What Is To Political?

Recently the DSA President sent an email out to the DSA to address some rumors and attacks he and the DSA have been on the receiving end of. I must admit, I know a bit about the DSA president and his ups and downs over the years with the sheriff and within the office. I haven’t always liked or agreed with his decisions; I understand why, at times, some feel he can be arrogant and self absorbed. We all know at one point he was one of the “golden boys” of the office until the sheriff manifested an obsession, I’d even say a paranoia about him. Her obsession resulted in an overblown, overdone investigation into him centered on punishing him that she almost lost control of; thank god for gag clauses, right Sheriff? I was standing close enough to some involved at the time to know the sheriff very likely violated the law. Ultimately it seemed to be a cathartic experience for Morrissey. He backed away from the administration’s corruption, despite at least one invitation back into the fold that I’m aware of.

On the other hand, I’ve also come to understand why Morrissey is respected and liked by many, particularly since that turning point. That, to me, is probably the biggest problem the sheriff has with our DSA president. He is decisive, he is knowledgeable in the sheriff’s office history, he chooses to be honest, even openly admitting his own personal failures and mistakes without excuses. He appears to genuinely care for his fellow deputies, as well as the correctional deputies in the CPOA. He does not hesitate to go to bat for deputies and officers and is willing to stand firm in fighting for the things the deputies need to better do their jobs.

I was forwarded the email the DSA president sent by a few people who make sure I get copies of these kinds of things to keep me up to date. That, and recent noise I’ve heard on my own have left me very surprised at how ignorant many of the members of the DSA body choose to be on the issues and what the DSA has been doing for the past 3 years. Even more surprised they’re taking the sole advice of people who aren’t represented by the union and/or have clear interests tied to creating conflict with the union. I’m left wondering how members of the DSA, who have never even attended a meeting to find out what is happening, have the bad judgement to criticize an organization working for them when they haven’t even take the time find out on their own what is or is not being done, nevermind why.

As I understand it a revelation by Undersheriff Hirokawa during the last meeting, that I’ve previously heard from others, but he confirmed from the administrative side of things, is that the DSA made many attempts to extend an olive branch to the sheriff after the election. The DSA even went so as far as to offer to pay for a mediator of Laurie’s choosing to move forward in a mediated environment for the benefit of the office. The sheriff refused even that overture, refusing to put the betterment  of the office — your safety — over her personal and political interests even under those circumstances.  The sheriff, over the years and months since the election, continues to fail to realize she doesn’t get to pick who runs your DSA. There is a reason for that — it’s so when the sheriff doesn’t want to do the right thing by you, you have someone to stand up for you. The DSA membership has seen what it’s like to have a DSA cozying up to the sheriff — no raises, safety issues go unaddressed, no voice to be heard by the Board of Supervisors that isn’t controlled by the sheriff when there are problems. It took the last election for others in your local government to realize that they must listen to the DSA issues independent of the sheriff because their interests — your interests — do not always completely coincide.

It’s exactly what the CPOA is going through now, a crisis of identity where they have sold their voice to the sheriff in hopes she recognized their needs. She hasn’t, and after years of the DSA being in a similar position, we should not have forgotten that she never will. They think they have a voice, but as we all experienced prior to the days of the current DSA Board, and they will figure out soon enough, their voice doesn’t serve them it serves someone else. Don’t make the mistake of going back to those days with the DSA, don’t make the mistake of writing off a board willing to fight for you as “to political” and go backwards to the days where even the most egregious problems were brushed off because they inconvenienced the sheriff’s image.

I have been told by many people at this point that the sheriff’s administration is campaigning hard in the office, directly confronting deputies, on duty, in uniform, about the sheriff and the upcoming election. That is to political. That verges on downright illegal even. I understand many of these mischaracterizations about what the DSA is doing are being pushed hard by a number of captains and lieutenants, who are even peppering the talking points from the fourth floor with some outright lies about DSA members. I had to laugh when I heard one claim — my response was if that’s the case why aren’t the arresting that member for illegal activities?! Because it was a lie so outsized, I’m shocked those that get up and put on a uniform every day, then spends that day parsing other people’s lies from the truth, are willing to believe it. Next time rather than being an eager audience to the lies, ask your lieutenant or captain why they feel the conversation they’re attempting to engage you in is at all appropriate on duty.

The fourth floor tactics against the DSA board and directed at you as a body and as individuals are literally right out of the Union-busting Handbook. Every word is designed to manipulate you against your best interest and to give up your voice at the table. Yes, ideally we want a union and administration that are on the same page and can work together – but when that working relationship is broken because an administration refuses to even consider your basic safety over their political desires, your best interests do not include rolling over and putting your own safety at risk unnecessarily. That is what the sheriff wants. The collapse of the jails over the last years are not the result of a leader who will put you first just because you remain quiet when she’s not.

The sheriff is making every effort to win your support for this election by undermining the DSA by putting them up against Amy Le, president of the CPOA, who has been actively selling out her membership and their safety. You want some examples how you will be treated by a DSA board picked by the sheriff?  Members of the CPOA  have told me the CPOA board approved a Use of Force policy without even reading it and there have been gaping holes found in the policy since its approval that they’re deeply concerned about. The CPOA board members make a monthly stipend of about $1500 a month, plus can take union time off virtually whenever needed — they get that because they have a job to do for their members; part of it being reviewing and advising on new policy such as the Use of Force policy they let pass without reading, nevermind, apparently, commenting on. The CPOA is now committed to the policy despite all the problems and areas of risk now being identified. Even after this level of scrutiny, the sheriff does not care if even a critical policy like this is comprehensive and clear — and neither does their union. I won’t even get into the Taser policy or lack of response from the CPOA board when it was put before the board to purchase these items. I won’t bore you with the many problems with the body camera policy that I still haven’t heard be addressed by the CPOA that are already being pointed out as they roll out the cameras.

These are the things that happen when you put the sheriff and your future political career before the safety of your personnel as a member of the board that represents the worker’s voice at the table. You just take that stipend and nod your head, safety be damned. The whole use of force failure makes her appearance in the media lately regarding the number of assaults on deputies downright bizarre. If she really was concerned about the increasing assaults on deputies Le would have known the assaults on personnel were increasing long before the conviction of the deputies in the Tyree case; she would focus on making sure policy helped better protect her deputies rather than allow a problematic policy pass just so the sheriff could look like she was actively reforming the problems she created and is now just pushing down  the road. Instead it turns out Amy Le can’t even take the time between trips with her husband to PORAC events to read proposed policies. It’s so bad at this point, that some correctional personnel are lawyering up just to write reports — is that the kind of union you want? Where you’re so concerned about retribution for doing your job to the best of your ability and policy is so unreliable in your defense of your actions, that you’re on the verge of having a personal lawyer on retention? Don’t make that mistake again. The grass is not always greener when you have a board kowtowing to a sheriff who has one and only one interest – herself. Your union and your boss should be working well together because you have the same interests at heart, not because it’s easier to not have your captain telling you that the sheriff can’t work with you because she doesn’t like your board. We’re professionals here, we all work with people we don’t like. We don’t get to refuse to do our jobs because we have to interact with someone we dislike. That’s not how adults and professionals work.

Le’s actively campaigning, on and off duty for the sheriff pales in comparison to the wrongs she’s doing to the CPOA body. Other than the fact her appearances with Smith appear to be more important than reading the policies being inflicted on the jails. Rumor has it that Le has been on a whirlwind tour with the sheriff lobbying for political endorsements — endorsements I’m increasingly hearing people are unwilling to give to Smith after the collapse of the jails and other issues she has created; after events like her attempt to hide from the Board of Supervisors the purchase of technology that could be inappropriately used to invade the privacy of others. Those actions ultimately resulted in the board being forced to require policy in place prior to purchases of potential privacy invading technology, Rumors have reached my ears that the sheriff has lost some very big names in endorsements, and others are trying to avoid her calls. As we can see in the featured photo she’s been reduced to campaigning with yet another disbarred attorney who was caught twice stealing from his own clients. I’m glad many this time are at the very least waiting to see who enters the race and hear the issues before they blindly hand over endorsements. At least some people seemed to have learned something since the last election.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Hirokawa, despite being forced into the role of sacrificial lamb — remember, his title as Chief or Corrections only endowed him with power to manage laundry, the jail kitchens, and mail, the rest belonged to the sheriff until things started to collapse — proved he had more concern about the reforms than Laurie Smith could muster with her inability to put anyone before herself. I think his recent appearance at the DSA meeting (did any of you concerned about being “to political” attend to find out what he had to say?) and some of the things he was willing to tell the members present, indicate he wasn’t okay with decisions being made and actions being taken. According to him, and this coincides with things others off the fourth floor have told me in the past, he did attempt on numerous occasions to change the sheriff’s mind. Ultimately though, the sheriff is the decision maker, and she ultimately has the responsibility of being in the position where the buck stops. It’s time for some of that accountability she always talks about to come back to her.