Two weeks ago, LASD.News reported that Jim McDonnell had so much contempt for the community that he had failed to set up a campaign website, one month before early voting begins. He responded to that observation not by developing a legitimate website (this site was created in a single night with the help of three beers and a pepperoni pizza), but by updating his existing zero-info-zero-effort page with a dishonest and delusional bio.
We know. This sounds small and unimportant, but here’s the thing: McDonnell is running to be in charge of the world’s largest sheriff’s department, serving a population of over 12 million people, and a budget of over $3 billion (of which he is over budget by many millions of dollars). Deputy sheriffs have enormous power over the course of peoples’ entire lives–and McDonnell is hiding from scrutiny. That McDonnell is putting so little effort into winning the public trust IS NEWS.
Why is his page so bad? Because literally the only things on it were/are a fuzzy headshot, a few flags, and a donation button. It’s like showing up to a job interview in an open bathrobe. Now he’s added a bio. No positions, no schedule of events, no link to his (non-existent) social media updates, no stances on important issues, no endorsements, nothing.
This isn’t a design critique. The point is that he does not care about making his case to the public. He plans to win based on the assumption of voter apathy alone. This is anti-democratic, arrogant, cowardly, and ethically wrong. Bottom line.
But since those are the cards we’ve been dealt, let’s turn our attention to the bio posted after our last article. Here’s what makes it so pathetic:
- His “accomplishments” (which you don’t even get to until the FIFTH paragraph), after four years in office and $12+ billion, allegedly include (1) “a reduction in serious use of force inside jails” [because, now, if you punch a nurse in the face or throw your urine on deputies, you get a candy bar], (2) creat[ing] the Human Trafficking Bureau [okay, you can create a bureau any given Thursday, but sure], and (3) “reduc[ing] crime across the county by empowering the community to work more closely with department deputies.”
- Right, so let’s stop right there. First of all, crime isn’t really down, particularly in contract cities and to the extent it is, McDonnell has said in interviews he doesn’t know why. Secondly, even McDonnell admitted two weeks ago that crime stats did not reflect true crime because Proposition 47 has reduced what counts as a crime and reduced the reporting of crimes (because people are losing confidence in the criminal justice system).
- Also, what sort of hack wrote this? McDonnell is “reducing crime across the county by empowering the community to work more closely with department deputies”? What does that even mean? How are you empowering the community? How is that true? The Los Angeles Times is suing you, you’re blowing off important community groups, and deputies hate you. This is absolute crazy-talk. The community doesn’t feel empowered and nobody is following you.
- Moving on, McDonnell also developed “a plan to replace the Men’s Central Jail”. Well, no, Sheriffs Baca and Scott developed that (see this report from 2014). And nothing tangible has been accomplished since McDonnell took office. And over the weekend, sheriff candidates Bob Lindsey and Alex Villanueva, said they thought a new, multi-billion dollar jail was unnecessary.
- So, what has been accomplished are (1) new belt buckles and keeper snaps, (2) new decals on some patrol cars, and (3) firing hundreds of deputy sheriffs who stepped up to serve the community, with hugely negative effects and no corresponding increase in trust in the Department. The badge is duller than ever. Bravo.
- Finally, “Upon his re-election, Sheriff McDonnell looks forward to working with his deputies, elected officials, and community stakeholders to continue the progress that has been made to build greater transparency, modernize the jail facilities, and strengthen community relations.”
- Right, so, again, none of that has happened in the last four years and McDonnell’s lack of popularity internally or externally, and lack of progress on any of the above issues in the last four years, suggests a bleak ability to do any better in the four years to come.
- McDonnell isn’t “working with his deputies” because he holds them in contempt and, as a result, they hate him, and so has no ability to lead the organization
- For everyone (including deputies!) who wants to see the department reformed, McDonnell’s inability to lead means he is unable to drive real change
- McDonnell isn’t working with elected officials or community stakeholders because he has frozen them out and blown them off
- McDonnell isn’t building greater transparency because he is being criticized/sued for stonewalling more than his predecessors, particularly for a lack of transparency, and has regularly been caught lying to the community
- Jail facilities have not been modernized (see above)
- Community relations are worse than ever
LASD.News did get some flak after our last article from personnel worried our article would prompt McDonnell to actually mount a credible campaign for re-election. Clearly, he hasn’t done that so far. But we’d love to see him try.
We think it’s what the community deserves. It’s pretty revealing that a month out from the election, McDonnell doesn’t.
That, or he doesn’t have enough support to get it together.