McCain (front right) with his squadron and T-2 Buckeye trainer, 1965

The San Fernando City Council is allowing Mayor Silvia Ballin to use the city letterhead to send a personal thank-you letter to US Sen. John McCain.

The approval was given at the Nov. 6 council meeting.

When asked about the content of the letter or whether it would mention any specific legislations, Ballin said, “I want to thank him for his service (because it’s close to Veterans Day).

“I also want to thank him for stepping up and really putting America first, and saying ‘no’ in moving that agenda item as far as the health care. And also commending him for stepping forward and be brave enough to step forward and not agreeing with some of his party.”

 When asked if the letter will mention the Affordable Care Act, she said it will not.

Even though Ballin is the only one who will sign the letter, it is city procedure for the majority of the council to approve the use of the city letterhead.  The letter was not presented at the meeting, but will be made available for public record once filed. Ballin said she does not expect McCain, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, to receive the letter until next week.

“The man was a prisoner of war. He served in the Viet Nam war, which my husband also served in. I want to let him know not only do I respect him, I truly respect POWs,” Ballin said

In other business, the council approved the City of San Fernando expanding its Veterans’ employment preference policy, giving more Veterans the opportunity to be hired by the city.

Previously, the city gave preference to Veterans who served in certain wars, but the resolution adopted Monday practically gives any person who has served in the military an advantage.

The last adjustment to the city’s employment preference policy was in 1987, when the city included a provision that granted five additional points to Veterans and ten points to disabled Veterans. However, those service men and women had to have served at least 90 days in World War I, World War II, the Korean War or Vietnam War.

The new resolution, adopted unanimously, would expand that preference to any Veteran, regardless of service time, whether they served in times of conflict or not and have been honorably discharged.

Councilmember Robert Gonzales proposed the resolution, saying, “I was quite baffled to see that we only honor veterans that served in World War I, World War II, and I think it was Vietnam and completely forgot about everybody else.”

He said although he has been working on this for a year, he wanted this resolution to be adopted this week because “it seems fitting for Veterans Day, to honor them.”

After the resolution was adopted, Councilmember Joel Fajardo jested the moment saying, “If any World War I Veterans apply, I hope they get the job!”

Police Chief Anthony Vairo also presented the three newest San Fernando Police Department (SFPD) officers at the meeting.

The three young officers — Daniel Delgado, 24, Bailey Plaza, 23, and Andy Orozco, 21 — were dressed in uniform and, with smiles, were introduced individually and were given an opportunity to take photos with their families and the council.  

All three graduated from the police academy this year and will serve in the department’s patrol division.

Delgado is the only one from the area. He was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, attended San Fernando High School, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from California State University, Northridge.  He previously worked part-time for the SFPD as a junior police cadet in the records department.  

Plaza is originally from Culver City, but grew up in Corona and graduated from Riverside Community College. Orozco is from Bakersfield and graduated with an associate’s degree from Bakersfield College.

All three officers are bilingual in English and Spanish.  

Vairo stated that he is pleased with almost having his department fully staffed; he still needs to hire 3 more officers to have a full department with 31 sworn officers.

When hired as chief,  Vairo told the San Fernando Valley Sun/ El Sol that the department struggled with decreased staffing levels due to “attrition and budgetary constraints,” and filling those vacancies was one of his main priorities.

He plans on having a full police force by July.

“We’re competing with a lot of different agencies throughout Southern California; everybody is hiring right now,” Vairo said. “We try to only hire the best candidates; I’m not lowering our standard. I also want to make sure our standards are always high, so we can have the best person to represent our department, our community.”