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 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.
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