Monday, January 25, 2010

Strange Bedfellows?

Sitting here this evening watching Jeopardy, I began scanning various internet news sites, Twitter, Facebook and the many BLOGS I follow regularly. While scanning the various posts on Twitter there were several that caught my eye causing me to stop and wonder. Before I get into the content, I want to lay a foundation for where this post is going.

Kimberly Hale is the lobbyist hired by the SDPOA in September 2009 to assist them with lobbying efforts and public communications. Ms. Hale is a Director at Public Policy Strategies, a lobbying firm owned by Tom Shepard, who ran the mayor’s two election campaigns. Ms. Hale is married to Darren Pudgil, the mayor’s communications director. Ms. Hale is the Vice Chair of the San Diego County Taxpayer’s Association (SDCTA). She is also a board member for the San Diego Downtown Partnership who hail themselves as the “voice of downtown.” Ms. Hale is a part time user of Twitter and Facebook.

Lani Lutar is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the SDCTA, whose written creed is; “The San Diego Taxpayers Association is a watchdog organization that looks out for your tax dollars. SDCTA takes a leadership role in fiscal oversight of local government and aggressively resists unwarranted taxes and fees, discriminatory regulations, and ill-advised public expenditures. We challenge local government at all levels to be accessible, responsive, efficient and fair.” Ms. Lutar took over for Lisa Briggs in 2006, when Ms. Briggs accepted a job with the mayor. Ms. Briggs represented the mayor at the table during negotiations with the SDPOA and the city for several years. From 1999 to 2004, Ms. Lutar served in leadership roles on several non-partisan San Diego City council candidate campaigns. In 2005, Ms. Lutar served as an advisor for the mayor’s City Hall Reorganization group. Ms. Lutar has been a strong and loud voice in San Diego, calling for reform and advocating the reduction of police officer benefits and retirement.

Over the past several months, Ms. Lutar and Ms. Hale have traded tales of woe while sitting side by side getting pedicures; or planning this year’s SDCTA Watchdog Awards and Fleece Dinner; or having breakfast or lunch together.

What caught my eye tonight were several Twitter posts from both ladies about their activities. Ms. Hale was hired by the SDPOA to assist them with lobbying city hall and crafting the association’s message. The mayor is clearly not a friend of the association and has gone out of his way to destroy a once proud police department and the men and women who serve San Diego. His actions dating back before his election have been detrimental to the members of the SDPOA and public safety in San Diego.

In a Twitter post on November 1, 2009, at 12:54 PM, Ms. Hale wrote, “The three p's of life...talking politics and policy while getting a pedicure with Lani Lutar.”

In another Twitter post on January 21, 2010, at 12:14 PM, Ms. Hale wrote, “Sitting at the Poseidon Resources' table getting ready to be sworn in by my fav Mayor Jerry Sanders.” Ms. Hale was attending the San Diego Partnership Installation Luncheon to be sworn in (not sure to what).

In another Twitter post on January 24, 2010, at 11:05 AM, Ms Hale wrote, “At breakfast with one of my besties, Lani Lutar. we heart egg whites!”

This afternoon, January 25, 2010, Ms. Hale wrote on Twitter, “We had a fab SDCTA Watchdog Awards and Fleece Dinner planning meeting, you will love this year's theme...stay tuned.”

On January 20, 2010, at 7:44 PM, Ms. Lutar wrote on Twitter, “Go Carl! Keep it up! RT @carldemaio: I’m appeariing on CW-6 Morning Show tomorrow at 7am to talk pension reform.”

In another Twitter post by Ms. Lutar on January 12, 2010, at 10:24 PM, she wrote, “We are slowly but surely having an impact on pension reform in the region. The smaller cities rarely get media coverage for their efforts.”

There are many more posts related to “pension reform” posted by Ms. Lutar on Twitter that would concern any police officer who reads them. Ms. Lutar falls prey to the little rube, using his twisted, exaggerated and misleading information to call for further reductions and “reforms” to police officer pensions and benefits.

I think you can get the idea of why the posts on Twitter caught my eye and caused me to do a little more reading. Over the past several weeks, a number of officers have brought up Ms. Hale and what it is she does for us and more importantly whose side is she representing? Politics makes for strange bedfellows and sometimes the lines are blurred and the web broad to catch what is thrown in your general direction. Knowing where the line is and which side you occupy is extremely important, especially in politics.

The Twitter posts and the associations Ms. Hale is a part of are troubling on the surface. To whom does she truly represent? Can Ms. Hale effectively represent the interests of the SDPOA and at the same time participate in policy discussions as Vice Chair of the SDCTA or a board member of the San Diego Downtown Partnership? Does the comment written by Ms. Hale last week about the mayor generate any concern? Is it just me?

Members of the San Diego Police Officer’s Association are concerned for their future. They have seen the little rube and many others, over and over again spinning, twisting and flat out lying about their retirement. We have all sat defenseless as the little rube and others call for pension reforms thru reductions and elimination of earned and vested benefits with nary a peep from our association.

When can members expect to hear or see our message and the direction the board of directors is taking this association and its members? How much longer is the little rube going to be allowed to preach his lies before the association counters the information with factual data and stop his campaign and assault on members and their benefits? Last week the association served the mayor with a public records request seeking information related to any study the mayor may have undertaken related to DROP neutrality. This is long overdue and a welcome action on our behalf.

The members are looking for their association to do more. Is anyone listening?


Tired of the BS said...

See my last post in yesterday's post....Well said Steve!

Anonymous said...

The current SDPOA leadership is a joke! They are way in over their head, and there is no real-time communication between the Board and its members. Once again, the membership is in the dark!

The Board responds by saying that the PR person is working to represent our interests, but they fail to cite specifics.

The Board is out negotiated by the City's professional negotiations team year after year. Cops like to believe they can do it all. Wake up SDPOA!

Once again, the POA Board is in over their head, and the membership will suffer.

It's time to think outside the box SDPOA. Just remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Do you want to remain "behind the scenes" or become the squeaky wheel?

Just Wondering said...

Diametrically Opposing Point of View

Let me be the first person here to say I don’t like the politics. Not the points of view, i.e. conservative, liberal, or independent minded folks, no I enjoy the differing philosophies, it’s the underbelly of politics that offends my sense of right and wrong. You know what I mean, the spin, double speak, downright lies and backroom deals all concocted to further one agenda or another. Most of the underbelly involves highly questionable ethics and illegalities and that offends me and most if not all of you.

As public safety workers we’ve taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Politician, when sworn into office take a very similar one but it rarely seems to stick. But before too long, most are manipulating information to further their agendas and looking for ways to hold onto the very power that has ethically compromised them. Our founding fathers who had intended public service, in a representative form of government, to be a very temporary service must be spinning in their graves to see what politics has morphed into in the 21st Century.

Now back on topic

Being unsophisticated about what goes on inside the politics of San Diego maybe the POA leadership team should let the members, the ones who support the organization with their many dollars, in on their plan and it’s timeline. Here are just a few examples:
What metric is, or will be, used to measure the effectiveness of the PR firm hired to voice the member’s message?

How was the firm hired vetted?

How was Ms. Hale selected over others?

Are there performance milestones?

Many believe PR work is a sophisticated version of smoke and mirrors. I am trying to keep an open mind because I, for one, am not sophisticated with backroom deals, secret handshakes, double speak and secret agendas.

I, and many other public safety workers, are the ones who go out every day, doing what’s right, moral and ethical. We serve the citizens to the best of our ability with every dwindling resources, while the politician, their handlers and power elites manipulate the playing field.

Just Wondering said...

Hey Buddy can you spare a dime?

We aren’t even done with January 2010 and the budget, just passed last December, that’s one month ago, is already $77 MILLLION DOLLARS short for Fiscal year budget 2012.

Did the Mayor and Council pull a fast one by passing an 18 month budget thinking no one is going to keep an eye on it?

Sure there was a lot of pain and suffering during the budget talks, more in the form of actual layoffs is looming just off the coast of Enron by the Sea.

Of course our fearless leader, Jerry Sanders, has only one idea, cuts, cuts, and then, more cuts.

The man who wants Mayor’s job in 2012, Carl DeMaio, only wants to attack your wages, fairly negotiated benefits and your retirement compensation and benefits.

But then there is Todd Gloria, Councilmember for District 3. Gloria has said he believes new revenues would have to be part of the plan to solve the 2012 deficit.

Gloria has added a new voice of reason in desert of ideas on how to attack the budget problems.

Now enters a new player to the game, a gentlemen named Bob Nelson who is the chairman of the Citizens' Revenue Review and Economic Competitiveness Commission, a task force looking to find new money for the city's budget.

Both he and Gloria said the support of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders for any revenue-increasing ballot measure would be critical.

So Mr. Mayor,…where are you? Where’s the leadership Jerry?

Mr. Nelson, Chairman of the Citizens Revenue Review and Economic Competitiveness Commission gave the following remarks at a news conference before the meeting started.

He said the “bird is pretty much down to the bone” when it comes to future spending cuts in San Diego. “If we are going to maintain quality services, we are going to have to look for new revenues as well as trying to grow the economy by maintaining and building new businesses.” .

Wonder if Jerry will disavow this commission like he did with business leaders in December?

Anonymous said...

I have no faith in the POA leadership. The "City" says jump, and the POA Board says "how high?"

The POA would like us to think it's a game of give and take. Give a little, gain a little. THAT HAS NEVER WORKED.

Time to quit playing by the City rules. Re-write our rules.

And another thing---When the POA Board agreed to negotiate away the F.I.T. program because the City did not like it, look at the benefit and workers comp protection we lost forever. What did we gain? NOTHING. Shame on the POA.

Free Radical said...

Over our heads.....? Right now we are sitting in a meeting with CALPERS trying to work out a program with the City that will save retiree medical for us and significantly lower costs for active and retired members. The SDPOA Board researched and implemented this idea. It will require state government code changes to get it done. We are in active talks with the State legislature on the subject. If we accomplish this YOU MIGHT be able to afford healthcare when you are retired, because it will eliminate $300,000,000 in unfunded liabiltiy for the City.

The fact we got raked over the coals this year has nothing to do with negotiation skills. Read the paper...go talk to your neighbor. We are in the second worse financial times in this country's history. I was in Sacramento last week at a California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations (CCLEA) meeting. What I heard was everything and I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G that has happened to us in the last year is happening to all the other agencies in the state, with the exception of furloughs and layoffs. We don't have those. I have travelled on behalf of the POA some this year. Our negotiator's (Dick Castle former Teamster mouthpiece)reputation is legendary throughout the state. Dick is retiring after these negotiations. We are scouting top-end firms throughout the state. Everyone of them we have talked to just about worships him.

For those of you who think throwing rocks at a Mayor with a 65% approval rating or constantly responding to a Councilmember who the U/T compares to Aguirre would be beneficial more power to you. I do not shy away of saying what needs to be said, but there is a time and place for everything. I am telling you this is not the time.

In the past few months we have been able to open a dialog directly with the Mayor. We have access to every Council member, not their aides. We are working to hold off a continuation of the disaster that is happening all over the state.

In the past year we have attempted to open more lines of communications to our membership so you can have a better idea of everything that is being done. E-Blasts, Forum, Website, Informant, phone blasts, Choir name it. We are doing much better, but want to do more. That is something Kimberly was supposed to help us with and has not. I hear what Steve is saying about her. I have had the same concerns and have been asking the same questions. She is constantly being evaluated.

For you Firemen (cops are not afraid for people to know who they are) who are bitching about what the POA is or is not doing, I will be happy to talk to you in person about everything we are doing. The fact is many people who have left the association over the last few years have returned because they see a change for the better. We are down to 30 non-members.

Woody DuBois
SDPOA Director

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Steve..another enlightening one as usual. I was shocked reading this about Hale! I am glad to see the POA knows about it. I feel her comments are outright a slap in the face to the POA who hired her. I hope something is done about it. I cant imagine she is good enough to overcome such a lack of judgment!

Tired of the BS said...

Woody....just leave and stop embarassing yourself..and take your inexperienced buddies with you.

Steve you should be the new INDEPENDENT president of the newly RE-ORGANIZED POA. Do I hear a 2nd motion?

Anonymous said...

I heard somewhere the POA is a member organization of the Taxper's Assoc. Interesting if true.

Tired of the BS said...

Still waiting on a 2nd motion for Steve..!!!

SparkySanDiego said...

I appreciate the vote of confidence but I have to tell you I am not interested in getting back into that arena. I did it twice and that was enough and honestly I think Brian is doing a good job considering what he is up against.

Four of the board members currently on the board have been there for well over six years. They have the knowledge and experience to help guide the five new members who have a couple weeks experience to three years.

I served during a tough time and was not able to wrestle a contract from either Mayor Murphy or the current one. We lost ground during my last stint and we failed in our lawsuits.

I too am tired of the BS but I think the better move would be to support and help Brian and the rest of the board and get involved.

Lastly; someone mentioned the SDPOA being a member organization in the San Diego County Taxpayer's Association. That is absolutely correct. Brian took on that challenge so he could get our views and message out and explain reality to some of the others involved in this organization. Brian represents OUR interests when he attends meetings of the SDCTA; unlike Hale who sits on the board of directors that sets policy for the organization; which I find troubling.

This is an example of the efforts and work Brian is doing on our behalf.

Yes, I have issues with some of the actions or lack of by the SDPOA Board and some directors specifically. That said, I support Brian and I believe the membership should do likewise.

Paying Attention said...

What is the relationship between Ms. Hale (married to Pudgil) and the chief's legal advisor Paul Cooper? This is a relationship that needs to be investigated. Wake up POA, you are being taken for a ride.