Former Marina City Councilman Michael Morrison asks the bartender at English Ales Brewery to retrieve his beer mug, number 201. Dressed in a dark blazer over a white, collared shirt, Morrison reviews the laminated menu before choosing his suds. He selects Triple B for its low alcohol content.
We sit at a corner table and Morrison takes a sip. He says he almost always drinks non-alcoholic beer when he has to drive. “I’ve become quite the connoisseur of non-alcoholic beer,” he says.
Talking about Marina politics and his side job as a bodyguard, the notoriously surly Scotsman doesn’t say anything outrageous. He has nothing but kind words for his former colleagues at City Hall. Surprisingly, Morrison is acting like a gentleman.
He says he wants to spend more time with family and volunteer with his Rotary Club. On the weekends, Morrison says, he’d like to hand out groceries to the hungry. “After the last six years I really need to put me first for a change,” he says, slowly nursing his beer.
Maybe Morrison really is a polite man—misunderstood during his more than six years as a loose cannon behind the dais. Or maybe Morrison’s boss at First Alarm Security and Patrol is tired of reading about him running his mouth to the media.
On May 1, Morrison resigned from the Council after he admittedly used his city position and lied to get quicker access to public records. Morrison told Solano County court officials that he needed a copy of a security contract because Marina was researching court security for an upcoming workshop.
In fact, Morrison wanted the contract to get information about security rival Ligouri Associates Inc., which is competing with First Alarm for the contract at Monterey County courthouses. Marina doesn’t operate a courthouse nor was there a workshop.
“I did have a workshop next week but it was with other people,” Morrison says calmly, over the loud chatter in the bar. “This was a dumb mistake.”
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The day after he resigned Morrison had a different take on his ethical breach. “We would have gotten the document anyway,” Morrison said on May 2. He blamed Ligouri Associates for naming clients on the company’s website. “They listed all of their clients,” he said. “They made it easy for me. I went about it the wrong way, but…”
Morrison said he resigned so that he could focus on his career, but he also didn’t want to listen to his opponents criticize his ethics at every future City Council meeting. “They would have taken advantage of that,” Morrison said. “Every single City Council meeting people would have taken their three minutes.”
Besides, Morrison said, had he not resigned his opponents would have used the incident as campaign ammunition. “It would be better for, as I lovingly call them, ‘the dark side’ to have me stay on the council.”
The remaining four councilmembers will choose Morrison’s successor from a pool of residents who apply by May 15.