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Council member embarrassing city

The Pasco Republican Party believes the public is owed an apology for Port Richey Council member Joe Menicola's behavior.

Menicola doesn't seem to think so. He should think again.

At a minimum, Menicola should apologize to Police Chief William Downs, the officers in the department, the minister at a Washington Street Church, and his fellow council members for a year-old episode in which Menicola butted into a police matter in an ugly, profane tirade captured on audio tape. The police investigative file that contains Menicola's irrational rantings was released last week.

The foul-mouthed soliloquy he left on City Manager Vince Lupo's answering machine and the obnoxious bullying that followed in a conversation recorded by Lupo are insulting to the police department and an embarrassment to the public.

If Menicola is unable to grasp that, he should reassess his commitment to the city of Port Richey.

Threatening the chief's job because an officer failed to show preferential treatment to Menicola's 32-year-old son during a traffic stop is indicative of a council member who believes rules shouldn't be applied uniformly. Menicola is more interested in looking out for his family's interest, over the public's.

His boastful threats toward Downs _ and again last week toward some unnamed employee _ demonstrate that Menicola still doesn't understand the city charter prohibits him from meddling in the city's day-to-day operations.

That is incomprehensible. The city's building department and its onetime acting mayor were the subject of a grand jury investigation earlier this year for exactly that reason.

While Menicola is considering his own behavior, he should reread the charter and the grand jury's report.

Telling a minister that it reflected poorly on his church to allow a police radar zone in the parking lot, shows a council member more concerned about a speedy route to and from his own house than about public safety or the integrity of an ongoing police operation.

Menicola is former vice chair of the county GOP, but no longer holds a precinct seat.

He was one of the discussion topics at a Republican Executive Committee meeting Saturday. On a 37-16 vote, the GOP committee voted to issue a reprimand to Menicola and to apologize to the public, said state committeewoman Lona O'Reilly.

Certainly, past political differences among Menicola and other members of the GOP led the committee to act on what is treated usually as a non-partisan issue. But its members are correct.

An apology, at the very least, is required. It just shouldn't be a political party that does it.