Strait On: Destination Coffee with Karlee

Hemet Gate Keepers and recent resignations were discussed

Photo by Rusty Strait/The Valley Chronicle
Citizens gather in the gardens Saturday morning at Destination Coffee & Bistro with Hemet Councilwoman Karlee Meyer.

■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

On Saturday morning, Karlee Meyer held her monthly coffee klatch with the good citizens of Hemet in the garden area in front of Destination Coffee House & Bistro. The acoustics inside do not favor press conferences or loud discussions. Fortunately, this past Saturday was not scorching hot at 9 a.m. and the hour went by quickly.
However, the place heated up when the councilwoman was asked some difficult questions.

Q1: What is meant when the city announced that Alex Meyerhoff’s resignation or “amiable separation” as city manager was due to disagreements? What did you disagree about?
Karlee Meyer: “You got the same answer as everybody else. If you’d been to the last few City Council meetings, you would know.”

I haven’t asked any of the other council members their thoughts on the subject, but Meyer has expressed her dissatisfaction in the past with Meyerhoff not providing information that was asked for. I’ve also tried to reach Meyerhoff to get his side of the story, but haven’t heard back as yet. If and when I do, The Valley Chronicle will publish his response.

Q2: Is Police Chief David Brown going to be the new City Manager?
KM: “I don’t think so. He’s running for sheriff, I believe. He has until the end of the year before he vacates his current job. I’m not sure what his plans are. You should ask him.”

And I will.

Q3: You’ve announced on Facebook that you are now a volunteer with the Hemet Gate Keepers, and that you have one of their cars parked in your driveway. Is that in any way a conflict of interest?
KM: “I’m a citizen of the city, too. Let me ask you; is it a conflict of interest for the mayor to sit on the Ramona Bowl Board?”

I allowed as how I didn’t know, but I’d check into it.

Q4: From the audience: What kind of organization is Gate Keepers?
KM: “It’s a P. P. O., private patrol company. They were operating under the church’s nonprofit, but are now a private security company. I could work for the security company and not be in conflict. We have a problem in this city. I’m out on the streets meeting with the homeless, even with hookers. There was a young lady I was able to get off the streets and into a safe situation away from the streets. I feel good about that. I’m out to help people. We are a community and the city can’t do everything. Citizens of this town have to come together and be a part of making Hemet a better place to live. It is their city and they should be proud to help get rid of trash and debris that litters the city.”

Q5: Why did you join up with Hemet Gate Keepers?
KM: “Because it gives me an opportunity to engage with these people in the parks and on the streets and to offer them a chance to improve their situations. I take pride in being able to do that. When I can get a prostitute into a safe place and get her started in the right direction, it is an accomplishment that makes me proud. Same thing with the homeless. If we all put forth an effort, we could be the city everyone wants to come to.”

She continued her thoughts on the subject: “If the complainers would join us at six in the morning and take pride in cleaning up their streets and lots, we’d have a lot cleaner city, and be proud to have contributed.”

As usual, the subject of jaywalkers on Florida Avenue came up. It has become a hit or miss when they cross in the middle of the block and throw caution to the wind as they dash between cars driving 25 to 40 miles an hour along the main street.

Q6: Would it be a good idea to have cops walking a beat?
KM: “There you go. You want the city to do it all. We’re not able to do everything. That’s not what a community is. A community is everyone working together to make their city a better place to live. We need all the help we can get from the people who live in the city. Our volunteers could double or triple in size and we’d still need help. Hemet is growing and people need to recognize that. If we want new business and tourism, everybody needs to pitch in.”

One thing about Meyer, she doesn’t just talk about volunteering and cleaning up the garbage we toss around as though the ground will absorb it, she really does join those who take pride in their hometown and do something besides complain.

Q7: There is a rumor going around town that the State Auditors are unhappy with the way Hemet operates and that (1) the State might withdraw the city’s charter and make it part of the county or (2) city the merge with San Jacinto into one city. Is either true to your knowledge?

“That’s the funniest thing I ever heard,” said Hemet Mayor Pro Tem, Michael Perciful, her guest for the morning. “That would be a very difficult thing to do and not likely to even be considered.”

Q8: A lot of city employees have left recently, for instance the city engineer and finance director. Any specific reasons why so many have jumped ship in such a short time?
KM: “I know the city finance director took another job. She’d been here two-and-a-half years, and moved on. So did the city engineer. Not everybody stays in one job forever. Since 2015 things have changed in our city. Looking at the big picture, things change for a reason.”

Q8: For years the city council has promised to do something about out of town slum landlords. What, if anything, is being done about them?
KM: “Why don’t you look into it?
I assured her that The Valley Chronicle is always seeking to create a more livable environment and that if given the names, telephone numbers and addresses of the “slum lords” who let properties deteriorate, I would contact them and we would publish their side of the story.
The meeting began to slow up with many talking at the same time, and on that note this reporter vacated the scene.
Karlee tries. If all our council persons spent as much time out on the streets of Hemet trying to make this city more livable, it would be a big help and progress would be made. But Hemet City Council, for years, has devoted itself to committee meetings and speeches. Meyer does more – much more than that and we are lucky to have someone on the City Council who rolls out early and tries to make a difference. Maybe it isn’t only the citizens, as Karlee reminds us, but maybe more city officials should follow suit. Just sayin’.

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