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More Discussion on Sup. Molina’s Motion & Undersheriff Paul Tanaka

February 23rd, 2012 by Celeste Fremon



The Daily News has both a follow-up story and an editorial on Supervisor Gloria Molina’s Tuesday motion
to forbid county employees from asking subordinates for campaign donations.

First, here’s a clip from the story by Christina Villacorte, which mostly recounts why Molina introduced the motion, then has a denial-filled response from LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Supervisor Gloria Molina said she sought the changes after hearing complaints that Undersheriff Paul Tanaka allegedly sought donations to run for mayor of Gardena.

“This stems from articles that I read about our undersheriff, in which people made accusations that they were solicited for donations, and that those who gave money received consideration,” Molina said.

“I don’t know if the accusations are true or not, but what I’d like to do in a proactive way is to say that we will not permit this,” she added.

Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, categorically denied that Tanaka used his influence over his subordinates to fill his campaign war chest.

“The undersheriff of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is not swayed by people who donate to his Gardena mayoral campaign or those who do not donate,” Whitmore said.

Right.

The editorial acknowledges that our reporting on the Tanaka donations has brought up troubling issues, but then it raises some interesting points of its own. Here’s a clip:

….the motion raises (but ignores) another tricky issue about employees contributing to the campaigns of potential bosses: the case of public employee union contributions. How can it be wrong for an individual employee to contribute to a supervisor’s campaign but right for a union?

Molina wrote in the motion: “When managers of supervisors solicit or accept campaign contributions from employees who they supervise, evaluate, and approve for promotions and advancement, there will be, at a minimum, a perception of a conflict of interest.”

Perhaps, but doesn’t the same potential conflict — or perception of — arise when the contributions by a group of public employees help to elect their own boss? By definition, quid pro quo goes both ways.

Those are questions we hope will be asked when county lawyers return next month with a proposed policy — if they can find a way around free speech rules. In the end, they may conclude that the negative publicity surrounding such misdeeds by one manager is enough to extract more-ethical behavior by all the rest.

Still, as futile an exercise as this may be, periodic discussions about how public officials should conduct themselves is always a worthwhile endeavor. For starting that conversation, and bringing the stories about Tanaka to light, Molina deserves credit.

Indeed, when the county lawyers return in a month, the discussion should be interesting.

Posted in LA County Board of Supervisors, LASD | 22 Comments »

22 Responses

  1. Cigars, cigarettes, promotions? Says:

    Sounds to me like the wheels are about to fall off of “the car” as it goes over the cliff. Word is, there will be no survivors. I know it is hard for “Paul’s” ego to come to grips that he was exposed by Witness LA for years of unethical and potential criminal conduct. Tanaka always assumed he would be protected for life by Baca, as has been. Can’t wait for the next installment of the Tanaka Chronicles in Witness LA as Matt peels back yet another layer or two of the smelly onion. Don’t be surprised if 60 Minutes starts to sniff around. Keep up the great work Matt and Witness LA. You are making history.

  2. wewillrocku Says:

    Can’t help but wonder, if someone will soon be arguing with Mike Carona over who gets the top bunk. Just wondering.

  3. Left at the ball Says:

    Most of the content of what has been posted is true. But when you remove the backstabbing and power plays you are left with “dirty laundry” and most of the dirt came from the Department people. We invited the public in to the house to see the kids fight. Wow.
    Prior to the current administration the goal of supervisors was to “not rock the boat” and just answer calls. No one wants that kind of cop in their neighborhood. Now we have supervisors who still believe in being cops, not social workers. Admin investigations were used as tools to discipline all who did not comply.
    Shame on the Sheriff for letting it get so out of control. But a word of caution, remember all those in the ivory tower allowed this empire to be built, and if it crumbles each one has their own agenda. But the real question to me is, why should they lead now? They haven’t been. They have all collected checks, signed paperwork and allowed others to run their divisions. That is not leadership. And wewillroku remember Carona was convicted ONLY because he was on tape, all the other counts were thrown out.
    For the record, I am not Region II. Never have been.
    I know there is a lot of anger over the Region II issue, and most of it is legitimate. OUR department has great deputies in every division and every region. I believe that things were changing when the tower started to crack.
    So if we can dry the laundry, fold it and put it away that would be good.
    Lets get to the bottom of the issues, and deal with them. But before you guys (members of the department) lob more grenades remember friendly fire isn’t. Your hurting the department. If you retired and didn’t address the issues shame on you. If you were a leader and were removed, don’t be bitter. Find someplace to lead or realize that you aren’t a leader and power down. There are some of us who need to keep working and we happen to like our job.
    Blessings

  4. sucks Says:

    regarding the article, there’s a saying about people who live in glass houses and that’s right next to another saying about pots and kettles

  5. STUDY HARD Says:

    Like to see everyone on Band 2 Lt and Sgt list get promoted. That’s fair and the right thing to do.

  6. j ramirez Says:

    I just read the artical that says the Sheriff agrees with Charle Beck on the issue of Drivers licenses for imigrants. I am a hispanic deputy who fell victim to retired Chief Ronnie Williams. When he was the Chief over Region II I had to meet with him. He told me that he hated Mexicans and that he was going to keep the Mexicans from taking over the department. I told him that it shouldnt matter what race you are, only how hard you work. He said he would black ball me from anywhere i wanted to work on the department if i didnt keep my mouth shut. Im glad he’s gone….

  7. Really ??? Says:

    J Ramirez, a chief on the department really said he hated Mexicans and you did absolutely nothing about it? Yeah right that’s just laughable.

  8. Joe Friday Says:

    I agree really???This is why the department unfortunately is in trouble. People sit back and accept the unprofessional behavior of fellow employees. In any other job, this wouldn’t be accepted. They have no code of silence. We shouldn’t either.

  9. Doeinc Says:

    Re: J RAM – there were at least two lawsuits about Williams’ hatred towards Hispanics. AND, the county LOST. Check it out. It’s a matter of public record. And…the bias was backed by LASD Executives.

  10. aha! Says:

    And soon the tale will be told about how the suit was compromised, how a captain was rolled up, and how Lee Baca was led to believe he would receive a vote of no confidence from his troops. The devil is still in play.

  11. Don't Tase Me Bro! Says:

    J Ramirez, I too read the Beck Baca CDL article and I am still trying to figure out how and why your “story” about Williams was relevant. I am no fan of his at all. He was (is) a braggard and a big mouth, but why did you feel the need to tell that story, unless you were trying to stir the pot and distract us. Nice try. I’m not falling for it. If he told you what you allege, you should have and would have sued like the others who claimed discrimination (and won). So, either you “ain’t so bright” or you are lying. Which one is it? Bro, sounds like you are suffereing from a bout with “10-33 look at me.” Mentiroso!

  12. neutral Says:

    Hey: Really??- J Ram’s comments are not laughable. You’ve never been in that position, obviously. Beefing a higher up is career suicide and anyone who’s done it knows this. Ask Moraguchi about his nightmare when all he did was comment about some negative racial crap to a supervisor.

    The retaliation spiraled so far out of control he had to hire outside non-union attorneys and go to the media for protection. Took him about a decade of fighting to get his career back on track and even then, it took a totally different direction. That’s a fight not everyone is willing to take on. So many disenchanted LASD employees are venting here because it seems the only safe place to speak out against the brass without ending up with a bullseye on your back.

  13. the mafia Says:

    LASD is so similar to the mob its sad, speak up and get whacked (so to speak) the department has a long memory like the mob, some day some way they will get you , the ICIB secret squirrel team has conducted surveillance on dep s who were not suspected of any criminal acts, their offense was they sued the dept or spoke up about an injustice commited by LASD, thank ypu witness LA for this (relatively) safe forum

  14. Celeste Fremon Says:

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Every so often one anonymous commenter attempts to “out” another anonymous commenter by giving what he or she believes to be their real name.

    I let a few of those go through earlier on, then more recently decided to make a blanket policy against it—in part because those outing thingies cannot help but end up being personal attacks, PLUS I have no way of knowing whether or not they’re accurate. (Actually there was one a few weeks ago that I let up that I knew for certain was NOT accurate.)

    Anyway, I’m telling you all this because I just got another one of these “outing” comments and wanted to explain to the commenter why his or her post isn’t going to appear.

    Thanks for understanding.

    C.

  15. Truth Prevails Says:

    The Undersheriff was able to able to construct an alternate command structure within the Sheriff’s department that was comprised of loyalists and campaign donors. The Undersheriff’s unbridled power, fear, and “quid pro quo” were the primary dynamics that made this alternate command structure a potent force, so much so that it significantly supplanted the legitimate, traditional command structure of the larger organization.

    The alternate command structure ignored, and often undermined the traditional command structure, resulting in a disregard of the checks and balances, i.e.: jail force investigations, normally forthcoming from the traditional command structure. A vacuum of leadership was created in these areas resulting in the department’s inability to demonstrate that it responsibly addressed allegations of excessive force. This is a disservice to deputies who deserved a thorough investigation to prove that force was justified.

    The traditional command structure was undermined by the Undersheriff’s meetings with deputies without their chain of command present wherein they were admonished to “work the grey” and told by the Undersheriff that he did not think much of Internal Affairs. This is the worst possible message to send to young, impressionable deputies who are still learning and developing personal strategies for dealing with force situations. The message was clearly, “don’t worry about your supervisors and managers because I will back you.”

    By sending these messages which some veteran patrol deputies also identify with, the Assistant Sheriff was able to create the illusion of substantial patrol experience (as opposed to his very marginal patrol experience) which is so important in gaining the respect of subordinates. The messages are also an easy way to curry favor with deputies by telling them that he empathizes with them and will back them when they venture into “grey” areas involving force that the traditional organization generally views as either justified or not.

    Unchecked power allowed the Undersheriff to wield his smaller, omnipotent, alternate command structure efficiently. On his journey to the top. the Undersheriff was famous for purging the growing number of units under his control of anyone who was not a supporter (campaign donor or crony), while bypassing very ethical, experienced, talented, knowledgeable and hardworking people in the traditional command structure whose loyalty was suspect (non campaign donors). This resulted in entire units and stations “drinking the Kool-Aid” and enjoying the benefits of the Underheriff’s quid pro quo, which in turn, resulted in greatly skewed and inflated ALADS leadership assessments of captains supported by the Underheriff. Those who were “purged” were treated with contempt and viewed as trash that had not yet been taken out.

    The Sheriff’s Department is at a critical point in its proud history. Strong decisive measures need to be undertaken immediately to restore credibility within the department and the community it serves. Strong, credible leaders who engage the entire department and community without bias and favoritism need to placed in critical management positions without delay. Feathers will be ruffled but the hemorrhaging of credibility needs to stop now. A very decisive, bold, public restructuring, with no apologies or half-steps will go a long way toward assuring the department and the public that the Sheriff’s Department can rise to the occasion and take care of its own business.

  16. Kids First Says:

    Truth Prevails has it right…. I was there, I lived it, and saw it firsthand. Tanaka and his people have ruined the reputation of a proud organization. They’re the most unethical, arrogant bunch of crooks I’ve ever seen. Tanaka, Stonich & Waldie found Baca and played him and all of us like fools. While Baca ran around taking bows they did in fact set up there own command staff and used it for there own gain. I hope the FBI is listening to the truth and steps in because as we’ve see Baca hasn’t demoted anyone of them and lacks the leadership to fix this. Bob Olmsted for Sheriff……

  17. NotHoldingMyBreath Says:

    I believe they all have or have had their own agendas. When I say they I mean Block,Baca,Tanaka,Williams,Olmsted and each will inflict some type of determent to the department. What we need are impartial leaders. Will we ever see it? I hope so but I am not holding my breath that’s for sure.

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

    Truth Prevails, well said. That public restructuring can only occur with a clean slate and a new sheriff. The current command structure is ethically challenged, to say the least, and suffers a massive deficit of trust from the rank and file. In their own minds, however, they still think they walk on water. There are a handful of individuals still left on the department who have not surrendured their integrity in order to advance, and another group of retirees who honorably resigned in protest. There are hopes out of this group, if they have the courage to step up to the plate, or perhaps an outsider who brings a lot to the table. Whoever we choose to support needs to be thoroughly vetted by all the stakeholders in order to avoid a Baca Part II.

    We also have to remain cognizant that the next sheriff will be voted in by registered voters of Los Angeles County only, so they need to be a viable candidate within the context of the larger political picture. Again, are you listening ALADS and PPOA?

  19. Just another hater Says:

    Don’t you have to live in the city you are a mayor of? I’ve never heard of the mayor of Gardena being allowed to live in diamond bar. Another one of those do as I say not as I do……..

  20. Skeletons in the closet. Says:

    Good point Just another hater.

    This is right up the D.A.’s alley.

    They have prosecuted many elected public officials for residing outside their jurisdiction including the mayor of Vernon.

  21. Gordo Says:

    Is it me or does Lee Baca look like the Great Gazoo from the Flintstones?

  22. Gordo Says:

    I saw Baca the other other day and geez.. he look like a confused old geezer. What is he these days, about 75? It’s amazing how he always complained about Sherman Block sticking around too long, but I guess now that he’s in the top job that criticism doesn’t hold water. i hope to God he isn’t thinking about letting his Japanese towel boy take over as sheriff. that would be like letting the inmates run the asylum… oh wait he already did that when he introduced his “townhall meetings” for the thugs housed in the jail.

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