Over the weekend the Palo Alto Daily broke loose with a rather interesting article. It appears fairly innocuous but has a double edged attack that misses some very important points.
The title starts by calling Kevin Jensen the sheriff’s “foe.” Let’s be clear, none of us supporting Kevin Jensen’s bid for sheriff is anyone’s enemy here. If you know Kevin, you just want to laugh at the idea that he’s anyone’s “foe” for virtually any reason. I really do urge people to get to know a bit about Kevin Jensen and his views. The idea that this is a man that would “stage a coup” or has the political interest in the power behind a “coup” just doesn’t hold up. He’s a guy who is focused on the job and what he can bring to this office. He is a guy that is looking to share ideas that can make the community better and leave the past behind.
Kevin’s not the guy to incite some guy in a jaguar to pull over, scream “Smith!” and flip off a deputy then race off like happened recently to one of the DSA members who was out walking precincts. He’s more the kind of guy to send me messages through various sources to try to tell me to “tone it down” because he doesn’t want anyone to “feel like they’re being attacked.” Yes, I’ve had several people bring that message to me from him.
The problem here is that the sheriff has a tendency to assume everyone is her enemy as soon as they disagree with her on anything. So much so that she has attempted to devastate careers on rumors alone that some one might stand against her. When an elected official, any elected official, states some one utilizing the open democratic process is “staging a coup”, uses the media to do so, they are showing a very disturbing facet of themselves. It’s clear in Silicon Valley that the political process has become grossly incestuous, that they endorse each other without concern for the jobs they’re doing, that they will claw at anyone who dares to rock the boat of political comfort these people have enjoyed… some for decades. Is this the political atmosphere we want to continue to foster? Do we want politicians who feel so entitled to their position that they will openly call any opposition a “coup” against them? If our elected officials don’t understand the process of our elections, and that anyone is entitled to challenge them with or without reason, they don’t belong in office.
The second prong of this attack was on the deputy and enforcement unions, in an appearance to make this seem like Kevin Jensen is a “union man.” The article digs at the anti-union sentiment of some, yet fails to even mention that the sheriff has a greater union endorsement through Ben Field and the South Bay Labor Coalition than Kevin enjoys through the police unions. The ironic part is that neither the CPOA nor the DSA have ever really been political animals. They have made their endorsements over the years, they have made some politician donations, but they have never really stepped foot into an election in recent years. I’m fairly certain the two groups have never coordinated into a political PAC together before this.
If you ask them why they’re doing this, you don’t ridiculous accusations as made in a local school paper that this is because they didn’t get bad weather uniforms — if the student reporter did their research, the deputies did get said uniforms and Martin Monica dropped out of the race. It’s not the ridiculous accusations that Rich Robinson beta tested during the Chavez campaign that she’s a strong woman — if that was the case, why have they backed her in past elections? You hear things like “she called us keystone cops,” “we no longer feel there is a working relationship that benefits the office or the community between us and the sheriff,” “we have an absentee sheriff,” “we have a sheriff that puts her image before our investigations.”
The deputies have watched over the past 4 years as the sheriff has refused to work with them, attacked them with petty measures like sudden and unnecessary changes in uniform policy for no reason, has embarrassed the office by failing to investigate Aldon Smith while inviting him to play at the range with her wealthy friends, has outraged them with the lack of cohesive management and effort in the Sierra Lamar case… and more.
This is not about “union issues,” it is about community and law enforcement issues. This isn’t so they can get a boss they feel will give them a big raise (though they have volunteered year after year to go without raises because of the claims of budget woes by the Sheriff long before the economy had problems), this isn’t about better working hours (hello? Cops? Shift work doesn’t make better working hours for anyone), this isn’t about layoffs v. hiring (though it should be noted the sheriff is starting to lose staff at a high rate of speed and despite increases in population and responsibilities has decreased sworn staff by nearly 10%).
What it is about is the fact that since she took over the jails in 2011, staff as decreased, inmate population has increased and become more sophisticated and she is playing games with the AB109 funding that was supposed to hire more people. Rather than hiring people she is shifting existing corrections personnel in and out of the positions, taking them from other areas, leaving all areas short and creating an increasingly intolerable and therefore dangerous situation for both personnel and inmates.
What this is about is that sex trafficking and human trafficking are an increasing problem as indicated by every other county around us. How ever the sheriff has refused to fill vice positions for 3-4 years now, has received repeated complaints from local businesses about active prostitution in their area and took over 6 months to address it, and at one point (and may possibly still) have a standing order that no prostitution cases would be investigated. There has been more than one person on staff that has felt the wrath of daring to go after prostitution cases despite the order.
What this is about is Sierra Lamar and Audrie Pott and every other young child out there who deserves to be protected, yet has suffered the consequences of delayed justice because the sheriff and her administration don’t understand how an investigation is run, are too entrenched in their paranoia to allow any one who does know how to investigate to do anything, and are more worried about budget issue than investigative issues. It’s been repeatedly noted by a number of sources that the sheriff spent upwards of $25000 on catered lunches from top end restaurants during the Sierra Lamar investigation — not for the men and women busting their butts in Morgan Hill trying to find this lost child, but for her and her staff on the 4th floor… the shot callers who were trying to figure out how to get the budget on the case high enough to get state/federal assistance. Yes, that was their concern — not that deputies were so disorganized they were going to the same houses 4 and 5 times to ask the same questions and completely failing to canvas other areas.
What this is about is the fact that the Budget Sheriff has spent half a million dollars to get her captains new Dodge Chargers and SUVs — pursuit outfitted for captains who don’t respond to calls — while deputies are left to respond to your 911 crisis in a vehicle that has seen 120+K of hard law enforcement use.
What this is about is the honor and integrity of the office being undermined by inadequate leadership who will punish those who do their jobs to the best of their ability, despite direct orders from above to do otherwise, while simultaneously leaning on them when the media shows up asking questions about what happened.
This about the fact that after a terrorist active shooter event in the county there was no after action report to review what could have been done better — and trust me a lot could have been done better (more coming on this on my blog in the near future). That families were left at risk while a murderer hid in our neighborhoods because she didn’t want to pay the overtime.
This is about public safety. The safety of our communities, our children… your safety.
Considering how serious these issues are, please don’t let some friends of the sheriff boil this down to a “coup” over “union issues.” That’s just not case.
After I wrote this I received this email. It says, probably far better than I ever could, what this election is about to the men and women working for the Sheriff:
We became police officers so we could stand for something. We wanted to help and protect people in need. People like ourselves, who did not grow up in a perfect world. We wanted to be the change we wanted to see in that world. We experienced the hard road in that imperfect life and there was one consistent element. In times of need they were there.
In time we got our chance. Side by side we risked our lives with each other’s. In the rain, in the cold, and in the darkness I was there with you and you with me. We solved people’s problems. We protected them. We stood up for them when they couldn’t do so for themselves. We said it was going to be ok. We did so looking for nothing in return. Their sheer joy or peace was gratifying enough.
This career is about honor, courage, integrity, morals, ethics, the warrior code, but in the waning years our best efforts have been tarnished by selfish foolish acts. Acts that undermine the core of our existence. Sold for a few minutes of notoriety, rank, power…image. There is no honor in those acts. It doesn’t take courage to sell one’s ethics or morals, and certainly a person that does so has no integrity. Nor does the person who stands on the sidelines.
We have unsafely worked due to staffing shortages. We have used obsolete, malfunctioning computers while administrators have the latest and greatest. We have scoured the lot for a functioning damaged patrol car while administrators commute in with shiny, high powered, gas guzzling vehicles with tinted windows. We’ve seen them fill up with unlimited gasoline and use the company cars on family trips and grocery runs. We have worked in the stench from the miscreants of society. We have made do when we could have the ability to offer more. When we accomplished something great with minimal resources she comes in and takes credit for our motivation by plastering it over the news. We have watched our efforts undermined by her hidden agendas.
Yet through all of that, I can’t believe there are those who don’t see what I see or choose not to. I know the fear she instills…you will over come it trust me, it will be ok on the other side. When time comes for you to walk away from the Sheriff’s Office you become what you always were… a human. You will always be free as long as you own your soul. It belongs to you.
I will not stand idly by and watch our hard work all for not. I could not look myself in the mirror. I can’t be a sheep and merely follow the dishonorable ways, nor will I take advantage of others to advance myself. I am a warrior and I stand here…
Vote Kevin Jensen for Sheriff
Let it be clear here, there are many, many deputies with integrity at the office now. If Sheriff Smith is re-elected, those deputies who find honor in this job will be seeking work elsewhere.