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Baca Says No More Political Donations, The CDCR’s New Guy…and 4 More States May Reform Pot Laws – UPDATED

February 1st, 2013 by Celeste Fremon

Sheriff Lee Baca has announced to the rank and file of the department
that the troubling habit of accepting campaign donations from underlings is no longer acceptable.

The LA Times Robert Faturechi has the departmental memo that went out to this effect.

UPDATE: WLA has now obtained the Sheriff’s memo. To read it, click the link below.

LM003-Transparency and Accountability are Hallmarks of Leadership

As anyone reading WLA for any length of time knows, Matt Fleischer’s investigative stories for us have been hammering away at this issue for well over a year, outlining what has appeared to be a pay-to-play system run primarily by the undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, where loyalty and quid pro quo campaign donations and the like were rewarded over competence. (Not that there aren’t wonderfully competent people in some areas of command staff; there are. So please don’t start shouting about that, dear LASD boosters.)

In any case, here’s a clip from Faturechi’s story:

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca told his deputies Thursday that he would no longer accept campaign contributions from department employees, according to an internal memo obtained by The Times.

Baca also said other sheriff’s managers who run for an elected office would be barred from making employment decisions affecting employees who have donated to their campaigns.

Baca’s announcement comes amid concerns that campaign contributions to sheriff’s brass by department employees created potential conflicts of interest in promotions and other personnel decisions.

“It is the responsibility of every member [of the department] to avoid any situation which may pose a conflict of interest,” the sheriff wrote in his memo.

Baca and his second in command, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who is also mayor of Gardena, have over the years accepted thousands of dollars in contributions from department employees.

For years, allegations of favoritism based on political contributions have dogged the Sheriff’s Department….

EDITOR’S NOTE: A big thank you to Robert Faturechi for his shout-out to WLA in his story. With Matt Fleischer’s reporting, WitnessLa indeed broke this story and continued to point the way for the Jails Commission and others to investigate the matter further. In any case, we appreciated the shout out.


The LA Times corrections reporter, Paige St. John, talks to the man who replaced Matt Cate as the head of the CDCR.

I’ve heard good things about this guy, but I have yet to meet him. In the interim, let’s take a look at what St. John found her in her conversations. Here’s a clip:

Jeffrey Beard’s expert testimony was cited 39 times in the federal court order that capped California’s prison population in 2009. He said the state’s prisons were severely overcrowded, unsafe and unable to deliver adequate care to inmates.

At the time, he was Pennsylvania’s prisons chief. Now, he’s Gov. Jerry Brown’s new corrections secretary, and his first order of business is to persuade the same judges to lift the cap, as well as to end the court’s longtime hold on prison mental health care.

“I agree with what I said back then,” Beard said Tuesday in one of his first interviews as the new head of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “On the flip side,” he said, “things have changed.”

California has 35,000 fewer inmates than when Beard testified in U.S. District Court in 2008, though that has not been enough to satisfy the judges, who want the population reduced by thousands more. On Tuesday, they gave the state until the end of this year — an extra six months — to meet their cap.

Beard said inmate medical care is better now, and he has more understanding of California’s sprawling prison system. When he testified, he had only been to the historic prison in Folsom. His comments then about overcrowding, unsafe conditions and inadequate care came from the reports of other experts and from his work on a 2006 state task force examining recidivism.

“I’ve now been in about 20 of the institutions,” he said Tuesday.

Beard said his perspective started to change in 2011, when he retired from his Pennsylvania post and began to do consulting work for California.


Mike Riggs at Reason Magazine (a publication which is repeatedly good on criminal justice issues) predicts that four states may be next up for marijuana reform, namely New Hampshire, Kentucky, Illinois and Vermont.

Here’s a clip;

It’s been only two months since Washington and Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana, but the advocates who raised millions to pass Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 aren’t wasting time celebrating. In addition to helping craft the rules and regulations in the Centennial and Evergreen states, they’re also providing support to state legislators who will introduce marijuana bills—more than 20 altogether—in 2013.

“While not all of them will pass,” says Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the debates around them will be different than in years past. “What I’m hearing is that a dam broke,” says Jill Harris, managing director of strategic initiatives for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Before Colorado and Washington, the idea of legal marijuana existed in the realm of fantasy. But after Colorado and Washington, we can have a more serious conversation.”

With the start of the 2013 legislative session, that conversation has officially begun. Incremental reforms are going to happen in the next 12 months, even if the next state to fully legalize marijuana doesn’t do so until 2014 or (more likely) 2016. We asked the folks at MPP, which was instrumental in the passage of Amendment 64, and DPA, which led the charge in Washington, which state legislatures could make big changes to their marijuana laws in 2013. These are the four they told us about.

Read the rest.

Posted in CDCR, LASD, Marijuana laws, Medical Marijuana, Sheriff Lee Baca | 25 Comments »

25 Responses

  1. Zen Master or Slow Learner? Says:

    Well well. The sheriff has finally, yet again, figured it out.
    Campaign contributions by subordinates can potentially lead to the appearance of a conflict of interest.
    Nice job sheriff. Was it your advanced education with your doctorate that aided you in this decision? Or was it that you are the Zen Master and it was thru your vision that you figured it out?

    Was is it your vision or your education that allowed you to realize that giving out badges to celebrities was a bad idea? Great job putting the kabosh on that before it became a laughingly embarrassing faux pas.

    What about the badges to city council members? To what do we simple minded underlings attribute your decision to no longer give them badges? Was it a Zen vision or your education? Whew, if you hadn’t acted so quickly on that, it might have embarrassed the LASD. Great job once again.

    The problems in the jails? Hey man, you were all over that the minute you found out about it. Great job. Bad publicity, bad PR and millions in lawsuits avoided once again. Zen or education sheriff?

    There are far too many other examples of your foresight, Zen visions and advanced education being the reasons for the sterling decisisions you have consistently made during your tenure as the sheriff. No other sheriff previously has been as proactive as you in foreseeing problems and heading them off before they become a problem.
    It’s thru that foresight, Zen Masterism and your advanced education that you have kept the LASD’s reputation among LE agencies at the top of the list.
    Under a lessser sheriff, the LASD’s reputation and public image would have suffered greatly. Under lesser leaders, these problems would not have been dealt with until the media got involved and the LASD would have been greatly embarrassed. When it comes to being a leader, you stand out alone among your peers.

    Kudos sheriff.

  2. J. London Says:

    For those of us that know Baca, he (Baca) really and truly believes that this memo will fix everything! Even Don Quixote finally figured out that his horse was not his girlfriend! The man is insane! And this is serious! In the event that Baca ‘nuts up’ and gets committed who will fill the position. BOS would never go for Tanaka! Baca is like watching re-runs of Gomer Pyle

  3. Gate Keeper Says:

    Celeste, does Baca’s directive “prohibit” employees from donating to Undersheriff and below executives should they decide to run for public office? Your story states, executives are “barred” from making decisions about promotions/job assignments, etc. There is a big difference between “not allowing an employees contributions to influence decisions of promotions and job assignments” and “prohibiting an employee running for public office from accepting political donations” from employees.

    If that is the case, then we are back to square one. Tanaka receives monies from his bundlers and directly from subordinates and Shazam, they receive promotions and coveted positions. Whitmore then states, “No, these donations have absolutely no bearing on their promotions, none at all.”

  4. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Gate Keeper, VERY good question. I’ve not seen the memo. I hope to see a copy today. If I get it, I’ll put it up. (Crazy busy yesterday, so didn’t put out the usual number of feelers.)

    You’re quite right. Without the blanket prohibition, it’s all but meaningless.

  5. InterestedWatcher Says:

    Looks like a LAPD guy is getting into the race…things should start getting interesting soon!

  6. 10-29Henry Says:

    Maybe when the press exposes the money Baca has taken over the years from individuals financially connected to Asian organized crime or Hezbollah, he’ll cut a memo prohibiting that…

  7. Celeste Fremon Says:

    EDITOR’S NOTE: For a copy of the Sheriff’s memo see the update in the post above.

  8. No Thank You Says:

    We don’t need a LAPD guy to become Sheriff. Look at what the LAPD guy in Long Beach is doing with crime and budget woes…NOTHING.

    How about a Fedral Agent? Like Pitches!

  9. To easy of a target for Baca to pick apart.  Says:

    Looks like Mr. Vince has had some of his own problems with L.A.P.D. Anything to do with alleged abuse will torpedo a campaign.
    The council’s Budget and Finance Committee recommended settling another police misconduct suit for an undisclosed amount. Cecil Miller said he was beaten by LAPD officers Doug Gallick and Louis Vince on Aug. 4, 2000.
    According to the complaint, Miller was driving at the corner of Pico and Roxbury when he had to make an illegal turn to avoid an accident. A police officer down the street flagged him down and asked why he had made that turn. In the course of the conversation, Miller asked if he could move his vehicle over to the curb, because his family, all of whom were in the car, were endangered by being parked in the middle of the street. After some resistance, the officer let Miller move his car, but then claimed Miller had run over his foot.
    Miller apologized, but the officer became angry and demanded that Miller get out of the car. Upon exiting the car, Miller apologized again and said he didn’t think the aggression was necessary, at which time the officers began beating Miller. A passer-by who saw the incident became alarmed and pleaded with the officers not to hurt him, at which time she was hit in the face by the officers.
    Miller was charged with assaulting a police officer, pled not guilty and was acquitted. He filed his lawsuit on July 2, 2002.
    Miller’s lawsuit is scheduled for consideration by the City Council at tomorrow’s meeting.

  10. Gate Keeper Says:

    After so many years of Baca, it is almost impossible not to be cynical and question his motives. Fourteen years we have put up with this guy and what we have is a wonderful organization that has been infected with a cancer carried by the little man and his unchecked, unethical beliefs and conduct. No reason to go over all of this because we all know what has been going on and who has created this uncontrollable dysfunction. So now at the 11th hour, Baca decides to declare the command staff will not be allowed to accept political donations and then make career decisions regarding his/her donators. Now I have to ask, what all of the sudden happened to make Leroy direct this memo? Is he “trying” to provide cover? It is all so very laughable if it were not all so very pathetic. And look at the verbiage of this directive; yes, someone else wrote it, but Leroy approved it. It is insulting, so very, very insulting.

    And the reason it is so insulting is because not a damn thing has changed within LASD. It is all smoke and mirrors. The little man still calls the shots, despite the years of carnage he has created, he is still the Undersheriff. Can you for one New York second think ANY other “ethical” Sheriff or Chief of Police would have ever tolerated the little man’s tattoo mentality, underhanded and unethical conduct going all the way back to his days as a sergeant, and even consider promoting this troll beyond the rank of Shoe Shine trusty? (Sorry Shoe Shine trusties, it is an insult to your coveted positions, but I had to draw an illustration.) The FBI and AUSA are closing in very quickly with “multiple” ethics investigations, and guess who all roads are pointing to? And now Leroy suddenly has an epiphany and issues this directive? He is both delusional, oh so delusional AND he thinks we are all stupid. Now that is the biggest insult, he simply thinks we are just stupid people. What a great documentary all of this is going to make. Oh I can’t wait to attend the next EPC and be enlightened. By the way, I have to ask, Hey Cavanaugh and Cruz, how are those retirements going? Still want to spew your thoughts about loyalty to the little man and Leroy, they “had” your backs, eh?

  11. InterestedParty Says:

    The Sheriff’s Message on “perception” of conflicts of interest smells a little like the Undersheriff’s bulletin that attempted to clarify “working in the gray” — both are too little, too late and neither offer any substance or mechanisms that would prevent further corruption. Both of these goons are still in charge so business will continue as usual. Their apologists will continue to praise them and attack their critics as they circle their wagons closer for cover. Neither man is stupid, but these sophomoric attempts to cover their butts are laughable.

  12. Do you have a better idea? Says:

    Question? When was the last time you saw an LAPD command staff flip out in front of the city council?

    LASD Louie Duran before the Board Score: 1
    LAPD 0
    Campaign donations to get promotoed

    LASD 1
    LAPD 0

    Jail violence and deputy gangs

    LASD 1
    LAPD 0

    cheating on academy training records both
    fulltime and Reserves

    LASD 1
    LAPD 0

    I can go on and on, but I think an LAPD candidate for Sheriff would be a breath of fresh air and would instill true direction to the rank and file

  13. To easy of a target for Baca to pick apart.  Says:

    I don’t mind the right candidate from L.A.P.D. , but I’ll pass on Mr. Vince.

  14. Cognistator Says:

    #’s 9 & 13: It is indeed an awful event that your link describes–this kind of police misconduct is absolutely intolerable–but nowhere in the link do I see Mr. Vince’s name mentioned. I know you want to shoot down his candidacy for Sheriff, but I fail to see a connection between his name and the link you provided, which does, in fact. portray awful police misconduct.


  15. Cognistator Says:

    #’s 9 & 13: O.K., I see it–Lou Vince’s name. You’re right; it doesn’t look good. If Mr. Vince continues his campaign I’m sure this particular incident will get a complete airing & if the facts shape out the way they now look we probably won’t see his name on the ballot next year.

  16. Says:

    Uh no thanks! LAPD is a great agency, but their Command Staff is VERY CORRUPT. Just look at Long Beach. No Bueno and No Thanks! Fed Please!

  17. InterestedParty Says:

    Is it me, or does this notification emailed this afternoon seem to be an attempt to silence whistleblowers and curtail their 1st Amendment Rights by crafting a policy that threatens discipline for anyone LASD member who criticizes the corrupt actions of Department Executives on sites like Witness LA? I find it rather chilling.

    All Department members shall be held accountable for their utterances, writings, conduct, and visual representations, including electronic and web-based communications, when they conflict with Our Core Values, Our Mission, or Our Creed and personnel can reasonably be identified as Department members. Personnel who cause undue embarrassment or damage the reputation of and/or erode the public’s confidence in the Department shall be deemed to have violated this policy.

    Unit commanders shall ensure copies of Our Mission, Our Core Values, and Our Creed are clearly and prominently displayed and maintained in the public lobbies of all Sheriff’s Department facilities. Unit Commanders shall ensure copies of Our Mission, Our Core Values, and Our Creed are clearly and prominently displayed and maintained within a high-traffic work area in all Sheriff’s Department’s facilities (e.g., briefing room) for viewing by assigned personnel.

    Electronic and web-based communications include any medium used to deliver information electronically or digitally. Examples of electronic and web-based communications include, but are not limited to, websites, “smart” phone technologies, text messaging, Nixle, electronic mail (email) and “social media” sites such Facebook, Myspace, Pinterest, and Twitter; photo sharing websites such as Flickr; video sharing websites such as YouTube; and/or any other similar electronic or digital delivery system.

    “Social media” includes any electronic medium where users may create, share, and view user-generated content, including uploading or downloading videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, or instant messages, or online social networking content.

  18. Investigative Mind Says:

    #17, Nope, not just u

  19. 10-33_Go Says:

    I think it’s revealing how few leadership announcements we see from our brass, relative to other organizations. Wasn’t Tanaka’s “gray area memo” the first department-wide memo he sent in like a decade? And for the sheriff it’s only been a few more? And when you consider that when they’ve been *forced* to say something to their troops, it’s to correct a prior failure on their part to lead. Unfortunately, on our department we lead through (1) policies and (2) interpretation and perceived enforcement of policies. That’s not leadership.

  20. Bandwagon Says:

    I think you are correct. No other way to read that. Obviously Witnessla is having an affect on the Sheriff and his minions. Keep up the good work
    Celeste. Lets hope ALADS supports Long Beach Chief and former LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell for Sheriff. God knows we need the help!

  21. Cognistator Says:

    #20: In the current LAT story on Jim McDonnell for Sheriff (,0,7105445.story?track=lanowpicks) LAT asks the question: Is it time for a new Sheriff?

    An 89% Yes response.

    And the story is a LAT Editor’s pick.

  22. Not too easy of a target for Baca to pick apart.  Says:

    I met chief McDonnell a few times. In my opinion he would be a very strong candidate to run against
    Baca. He did help Batton with getting L.A.P.D. Back on track after federal oversite. Interesting memo number 17. I also noticed that the O.I.R. has not put a quarterly report up on their website since Dec. 2011. Can’t have the public see all the serious misconduct cases. Typical Baca if the news is bad don’t talk about it and it will go away. After 15 years the mess is to big to sweep under the carpet Sheriff.

  23. Message not Delivered Says:

    Here’s a big hint gents and genteses. I had to do a supervisory inquiry on an employee due to failure to follow an e-mail sent by the unit commander.

    Guess what? that employee won his case, because he failed to open the e-mail and read it. All we had was failing to routinely check e-mails. No discipline at all.

    Big hint. delete in the furture and claim it was done inadvertantly with other read mail. Even the midget can’t touch you

  24. J. London Says:

    LAPD (McDonnell)coming into LASD may NOT be a good idea! I agree that it’s time for Baca and Tanaka to go. But we need to be cautious as to not make things worse; if that’s possible. LAPD has had it assorted scandals and I just don’t want to trade one jerk for another jerk! What will McDonnell do about the deputy gangs? LAPD also has officer gangs. The preferred treatment of the very rich and influential? Expansion of IAB? Hiring, campaign contributions, retaliation and how would McDonnell repair the innocent people who have had their careers ruined? How will an outsider know where the skeletons are? I’m going to wait and see who endorses whom. FYI, in today’s Times 90% of the folks believe it’s time for a new sheriff! What the Hell are the 10% thinking??

  25. newperspective Says:

    I think McDonnell will do the same as Tanaka did. Support Pro-Active policing!

    Welcome Sheriff MoDonnell!

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