Mensinger files complaint against teacher

Estancia instructor says councilman 'chest-bumped him,' but councilman says that's untrue and has since filed a conduct complaint.

April 26, 2011|By Lauren Williams,

COSTA MESA — City Councilman Steve Mensinger filed a conduct complaint Monday with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District against an Estancia High School English teacher following an altercation between the two at a weekend community run.

Mensinger argues that the teacher confronted him Saturday on an athletic field at Estancia, boxing him in making verbal threats. He called the teacher's behavior concerning, saying it made him feel uncomfortable.

The teacher, Joel Ruben Flores, has a different take. He argues that Mensinger boxed him in, yelled at him, and at one point pressed his weight against him. In addition, the teacher told the Daily Pilot that the councilman "chest-bumped" his right shoulder.


Mensinger denies there was any physical contact between him and Flores.

Flores said he will press charges if the police decide to take action against Mensinger. The men were arguing about the city's plan to lay off city workers and outsource their work to private firms. Mensinger voted in favor of the plan, which Flores opposes.

Mensinger denied that there was any intentional physical contact and said he certainly never chest-bumped Flores.

Flores filed a police report alleging assault and battery; police are still investigating.

A spokeswoman for Newport-Mesa Unified confirmed that Mensinger lodged a complaint against Flores.

The incident happened about 8:30 a.m. Saturday, at a Costa Mesa fun run to help local schools, according to the police report. Flores spotted Mensinger and made critical remarks about the council's decision to lay off workers.

"He shoved his chest into my right shoulder, then he stoops down to my level," Flores said in a phone interview Sunday. "And as I tried to get away, he swooped down and chest-bumped me, put a finger in my face and shouted me down. I was so traumatized that I immediately left the campus."

Mensinger claims Flores was baiting him into an altercation. Flores said in response to the allegation that he thinks "any person should be able to speak to a public official without fear of harassment or intimidation."

Flores, who lives in Costa Mesa with his wife and children, would not say whether he intended on filing a restraining order against the councilman, but did say that he felt he was being intimidated by Mensinger, who "has hundreds of people around."

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