LA County Board of Supervisors Probation

THE COMMUTER-IN-CHIEF: Do We Care That Probation Chief Jerry Powers Commutes 330-Miles on the County’s Dime?


Probation Chief Jerry Powers still hasn’t moved to Los Angeles from his home in Northern California after being on the job since December 5, 2011.

The fact that Powers received a $25,000 moving allowance along with his $255,000 yearly salary, plus benefits, but still hasn’t packed up and relocated in a southerly direction has been a growing source of irritation to many of the rank and file who work under him.

“It makes us feel like he isn’t really committed to LA, that he doesn’t have a personal investment,” said one probation veteran.

It is a sentiment we’ve heard from many department members in the last six months, inevitably accompanied by speculation as to who was paying Powers’ hotel bill during the work week.

Now CBS 2 News investigative reporter David Goldstein, has looked into issue of Powers’ non-So-Cal residence, including who is paying for what, when it comes to the various costs of the chief’s No Cal commute.

Goldstein’s report was broadcast at 11 pm Wednesday night (and promo’d for a full day before.)

In addition, WitnessLA has done its own poking around on the subject.

So, here’s the deal:

Yes, when he’s not at home, Powers has been staying in a hotel during his nearly 18 months on the job, and the county’s been picking up the tab.

BUT, that tab has been a drawdown from the $25,000 move-in allowance that was a part of his contract. Thus far he has used nearly $23,000 of that $25K. When the allowance is gone, Powers says, he’ll pick up his own hotel bill.

As for the cost of driving his county-issued SUV (for the use of which he reportedly pays $575 a month) the taxpayer has indeed been paying the gasoline tab for Powers’ 660-mile round trip, a cost that, it seems, has been approved by the County CEO and the Board of Supes.

Goldstein also reported that Powers often leaves the office at midday on Friday and doesn’t come back to his office in Downey until Monday.

So, is the county taxpayer getting a raw deal?

Well, by all accounts, Powers isn’t a slacker when it comes to work hours, and we hear that his labors don’t stop just because he’s not at the office.

Plus, if he wants to use his move-in allowance on a hotel, do we really care, now that we know he’s not double-dipping?

The cost of the gasoline might be arguable. But he’s hardly the only county manager with such an arrangement.

(And frankly, some of us are a lot more vexed about the fact that undersheriff Paul Tanaka is no longer actually doing any work whatsoever for the county, but still drives a county car and draws his full salary until his magical retirement date of August 1. But that’s another subject altogether.)

So is this whole commute thang a non-issue? Or is there something here that matters?


After talking to an array of those inside and close to the department, the real problem, as we see it, is the message that the paid commute sends.

When Bill Bratton took over the LAPD, it was no secret to anyone that he would eventually move back to the east coast. Bratton’s an east coast guy. He ooozes Boston and Manhattan from his pores.

But while he was here, he and his wife genuinely made LA their home. They joined the social scene. They found favorite restaurants, favorite cultural events, favorite LA authors. They made friends. Bratton was present.

Powers already has a reputation of being aloof from his rank and file, which in any organization can be a problem. In law enforcement—and probation is law enforcement—it’s potentially a disaster in terms of morale.

The men and women of law enforcement don’t need to be coddled, but they do need to know that if they work hard and follow their chief’s leadership, that he or she will respect them, and have their backs.

Certainly, it’s not impossible to have one’s back from 330 miles away.

But it’s harder.


POST SCRIPT: Here’s the memo that Powers sent Wednesday to the members of the department regarding the CBS 2 broadcast: Jerry Powers Commuter email 5-22-2013


  • Mr. Powers needs to make a committment to the city he is working in by being present. While I don’t like the fact that he has used his $25,000 moving allowance for a hotel, it is not unethical. However, the gasoline expense at the tax payer’s expense because it is convenient for him is not ethical, nor are the unethical expenses of other city administrators who are bilking the tax payer with the city and the Sheriff’s Department’s permission.

    Mr. Tanaka is burning up his time as many, many sheriff’s department employees do before they retire. However, most of them turn in their county vehicles and equipment when they know they will not be returning before their official retirement date. Mr. Tanaka is still using the county vehicle and gasing up at the pump. Shame on him and shame on the administration that allows him to steal.

  • The man has turned over rocks to uncover corruption and scandal, enforced long forgotten policy and stressed ethics. He has brought leadership to the thousands of employees that have been without a skipper for years. Goldstein goes after him for his commute? Really? Is that all ya got? A $5200 fuel bill in 16 months? $325 a month? A dare say that is A LOT less than most other Department Heads. Shoot, that’s less than my monthly fuel bill. And to top it off, it’s all been approved by the CEO, BOS and in his contract? So why is this non-story a story? Who is whispering in Goldstein’s ear? Who wants him out? Go investigate that.

  • Dont like this one bit. News articles report that this man got a 28000 per year raise to come to lost angeles. He also was paid a significant amount of money to move and its clear he has no intention of doing so. Shame on the Board for allowing this. They need to do a better job next time. Doesnt sound like he has accomplished anything that any other skilled administrator could not have handled.

  • The bigger issue is that the car allowance may be pensionable. LA County has hundreds of take-home cars. Ask the question of how many “car allowances” exist, who has them and which are pensionable. The short term costs are minuscule compared to the long term costs.

  • I seen the story and applaud any reporter who monitors the abuse of taxpayers dollars. I don’t know Mr. Powers, and by seeing his interview I see a very arrogant man. He had the nerve to say some things that are alarming to his staff, and the public.
    1. It not a secret I leave early,
    2. I do enough work for the week
    3. I can’t answer for the tax payer
    Isn’t this the man who was on Witness LA a few weeks ago saying he released his honesty directive?
    He was on this site. In his directive he said he wouldn’t tolerate vehicle abuse for personal use and not working work hours.

    So your telling me I’m paying this guy 255000 a yr plus the perks of a car, gas, and living accommodations and all he has to is work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday?

    Lastly I’m disappointed at his math….he drove 47000 miles in 17months….thats an average of 2900 miles a month…and at 16 miles a gallon is comes to approximately 183 gallons of gas used.

  • These types of abused are yet another reason why taxes are high, why nothing gets accomplished, & proof that these kinds of bureaucracies work hand in hand with officials elected and appointed & allowed to fleece taxpayers. Will anything be done about it? Probably not until government is shrunk down so small that it can be drowned in a tub.

  • Chief powers is a fraud all he has did was hire his friend from up north who are not and never be vested in our community. He has done nothing regarding the many retaliation discrimination and fraudulent hiring practices that’s been going on under his term. All he is doing id trying to make himself look like a hero in the public eye. Veterans still aren’t getting promoted but yet he hires more people off the streets than he promotes from within. And anytime you file a grievance or complaint your get discriminated against and retaliated against right away he’s a fraud and isn’t from this community the board of supervisors are wasting la county residence money. Kim vieira was hired by redondo beach and quit in one day now she is the head of Los Angeles county human resources. Don Meyers had fraudulent non-profit aim which he wasn’t paying taxes on and margarita Perez couldn’t even get the jails under control but these are the people from up north he hired to run our dept. shame on him and Stanislaus county he only supervised like 300-400 staff we have more than that in each juvenile hall smh this is who the dept entrust your property tax money too. He’s gonna leave our dept with a better pension than employees who worked 30 years and he’s only been here 3 years so far. Management are liar theives and con-artist who need to be investigated for corruption

  • Just read the above comment. Why would LA County hire someone who quit another local government position after just one day? Was a job promised? Favortism shown? Unethical hiring practices? Hopefully the Board of Supervisors will investigate this.

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