Saturday, April 25, 2009

Politician in the Making


I can't help but think how things could be different today, if a person with integrity were the mayor of San Diego. I have some personal knowledge I would like to share about the current mayor of San Diego. He was once chief of police for the San Diego Police Department. As with any chief there were those who liked him and those who did not. I was one of those who for the most part liked the man. My first encounter was when the mayor was a Lieutenant working the Watch Commander's Office. I filled in as his aide. I learned a lot about this person. I moved on and my next encounter occurred in 1984. I was a patrol officer in 1984, working an overtime gig at the National League playoff game when the Padres beat the Cubs. I was standing at the edge of the field, in uniform, when a reporter came up and asked why the police were not keeping the fans off the field after the game was won. I laughed, looked around and asked if she was serious. I then, as usual put my foot in my mouth and said, "First off we only have about 25 officers working the game. Second, the fans in San Diego are not animals and will come off the field after celebrating." If you remember back then, when Detroit won their series, the field was rimmed with officers on horse back and another 75 officers standing shoulder to shoulder protecting the field. This same reporter found the mayor, then a Lieutenant and asked about my statement. He talked to the reporter and then had a piece of my ass for making my comment. I asked if there was anything about my comment that was not true. His reply was, "It does not matter Steve. Keep your mouth shut, this is politics." WOW..... 1984!!!!

Fast forward to Mayor Murphy stepping down and the ex-chief throwing his name in the hat to run for mayor. I am a director for the Police Officer's Association. I start searching the Internet for a possible web page spelling out his views on the issues and in about 5 minutes I find his official web page seeking election. In his words, he details his stand on employee benefits and the retirement system, DROP and many other issues. He indicates he is going to seek elimination of the DROP, reduction of retiree benefits and rein in employee contracts. This from a man who was once the chief of the Police Department, benefited from these same benefits and knows what is being said in the press is inaccurate.

I shared the information with the other board members and made it known I would not support the man for mayor and if I had any say, neither would the association I served. In short order I hear from those who supported the man. "How could I say such a thing" "He was your chief, you owe him" "He does not mean what is in his web page; it's just political speak" "The stuff in his web page is not directed at the police" and on and on and on... Those staunch supporters were all part of a fraternity of SDSU grads who were often refereed to as "Gerry's Kids." "Gerry's Kids" often got the preferred jobs and assignments and most people viewed this as nepotism, favoritism or incestuous. This core group of individuals all rose quickly through the ranks while he was chief.

I have a conversation with the man himself about my statements of non-support. I shared my thoughts of the postings I read on his web page. I told him to his face; "Gerry, of all people to post this type of information, playing to the masses, when you could be the person who kicked the band wagon over that the Union Tribune had started and stand on top, telling the truth about employee benefits, DROP." He looked me in the eye and said; "Steve, it's politics. I would not get elected if I told the truth." I stood there trying to process in my Commodore 64 brain what I just heard. If you know anything about a Commodore 64, you know I sat there for some time, slowly playing and re-playing the words I just heard. The thoughts running through my head started with; "THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH POLITICS AND POLITICIANS!!!!!" There was much more in my mind at the time; none of which would be appropriate for printing even here.

I had heard enough and was more convinced than ever, this was not the man the City of San Diego needed as mayor, with the serious problems ahead. More than his words about politics; his stand on pay and benefits of employees; he was not a very good leader. He could not make a decision to save his life, let alone someone else's. He lead by committee. EVERYTHING decided within the San Diego Police Department during his reign was done by committee. EVERYTHING was turned into a political decision. How would it make HIM look. He ended up in the hospital a couple of times due to the stresses of decisions he found so troubling. He had trouble leading a department of 1800 people and now he wants to be mayor of the 7th largest city in the nation with over 10,000 employees and all the problems facing the city??? Surely he jests.... Let's hope the voters see through this three dollar bill.

There were several candidates seeking to fill the mayor's seat. The SDPOA held interviews with candidates seeking an endorsement. The mayor shows up and immediately makes a flip comment that he did not come to seek an endorsement; he did not want our endorsement either. WTF??? What did this arrogant ass say? Who the hell does he think he is? What the hell is he doing here if this is true? The people in attendance were shocked to say the least at his attitude and stand on issues. He showed his true self that day. Several of his supporters openly said he was not the person they knew when he was chief. I gave people the address to his web page and told them to read for themselves what his stand was on the issues.

As he left the building, he threw an accusation toward the director's, that someone connected with board had somehow accessed his personal file (Sealed in Personnel) and leaked a story of discipline associated with his drunken pursuit by CHP. For those who are not familiar with the incident; the mayor got tanked up and while driving on the freeway CHP attempted to stop him, he fled north bound I-5, failing to stop. Rumor has it throwing empty beer cans out the window along the way until he decided to stop at the check point in San Clemente. He received discipline from the incident. Back then "Professional Courtesy" saved his ass from county jail. He threw this blanket accusation out as he left the room. The President of the POA, Bill Nemec, followed him out and challenged him on this accusation. The bottom line; the information was uncovered by a smart reporter who was mining court records and pulled all the papers from one of the law suits the mayor had filed while a police officer. You see, the mayor had trouble getting promoted to Sergeant and Lieutenant. The Captains, Commanders and Chiefs at the time saw who he really was and finishing first in a written test did not make him most qualified to LEAD or get promoted. Thus he sued twice to get promoted. In these law suits, was the information of his discipline and thus it was uncovered. Think there was ever an apology from him???? Right.

The SDPOA stayed neutral during the election. In hind sight, we should have gotten more involved and taken a stand. We would not have the mayor we do today if we had participated in the election and not sat on the sidelines. Live and learn. When it became apparent he was going to get elected, Nemec and I met with him to offer our support to help fix some of the problems facing the city. When we show up at his campaign office on Banker's Hill we are surprised to see a Lieutenant from the police department (one of the mayor's hench men or "Gerry's Kid" from his PD days) there with him acting as a body guard. Something out of the movies. Here is this idiot wearing shorts, flip flops, t-shirt and sitting in a chair in the corner of the room; slumping in the chair, leg over the arm, arm thrown back over the back of the chair, head back, smirk on his face, looking down his nose at us as we took our places at a table. The mayor elect sitting on one side of the table and the two of use on the other. Does not make for a relaxed meeting. But then, who expected anything less from this man? He has a history of being vindictive and retaliatory. It only got worse. It keeps getting worse. This may help explain why he has shown a desire to screw police officers at every opportunity.

During the first round of negotiations (2006) with him as mayor, he leaked FALSE information to the press and one of the city council people. The information he leaked was a complete lie intended to rile the SDPOA. He knew if we heard the information we would first do some checking and then challenge him on the information. The press came to us for answers and a response to the information and we were caught off guard, made our inquiries and believed the information to be correct. The mayor was contacted and he first denied any knowledge. That night there was a dinner function for "Officer of the Year" where agencies from the county honor their best. The mayor shows up with his mouth piece Fred Sainz. They are laughing and having a good time, thinking how funny it is to leak false information to the press and watch them run; have a labor group get this same information from the press and spend time verifying the information and then challenge him over it only to find out it was a joke. This from a man who thinks he is a professional. It was an early glimpse of what was to come from this person.

More later.... headed to the Padre game....


The relationship with the mayor never got any better. Negotiations this year (2006) were NOT negotiations. The city came in demanding cuts, crying poor and seeking take backs from officers. The department is suffering from extremely high attrition. Officers are leaving in droves for other agencies in the region and the department cannot keep up. The department is falling further and further behind in recruiting new officers and retaining those already here. New hires are coming here ONLY for the training and then leaving for departments offering better pay and benefits. What angered those of us remaining behind was the press continued to convince the public, city employees are over paid and have "Cadillac" benefits that are bankrupting the city and costing the taxpayers millions. To add insult to injury the mayor continues the rant and only adds to the spin, further painting the city employee as a greedy, over paid, thief for somehow stealing from the taxpayer.

During the negotiations, the Chief moves to eliminate "Compensatory Time" from Police Officers. To be fair to the Chief, none of us at the SDPOA believe the Chief wanted to initiate this take away. The department was facing extreme difficulties with meeting minimum staffing in patrol and some officers were using compensatory time as a means to get a break when the use of annual leave was denied. To explain, for those who do not understand the system we have; Compensatory Time (comp time) is leave time that is earned from over time. An officer is paid time and a half for each hour of overtime worked. An officer can, at his/her option, accrue time off at the same rate, to be used by the employee at his/her discretion. The rules at the time was comp time could be used at any time the OFFICER chose and this time off could not be denied. Annual leave could be denied for staffing reasons and cancelled after approval for staffing reasons. Comp time could not be cancelled or denied. The Chief wanted to control the use of comp time. We knew if we gave in to the changes being proposed, comp time would no longer be a benefit to the employee. The department wanted to control when and how comp time was used. The belief from the beginning was the mayor told the Chief to make the proposed changes. We refused and comp time was suspended.

This was all while in negotiations and the city demanding cuts and take backs. NOTHING on the table was a benefit to employees. EVERYTHING on the table was a demand for cuts, take backs and elimination of benefits. This was not negotiations. Under the law (Myers, Milias, Brown or MMB) negotiations are suppose to be "fair" and the negotiations are suppose to be a discussion and give and take of ideas. There was NO SUCH give and take and NOTHING about the negotiations was fair.

The mouth piece hired by the city was a dolt, who knew nothing about public employee negotiations. He did things that were violations of MMB almost daily. When called on the violations he would take a break, come back and withdraw the illegal act and the next session would re-introduce the item in a different manner. The city had an agenda for what was going to be eliminated and cut and there was nothing the SDPOA could do about it.

The current law does not protect law enforcement associations during negotiations. The other unions and associations have PERB (Public Employee Relations Board) protections and can file unfair labor practices when the city screws them in these types of negotiations. The police officers have NOTHING. The SDPOA filed a multitude of law suits in 2005 after years of abuses at the hands of the city. There were so many violations of law perpetrated on officers at the hands of the city; the SDPOA sought legal council to assist in stopping the many acts that had become natural. Some of the problems were institutional, some were born out of survival. The bottom line was the mayor was furious over the law suits and was going to get even; in keeping with his prior acts of retaliation and vindictive revenge.

I ended my term with the SDPOA Board of Director's in December 2006.

In 2007, the public was starting to get the impact on their safety and security of the loss of officers and inability to recruit and retain qualified persons. The mayor relents and provides a two year contract to police officers to stem to tide of officer attrition.

We are now in April 2009. Picture the purchase of a run down house that you spend tons of money on to renovate and fix up. You put a new roof on the house; new windows; new carpet; kitchen appliances; paint the house and re-do the landscape; only to hand it off to the fire department to use as a training venue. The house is burned to the ground and you have nothing to show for your investment. Well, that is where the Police Department is today. We are that house.

During the latest round of negotiations (2009) the mayor demanded employees make up the ENTIRE 60 million dollar deficit facing the city. The mayor continued to perpetuate the myth about the cost of DROP and how the pay and benefits of city employees is the problem in the city. (Evaluation of DROP the mayor refuses to do)

Something I did not address before. The mayor of San Diego is a Republican. He has bought into and has carried the republican agenda with the vengeance of a rabid dog. He has broken once from their agenda regarding an issue centered around his daughter and chief of staff, Fred Sainz. Sans this ONE issue, the mayor has carried the water for the Republican party like a good little boy. I am a Republican and often ask myself why. I was elected to three terms as a school board member for the Poway Unified School District, as a Republican. I know politics and the Republican way here in San Diego. I attended meetings with the San Diego Republican Party as well as the Lincoln Club (Wealthy Republicans). I was part of this crap long before the mayor. I had aspirations of running for City Council. That all changed when this mayor entered the picture. (I will talk about this in a separate post)

I watched 8 years of hell with George Bush as president. The Republican agenda is what got this country in the position it is in. The greed, power and demands of doing as I say not as I do got us to today. The mayor of San Diego is no different. The mayors pat refusal to seek increases in fees, taxes and bringing into line citizens paying for services they use and receive have allowed the deficit to increase. Blaming the employee for the failures of his policies as well as the failure of prior administrations is criminal. He highlighted his failure of ethics, honesty and leadership when he began taking his salary as well as his retirement payments and hid this from the public. When outed about this he uses the excuses of paying for his daughters college and mounting bills. NO SHIT mayor!!!! He looks city employees in the eyes and demands 6% across the board cuts, cuts in benefits, elimination of vested retirement benefits, elimination of retiree medical benefits and a reduction of the work force and then goes back to his office to pay his bills with the increase in his compensation; secure in the knowledge his benefits are secure.

The day this blog is discovered by the mayor will be the day of reckoning for me. You would not be able to eat a double-double from In n Out in the time it will take the mayor to demand my head on a platter. Who cares if the information I am writing here is truth or not. The mayor will be made to look as he really is and for the sake of politics, he can't have that!!!! Revenge? Vindictive? Retaliation? OH, you can be sure it will happen. So be it!!!

During the negotiation of 2009, the mayor never changed from his first demands of police officers giving back 6% of salary and benefits during negotiations. The amounts of money he was demanding police officers pony up to close the 60 million dollar deficit facing the city did change. It went up from 8 million to 11 million. When the SDPOA pointed out savings from department vacancies (32 million savings) that was not enough. The mayor had an agenda and the demand for giving back was going to be accomplished at any and all cost. Remember, this is politics and the mayor was working on his political reputation and needed this stand against employees and the unions to get the press working for him. The political machine was well oiled and working overtime.

The mayor loves to use the train analogy. He often says; "The train is leaving the station. If you are not on board with (state the political end game) you will be left behind." The train was leaving the station and no one from the police department was on board. (The chief officers got a bigger screwing from the mayor than the working police officer. More on that later) The problem with trains and this train analogy??? Trains are on tracks. They don't have the liberty of straying from a set course. They cannot correct direction or deviate from the tracks when obstacles present themselves or logic says moving in a different direction will work better. The mayor is narrow minded and inflexible. Once his "committee" has come up with the direction he wants to go, the hell with anything else. The hell with logic. The hell with actions or ideas that differ from his. His agenda is taken from the republican play book. It will not be deviated from!!!!

Off to do some stuff with my bride and enjoy a beautiful Sunday. Back later while watching the Padres. Hope they play better today than last night!!!

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