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Molina’s Proposed Ban on Getting Campaign Contributions From Underlings Was Triggered by WLA’s Reporting – UPDATED

February 22nd, 2012 by Celeste Fremon



A spokesperson for Supervisor Gloria Molina confirmed that it was WitnessLA’s Dangerous Jails reporting by Matt Fleischer,
“detailing Undersheriff Tanaka’s campaign contributions from subordinates” that stimulated Molina’s decision to craft the motion that was presented at the board meeting on Tuesday, a motion that would prohibit county managers from asking for or accepting such contributions . “It was a cause for great concern,” said said Roxane Marquez, Molina’s spokeswoman, of the matter.

“Sup. Molina is well aware that she can’t stop people from simply giving contributions – that would be a violation of federal free speech rights. But she’s concerned about higher-ups soliciting campaign donations from employees whom they manage. That’s exactly what prompted her motion.”

The motion, which was passed on consent on Tuesday without discussion or public comment, directs the County Counsel to present a “workable policy” to the Board of Supes in 30 days, after which time it will be discussed and brought up for a vote.

We truly thank Supervisor Molina for taking the initiative to make the motion. Like many, we thought it was a bit odd that such a rule wasn’t already in place. Soliciting (or accepting) campaign donations from those to whom one can dispense promotions, choice work assignments, and other work-related favors—particularly donations for a city campaign that in no other appreciable way affects the donor employees’ lives—would seem to us to be, at best, managerial conflict of interest 101.

Thus we thank the supervisor for not only noticing the problem —but doing something about it.

(The reporting that prompted the motion may be found here, here and here.)


UPDATE: The LA Times reporters Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard have a new story on Sup. Molina’s motion and her concerns.

According to the Times:

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore denied that contributions affect personnel decisions. Whitmore, who said he was speaking on behalf of Baca and Tanaka, said the department welcomed Molina’s motion.

The Times also noted that in their own 2006 analysis of donations given by sheriff’s managers to Sheriff Lee Baca’s campaigns, “…73% received promotions, while of those who did not contribute, 26% received promotions.”

We have long hoped the Times might do a similar round of numbers crunching with the donations pattern we have flagged.



CITY COUNCIL TO VOTE WHETHER OR NOT TO END TRUANCY TICKETS

The LA City Council will vote Wednesday on whether or not to change the city’s truancy policy to eliminate fines, which are onerously high for low income kids and their families to pay, and have been shown not to improve attendance at all, but rather can lead to additional missed classes.

Advocacy groups such as the Youth Justice Coalition, the So Cal ACLU, Public Counsel and the Children’s Defense Fund are expected to have roused supporters to pack the hall (if the emails I’ve received are any indication).

It should be noted that all of the organizations supporting the change in the law are adamant about school attendance being critical for educational success, but say that LA schools need alternatives to criminalizing truancy, including programs that address the root causes of a kid’s chronically missing school.


SUPREME COURT PUTS NEW LIMITS ON THE NECESSITY OF WARNING PRISONERS ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS BEFORE QUESTIONING

Adam Liptak explains the decision in Wednesday’s New York Times. Here’s a clip:

In a busy day at the Supreme Court, the justices on Tuesday issued a decision limiting the circumstances in which prisoners must be told of their rights before they are questioned, added to what had already been a long schedule for arguments in the challenges to the 2010 health care law and made public an internal ethics resolution from 1991.

The question in the case concerning prisoners, Howes v. Fields, No. 10-680, was whether an inmate’s confession to a sex crime should have been suppressed because he did not receive the familiar warnings required by Miranda v. Arizona before he was questioned. The answer turned on whether he was in custody at the time.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority in the 6-to-3 decision, said that “custody” for these purposes “is a term of art that specifies circumstances that are thought generally to present a serious danger of coercion.”


RENOWN JOURNALIST MARIE COLVIN AND FRENCH PHOTOGRAPHER REMI OCHLIK KILLED IN SYRIA

Two journalists—one a legend—the other young, courageous and just beginning to win awards, were killed in Homs, Syria, when rockets hit the house where a group of reporters were staying. This and this report have some of the details.

The news is made sadder, coming as it does on the heels of the death of reporter Anthony Shidid, the two Pulitzer-Prize winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times who died of an asthma attack while traveling between Syria and Turkey.


Photo of Gloria Molina by Irfan Khan for the Los Angeles Times / September 27, 2011)

Posted in LA County Board of Supervisors, LASD, THE LA JUSTICE REPORT | 28 Comments »

28 Responses

  1. recall baca Says:

    About time one of the Board members steps up to put Tanaka in check and pull Baca’s head out from under the sand. Not being a fan of the militant Gloria Molina, I give her credit for recognizing the severity of the problem and acting. Maybe the rest of the board members will get with the program and begin to search for a suitable replacement for Baca. RECALL LEE BACA!

  2. Cigars, cigarettes, promotions? Says:

    Do you mean the Cigar Club smokers and ash try cleaners can’t buy their promotions anymore? What is this world coming to? But then, Tanaka just might hang a “Cash Only” sign on his office door.

    And by the way, Mr. Whitmore, I understand you get paid to spin anything and everything, but give me a break. Your attempt to clean up Tanaka with your denial that the donations he received had no influence on his decision of who to promote, is sooooooo laughable. Perhaps you should read ALL of the Witness LA reports starting with the first segment on the jails and work your way forward to the Play for Pay and the Compton incident involving Sgt. Cooper and then take a look in the mirror. You are the “Baghdad Bob” of the Sheriff’s Department.

  3. LA Justice Report Scores Major Victory for Good Government in LA County* - FishbowlLA Says:

    [...] was a cause for great concern,” Molina’s spokeswoman Roxane Marquez told WitnessLA. “Sup. Molina is well aware that she can’t stop people from simply giving contributions – [...]

  4. recall baca Says:

    Congrats to you Celeste and team Witness L A.! GOD BLESS YOU!

  5. Eliot Ness Says:

    This site has had an impact. That is for sure. Attention is obviously making it to the right places. Rumor has it that WitnessLA.com is no longer accessible on computers operated by LASD employees. Such censorship makes it quite evident that these articles and the comments born there of have struck a nerve. Good job Celeste. You have made an impact. Thank you for providing a venue where the truth can be shared. There are those that will claim that the anonymity allowed by this site encourages these statements to be false. Quite the contrary. There are things that just cannot be shared because they are so ridiculous that they border on unbelievable.

  6. FS Says:

    Hopefully Ms. Molina begins looking at Paul Tanaka power and starts asking questins about the Tanaka empire. Ms. Molina needs to hold Sheriff Baca accountable for his failure to supervise his executive staff. We need to hear what the Sheriff is going to do with Bernice Abrahms and her fraterization with her drugee boyfriend. The Sheriff has not even started an administrative investigation or attempted to fired her as he is firing deputies for misconduct less than hers.

  7. Cigars, cigarettes, promotions? Says:

    For the sake of LASD, I am hoping the Jail Commission will expose two primary issues to the public and the BOS. 1. Paul Tanaka’s systematic and intentional infusion of his corruptive values aka Viking tattoo = 3000 Boys MCJ clique and his Cigar Club mentality of Pay for Play, etc. 2. Baca’s complete hands-off management of LASD, giving full authority to Tanaka over the last several years to destroy and punish great supervisors and managers who would NOT donate to his Gardena campaign nor “coddle” out of control deputies. Despite face-to-face warnings by the likes of Olmsted and a half dozen executives who went directly to Baca to expose Tanaka and all he was doing, Baca’s only response was to blindly defend Tanaka and to continually promote him all the way to the U/S position.

    If this information (all factual) is presented with no sugar coat, but a shocking and straight forward briefing on how Tanaka/Baca got us into this mess, THEN it will be the BOS turn. They paid for this commission and I certainly hope they have the backbone to do the right thing with this information. As FS suggested, Baca needs to be hammered with relevant questions asking how HE could allow this to happen to LASD and the BOS must demand he answer, in a public forum. None of Baca’s routine answer, “I’m not interested in placing blame, I’m interested in correcting the problem.”

    Baca AND Tanaka must be held accountable, in public, for the destruction of LASD by the BOS and the media. Otherwise, NOTHING will change and all of these reports, investigations and comments will be for not.

  8. longarm Says:

    Good start Gloria.

    Mr. Cooley: Indictments please!

    Elements of the crime of bribery:

    Elements to the crime of bribery. Generally, it is a crime when

    1.a person gives (or offers to give) a public officer, or
    2.a public officer asks, receives, or agrees to receive:
    (a) something of value
    (b) with a corrupt intent
    (c) to influence an official matter.

    Public officers covered by bribery law in California include:

    district attorneys
    police chiefs
    police officers
    deputy city coroners
    California state senators
    city councilmen/women
    board of supervisors members
    judges
    jurors
    witnesses

  9. LAFORII (Lauging at Region II) Says:

    We should have Molina and Cooley look up the laws that are CURRENTLY on the books, in particular the following Government Codes of California:

    3204. No one who holds, or who is seeking election or appointment to, any office or employment in a state or local agency shall, directly or indirectly, use, promise, threaten or attempt to use, any office, authority, or influence, whether then possessed or merely anticipated, to confer upon or secure for any individual person, or to aid or obstruct any individual person in securing, or to prevent
    any individual person from securing, any position, nomination, confirmation, promotion, or change in compensation or position, within the state or local agency, upon consideration or condition that the vote or political influence or action of such person or another shall be given or used in behalf of, or withheld from, any candidate, officer, or party, or upon any other corrupt condition or consideration. This prohibition shall apply to urging or discouraging the individual employee’s action.

    3205. (a) An officer or employee of a local agency shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit a political contribution from an officer or employee of that agency, or from a person on an employment list of that agency, with knowledge that the person from whom the contribution is solicited is an officer or employee of that agency.
    (b) A candidate for elective office of a local agency shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit a political contribution from an officer or employee of that agency, or from a person on an employment list of that agency, with knowledge that the person from whom the contribution is solicited is an officer or employee of that agency.
    (c) This section shall not prohibit an officer or employee of a local agency, or a candidate for elective office in a local agency, from requesting political contributions from officers or employees of that agency if the solicitation is part of a solicitation made to a
    significant segment of the public which may include officers or employees of that local agency.
    (d) Violation of this section is punishable as a misdemeanor. The district attorney shall have all authority to prosecute under this section.
    (e) For purposes of this section, the term “contribution” shall have the same meaning as defined in Section 82015.

    3205.5. No one who holds, or who is seeking election or appointment to, any office shall, directly or indirectly, offer or arrange for any increase in compensation or salary for an employee of a state or local agency in exchange for, or a promise of, a contribution or loan to any committee controlled directly or indirectly by the person who
    holds, or who is seeking election or appointment to, an office. A violation of this section is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.

    3206. No officer or employee of a local agency shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform.

    State law lays it out pretty clearly. I wonder what the geniuses over at ICIB and IAB were doing when Baca was shaking down captains at the standard rate of $500.00, or when Tanaka was shaking down all his subordinates at the bargain rate of $100.00? Maybe they thought all of these individuals had a collective epiphany where they decided en masse, on the same day, to make these donations out of their own free will. Maybe they lacked the moral courage to step up to the plate and do their jobs, who knows.

    This information is well known to both the OIR and to Cooley’s office. We are told repeatedly that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. We hold citizens accountable to that every day in court. Pray tell why should there be a lower standard of ethical conduct for those who profess to be “leaders” of the Department?

  10. ? Says:

    Eliot Ness, on 02-20-12 you blogged complete disdain for all Region II personel. Even saying they lead the county in D.A. rejects, etc. Now you say “Rumer has it, WitnessLA is no longer accessible on computers operated by LASD employees.” And you claim censorship by the department for doing this. Perhaps if you spent more time time taking criminals to jail instead of blogging on duty, your self esteem wouldn’t be so low you feel the need to ridule an whole region of hardworking people. The hypocrisy of so many bloggers on the site complaing about Region II personnel is amazing.

  11. LAFORII (Laughing at Region II) Says:

    Re: “?” you should acknowledge the fact Tanaka has done no favors to your Region’s reputation, and that has been compounded by the occasional posts from people from your Region (or let’s narrow it down to CPT, CEN, and SLA) thinking they actually are a notch above everyone else. I will agree with you that the DA reject claim is uncalled for, because there are many ways to interpret that fact, if proven true (some to your credit).

    On the other hand let’s not lose focus on the fact we all need to work together and rid this department of all the corrupt influences exerted by both Baca and Tanaka. They have overstayed their welcome, and they are now officially the bad guys.

    These two have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the old saying: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  12. LATBG (Laughing at the Bad Guys) Says:

    As a gesture of good will, I’m going to change names. There’s no point beating a dead horse. For all the good folks in Region II doing the Lord’s work, keep it up, your efforts are appreciated by all.

  13. The public Says:

    Ellliot – It is not censorship. We are not paying you to play on blogs and argue with each other about who works the best area. You need to be out protecting the public. We pay your salary and do not expect blogging while we are paying you. Please show just a little respect for the people you work for, and a lot less complaining.

  14. Coyote Waits Says:

    I can just about guarantee you that few, if any, of those posting on this blog are doing it on a Department computer (unless, of course, they actually WANT the dept brass to know what they are saying and who they are). The Department has the right to restrict its computers from any site it wants to; they are the Department’s computers. (This does create problems when trying to investigate radicals or criminals with web sites, but this can be dealt with).
    Witness LA, when will you be posting more recent records of contributions? I have a feeling there will be direct correlations between $$$ and promotions from recent Sgt/Lt exams.

  15. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Coyote, we’ll post the rest of the contribution lists along with Matt’s next report, which will be mid-ish March.

    By the way, while the traffic to the site coming from the LASD computers has dropped down to nearly nothing since around 6 pm Wednesday night, with a further drop off around 2 pm yesterday, there’s still a very tiny trickle. Don’t know how that works.

  16. The public Says:

    Coyote – I am sorry if blocking the Witness L.A. site is impeding your investigation of “Radicals”. It is not a crime to be “Radical”. I shutter to think what your definition of radical is, most likely anyone who voted for President Obama. Why don’t you protect us from actual criminals and stay off the blogs until you get home. Once at home and not being paid by the public, you can blog all you want about promotion lists and why you should be on them.

  17. Inspector Clouseau Says:

    To The public says:

    Don’t be angry with Coyote Waits. Seems like he (?) is just poking sticks and having a little fun at our expense. Coyote knows better . . . and waits. He knows there is only so much to go around. He might play chaos vs. symmetry because we need opposites, but he’s struggling like the rest of us. The promotions (or lack thereof) and the Region 1, 2, or 3 debate are the least of our (?) concerns. The entire situation is an attack on everyone’s civil liberties. Too bad the public isn’t paying attention. The alleged indiscretions and behavior catalogued by witnessla.com and the LA Times have yet to be refuted. The weak responses from the BOS and the employee unions are fascinating. Worse than that, the silence from Monterey Park is incredible. Steve Whitmore isn’t Lee Baca . . . and Lee Baca certainly isn’t acting like “the Sheriff.” Where is he this week, Dubai or Ojai? That crack team of advisers he has needs to wave a flag in his face. Instead of shutting down access to websites, he needs to “stand up” and “talk” to his troops and the public. If he can have a townhall with inmates, what’s to stop him from having the same conversation with “everyone” else? When the jail controversy hit the news a few months ago, Lee Baca was everywhere. Folks were waving handwritten signs in front of MCJ touting his compassion, local civil rights icons were calling him visionary, and everyone gave him the benefit of the doubt. Fast forward to today, and even the crickets can’t carry a tune. AARP has a better chance of finding him than the rest of us. Are Lee and his undersheriff hiding in the same bunker? C’mon, Lee. Step your game up! Who’s running this asylum, you or the junior accountant? If you’re the Sheriff, act like it, dammit!

  18. FYLS Says:

    Does anyone have a copy of the Gardena Mayor’s campaign party announcement, or website, or invitation to the fund raisers for the 2008, 2009, 2010, or any other year when LASD members contributed to the campaign? Were there any? If not, why wasn’t the solicitation to “voluntarily” contribute more readily avaialble to more members of the Department? Help me understand. I am curious to see how and why this was so blatant and acceptable, if it is unethical. Can anyone reasonably explain why so many of the same group who have been promoted, assigned to prime assignments, and who have promoted or been assigned to prime assignments again and again, just happen to be on the contributors lists? I am not passing any judgement (yet), just asking for a legal and reasonable explanantion.

  19. Elvis Says:

    To FYLS:

    Obviously, they’re hard workers. Everyone else needs to be checked for being lazy, disgruntled, retired, ungrateful, and disloyal. Those that have questions about the current state of affairs are too busy washing the Sheriff’s laundry in public to take devils to jail, or they want to run for sheriff. Their comments are merely an attempt to discredit the Department. I applaud you for not passing judgment. Keep smiling.

  20. Coyote Waits Says:

    Public, for the record, by radicals I mean white supremist groups, Al Queda, and neo-nazis. If you are one of those, then yes, I will investigate what you are doing, it is very likely to be criminal. I have participated in numerous protest events and protected the right of the protestors to free speech. I have NEVER used a county computer to post here or posted here on county time. Oh, and it’s “shudder to think” not “shutter”. Graduated from LAUSD, did you?
    As Clouseau says, I’m annoyed that it appears our promotion system is corrupted (even to Gloria Molina, believe it or not!) and that there are blatant violations of our Policies and Procedures that go unchecked as long as you are “in the car”. I live and work by a code of ethics that I am expected to uphold. There appears to be a group that can ignore that code, and those who pointed it out were pursued and punished. Is this who you want protecting the public? Look at any middle eastern country, and you can see the results of that. I didn’t care about the promotion lists until I found out they were probably rigged. That is wrong, and I will protest it.

  21. LATBG (Laughing at the Bad Guys) Says:

    Elvis, you need to be “checked.” Rather than impugning the work ethic of people you don’t know, you should answer the question posed by FYLS. If these people are such hard workers, what compels them to donate?

    Don’t confuse the corrupt few with the Department. Baca, Tanaka, and their merry band of campaign contributors are NOT the Department. They are merely a sad footnote in a 162 year-old institution in need of new, ethical leadership.

  22. Connecting the dots Says:

    The donation lists looks like the past and present sups roster for COPS…Not passing judgement but making a comparison.

  23. Elvis Says:

    Relax, LATBG…you missed the ‘turn.’ I was being sarcastic. Read it again. None of the reasons / examples I posted passed muster (insert shocked facial expression here). That was my point. I’m stupid, but not quite an idiot. BTW, ever notice how everything has become respect based, community based, or education based? Those are campaign soundbites, not policy. Some admin wonk is churning out everything but the truth based facts. So your point is well taken. I actually agree with you. Now. I’m gonna go check myself. Obviously, you’re not a ‘hardworker’ ….watch the turn….that was just some more misplaced sarcasm. Have fun with it. Thank you, thank you very much.

  24. The public Says:

    Celeste/Matt – I tried to post this yesterday. Did I violate a rule? If so, can you remove the problem area and post the rest. Thank you.

    Coyote – Good job denigrating the hard working teachers of the LAUSD in order to point out my spelling error. My spelling aside, you have no business on the Witness LA blog while I am paying you to work. No one from al-Qaeda is on the Witness LA blog, and the Sheriff’s have never arrested anyone from al-Qaeda. I also see that in your world all Middle Eastern countries are corrupt. It must be nice to be so all knowing and look down your nose at such a huge population of people in the cradle of civilization. How have they managed without your assistance since before the birth of Christ? Go back to day dreaming about hunting terrorists. Put some quarters in your cookie jar. In no time you will build up the one hundred dollars necessary to pay the Sheriff donation for a new promotion. Someone with your wisdom needs to move up.

  25. Coyote Waits Says:

    Public, you completely missed the point. (Again, there’s that quality education showing itself!) The Department blocks MANY sites, including those posted by terrorist groups and Nazis. THAT is what makes it difficult to investigate them. I thinks it’s amusing that you think Witness LA rates up there with Storm Front. And looking at the Middle East, it doesn’t look so good. I feel sorry for its residents, because they are for the most part nice people. Please, point out one honest democracy that works over there (and no cheating by naming Israel).
    I still stand by, and have yet to be refuted about, my point that there is corruption of our policies and procedures at the highest levels, and it needs to be weeded out. Or are you just going to continue with personal attacks?

  26. ? Says:

    Coyote Waits Says???????Those who investigate those groups are not blocked from websites involving those groups by the department. You are a bit of a wingnut who has not spent a day in Major Crimes. What kind of investigation are you doing regarding terrorist groups or Nazis? If so, which I doubt, did you request clearance by the department for the website? What corruption of our polices and procedures at the highest levels prevents this? Slow down action hero……

  27. Coyote Waits Says:

    ?? You missed the point too. I said there were ways to deal with blocked sites. (and yes, I got cleared to see them). And I wasn’t talking about websites when I was talking about corrupted policies. (See post 15 and Public’s response.)
    Take a look at our Core Values, and Vol. 3 of our MPP. There is a LOT of “do as I say, not as I do” going on, and there appears to be a pay to play system in place. You, too seem to be focusing on personal attacks, rather than the subject of this blog. Are you in the car, too? The only person denying that shenanigans are going on is Whitmore (that’s what he’s paid to do).

  28. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » Why Did LASD’s Scandal-Plagued Undersheriff Paul Tanaka Announce His Resignation: Decoding the Decision Says:

    [...] February, the reports caused Supervisor Gloria Molina to introduce a motion to prohibit county supervisors from asking for or accepting campaign [...]

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