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.


Which Way ADDA? Pt 6 - The Stench of Fear Hits the Trenches

Monday night's ADDA Board Meeting saw AFSCME's response to the growing organic movement to disaffiliate from the big labor group roundly decimated by ADDA President Marc Debbaudt. With Jeff McGrath's proposed "special membership meeting" that would have denied DDAs a vote on disaffiliation having previously been eliminated, it fell to AFSCME's Cheryl Parisi and McGrath to try to convince those in attendance that remaining tied to AFSCME is the better route for DDAs. The AFSCME promise is higher pay and better workplace conditions because of AFSCME's "political influence."

Those in attendance reported a sense of desperation if not fear from Parisi and McGrath. For Parisi, the loss of DDA representation goes far beyond the $365,000 that AFSCME takes in dues annually; it challenges her credibility and viability as a rising star in organized labor. The stakes are high for Parisi, and that doubtless led her to make some fairly wild and somewhat childish claims.

Perhaps the most pathetic claim was that AFSCME's recent political and economic support for the campaigns of two newly-elected LA County Board Supervisors, Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, would make pay increases for DDAs a done deal. The implication is that these new supervisors would be more 'big labor friendly' than outgoing uber-liberals Zev Yaroslavsky and Gloria Molina. That claim  is laughable; both Yaroslavsky and Molina were every bit as 'big labor friendly' as their successors.

If the crass in-artfulness Parisi's claim is not a big enough red flag for DDAs that the corruption ridden AFSCME is the wrong choice for a law enforcement oriented organization like the ADDA, then their bald-faced suggestion that there is a "pay to play" relationship between AFSCME and Supervisors Kuehl and Solis surely is the best indication that the kind of people who run AFSCME are not suited to the ethics and standards of DDAs.

Perhaps Parisi was blindsided by the way that Debbaudt tore each and every one of her claims to shreds. After all, it's not like AFSCME represents any other group that consists entirely of post-graduate members. AFSCME is at its essence a blue collar union and the majority of its membership are, perhaps, more inclined to drink the AFSCME Koolaid without question.

Good union soldiers or "bothers and sisters," are expected to roll over and tow the union line. Independent thought is not the "union way" and is actually barred under "union rules."Debbaudt explains this in his recent missive "DDAs To Be Inundated By Messages From Non-Stakeholders." True to Debbaudt's prediction, the first such message arrived by mail Wednesday.

The letter from unions representing Deputy Sheriffs, Probation Officers, and County Firefighters, repeats the same facile, simplistic rhetoric of Parisi, she may well have dictated, printed and mailed it for them. It is well known that the only one of these three organizations that is represented by AFSCME (Deputy Probation Officers) is very dissatisfied with the way AFSCME has represented them. Yet, here's a letter from them and others extolling the virtues of AFSCME and promising that "Pay to Play" is going to fix all your concerns. Even if ALADS, DPOs and Firefighters privately believe that AFSCME sucks, they cannot say that. Is that the kind of organization DDAs want to be associated with?

Yes folks, this is the "union way" and AFSCME is running scared because the overwhelming response to AFSCME, Parisi and McGrath from DDAs is to disaffiliate. DDAs need to terminate this unholy alliance before it's too late.

Ballots are in the mail, please let the Dragnet know when you receive them.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Which Way ADDA? Pt 5 - Deadline to Disaffiliate Dawns

Ahead of Monday night's ADDA "Disaffiliation Meeting," a YouTube video entitled "The Disinterested D.D.A.'s Guide to Disaffiliation" has been posted outlining the some of the arguments in favor of terminating the 3-year relationship with AFSCME.

The video, attributed to DDA Nathan Bartos,  incorporates many of the arguments made by other DDAs who have come to the conclusion that AFSCME is both expensive and inappropriate to represent the interests of a law enforcement oriented group like DDAs.

Other DDAs who have expressed their support for ADDA President Marc Debbaudt's election platform to terminate AFSCME's representation include:

DDA John Harrold, ADDA Director, who points out that AFSCME's explanation for why it has "failed so miserably in representing the interests of DDAs" was to blame former ADDA Presidents for "refusing  to do what AFSCME told them to do." Click here to read the full text of Harrold's message. Blame shifting is not only a well-worn political trick, but has little persuasive impact, and generally belies a failure that has no legitimate explanation. Harrold also expressed his opinion on AFSCME's "Incompetence" during negotiations with the County over DDA pay. Click here to read that message.

DDA James Evans, ADDA Treasurer, who lashes out at AFSCME for repeated failures to provide the ADDA with any accounting "as to how over one million dollars in membership funds were utilized. They have steadfastly refused to provide any meaningful explanation. I have been provided no balance sheets and no profit and loss statements for the years we have paid dues to them. No representations of substance and nothing that would qualify as legitimate documentation." Click here to read the full text of Evan's message. How strange, a big union refusing to turn over financial records as to how funds are used. Perhaps the ADDA should affiliate with Brian D'Arcy's DWP Union; at least he's finally handing over financial records.

DDA Sandi Olivera, former ADDA Director, who lambasts the pro-AFSCME lobby for making personal attacks on those who were brave enough to speak their minds on the demerits of affiliation with AFSCME. "AFSCME is not evil. They are not bad people. But, they are not the right people for us. I urge you to vote to disaffiliate." She says. Click here to read the full text of Olivera's message. Sadly, as Olivera recounts her past experiences on the ADDA Board, vitriolic, scathing and unwarranted personal attacks continues to be the hallmark of the pro-AFSCME lobby. 

DDA John Lewin, who is sharply critical of the "service" AFSCME provides. "AFSCME has done little more than provide us food for our meetings, and in exchange for those chips, enchiladas and tacos, expects lifetime dues in return. It is apparent that whatever interests AFSCME has been serving, they are not those of the hardworking prosecutors in this office ...  I strongly encourage all of you to take this one chance to get out from under our disastrous affiliation with AFSCME." Lewin says. Click here to read the full text of Lewin's message.

DDA Marc Debbaudt, ADDA President, weighs in on AFSCME's contemptible support for Prop 47, and slays the "spin" that the pro-AFSCME lobby are trying to put on their abject betrayal of the ADDA's opposition to Prop 47. "At no time did AFSCME tell ADDA or me that there would be a debate on Prop. 47 at their conference ... If AFSCME had notified us that Prop. 47 was on the agenda, we would have been there." Click here to read the full text of Debbaudt's response to AFSCME's spin.

DDA John Colello, who buttresses his view that "I strongly urge you to WITHDRAW from our affiliation with AFSCME" with some home truths about what three years and a million dollars has bought from AFSCME:
  1. NO increase in compensation;
  2. NO increase in benefits;
  3. NO enhanced working conditions;
  4. NO effective legal representation or grievance representation; and
  5. NO effective political clout.  
Click here for the full text of Colello's message.

DDA Oscar Plascensia blasts AFSCME for supporting "legislation or propositions that undermine public safety." Plascensia states he was "neutral regarding AFSCME initially, but I have been very disturbed by their support of Proposition 47 which is completely counter to the goals of our office."
Click here to read the full text of Plascensia's message. AFSCME's support for Prop 47 may well be the straw that broke the camel's back on the ADDA's relationship with Prop 47's protagonist. The unintended consequences of this deceptively titled proposition continues to rankle, create headlines, and voters are coming to resent the way they were duped. All the more reason to disaffiliate.

DDA Anthony Colannino, ADDA Director, takes AFSCME to task over its lousy reputation for corruption. Colannino knows "first hand how corrosive an affiliation with corruption can be to both individuals and organizations." Colannino cites 17 recent cases where AFSCME officials have been either implicated in, or convicted of corruption, and raises the valid point that the taint of corruption will impact DDAs:
  • Does anyone believe that California legislators are unaware of the AFSCME’s nationwide reputation and the jailing of its leaders?
  • How are the interests of DDA’s advanced and protected by being associated with an organization with a nation-wide reputation that is outlined below?
  • When will judges and/or defense attorneys connect the dots and raise the point that DDA’s are part an organization such as AFSCME; and how will that help us represent the People of the State of California?
Click here to read the full text of Colannino's message. Colannino's message can be summed up succinctly "Why would any one, let alone a law enforcement oriented association, want to be associated with an organization with a reputation for corruption like AFSCME?" Another question to ponder is whether the DA's Office would be recused due to a "conflict of interest" from any investigation or prosecution into allegations of AFSCME corruption in Los Angeles County? Could that be a reason why AFSCME is so keen to maintain its so-called representation of DDAs?  Disclaimer: The Dragnet is not aware of any allegations of corruption involving AFSCME or its officers in Los Angeles County that are of a similar nature to those involving AFSCME in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Oregon and New York.

DDA Steve Dickman supports disaffiliation for the simple reason that "they do not share our values as prosecutors." Citing AFSCME's prior support for Prop 66, "an initiative that would have gutted the 3 Strikes law," as well as AFSCME's current support for Prop 47 as examples of divergent values, Dickman also blasts AFSCME for its woeful track record in representing law enforcement personnel. Dickman says he "attended an ADDA meeting where the President of the Probation Officers Union (that is stuck with 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." he said. Click here to read the full text of Dickman's message.

Much of the material above was gathered from the pro-Disaffiliation website:

ADDA Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath has also established a website setting forth the argument in favor of remaining affiliated with AFSCME: In contrast to the 10 DDAs who have urged disaffiliation, McGrath has three, all of whom appear urge DDAs to remain with AFSCME because AFSCME provides  the ADDA with a business representative, photocopying, office space and a meeting room.

Tonight's ADDA meeting will likely see some spirited debate as the pro-AFSCME lobby led by McGrath attempts to explain and excuse AFSCME's lamentable record. As to the all important board vote on whether DDAs will get to vote on disaffiliation, Debbaudt will likely win the day and DDAs will get to have their say. Judging by the number of statements in favor of disaffiliation listed above, the AFSCEM affiliation will soon be a thing of the past. A vote for disaffiliation will provide the ADDA with the opportunity to independently decide whether to affiliate with a larger organization with values that more closely represent DDAs, or to remain a truly independent organization, behooven to nobody but its members.

Bottom line: The ADDA can do better than AFSCME. If it turns out that the ADDA cannot find a better partner than AFSCME, or if hell freezes over while pigs fly, the ADDA can always go back to AFSCME. Once the ballots hit mailboxes, send them back with the resounding message: DISAFFILIATE.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Which Way ADDA? Pt 4 - Disaffiliate!

The battle lines appear to be drawn clearly ahead of the December 15, 2014 ADDA Board Meeting.

On one side, a group of "holdovers" from the dark days of the Ipsen-Seligman era. They are headed by ADDA Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath who recently tried and failed to hold a "special membership meeting." This proposed meeting was nothing short of a shambolic attempt to deny DDAs their democratic right to vote to get rid of AFSCME; the big labor group that has taken $1M in dues from DDAs, and given nothing in return.

On the other side, the "new ADDA," headed by President Marc Debbaudt, together with Board Members brave enough to stand up to McGrath and the deceitful antics of AFSCME. Debbaudt was elected as ADDA President on a platform committed to terminating the ill-conceived relationship with AFSCME, and make the ADDA a truly independent body free to decide on its affiliations and endorsements. Debbaudt urges members to attend the December 15, 2014 meeting to ensure there are no surprises and to hear all the reasons for and against disaffiliation.

A majority of the ADDA Board appears to support Debbaudt's position: It is time to say "thanks and goodbye" to AFSCME. In the three years that AFSCME has purported to represent DDAs at an annual cost of $365,000, there is nothing to show for the $1M in member dues that has flowed to AFSCME.

Worse, AFSCME recently provided the best evidence as to why DDAs should not be represented by a big labor group that ignores the interests of DDAs, in favor of AFSCME's agenda.

AFSCME actively supported and endorsed Proposition 47 despite assurances that AFSCME would not get involved in "non labor related" political issues, and despite their knowledge that the ADDA was opposed to Prop 47.

There are many other reasons why AFSCME is "not a good fit" for the ADDA, but it boils down to this; the original reason for associating with AFSCME was the a result of gross mismanagement by Steve Ipsen and Hyatt Seligman. It's time to put that shameful period in the past and move forward.

McGrath offers no persuasive reason for remaining indentured to AFSCME. His arguments amount to simply "better the devil you know, than the devil you don't know." But the reality is that if members vote to disaffiliate, they will have the opportunity to be independent or to choose from associating with any number of larger organizations who better represent the interests of law enforcement and professionals.

Remaining affiliated with AFSCME is a one way street; there is no way out. There will be no future opportunity to leave AFSCME. If, by some frankly unforeseeable circumstance, the decision to disaffiliate proves to be wrong, there is no down side; the ADDA can always go back to AFSCME - they won't say "No" to $365,000 a year in dues, and neither will other groups who will do more for the ADDA than AFSCME ever did.

Bottom line: AFSCME was a bad deal. It's time to move on.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Met News Blasts Brown over Baker Boondoggle

The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise published a scathing condemnation of California Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown's latest proposed judicial appointment; 37 year old Lamar W. Brown, currently special assistant and associate counsel to the president. Baker is slated for appointment to the California Court of Appeal, a position that will pay $204,600.00 per annum to the Yale graduate with no judicial experience.

Baker is virtually unknown to California state law practitioners - the very people who are currently being contacted through the JNE Commission to opine on his suitability for the Moonbeam appointment.

Exactly why the Governor is so eager to appoint someone with no judicial experience to sit in judgment of the decisions made by judges, is the subject of some well-founded speculation in the Met News "Perspectives" column entitled "Lamar W. Baker: Bereft of Credentials for the State Appellate Bench, He's Apt to be Appointed."

Baker, it seems, has much in common with other recent Brown appointments to the high courts; he is young, a Democrat hailing from Yale, a member of a racial minority and has no judicial experience.

According to the Met News, those appear to be the requisite qualifications for Supreme and Appellate Court jurists in the mind of the man who we must never forget, brought us Rose Bird. Other Moonbeam appointments identified by the Met News are:

California Supreme Court Associate Justice The Hon. Goodwin Liu: Democrat, a Yalie, formerly Associate Dean at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall. Lui was 41 with no judicial experience when appointed to the State's highest court in 2011.

California Supreme Court nominee Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar: Democrat, a Yalie, currently a Stanford Law Professor. He is 42, has no judicial experience and will assume the position being vacated by retiring Associate Justice The Hon. Marvin R. Baxter in January 2015. 

California Supreme Court nominee Leondra R. Kruger: Democrat, a Yalie, described by the LA Times as a "rising legal star and top Obama administration lawyer," Kruger is 38 and has no judicial experience and her California Bar status has been "inactive" since 2009. She will assume the position vacated by retired Associate Justice The Hon. Joyce L. Kennard in 2015.

It's certainly within a Governor's prerogative to choose jurists likely to follow his agenda, however, the wisdom of choosing people who have never sat as judges in lower courts, let alone California courts, is troubling if not bizarre. There is no shortage of experienced judges, both in the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal, who would make ideal Supreme Court Justices, yet Brown has passed them over. Why?

The Met News notes that Brown's appointments were likely viewed favorably by Obama.
  • "Obama in 2010 nominated Liu to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But the nomination languished, and on May 25, 2011, Liu withdrew himself for consideration. Brown came to his rescue, appointing him to the state Supreme Court two months later. 
  • Cuéllar was a member of the Obama-Biden transition team in 2008 and served from 2009-2010 as a special assistant to the president for justice and regulatory policy and has performed other chores for the president. 
  • Kruger is in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel which assists the attorney general in advising the president."
Now Brown is providing a soft landing for Baker, one of several staffers likely choosing to bail out of the Obama administration before their reputations are tarnished irreparably as the sun sets on the hope and change administration.

The big question is why? Why is Brown so keen to curry favor with Obama? The Met News notes that Brown "unsuccessfully, and quixotically, sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1976, 1980, and 1992. He has recently disclaimed any interest in running in 2016. For a politico who has disclaimed an interest in seeking an office to later seek it would hardly be an unprecedented phenomenon."

"Does Governor Moonbeam have the thought in his cranium that he can, through his judicial appointments, so please the president as to win an endorsement from him to be his successor? That would be a pretty wild theory, were it not for the wildness of Brown’s thinking and actions." The Met News said.

Another explanation for Brown's appointments may have more to do with a personal desire to ensure the continued decline of law and order through an activist agenda. Brown has devastated the Superior Court system by substantially defunding it. Through AB109 he has wreaked havoc on the county jails by requiring them to house felons who belong in state prison. Why not ensure that any legal challenges to his agenda are thwarted by a Supreme Court likely to tip the balance in his favor?


Monday, December 1, 2014

There's a New Sheriff in Town - Jim McDonnell Sworn-In as Sheriff of LA County

Less than a year after announcing his bid to become the first outsider to be elected Sheriff of Los Angeles County in over 100 years, Jim McDonnell was today sworn-in as Sheriff.

(Photo credit: John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News)
McDonnell, looking good in green, was joined at the podium by outgoing interim Sheriff John Scott, together with his wife Kathey and daughter Megan, as Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey had the honor of swearing in McDonnell at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.

For Lacey the moment must have been particularly satisfying; Lacey, together with former DA Steve Cooley, formed the core of McDonnell's campaign, a campaign so successful that McDonnell came within a percentage point of winning election outright in the primary election. In the runoff election that followed, McDonnell won by a crushing margin, a victory that owed as much to McDonnell's character and reputation, as it did to having the powerful endorsement, guidance and support of Lacey and Cooley.

For McDonnell, his successful election as LA County Sheriff is a another milestone in a career that has seen him rise through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department to become former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton's second in command, before becoming Long Beach Police Chief. McDonnell was widely tipped to succeed Bratton as LAPD Chief, but lost out to Charlie Beck. It's a loss that McDonnell likely does not regret; while Beck serves at the pleasure of the Mayor of Los Angeles, and must often bow to political wishes regarding law enforcement, McDonnell now finds himself in a more powerful position where he can truly stamp his mark on law enforcement in LA County free from political whims and wishes. That is especially so given crushing electoral victory he obtained.

McDonnell's success in law enforcement was recently recognized by the Los Angeles Police Protective League at their annual Eagle & Badge Awards Dinner.

Former District Attorney Steve Cooley presents Sheriff-elect Jim McDonnell with the
prestigious Line of Duty award at the LAPPL's Eagle & Badge Gala November 19, 2014
(Photo credit: William Kidston)
Former District Attorney Steve Cooley presented McDonnell with the LAPPL's prestigious 'Line of Duty' award at the Eagle & Badge Gala on November 19, 2014. The award, Cooley said, was a tribute to McDonnell's stellar career in law enforcement, encompassing 29 years with the LAPD where McDonnell received the highest award for bravery; the Medal of Valor, as well as his tenure at Long Beach Police Chief, prior to becoming Sheriff elect.

Much is expected of McDonnell, but few doubt that he is precisely the right person to head up the nation's fourth largest law enforcement agency. He brings with him not only a wealth of relevant personal experience, but cadre of experienced and influential civic and law enforcement leaders who will help him to cary out his electoral mandate to restore the prestige and honor of the Sheriff's Department. The Dragnet wishes Sheriff Jim McDonnell every success for the future.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Which Way ADDA Pt.3 Debbaudt Defeats McGrath's "Special Membership Meeting"

Thanks to ADDA President Marc Debbaudt, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys will get the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to sever ties with AFSCME - the pro-Prop 47 big labor group that thus far succeeded only in taking over $1M in "union dues" from DDAs, while delivering nothing in return, or become independent and lower the cost of being an authorized "bargaining unit."

Debbaudt succeeded in blocking a sneaky move by ADDA Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath that would have denied the rank and file a vote. On November 18, 2014, McGrath responded to pressure from the Dragnet to lay his cards on the table and state unequivocally whether he supported giving DDAs a vote on the future of the ADDA - one that remains hog-tied in an unholy alliance and allegiance to AFSCME, or one where the ADDA would be independent. In his response, McGrath stated that he wanted "a special membership meeting to be held on December 15th to allow all members of the union to make this decision." (See Which Way ADDA Pt 2 and scroll down to the 6:00am Update.)

Well that sounds fair enough, doesn't it? "A special membership meeting" where "all members of the union" get to decide? What could possibly be wrong with that? That's a rhetorical question, because there is a great deal wrong with a "special membership meeting."

If DDAs need any better example of why they need to vote to terminate AFSCME's right to take $365,000 a year in "union dues," it is the bald-faced lie that was fed to them by McGrath - an unashamed AFSCME supporter. The "special membership meeting" that McGrath attempted to orchestrate would have meant that a simple majority vote by 45 DDAs would have decided the issue. Under "union rules" McGrath only needed to have 23 DDAs to vote in favor of remaining hog-tied to AFSCME, and 850 DDAs would be "spoken for." McGrath apparently believed that he could round up enough votes to carry the day and deliver DDAs irrevocably into the hands of AFSCME.

McGrath's AFSCME "special membership meeting" was, apparently, within union rules allowing for such meetings to empower less than 5% of the membership to make irrevocable decisions for the majority. Thanks to efforts from Debbaudt, there will be no "special membership meeting," instead, much to the chagrin of McGrath and AFSCME, all members will be mailed ballots and will get to vote on whether to terminate AFSCME.

There many reasons why DDAs need to end their servitude to AFSCME. ADDA President Marc Debbaudt has listed many of them here, but surely the most compelling reason must be to put an end to kind of backroom underhand shenanigans like McGrath's "special membership meetings."

DDAs currently have no say in what their $365,000 in annual "union dues" is used for. AFSCME recently used DDA's dues to support Prop 47, a voter initiative that will result in responsibility for prosecuting 40,000 cases a year being taken away from the District Attorney's Office, and given to City Attorneys to prosecute as misdemeanors instead of felonies. It remains to be seen how that will impact the staffing requirements of the DA's Office, but by any rational analysis, it would appear that the need for felony prosecutors has been significantly diminished.

AFSCME also falsely used the ADDA's "Business Representative" to mislead law enforcement members into believing that DDAs supported an attack on PPOA, the Professional Peace Officers Association - another backroom underhand shenanigan that was perpetrated without the knowledge of DDAs.

AFSCME has a filthy reputation amongst law enforcement groups, one so unsavory that it prompted Alan Barcelona, President of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, not only to point out the number of AFSCME executives who have been convicted of corruption, but to pose the question, "why would anyone in law enforcement want to be represented by those kind of people?"

AFSCME, by its own actions over Prop 47, its abuse of DDA's relationship with PPOA, and McGrath's underhanded attempt to preempt and deny a full members vote, has proven that AFSCME is not a fit body to represent DDAs in any capacity. It is time to end the relationship and to allow Debbaudt not only to lead DDAs independently, but also to lower the annual dues currently exacted from DDAs, something he has committed to do.

On December 15, 2014, ADDA dues paying members will receive ballots allowing them to vote on which way ADDA: stay with AFSCME and continue to hand over $365,000 a year with zero results and even less accountability, or terminate AFSCME and end the dark clouds of the Ipsen-Seligman era, the shady McGrath attempt to end-run democracy, and finally get real representation and some value for money.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Which Way ADDA Part 2

In Part 1 of our coverage of the upcoming battle over whether the Ipsen-Seligman dark ages will continue to rule the future of the ADDA, we looked at five ADDA Board Members who appear to not only support terminating the ADDA's unholy, unsavory and unconscionable alliance with far left-wing, big-labor autocracy AFSCME, but who more importantly, support allowing rank and file ADDA members to vote on termination.

New Dragnet readers may be unfamiliar AFSCME: Who are they? What are they?  In a nutshell, AFSCME is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees -  a socialist union that rogue former ADDA Presidents Ipsen and Seligman brought in after their self-serving agendas brought the ADDA to the brink of bankruptcy. Ispen and Seligman did a deal with the devil AFSCME to get a bailout package for their staggering legal fees bill in the wake of their incompetence, ineptitude and duplicity.

The price of the deal? $1.2M in 'union dues.' For the past three years Grade I &II DDAs have had $558.84 a year extracted from their salaries to repay AFSCME for the Ipsen-Seligman bailout. Grade III & IV DDAs have had $792.60 a year similarly forcibly extracted. It's what current ADDA President Marc Debbaudt describes as a 'vampire deal.'

Beyond the staggering price DDAs have paid for the Ipsen-Seligman bailout, they have received absolutely nothing, repeat, nothing in return. Worse, DDAs are currently locked into a relationship with an organization that supported Prop 47 despite warnings from the ADDA of its dire consequences. On the day after Prop 47 passed, the first of what will doubtless be many Prop 47 disasters struck.

ABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News reported that "Guillermo Lomeli Ceniceros, 39, grabbed the girl as she sat on a bus bench near Sierra Highway and Jakes Way waiting to go to school on Wednesday. A Good Samaritan who saw Ceniceros dragging the victim away stopped her car, honked her horn, yelled at him to stop and immediately alerted law enforcement. The girl managed to run away. Just one day prior to the incident, Ceniceros was arrested for commercial burglary. He would have had to make bail or remain in jail before Prop 47, but thanks to the recently passed initiative, Ceniceros was set free." ABC 7 News reported. A fuller account of the incident is reported on local radio station KHTS AM1220's website.

Eyewitness News reporter Jory Rand said that the Ceniceros incident "May leave California voters feeling that they got it wrong on election day," but the law enforcement community has no doubt that Prop 47 is beyond wrong; it is an unconscionable assault on public safety. For the ADDA to remain aligned with AFSCME, who supported Prop 47 in violation of their promise not to get embroiled in political campaigns that are non-labor related, is simply unacceptable. The ADDA must split with AFSCME and become an independent organization that represents the views of a law enforcement organization.

Although the split with AFSCME should be a no brainer,  it appears that a majority of the ADDA Board are not only in favor of continuing the relationship with AFSCME, but they will actively vote to deny the rank and file members the opportunity to vote to either stay with AFSCME, or do the right thing and say good riddance to a vampire that has taken their money and betrayed their trust.

So today we turn our attention to the six remaining Board Members to examine what their positions may be. Four appear to be not only in favor of continuing to goose-step alongside AFSCME, but in a more significant and sinister manner, appear to be hell-bent on denying the rank and file the opportunity to vote.

Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath: McGrath is one of only two Board Members who does not have a "Goals" statement published on the ADDA website. However, McGrath is understood to be in favor of not only remaining "affiliated" with AFSCME, but voting to deny rank and file members a vote.

Director Craig Gold: Gold is a union man with a background in organized labor. In his goals statement Gold says he wants to"Work in good faith with AFSCME District Council 36 and make a thoughtful, objective assessment on the value of ADDA’s affiliation in due course to determine if ADDA’s membership interests are better served by becoming an independent, nonaffiliated collective bargaining unit/organization." It's hard to see how Gold can claim to want to "work in good faith" with AFSCME after their bad faith betrayal, but that's the power of unions like AFSCME. Gold will likely vote to deny members a vote, and that won't be the first time that Gold has gone against a fellow DDA; in an unsuccessful bid to become a judge in 2012, Gold ran against DDA (now Judge of the Superior Court) Sean D. Coen.

Director Bobby Grace: In his goals statement Grace says he wants to "Establish better relationships with fellow county unions as a means of developing contract negotiating strategies." In the light of his stated goal, it's hard to see how Grace will be able to stand up to pressure from AFSCME. Grace will likely vote to remain with AFSCME and equally vote to deny DDAs a vote.

Director Loren Naiman: Naiman is the other Board Member who does not have a "Goals" statement. Naiman has had a checkered past with the ADDA, having resigned after losing members' records in a security breach.  He was apparently persuaded to return to the fold by Seligman, perhaps an indication that his loyalties lie more with the Ipsen-Seligman-AFSCME group, than with the interests of the rank and file. Naiman is understood to claim to be 'on the fence' over AFSCME, but expected ultimately to side with AFSCME in view of his past loyalties.

Of the remaining two Board Members, it is hard to predict which way they will vote.

Secretary Stuart Lytton: Not much can be gleaned from Lytton's goals statement. He says "It is important for us to develop a strong relationship with the Board of Supervisors and other elected officials not only in the County of Los Angeles, but Statewide. Board members are reaching out to politicians so they know who we are and what we are accomplishing."  Lytton is expected to 'go with the flow' which could mean that he will be too easily persuaded by entreaties from the Ipsen-Seligman-AFSCME group. Significantly, however, Lytton also says "It is important for ADDA to remain politically active." which, in the light of AFSCME's support for Prop 47, may force Lytton into taking a position against AFSCME.

Director Eric Siddall: If Siddall's goals statement can be taken at face value, Siddall should be one of the loudest voice against AFSCME. He says "We deserve an organization that both stands up for our fellow DDAs and stands with our victims on public policy decisions. The reasons I joined this union and its board are similar to why I joined this office. First, I believe as prosecutors we are guardians of public safety. The ADDA as an organization needs to advocate for policies that ensure our community’s security." AFSCME's support for Prop 47 should put Siddall clearly against continuing any form of relationship with AFSCME, but strangely Siddall is understood to be less than decided. Perhaps recent events in the light of the passage of Prop 47 will solidify Siddall's position.

The ADDA Board will meet to decide on whether DDAs get a say in terminating their ill-borne relationship with AFSCME on December 15, 2014. Unfortunately that meeting will take place at AFSCME's downtown LA headquarters, a venue designed not only to attendance by all but the most committed members, but to also deter pesky interference from those opposed to AFSCME. In the absence of a strong showing from rank and file members, AFSCME will likely convince the on the fence or weak Board Members to fall in line like good little soldiers.

It's hard to imagine how the will of DDAs, who face and prosecute criminals on a daily basis, can be so easily overcome by big labor, but it does takes a brave and strong heart to walk into the lions den that is AFSCME headquarters and tell them that there is a price of their betrayal. But then again, at heart, the bully that is big labor, is also a big coward. If enough rank and file DDAs show up with the same esprit de corps that carries them in pursuit of justice on a daily basis, then the ADDA Board will have no difficulty in telling AFSCME that the time has come to go our very separate and different ways.

The ADDA Board has for some reason, perhaps at AFSCME's suggestion, declined to give rank and file members the opportunity to send them individual email. If you want to contact the ADDA Board, you have to go through the 'Business Representative' that AFSCME supplies to the ADDA; Tris Carpenter. But you do have the opportunity to send them a message through the comments here. So go ahead and give them your thoughts on AFSCME. Keep it clean.

And to those ADDA Board Members mentioned here, if you care to correct anything said about your position on AFSCME and denying rank and file members a vote, we welcome your comments.


Director Eric Siddall issued this email message to members:

UPDATED 6:00AM November 18, 2014

Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath posted this comment (repeated here for ease of access):

"Wow. Everyone knows how I feel about this issue. I've been called a "union man" (well I hope it's not just me but everyone on the Board because we are, after all, a union) and it is "understood" that I am voting to deny rank and file members a vote.

Just for the record, I have asked the Board of Directors to call for a special membership meeting to be held on December 15th to allow all members of the union to make this decision. No one has told the membership that they don't have to leave this issue in the hands of just the Board of Directors. The agreement with AFSCME allows the membership to make the disaffiliation decision. You have only been told a part of the story.

Personally, I believe that an open meeting, where both sides of the issue can be presented to the membership so they can hear first hand what the issues are, is appropriate. The members of this union deserve an opportunity to ask questions and to have their concerns addressed.

Apparently our President feels that allowing the membership to participate in the decision to have a disaffiliation election is "transparently preposterous and less clever than it is downright silly." He feels that trying to hold a meeting that would require only about 35 people in addition to the Board and Trustees is "miraculous and a opium based hallucination wavy beyond merely quite a challenge."

I don't feel that way at all. This may be one of the most important decisions that we as a union will ever make. To leave the decision to only the board, to not have a meeting where the members can hear the issues and ask questions, is, as Eric so aptly phrased it in his position statement, "profoundly arrogant and undemocratic to have the board be the only voice heard."

I have read with interest the comments that have been made here. It is clear that there is much misinformation out there. I would encourage everyone who has been following this issue to contact your union board members and let them know that you want an opportunity to participate in the decision making process.

It is not the Boards union, it is not AFSCME's union, it's your union. If you want to have a say it's time to get involved for just one evening. You can make a difference in how you are represented. Get the facts, ask questions, get involved and come to the one meeting that will control how you are represented in the future.

So there is my position. I personally feel that this is such a big issue that it deserves something more than a ballot in the mail and two one page position statements. It deserves an open meeting where everyone can participate and see and hear what the options for our future are.

You will know tomorrow night if your Board feels that having membership input into the decision making process is important or not. You will know if your Board really feels that "having the membership make the decision" is what they want or is it just a tool to get an election without real discussion and open dialogue with the membership."

Posted by Jeff McGrath to Los Angeles Dragnet at November 18, 2014 at 1:04 AM


Friday, November 7, 2014

Which Way A.D.D.A.?

As noted last week, the time is fast approaching for the Association of Deputy District Attorneys to decide whether to terminate their expensive, ineffective and unrepresentative relationship with AFSCME; the big labor organization that disgraced former ADDA Presidents Ipsen and Seligman courted to gain a bailout package arising from their mismanagement and personal agendas.

At the time that the ADDA Board proposed 'affiliating' with AFSCME, members were promised an "Escape Clause," an opportunity to end the 'affiliation' (don't you just hate the union jargon). Despite that promise, the Dragnet has learned that Seligman executed a secret "side letter agreement" with AFSCME that gives the ADDA Board the power to deny members a vote on whether to exercise the Escape Clause.

Under Seligman's side letter agreement, the ADDA Board Members can simply decide not to give members a vote on the Escape Clause. Such a decision would make the affiliation permanent, and there is basically no way out. DDAs would be locked into an unholy relationship with a big labor group that has already reneged on its promise not to drag the ADDA into political campaigns that are adverse to members - AFSCME supported Proposition 47, a poorly written, highly political voter initiative that will result in thousands of felons being released from state prison. AFSCME also used the ADDA's "Business Representative" to mislead members of the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA) into believing the ADDA supported an attack on PPOA.

Although it would seem bizarre that the ADDA Board would actually pursue such an undemocratic course and deny its members the opportunity to vote, that appears to be highly likely. Simply put, there are only a handful of ADDA Board Members who support giving members the right to vote on the Escape Clause. The rest are either deeply entrenched big labor people, seduced by empty promises from AFSCME, or simply too scared to take a position that might upset AFSCME.

There are 11 members of the ADDA Board. Today, we look at members who appear to be in favor of democracy and giving DDAs the opportunity to vote.

President Marc Debbaudt has made no secret of his desire to terminate AFSCME - he campaigned on that very issue.

Vice President Michelle Hanisee: In her goals statement, the ADDA's newest Board Member says that she wants to "Improve ties with fellow law enforcement organizations." Such a position would indicate that she was probably not impressed with the way AFSCME behaved regarding their support of Proposition 47. Hanisee also wants to "Upgrade the ADDA website and establish ADDA email addresses to make it easier for members to communicate with the board." An indication, perhaps, that she supports a democratic ADDA that will be transparent and responsive to members' concerns.

Treasurer James Evans: In his goals statement he says that he will "Strive to make ADDA a completely independent association" and "Create alliances with all other law enforcement related associations/unions within the county." It's hard to imagine that Evans would oppose a members vote on the Escape Clause, given his stated goals.

Director Anthony Colannino: In his goals statement he says that "most of us became DDA’s because our internal make-up requires us to do what we believe is the right thing, regardless of cost."If doing the right thing means supporting democracy, then Colannino will allow members to vote on the Escape Clause.

Director John Harrold: His goals statement leaves no doubt as to his position "I believe the best decision and the wisest course of action is to exercise the “Escape Clause” and disaffiliate from AFSCME before it is too late."
What of the remaining six Board Members? Readers can take a look at their goals statements on the ADDA website and take a guess. We will return next week with our analysis of their likely positions.

Of course it is open to those Board Members to comment here and state their positions. Equally, if we have misstated or misunderstood the position of the five mentioned above, we welcome their comments.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

County Assessor Race "Too Close To Call"

In the race to replace disgraced County Assessor John Noguez, votes cast for Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris have closed the gap to career politician flimflam man Jeffrey Prang.

When the first round of ballots were counted, Prang appeared to have a 2 point lead over Morris, however, as the night progressed that gap closed leaving Morris 1 point behind Prang.

Wednesday afternoon Morris posted this message to supporters on his FaceBook page:

LA County Registrar-Recorder, Dean C. Logan, released a statement Wednesday evening, confirming that 244,747 ballots remain to be counted. There are 114,229 Provisional Ballots, 119,862 Vote By Mail Ballots received at the Polls, and 10,656 Election Day Vote By Mail Ballots received via USPS that will need to be validated before they can be counted.

If the trend towards Morris continues amongst the remaining ballots, Morris could be elected as County Assessor, a possibility that Prang acknowledge, posting this message on his FaceBook page "I am not prepared at this time to declare victory because the democratic process is not finished.There are still ballots to be counted and I want to let that important process run its course." he said.

The results of final tally will be updated on the Registrar-Recorder's website.


There's a new Sheriff in town

Los Angeles, Tuesday, November 4, 2014: When the voters spoke, it wasn't even close. Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell won election to Sheriff of Los Angeles County by one of the largest margins ever seen in the history of County politics, capturing 75% of the vote to beat former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.

At around 8:30PM, McDonnell, accompanied by his family and District Attorney Jackie Lacey, entered the ballroom of downtown LA's JW Marriott hotel to a rousing cheer from the capacity crowd that had gathered to greet the first outsider to become Sheriff of Los Angeles County in 100 years.

McDonnell took to the podium and spoke briefly thanking his family and DA Lacey for their support, and promising to return when the results of the election were more certain. At that time McDonnell held a 50 point advantage over his opponent, based on absentee ballot returns.

Two hours later McDonnell returned to the podium. He was accompanied by the most prominent law enforcement and civic leaders to claim the victory that marked the culmination of a nine month campaign.

DA Jackie Lacey delivered a heartfelt and rousing speech thanking McDonnell for entering the race and underlining her reasons for supporting his campaign. Former District Attorneys Steve Cooley and Robert Philibosian, who had also supported McDonnell, were joined on the podium by LA County Supervisors Don Kanabe, Mark Ridley Thomas, and Supervisor-Elect Hilda Solis, as well as City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmembers Mitch Englander, Tony Cardenas, and Gil Cedilllo.

McDonnell will be sworn in as Los Angeles County Sheriff in January 2015.


Friday, October 31, 2014

ADDA Board believed set to deny members vote over continued AFSCME payments

Former ADDA Presidents, Steve Ipsen and Hyatt Seligman, had much in common. They both had laughable political aspirations to become District Attorney, they both had lackluster careers bedeviled with scandals, they both abused their positions as ADDA President to serve their own interests, and it now seems that they both screwed the 1,000 LA County Deputy District Attorneys over false promises as to the cost of unionization.

They are both no longer Deputy District Attorneys. Ipsen was forced to 'step down' as ADDA President before he was fired for gross misconduct. In his wake, Ipsen summarily appointed Seligman to carry on his dirty work; cementing a relationship between the ADDA and AFSCME, a 'big labor' organization that both believed would further their political aspirations. Seligman stepped down as President due to failing health, ultimately succumbing to a terminal illness.

But despite the fact that both are no longer part of the DA's Office, the legacy of their self-serving treachery lives on. It now looks like a majority of the 11 members of the ADDA Board are going to rubber stamp their treachery and deny Deputy District Attorneys the promised opportunity to decide whether to terminate the very expensive 'affiliation' with AFSCME - the 'big labor' organization that recently betrayed the ADDA by falsely representing that the ADDA supported a union membership raid on the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA), and by reneging on a promise not to support political campaigns that did not have a 'labor-related issue,' specifically, AFSCME has supported Proposition 47 which not only lacks a labor-related issue, but flies in the face of the ADDA's stated opposition to Prop 47.

When Ipsen first brokered the deal with AFSCME, it was not because AFSCME was the kind of organization that could further the interests of Deputy District Attorneys. It was simply because AFSCME was willing to write a check for around $160,000.00 in legal fees that Ipsen and Seligman had incurred because they violated the ADDA bylaws. AFSCME, apparently, was keen to gain credibility by being able to brag about representing a law enforcement organization; perhaps a prelude to their botched raid on PPOA.

The deal Ipsen brokered, and Seligman consummated, was represented to members as a simple one; AFSCME would bail out Ipsen and Seligman's debts in return for four years of bleeding Deputy District Attorneys with 'union dues.' At the end of the four years, ADDA members would be able to vote to either continue paying AFSCME for basically nothing, or do the sensible thing and end the relationship.

The time for that four year vote is drawing close. But surprisingly, plans for a members' vote are not being formed. The Dragnet has learned that after Seligman sold the deal to members, and after he signed the contract with AFSCME in the terms DDAs were led to believe would give them the 'get out after four years' option, Seligman then secretly signed a 'side letter' with AFSCME. The side letter does not give Deputy District Attorneys the direct right to vote to end the relationship with AFSCME. Rather, the side letter says that Deputy District Attorneys only get to vote if a majority of the ADDA Board allows them to have a vote.

If there is no vote to end the AFSCME arrangement, it becomes permanent; there is no way out short of a complicated 'decertification' process. 

There are 11 ADDA Board Members, many of them are holdovers from the Ipsen-Seligman era, and are understood to either be in favor of denying the vote, or too scared to take a position potentially against AFSCME by allowing the vote. Perhaps some of them see their futures as being benefited by becoming part-time Deputy District Attorneys and supplementing their income by securing part-time salaried positions as union representatives for AFSCME; a plan that is understood to be 'on hold' until after the deadline for the AFSCME get out clause has lapsed.

ADDA President Marc Debbaudt has made no secret of his position; he wants to end the AFSCME arrangement. That was his campaign promise, and unlike his predecessors, Debbaudt is a man of his word. In the four years that AFSCME has extracted union dues from DDAs, there has been little benefit flowing back to DDAs. AFSCME did absolutely nothing to secure the cost of living increases that the Board of Supervisors offered; there was no negotiation, the Board of Supervisors announced what would be paid by way of cost of living adjustments, and the ADDA accepted it.

The only tangible benefit AFSCME provides in return for the $365,000.00 it receives from DDAs in union dues is the provision of Tris Carpenter, the ADDA's "Business Representative" who misrepresented DDAs at a secret meeting held by AFSCME where they tried to poach PPOA members.

What happened to the promises that were made by Ipsen and Seligman as to AFSCME giving DDAs more bargaining power over workplace issues, like having to go through security screening at courthouses alongside defendants and their family members? How about more vacation time, sick pay, and stipends for MBA programs? All that stuff very quickly forgotten, it seems. Just empty promises from a pair of liars and a big labor group that represents interests adverse to most DDAs.

Of course the biggest lie now seems to be the promised get out clause. It is now up to DDAs to insist that the Board abides by its promise and allows DDAs to decide this issue. Silence is not an option, the legacy of lies must end.


Friday, October 24, 2014

ADDA President Blasts AFSCME for Lying, Cheating & Duplicity

The shotgun marriage between the Association of Deputy District Attorneys and AFSCME (one of LA's largest organized labor groups) is headed towards a much needed and long overdue divorce. ADDA President Marc Debbaudt has previously called on voting ADDA members to terminate AFSCME's representation of the ADDA and his position appears to be fully justified in the light of AFSCME's scandalous, disingenuous and misleading conduct; AFSCME falsely represented that the ADDA supported an attack on the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA).

The Dragnet has learned that on October 6, 2014, Tris Carpenter, the ADDA's so-called "Business Representative," purported to represent the ADDA when he addressed a "secret" meeting at which he urged members of PPOA to leave that association and instead join AFSCME so that they would get better pay and benefits.

Carpenter is an AFSCME employee who is supposed to work for the ADDA; he is basically the only tangible "benefit" the ADDA receives from AFSCME in return for almost $365,000 that AFSCME  steals takes from Deputy DAs in annual union dues.

According to Debbaudt, Carpenter did not inform the ADDA that the meeting was taking place, and most certainly was not authorized to suggest that the ADDA approved his statements. Debbaudt was apparently shocked when he was contacted by POPA President Brian Moriguchi who was apparently disgusted by Carpenter's false and misleading statements, and shocked that the ADDA supported a blatant attempt to poach members.

Debbaudt has responded by demanding that AFSCME immediately send a letter of apology to PPOA members, making it clear that the ADDA does not support AFSCME's underhanded and misleading conduct. 

According to Debbaudt, AFSCME Executive Director, Cheryl Parsi, admitted that Carpenter was present at the meeting, however, Parsi maintained that Carpenter "did not identify himself to these PPOA members as the ADDA Business Representative."

Debbaudt proved Paris was a liar impeached Parsi by quoting from her email where she stated that Carpenter had told PPOA members "That he (Tris) had a full-time position as the Business Representative assigned to assist the ADDA and could not do anything more to assist them beyond the meeting at hand." Clearly PPOA members were informed of Carpenter's position with the ADDA, a fact supported by other PPOA members who related the contents of the secret meeting to their leadership, doubtless together with their disgust that Deputy District Attorneys were involved in this unholy enterprise.

Beyond misrepresenting the ADDA's position regarding PPOA, AFSCME is a wholly inappropriate organization to represent the views and concerns of prosecutors. Despite AFSCME's promise that they will not involve themselves (and thereby prosecutors) in political campaigns unless there is a "labor-related issue," AFSCME has decided to support Proposition 47 in the upcoming November 4, 2014 election. Prop 47 will decimate the criminal justice system by reducing most theft, fraud and narcotics offenses to misdemeanors - even for those with lengthy serious and violent criminal histories. The ADDA had previously announced its concerns with and opposition to Prop 47, yet AFSCME apparently chose to ignore those concerns as well as their promise, and support a proposition that only a lunatic would believe has a labor-related issue; unless that means more work for criminals.

 It does appear that AFSCME may have an unduly sympathetic position toward criminals. According to California Statewide Law Enforcement Association President Alan Barcelona, AFSCME has more than its fair share of executives who have been convicted of corruption.

CSLEA President Barcelona urges people to "Google AFSCME and Corruption, you'll see page after page after page of AFSCME officials being indicted, prosecuted and imprisoned all over the United States, including here in California." he said. "CSLEA is comprised of public safety professionals, why anyone within this organization would want to be represented by those kind of people is beyond me." Barcelona concluded.

The origins of the ADDA's association with AFSCME are rooted in an unholy alliance brokered by disgraced former ADDA President Steve Ipsen, who was fired from the DA's Office for "improper and egregious conduct." It is, perhaps, no coincidence that the same kind of duplicitous, shameful and abhorrent behavior displayed by Ipsen is apparent in his choice of partner for the ADDA. 

This writer, along with those brave enough to comment in this forum, have long expressed grave concerns about AFSCME. It is shameful that an organization of prosecutors should be associated with a shambolic and shameful group who clearly have an ethical base adverse to ours.

It needs to end, but it will only end if DDA's get involved and vote to terminate AFSCME for their failure to represent DDAs fairly and effectively.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Current and Former District Attorneys Honored at Re-dedication of Hall of Justice

It was an event that many doubted would ever happen; the re-opening for business of LA's iconic Hall of Justice, 20 years after it was red-tagged following the Northridge Earthquake. But after nine years of construction and a cost of around $231M, the Hall of Justice was re-dedicated on October 8, 2014.

The newly recommissioned Hall of Justice (right) with City Hall (left)
The doubters had good cause to scorn the ambitious plans to re-open the Hall of Justice. Delay after delay in construction and a financial crisis would have caused many to simply give up and sell the site to a developer. But for the resolve and commitment of then District Attorney Steve Cooley with the support of former Sheriff Lee Baca, the developers might have had their day. Instead, thanks largely to Cooley and Baca's efforts, on October 8, 2014, the people of Los Angeles had their day when the Hall of Justice was re-dedicated almost 90 years after it first opened its doors.

Keynote speaker DA Jackie Lacey hailed the Hall of Justice as a piece of living history.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey headed a long list of law enforcement and civic leaders to celebrate the re-opening of the Hall of Justice, "It's not a building, it's a piece of living history" Lacey said, recounting some of the building's historic events. Although Lacey oversaw the final two years of the project her predecessor Steve Cooley started, she paid tribute to Cooley for his success in establishing the Hall of Justice as the home of the DA's Office management, special trial units and Bureau of Investigation.

Former DA Steve Cooley was recognized for his success in securing the Hall of Justice as
the future headquarters for the DA's Office.
Cooley was joined by former DAs Robert Philibosian (1981-1984) and Ira Reiner (1984-1992). The DA's Office will occupy 6 of the 11 upper floors of the Hall of Justice and ready access to the courtrooms in the Criminal Justice Center will be facilitated by a tunnel connecting the buildings.

The renovation of the Hall of Justice has resulted in a truly impressive building. It's imposing exterior is perhaps only surpassed by the magnificence it's interior. 

The first floor entrance to the Hall of Justice
Ira Reiner, Jackie Lacey, Steve Cooley, Robert Philibosian (left to right)

"You feel like you're walking into a place where important decisions are made that affect the lives of others," DA Jackie Lacey said at the re-dedication ceremony. Few would disagree.