FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ORANGE CITY COUNCIL TO RECONSIDER RESTORING SERVICEMAN TO PLANNING COMMISSION
Councilman Denis Bilodeau will ask the Orange City Council on Tuesday to restore Navy Captain Michael Merino to his seat on the Orange Planning Commission. He was denied reinstatement on November 12th, 2013, the day after Veteran’s Day celebrations in the city of Orange.
In January 2012 while serving on the Orange Planning Commission, Captain Merino was deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in support of the global war on terror. Upon his deployment, he requested a leave of absence from the Orange Planning Commission. This request was approved by the City Council without reservation. Upon his return from service, he requested reinstatement, but Orange Mayor Teresa “Tita” Smith refused. Per the Orange Municipal Code, the mayor has the sole authority to make appointments.
Smith’s action has galvanized support for Merino’s reinstatement, Councilman Bilodeau said. “I have received an outpouring of support from not just Orange residents and veterans, but from people across our nation and internationally,” he said. “I am heartened that so many believe, like me, that our military service personnel should have their jobs and status restored upon their return from the call of duty.”
“I wholeheartedly support Councilman Bilodeau’s efforts” said Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer. Supervisor Spitzer is the author of the County of Orange ordinance that protects the status and pay for County employees called to active military duty.
Background: Navy reservist Captain Michael Merino is a licensed Architect. He previously served on the California State Architects Board, appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Captain Merino has been mobilized/recalled to active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm 1991, Operation Southern Watch 1995 , Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003, and twice for Operation Enduring Freedom 2009, 2011 .
Note: Captain Merino’s service banner is displayed on a light post at 155 S. Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866, two blocks from City Hall in front of the Antique Depot.
WHEN: Press Conference 3:30 P.M. Tuesday November 26th
City Council Meeting 4:30 P.M. Tuesday November 26th
WHERE: Orange City Hall, 300 E. Chapman, Orange, CA 92866
WHO: Veterans and Active Service Personnel
Orange City Councilman Denis Bilodeau (714) 749-6386
Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer (714) 834-3330
Captain Michael Merino, USN (714) 624-5700