Sheriff McDonnell Refuses to Debate, Refuses to Lead

After three weeks on vacation, LASD.News is back in business. We have a whole slew of news to catch you up on, but first let’s start with news out today:

The elected Sheriff of Los Angeles County again demonstrated the deep contempt with which he holds the department, those who want to improve the department, anybody who disagrees with him for that matter, the African American and Hispanic communities, the local media, the faith community, and the community more generally when he once again refused to participate in a debate over the department’s direction … or what should be done about the future of law enforcement in California–period. 

He refused to debate, his campaign strategist essentially told the LA Times, because challenger Alex Villanueva is mean to him. Because McDonnell disagrees with what Villanueva has to say, and since we all know McDonnell doesn’t like being disagreed with, or having his inaccurate statements called out, he’d rather not put himself in that position.

An empty chair stood in his place. A metaphor for so many things.

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This should be disqualifying. In our view, it is. What a pathetic “leader”. What a hack. A coward. It’s disgusting we’re led by such an entitled, empty suit.

It would be one thing if Alex Villanueva were pulling 1% of the vote. He isn’t. A majority of primary voters felt LASD was going in the wrong direction. Expected to pull 3% of the vote, Villanueva received nearly 35%; he received the endorsement of LASD’s largest union. And he is talking about issues department members and the community care about, which McDonnell is not. McDonnell is literally counting on the power of incumbency and voter apathy to let him eek in another unproductive term (before his establishment friends can bump him up to some appointed state or federal gig where he doesn’t have to slum it with voters or people like you ever again).

McDonnell did not participate in a single debate during the primary. He did attend one debate with Villanueva earlier this summer and reviews of both were decidedly mixed. McDonnell apparently decided not to subject himself to scrutiny since—though he does make himself available to friendly (generally supplicant) audiences.

McDonnell is counting on his mainly white, coastal voting base (who he was courting today) saying, in effect, “Let’s vote for the old-school guy with the crappy record, who likes to play dress-up but who doesn’t bother to show up, who has few new ideas [McDonnell], because he’s been a rank-chaser longer than the guy who dedicated his life to LA County, who is showing up [Villanueva] and who does have interesting, progressive ideas.”

Based on what? Why? An Irish accent? Would you really vote for an incompetent person because he has more experience than the person who is offering specific ideas how to do a better job?

As the LA Times wrote Saturday, McDonnell instead spent the morning campaigning in uniform at an event in Long Beach.

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“I’m disgusted,” a woman in the audience told the Times. “I feel McDonnell doesn’t respect the voters.”

That woman made time to attend the forum–to our knowledge, the ONLY remaining debate before the election. KPCC moderator Frank Stoltze made time to attend the forum. The ACLU made time to attend the forum. Maya Lau from the LA Times made to time attend the forum. The dozens of people in the room made time. The elected Sheriff of Los Angeles County refused–so he could instead talk to a friendly crowd on the beach.

McDonnell claims to be a reformer; he loves to hold others to account, yet refuses to stand tall himself.

Pathetic.

To watch the debate–such as it was–for yourself, you can do so here:

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