LASD Sheriff Lee Baca The Trial of Lee Baca

Now That a Grand Jury Has Indicted Former Sheriff Lee Baca, Can His Trial Move Us Closer to Lasting Reform?

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

THE INDICTMENT ARRIVES

On Friday, former Sheriff Lee Baca was indicted by a federal grand jury for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. These two new charges are on top of the original charge of lying to federal officials that Baca admitted to back in February, as part of a plea deal hammered out with federal prosecutors.

The new charges were not exactly a surprise.

The grand jury indictment came about after U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson rejected Baca’s plea deal at a sentencing hearing in July, telling those in the courtroom that the 0 to 6 month sentencing range that the deal required “would trivialize the seriousness of [Baca’s] offenses, his lack of respect for the law and the gross abuse of the public trust…..”

A six-month sentence, Anderson said, does not “fairly account for the significant harm” caused “by this defendant” and “under-appreciates this defendant’s culpability.” The guidelines agreed upon, the judge continued, “fail to fairly measure the culpability of this defendant….and the nature and circumstances of criminal conduct.”

Once Anderson dynamited the plea deal on July 19, at the next sentencing hearing on August 1, Baca and his attorneys had three possible ways to move forward:

Number 1: Baca could continue to plead guilty to the single charge with the understanding that the judge was going to hand down whatever sentence he saw fit, which could be as much as five years.

Number 2: Baca and his attorneys could work with the prosecutors to come up with a new deal that might please Anderson, which turned out to be nearly impossible.

Number 3: Baca could withdraw from the plea deal altogether, meaning that the only option left was to go to trial. This last option all but guaranteed additional charges, since the government had maintained in the negotiations for the plea that it could hit the sheriff with more counts, hence the motivation to plead to the single charge of lying to the feds.

On August 1, Baca went with Door Number 3, the go-to-trial option.

If Baca is convicted on the two obstruction counts, plus original count of lying to the feds, he could face as much as 20 years in a federal prison.

But that kind of lengthy a term is considered unlikely, especially since Baca’s second in command, Paul Tanaka, received a sentenced of five years—although he was, in the eyes of many, the person responsible for the day-to-day control of the operation that has thus far resulted in seven obstruction of justice convictions, on top of his own, with the sentencing of a ninth, former LASD Captain Tom Carey—who took a plea deal—still to come.

Yet, however one spins things, when it comes to the actions that have resulted in a string of convictions of LA Sheriff’s Department members in the last two years, some for obstruction of justice, others for corruption and brutality, all of that criminal misconduct—and far more, frankly—was allowed to occur on Lee Baca’s watch, which seemed to be much of Judge Anderson’s point.


DIMINISHED CAPACITY?

The former sheriff’s defense is expected to make Baca’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease a significant issue in the trial. His attorneys, Michael Zweiback and a new member of the team, Nathan Hochman, have already suggested that, in the summer of 2011—the period when the actions took place that make up the heart of the obstruction charges—the former sheriff “delegated more than he should have,” due to his condition. In other words, some kind of claim of diminished capacity may be in the offing.

On the government’s side, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon Fox, Lizabeth Rhodes and Eddie Jauregui, wrote that Baca was “well aware of the accusations of rampant abuse,” in the jails, particularly in Men’s Central Jail and Twin Towers Correctional Facility. There were the ever-worsening ACLU reports. Then there were things like the “allegations about LASD deputies who worked on the 300 floor of MCJ” and called themselves “the 3000 boys,” who “exhibited gang-like and violent behavior, who “used excessive force on inmates, “and “falsified reports to cover up wrongdoing.”

In the indictment, the prosecutors also hinted that they have witnesses waiting in the wings who will testify that they told Baca about brutality in the jails, and that he still made no effort to curb the problem.

As for the actual obstruction charges, the 15-page indictment of Baca is not as long or detailed as the 20 pages written by federal prosecutors in their final indictment of Paul Tanaka. For example, there are no dramatic moments when a witness describes the defendant shouting “Fuck the FBI!” as was the case in Tanaka’s indictment.

Yet, there is the mention of Baca approving an expensive bunch of overtime so that a rotating team of deputies could guard federal informant Anthony Brown round the clock, after he’d had his name changed and was moved to an out-of-the-way sheriff’s station in San Dimas, allegedly in order to allegedly keep him away from his FBI handlers. There are accounts of a meeting where Baca was reportedly present for discussions of approaching FBI agent Leah Marx and threatening her in order to obtain information. And there is the letter from Baca to then US Attorney Andre Birotte, threatening to “end the LASD’s participation in federal task forces” if Birotte didn’t yank his support for the FBI’s investigation of the jails—and so on.


A “VASTLY DIFFERENT” TRIAL

According to Baca’s attorneys, however, when it comes to the obstruction charges, the feds have themselves admitted that their case against the former sheriff is not particularly strong.

They point to passages in the prosecution’s sentencing memo, which was designed to persuade Judge Anderson that a six-month sentence for Baca was appropriate:

Indeed, there are lines in the memo such as the following: “Baca’s involvement in the obstruction is not as clear as the others,” and “may be more limited…” and “During the obstructive conduct, records show Baca was rarely in contact with any of those involved in the obstruction, with the exception of Tanaka. Tanaka himself was routinely in contact with the others.”

On the other hand, when the plea deal was first announced back in February, the government indicated that, if Baca changed his mind and the deal fell apart, they were willing and able to go to trial.

According to the feds, they laid the going-to-trial-with-additional-charges gun on the table when bargaining with Baca’s attorneys to achieve the plea. And they were fully prepared to fire that metaphorical pistol, if it became necessary.

Meanwhile, the former sheriff’s attorneys continue to express confidence.

In a text to WitnessLA, Hochman said that the new obstruction charges “represent punishment” by the feds for their client’s decision to go to trial. He also reiterated the defense’s point that the prosecutors had “admitted in court the weakness of its obstruction case” against Baca.

“This trial will be vastly different than the others,” Hochman wrote.

Well, one thing is certain: the upcoming trial of the man who led the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for fifteen years presents an opportunity like no other to shine a light on what went so catastrophically wrong in the LASD, and what still needs to be done to fix it.

The trial of Lee Baca is, at present, scheduled for September of this year.

Here’s the text of the Baca indictment



THE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE BACA SAGA & THE NEED FOR REFORM

Rhetoric aside, whether Baca or the federal prosecutors do or do not actually want to go to trial, it has come to pass that, barring something wildly unforeseen, the former sheriff will in fact be on trial after all—even though for several years, the likelihood of such an event occurring appeared all but impossible.

Now the trial of Lee Baca suddenly feels weirdly fated.

Given the disturbing display of departmental arrogance and wrongdoing that the previous LASD trials have have illuminated, it seems fitting that the guy at the top should also get his chance to face a jury—whatever the outcome.

After all, the whole obstruction of justice mess came about because the feds were covertly investigating accounts of brutal and corrupt behavior by deputies toward jail inmates (and, it seems, their visitors) that department higher-ups had aggressively refused to address, no matter how many awful reports of abuse were brought to their attention.

Unfortunately, based on our own investigations over the last six years, along with those of the LA Times, ABC7, the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence, and others, the problems forced into public view by a raft of federal indictments are indicative of a larger toxicity that was allowed to spread unchecked in the department, both in the jails and elsewhere in the LASD.

Yet, despite what has been brought to light by two years of federal trials, and the many positive steps taken by Sheriff Jim McDonnell, the path to lasting reform still seems to be littered with obstacles.

It was heartening to note that, in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, the editorial board wrote about the fact that, while it’s a good thing that Baca will be on trial, the need for departmental reform is bigger, wider, deeper than the various prosecutions can reasonably accomplish.

Here are some clips from their essay:

Consider, for example, McDonnell’s continuing attempts to weed out of the department those deputies who have shown themselves to be unsuited to carry weapons and to wear the badge and the tan and green uniform.

Under the Los Angeles County system, fired deputies can be, and indeed have been, reinstated by a civil service commission that has no expertise in law enforcement or public safety and that makes its decisions based in part on the precedent set by previous sheriffs and commissions. So as McDonnell is attempting to raise standards of performance, the commission is judging deputies based on previous, lower standards. McDonnell then is compelled to take back — and to keep paying — deputies he and his command staff have deemed unfit for their jobs, completely undermining his power to set high standards of performance. It is an untenable system that has nevertheless become the envy of law enforcement officers in other agencies who would like to enjoy similar leniency…..

….The county Board of Supervisors voted this year to establish an oversight commission to keep tabs on sheriff reforms, but the panel has yet to be appointed or to convene. The board agreed to consider asking voters to grant that commission subpoena power, but with deadlines approaching to put measures on the Nov. 8 ballot, there has been no move forward on that issue….

….Switching out the man at the top was a solid step but it will not be enough to correct the Sheriff’s Department, and Los Angeles cannot rely on criminal prosecution of sheriffs, command staff and deputies as a substitute for oversight. Baca’s failed plea deal and his looming trial may be among the more compelling chapters in the story of the Sheriff’s Department, but the most important pages are those that lay out how we make sure that a similar meltdown does not occur again — and those pages haven’t yet been written.

42 Comments

  • One other issue to consider is the jury. Remember Orenthal James Simpson? No one truly thought that 12 goof balls could all be on the same jury at the same time. And, look what happened. But, then again Baca wasn’t a running back!

  • If you want to fix the department Sheriff McD then why don’t you discipline across the board. No more double standards. You want to gain respect from the troops? It starts from the top. No more cover ups, hold your executives accountable for their actions. Oh wait a minute, you never worked within the jails and you rely on the wrong people for recommendations. Clean house…….time to retire your executives. Change legislature and return it back to the maximum age of 60. When Waldie changed it for his own benefit he screwed the department. Count how many of your command staff is over 60. New blood changes things.

  • Questions……Don’t forget about the 12 Nitwits that aquittted Stacy Koon and his squad of goons. Another jury got it right.

  • 3: That’s was a great obs by you! I recall people telling Baca not to push for the retirement change to 70 just to appease Waldie. Once again integrity compromised for politics and Kool-aid. Please note there was little to no opposition by Sac or the BOS. And look what happened? In my view,and many others, Walide was worse than Tanaka. Just ask the folks in Juarez, Mexico!
    We need more than new blood. We need honesty within all the ranks. Consistent application of policy to all is required. Ironically, Baca wrote a position paper and asked me to keep it. Too bad he didn’t heed his own advice.

  • LAT’s call to overhaul the Civil Service Commission is Bullshit. We all know good Deputies who have been fired for Chickenshit reasons and who’ve been reinstated by the Civil Service Commission for that very reason: the termination was made for Chickenshit reasons.

    Any decision made by the Civil Service Commission is appealable, all the way up to both Supreme Courts (State & Federal).

    If an undeserving Deputy gets reinstated then the Department needs to build a better case, not dilute the power of the Civil Service Commission.

  • After reading Celeste’s article and the Indictment, it sure does not look good for Leroy Baca. Perhaps the Sheriff has some aces in the hole. Let’s all hope for justice to prevail

    I cant help but speculate that some sort of deal for testimony is being cut in the background by the convicted criminals.

  • No fear for his life and no bench trial, a jury will do fine. They had no problem seeing tall Paul for who he was.

  • @ Max. It definitely starts at the top, and us the line folks have been screaming this since McD took office, however he fails to listen. Let’s not discriminate with age tho. I agree we have some crusty old men that need to go, however we also have a few young ones that have absolutely no respect from the troops. Their way to demand respect is to chop off every head possible. The sad thing is, is that his new batting order of up and coming Chiefs, Commanders, Captains and future Captains is deplorable. Many have little real experience working with the hard working men and women, where the tough decisions are made everyday. I will say, there are a few out there doing the right thing, and to those executives I say keep it up. We know you are not afraid to speak up and fight for your people. For those of you that hide in your office and pray each day nothing happens to cause you to make a decision, do us all a favor and hang it up.

  • Celeste, regarding the discipline discrepency, look into the recent ALADS Captain ratings by deputies. According to the ratings, Captain Roosevelt Johnson (Santa Clarita Valley Station) was involved in out- of- policy pursuits (vehicle and foot), lied to station personnel, and was never investigated or disciplined. Double standard?

  • I strongly encourage folks with specific information about Captain and above misconduct, the real deal, not bullshit, to post the factual specifics AND pass the info on to Celeste. Don’t waste anyone’s time with frivolous crap, but stick to actual double standard events. McDonnell has no desire to clean house as evidenced by what he has not done. But if you have the real deal information, Celeste will do the right thing and put it on blast. You can trust her!

  • This is going to be great. Moonbeam’s defense, over and over, throughout this entire clusterfuck from day one has been “I didn’t know”. Finally, Baca is going to be exposed for what he truly always was. His incompetence, along with his lack of concern for doing the job he was elected to do will be on full display. There’s no way around it now. Baca is in the position of having to use his complete lack of concern and disregard for the day to day operations of the LASD as a defense.
    Will the jurors give him a pass due to his incompetence? I think that depends on whether or not they view him from the perspective of A: He was simply an incompetent fool—–OR—–B: He didn’t know because he didn’t want to know.
    What’s sad is that both of the above are true. Baca was incompetent, but he also couldn’t of cared less about doing the job he was supposed to be doing. He was way too busy being the Sheriff of The World to stay home and be the LASD Sheriff. To Leroy it was all about traveling the world, spreading his message, trying to prove to everybody how brilliant he truly was.
    Soon the final chapter in the cautionary tale of Moonbeam Baca will be written.

  • Baca is “old and past” news. Damage is done. The concentration and implemention of moving foward, should be on the current regime. Unfortunately, the likelihood of “get out ” will never pass the phase of “call outs” of those who remain in LASD. Although stagnant and silent, the “old geeezers” will remain until they are asked to leave or bringing in “new blood & fresh eyes” by the Sheriff himself. Re: Reforms, other than Feds stepping in, it won’t happen.

  • My experience with Leroy goes back over 40 years ago and he was into the onset of something at that time. Others knew that also, but just kept promoting him.

  • @11 that happened about 17 years ago at Century Station and he was under the wing of the BPOA. Ronnie Williams, Kenny Brazile, Willie Miller etc. People at the station were pissed as he was caught red handed but politics over road the discipline. It is absolutely disgusting to think of all the people who were disciplined because they didn’t have anyone to speak up for them at Chief’s hearings.

  • Ronnie Williams, Kenny Brazile & Willie Miller were not under the wings of BPOA. As far as relating to BPOA, many executives were part of seminars that BPOA presented, from the Sheriff on down. As far as Century Station is concerned, Johnson was one of many who got away with violations of policy. You are talking about Century Station, Headquarters of the Vikings aren’t you? I thought so.

  • @19 I know, and a lot of people on the department know about the Century Station illegal activity by Roosevelt Johnson. He should have been indicted and fired, but instead he was promoted. Go figure. The ALADS Dispatcher says his shenanigans (lies and deceit) continue at Santa Clarita Valley Station with impunity. He must be protected by a higher up. La Berge?

  • LaBerge got his from the Ronnie and Willie brigade. Roosevelt was also protected under the same Unbrella. Same shit show as before. Captains and above run with immunity. Certain folks can never do wrong and escape discipline time and time again whatever their rank. I understand the troops hate him. Good for you RJ keep up the good work. You are on track for commander. Promote the useless I say. We continue to promote folks well above their level. Dis function at its best.

  • Stack ’em straight, it appears you are trying to gloss over the corrupt practices of the BPOA, of which Roosevelt Johnson was president at one point if I recall. He was not a Viking, unless you have better information. His ticket was punched by Curtis Spears and his successor Ronnie Williams. For those that recall, Williams is a central figure in the promotional test cheating scandal. There are many lieutenants and higher who owe their rank to his magic pen.

    Speaking of seminars, both Williams and Miller were observed handing out what they called “supplemental study material” at a promotional seminar they hosted. The material was determined to be proprietary LASD examination material. Apparently some candidates needed a little more “help” than others. Only a select few were provided this material, I’ll let you guess who.

    Regarding McDonnell and his fizzled reform efforts, ol’ fresh eyes” has become an epic failure right in front of our eyes. Yes, he’s using the Baca PR stunt playbook like a pro, but he’s only fooling the progressive voter base he’s trying to suck up to. His collosal failure stems from the galactically stupid idea of thinking that giving morally challenged, ethically bankrupt, and corrupt to the bone command staff a clean slate would somehow provide him with good info and honest leadership. They saw his naive ass coming a mile away, and now the department has doubled down on stupid.

    We can only hope he leaves and we have a second try at electing a good sheriff.

    PS: Todd, don’t even think about it. You are part of the problem, and will never be part of the solution. You fancy yourself to be the smartest person in the room, but it’s always been a pretty dumb room to begin with.

  • #10 not trying to discriminate. However, the system worked great prior to the change for waldie. At least back then we had hope that the useless/corrupt executives would have to move on at 60. I agree with you that there are some department members that want to do the right thing. They will continue to have an uphill battle to change the direction of the department.

  • @ 23. No kidding. Century Station was a carry over from Lywood and Firestone Stations. If you gonna tell it, then tell it all and “stack’em straight”.

  • Son, u don’t know what u don’t know. Bits and pieces do not a pie make. So sorry u got shafted and passed over. U really are a bright guy, but u always go off half-cocked. Slow ur roll and get all ur facts straight. You’re in the neighborhood but on the wrong street for a drive by. A little knowledge is slanderous. Be careful.

  • Laffing at LATBG, I feel honored that you chose to create a name with me in it. Is that you Todd? You are definitely part of the corrupt crowd I speak of, thanks for volunteering to be counted! If what I write about is to close to comfort for you, that’s part of the occupational hazards of being a corrupt bureaucrat. The best defense on a slander suit is the truth, and I’m only scratching the surface of what has already been reported.

    In the interest of exploring the possibility that my info is wrong, “Dad,” why don’t you point out the truth according to you? I’m all ears, and I’m probably not the only one. On another note, I report facts based on admissible evidence, witnesses, actual participants, you know, stuff that is deemed reliable. If I express an opinion, I try to make it clear. If somehow I failed to distinguish between the two, my apologies. The truth can be uncomfortable for those still retaining the spoils of a corrupt administration. To borrow a line from Tombstone, “Are you going to sit there and bleed? Throw down, boy!”

  • @29. There is factual information regarding Captain Roosevelt Johnson’s purusit policy/lying violations at Santa Clarita Valley Station. Celeste, please inquire. The elitist
    coruption needs to end.

  • Nothing out of the ordinary among the many Tanaka scandals, just a BPOA executive fixing scores for BPOA members and Tanaka supporters. Some of it overlaps pay to play, which was also in full swing. On the bright side, I hear this executive has come clean in retirement – it’s never too late to right a wrong.

  • There was a BPOA scandal. Most of the people that had taken the prior Lt’s test failed miserably. BPOA handed out study material and helped people pass the next Lt exam. People that scored in the 60’s turned out with scores in the high 90’s. You tell me if that is possible. Was there cheating on the exam, yes! Was the material handed out the test? Yes, this is why the department has problems. If you don’t understand policy, law or procedures, how are you going to make an educated guess on what you should do. A test validates knowledge, if your given the answer you don’t know shit about policy or procedures.

  • It’s not like upper management didn’t know about it. Remember in the early 90’s when Baca was openly recruiting/requesting African American and Hispanic deputies to go to Century Station? That mentality was connected to the promotional testing examinations. The reasoning was only obvious, based upon community policing or lack thereof in the RD’s that were serviced. Baca approved.

  • McDonnell inherited a management team comprised of not a few but hundreds of test cheaters. You can trace it all back to Tanaka and his hand-picked sergeants when he became chief of admin services. He didn’t have control yet over the written LT exam, but he controlled everything else – AP’s, orals, and the appeal process. The outcome was predetermined, and by 2005’s test, he controlled every aspect of it. The same happened with the sergeants exam, and every promotional process from 2003 forward. The outcome was dictated always on what served the little tyrant’s interest in setting up his run for sheriff. Blind obedience and buying in to the scheme was rewarded handsomely. Those perceived to be a threat were punished accordingly, their careers stuck forever in neutral or reverse.

    My conservative estimate is that from 2003 through 2014, cheating was so prevalent that the majority of lieutenants and sergeants achieved their rank through fraud. These are the same individuals who are now lieutenants, captains, commanders, and even chiefs. As previously outlined by Brizz in several excellent posts, there are solutions, however the sheriff lacks the guts to do what’s right.

    That is McDonnell’s lasting legacy: allowing the cancer to remain and metastize.

  • Just ask Kevin Hebert, who worked Personnel as a Sgt., Lt., and Captain, how he helped Tall Paul control the written exams, leak the test questions and answers, adjust the scores,etc. etc. Remember Hebert was also part of the Cruz and Nee group who worked MCJ 2005-2008 and took care of the use of force packages (well over 100) that were conveniently lost, not completed etc. Old news but relevant. Those force packages should have resulted in an obstruction of justice investigation etc. for Hebert and the others. Instead they were all promoted. Unbelievable!

  • Friends, It would be difficult to more accurately diagnose the epic organizational tragedy of the LASD than what our colleague LATBG has offered over the years. He understands what a healthy LE organization requires in order to sustain some range of optimality, and just as important, what is required to remedy an organization that is in crisis. LATBG has been Socrates, raising important questions; iron sharpening iron. If his logic and data is correct (esp. 34) – and there is good reason to suppose that it is – there is an ongoing, day-to-day fraud being perpetrated on the citizens of Los Angeles County, one that might implicate numerous power centers of LAC politics. Paul T literally captured the entire functional apparatus of the LASD. We all know this. What we must come to admit if we value truth is LATBG’s critical point, which is that the fraud remains on-going (Paul T spawned), in effect sanctioned by the silence of the Sheriff. I regret his decision to perpetrate the fraud, and not to correct it as LATBG has repeatedly called for him to do. Many in the community and at WLA have been eminently reasonable in raising their objections. Among the consequences for failing to correct systemic issues are that the Sheriff will erode his own legitimacy over time because his ethical positions will be seen as rooted in nothing more than a narrow utilitarianism and self interest. Every LE reformer faces a decision of how far back to go to correct crimes and injustices. For some chiefs or sheriffs, it could be 1-2 years, a more serious reformer might go back 4-5 years, or even longer. For the FBI, they had to correct decades of abuse before they could begin to right the ship after Hoover. (Note to civilians: none of us have in mind the “High Sparrow” Game of Thrones model of reform.) Jim’s “new or fresh eyes” bit means that he is unwilling to correct any past (or on-going) crimes or injustices, including civil service and POST fraud. That’s a tacit abdication of professional, ethical leadership. He has not cleaned house when he has been shown on multiple occasions on these very pages of how to do it lawfully and ethically. Friends, I hate to report it because I so wish it were otherwise, but Sheriff Jim McDonnell as a sheriff is an empty Eisenhower uniform (or, an empty new black jacket we were just made aware of). If not already, preparations should begin in earnest to find and field a viable alternative candidate to restore the LASD to what it once was and can be.

  • Well maybe those people who cheated shouldn’t be at their current rank. Feds should talk to Kevin and get him to talk or go to prison. Then all the cheater should retire at the rank the obtained without cheating.

  • Maxwell Smart – Agreed. The legitimacy of a law enforcement agency, especially one as critical to the profession as the LASD, is too important not to proceed as you suggest. There are some other interesting ways a high-end private law firm might take over and pursue the matter in federal court. The fraud extends to a state agency – POST – and the Commission or state DOJ might wish to protect its integrity. Widening the lens, there is such remarkable internal talent being wasted every day that Jim refuses to recognize the reality before him. He seems content to deny that reality, and assumes that there is minimal cost for doing so. If that is his analysis, he is, of course, wrong. He will not be able to deny the consequences of rejecting that reality for long. In addition, the LASD needs new leadership now across its executive ranks; honorable, viable LASD personnel. We all know this too.

    You 10-15-20 year LASD veterans (non-cheaters, non-Tanaka people), continue to work above the low, petty, hypocritical ethical standards Jim has set for the Department. There’s an old saying in higher education that the faculty are not mere employees of the university; they ARE the university (this occurred at Columbia University in the late 1940s when Eisenhower took over as its president and called the faculty “employees.” A Nobel prize winning scientist immediately reminded IKE that the faculty were Columbia University. The scientist wasn’t being arrogant, he simply meant that the faculty was the core of the organization’s mission and driver of its performance, i.e., development, acquisition, dissemination, and advancement of knowledge). Similarly, your mindset needs to be that you and your subordinates/colleagues are not mere employees of LA County; you ARE the LASD! (Baca and Tanaka had many people believing that they were disposable, throw-away, pieces of furniture; it was their reality and everyone else merely occupied it. Tanaka with his bullshit statements on the dispensability of Lt.s.) Rise and keep working at the ethical and intellectual levels above your present Executive and even union leadership. Be miles better than they are. And remember, Jim and his Executive team are NOT your standard. Your standard is much higher and yet readily achievable. Read what these recent old timers are writing here in WLA – they are in your corner, arguing, working, and praying for the organization they dearly love. We do not agree on some things and we are a highly diverse set of voices, but we do agree on what good leadership is and what it looks like (and doesn’t look like). Hang in there brothers and sisters and keep working to the higher standard for the public good. It DOES mean something everyday. Integrity is in no need of rules because it does the right thing to begin with.

  • #37 – some of the goofs have moved up several ranks under the Tanaka money for promotion program. If they went back to the position they deserved, several would still be deputies. I would question that rank with their high level of integrity. Shellfish bastards never do well at any rank.

    I always found it entertaining how a band 3 or 4 lieutenant candidate moves right into band 1 and promoted with the swipe of a pen. These folks are easy to spot. They can never make any tactical decision, must consult with somebody who can make a decision, never work a position long enough to complete a task, project, or investigation. They move around the department like the changing winds.

  • Brizz, as always, I’m humbled by your eloquence and depth of understanding. I will busy myself recruiting someone to run against “fresh eyes.” Interestingly, if, and that’s an enormous IF, both ALADS and PPOA removed their lips from McDonnell’s arse long enough to see the bigger picture, they’d sprout a spine and join the recruitment effort. Each union could cut a check for seven figures as independent campaign expenditures in support of a rival to McDonnell, based on whoever the membership supports.

    The last time ALADS financially supported a rival to an incumbent, they cut a check for $1,000 to Ray Leyva and laughed as they gave it to him. I say we tie the financial support of a rival to McDonnell to the continued existence of ALADS and PPOA as the certified bargaining unit. The unions are corrupt to the soul, so it’s up to the membership to get them to represent the membership’s interest (something they are eminently unfamiliar with).

    So what’s it going to be, Moriguchi? Are you going to continue providing cover to McDonnell, hide the results of the survey, and suppress a popular revolt? In politics, money talks and bullshit walks. So far ALADS and PPOA continue to bullshit their membership, all while sitting on an enormous pile of cash that could be put to use dethroning “fresh eyes.”

    No less than the future of the LASD is at stake, at least an LASD that is recognizable to current and past members.

  • Friends and Colleagues – LATBG (post 40) has provided an inarguable premise (“No less than the future of the LASD is at stake, at least an LASD that is recognizable to current and past members”), which also serves as an existential remedy for setting the LASD ship back on a true and just course.

    Members of ALADS and PPOA, this thread may be at an end but if you’re reading please stop what you are doing for a moment and think deeply and honestly about the conditions of your labor, your public service, and the kind of Department YOU want (Remember, YOU are the LASD, and your mission in the broadest sense is to serve the public constitutionally). Does your union represent the solution to the problems afflicting the LASD, or does it tend to contribute to those problems through silence, denial or even acquiescence? And let us be clear: who IS the union? Isn’t the union the Membership? If so, shouldn’t the union’s official positions reflect the Membership’s collective interests (expressed by accurate tally), particularly when those interests concern the quality and performance of the organization, as opposed to protecting the narrow self interest of a small group of union representatives? And if the collective interest of the Membership includes the identification, recruitment, and fielding of a viable alternative candidate for the office of Sheriff of Los Angeles County, someone ethically, managerially, and intellectually capable of correcting course and properly reforming a once-great and iconic Department, then shouldn’t the Membership’s representatives comply with the Membership’s collective interest? Membership, if your reps do not properly represent your collective interest – effectively keeping you divided from one another – who among you will step up to organize for change? Now is the time to act. Fuck that, it is long past time to act. We cannot afford another wasted set of years or even decades to get the LASD back on course and become the LE leader it always was.

    Let me speak more directly as to why our Sheriff Jim McDonnell is on the hook through tacit complicity and silence for continuing to perpetrate the on-going fraud that LATBG and a few others have whistled. Notre Dame Philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre (1999) wrote an important essay titled, Social Structures and Their Threat to Moral Agency. I commend it to everyone, especially to the new deputies. One of the most important contributions MacIntyre offers to us is this maxim: “Always ask about your social and cultural order what it needs you and others not to know.” Let me pursue that briefly.

    In short, MacIntrye argues that a person is morally responsible for his or her actions in at least three respects: (1) for intentional actions; (2) for incidental aspects of those actions of which they should have been aware; and (3) for at least some of the reasonably predictable effects of their actions. Now, many important voices have made claims in these WLA pages that Jim is essentially violating (1) through (3). On MacIntyre’s criteria alone Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s leadership has not been ethical in these areas. Here’s why: Jim’s decision NOT to take action concerning the on-going fraud (e.g., Civil Service cheating scandals, POST fraud, et cetera) may be defined as an intentional action (an action to omit acting, or instructing his command staff not to investigate); Jim is also morally responsible for the (2) incidental aspects of those actions of which he – as Sheriff – should have been aware (e.g., the financial fraud to the LA County and state tax payers); and Jim is morally responsible for (3) at least some of the reasonably predictable effects of his actions (e.g., everything mentioned above, plus the incalculable cost of administrative sclerosis inhibiting the internal health of the LASD as a LE agency, with highly incompetent people (e.g., see posts by Even More and Maxwell Smart), who cheated or allowed others to cheat on their behalf, operating as parasites on the good work of highly competent people who don’t, didn’t cheat.). There have been meetings where the highly incompetent depend upon the highly competent to save their bacon, when I see it I think I’m reading/watching P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster (the incompetent) and his man-servant Jeeves (the competent).

    Here comes the economic haymaker. It is not too far fetched to assert that Jim’s unethical position on this and similar issues have intensified an internal labor market for the highly competent and talented (skilled, knowledgeable, creative, brilliant) sworn personnel. But it is not the usual labor market one welcomes within a properly functioning organization, where the highly competent move up rank due to merit. Rather, Jim has created a different labor market for the talented within the LASD. Because he has allowed the promotion pathways to be clogged with the cheaters and incompetent Tanaka people, his market is more akin to a kind of slave-market (an imperfect but useful metaphor), where the highly incompetent personnel who advanced in rank through cheating during the cheating era must identify, recruit, and retain highly talented personnel within their circle so that they (the incompetent) can be parasitical on the competent in order to not look utterly foolish in their respective work. We see this in meetings, memos, performances, et cetera. How many times does the incompetent Tanaka-promoted boob depend upon the overworked talented guy or gal in the LASD? Consequently, Jim’s inaction has created an internal labor market at odds with orthodox economic understanding, in addition to all of the ethical problems he is culpable for. Ladies and gentlemen, Jim owns it. It is a miracle that so many of the talented players have stuck around this long.

    I’ve made some serious allegations here, which I bear the burden to defend. I especially welcome an LASD interlocutor from the rank of commander or above. Or maybe a county counsel. And if an ALADS or PPOA rep wish to grapple, that would be fine too. Or, since we’re at the end of this thread, maybe there will be another time.

  • Brizz, your haymaker is spot on. I can think of many pairings of incompetent captains with overworked ops lieutenants and sergeants. We now have incompetent executives as well with similar pairings, or worse yet, the consolidation of more power by other executives. Cavanaugh comes to mind on this.

    There is another perverse side to this grim reality. The incompetent supervisors, managers, and executives tend to remain employed by the LASD far longer than their peers of lesser rank who are not part of the corrupt “in” crowd, in essence squatting on the organization and perpetuating both incompetence and facilitating corruption by recruiting younger versions of themselves to replace them. Chief Fender is a prime example. With zero organizational experience outside of the LASD and a HS diploma, Fender is maxed out in terms of compensation from the county, has no chance of promoting, so he works for free or even pays to come to work. What does he get out of this one has to wonder.

    As I’ve said before, McDonnell is the latest version of David Brewer, appointed years ago to rescue the LAUSD. He was a two star admiral in the Navy, with an educational reform background, and fell on his face once in office. A total misfit between what was needed and what he could deliver, as he failed to understand the complexity of the organization he was chosen to lead. McDonnell is in the same boat, and I’m aiming for him to share Brewer’s fate. The saddest thing is this is all self-inflicted on McDonnell’s part. Is it deliberate indifference or sheer incompetence on his part to not understand the pernicious impact of his decision making on the health and morale of his employees?

    Notice how we now have to struggle between two competing motivations for McDonnell. With Baca, it was a similar struggle, different topics: corruption or plain nuts.

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