Monday, January 19, 2015

Shockwaves and Fallout follows AFSCME-ADDA Disaffiliation

On January 7, 2015, the organized labor world received a shock upset; the ADDA succeeded in breaking free from AFSCME, the overwhelming, under-performing and overly-expensive big labor group that promised much, but delivered little.

The shotgun marriage that brought the ADDA under the control of AFSCME was always an embarrassment to DDAs; it was a legacy of the duplicitous self-serving 'leadership' of disgraced former ADDA President Steve Ipsen, who was subsequently fired by the DA's Office for misconduct.

If the marriage was uncomfortable and embarrassing, the divorce has been acrimonious. Upon hearing the results of the vote that kicked AFSCME out, AFSCME officials retaliated by obstructing and preventing the ADDA Board from conducting any further business on AFSCME premises.

The following day, ADDA President Marc Debbaudt sought to update the ADDA website,, only to find that the AFSCME-supplied 'business representative' who is responsible for such things, was "out of the office until February 2, 2015." As we go to press, the ADDA website remains unchanged. Until the ADDA manages to gain control of its website, a series of email messages has informed members of developments.

Hell hath no fury than a big labor group scorned, it seems, and AFSCME is apparently no exception. The loss of the ADDA's $340k annual 'union dues' is, perhaps, not the main reason for AFSCME's shabby conduct and acrimony.

It seems more likely that the failure by AFSCME's local officials to prevent the ADDA from breaking free has caused major embarrassment to the Washington DC based national union. Sources suggest the AFSCME may be bracing themselves for more disaffiliation/decertification moves others who are less than satisfied with AFSCME and will view the ADDA breakaway as a signal for similar action.

Meanwhile at the ADDA, Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath who fronted the pro-AFSCME movement, tendered his resignation on January 14, 2015. Directors Stuart Lytton and Loren Naiman have also resigned, leaving three positions open on the ADDA Board. With many of the Ipsen-era old guard now gone, the opportunity exists to reshape the ADDA into being more representative of its members' interests and concerns. Those interested in serving are invited to contact ADDA President Marc Debbaudt by email the address of which appears in the comments section.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

ADDA Kicks Out AFSCME - Big Labor Group "Reeling" In Defeat

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys delivered a crushing and resounding blow to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), when ADDA members voted 143 to 65, to oust the under-performing, expensive and corruption-tainted big labor group. AFSCME had promised much, but delivered little in return for the $1M in members dues that had been paid over the past three years.

Participation in ADDA votes has traditionally been low, but when independent CPA firm Haynie & Co announced that 208 ballots had been received in the disaffiliation election, an audible gasp filled the meeting room at AFSCME headquarters.

Representatives from CPA firm Haynie & Co. announced that 208 ballots had been received
before the ballots were verified and counted
 Of the 396 ADDA members, 53.25% had voted, a participation level previously unheard of. It was a sign that members were motivated, and that was bad news for AFSCME who, like most unions, thrive only when member participation is low.

When the ballots were counted, the overwhelming majority vote to disaffiliate from AFSCME (almost 70%) was not only unimpeachable, but a crushing blow to embattled AFSCME Executive Director Cheryl Parisi, who faces a humiliating career setback as a result of loosing her grip over the ADDA. It is a rainy day in hell when a big labor union is trounced to defeat, and ADDA President Marc Debbaudt deserves the credit for bravely leading the charge against "the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million working and retired members."

The counting of the ballots was not without some drama. ADDA Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath, who supported remaining under the heel of AFSCME, tried to halt the count by insisting that signatures on envelopes containing the ballots be verified before the ballots could be counted. ADDA Vice President Michele Hanisee promptly dismissed McGrath's challenge and ordered the count continue upon the assurance that it was the ballots that were to verified, not the envelopes.

McGrath, however, was not satisfied and insisted that the vote was not "secret." Indeed, as Haynie & Co conducted the vote, McGrath was conducting his own count, using a list of ballot numbers and recording which ballot numbers had voted to "withdraw" (i.e. disaffiliate from AFSCME) or "stay" with AFSCME. McGrath was somehow able to determine members' identities by the ballot numbers, and is currently the only ADDA Board Member who has a list of members' names, and how they voted. ADDA President Marc Debbaudt commented that if the vote was not "secret," it was McGrath who had violated the secrecy requirement, not the CPA firm.

It is unknown whether McGrath will be required to surrender the list as the ADDA was unable to conduct any further proceedings inside AFSCME headquarters. The ADDA Board were due to discuss how to handle the McGrath situation in an Executive Session where the vote was also to be ratified. However, AFSCME promptly expelled the ADDA Board from AFSCME premises; a move that was not only childish, but futile, as it is understood that the Board convened at a local restaurant to conduct their remaining business.

The ADDA's decision to dump AFSCME is unlikely to face any legal challenge. The magnitude of the margin of victory and the high level of voter participation dispels any suggestion that the "non secrecy" of the vote deterred full participation - an argument often cynically used to by union activists to undermine and obfuscate what should be a democratic process.

Some might argue that the employment of an independent firm of CPAs actually encouraged voter participation, because many DDAs might  have been deterred from voting their conscience if AFSCME had been allowed to conduct the ballot count. Other unions keen to rid themselves of affiliation from AFSCME, will likely follow the ADDA's lead in using independent CPAs to conduct their elections.

If AFSCME was unsurprisingly less that gracious in defeat, McGrath had the decency to issue an email message acknowledging defeat.

As a result of the vote to dump AFSCME, a new era dawns on the ADDA. The specter of disgraced former ADDA Presidents Steve Ipsen and Hyatt Seligman self-interested leadership would seem to be well and truly exorcised, and the enforced, unwelcome and unholy alliance with anti-public safety big labor groups is thankfully over.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Disaffiliation Vote - Live Update

The counting of ballots in the ADDA disaffiliation vote has started at AFSCME headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. 

According to the CPA firm hired specifically for the election, 208 ballots have been received.

The task of verifying the ballots is underway, and we will publish the results as soon as possible.

The ballots have been verified and counting has commenced. 52.25% of ADDA members cast votes, an exceptionally high turnout that likely favors Debbaudt's disaffiliation campaign. 

7:55pm The process of counting the ballots is quite simple and transparent. The CPA looks at the verified ballot and announces whether it's a vote to "withdraw" or "stay." So far approximately half the ballots have been counted, and it looks like the word "withdraw" is heard twice as often as "stay" suggesting a landslide for disaffiliation.  

8:05pm. ADDA votes to disaffiliate! 
Of 208 votes cast, 143 were for disaffiliation and 65 were to remain with AFSCME. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Which Way ADDA? Pt 10 Countdown to Disaffiliation

With no official figures being released as to how many ballots have been submitted by ADDA members for the all-important decision on whether to end the ADDA's troubled relationship with big labor group AFSCME, fears mount that a low turnout will favor retention of AFSCME. The deadline for ballots to be counted is 5pm on Wednesday January 7, 2015. That effectively means that if DDAs do not mail their ballots by Monday night, January 5, they will have no say in which way ADDA?

 In the Dragnet's opinion, a correctly completed ballot should look like this:

The vote to disaffiliate from AFSCME is probably the most significant vote in the ADDA's history since the appallingly low voter participation in the vote to join AFSCME three years ago. A vote to disaffiliate offers DDAs a chance not only to be independent, but to send a powerful message to "big labor" groups like AFSCME. That message is a simple one: You may crave DDAs membership dues and bragging rights over representing a respectable law enforcement oriented organization, but if you abandon promises, if you renege on agreements, and if you deliver piss-poor performance, there is a price. Disaffiliation.

Since giving AFSCME over $1M in member dues, AFSCME has failed miserably. It was incapable of delivering any results in terms of pay increases, and simply rolled over and accepted the offer that was made to all LA County employees, regardless of whether they were represented by unions or not. DDAs got the same cost of living increase as Public Defenders, yet the PDs got that increase without having to give $1M to a big labor group like AFSCME.

AFSCME also ignored the values and interests of DDAs with their foolhardy and politically motivated support for Prop 47, despite assurances that AFSCME would not become involved in a political campaign that "does not have a labor related impact." There is no labor related impact arising from Prop 47.

Given the evidence that AFSCME is philosophically and ethically wholly unfit to represent DDAs, the most troubling aspect of the disaffiliation vote is the large number of DDAs who do not vote. Apathy is AFSCME's best friend in this vote, and while some DDAs have doubtless been fooled by promises from AFSCME to improve pay and pensions, others realize that the results of the past three years speak for themselves. A vote to stay with AFSCME is tantamount to doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Worse, if the disaffiliation vote fails, DDAs will remain locked with AFSCME in perpetuity. There will not be another opportunity to leave. As an independent organization, the ADDA will be able to choose whether to remain independent or align with another organizations with views, ethics and values more akin with law enforcement.

If you have not already voted, do so. If you know anyone who is on the fence, urge them to vote.
Vote to disaffiliate before it's too late.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Which Way ADDA? Pt 9 - Disaffiliation Decision Dawns

January 7, 2015 is the deadline for receipt of the mail-in ballots that will decide the future of the ADDA.

The choice facing Deputy District Attorneys is straightforward; vote to disaffiliate and dump AFSCME, or remain under the control of the big labor union that has taken over $1M in dues and provided nothing but empty and broken promises in return.

A vote to disaffiliate will allow DDAs to decide who best represents their core values. AFSCME, the big labor group that was the choice of disgraced former ADDA Presidents Ipsen and Seligman, has lived up to its reputation for promising much and delivering nothing.

Current ADDA President, Marc Debbaudt, the first genuinely elected ADDA President since the dark ages of the Ipsen-Seligman era, was voted into leadership on a promise to rid the ADDA of AFSCME's expensive and failed representation. Debbaudt has since made a powerful case for disaffiliation, showing that the ADDA can be more effective at representing the interests and values of DDAs than AFSCME, who will forever be remembered for failing to achieve any gains for DDAs; in the last round of negotiations with the Board of Supervisors, DDAs received exactly the same Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increases as Deputy Public Defenders, who have no union to represent them. In fact Deputy PDs did better than DDAs because the PDs do not have $900 a year confiscated from them by AFSCME in mandatory union dues.

AFSCME talk a big talk. They claim to have "political clout," they claim to "own" two newly-elected Supervisors because they contributed to their election campaigns, they claim to be able to negotiate better terms for DDAs in the next round of negotiations. But although some say talk is cheap, in AFSCME's case it's very expensive. About $1M expensive. And for all the talk, the results of three years of AFSCME representation speaks for itself; nothing, nada, zip.

Worse than zero results from AFSCME, is their shameful political support for policies adverse to the interests of DDAs. AFSCME ignored the ADDA's expressed opposition to Prop 47, and instead endorsed the ill-conceived, poorly-written, get out of jail card for thousands of convicted felons. AFSCME's shameful betrayal of DDA's interests and values should not go unanswered. A vote to disaffiliate from AFSCME sends precisely the message that needs to be sent; DDAs will not stand with those who have no respect for public safety. AFSCME has done everything that could possibly be done to prove that they are unworthy representatives for DDAs.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Which Way ADDA? Pt 8 - Guide to Voting to Disaffiliate

Many Deputy District Attorneys will have now received their ballots. The time has come for DDAs to make a decision; vote to DISAFFILIATE and allow the Association of Deputy District Attorneys to become independent, or remain shackled to AFSCME - the big labor group that has taken $1M in dues from DDAs over the past three years, and has delivered nothing of substance in return.

BOLO ALERT! Be on the lookout for an envelope in your mail like this:
The ballot is contained inside a letter that should look like the one depicted above
and should not be confused with junk mail from AFSCME.
It's a thick envelope and should not be mistaken for junk mail like the forged AFSCME mailer that purported to be from three "law enforcement and public safety colleagues" but was apparently a rather crass attempt to fool DDAs into remaining "in solidarity" with AFSCME. A recent comment from ADDA Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath confirmed the Dragnet's suspicions that the forgery was produced entirely "in house" by AFSCME.

Inside the envelope DDAs will find 3 important items, the ballot, an envelope to contain the ballot, and a return envelope to contain the envelope containing the completed ballot.

The ballot looks like this:
The ballot should look like the one above. The vote indicated is for guidance only.
Having placed your 'X' clearly in the box of your choice, place the ballot inside the ballot envelope:
The completed ballot envelope should look like the example above
with the voter's printed name and signature.
 Having placed the completed ballot inside the ballot envelope, DDAs should print and sign their name where indicated, and then place the ballot envelope inside the return envelope:
The ballot envelope is placed inside the postage-paid return envelope
and should be promptly mailed.
Mail the return envelope without delay. All ballots must be received by January 7, 2015.

Voting in ADDA matters has historically seen a bafflingly low number of votes cast. In the original vote that resulted in affiliation with AFSCME, less than 50% of those eligible to vote, actually participated. With the benefit of hindsight, and the irrefutable evidence that three years of AFSCME cost DDAs $1M with nothing in return, hopefully more DDAs will recognize the importance of this vote, and participate.

A substantial number of DDAs have no vote at all. They are likely people who are philosophically opposed to organized labor for professionals. Nevertheless, they are forced to pay union dues. While they do not have a vote in this important matter, they are not without a voice. They can, and should speak to their fellow DDAs, and ask the simple question "Are you a fee-paying ADDA member with a vote in disaffiliation?" and encourage them to vote to disaffiliate from AFSCME.

Non ADDA members may be surprised to learn that many ADDA members are in favor of terminating AFSCME's piss-poor representation of their interests. A partial list of DDAs in favor of getting rid of AFSCME appears in a document supplied with the ballot:

Non ADDA members are encouraged to contact those with a vote and express their support. They can also place a message on the ADDA board - a post it note, saying "Please axe AFSCME."

Unrepresentative, unresponsive, under-performing organized labor groups like AFSCME thrive in an atmosphere where voters are apathetic and arcane rules stifle freedom of speech. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to break the stranglehold that AFSCME has over DDAs. This is not a time to be silent. Have your say.

For up to date information on the disaffiliation vote,  please visit the pro-Disaffiliation website:

In the interests of fair and balanced reporting, here is the AFSCME sponsored website:


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Which Way ADDA? Pt 7 Debbaudt Debunks AFSCME "Message"

DDAs will have received "A Message from your Law Enforcement and Public Safety Colleagues in the CCU" hot on the heels of the December 15 ADDA Board meeting.

The message purports to be from three law enforcement unions representing Deputy Sheriffs, Deputy Probation Officers and Firefighters, and urges DDAs to "stay with AFSCME."

Probation Officer's Union President Ralph Miller did not authorize the use of his signature
to this letter.

The Dragnet previously speculated that the letter was likely the work of AFSCME's Cheryl Parisi, "she may well have dictated, printed and mailed it for them." we said. Confirmation of our suspicions came in the form of a comment from ADDA President Marc Debbaudt suggesting that the digital signature of Ralph Miller, President of the Probation Officers Union had been affixed to the letter "without his [Miller's] permission or authorization."
"This is the equivalent of forgery" Debbaudt said.

Debbaudt points out that under "union rules" individual unions are not allowed to criticize other unions, and they must "come to their aid or be sanctioned." In other words, if Miller has been presented with the letter he would have had to sign it or face sanctions. But according to Debbaudt, Miller was never even asked.

Miller has been an outspoken critic of AFSCME, according to DDA Steve Dickman's open letter to DDAs urging them to disaffiliate, Dickman says "I attended an ADDA meeting in which the President of the Probation Officers Union (that is stuck in AFSCME and can’t get out of it) spoke. They affiliated with AFSCME yet he was deeply critical of them saying AFSCME had not provided the promised services or support. He warned us not to affiliate with them." Dickman said. It is therefore possible that Miller would have chosen to decline to sign the letter and face "sanctions," perhaps even challenge the validity of those sanctions on first amendment grounds.

Whether AFSCME's unauthorized use of Miller's signature constitutes the crime of Forgery was a question raised by a later comment.

The answer likely depends on whether AFSCME's unauthorized use of Miller's signature was done with the "intent to defraud." If indeed, a referral for investigation is made, that will be the key issue. [Those wishing to offer opinions on whether the necessary intent can be established are cautioned to refrain from doing so, due the potential conflict of interest previously discussed.]

If ever better proof was needed that AFSCME is a bad fit for DDAs, this must surely be it.