|Ellins: Shiny eyed and lawyered up|
Or, if you want to look at this from another perspective, John Ellins first began suing the City of Sierra Madre in the middle of last decade, which means that we are now getting close to ten years in an absurdly long and I assume rather painful legal process.
Though I am certain the lawyers involved are all enjoying themselves immensely.
That said, the last time we checked up on this case the controversial and highly litigious X-SMPD Officer Ellins, who also served as a crash test dummy for the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association, had won a huge victory in court. Which means his lawsuit is once again moving up the legal food chain and towards much bigger and enriching things.
Here is how the Los Angeles Times reported it on March 22, 2013 (link):
Appeals court revives ex-Sierra Madre officer's retaliation suit - John Ellins' case involving a delayed pay raise is sent back to trial court on grounds of violation of his free speech rights (link): A former Sierra Madre police union official whose pay raise was delayed after he led a no-confidence vote against the police chief may sue for retaliation in violation of his free speech rights, a federal appeals court decided Friday.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the dismissal of a lawsuit by Officer John Ellins, who headed the Sierra Madre Police Assn. from 2006 to 2010, against former Police Chief Marilyn Diaz.
The police chief should have known that "depriving Ellins of salary in retaliation for his protected speech was unconstitutional," Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the court.
Ellins sued Sierra Madre and Diaz for retaliation after she delayed signing an application that would have given him a 5% pay raise. He claimed she was punishing him because he had led the no-confidence vote and the police association had issued two press releases that severely criticized her performance.
Also on March 22, 2013, the Courthouse News Service had this to say (link):
Delayed Raise May Link Chief to Retaliation - A California police officer can advance claims that the chief delayed his pay increase in retaliation for union activity, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday. John Ellins, a police officer in Sierra Madre, Calif., sued Police Chief Marilyn Diaz in 2009, alleging that she had improperly refused to sign off on a 5 percent raise he had earned by completing a training program.
Ellins, who was head of the local police union chapter at the time, claimed the delay was retaliation for his role in leading a no-confidence vote against the chief. The union membership had initiated the vote because of Diaz's "lack of leadership, wasting of citizens' tax dollars, hypocrisy, expensive paranoia, and damaging inability to conduct her job," according to Ellins' complaint, as quoted in the ruling.
Diaz said that she delayed signing Ellins' pay increase because she felt he "lacked the requisite good moral character." At the time, Ellins had been investigated three times by Internal Affairs, and Diaz had recently "provided the district attorney's office with information about Ellins's alleged sales and use of anabolic steroids, assault with his duty weapons, and other matters 'relating to sexual misconduct while on duty,'" which she claimed to have received from an unnamed fellow police chief. Diaz eventually signed off on the raise after learning that charges against Ellins would not be filed. She retired in 2011.
After Diaz approved the raise, a federal judge in Los Angeles granted her and Sierra Madre's motion for summary judgement on Ellins' claims. The court found that Ellins had failed to show that he was acting as a private citizen when he led the no-confidence vote against Diaz, and that the chief had immunity.
The federal appeals court in Pasadena reversed on Friday, finding that Ellins had showed enough evidence of potential First Amendment retaliation to survive summary judgment. Furthermore, "a jury could find that Ellins spoke in his capacity as a private citizen," according to ruling, which also denied Diaz qualified immunity.
"In light of the Supreme Court's longstanding and unequivocal precedents protecting employee speech, we conclude that a reasonable official in Diaz's position would have known that delaying Ellins's application to the P.O.S.T. program because of his union activity, which resulted in a lower salary than that to which he otherwise would have been entitled, violated Ellins's First Amendment rights; that in leading a union vote Ellins acted as a private citizen addressing a matter of public concern; and that depriving Ellins of salary in retaliation for his protected speech was unconstitutional," Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for a three-judge panel.
The panel reversed summary judgment as to Diaz and remanded the issue back to the District Court, but agreed that Ellins had failed to make a case against the city.
OK, so we know that John Ellins won his big victory way more than a year ago, and his lawsuit against his former boss Marilyn Diaz can now go forward. Empowered by a stunning victory in a federal appeals court, no less.
But when exactly will the action resume? As far as I can see that trail has now grown cold. There are no further stories to be found anywhere on the Internet.
Monday the Pasadena City Council will blame their failures on the help
|Nothing much going on here.|
Pasadena City Council to question city manager over alleged $6.4M embezzlement case - Worried that Pasadena is not the model community they’ve envisioned, members of the City Council announced they plan to grill City Manager Michael Beck on Monday about $6.4 million allegedly embezzled from an obscure public works fund designed to pay for beautifying the Crown City.
A special meeting will take place at 5 p.m. Council members will discuss the decade long embezzlement case publicly for the first time. Details of the case have been known for weeks, but kept secret while the Los Angeles County District Attorney conducted a criminal investigation.
“We in Pasadena have always held ourselves out as a model of municipal government, so it’s an extra blow to find out ... for the past 11 years (that) one of our employees was stealing from us,” said Councilwoman Margaret McAustin. “It’s a shock.”
Ms. McAustin's somewhat overstated protestations aside, the responsibility for the culture of incompetence and corruption in Pasadena is hardly the City Manager's fault alone. This City Council, who as elected officials bear a full legal responsibility for everything that goes on there (whether they were awake enough to know about it or not), will do all it can tomorrow to blame its own sad failures to safeguard the public purse on the city staff. Who, by the way, have been instructed not to talk to anyone.
Monday's little show trial for the townies will be an unfortunate and sad spectacle.
Word is Michael Beck is going to take the fall for Pasadena's City Council, possibly as early as this week. That he is being forced to accept the blame on behalf of an equally culpable City Council is a pretty good indication of why this all happened in the first place.
As they say, a fish always rots from the head. The elected head.