You may have read the quirky story this week about the Menlo Park cop who was reinstated in his job after being caught with a prostitute in a Sunnyvale motel.
First broken by the Almanac in Menlo Park, the story bustled with intriguing detail. The prostitute was wearing a catsuit, with $20 bills stuffed into her cleavage. The cop was naked on his knees in the bathroom.
The DA's office couldn't make the case against the prostitute because the Sunnyvale investigator's wife was sick at a critical moment. That meant the case against the cop collapsed, too.
The rest sounded like a script for the TV show "Arrested Development.'' The cop, Officer Jeffrey Vasquez, 48, kept his job after an arbitrator ruled against the city.
The 2011 incident surfaced because an Almanac reporter overheard a conversation between the city manager and his predecessor at the Menlo Hub, a Menlo Park restaurant. The city manager reportedly said it would take a million-dollar check to get rid of Vasquez.
For the sake of readers who have not pondered all the implications of this delicious story, here's a Q and A:
Naked we get. But why on his knees in the bathroom? The Sunnyvale cops say Vasquez was not trying to flush away drugs. That leaves open something kinky, or a failed attempt at hiding. Vasquez did not tell the investigators immediately that he was a cop. Then again, his badge might not have been handy.
Does his IQ surpass 75? As
If you had to grade the prosecution in this case, would it be a D or an F? We understand: Prosecuting crimes is a volume business. And dismissing a misdemeanor count of soliciting prostitution is like a store owner shrugging at kids stealing gum balls.
But the whole litany of excuses -- the investigator couldn't show because his wife was sick, and the case could not be postponed -- smacks of the dog-ate-my-homework-which-was stupid-anyway. Because a cop was involved, it does not cast glory on the office of DA Jeff Rosen.
Why a million-buck check? Don't they take credit cards? This is, forgive us, the million-dollar question. We know Menlo Park attempted to discipline the cop. But state law meant to protect the rights of employees prevents us from knowing what that discipline was. And nobody is talking.
Meanwhile, binding arbitration makes it almost impossible to fire a cop or firefighter. Vasquez will probably retire in a few years anyway. He's likely to get between 80 percent and 90 percent of his $109,000 pay as pension, proving that no bad deed goes unrewarded.
Will city officials eat at the Menlo Hub again? For journalists, it's the saddest question of all. We treasure overheard conversations like sacred relics. The chances of them happening at the Hub again soon are about the same as the Green Bay Packers winning this year's Super Bowl.
Maybe city officials will take their trade to the Gourmet Haus Staudt restaurant in Redwood City, where an Apple employee lost an iPhone prototype in 2010. At least it offers better security: Apple swiftly chased down the perpetrators who revealed secrets.