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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.

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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.

UPDATED 8:00PM

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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