The LA Times’ Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard report that Undersheriff Paul Tanaka did not, in fact, announce his retirement earlier this month because “he felt it was time,” (as department spokespersons then maintained). To the contrary, Tanaka left, not by his own choice, but because Sheriff Baca insisted rather firmly that his second in command pull the plug.
This revelation is not exactly news since the sheriff himself said as much to the LA News Group editorial board last week (which we pointed out on Friday).
Moreover, we reported on the issue more than two weeks ago, based on information from a variety of insider sources. We did so here at WLA, and on Warren Olney’s Which Way LA? (although, at the time, we were admittedly a bit more circumspect, in order to politely allow room for the “wanted more time for his family” meme put forth by department spokesman Steve Whitmore).
However, there is one genuinely meaningful piece of news embedded in Monday’s LA times story and that is the last sentence in this paragraph:
One source close to Tanaka said the undersheriff believes Baca views him as a political liability and is trying to use him as a scapegoat for the jail’s problems as the sheriff seeks reelection to a fifth term. That same source, who has spoken with Tanaka, said Tanaka has not ruled out running for sheriff himself, challenging his boss in the 2014 election. [Italics mine]
The fact that Paul Tanaka still believes he can be the next sheriff is both flabbergasting and, sadly, not a surprise at all. Despite the growing string of scandals that follow Tanaka like an elaborate and ever-expanding kite tail, as recently as February, according to well-placed sources inside the department, the undersheriff was still maneuvering to get his own loyalist slates elected to the various boards of the two LASD unions—ALADS and PPOA—–plus LA county’s main law enforcement fraternal organizations, namely BPOA (Black Peace Officer’s Association of Los Angeles County) and HAPCOA (Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association)—with the idea that their combined support could provide signficant help him in a bid for sheriff in 2014.
What a race that would be!—especially if someone untainted by the current scandals comes in from the outside, like Long Beach Chief, Jim McDonnell.