The LA Times has a piece out saying the Office of Sheriff is up for grabs. Read more here.
The Los Angeles Times, the battered wife of the failed Los Angeles Establishment, which has spent much of the last four years reporting about Jim McDonnell’s failure as sheriff, endorsed him for reelection Thursday. How unsurprising.
Because, despite the Times’ lawsuit against McDonnell for violating privacy laws, despite his frequent misstatements (lies) to reporters, despite the litany of reasons in their own endorsement why McDonnell has been a failure, despite our own list of reasons McDonnell has been a failure, despite apparently uninvestigated criminal acts and misuse of public funds, despite LASD’s inability to recruit, despite McDonnell’s profligate spending on vanity and inability to manage a budget, his anger issues, LASD’s hemorrhaging of new deputies transferring to other agencies (shout out to MCJ!), despite the parade of resignations and retirements and the undermining of the Civilian Oversight Commission … maybe, it’s all because he loves us?
Why? Because McDonnell has “command experience”. Whatever the hell that means. Whatever the hell that has gotten us.
We will catch you up on a ton of LASD headlines in the next day or so (still catching up ourselves from vacation!), but here is another important article out today:
The Los Angeles Progressive–while not our cup of tea politically–is an important LA political blog. So it’s noteworthy they blasted Sheriff McDonnell for his pathetic failure to participate in the debate around LASD’s future Saturday, opting (as usual) to speak to friendly audiences (not just EPC), instead of ones with information, backbone or the freedom to disagree without fear of reprisal.
As we reported Saturday, McDonnell’s refusal to participate in an ACLU-moderated debate is cynical cowardice–but emblematic of how he operates. Either you agree with (and praise) him or you’re part of the problem. That’s why he’s grown his career through appointed positions (or by running for office against a felon) and why he has no interest whatsoever in participating in the democratic process now.
Refusing to stand tall for your decisions would rightfully be a fireable offense for a deputy. It should be for the sheriff, too.
But Sheriff McDonnell has always been a special snowflake.
Debates are about ideas–and a candidate’s ability to articulate or defend them. They’re about leadership. They’re about transparency.
“Transparency starts with showing up for debates,” Alex Villanueva told the debate audience Saturday.
“Change won’t happen overnight,’ the LA Progressive observed.
“But it starts November 6th,” Villanueva concluded.
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.
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?
“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.
To watch the debate–such as it was–for yourself, you can do so here:
Candidates for sheriff Alex Villanueva and Jim McDonnell recently sat for roughly 18-minute video interviews with the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
Overall, McDonnell seemed pretty annoyed to have to be there, but he answered the student reporter’s questions gamely. It was the usual unspecific, “but-when-you-look-at”, stay-the-course, “couldn’t be prouder” song and dance. Click here to see McDonnell’s interview.
For his part, Villanueva cast McDonnell as “an angry old man” who, like the Wizard of Oz, makes confident declarations that informed people know just aren’t true. That crime is down (when it’s up); the morale is great (when it’s possibly the lowest it’s ever been); that McDonnell has accomplished so much–a “sea change!”–when even basic things within his control remain undone (such as providing an adequate number of mental health teams). Villanueva’s focus, he said, would be on fixing specific things that would dramatically improve LASD’s culture and performance: getting rid of probationary employees who aren’t up to the job, rather than the current practice of going-along-to-get-along and making them somebody else’s problem. He spoke of specific ways he would improve community relations, particularly with the communities of color that supported him so strongly during the primary election. To see Villanueva’s interview, click here.
While he doesn’t yet have quite the polish McDonnell has from four years as a politician, Villanueva’s answers strike us as specific, while McDonnell’s were, as always, vague, or just wrong, or put in the rosiest light. After watching both these interviews, it’s easy to see which candidate thinks things are going just great and which has the passion and commitment to change.
In just over two months, we’ll find out what the voters are looking for.
Struggling Sheriff Jim McDonnell flashed the anger, contempt and casual relationship with the truth he is known for Wednesday in responding to LASD’s largest union endorsing his challenger, retired Lieutenant Alex Villanueva.
In a graceless statement posted to his Facebook page, McDonnell said:
I’m not surprised by the announcement made by the Board of Directors of ALADS today. By endorsing my opponent, ALADS has endorsed a candidate who has publicly opposed the reforms underway that have reduced jail violence and increased accountability. He would take the Department backwards to a time of chaos and corruption like it was under Baca and Tanaka.
I have come in and implemented accountability measures and the ALADS Board has taken issue with that, and I am not going to apologize for holding accountable those who tarnish the badge.
Thousands of individual deputies and civilian personnel have indeed worked hard to earn back the trust of the public after many years of crisis. I do not believe the ALADS Board of Directors speaks for the overwhelming number of Deputies who are active partners in moving the Department forward. Together, we have a responsibility to make Los Angeles County as safe as possible while continuing to earn the public’s trust every day.
What an astonishingly passive-aggressive, dishonest, bridge-burning, and childish bunch of nonsense. Had ALADS endorsed him, McDonnell would’ve instead been talking about how honored and humbled he was for their support and partnership.
In other words: you don’t think I’m doing awesome so you’re part of the problem.
This sort of denial and blame-shifting wouldn’t be tolerated of a deputy sheriff trainee in the academy; we absolutely shouldn’t tolerate it from the elected sheriff. He’s had four years to learn our standards. This is Phase 1 roll-up behavior.
Is it any wonder McDonnell’s community relations are so fraid? That he was absent from much of the community for the last four years until, surprised into a runoff, he’s running around hat-in-hand, begging for money from wealthy West Siders? That he views the Citizens Oversight commission as his liaison to the community rather than an actual oversight panel?
Can you imagine if this guy were your boss and you had to disagree with him? (Demoted Captain Chris Brackpool can.)
What is this, Russia?
Petulant as McDonnell’s statement is, it’s a window into how his Father Knows Best mindset reacts when a partner dares to challenge him. No wonder suck-ups and sycophants have done so well promoting under McDonnell, especially all the Tanaka-acolytes who so quickly changed their colors?
McDonnell’s statement is completely unhinged.
Here are the facts:
- Jim McDonnell has accomplished very little in four years as sheriff. Crime is up, proactive police work is way down, morale is probably the lowest its ever been, chancing arbitrary and career-altering/ending discipline by ambitious middle-managers and self-styled “executives” is viewed as a risk of showing up for work, acting with integrity is viewed as an act of foolishness, while the executive ranks themselves are riddled with suck ups and people with extensive records of misconduct (some quite recent).
- Alex Villanueva hasn’t opposed significant reforms because McDonnell has neither made significant reforms nor even suggested what they might be. All he talks about is implementing systems of processes of layers of paper-pushers (all wearing brass belt buckles and sewn-down epaulettes, of course; all telling him how great he is). And this is without even getting to the 300 admin staff he says he’d need to run a body cam program.
- In fact, the only major McDonnell “reform” LASD.News can recall Villanueva opposing was releasing an informal list of deputies previously accused of having integrity issues to the District Attorney’s office (the so-called “Brady List”), including its apparently intentional and criminal leak to the media. And the reason Villanueva has given for disagreeing is not that he opposes the list in principle but because the list is not accurate–it includes people who don’t even know they’re on it or why they would be; it includes people who were bullied into accepting a punishment that without their knowledge landed them on the list rather than risk loss of pay while fighting an internal case; indeed the Los Angeles Times has itself reported that deputies have been removed from the list after someone realized they were there in error. That McDonnell is comfortable needlessly and perhaps falsely tarnishing peoples’ reputations to achieve the appearance of having achieved something says more about him than it does about anyone else.
- Actually, Villanueva has campaigned extensively on the assertion that McDonnell’s reforms have been fake in effect, not that they’ve been wrong in intent.
- Indeed, under McDonnell’s leadership numerous deputies have been arrested or convicted of crimes, firings have gone through the roof (as have reinstatements through the legal system and back-pay awards), including firings of “executives” McDonnell sought to defend one day and kicked out the window the next. As any deputy knows, firing is viewed internally now as a management stunt easily and often entered into to make the lawyers happy and “leaders” look good, with the understanding that the legal appellate process will do the actual managing.
- By the way, anyone know what’s going on with Todd Rogers’ civil suit against McDonnell alleging he was retaliated against after the last election? Did the County settle that one yet?
- And speaking of integrity issues, what does it take for McDonnell to end up on his own Brady List, with all his own false statements? Such as when he told the media last year that no uses of force had been recorded on deputies’ personally-owned body cams (which they have bought due to his refusal to distribute them)? Or his claiming above that an “overwhelming number of deputies” support him in “moving the Department forward” when, in fact, 97% of deputies voted their lack of confidence in McDonnell? Or his many false statements to reporter Annie Gilbertson in her REPEAT Podcast (especially episodes 5 and 6)? He must know what he is saying is false, but he’s saying it so his LA-establishment backers who don’t know how failed and unpopular he is, who will simply take his word for it.
- While McDonnell claims to be a reformer, in fact he hasn’t gotten much done–other than gorging on the vain perks of his office: his $2 million luxury SUV and entourage, the hats and jackets and uniforms and brass buckles and the decals, LASD’s new theme song (which deputies can listen to when the countywide radio system crashes), the travel, and the use of county resources for campaign purposes, and the mountain retreats, to say nothing of his nearly half-million dollars in annual taxpayer-funded compensation.
- McDonnell’s attitude–and that of his supporters–seems to be that if the unions disapprove of his performance, he must be doing something right. That’s cute, except LASD’s unions endorsed him four years ago and have complained constantly since then not about McDonnell’s policy positions but mostly about his lack of vision, understanding of the organization, and his leadership. They’ve complained about his not responding when a deputy was shot in the neck because it was late at night. They’ve complained about his ineffectiveness; about his inability to recruit, about the wave of deputies immediately lateraling to other agencies, about being $200 million over budget, about detectives being put into patrol cars to achieve minimum patrol levels. The unions are raising serious concerns about a sheriff which experience is showing is not up to the job. (See, also.) You can ignore the warning light if you like, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to crash into the mountain.
Maybe this frequent commenter on the LA Times article summed it up best:
“I think Jim is the biggest let-down of ANY elected official in the last 25 years,” she said. “Now even I refer to Jim as Sheriff McBuckles. Sad. So disappointing. Jim, I hate to say this b/c I was such a huge fangurl, you had your chance and choked. Time to step aside my friend.”
Indeed. And drop the patch.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) dropped a bombshell Wednesday when it announced it had endorsed Alex Villanueva to be the next Los Angeles County Sheriff.
The endorsement mirrors a similar situation in Riverside County, where strong support from the deputies’ union allowed Lieutenant Chad Bianco to force unpopular Sheriff Stan Sniff into a fall runoff. Like the LASD, Riverside Sheriffs are also dealing with historically low morale, a sense the department is mismanaged at every level, a lack of progressive thinking, and an inability to recruit or retain deputies headed for early retirement or greener pastures at other agencies. They, too, are a mess. And their union has taken a similarly strong stand to bring about reform.
In an email to deputies, ALADS President Ron Hernandez explained, “Alex is one of us… He has been a tireless advocate for deputies, especially during moments in the department’s history when it was necessary to speak truth to those in power. Alex’s track record demonstrates an ability to initiate reform while staying acutely connected to our needs and experiences. His impressive primary election campaign has already shown how he can raise morale, inspire and represent us.”
The endorsement comes after 97% of deputy sheriffs voted no confidence in McDonnell in a survey earlier this year. Only 34 of the over 1,400 deputies responding to the survey felt confident in McDonnell’s leadership.
“The underlying sentiments which drove responses should certainly be of concern to Sheriff McDonnell,” ALADS said at the time. “In particular, the Sheriff should take note that this vote represents a loss of confidence in him by a significant number of his deputies.”
The endorsement also comes after a primary election in which McDonnell, who won 75% of the vote less than four years ago, couldn’t muster more than 48%, despite huge name recognition, rock-solid establishment support, conventional wisdom you cannot beat an incumbent, the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times, and a half-million dollars in fundraising (mostly from wealthy West LA/Beverly Hills types–the same trough he’s going back to now in the general election).
It also comes after Villanueva pulled in over 30% of the vote, despite little name recognition, virtually no budget or campaign machine like those fielded by challenger Bob Lindsey and incumbent McDonnell. Rather, what Villanueva offered was the assertion that McDonnell’s reform was fake and impermanent and the view that it was possible to chart a progressive vision for Southern California law enforcement in a way that also supports the men and women placing themselves in harm’s way.
The early and strong endorsement is especially noteworthy given ALADS’ declining to make an endorsement in the primary election (while the deputy sheriff contract was under negotiation) and given the significant resources that will now be made available to Villanueva.
While McDonnell’s support was strongest among wealthier, white, establishment types, Villanueva found strong support among African Americans, Hispanics, and those with whom LASD’s relationship is supposedly most strained.
Now that ALADS has endorsed Villanueva, you can expect many other Southern California labor unions to follow suit, due to an unwritten rule that they tend to follow the lead of the largest union at each organization. The endorsement also signals that ALADS may use its significant political budget to advocate for Villanueva.
Here is ALADS’ statement in full:
Today we have announced our endorsement of Alex Villanueva in the November 2018 election for Los Angeles County Sheriff. He embodies the essential characteristics and values required to lead the department: integrity, honesty, tenacity, courage, and connectivity with his fellow deputies.
This decision comes after serious deliberation amongst our Board of Directors and numerous conversations with you – the members whom we represent and serve. It is our firm belief that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department needs to be transformed and that Alex is best suited to lead that change given his background, skills, and character.
Alex is one of us. He has over three decades of experience as a deputy, has served in the United States Air Force and the California Army National Guard, and earned a Doctorate in Public Administration while studying the impact of diversity on law enforcement leadership. He has been a tireless advocate for deputies, especially during moments in the department’s history when it was necessary to speak truth to those in power.
Alex’s track record demonstrates an ability to initiate reform while staying acutely connected to our needs and experiences. His impressive primary election campaign has already shown how he can raise morale, inspire and represent us.
Please feel free to contact any of your board representatives if you have any questions or concerns.