Saturday, August 15, 2009

SDPOA Board Elections

I wrote an article for the Informant when I was working at the SDPOA. I dug it up and did some editing and am going to publish it here. It is timely in that there is an election for an open seat on the SDPOA Board coming up and there is a need to find someone willing to take on the challenges of serving the membership. The time commitment is huge and the toll to ones career and personal life is great. The rewards are few but the personal gratification of making this a better place to work is hard to put into words.

These have been trying times; times that have tested our resolve and purpose; times that have squandered the morale of many talented and dedicated professional police officers. Trying times are not themselves a valid reason to lament; but when at the end of the year, counting what has been lost, tallies the measure of what has been accomplished; lament is an insufficient means of expression. The tragedy in our case is not simply limited to the forced exodus of officers, but the loss of a precious opportunity.

Temptation is great as I sit here to lay all that is lost at the feet of Chief William Lansdowne or Mayor Gerry Sanders or the City Council or the Union Tribune. I could sit here and wax on about who is at fault, who is responsible, who should we blame? But I have come to realize we don't need to fix blame. We need to fix the problem.

Before we can do that we need to fix us. Who is "us"? I am referring to the San Diego Police Officers Association and its membership. I see us at times as an incompetent group of competent people. One of the greatest advantages of the SDPOA is the caliber of its membership. Members are experts in what their needs are and the various disciplines within law enforcement. We often overlook the contributions our members can and do make to our successes.

The SDPOA Board of Directors is clearly focused upon understanding and advocating the needs of its members. They are the trustee for and must have a strong connection with our membership. The Board must speak with one voice or not at all. Directors should honestly and candidly debate issues in board meetings, but must support decisions and policies once voted on. There is always opportunity to improve.

In the New York Times best selling book "Good to Great," Jim Collins writes there are three stages to the framework in building the foundation of a great organization. These are: Disciplined People; Disciplined Thought; and Disciplined Action. Collins focuses on the people who lead the organization. These are people who put the organization's interest above their own personal agenda. According to Collins, "A leader displays a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will."

This is all about having the right people on your team and having them in the right position. Collins states, "Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the key seats on the bus before they figure out where to drive the bus." This approach can be in conflict with the popular management theory of deciding where the organization needs or wants to go and then determining who should take you there. Collins believes if you have "the right people on your bus" then you can take the association wherever it needs to go. Associations constantly grapple with finding the right person for the right responsibility; coupled with the challenge putting the association's interest above their own personal agenda. Once the right people are "on the association's bus" then we can determine if the existing seats need someone different in them to make our association more efficient and effective.

The SDPOA will have an election for three seats on the Board of Directors in the coming weeks. This election will be a very critical election for the Association. These trying times dictate a need for strong leadership and resolve to place the association's interest above any personal agenda. A willingness to place yourself in jeopardy to protect the rights of the membership and to define the specific "End" that the association will pursue. You should ask, "What benefits and for whom." The Director's position is a "responsibility" not a "job". Keep this in mind when making your decision to seek a seat on the Board or casting your vote to "fill the seat on the SDPOA bus." We have an opportunity to ensure our "bus" is going in the right direction and has the right people in the seats to ensure we are successful when the bus reaches its destination.

There will be one open seat on the SDPOA Board. Sergeant Mark Sullivan is not seeking re-election. I have said before and will say it again; I believe Brian Marvel and Jeff Jordan have done a good job in the most difficult of times. They deserve our support and help. If you have the desire and drive to serve the membership I would encourage you to step forward and toss your hat in the ring. You have until Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 1700 hours to submit your statement of intention and photo to the SDPOA.

The Board of Directors for the SDPOA has not given up and neither should you. They continue to fight and focus on the member. You are why they are here and they have not lost that in the smoke from the rubble of this crumbling city and department. I believe the Board will not rest until ALL of our members are taken care of. They cannot do it alone and need your help. The very least you could do is take an interest in the upcoming election and VOTE. Get involved!!!

Remember your family, friends and brothers and sisters in blue. Be safe and take care of each other.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Politics in Court?

On June 25, 2009, the SDPOA was in Judge David Oberholtzer's court fighting to preserve DROP for its members. I wrote about the hearing and subsequent conflicting press releases and views (Confused? Join the Club!) of what Judge Oberholtzer ruled. What we did know was the judge stayed the changes imposed by the City until July 27, 2009, and ordered the City and SDPOA back to the table to discuss changes to DROP. These talks were futile and nothing changed regarding positions and the views each side had regarding DROP and Retiree medical.

Fast forward to today, August 14, 2009, and what do we know today? The impression left with those of us following the court fight was the judge would issue a written ruling that would clarify (Hopefully) what it was he said back on June 25, 2009. I check on a regular basis for the written opinion from the judge and NOTHING. We are coming up on 50 days and nary a peep from the court. So the question begs to be answered; what is going on?

This issue has become such a political hot potato it is beginning to appear even the judge, who is suppose to be "NON-POLITICAL" when wearing the robe and making decisions, has been caught up in the politics of San Diego. Is Judge Oberholtzer waiting for the wind to change before issuing his ruling? Is he waiting for the Union Tribune to get rid of Chris Reed and Karin Winter before publishing his opinion/decision on the issues? It cannot be that difficult to put to paper what was said in court on that fateful June day. The issues are well known and the law really not that difficult to decipher.

The only explanation I can come up with is the judge is playing politics with the issuing of his decision. Waiting for the clouds to form off the coast in hopes of shielding the ruling from the light of day; maybe in hopes of avoiding another onslaught of diatribes from the Union Tribunes gang of fools (minus the biggest fool of them all; Bob Kittle)? Whatever the reason, it is time to get off the stick and publish for all to see what was actually said about these issues and allow us all to see what the actual ruling is. Good or bad we need to see the ruling so we can all decide next steps. It is clear the City has no desire to meet and honestly discuss reasonable changes and fixes to DROP or the Retiree Medical issues surrounding the "Pre-1986" employees. This decision is necessary to allow the SDPOA and other employee groups to make plans for moving forward. Maybe that is the political issue?

Whatever the reason, the City of San Diego has become a joke. The politicians, courts, and attorneys who have gotten rich fighting idiotic fights have all created an atmosphere of anger, fear and distrust. The employees and their unions have grown tired of being the whipping child for the short comings and incompetence of those who prefer to spin half truths and miss-inform the taxpayer to telling the truth and working toward reasonable solutions. Now judges are refusing to make timely decisions and the appearance is they are gauging public opinion and the political winds before issuing their rulings. What a sad state of affairs for San Diego and its employees.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bob Kittle is Gone – Good Riddance

It appears someone finally showed some sense today; Bob Kittle was let go from the Union Tribune. This is one of the best news stories I have read in some time having to do with the Union Tribune. The story was actually in the Voice of San Diego, but it was a great read. Bob Kittle is or was what is wrong with the journalism in San Diego. Kittle wrote "Editorials" for the editorial page and used this platform to spin, fabricate and mislead readers. Kittle used his position at the Union Tribune to put forth his agenda of ruining employee unions, city employees and anything to do with the pay and benefits of city employees. Unlike a real reporter; Kittle's "opinion" was protected and not bound by the same rules of honest, accurate and professional reporting. He hid behind this label to spew his venom of lies and deceit.

Kittle, almost single handedly, created such a negative climate in San Diego, fueled by his lies and twisting of truth; that focused on SDCERS, DROP and other employee benefits. Kittle did not care about the truth; honest or accurate reporting; nor did he give a damn about facts. Kittle was a master manipulator of half truths, misleading statements and complete fabrications. Kittle used made up numbers to support his agenda and when questioned or challenged would refuse to print rebuttals that provided the truth or accurate information. Kittle was a little man who used his position to make himself bigger than he actually was.

Bob Kittle would not know the truth if it smacked him in the face on an hourly basis. His repeated lies became the truth to those who wanted to believe. His lies became cannon fodder for those who sought to eliminate employee unions and reduce benefits. Certain elected city officials refused to stand up to Kittle and refute his lies for fear of not getting his endorsement or elected. Kittle wielded a lot of power from his seat at the Editor's Table for the Union Tribune.

Bob Kittle will not be missed. I say "Good Riddance" and "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out." Time will tell what direction the Union Tribune will take. We can all hope professional, honest journalism will replace the Enquire style tabloid reporting of Bob Kittle.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Getting back in the Swing of Things

Hello everyone!! I hope all is well and the summer has been kind to each of you. Let me first say, "THANK-YOU" to each of you for your support, kind words and encouragement over the past several weeks. I am not sure we would be standing and capable of breaking a smile had it not been for the calls, notes and hugs from so many. My father-in-law was a remarkable man who touched so many lives; the cards, calls and people dropping by have been a constant over the past seven days. With the help of the Los Angeles Fire Relief Association and the members of the Historical Museum at the old Fire Station 27 in Hollywood; I am not sure I would know what to do. The men and women of these organizations have been helpful beyond words. The memorial for my father-in-law has been set for August 22, 2009, 1000 hours at the Museum at Fire Station 27 in Hollywood. I am sure the celebration of his life will be one I will boast of in a future blog.

A lot has been going on around San Diego since I last posted. I will begin writing in depth this week. I spend the afternoon today at Pam and Mike Stence's home; celebrating the graduation of Ashley Elizabeth Griffin-Stence from UC Santa Cruz. Ashley is the daughter of Officer Gerry Griffin who was killed in the line of duty in 2003. Ashley graduated with a Baccalaureate of Science in Marine Biology and is working as an intern at Scripps. Dad is no doubt smiling down on his daughter; the proud father that he was; boasting to everyone around what Ashley has accomplished. Gerry's sister, Leslie was there, as was Keith Blackburn and wife Dawn; along with many other family and friends. Gerry is gone but not forgotten and his daughter will forever be watched over by Gerry and his friends still here on earth.

Promotions are around the corner; August 18, 2009. The paths to the Chief's offices have been well worn over the past several weeks. Some very well qualified candidates have made their pitches for promotion and given the Chief's food for thought. The direction of the department will be shaped by these promotions and the men and women chosen to lead us through these tough times. Good luck to all who seek promotion. If you are being considered for promotion; you have earned this honor through hard work and dedication. But, if you are not chosen this time around, do not give up; it does not mean you are not qualified or ready. Begin your strategy for studying and take the upcoming test again. The need for additional candidates for future promotions is already present. As the economy improves and stabilizes more promotions will take place. By preparing now, you will be in a position to be considered in a matter of a few months.

The summer is slowly coming to a close with few major incidents or problems. Be mindful of your officer safety and continue to take care of each other. As the summer winds down, do not let your guard down and relax. As the heat and humidity rises and tempers flare from the stresses of life, anything could happen and happen in a matter of seconds. We made it through the first 40 days and more adjustments to staffing will be necessary to continue. New officers will be released from training soon and it will be even more important for experienced officers to take these "enthusiastic" new officers under wing and guide them through their continued learning processes. Share your experience, knowledge and wisdom and help keep them safe and teach them to be safe as well. You owe it to them and to yourselves.

Be safe and again; Thank-You all for everything. You made my life easier and helped me make it through each day.