Let’s Not Repeat The First “Debate”

Submitted by contributing author, DifferentThisTime

On February 9, 2010 the DSA had a first ever Sheriff’s Candidate debate. Held at the county auditorium. Well, not really a debate at all. The candidates never actually “faced off” to answer the hard questions posed to a panel. Rather each of the candidates came into the auditorium without any of the other candidates present and answered questions individually “posed” to them by a DSA representative. Let’s just say a couple soft ball questions where thrown the incumbents direction just to round out the night. For this election I would like to see a local televised candidate debate between all those running for the Office of Sherifff. I think that would answer a lot of questions people have out there.

Let me set the stage for the readers of the first and only “candidate forum.” At the back of the auditorium there were four boxes with each of the candidates names posted on the front, questions for candidates were put into individual boxes. The questions could not be submitted in a typed format, but had to be written on a DSA provided form and placed into the box of the candidate to whom the question was to be asked. There were no questions from the floor. A majority of the command staff was present and sat throughout the auditorium. Suspiciously missing was Commander Zink (soon to be Assistant Sheriff Zink). Odd, as everyone considered Zink as the Specter to instill fear amongst the line staff. Captain Perry (soon to be Assistant Sheriff Perry) perched himself prominently in the seats directly in front of the question boxes. Under Sheriff Hirokawa sat to the lower right front of the auditorium along with the next Assistant Sheriff, then Captain Rode. The other captains sprinkled themselves in the top back and a couple in the center of the middle rows. You could say, evenly sprinkled throughout the deputies and concerned citizens. The fact that command staff had interspersed themselves among the rank and file was odd as any other time the command staff would would never leave the safety of the herd.

Now to move onto the “forum.”

The candidate forum had all the candidates waiting in the hallway for their individual turn to answer questions from the audience without any of the other candidates present. When each candidate was brought into the auditorium the candidate’s question box was selected and the DSA representative asked the candidate the questions from the box. So, let’s recap just a few of the questions asked of the candidates. Calderone and Monica were both grilled about their prior terms as Chiefs of Police for different law enforcement agencies. (Gustine, CA and Parlier, CA respectively) Candidate Charvez was asked about his vision for the Sheriff’s Office.

Now onto the incumbent who was asked questions that really had the future bearing of the direction of the Sheriff’s Office at heart. Can deputies wear black or white t-shirts under their patrol uniforms? Can deputies wear base ball caps? Can deputies wear BDU type uniforms? As memory serves each of these questions were responded to with a resounding “yes.” Almost dismissed as a non-issue. But, the tough questions were never asked. Fast-forward to today, and virtually every one of those “yesses” turned into something along the lines of, “Oh, I was just joking.”  She could not even keep the simple promise of allowing black or white t-shirt policy to continue, in a fit of pettiness almost immediately after the election she issued a memo requiring only white t-shirts, no baseball caps, and yes, we have BDU type uniforms now, only for inclement weather and only if you can get some percentage of the captains to meet on it and approve it’s inclement weather prior to your shift.  Good luck with that.

That is the type of promise keeping you can expect from the Sheriff, even the most simple promises are impossible to keep.

There was a list of questions created then by people, but they were not allowed:  2009 questions

Here are the new questions for 2014.  If the Sheriff or her people decide it’s appropriate for her to answer any of these, we’ll happily post her responses to them.   (If the opposing candidate, Kevin Jensen, would like to respond to any of these that he feels may be relevent to him, we will post the responses of any candidate that chooses to reply):

  1. Sheriff Smith why do you feel both Public Safety Associations under your control have voted not to endorse you?
  2. Sheriff Smith what have you done to try to amend the relationship with your Public Safety Associations?
  3. What current projects are in place to improve public safety for county residents?
  4. What do you see as your role as Sheriff?
  5. With legacy systems operating the Sheriff’s Office and ad hoc fixes to keep these systems running what is your vision to bring the Sheriff’s Office into the 21 century and what is being done to make this change happen?
  6. How long has the Sheriff’s Office been in charge of the Santa Clara County Correctional Facilities?
  7. Under Sheriff Hirokawa also holds the title of Chief of Correction how does this combined position affect the abilities of Hirokawa to perform either job effectively?
  8. Since the Sheriff’s Office taking over the Department of Correction why have personnel hours been cut?
  9. In a letter you wrote to County Executive Jeff Smith March 4, 2011 ( http://www.seiu521.org/files/2011/05/Dept_Proposal_-_DOC__ME_Coroner.pdf ) what have you done to correct the shortfalls you yourself pointed out?
  10. In the March 4, 2011 letter you proposed to cut Court Security Deputies. Now three years later the Court Security Division is running with a deficit of deputies and as recently as early February 2014 Under Sheriff Hirokawa, Assistant Sheriff’s and Captains had to abandon their assignments and fill vacancies within the Court System so the judicial process could continue. How much overtime are the tax payers of Santa Clara County paying to keep the courts operating daily?
  11. What have you done to improve the correctional facilities?
  12. Why are you having the transportation buses repainted with your name?
  13. What staff supplementation or training has been completed for the AB109 inmates?
  14. How are the AB109 Compliance checks being completed when the inmates have been released into the communities of Santa Clara County?
  15. How many AB109 inmates have been released back into Santa Clara County?
  16. How many of the AB109 inmates have re-offended and been returned to county jail?
  17. Since July 1, 2010 what improvements have you made to the correctional facilities? not improvements that were already in process but not implemented.
  18. Since July 1, 2010 what has the Sheriff’s Office done to retain correctional deputies?
  19. Do to your implementation of the modified work day at the correctional facilities, how many programs have been lost?
  20. Sheriff Smith what is the safe minimum staffing level for Correctional Deputies at each of the correctional facilities?
  21. Why will the Sheriff’s Office not recognize a minimum safe staffing level for either Correctional Deputies or Patrol Deputies?
  22. By elimination Squad briefings at the Correctional Facilities, what measures have been put in place to ensure officers are on post at their assigned times?
  23. With your forward thinking of eliminating the Correctional Academy, how far behind did this place the Sheriff’s Office with recruiting and hiring new correctional deputies to replace those retiring?
  24. Why is the Sheriff’s Office using “extra help” correctional deputies to fill vacancies within the correctional setting?