Thursday, March 3, 2011
ADDA President Hyatt Seligman Responds to Criticism
We received the following from ADDA President Hyatt Seligman in response to comments raised by our February 17, 2010 post:
"I would like to use this forum as another way to help the ADDA reach out to our fellow deputies and help overcome the legitimate criticism that we have done a poor job of communicating. That is the subject of my comment.
Board meetings are open to all deputies. We try and get the word out before every meeting, more on that later, but for years, and now into the future, they are every third Tuesday of the month, starting at 6 PM. They are held at AFSCME, 514 Shatto Place, LA 90020, near the major cross streets of Wilshire Boulevard and Virgil. I hope to see 50 of you at the next meeting on March 15! It's all of our union, not mine.
Equally importantly, I am open to talk to any deputy any time he or she wants. You can call me at my work in Long Beach in your free time, which as a salaried professional, thanks to your union, is pretty much up to you. Or you can email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, yes, we are gathering signatures for an agency shop election which I am happy to discuss in detail with any deputy or group of deputies openly.
Those that accuse the ADDA Board of trying to hide or do things in secret are off the mark. We are desperately trying to get our message out on all of the issues of concern to every deputy. We want every deputy to know what we are trying to do and why so we can do a better job of serving everyone. That's the simple truth.
I must say, if I thought our Board was controlled by the sinister, secret, manipulative characters that are depicted here by some, I would not support this union either. After attending one monthly Board meeting, however, one would be disabused of such notions immediately. The meetings are full of diverse and deeply felt opinions. No one person or group controls anything or anybody. Every decision made, good or bad, is approved by the Board, and normally by large, nearly unanimous numbers.
Have you ever tried to herd cats? How about 21 lawyers, most of whom think they know everything? That's not a criticism of my fellow Board members. It's just crazy it is to think of the Board in dark, conspiratorial terms. The Board and I are committed to transparency.
Our most fundamental problem is communications. It is embarrassing that in this electronic age, our union is hamstrung in getting its word out, but let's not lose focus as to why, good people.
The office has an electronic email system, Lotus Notes, that would be perfect for our union to communicate with each and every deputy in our represented unit instantaneously. Since we are under a fiduciary obligation to represent all deputies, union and non-union, we have asked management for years to use Lotus Notes for that legitimate business purpose in the interests of better morale and comity. This was most recently requested, again, at our first Joint Labor Management Council meeting about two weeks ago.
Unfortunately, the County and management have a very narrow interpretation of the phrase "County Business." So they have said no, so far. We believe the law and good, common sense is on our side, so we are trying to reason with them to agree or find a suitable alternative. It's all part of the process of better labor relations which we are pursuing. Nevertheless, the main reason we can't just touch a keyboard and instantly message our deputies at this time isn't because we don't want to or are trying to hide what we are doing. It's because management won't let us use the best available tool for it. Hopefully that will change.
So it's left up to us, right? So let's look in the mirror.
Our own website is in need of dramatic improvement, a fact long recognized, but here is the rub. We need a union member to volunteer to keep it updated and maintain it with all the bells and whistles like Facebook and Twitter. The person tasked with it now, frankly, is overwhelmed with other duties. I would welcome those who wish to help out in this area. If one critic would volunteer to do so, he would make a tremendous contribution to our union and all deputies.
In the meantime, we are left to use email addresses voluntarily given to us by deputies with their permission or to use the worksite, snail-mail, addresses provided by management, which frankly, are often wrong. This means, regrettably, that our message, actions, notices, and requests are not sent to every deputy. It is this unintended vacuum of information that allows misperceptions about our union to sprout seed and to weaken it, thus damaging all of the deputies in this great office.
I hope this comment is the start of a productive dialogue. I want to address each of the serious issues raised here, one at a time, as long as I am allowed to do so. As always, I welcome constructive criticisms or suggestions from any deputy.
March 3, 2011"
So, take this opportunity to have an open dialogue with the ADDA by commenting here, either anonymously or use your name. Either way, it's time the majority of DDAs who often find out too late that something has been done in their name, got involved.
If you want to let the ADDA know your thoughts on the Agency Shop, there's also an unofficial online survey at the Los Angeles League of Independent Deputy District Attorneys where you can also have your say.