Thursday, February 11, 2010

Promotion Commotion

If you have not heard the clamor or uproar about the promotions list released today, you are either deaf or out of touch. The fermentation of those competing for the prized golden ring of promotion conjures up a whole list of feelings; agitation, annoyance, ballyhoo, bedlam, big stink, brouhaha, bustle, clatter, convulsion, disquiet, dither, excitement, uprising, rumpus, lather, furor, perturbation, hurly-burly. Yes, I took these descriptors from the dictionary and chose ones that most fit the goings on today around the Department. The final scores are out and now the fun starts for those hoping against all hope of grabbing hold of that prized “gold plated ring.” The categories are all set and the games begin for those who find themselves in the top categories. Candidates are creating lists, trying to determine who they are competing against all as the stomachs begin to growl and the teeth grind.

I am sitting on the sidelines this time, having gotten the message from my last experience and have to laugh, but at the same time cry for those in the center of this rumpus (I love this word). It is painful to watch those who have worked so hard to do their job, prove themselves and put themselves into a position to be considered for promotion, only to realize being number one or two or three or even seven on the list really means nothing. They studied for weeks on end in hopes they would miss the fewest questions on the written test. They waited for the results and when they realized they were “in the running” they paid for seminars to prepare for the oral interview in hopes of improving their position. They then practiced their delivery and participated in mock interviews and sought guidance and advice from those in positions of authority and leadership on how best to interview and project their abilities to win over the interview panels.

The promotion list for Sergeant and Lieutenant candidates are set and those in contention know where they stand on the list. Candidates are crunching numbers, hoping they are high enough to be “Certified” when that time comes for promotion. The requirements developed by Civil Service and City Personnel for candidates have been completed and by all rights that should be the end. The decision should be made from the list of certified candidates using the background information provided during the process; each candidate providing equal data during a specific time period and verified by personnel. The Command Staff of Captains and Chiefs should then meet to discuss the candidates using ONLY this information and selections then made. But, that is not how it is done and the candidates are not finished with the process.

The next step in the “process” is what has contributed to the agitation, annoyance, ballyhoo, bedlam, big stink, brouhaha, bustle, clatter, convulsion, disquiet, dither, excitement, uprising, rumpus, lather, furor, perturbation, hurly-burly. Some refer to the process as “Kissing the ring of the Chiefs.” Some candidates get the opportunity to meet with all of the chiefs; others meet with several; and some with none at all. Candidates are asked various questions; seldom the same questions; some candidates spend ten minutes with a particular chief while another may spend an hour with the same chief; some candidates will provide a resume and others will not. There is no set guideline or definition for how or what will take place, nor is there a guarantee every candidate will be given the “opportunity” to participate. Up to this point, all candidates were on equal footing. That all goes out the window as this next step in the process begins. I am not going to debate the benefits or flaws in this venture but will say in my opinion this “informal” process is patently unfair and clearly not vetted by Civil Service or City Personnel to ensure all candidates are afforded the same opportunity and treatment. Maybe it’s just me but for an organization that demands its employees practice fairness and equal treatment in everything they do, it fails them by not providing fair and equal treatment in this promotional process.

The golden ring for promotion is a carrot dangled on a long pole attached to a short string. Dangled in front and slightly out of reach for most, the carrot is there to provide hope. That hope translates into desire and the desire translates into abuse. The number of hoops hung in the halls of substation after substation that candidates must jump through has become ridiculous. Those vying for the small number of promotions start out with the best of intentions as they work a few extra minutes on their own. They “volunteer” for this and that and take on tasks and responsibilities of others to show prowess and dedication. Candidates don’t see their actions as wrong or out of line and do not feel used. They have hope, desire and a willingness to do “whatever” they are told so they can stand out and rise above their competitor. They jump through hoop after hoop in hopes of standing out. They grab for that carrot and hope, all while doing whatever is asked and never complaining or refusing for fear of being passed over.

The climate created around promotions has grown to something hard to describe in a way that makes any sense. Watching good people struggle daily to focus on their responsibilities because of the internal strife the process has created is troubling. Who will put a stop to the madness? At a time when we all need to trust one another and pay attention to detail; we find our most talented, distracted by a process they have no control over. The rumors are beginning as to who is where on what list and who is best placed to get promoted first. Human nature allows those involved in the process to be nervously irresolute, taking away from their ability to excel and perform to their potential. Can anyone say counter-productive? It is the process, official or not, but at some point we all need to re-focus and ignore the brouhaha created by the puppet masters and do our job.

Good luck to all the candidates who put themselves out there; studied for the written test and put forth your best in the oral interview.


Satisfied Detective said...

I refuse to participate in this process. Watching year after year people getting promoted who lack the experience of others in the name of politics or whatever you want to call it. It is a joke.

30 yr plus said...

The part of the process that got to me the most (aside from what you wrote very accurately) was the feeling that I could not make a mistake. Any mistake during the life of that list and you were toast (not everyone had this problem I might add). After persevering through those years, I felt this huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I made to my current level and felt that I did not have to participate in that nonsense any more! It was a sweet feeling. Now I could go about doing my job and not feel that I could not take a risk for fear of failing thus ruining my chance for promotion. Hang in there those who wish to promote. But don’t sell your soul in the process.

30+ years also said...

You nailed the promotional process Steve. 30 yr plus hit on a point you did not and that is the feeling of candidates they cannot take risks and live in fear. I have been around here for a while and cringe every time I watch a chief or captain or lieutenant jump out of fear they may not have the answer to some silly, stupid, simple question the all mighty chief may ask. I understand the importance of having information but the climate created today on this department is not healthy nor is it productive.

The promotional process is another example of an unhealthy environment. The rules, regulations and contract go out the window during promotions and anyone competing will allow themselves to be used and abused out of fear they will be labeled a non-team player. God forbid someone has a life.

Look at the female lieutenants, captains and chief on this department. With very few exceptions this job is their life and if not are relegated to an area command position and will die there. Listen to Zimmerman boast of working 60 hours a week and working 50+ days straight. She does not realize people look at her when she makes these statements as being nothing more than a puppet and looser. If you have to work that much to impress someone, you have a problem.

This department is breeding people just like this and it is not healthy. This promotional process is creating the unhealthy environment that will lead to dysfunction... I should say had lead to the departments dysfunction.

Wake up people. Do not sell your soul or compromise your integrity for a promotion. Where is the POA? Why have they allowed this to occur? Why has no one stood up and called bullshit?

Fear? Sad!!!

pdblue said...

Having been a sergeant for 13 years, I gave up on ever making lieutenant after being in category 1 and 2 and still being passed over. A lieutenant I once worked for told me I would never get promoted because I have too much integrity and I'm not enough of a "yes" man. I took that as a compliment and stopped putting myslef through the emotional turmoil of the process.

Anonymous said...

Notice how "police work" or any other similar word or phrase related to what we are actually supposed to be doing isn't even an afterthought in this whole process?

We have current chiefs,captains and lieutenants who want to pretend that they are king (or queen) makers themselves, so they will push to get promoted the most vile, back-stabbing, lucky-to-have-a-job-let-alone-be-on-the-list candidates because those candididates are pathetic yes men and women who have great ass-kissing skills.

No candidate should be on the 7th floor talking to anyone, and no chief should require it. If a chief doesn't know who you are already, then one of two things is occuring. Either you have no experience and haven't made a name for yourself, or the chiefs have their heads up their butts and are failing to get to know who does the actual work around here.

I didn't try this time, my disgust grew as I was a simple observer. I really do fear seeing the next promotion list. Therr ARE some good people on the candidates list, I just have no faith in the ones who decide to make the correct decisions.

Bill (11+ years) said...

The chiefs have no business "interviewing" candidates. Like the last post said if they don't know the candidates they (chiefs) are not doing their job. The whole "kissing the ring" exercise is pathetic and the reason I will never try and get promoted. I have seen enough around here and am working to move on to another agency.

The current group of so called leaders of this department have been a total and complete disappointment to me. Those who speak out about the BS are the first to be banished from any opportunity to promote. It is no wonder people use the anonymous tag instead of using their name.

Steve, you continue to speak out and I have to tell you that you have many more followers than you know. Thank you for doing this and saying what so many of us all feel and believe. Keep it up, please.

Considered Retired said...

Lord help this department.

Landsdowne needs to retire (several years ago) and what are we left with when he does? Ramirez? Long? Zimmerman? Solis? Long is as phony as a three dollar bill and less than honest. Zimmerman is so far over her head nothing else needs to be said. Solis is a good guy but lacks the strong leadership experience to run a department this size. Ramirez was promoted above his ability when he made sergeant.

The captains are a complete joke. Jones? He thinks he is a POII and the biggest micro-manager of all time. McElroy is Tony. The Guadarama brothers have ridden a name and have enjoyed golden boy status even when involved in controversy. Rosario rose above his ability when he made lieutenant. Creighton is an outspoken strong woman who threatens the establishment and is as high as she will ever go. Cornicelli is the senior captain and also threatens the establishment and is not afraid to speak her mind. She has been put out to pasture and out of mind and will not go any further on this department. Vasquez is polished on the outside but has trouble when it comes to ethics and his personal life which is the topic of many locker room jokes. McKinney is Lawrence. I will leave it at that. Nice guy. Collins is a nice guy also and the senior department member. He is a yes man and will do whatever he is told. McManus is too new to comment on but is also a nice guy but a clear yes man. Ball? Outspoken and a rebel. Once close to Lansdowne but clearly used by the man. Chris is his own person and will never make chief. He too has personal issues that are the subject of many a joke and whisper.

My point is the process has allowed these people to move higher in the organization. There are sergeants on this department who could step right in to any chief or captains shoes and do as good or better of a job than some of these people. The politics are blamed on the way these people lead. I call BS on that. It is the lack of intelligence, ethics and heart that allows these people to do the things they do and treat people the way they do.

The process of kissing the rings is to gage the candidates willingness to say yes and blindly follow the demands of those in charge.

I have four years left to do on my DROP. I did not take either of the tests and hope to ride my time out in the position I am in today. I just hope Lansdowne leaves soon, Kanaski gets the job in Carlsbad and they bring someone in from the outside who cleans house and get rid of the kiss asses who currently run this department. That is the only hope left.

Anonymous said...

That may be the only hope...but...look what happened when a strong minded outsider came in last time. Unfortunetely along with his self confidence, Lansdowne brought with him an extreme arrogance and self importance. The ring kissing became entrenched in our department with his arrival. Yes, it was always there to an extent, but now it is pathetic and sad.

The new guy may clean house, just pray if he or she is from within or without, that they have a backbone, and is honest.

Beat And Release said...

We are on opposite sides of the country and we aren't civil service, but you could be describing the promotional process at my department.

2nd Generation PD Member said...

Wake up folks. As long as we have the jerk for mayor we do there is absolutely no hope of getting a chief of any substance. The ultimate puppeteer is the mayor. There is no chance in hell he will select a person of strong ethics, backbone and leadership to take over for the tyrant we currently have.

The ring kissing is absolutely pathetic. It does nothing but breed kiss asses and hinder risk taking, decision making.

The POA board is asleep at the wheel. Jordan got promoted kissing the ring and where are the rest of them? Oh I'm sure we will here the ass clown Woody make some idiotic comment and explain to all of us why they can't challenge the BS going on. It is hilarious how he was the biggest mouth demanding pickets, marches and law suits before he got elected and now the clown tells us all why we can't do anything. (FYI Woody - Hitler was thought to be a non-issue in his day. The Rube is a dangerous man and allowing him to put his lies out on a daily basis without putting him in check is not smart.) Woody is the example of what is wrong with the current POA board. Hey Lewis, Paxton, Bostedt, Hubka what the hell?

There are some fine people on the lists for promotion. Problem is the yes people, kiss asses who care more about themselves than anyone else will be the ones promoted.

Looking Toward Retirement said...

Thank you Steve for saying what many of us talk about and feel. You have a set of brass balls dude.

I enjoy reading your posts and appreciate the open, honest and articulate commentary on the politics of this department and city.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The promotional process is a complete joke. Experience, ability, knowledge and potential have nothing to do with getting promoted. Just look at the chiefs on this department. Is there one who spent time in an investigative unit and conducted a detailed investigation? What about a series criminal investigation? My guess is not one of them ever handled an informant. I don't think a third of the captains on this department ever spent time as a detective doing any of the above. Strapping a rocket to the ass of these chosen ones does not make them leaders or qualified. Kissing the ring does not make a good supervisor. If anything it shows a lack of a spinal cord, brain and heart.

Thanks Steve for the forum to allow us to vent and giving us something to cheer. Every time I see a new post here I get excited and read it quickly and tell my friends right away.

Keep it up please.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post.. I too enjoy reading your dose of reality. I was one of the lucky few that made the cut on the last detective list (I guess I'm super highly qualified)?? I'm so glad I don't have to participate in the new process for the express reason of not having to talk to chiefs. They all know me and they know my work - as they should yours. I'm gonna chill as a dick for awhile so perhaps someday I can run a unit as a supervisor who knows his stuff. Till then good luck to all the candidates. I must say the lists have been better in the last 5 years so we must be moving in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Steve I believe YOU were one of the POA Directors at the time the "new" testing process came about as a result of suits brought about by the POA over the promotional process. The POA, under your direction, allowed the City and the Police Department to allow the clause that let the Department pick certified candidates who met the needs of the Department and the community. That is the sticky little clause that allows the chief(s) to pick over candidates who don't exactly fit in.

Shame on you for conveniently forgetting your own participation in the "flawed" process.

SparkySanDiego said...

To the above "anonymous"; you might want to go back and check your facts. That all occurred BEFORE I was elected to the board. My signature is not on the documents. I did work on the process for the test and interview to make it a more fair process (AFTER the agreements were in place - BEFORE I was elected). I was involved in developing the current type written test and the outside panels and the removal of the internal interview. It has been allowed to creep back in so the department can manipulate the list and system.

As for the system; I support the selection of candidates from the qualified list. I DO NOT SUPPORT the meetings with the chiefs and the additional hoops that have been put in place. They do not pass the smell test and open the door to way too much outside the rules of civil service. I have always argued for selection from the list. I do not believe the department should be able to pick and choose. They should have to go down the list. But the rule of three's allows them to pick and choose.

Another safe guard that was put in place when I was on the board and has continually been manipulated is the department's requirement to promote within a certain time period of a vacancy. This was put in place to prevent the department from waiting until larger numbers of openings were available which allows for larger pools of candidates, allowing them to "reach" into lower categories to reach those people they want.

For you to suggest I in some way allowed this process to come to place is patently incorrect.

Just Wondering said...

Hey Steve I know this is way off topic here...but it's been bugging me....

Bankruptcy: A DeMaio Pipe Dream….
What’s Carl DeMaio smoking in San Diego’s 5th District and how many will swallow the Cool Aid he serving?

In a recent San Francisco Chronicle editorial about the City of Vallejo’s bankruptcy case they wrote…
”Anyone who claims that the city's recent bankruptcy hasn't affected public safety isn't paying attention. Vallejo filed for bankruptcy in May 2008. Since 2005, the number of police officers has dropped from 158 to 104. In 2008, Vallejo had a higher violent crime rate than any other comparable city in California. It's not hard to connect the dots.”

Why do DeMaio and Frye say bankruptcy is the answer when so many other options are negotiable or could be on the table?

A partial solution, one always avoided by politician looking to extend or enhance their own careers; taxes and fees.

A recently updated study by the Center on Policy Initiatives shows San Diego is at or near the bottom when it comes to revenue generation and provides services other municipalities. In fact the city remains behind large cities in taxes for property, sales, tourism, trash and business licensing.

But San Diego’s powerful business interests have already attacked the report casting scorn on those who prepared it as biased. Of course they attack the methodology, calling it ill prepared, it’s impossible to argue the facts that San Diego collects far less in taxes and fees that comparable cities in California.

Why do DeMaio and Frye never speak of the costs, i.e. attorney fees, of bankruptcy? Or that no bankruptcy court has ever unwound government pension benefits, ones protected by vesting rights, contracts and constitutional guarantees?

Because they don’t want you to know the City Attorney, Jan Goldsmith, has already estimated the cost of San Diego bankruptcy at $300 million dollars. Goldsmith is advising his client to stay out of court and find viable solutions elsewhere.

joyce said...

What has changed since 1984? Same B*llsh*t, different day. I went through the process 7 times. Never slept with anyone on the 7th floor and never stuck my nose up anyone's ass. What I did for the department IMPACTED COPS! Menu training and in-service. Stop crying cause nothing is going to change. Retirement is less stressful!

Woody D. said...

For the record the POA is asking the 7th Floor to abide by the promotions settlement agreement. We have notified them we want to meet and confer over the matter. If we don't get a satisfactory result we will file a grievance. These are the procedures we have to follow.

In addition, I would submit the only "ass clowns" on this forum are the anonymous posters who hurl insults from the dark. They are the same folks who take one giant step back when the fight starts on the street, letting others do the heavy work....Without courage and without honor.

Pre-1986 DROP Detective said...

Hate to break it to you Woody but the department and the POA do not have an agreement regarding promotions. If my memory serves me it has expired and unless you and the rest of the board have in some way pulled a rabbit out of the hat and have some secret extension you are barking at the moon. If there is some agreement why has the membership not been made aware of it?

There is nothing but retaliation for anyone to speak out and identify themselves around here. I applaud Steve for not censoring or in any other way prohibiting anonymous postings. The only ass clowns are those who dismiss the message and berate those who speak up. Your comment is uncalled for and expected from someone like you who many think of when thinking of an ass clown.