Sierra Madre's Police Department has come under some considerable criticism over the past few years for such things as its serial nuisance lawsuits against this City, unceasing agitation for more money and benefits, an inability to cope effectively with crime as evidenced by its clear failures in the EVG and Matheson affairs, along with the widely held perception in town that their only true field of expertise is traffic code enforcement. Enforcing the law being much safer when it is confined to upbraiding residents on the way to work or school in their cars. Obviously residents are far easier to catch than any thieves involved in the epidemic of unsolved home invasion burglaries that have plagued this city over the last few years.
Couple that with the fact that the SMPD consumes over 53% of this city's General Fund and it becomes obvious that some Public Relations work is sorely needed to effectively curtail any public demands that the City look elsewhere for its public safety needs.
So in a move typifying the spirit of long established lousy government traditions in this town, the call from our thoughtful Councilmember for a so-called "Public Safety Master Plan" predictably came forth. Which, to put it into terms more closely connected with popular reality, means Mr. Harabedian wants to hire an absurdly expensive consultant to help him settle a political obligation to the Sierra Madre Police Association, while with the same sweep of his magic wand marketing the SMPD to an increasingly skeptical public. This at a time when he is also calling for a Utility User Tax increase to 12% because of shortages in folding money at City Hall.
As you know, we here at The Tattler love bureaucratic language. To us it is a form of poetry largely misunderstood by the public. Getting money out of taxpayers in order to support things that are clearly contrary to their personal interests is an art, and how it is crafted must be studied. So what we have done today is take a paragraph out of the Agenda Report for the Public Safety Master Plan question up for consideration at next Tuesday's City Council meeting, and reproduced it here.
Consider this to be your Public Safety Master Plan moment of Zen.
The City of Sierra Madre is seeking an experienced consultant to conduct an organizational review, a workload and performance audit and community survey for the Police Department. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the Police Department organization, operations, service delivery and identify areas to implement best practices from other well-run modern police departments to optimize performance by incorporating best practices and changes that will increase efficiency and effectiveness, in addition to assessing Community sentiment with a statistically valid survey. The consultant will need to have the capability to evaluate policies, practices and performance in delivering police service in partnership with the community. The consultant will also need to have the ability to conduct a community survey that is statistically valid. Accomplishing these overall objectives will require engaging staff members, reviewing and analyzing documents, conducting benchmarking analysis, identifying applicable best practices, and surveying the community.
Truly, a contemplation of nothingness. I highlighted the term "best practices" as it appears three times in this paragraph, and twice within a single sentence. If you go through this entire report you will find that "best practices" appears at least 10 times, which to me indicates that when it comes to jargon this one is approaching "process" in the pantheon of Staff and Council uni-speak.
It is also interesting to note that in order to assess "Community sentiment with a statistically valid survey," it is necessary to conduct "a community survey that is statistically valid."
It is highly likely that come Tuesday evening three Councilmembers will issue a call for an RFP so that we can get the best possible price on a consultant we don't need and cannot afford. After all, a Police Department that currently devours 53% of our General Fund should already know how to do its job, right? For it to be otherwise would mean we have a systemic collapse of government in town, and should be looking to replace the persons responsible as quickly as humanly possible.
But, of course, that is not what is really going on here. This is politics, pure and simple. An ambitious Councilmember is honoring his obligations to a public employee union in a county where such actions are required behavior for future political advancement. Johnny is paying his dues.
Dues that we will be called upon to pay.