SEIU, SBLC, the Sheriff and the Story of “Returned Favors”

We know there’s a subject that gets the SBLC off its butt for its workers — Ben Field was right there along with CPOA’s Lance Scimeca supporting SEUI’s 911 dispatchers during negotiations some months back when the county demanded they had a staffing crisis constituting an emergency that necessitated overtime during tense contract negotiations.

It’s interesting that SEUI and Ben Field have deserted the very people who stood next to them just months ago; at least according to Ben Field.

Ben Field was approached by a CPOA member via emails that have been forwarded to my attention and asked why SBLC was supporting the Sheriff despite the DSA and the CPOA standing against her.  Where was his support for the workers? The most telling response came in a single statement emailed on January 5th in reply to these questions, Ben Field stated, “The CEMA and SEIU workers disagree with you.  So did at least obe (sic) deputy who attended the interview.”

We now better understand Ben Field’s standard for deciding who to support:  Despite a letter from the SCCCPOA President laying out the argument against the sheriff, despite 2 votes overwhelmingly supporting Kevin Jensen from the workers in the Sheriff’s Office, there was one “deputy” (a lieutenant, by the way, one who wrecked the take-home car he was rewarded with for his appearance on his way home — out of county) in the audience who supported the Sheriff.  Wow.  One deputy’s opinion overwhelms the 400+ members of the voting bodies of the DSA and CPOA who voted for Kevin Jensen in the mind of SBLC’s president, Ben Field — and according to him, the labor unions he speaks for.

So, moving on,  CEMA an SEIU workers have voted to support the Sheriff. SBLC can not budge on that, is what is implied here. It is the voice of their workers, no special interests involved. I do find myself wondering exactly what the input of the SEIU workers in the Sheriff’s Office was in that decision and how they feel about how their voice is being used by the SBLC.  The handful I have spoken with have little good to say about the sheriff or the SEIU, interestingly enough.

So now SEIU/CEMA workers, via SBLC, are in open support of a sheriff who is doing to her employees exactly what the county did to some of them recently.  What a way to return a favor to those who stood up for you.  And Ben Field stood there in support, but shrinks into the shadows carrying the payoff of whatever deal he made to sell labor down the river, openly deserting those who stood by them in their time of need.  You would think he would just be honest about it and say he doesn’t care what the workers want, he made his bed with the sheriff and he intends to lie in it at any cost.

It makes it a little clearer in respect to why so many people look on our unions with derision and distrust — because our “leaders” are making exactly the political deals behind our backs that have nothing to do with workers that they’ve been accused of.  I see no reason to stand silently while it happens.  These aren’t leaders, these are people with hands in each others pockets, no better than the politicians they claim to fight.

Now we have employees at the Sheriff’s office facing mandatory overtime, they can not strike by law, therefore have no ability to respond other than to gather the support of other workers and use their voice in the election…

And Ben Field deserts them, throwing SEIU/CEMA workers under the bus along the way….

Nice.

From what I’ve been told, the Sheriff is having a crisis that constitutes an emergency in staffing needs, similarly to the claim involving 911 dispatchers late last year.  The crisis is apparently so serious, that I’ve been told by several sources that the Under Sheriff and Assistant Sheriff were down at the courthouse to act as staffing fill.  Even more worriesome is that deputies are being pulled out of their divisions to staff courts, leaving multiple areas of the Sheriff’s Office understaffed or not staffed at all.  This also has the potential of leaving our streets short-staffed, increasing response time, decreasing the ability to address crime.

So, you ask now… what has happened that constitutes a crisis to determine a need for immediate coverage by overtime personnel?

Nothing that anyone can determine… other than the status quo of understaffing she has maintained for some time now.  It’s my understanding she has approval for 512 coded positions in her budget for the Sheriff’s Office alone, however there are only 406 deputies… that’s more than 100 unfilled positions.  No wonder her budget is so great and  crime stats are increasing.  Visibility alone is a deterrent — when is the last time you saw a deputy?  I can only imagine how many empty codes there are at the jails.

Staffing levels in the jails and the courts has not seen a significant fluctuation in some time.  Both have been understaffed for some time. Courts are currently understaffed by as many as 75 deputies — daily — but there has been no immediate loss of personnel — just the drip, drip, drip of attrition she’s allowed to become the norm.

But this year is an election year and some people have made a bit of noise over the fact that staffing is a serious issue in both the Sheriff’s Office and the Corrections Division.  So the patches come out and get slapped on to hide the cracks as best she can.

With AB109, virtually no new staffing was brought in.  Yes, you can see pictures splattered all over the Sheriff’s Facebook pages showing her swearing in “new deputies.”  The problem is, they are not new employees.  This is part of the process of bringing over the “old” County Corrections personnel to become “new” Sheriff’s office personnel.  However, using a process she has made deeply divisive on many levels, she made it appear as if there is a solid influx of new personnel at this point in time where there should be new personnel.

Yes, a class of 44 correctional deputies did just graduate — it’s my understanding this is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the staffing issues at the jails.

The cracks are showing in her policies and practices and she is scrambling to cover them… or distract you from them.

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6 thoughts on “SEIU, SBLC, the Sheriff and the Story of “Returned Favors”

  1. Pingback: Taxpayers Fund Election-time Face Lift | Casey Thomas' World

  2. Pingback: SBLC Heartbreak or Favor? | Casey Thomas' World

  3. It does smell a lot like a desperate attempt at showing the line level staff that they are here for us and just want to help. From talking with others who have been here longer this sorta thing has never happened. What’s next, Captains working patrol spots on holidays for Drputies with kids? Sounds like politics to me.

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  4. People are waking up and realize that if things don’t change the whole ship will sink to the bottom. It’s time to move forward with new leadership. A new Sheriff named Kevin Jensen is the first step.

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  5. Years of short staffing and I also believe they have not spent every dollar every year of the Court Security budget. I do recall hearing they saved $2,000,000 during the 2009 fiscal year. Where did that money go? With salary and benefits I believe a deputy’s total compensation is roughly $180,000. So multiply that by 100 in filled coded positions $18,000,000. Does she have to give this back or is it being spent some where else. What about shuffling grant money? I call for an audit!!!! That is why the topic of inappropriate use of the helicopter and paying deputies overtime for SAB functions is such a BIG deal. Digest for a moment how much helicopter fuel costs per gallon and the average flight time. I don’t know the exact numbers, but guessing $1000 for 2-3 hour flight time. Someone needs to look at the exact numbers. Resign already Sheriff and take the Undersheriff and Nueselini with you.

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    • Sheriff and undersheriff staffing courts? Probably in the jury assembly room begging for votes, they probably couldn’t pass the Court Training written test. way to late to start showing interest in the actual job of a deputy.

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