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NEW RULES: Supes to Vote on Campaign Contributions From Employees & Baca Reconfigures LASD Disciplinary Board

February 21st, 2012 by Celeste Fremon


The LA County Supervisors will vote on a motion at Tuesday’s meeting that, if passed, would forbid LA County managers from soliciting or accepting campaign donations from their employees.

Here is a clip from the motion, which was proposed by Supervisor Gloria Molina:

Decisions concerning promotions, wage increases, work assignments, and many others, can become tainted when real, or even perceived conflicts of interests are present.

When managers or 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. This perception can taint the workplace and create a cynicism that career success is about “who one supports”, not how well one performs employment duties….

There is no indication in the language of the motion as to whether a particular county manager or candidate prompted Molina’s concern.

However, in the past few months, there has been growing controversy in an around the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department about the possible role that campaign contributions to the political campaigns of Undersheriff Paul Tanaka may or may not have had in the promotions process inside the LASD. This is a controversy of which the supervisors reportedly are aware.

The fact that significant numbers of the undersheriff’s subordinates have donated to each of his mayoral campaigns (Paul Tanaka is also the mayor of the city of Gardena) was first reported in Part 3 of WitnessLA’s Dangerous Jails series by Matthew Fleischer.

PS: Likely the whole probe into the alleged shenanigans of LA County Assessor John Noguez, hasn’t helped the supes collective state of mind on these matters, although the heart of the investigation into Noguez activities doesn’t have anything to do with employee campaign contributions, but with the allegation of special favors granted to some property owners over others, when those selfsame property owners—clients of, as the LA Times describes him, “a Ferrari-driving ‘tax agent’” with whom Noguez is reportedly pals—contributed to Noguez’s campaign. Anyway, it’s complicated. The LA Weekly has lots of the details.


In a department memo that went out Friday, Sheriff Lee Baca made good on his promise to disband and reconfigure the sheriff’s department’s top disciplinary board—a three person body known as the Case Review Board—that decides on what disciplinary actions should be taken when a sheriff’s deputy or department supervisor has done something wrong.

In the most recent past, that Case Review Board has been made up of three people—the undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, and the two assistant sheriffs, Cecil Rhambo and Marvin Cavanaugh.

Now, with this new arrangement, the sheriff makes it clear that the Board will be under his control, not that of the undersheriff.

It was the Case Review Board that reduced the sanction against the LASD sergeant—Timothy Cooperwho pointed a gun at the head of another department sergeant, Mark Moffett. According to the LA Times, it was recommended that Cooper be demoted, but then 3-person board opted for the much lighter punishment of a 15-day suspension, a change that the sheriff questioned, the Times reported.

The Board acts as a direct representative of the Sheriff and is comprised of three Sheriff’s Department Commanders. One Board member is a Leadership and Training Division Commander who serves as the Board’s Chairperson. The other two Board members and an alternate Board member are selected by the Leadership and Training Division Chief and approved by the Sheriff. …

The full text of the memo is after the jump.

IN A SECOND CHANGE, ALSO ANNOUNCED BY THE SHERIFF ON FRIDAY, Baca removed the existing head of the Internal Affairs Bureau, a captain who had been put into place by Undersheriff Tanaka last spring when he effectively took ever

In his position, Baca installed Captain John Clark, the former head of Men’s Central Jail, whom the undersheriff had transferred out of custody and sidelined after Clark attempted reforms in the troubled jail, which Tanaka very publicly reversed. (The undersheriff went so far as to call a meeting of all the jails’ deputies, a meeting from which the facility’s supervisors—Clark and others—were specifically excluded, according to one for of those who attended the meeting. It was a meeting that many believed had a disastrous effect on the authority of the jails’ managers.)

(Matt Fleischer reported on the blocking of Captain Clark’s attempted reforms and their thwarting by Undersheriff Tanaka here and here.)

SHERIFF’S BULLETIN #586 February 17, 2012


Effective February 17, 2012,

I formed the Case Review Board, which is authorized to review and concur with recommended discipline on founded administrative investigations for which the recommendation is suspension without pay from 16 to 30 days, reduction in rank, or discharge. The Board acts as a direct representative of the Sheriff and is comprised of three Sheriff’s Department Commanders. One Board member is a Leadership and Training Division Commander who serves as the Board’s Chairperson. The other two Board members and an alternate Board member are selected by the Leadership and Training Division Chief and approved by the Sheriff. Each Board member is responsible for reading the complete investigative file in order to become thoroughly familiar with all of the evidence. The Leadership and Training Division Chief will attend Case Review Board meetings and act as the liaison between the Board and the Sheriff.

The subject employee’s Region/Division Chief or Division Director is responsible for determining whether the facts support the level of discipline that requires Case Review Board concurrence. If so determined, the assigned investigator, or his or her supervisor, is responsible for orally presenting the case facts to the Case Review Board for the Board’s concurrence, which requires a unanimous consensus. If the Board is unable to reach a unanimous consensus after consultation with the Leadership and Training Division Chief, then the Leadership and Training Division Chief is responsible for presenting the case facts to
the Sheriff for final disposition.

It is also important to note that any employee involved in the investigative or disciplinary process who has a personal relationship with the subject employee should excuse themselves from the process. Any doubt as to whether there is a personal relationship shall be resolved by the immediate supervisor of the employee who is involved in the investigative or disciplinary process.

Posted in LA County Board of Supervisors, LASD, Sheriff Lee Baca | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. and then what? Says:

    Too little, too late. This still doesn’t pass the smell test. Frankly, it’s going to take years to undo the damage that has already been done. These are just piecemeal attempts to appease the public and quash the uproar created by the shadowy activities uncovered by this blog. It’s good to see there are some responsible managers at the BOS paying attention, but nothing less than a full and transparent investigation will suffice. Is there no one honest enough or brave enough to cut off the head of the snake and be done with it? Lead, Leroy. Lead. Your silence is unacceptable.

  2. InterestedParty Says:

    Molina’s Motion – So she is proposing a regulation forbidding County managers from soliciting for campaign donations from County employees? Really? Why now? I am personally aware of an anonymous letter sent to each County supervisor’s office in 2003 advising them of such practices. The letter outlined the linkage between campaign contribution to Baca’s campaign fund and Sheriff’s Department promotions; the obvious elimination of previous standards for promotion (length and diversity of experience, education, performance, reputation); the promotion of blatantly lesser qualified personnel who had contributed to Baca’s campaign; and just the overall cronyism and favoritism which came to be after Baca took office. Board of Supervisor’s Response: Nothing! Things only got worse with time and no action or hearings were called by ANY of the supervisors whose staff received the letters. Not Gloria, or any of the others on the Board in 2003, can claim they didn’t know these atrocious practices were going on. So what is Supervisor Molina’s motivation now?

    Sheriff Baca’s Recent Knee Jerks – It’s curious the Sheriff would now make procedural restructuring to the Case Review Board, a board which functioned effectively and efficiently for decades, before a corrupt assistant sheriff, now undersheriff, came to power. Sheriff Baca’s tinkering with the process misses the point: it’s not the existing process; it’s the lack of integrity and arrogance of the undersheriff that is corrupting the functioning of the Case Review Board. Tanaka’s tyranny reverberates throughout the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s naiveté about Tanaka’s power is crystal clear with this change, or perhaps he is in total denial about the fear Tanaka’s tyrannical ways have generated. All who work/worked LASD since December 10, 1998, know perceived or real disloyalty to Tanaka is met by retaliation (forced transfer to less significant assignments, no hope of promotion, mistreatment by Tanaka-loyal supervisors , etc.). Even commanders who will now be tasked with decisions once made by the undersheriff and two assistant sheriffs know they can’t cross Tanaka or they will suffer retribution regardless of what Baca’s new Case Review policy states. Tanaka is arrogant enough to pressure and influence these commanders before their board meetings, to see things his way on cases of interest to him. To think the shifting of responsibility from the two assistant sheriffs and undersheriff to a board of commanders will significantly change anything, is just silly. Sheriff Baca fancies himself an intellectual, but he is either naïve, or he thinks he can bamboozle the public with these reactive changes to the Case Review Board process. The obvious appropriate response by Baca should be to demote and force-out, Tanaka. Since the sheriff is resisting and struggling with that concept, both Baca and Tanaka need to go!

  3. wewillrocku Says:

    Gloria Molina wants to change the rules to prohibit County employees from contributing to their supervisor’s political campaigns. Why?…has she decided not to run again so it’s not important to her anymore? Anyway…

    To echo “Interested Party”, why change the structure of the Case Review Board? This panel makes decisions on long term suspensions, demotions and discharges. Why wouldn’t you want the highest levels of department executives possible making these ultra critical decisions? It’s not the structure of the board that’s broken, it’s the people filling the chairs.

    When is the Sheriff going to deal with the real problems? For years the Sheriff and Spokeshole Whitmore have touted “Transparency” on the department. When is the Sheriff going to stand up and address the real issues and how they’re ripping apart the department. The troops are clammering for answers and Sheriff Baca, you owe it to them.

    The only thing “Transparent” right now, is your superficial piecemeal moves to try and dilute Tanaka’s powerbase.

    But maybe you can’t deal directly with Tanaka. He’s been your campaign money man since the beginning. And as such, maybe he knows too much. Perhaps it’s as several people have suspected for a long time…maybe he gots you dirty. Maybe you can’t take him down, without him taking you down. We certainly hope not, but there are many who believe that’s exactly the case.

    And once (if) you address your troops, at some point you’re going to have to answer the same questions for the voting public who placed you in office, and also for the media.

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