The LA Times has a piece out saying the Office of Sheriff is up for grabs. Read more here.
The primary union representing the men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced this morning a Vote of No Confidence in the department’s current leader, Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
The vote comes after a rocky four years for the LASD, which has struggled with rising crime across the county, ongoing allegations of abuse and sexual assault by deputies, violence by deputy cliques, an ongoing focus on deputy tattoos, allegations of racial profiling, a massive and unprecedented budget deficit, a worsening mental health crisis–which McDonnell proposes to address through incarceration, departmental morale and proactive policing at historic lows, and widespread complaints about McDonnell’s lack of transparency and mismanagement.
It also comes after rising disappointment with McDonnell from the county’s minority communities.
According to a recent survey of its members by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), 82% of LASD deputies do not have confidence in McDonnell; 88% say McDonnell has been ineffective in managing the ongoing staffing shortage. Over 85% of deputies do not feel McDonnell is competent to move the department forward.
ALADS characterized the deputy participation rate in the survey as “above average”.
ALADS, which has endorsed reformer Alex Villanueva to be the next Sheriff of Los Angeles County, also held a press conference this morning. Villanueva spoke as well. You can find the video of that press conference here.
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.
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 Professional Peace Officers Association (one of the three unions representing the LASD) is holding a debate tonight between the two remaining candidates to be your next Los Angeles County Sheriff: Alex Villanueva and Jim McDonnell.
The debate will run from 5-6:30 p.m. and be streamed on PPOA’s Facebook page.
While Villanueva and primary election challenger Bob Lindsey participated in several debates during the primary election cycle, McDonnell arrogantly blew off the debates. While he took 75% of the vote three years ago against a felon to win election, he will now have to run on his record against a long-time LASD member and reformer, a Hispanic, and someone who has found a deep well of support in the communities LASD’s relations are (the media says) most strained. Meanwhile, McDonnell’s support comes mainly from those served the least by the LASD (and the least familiar with it). A lot of wealthy white people living along the coast. Witness LA thinks it’ll be a real horse race.
Graphic Source: LA Times
As you may remember, 97% of nearly 2,000 deputies who participated in a recent poll by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (another LASD union) voted their lack of confidence in McDonnell. PPOA President Brian Moriguchi and other board members have also been increasingly critical of the department’s accelerating decay.
Tonight’s debate will be moderated by Adrienne Alpert from ABC 7, who has interviewed McDonnell several times before (such as here and here). Other panelists will include Moriguchi, Marcel Rodarte from the Contract Cities Association, and Marjorie Green from the League of Women Voters. It will be held at LAPD headquarters (aka McDonnell’s Mothership).
For more information about the debate, click here.
PPOA will be live-streaming the debate on its Facebook page.
It’s a consequence of today’s media echo-chamber that we mostly hear opinions we agree with and we have the freedom to mute those we don’t. And so it was after last month’s primary election that everybody had got it wrong.
Supporters of Jim McDonnell thought he’d coast to an easy re-election. In fact, McDonnell told as much to KFI host Tim Conway the day before the primary. Sure, his performance over the last three years has disappointed almost everyone, and sure most people at LASD despise him and he doesn’t have the credibility to lead a gaggle of ducks, and sure his claim to have abracadabra’d a “sea change” in LASD’s culture is nonsense belied by the facts, and sure crime has gone up and he hides stuff from the community, and sure he’s incredibly arrogant and spends lavishly on himself and vanity projects, and sure he’s blown the budget and a bunch of deputies and professional staff have gone to jail for sex crimes and serious felonies on his watch, and sure we’re hearing the OIG recently issued a report deeply critical of the lack of reform in LASD’s tailspinning Custody Division, and sure he’s been revoking CCWs from retirees injured on duty and destroyed the Reserve program, and sure he’s a conservative white guy in a time when progressive electorates are shying away from conservative white guys, and sure he took the public’s trust for granted and ran a half-assed campaign … BUT he had nearly $600K in donations from rich LA City establishment types in the bank, and a Boston accent after four decades in LA, and the media said incumbent sheriffs don’t lose, and it was a LOCK. And then McDonnell, who received 75% of the vote three years ago, and possibly the least explicable or enthusiastic LA Times endorsement in history, came in at 47%. Against two LASD veterans he was too arrogant to debate.
Bob Lindsey’s team also felt confident. Many say they don’t know a single person who voted for McDonnell. After six months of full-time campaigning and nearly $800,000 in donations, Lindsey stunned many with a significant though disappointing 18% of the vote.
And then there was the dark-horse: Alex Villanueva. With just $27,000 in donations and a minimal campaign, Villanueva walked away with 33% of the vote. Many experts close to the other campaigns assumed he’d get 3-6%; 12% tops.