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.


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.


“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:


“I’m Not Going To Read Any More Of This Shit.”

Over 100 people turned out on Saturday for the second ACLU-sponsored debate between the candidates to be your next Los Angeles County Sheriff. But you know who didn’t? Jim McDonnell.

While, for the second time in two months Bob Lindsey and Alex Villanueva debated the future of criminal justice in Los Angeles County, the current occupant of the sheriff’s office didn’t have time for those assembled at Ward AME Church in South Los Angeles.

McDonnell’s disrespect for the community and to those who did find time to discuss LASD’s future did not go over well.

Frank Stoltze–a reporter covering law enforcement and political issues for 89.3 KPCC radio–moderated the debate and read McDonnell’s prepared responses to the booing crowd before stopping and declaring:

“I’m not going to read any more of this shit.”

Click For Video; 42 Min In


The ACLU has a two-part recording of the debate up. The links are below.

ACLU Sheriff Debate – Part I

ACLU Sheriff Debate – Part II


ACLU and NPR Spotlight McDonnell’s Blowing Off Saturday Debate

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California launched a website Monday to call public attention to the fact that the Sheriff of Los Angeles is an elected position and that Jim McDonnell, by refusing to participate in a debate this past Saturday, thinks he’s above making a case for the public trust he holds.

“Did you know that the Los Angeles County Sheriff is an elected official?” the ACLU asks. “The sheriff holds a tremendous amount of power with responsibilities… LA voters, it is up to YOU to decide who YOU think is the right sheriff for Los Angeles County.”

The site then lists bios for the candidates, explicitly noting that McDonnell refused to provide one.

Bob Lindsey
“I spent 32 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, serving in 24 different assignments, and obtained the rank of Commander. In this time of complex law enforcement issues, the community deserves transparency, can handle truth, and doesn’t need a politically motivated solution packages to mislead the residents of the county. I will give unending and unparalleled attention to the communities of Los Angeles County and to our beloved sworn and professional staff of the Sheriff’s Department.”

Mr. McDonnell did not provide a photo, bio, or website.

Alex Villanueva
“Villanueva has over 30 years experience with the LASD and was founding president of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Professional Association. A recognized reformer in the organization, Villanueva led the drive to ban smoking in the jail system and fought against corruption within the Baca administration. A military veteran, Villanueva holds a Doctorate in Public Administration and is a published author and educator in the field of criminal justice.”


The ACLU will be holding a second debate on Saturday, May 19 at 6 p.m, though it’s unknown if McDonnell will show up at that one either.  Click here if you’d like to attend.

Also out Monday, National Public Radio reporter Frank Stoltze summarized the ACLU debate, highlighting McDonnell’s refusal to participate and some of the unrefuted arguments against him.

“We do not value serving the community,” Alex Villanueva is quoted as saying of LASD’s recent culture, particularly under McDonnell. “We value self-service.”

Click here to read/hear Stoltze’s story.