Monday, January 25, 2016

Was This The Beginning Of The End For The Sierra Madre Police Department?

 
Mod: I originally posted this back in 2009. I believe it still quite accurately depicts what the capitulation of then Mayor Enid Joffe to the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association (SMPOA) cost this city. I also believe it called what all of this would eventually lead to in Sierra Madre, which is why I am reposting it eight long years later. What we are now seeing today was a long time in coming, and not unpredictable. Check it out and see if you don't agree.

How The Police Officers' Association (POA) Got Business Done In what was probably one of the most extreme cases of "Little Miss Sunshine" syndrome I have read in a while, the Mountain Views "Observer," on 12/21/07, ran the following effervescent headline:

Sierra Madre And Police Reach 'Historic Agreement' - "It ends years of discord between the city and POA" - Mayor Joffe

Discord that resumed a few short months later after the passage of the Utility User Tax hike with a Police Officers Association initiated lawsuit against the City of Sierra Madre. Apparently this short love match was only a one-sided affair, with this caddish Police Officers Association quickly leaving (by then voter removed) Mayor Enid Joffe crying at the altar. Oh, and the taxpayers of Sierra Madre holding the very large bills both parties left behind.

The MVO article continued with this little frothy bit of heavily medicated delirium:

"Everyone clapped, cheered and shook hands as the City Council approved during a special meeting Tuesday night, the first police pay raise in years. The increase is subject, however, to Sierra Madre voters approving an increased Utility Users Tax on April 8, 2008."

Of course, not everyone was quite that chipper. Many who read the agreement worked out by Mayor Joffe and the SMPOA realized that this, along with a much higher UUT rate, was going to be a large new financial burden on the City's taxpayers. And there were even those who took this to actually be a fairly serious defeat for the City of Sierra Madre, with the cooked up joy offensive by the paper merely an attempt to put a pretty face on disaster. All something that could very well have hurt the re-election chances of MVO darlings Enid Joffe and John Buchanan if not properly spun.

So who is this Police Officers Association that so completely took City Hall to the cleaners? It turns out that its leadership isn't quite as local as you might have first assumed. Here's a passage from a March 21, 2009 article in the Union Tribune detailing an acrimonious Police labor dispute in Escondido.

"The association should be like a quiet giant in the position of, 'Do as I ask and don't p--- me off,' the law firm advises ... As the fight between the City and the Escondido Police Officers Association unfolds, the association appears to be taking some of its cues from the hardball battle plan devised by Lackie, Dammeier & McGill of Upland, which is representing the association in negotiations ... The law firm was founded by a former deputy sheriff, Michael Lackie, and a former police officer, Dieter Dammeier, and represents more than 120 public safety unions in California."

Among those 120 "public safety unions" represented by these gentlemen is the Sierra Madre Police Officers Organization. And if you recognized the names of Lackie and Dammeier you get bonus points because those are the two gentlemen that won their clients a stunning and profitable victory at the expense of the taxpayers of Sierra Madre.

How they did it really shouldn't be all that big a secret to anyone. Because if you go to the Lackie, Dammeier & McGill website, you will actually be able to read all about the kinds of hardball tactics that have made them the leaders in their field. Some of which you might recognize from what has happened here in Sierra Madre.

In a March 23, 2009 piece called "Caring For Union Cops, Not Their Bully Tactics," veteran syndicated columnist Logan Jenkins highlighted a few of them for us (link):

* Storm City Council: No meeting should take place without association members publicly chastising council members for their lack of concern for public safety.
* Billboards: Nothing seems to get more attention than a billboard entering the city limits which reads that crime is up and the City could care less about your safety. The message being City councils love crime and hate safety. (Remember all those Arcadia billboards last year?)
* Job Fair: Encourage cops to sign up at job fairs, sending an alarming, but false, signal of imminent flight from the department, leaving virtually no one to protect the public from gangs, parolees and sex offenders.
* Work Slowdown: Drive the speed limit, make investigations as time-consuming as possible, while "asking for back-up on most calls." In other words, perform the job in malingering slo-mo, thus inflating the need for more officers and better pay and benefits.
* Focus on an individual: "Avoid spreading your energy. Focus on a city manager, council person, mayor or police chief and keep pressure on until that person assures you of his loyalty and then move on to the next victim." Victim? You heard it right.
* Press Conferences: "Every high-profile crime that takes place should result in the association's uproar at the governing body for not having enough officers on the street, which could have avoided the incident." Read: Exploit suffering, fear and anger.
* In its summation, Lackie, Dammeier & McGill acknowledges that cops often come up with their own variations on the theme of beating public officials into submission. "Just keep in mind, the idea is to annoy your opponents into giving in to your position and almost equally as important, to let them know that next time they should agree with you much sooner."

In the same issue of the Mountain Views "Observer" cited at the beginning of this article, then Mayor Enid Joffe, in her "Coffee with Joffe" column for that week (grandly entitled "Peace In Our Time?"), had this to say:

"The entire MOU (Memo Of Understanding) is conditioned on the passage of the proposed Utility User Tax (UUT) ballot initiative approved by the City Council on December 18th. Without approval of the Measure, the POA agreement is null and void, and we will all go back to our previous adversarial positions."

I can only assume that by "adversarial positions" the mayor was referring to a possible return by the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association to the kinds of hardball tactics described on the Lackie, Dammeier & McGill website. The ones that drove City Hall to cry uncle, surrender, and then get their MOU on.

Which, judging how the UUT vote turned out, worked quite well for our Police Department. And yes, when it came to larding out the bull, nobody could ever do it quite like Enid Joffe.

One thing that always needs to be remembered. Without community support most of the POA's tactics will not get it done. They are dependent upon the natural goodwill many citizens feel towards police officers in general, which is what makes these bullying methods work.

People elected to City Councils are keenly aware that if they oppose the demands of a police union, they run the risk of alienating the more naive voting public. People who, properly marketed to by labor organizations such as the POA, will always give a sympathetic ear to their demands. This in spite of the fact that the results will likely come straight out of their own pockets.

What the SMPOA needs to understand is that if they go down this path once again, it could adversely affect the vote on any UUT extension request. Something that is going to have to go back on the ballot eventually.

And should any future UUT extensions ever get turned down by the taxpayers? Then the Sierra Madre Police Department will become a luxury that this city will no longer be able to afford.

Peace in our times, indeed.

Mod: A couple of things to add. The police law firm Lackie, Dammeier & McGill later dissolved in scandal. Their tactics leading to indictments for some of their top lawyers, and for very serious crimes. Their organization and website are long gone. Today police officers quitting on Sierra Madre and leaving for greener pastures are not helping the cop union cause, or at least whatever truncated portions are left of it. Badly needed change could finally be coming down and yes, it really has been a long time coming.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. "Job Fair: Encourage cops to sign up at job fairs, sending an alarming, but false, signal of imminent flight from the department, leaving virtually no one to protect the public from gangs, parolees and sex offenders." Looks like our cops are doing that for real.

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    1. "leaving virtually no one to protect the public from gangs, parolees and sex offenders."
      Tell me when SMPD did protect us from anything -please.
      That is the whole point.SMPD is a redundant tax-sucking scam.

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    2. Bob Matheson never was registered as a sex offender, even though he was convicted and imprisoned for the possession and transport of child pornography. The rumor is he had connections at City Hall. AWest was here for months before the SMPD even knew about it. A resident made the discovery. We deserve better.

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    3. Stop the madness. Hire the Sheriffs.

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    4. Looks like 8:15 knows the law better than our city attorney and would have brought on a a lawsuit to register Matheson. Nothing works better than rumor to get your way.

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    5. Porn convict has Sierra Madre political ties
      http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/article/ZZ/20111215/NEWS/111219641

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    6. Mrs Joffe was so very wrong - it didn't end years of discord - it continued it becaues it was a very bad deal for taxpayers and stacked the pensions of our PD who continued it's childish boorish behavior with more lawsuits, more threats and low hiring standards that led to us hiring a police officer who shot an unarmed man in the back

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  2. Having half of the SMPD shows a lack of faith in the city. It also shows a lack of faith in its union and its leadership.

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    1. but still racking up the overtime

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  3. Great analysis Mod.
    What an incompetent mess - even when well-intentioned Council members try their best?
    The logical conclusion from this experience should be to minimize the size of government by contracting out(via bidding) as much as possible of legitimate City functions. Why? Because the council can't manage the taxpayers money and the City can't get enough of it.
    Let's go back to basics and try to get that right .No UUT tax ,yes zero, Sheriffs.contract out the Library and as much of Public Works as possible.
    The alternative is that all these things happen through the courts instead of the electoral process.

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    Replies
    1. And how do you expect the city to pay for those contracted services?

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    2. Since the Sheriffs will cost around $800,000 a year less than the vanishing SMPD I'd think that math would be simple enough.

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    3. so we'll have Arcadia protection at night and what do you think our PD will be doing during the day?

      apparently this loss of staff looks like a strategic move cause nobody said anything and then all of a sudden it's a disaster?

      this reflects so poorly upon the management of the city and PD over the past dozen years

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  4. Enid was truly a piece of work. The POA played her like a fiddle, and she called it a victory for Sierra Madre.

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    1. "Victory in our time!"
      - Neville Chamberlin

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    2. I don't think the spin worked. Enid was dumped by the voters a few months later.

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    3. I don't think she was trying to hurt the city but was way over her head and she didn't expect the PD union to be a bunch of lying thieves which they turned out to be - just protecting their own not the people

      pad the pensions - screw the taxpayer

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    4. I think Enid was functioning as John Buchanan's sock puppet. This is the kind of thing he would do.

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    5. 12:09 sadly I have to agree that a resident would do that to his own city but Buchanan ran so quickly without knowing the city, maneuvered himself onto civic boards and then Council-member to the flimsy title of "Mayor" and did all of this on behalf of his employer SoCal Edison.

      and he recruited Joe Mosca, another new town resident, another utility company lawyer and those two almost buffoonishly ruined the city and caused needed chippy friction but that's a lawyer for you isn't it?

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  5. We need the sheriff and fast

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    Replies
    1. we need them to run the PD out of town except they are doing that on their own

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    2. One might say that the members of SMPD are self-deporting.

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  6. 8:08 am
    You nailed it!
    SMPD... REDUNDANT TAX-SUCKING SCAM

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    Replies
    1. whoa, Mr Caps is back with a vengeance.

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  7. And what's with all these xmas trees laying all over town for the last 3 weeks,a definite fire hazard. The SMPD needs to start issuing residents citations for littering and fire danger.

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  8. Only after Public Works fix the pot holes all over town.
    Our City Government just is not working(for us) anymore.

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  9. I bet the police union helped the police get new jobs in other cities. Not Elaine will cry we must have the UUT increase or we will loose our beloved police department. Now is the time to spread the word to your friends about how the UUT will all go to their retirement. No infrastructure upgrades. Infrastructure upgrades will be another tax/ bond in two years sold as a parcel TAX.

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    Replies
    1. The UUT is basically a CalPERS tax. Once that is passed the city will begin a push for a property tax increase to pay for infrastructure repairs. Or so they say.

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  10. The SMPD showed it's ugly side one too many times to the voters of Sierra Madre. California along with it's disregard for their bosses, the tax paying voters.

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  11. Dear SMPD, can we revisit that whole "response time" debate?

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    Replies
    1. Somehow the whole Dumb Bunny crowd thinks Sheriff response times will be long because they have to come from Temple City or something. Which is typically idiotic of them because the Sheriffs will actually be stationed in the same building the SMPD is now.

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    2. SierraMadre would have dedicated deputies who would be in Sierra Madre 24/7 unless there was a mutual aid call (such as officer down), same as with SMPD.

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    3. As far as response time goes, the SMPD might be faster. But only if it isn't dark outside.

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    4. If you call after 6 PM and insist on a SMPD officer, one will be dispatched to you at 6 AM the next day.

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  12. I'm thinking that with the police department and the news media telling the world that we are under staffed and don't even have our own police department on duty at night is a crime. This is a crime because it's like a bill board saying come to Sierra Madre to commit your crime. This broadcasting of our problem is putting the entire city at risk. Our city council not acting on getting the Sheriffs in town quicker is putting us all at risk. As soon as someone is injured or killed because of this the city will be having a bigger lawsuit from the survivors. The safety of this town is in the hands of the city council. Get with it people, do the right thing, hire the Sheriff and you better make it a good contract, you have the ability.

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    Replies
    1. Thank Elaine with the CC approval of course!

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  13. I always hear how we need our own Police Department! We need to save the Sierra Madre Police Department! We need to be our own service city. Why?
    The majority of the citizens might know maybe one of the old Sierra Madre Police Department by name. Now, even if we were to try to keep the current Police Department, at least 50 % are going to be new. Most of the Officers that work for the police department now, except the top tier, are new. The only remaining Officers that stayed, make the big Bucks, even more for the extra overtime.
    Please tell again, why is keeping our own police department is so important? Except to say we pay more to have our Officers wear the City of Sierra Madre's own Police badge. I don't know the new Sheriffs. I don't know the new hires.
    I do know that now is the time to replace the Police Department.

    Now is not the time to hire new officers that will be let go later.
    Now is not the time to pay more to hire the Arcadia Police Department.
    Time for the Sheriff !~

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    1. At this point it is all just the color of the uniforms. Blue or tan. The people in them are almost all strangers to this town. Might as well go with the best deal.

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    2. Why would a prospective candidate apply to SMPD in the current fiasco?
      They would know they would have to re-apply for the Sheriffs in a few months. And they know they would not pass the Sheriff's entrance test or they have already been rejected by the Sheriffs.So any applicants for SMPD we get will be fools at best. They will fit perfectly with the current SMPD time-servers.

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    3. They hiring recent graduate recruits. Also part time LAPD officers who want extra work.

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  14. I like how at a cc meeting one of the residents pointed out that she liked the police because when they had a party that the police were called out for the PD let the people off with a warning. She pointed out that then Mayor Harabedian was at that party their for should be backing SMPD. A good reason for letting the city go BR??? I don't get it.

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  15. I wonder if we did not have all of these lawsuits where the City's Attorney's are making a killing off the Taxpayers, if we would have enough money to retain the police officers that have left. I would rather have the Sheriffs, keep the library and services to the seniors then keep our our police force.
    I find it sad that because of mismanagement we will lose the Sierra Madre Police Department.
    The money that has been spent on defending One Carter lawsuit alone would have funded the police for years to come.

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    1. Have you got the numbers on that, 10:54?

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    2. City Hall will not share the dollar numbers they spent on lawyers when it involves specific cases. There have been lots of public information act requests on things like that and they all get turned down. Even though the numbers themselves reveal nothing about the case itself.

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    3. That is a very good question, 10:54. Once we contract out 100% to LA Sheriff Dept., any and all suits about police would be handled by the LASD Attorneys.

      Less billable hours for City Attorney Highsmith and her crew.

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    4. High smith,et all has received a little over a quarter of a mil last year.

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  16. There will be a factsheet for the UTT tax increase made available to public soon. When City employees are asked about the UTT increase they are to give out the factsheet to voters. Are there opposition UTT tax increase factsheets ready for voters? "just the facts"!

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    1. The only role the taxpayers had in the creation of the UUT Factsheet is paying for it.

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  17. Sierra Madre only needs 12 to 15 cops based on its size. It isn't a hotbed of crime.

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    1. That's what they use to have until the big government gang took over....thank you Bart Doyle...you miserable old ahole.

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  18. a few Chiefs ago was asking the Council for money to stockpile assault type weapons but I'm not sure if he got them

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  19. Don't worry other local cities are stocking up on 'patrol rifles' buzz word for assault rifles and buying load of ammunition so they can have a OK corral style shot out! Leave this stuff to the professionals like the Sheriffs Department, barney Fife.! Your libel to hurt yourself or others who your trying to impress?

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