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.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dream Team Lacey, McDonnell and Morris; Hailed as the Trifecta to Clean Up LA

With five weeks to go before the runoff election that will decide LA County's next Sheriff and Assessor, the prestigious downtown City Club Los Angeles was the setting for a fundraiser for front-running Sheriff's candidate Jim McDonnell.

LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey introduces keynote speaker Tommy Lasorda
at the City Club Los Angeles fundraiser for Jim McDonnell for Sheriff
The event, co-hosted by District Attorney Jackie Lacey and former District Attorney Steve Cooley, was headlined by keynote speaker former LA Dodger's Manager Tommy Lasorda. A crowd of around a hundred, comprising judges, lawyers, law enforcement, business and community leaders attended the event, all doubtless keen to get some face time with LA's next Sheriff. While McDonnell's campaign gathers steam ahead of the November 4, 2014 election, rival Paul Tanaka's campaign continues to march to the tune of the death watch beetle.

While many expect McDonnell to win handily and become the first 'outsider' to be elected Sheriff, another outsider was also in attendance; LA County Assessor candidate Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris.

Former DA Steve Cooley (right) with the Dream Team;
John Morris for Assessor, DA Jackie Lacey, and Jim McDonnell for Sheriff (left to right)

Like McDonnell, Morris has swept the media endorsements with the LA Times most recently telling its readers that in the complex L.A. County assessor race, "John Morris is the better choice" over political parvenu and flimflam man Jeffrey Prang.

Cooley, who has endorsed and supported Lacey, McDonnell and Morris, said that if the voters get it right on November 4, they will be "rewarded by a trifecta who will restore honesty, integrity and leadership in Los Angeles County."

It's persuasive argument. Both the Sheriff's Department and the Assessor's Office have been plagued with scandal after scandal, attributable perhaps to poor leadership, partisanship and voter apathy. It's an old cliche, but it is time for change, and electing genuine candidates with proven track records rather than proven political career paths, is precisely what Los Angeles needs.