As we prepare to cast our votes in LA’s mayoral race and other local contests, let us turn briefly to another election that will take place a bit over a year from now, the race for Los Angeles County Sheriff.
When Sheriff Lee Baca was asked during his testimony last spring before the Citzens’ Commission on Jail Violence just how the commission—or anybody for that matter—could hold the sheriff accountable, Baca replied without so much as taking an extra breath:
“Don’t elect me.“
Baca, who was first sworn in to the office of sheriff in 1998, will be running for his 5th four-year term in 2014,
In the last few days, the city’s two biggest newspapers—the LA Times and the Daily News—ran editorials that said very directly that they hoped Long Beach Chief of Police Jim McDonnell—and perhaps some other serious contenders—would step up officially to answer the sheriff’s challenge.
[The NSA] director of operations says Baca has been an “exemplary” sheriff, providing educational opportunities for jail inmates and reaching out to religious groups in the community, while also keeping crime in the county low.
Everybody’s entitled to his own opinion. Which is exactly why we were pleased to learn recently that Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell is considering challenging Baca in next year’s election. McDonnell is the former second in command at the Los Angeles Police Department under Chief William J. Bratton, and he served on the county commission that recently criticized Baca. If he were to run, he would be Baca’s first credible challenger since he was elected 15 years ago. Baca ran unopposed in 2010.
While it’s still far too early for this page to endorse any candidate, we would be pleased to see a real race in which Baca’s strengths and shortcomings could be seriously considered by voters. We hope McDonnell will be the first of many qualified candidates to enter the race.
Late on Friday, the Daily News editorial board opined in stronger terms still:
Here are some clips:
And we thought the Awards Season silliness was over.
On the stiletto heels of the Golden Globes, Grammys and Oscars, the National Sheriffs’ Association just named the winner of its big annual award. How big an upset is it? Imagine if “John Carter” had won Best Picture.
The organization announced Monday that the 2013 honoree for national Sheriff of the Year is — the envelope, please — Los Angeles County’s own Leroy D. “Lee” Baca.
Wow, how bad a year did every other sheriff in the United States have?
But L.A. County residents who think back to Baca’s headlines over the past year probably will think first of his failure to stop or accept responsibility for an inmate-abuse scandal involving sheriff’s deputies, and allegations that deputies harassed minorities in the Antelope Valley.
That’s only one reason the public has questioned Baca’s leadership and this space looks forward to the 15-year incumbent receiving a re-election challenge in 2014 from Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.
Baca will officially receive the Sheriff of the Year award on June 23 at the NSA’s annual conference in Charlotte, N.C. In the spirit of the moment, Baca can at least make like Jennifer Lawrence and trip on his way to the podium.
Given the way he responded to the jail-abuse allegations, he might be the first award-winner to begin his speech, “I’d like to blame all the little people …”
SAN FRANCISCO D.A. GEORGE GASCON HOPES THAT SF SENTENCING REFORM CAN BE A MODEL FOR THE STATE
As a former LAPD Assistant Chief, and former Chief of Police for both Mesa, Arizona and San Francisco, SF DA George Gascon is not unfamiliar with the realities of crime and law enforcement. Yet as DA, he’s gone to bat for a sentencing reform commission for SF County, and now in a new publication called Justice in California, sponsored by the Rosenberg Boundation, Gascon writes of the importance of sentencing reform and how he hopes that that San Francisco’s commission can serve as a model for the state.
Here’s a clip from Gascon’s essay in which he talks about sentencing and other ways that prosecutors can push for productive reform:
Most criminal law is developed legislatively through the political process, with mandatory minimum sentences and sentence enhancement laws changing every year. Often, this process is influenced by political reactions to high-profile cases or attempts to be “tough on crime.”
The challenge of politically driven sentencing schemes is that the resulting hodgepodge of criminal laws is largely disconnected from the most effective strategies to prevent or reduce crime. If, for example, reducing recidivism were a major goal of the development and design of sentencing schemes, they would look very different than they do now.
Other states are using nonpartisan governmental entities, called sentencing commissions, to assess existing sentencing schemes and propose alternate approaches. Several of these commissions have succeeded at revamping major penal code sections and bringing consistency and clarity to the jurisdictions’ approach to sentencing.
In San Francisco, the District Attorney’s office led an effort to establish the first county-level sentencing commission in California, with the explicit purpose of assessing the impact on recidivism of current approaches to sentencing.
Our commission can serve as a model for other state and local efforts. While the commission is not empowered to change state law, it will be able to make recommendations and build consensus among criminal justice agencies, service agencies, victims, and other stakeholders about the most effective strategies to reduce recidivism among various categories of offenders and offenses. By holding these important discussions in a public forum, the commission can demystify sentencing laws and practices.
Read on. There’s more.
NEW YORK’S PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES PAY EXECUTIVES AND FACULTY STARS LARGE BONUSES AND HEALTHY EXIT PACKAGES WHILE HIKING STUDENT TUITIONS
The New York Times has this story about controversial big payouts for NYU faculty stars as they go out the door, which makes one wonder if California’s state colleges and universities have similar golden parachute strategies.
Here’s a clip from the report by the NY Times’ Ariel Kaminer:
New York University attracts figures of international stature with the promise that the university is a rewarding place to work. Less well known is how rewarding it can be to leave.
That fact came into view after President Obama nominated Jacob J. Lew, a former executive vice president of N.Y.U., to lead the Treasury Department. (The Senate confirmed his nomination last week.) In 2006, the university acknowledged, it awarded him a $685,000 bonus as he was leaving to take a position at Citigroup, an unusual payment for someone who was leaving voluntarily, especially at a nonprofit institution.
But Mr. Lew is not the only one who received a sizable parting gift.
According to an N.Y.U. tax return, Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, a psychiatrist who had served as an executive at N.Y.U. Medical Center and founded N.Y.U.’s Child Study Center, received a payment of $1,230,000 in the 2009-10 fiscal year, around the time he left to found the Child Mind Institute, a competing organization.
The documents describe that payment as severance, something that is most commonly given when an employee is forced out of a job….