But I have gotten a little ahead of myself. Here is the more interesting portion of the press release put out on Monday by the Paul Tanaka for Sheriff campaign (link).
Sierra Madre Mayor Nancy Walsh Endorses Paul Tanaka - Today, Sierra Madre Mayor Nancy Walsh officially announced her support of former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka as he campaigns for Sheriff of Los Angeles County. Tanaka has also received the support of Rosemead Mayor Polly Low and Temple City Mayor Cynthia Sternquist.
“Paul Tanaka’s exceptional leadership is exactly what the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department needs,” said Mayor Walsh. “As Mayor of the City of Gardena, Paul successfully saved the city from bankruptcy, reduced crime to record lows and increased business throughout the city. The department would be lucky to have him as their next Sheriff.”
“I am honored to have the endorsement of Mayor Walsh,” said former Undersheriff Tanaka. “The brave men and women of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deserve a leader who is clear, consistent and sensible. Change must begin at the top. Only then can we restore trust and accountability to the department.
Now why Nancy Walsh, who as Mayor here has repeatedly vowed to do whatever it takes to keep the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department out of Sierra Madre, would want to insert herself into this particular political race does beg an explanation. And I am not certain what that explanation might be.
However, my suspicion is that somebody, likely a professional political operative who had gotten close to her over the last year or so through an association with the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce, took advantage of that relationship and talked the embarrassingly naive Nancy Walsh into doing this.
If true, that person has done her a great disservice.
Here are some news reports that clearly show why Paul Tanaka has become an extremely polarizing figure in Los Angeles County politics. None of these reports are particularly pretty.
The Los Angeles Times - Investigators slam Sheriff Baca, Tanaka in jail violence probe (link): Investigators for a blue-ribbon commission probing allegations of abuse and deputy misconduct in L.A. County's jails issued a searing critique Friday of how Sheriff Lee Baca and his chief deputy managed the department.
Baca failed to adequately monitor and control his deputies' use of force against inmates and was ignorant of significant problems in the jails, the panel's investigators reported.
Baca's management "insulated" him about some of the allegations, investigators said. Those commanders knew about problems with deputy cliques in the jails but failed to do anything about it. Once Baca learned of the problems, the investigators said, he failed to hold his top deputies accountable.
The panel's investigators -- who are pro bono attorneys -- also focused criticism on Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, saying there was "substantial evidence" that Tanaka urged deputies to be aggressive and "work in the gray area" of law enforcement. The investigators said there was evidence that Tanaka discouraged supervisors from investigating alleged deputy misconduct and "vetoed" efforts to address deputy cliques.
KPCC - LA jail violence commission turns attention to undersheriff Paul Tanaka (link): The Citizens Commission on Jail Violence has scheduled Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca’s second in command to testify about inmate abuse on Friday. Undersheriff Paul Tanaka is a little known but powerful force within the department who is responsible for day-to-day operations. His testimony comes amid an FBI investigation into allegations of widespread abuse of inmates by sheriff’s guards.
Tanaka’s name has come up repeatedly over the past eight months as the commission examines conditions inside L.A. County lockups. “Ya know, I receive these anonymous communications,” commission member and former federal judge Dick Tevrizian said at one hearing. “And the term ‘Tanaka-sized’ comes up.”
At that hearing, retired Sheriff’s Cmdr. Robert Olmsted said he hadn’t heard the term, but he knew well that Tanaka controls the department with an iron fist. He accused the undersheriff of promoting people based on loyalty, not merit.
“You’re in the car— we call it 'in the car' with Mr. Tanaka — you’re on his good side,” Olmsted said. “Don’t piss him off, because he’ll alienate you and roll you up and send you somewhere.”
Olmsted said that when Capt. John Clark became outspoken about jail violence about five years ago, then-Assistant Sheriff Tanaka transferred him to a lesser position.
At the most recent hearing, Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Bornman expressed concerns about Tanaka’s attitude toward deputy misconduct at the jails, and “a lack of desire to hold people accountable.” Bornman said that when he raised questions about a videotaped incident where deputies repeatedly struck a subdued inmate, a fellow captain suggested he ignore it.
“He said, ‘What are you going to tell Paul Tanaka when he asks you why you’re disciplining deputies?’”
Tanaka declined to be interviewed for this story. He rarely talks to the media.
CBS Los Angeles - LA County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka Grilled About Deputy Abuse Of Inmates (link): Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka has to face some tough questions concerning the abuse of inmates by deputies in the county jails.
The FBI is investigating alleged misconduct in the jail system and the ACLU claims deputies have beat up prisoners at least 70 times.
The County Board of Supervisors appointed the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence to take testimony.
The commission has heard complaints of excessive force and that reports of deputies behaving like gangs were ignored.
Courthouse News Service - Deputies Say Racist Gang Wields Power at Top of L.A. Sheriff's Dept. (link): White racist gangs operate at the highest levels of Los Angeles County's Sheriff's Department, threatened the lives of deputies who exposed it and branded them as "race traitors" and "snitches," two deputies claim in court.
Deputies Michael Rathbun and James Sexton sued Los Angeles County, Sheriff Leroy Baca, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, Lt. Greg Thompson and "Detective Perkins," in Federal Court.
They seek damages for retaliation, constitutional violations, malicious prosecution, conspiracy, harassment and other charges.
The 39-page complaint makes alarming allegations, including that the Sheriff's Department hid an inmate from the FBI, that Thompson and Tanaka covered up an incident involving a skinhead deputy, and that Sheriff Baca blew off the threats to his deputies and was indifferent to the corruption.
WitnessLA.com - Why Did LASD’s Scandal-Plagued Undersheriff Paul Tanaka Announce His Resignation: Decoding the Decision (link): It is hard to find a more polarizing figure in contemporary Los Angeles law enforcement than Paul Tanaka.
Until recently, Tanaka has been viewed as a sort-of shadow sheriff, the person behind Sheriff Lee Baca whom many saw as holding the real power in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
WitnessLA’s Matt Fleischer first broke the news in December 2011 that the largely unknown Mr. Tanaka wielded a startling amount of control in the LASD, which—-with 18,000 employees—is the largest sheriff’s department in the world, and runs the nation’s largest jail system.
Since our report, Tanaka has come under scrutiny by the FBI for his part in what has been described as a culture of violence inside Men’s Central Jail, and he may also be the focus of a federal grand jury probe into allegations that LASD management ordered jails personnel to hide an FBI informant from his handlers by moving the man in secret from place to place inside the county jail system, using a string of phony names and false inmate ID numbers.
As the year wore on, the Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence—which included four federal judges and a chief of police—delved further into the undersheriff’s practices as they investigated the jail violence in general. In their final report, issued in September 2012, the commission stopped just short of ordering the sheriff to fire Tanaka, but they critiqued what they saw as the undersheriff’s mismanagement and misconduct in the harshest of terms, and strongly advised that he be removed from any oversite of the custody division, and even suggested—albiet delicately, as it was outside their mission—that the same prohibition apply to any Tanaka oversight of street patrol.
LA Weekly - Teflon Sheriff Lee Baca, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka Slammed For Jail Violence (link): We call him the Teflon Sheriff because, despite more than a decade's worth of serious problems inside the L.A. jail system, woes that include gang-like cliques of tatted-up deputies, you keep electing Lee Baca as the county's top cop.
Nothing seems to stick. Well, that might have changed today:
The Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence released its final report, and this time it names names, including Baca and his number two, undersheriff Paul Takana. A summary:
The excessive force over a period of years in Los Angeles County jails -- and in particular Men's Central Jail -- was due, in no small part, to significant failures of the senior leadership in the Sheriff's Department. Both Sheriff Baca and Undersheriff Tanaka have, in different ways, enabled or failed to remediate overly aggressive deputy behavior as well as lax and untimely discipline of deputy misconduct in the jails for far too long.
Ouch. The report card comes only two days after the ACLU unleashed a report of its own that claimed …
... the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department ("LASD") deputies have used head strikes with alarming regularity in the Los Angeles County jails. In many of those incidents the head strikes have caused significant injuries. The manner and frequency of such head strikes strongly suggests an inappropriate use of force by deputies ...
I think you get the picture. Hopefully Mayor Walsh will now take a moment to reconsider her endorsement.