough sense of humor to make jokes or witty remarks about events as they unfold. The players get laughed at, or at least their actions. People see it as part of the game, the issue is eventually resolved and life goes on until the next pseudo-scathing issue arises to laugh at.
But people are not laughing, joking or making witty remarks in Downey these days about the controversy between Police Chief D. Clayton Mayes and the great majority of the Downey Police Department. Neighbors are opposing neighbors, friends are knocking friends and no one is smiling--except Mayes. He sees it as part of his job.
There were, a year and a half ago, those of us who opposed the hiring of Chief Mayes because we thought he was too political, too expensive ($89,000 was more than the salary range at the time) and, frankly, that it would be in the best interest of the department, its morale and its structure if the new chief had been promoted from within.
We were right. Mayes was indeed carrying too much political baggage. His buddies made that obvious May 14 when they staged their transparent little love-in for him at the City Council meeting. Now, that was humor.
Downey residents have a genuine problem festering in the city. They have a police chief who can't lead because he treats his subordinates much differently than he treats his superiors and his buddies. Because of the way he treats his superiors and his buddies, they want to keep him. So, the internal structure of what two years ago was a strong Police Department with camaraderie and dedication is dissolving into distrust, dissension and defection. Just take the time to find out the numbers and the ages of good, solid officers who have left the department since Mayes has become chief, thereby weakening the security of our city.
Mayes' biggest mistake was publicly blaming some of the Downey officers for the problems. By that action he showed he was not one of them, and by that action they rallied together in their resentment. He blew it.
Now, the council has picked a subcommittee of one of Mayes' strongest buddies and supporters, Councilman Robert G. Cormack, and Councilman Robert Brazelton, linked politically to Mayes in so many ways, to solve this problem.
Guess what? There is not going to be any solution unless all the upset, resentful officers start loving Mayes again, which means Downey is going to lose more good, experienced police officers to get inexperienced new ones who will be yes-men to the chief.
Do we lose the one or do we lose the many? Let's just ask Mayes to resign, and get back to issues we can laugh at.