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Mike Aguirre called back saying basically that he and I were assuming two different things as we talked below.

He said all he wanted was for the mayor and police and fire chief to design a plan to evacuate the entire city. He said the evacuations — and the shelters being set up — beginning Monday were occurring “willy-nilly.” He said he wanted the city to have a better plan and to set up shelters outside the city in El Centro, Yuma, Ariz. and other regional areas.

I was working off a different assumption, gleaned from his memo to the mayor (memo via blogger Pat Flannery), and the U-T‘s original story, that he advised the mayor to implement a plan to evacuate the city.

Aguirre says he just wanted to have a plan.

First of all, he never said that to me earlier. But after I wrote up our discussion, he said I was wrong to assume that he was defending his supposed advice to evacuate the entire city. He said that while we talked, he was just defending the memo. Aguirre contends that the memo advocated only that a plan to evacuate be designed — not carried out.

Here’s what the memo said (emphasis mine):

Given the current unprecedented wildfire condition which is exacerbated by Santa Ana conditions and the number of people and homes impacted by the fires, it is respectfully submitted that a voluntary evacuation plan of the entire City be immediately implemented.

Dictionary says:

implement 1 To carry into effect; fulfill; accomplish 2 to provide the means for the carrying out of; give practical effect to;

In other words, to me, Aguirre’s saying that a plan to evacuate the city must be carried out.

He says this actually means he wanted the city to design a plan.

I asked him why he didn’t just write that. And I asked why he didn’t tell me all this the first time we talked. He said he was flustered and busy today dealing with his concerns about how the Qualcomm Stadium evacuees are being treated.

I asked what he was referring to when he told me the mayor had “gambled” and been lucky that it worked out. He said he meant the mayor had gambled “by not having a plan” to evacuate the whole city.

Again, none of this came up in our earlier discussion.

I called Police Chief Bill Lansdowne and asked if Aguirre could have been pressing for a plan to evacuate the entire city rather than implement an actual evacuation.

“Plan? No Plan. He wanted me to evacuate the city. I told him it would panic the city,” said Lansdowne, who told me he had three conversations with the city attorney about it. “He wanted the city to evacuate — of course he used the word voluntary. I told him it was a bad idea.”

I have a call into Fire Chief Tracy Jarman. She, along with Lansdowne, was a recipient of Aguirre’s phone calls. She’s obviously pretty busy, but we’ll see if she gets back to me.

SCOTT LEWIS

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