Santiago Fire: A Tale of Two Assemblymen

Earlier in the week, State Rep. Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) lectured me on his role as an assemblyman during the Santiago fire.  Chuck wrote:

As for your other suggestions, I’d like to point out that I am a member of the Legislative Branch. You would not look to a judge to be directly involved in the relief effort chain of command, now would you? (Maybe you would…) Just as you won’t see me directing firefighters on a ridge somewhere — these are Executive Branch functions. My job is to pay the bills afterward and to conduct hearings into how things might be improved.

Mind you, my initial question was “what is Rep. DeVore doing to help the fire effort.”

In today’s Register, State Rep. Todd Spitzer, still stinging from criticism of his support for Measure D in 2005 that contributed to the fire department’s difficulty in fighting the fire, offers a much different peek into constituent service during a time of crisis. Not a bad job of damage control, but not one word on Measure D either.

Spitzer writes: “But structure protection was the focus, so all our ground resources were in Irvine. I was on the phone repeatedly with the Office of Emergency Services regional command based in Riverside, which was charged with prioritizing all the requests for assistance based on need.”

and this…

“So, Tuesday, were we desperately seeking air resources for a fire battle we were losing? Of course. Was Chief Prather angry, and was I frustrated trying to protect my constituents? Yes. Did we get air resources that same day? Yes, finally.”

So we have DeVore’s assessment of what someone in the legislative branch can do in a time of crisis and then we have Spitzer’s.  The next step the assembly can take is to make sure our first responders have all the equipment and personnel they need to minimize damage wind-driven wildfires can create.