Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pasadena Mayoral Candidate Jacque Robinson Called Out For Possible Illegal Fire Department/Cop Political Mailers

Wacky Jacque's law enforcement no-no?
This should be a little slice of deja vu for many Sierra Madre voters since something quite similar happened here during the 2012 City Council race. Apparently one of the two finalists for Mayor of Pasadena has been busted for sending out a campaign postcard with the picture of a uniformed police officer included. Something that is a big violation of a whole raft of applicable election laws. We'll happily talk about this a minute. It is just too good a story not to spend a little slice of Saturday checking out.

The following excerpts, along with the Jacque Robinson post cards shots, are from today's Sunday edition of the Pasadena Star News (link):

Pasadena officials to probe mayoral candidate Jacque Robinson campaign mailers City officials said Friday they will investigate two campaign mailers that picture uniformed Pasadena police officers and firefighters with mayoral candidate Jacque Robinson. The mailers appear to have been sent by Robinson’s campaign. City Manager Michael Beck said in an email the city will look into the campaign materials.

The mailers were sent this week — leading up to Tuesday’s runoff election between Robinson and her opponent, Terry Tornek, who are both members of the City Council. The election will determine Pasadena’s first new mayor in 16 years following the retirement of Mayor Bill Bogaard, who was Pasadena’s first citywide elected mayor. Tornek topped the ticket in the six-candidate March 10 primary with 36.3 percent of the votes. Robinson finished in second place with 30.7 percent of the votes. Twenty percent of the city’s registered voters cast ballots.

Beck sent a memo to all city employees in November and again this week reminding them of several state laws and city regulations that govern campaigning by city employees.

“No officer or employee shall participate in any political activity during his or her working hours,” is a city regulation that Beck cited.

“No officer or employee shall participate in any political activity while in a city uniform,” a state law, was another regulation cited by Beck.

City employees can participate in political activities if they are not in uniform, off-duty and off city property. Robinson did not return requests for comment for this article.

In a photograph in one mailer, which was part of a tri-fold brochure, Robinson is pictured walking with a uniformed officer, who is wearing a badge and appears to have a firearm attached to his holster.

In another mailer delivered Friday, Robinson is photographed with firefighters in uniform who appear to be standing in front of a firetruck, although it is unclear if it is a city firetruck. In another photograph in the same mailer, officers are depicted in uniform without their badges.

That flier promotes Robinson’s endorsements from Pasadena firefighters, police officers and teachers unions.

Now the reason this story has such an aura of deja vu floating about it for us is we had a similar episode here in 2012. John Harabedian, our current Mayor, ran as the sugar daddy darling of the Sierra Madre Police Association. They showered him with cash, actively campaigned on his behalf and, unfortunately, appeared on a campaign postcard in their blue suits. Which is a violation of state and federal laws, and because of that is therefore a very bad thing to do.

If there is a  difference between the two cop mailers it is the amount of police gear being displayed. Sierra Madre's cops had their patches airbrushed out and left their weapons in the car, whereas the clueless police officer shown on the Jacque Robinson card had all his cop gear on him, including his sidearm.

Sierra Madre's Fire Department had the wisdom in 2012 to stay off of political postcards. In 2014 they did show up on a UUT tax hike card, but that may have been the fault of desperate and less than intelligent individuals who used their images without permission.

I have posted Harabedian's card here as a way of emphasizing our concern over this issue. It also must be noted that while this matter was investigated by Sierra Madre City Hall, the results were buried and never saw the light of day. Which makes sense. John Harabedian was on the City Council by that time.

If you click here you will be taken to an article titled "Police Officer Employee Rights in California." There is a section that deals with "political activity." Here is what they have to say about the topic:

A police officer has the right to pursue public office and participate in politics. However, a police officer must be off duty when engaging in political activities in the state of California. In addition, a police officer must be out of uniform before participating in political meetings or functions. A police officer may not wear her uniform while campaigning for public office or while supporting a political candidate.

California Government Code Sections 3300-3313 can be accessed by clicking here. The relevant portion of this Government Code is Section 3302 (a).

3302. (a) Except as otherwise provided by law, or whenever on duty or in uniform, no public safety officer shall be prohibited from engaging, or be coerced or required to engage, in political activity.

Both Jacque Robinson and John Harabedian's "Law Enforcement" postcards may possibly be in violation of Federal law as well. Specifically a 1939 law called "The Hatch Act." Here is how Wikipedia (click here) describes that law:

The Hatch Act of 1939 is a United States federal law whose main provision is to prohibit employees (civil servants) in the executive branch of the federal government, except the President and Vice President, from engaging in partisan political activity. Named after Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico, the law was officially known as "An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities."

You might be wondering what a law designed to keep policymaking federal employees from pimping themselves out as political campaign props might have to do with uniformed Police Officers appearing on local campaign postcards. Here Wikipedia provides us with an answer:

The original Act forbids intimidation or bribery of voters and restricted political campaign activities by federal employees. It prohibits using any public funds designated for relief or public works for electoral purposes. It also forbids officials paid with federal funds from using promises of jobs, promotion, financial assistance, contracts, or any other benefit to coerce campaign contributions or political support.

An amendment to the Hatch Act on July 19, 1940 extended coverage to state and local employees whose salaries include any federal funds. Both the Sierra Madre and Pasadena Police Departments are the recipients of some forms of federal funding, which could therefore make these cards a violation of federal law as well.

I'm sure that like here in Sierra Madre, Pasadena City Hall's investigation into this matter will come to no conclusions until after the election is over. And should Jacque Robinson win this election the matter could end up being buried.

But the fact remains that both Robinson and Harabedian came into conflict with some rather serious political campaign laws. And just because local government establishments often fail to do their job in these situations and properly investigate the offending parties doesn't make these pols any less guilty.

However, and as someone said just the other day, "this certainly does help show that nobody knows how to break the law like law enforcement." Especially when that law enforcement and its unions so badly want to elect someone who will give them a big fat raise, and will do anything to make that happen. No matter how crooked.

One more thing. This from Transparent California (link):

Pasadena's $1,551.25 "total city employee compensation cost per resident figure" (well over $6,000 for a family of four) is the 10th highest in California. It takes a special kind of incestuous politician/municipal employee union axis to get to so vibrant a level of crude taxpayer exploitation.


  1. Pasadena City Mngr Michael Beck, the guy who let embezzler Wooten skate for all those years, is going to investigate this? Oh, how the guilty must tremble!

    1. Lemme see. Beck works for the City Council, included the accused, Jacque Robinson.

      Sure, Beck will get right on it. Right after he gets to the bottom of the $6.4M stolen from the City of Pasadena while Robinson & Tornek were on oversight.


    2. Harabedian was fully aware of what he did and it wasn't really publicized until after he was elected and he just bullied his way off the topic and since he was the flavor of the month with the "in" crowd, it was gleefully ignored that he demonstrated shady ethics cause that is what was wanted

  2. Once again, I hope people are waking up to the fact that when the police or fire unions endorse a candidate, its not about that candidate being "tough on crime" or having a good record in prevent forest fires, its all about which candidate will be more agreeable to the union's demands for higher salaries, benefits and pensions. These unions are using all the good will that the rank and file cops and firefighters have generated over the years for their own financial gain. Unfortunately, the result of all that is that people like me, who have always been supportive of the police and firefighters now have to oppose them on all political fronts because if they had their way, the unions would make sure that taxpayers pay for them to retire at ever younger ages with ever larger pensions. Every candidate who takes money and garners support from the unions should be disqualified from office. Its a simple conflict of interst when the unions are able to elect the very people who will be sitting opposite them at the bargaining table as they negotiate how much of the taxpayers money will be tranferred to the unions. Its a very simple quid pro quo. Unions help candidates get elected and then expect the candidates once in office to acede to union demands. Its all very obvious and simple but voters still need to be reminded.

  3. oh Mod, it's OK for folks like Harabedian and Robinson to be pictured with Officers in uniform. Harabedian and Robinson are allowed to break the law because they put a lot of effort toward making sure the public unions like the police and fire receive very healthy salary and benefit packages. no, it is only those who are prudent with the taxpayers' dollars that must follow the law to the letter or be soundly punished.

    1. Weary Taxpayer is right. But people are getting tired of working longer hours and retiring later so that we can enable city workers to retire at 50 with golden parachutes, accumulated vacation pay and other perks. But they never actually "retire". Even they know that they are too young to retire so they take another job and earn more money on top of the fat pension. Its a scam. Everyone knows it. When you have upwards of 70% of an entire city's budget going towards employee costs, it doesn't leave very much to fix potholes, for infrastructure repairs, the senior center and other programs. It's all being squeezed out by the exorbitant salaries and pensions for the public employees. An endorsement from the unions should not help a candidate, it should taint them as being a lackey for the unions and prevent them from being elected. We need candiates who want to reform the system and prevent the residents from paying more money to people who retire at 50 and don't work then we do to people who do work and are actively performing services for the citizens. City government has now become a gravy train and the unions and the public employees will ride that train all the way until a city declares bankruptcy...or until good candidates gets elected who want to change the system.

    2. Gotta get that Platinum Pension and then move out of state. Only a total doofus would stay in CA and pay the outrageous taxes needed to support the CalPERS Ponzi Scheme.

    3. The taxpayer supported classes have the best benefits your money can buy.

  4. If Tornek had done something like this all hell would be breaking loose.

    1. Dem candidates get special dispensation from the law. Didn't you know that?

    2. It is a one party state. They take care of their own.

    3. Tornek is also a registered Democrat -

    4. Yeah, but he is not a union flunky like his pawned opponent.

  5. Harabedian pulled the same stunt. They all do the same thing and should pay a price for that kind of illegal behavor. They should also pay a price for being in the pocket of the unions when they should be representing the residents and the taxpayers at the negotiating table. Once again, its all about the money. On a larger scale, the prison guard union has corrupted politicians in Sacramento in on a smaller scale, the local police and fire unions have tried to corrupt local City Councils. Its all the same thing.. I hope people will not vote for any candidate that takes money or endorsements from the unions.

  6. this is why Harbedian will never go anywhere with his political ambitions - he's a hack and dead weight. he denied that he photoshopped out the police patches, then he just ignored any questions about it

    I refuse to take him seriously, he's a lawyer with shady ethics and a overblown ego

    no wonder he was endorsed by John Buchanan

  7. Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the good effort.

  8. Jackie's friend Andre "Pay to Play" Coleman might be in trouble too. Did you see the correction in the Weekly following his hit piece on Tyrone Hampton? It wouldn't surprise me if the Pasadena PD was looking at an extortion case. Of course the weekly has no credibility as long as this lo$er is on its $taff,

  9. Isn't one of the officers pictured in Harabedian's postcard the POA Rep for Sierra Madre Police?

    1. Prez and Vice Prez. And he is listening to what they have to say oh so carefully.