Sheriff Laurie Smith’s Absenteeism Pays $400+K a Year

We keep hearing how well Laurie Smith does her job, her dedication to children and to improving our system, her recent dedication to improving all that was bad about jails that is, of course, someone else’s fault.

We even saw yet another quaint accusation on the Mercury New comments attempting to blame Undersheriff Hirokawa for all these problems. He “personally” interviewed every last candidate for hire. Even if that was true, they were hired through the sheriff’s recruiting programs – programs we’ve repeatedly stated that the sheriff has compromised for personal reasons. Blaming Hirokawa is an act of desperation that had to come directly from the fourth floor corner office.

There are few measures which are public enough that we can see her dedication. The jails are collapsing, the deputies in corrections and enforcement have seemingly been in open revolt against her administration for more than 2 years now. We have a slew of cases outlining interference and bad decisions by virtually every person on the fourth floor and a good number of her captains and lieutenants. But still, the public to often passes these incidents off as a one off and keep praising her.

So I decided to go digging and found that the county keeps attendance records for all their meetings. The sheriff’s attendance record, it’s none too impressive and, in my opinion, it speaks to how she values certain efforts. The only commission she had 100% attendance on stopped meeting back in mid-2012, nearly 4 years ago.

The three commissions, all of which are still active, she has the worst attendance over the past couple years are:

Re-Entry Network – 33% attendance

Chaired by Cindy Chavez: The Re-Entry Network shall provide a cross-system collaboration to direct a comprehensive re-entry and recidivism reduction strategy to leverage existing efforts, streamline processes to link inmates to effective in-custody community-based programming, identify cost-saving methods, and preparte (sic) the County and its partners for the State realignment of parolees and low-level offenders.

Juvenile Justice Systems Collaborative – 40% attendance

Chaired by Jeffery Smith, County Executive: The JJSC shal (sic) provide a channel for system partners to work together in the best interest of the minors in the juvenile delinquency system while preventing or reducing the unnecessary detention of minors. The JJSC will work with other juvenile justice bodies to maximize resource efficiency and avoid duplicaation (sic) of efforts. The JJSC will address the issue of disproportionate minority representation in the juvenile justice system.

Blue Ribbon Commission on Improving Custody – 67% attendance

Chaired by LaDoris Cordell. The Administration recommends that the Board charge the public Blue Ribbon Commission on Improving Custody Operations with examining policies, procedures, and operations. The goal of the Commission should be to determine the gap between where DOC should be in terms of policies, procedures and operations and where it currently is.

These should be disturbing to the average taxpayer and voter for a number of reasons. This shows her lack of commitment to so many issues that she has, at least publicly, sworn she was committed to. Her commitment to our children, keeping them off drugs, off the streets and in school? A phrase repeated by not only herself, but now known liars like Darcie Green recently caught manipulating information and events for her own campaign’s benefit, and officials like Mike Honda, currently under investigation for his own possible criminal activity. Such an important issue, yet she misses a significant number of commission meetings that would directly impact this issue.

She frequently brags about re-entry , how well she’s managed AB109 alignment changes, it was another of her campaign issues — how important it was to have *her* experience in office for this. Yet she can’t be bothered to make even a majority of the meetings involving this issue? Her deputies are being injured due to lack of training and resources and she thinks she’s done this successfully?  Rumors are starting to come out that some of these complaints are about how her re-entry program isn’t all it claims it to be? Inside sources are saying the stats have been manipulated to show significant improvement that doesn’t exist.  Maybe the sheriff should attend one of those meetings to be “held accountable.”

Which brings us to the Blue Ribbon commission in particular… she has no business missing a single one of these, yet she has. Her and her county shills told us how important it was to have her present to be held accountable. She fails to appear and even when there every hard question has been directed at John Hirokawa, whose job title until people started dying included nothing more than exactly what it showed on the office flow chart from 2014 through to today’s flow chart as Chief of Corrections he has never been the person at the top for anything more than records, food, laundry, and warehousing. All these questions about the IA process, policies, decisions on staffing, training — all were put under Sheriff Smith after the take over and kept there. Yet Smith and Hiro (and we can only wonder what he’s getting in return) continue to act as if the buck has always stopped at his desk when the questions are asked. She’s present, and she’s silent. Accountability will be hard to conduct when they’ve so effectively removed her from the process. People fought to have her removed from the commission. Perhaps it’s better the county and LaDoris Cordell fought to keep her. This way her presence (when she decides to show up) can serve as a reminder that this was her watch, her responsibility. Seems every other reminder has been efficiently whitewashed from the immediate public view.

In comparison, her commitment to POST over her job in the county seems much stronger. So I looked into where some of these meetings are held. Some are in Sacramento, but the last meeting was held in beautiful San Diego last October. I bet she was sorry to miss that one, the only missed meeting. But she’s been to Universal City, Garden Grove, Long Beach. In 2017 they’re going to Disney.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that POST travels around the state, it makes sense that everyone doesn’t have to travel to Sacramento every time. I just find it ironic given the sheriff and her Ass. Sheriffs have actually denied deputies requests for training and industry conferences and actually accused deputies of trying to take a vacation on the county dime when they put in for training in locations that may be near places like Disney. That and the fact that she can’t make half the county meetings held just steps from her office, yet manages to make all the POST meetings in which most require travel out of town show where her priorities are.

It seems, no matter which part of the job we look into, the sheriff continues to fall short of the roughly $415,000 a year executive we’re paying for to run the Sheriff’s Office.

Source information can be found at the following:

Board/Commissioner Detail Record – Sheriff Laurie Smith

Missed 7 out of 13 meetings listed on her record

11/19 – Juvenile Justice Systems Collaborative
10/28 – Re-Entry Network Meeting
10/16 – Human Trafficking Commission
10/5 – Bail and Release Work Group Special meeting
8/27 – Juvenile Justice Systems Collaborative
6/24 – Re-Entry Network Commission
1/28 – Re-Entry Network Commission

Missed 4 out of 8 meetings listed on her record

10/29 – Re-Entry Network Meeting
8/28 – Juvenile Justice Systems Collaborative
6/25 – Human Trafficking Commission
3/26 – Re-Entry Network

POST Commissioners meetings
Missed 1 out of 3
10/22/15 – absent

Missed 0 out of 3