But there are further steps that the City could very well be forced to consider in the upcoming years. Costs coupled with revenue shortfalls have caused the City of Sierra Madre to pinch pennies, with positions and programs having been eliminated. And should the residents of Sierra Madre again turn down the City's request to extend the Utility User Tax at its current California high rate of 10% (with an additional 2% increase possible at the whim of the City Council), everything will then be on the table. Including the possibility of contracting with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. A Police Department that consumes 53% of the General Fund no longer being fiscally sustainable luxury.
These are questions that exist in other cities as well, and options such as the ones we've discussed here are also under consideration elsewhere. And as we saw in yesterday's article, there is a rising suspicion in certain towns that the tactics being employed as a negotiation tool by LD&M include intimidation of elected officials. This from an article that the Orange County Register updated on their website yesterday (click here).
Officials: Police union negotiator targeted city councilmen - Officials from Costa Mesa, Irvine, Fullerton and Buena Park on Tuesday accused an Upland law firm that represents police unions of employing thug-like behavior in its efforts to win favorable contracts for city police agencies.
Lackie, Dammeier and McGill, which represents more than 120 police associations in California, until recently had featured on its website a manual for tough negotiating tactics that included targeting city officials until they cave in to union demands.
Buena Park Councilman Fred Smith said he was targeted by a police officer after leaving a party in December 2010. Smith said he was pulled over, told he smelled of alcohol, and asked to take a field breath test. Smith said that he blew "all zeroes" but was ticketed for straddling a lane.
"I was told I should never disrespect officers," Smith said.
Smith said he also received threatening text messages last week from a political consultant that worked for the police union. One text asked Smith if he knew the meaning of "GJI." A later text explained: "Grand Jury Indictment." It was followed by this message: "Say good bye Freddie."
An account given by another elected official is equally chilling.
Buena Park Mayor Jim Dow also appeared at the news conference, saying he had received word a year ago that the union was gunning for him. Dow said he then moved his adult daughters to Idaho after reading a suggestion online that police unions should target the children of city officials. He said he's in the process of selling his house and plans to move after his term ends. "I couldn't take that chance with my kids," Dow said.
Here is another:
Fullerton Councilman Bruce Whitaker said intimidation by the Fullerton Police Association resulted in a 3-2 vote against pursuing cost estimates from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The Council was looking into restructuring its police force, Whitaker said.
"We entrust (police) with the ability to take away our freedoms, to make arrests, to intimidate, to use discerning tactics. This clearly can cross the line and become an abuse of those powers," Whitaker said.
When the consideration becomes more about what can better the economic position of the Police Department and its officers, and less the law enforcement needs of the community, then a line has been crossed.
Patch raises an interesting Matheson question
Out of the big three questions of journalism, they got "the who" and "the what" down alright, but whatever happened to "the why?" This from a Patch article posted yesterday entitled "Find Sex Offenders In Your Area" (click here):
Though Robert Matheson, a Sierra Madre resident who pleaded guilty to possessing and smuggling thousands of images and videos of child pornography across the Canadian border last October, has not been required to register as a sex offender, Sierra Madre Police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement previously said he is under investigation. Evin Daly, CEO and Co-Founder of One Child International Inc. and Child Abuse Watch, also wrote a letter to the Sierra Madre Police Department urging them to pursue placing Robert Matheson on a sex offender registry.
The "under investigation" reference is the standard boilerplate response given when either of these law enforcement organizations chooses not to discuss something. The list of undiscussed items permanently under investigation here includes the EVI gas station ripoffs and just about anyone's house that has ever been robbed.
But it is quite obvious that Patch doesn't know the answer to the why question. Does anybody? Why was Robert Matheson given a pass by the City of Sierra Madre on the question of his having to register as a sex offender? The City has never explained itself on that one. Don't you think it is about time they did?
Also, isn't it rather telling that Patch went to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to source their article? And not the Sierra Madre Police Department? For a news site that pulls its punches as much as that one, it is quite a statement.