Show Me the Money!
Here we are in May 2019 and the County still has not paid several negotiated raises agreed upon in July 2018, nearly one year ago! As of this date, the BU612 Patrol Bonus and the Supervisory Skill Bonus have not been paid to the employees. Why? Good question. It depends on who you ask. The CEO’s office says it is the Sheriff ’s Department holding up the process. The Sheriff ’s Department says it is the Auditor-Controller refusing to issue the proper pay code. The Auditor-Controller’s office says it’s LACERA that hasn’t determined the pensionability of these bonuses. LACERA says it doesn’t have anything to do with the County paying the employees. Hmm. Is anyone else hearing circus music in the background?
Sadly, if PPOA wasn’t pushing the issue, I don’t think the County, the Sheriff ’s Department or anyone else would be even slightly concerned that the employees haven’t been paid. I can honestly say nobody in the County or the Sheriff ’s Department has advocated to get this done. Just a lot of finger-pointing. PPOA will continue to fight to get these bonuses paid, and I am confident we can get this resolved soon.
Changes to the PPOA Board of Directors
At our PPOA Board meeting in May, longtime Board member Art Reddy stepped down as the retiree representative on the Board of Directors. He will now assume the role of consultant for legislative matters and will remain the chairperson of our legislative committee. I am so grateful for Art’s invaluable input at our Board meetings. He has by far the most institutional knowledge about PPOA business over the past several decades. Those who know Art also know he has a “colorful” way of expressing himself. We will miss his uninhibited use of expletives … and that’s when he is saying nice things!
Jim Schallert will be taking over for Art as the retiree representative on the Board. Jim recently retired from the Sheriff ’s Department and resigned from his vice president position on the PPOA Board of Directors. Jim has been a great VP and my “goto” guy for number-crunching and fact-checking. If you have read any of his articles, you know he isn’t afraid to express his opinions … and he has a lot of them! Now, he will shift from active employee issues to retiree issues, and there are plenty of those to keep him busy: retirement, pensions, York, etc. I have no doubt he will be as strong an advocate for retirees as he was for active employees. Congrats on your retirement, Jim!
The PPOA Board of Directors appointed Tab Rhodes to fill the vacated vice president position. I have known Tab for nearly 20 years and he will be a strong advocate for all PPOA members. He has great problem-solving capabilities and a strong sense of right and wrong. Like Jim, he is also not afraid to express himself. Some would find these negative characteristics, but I believe quite the opposite. I encourage and support outspokenness, dissent (when done professionally) and passion. These are all indicators that a person cares about a topic and will fight hard to protect and defend our membership.
Custody Five-Year Commitment for Supervisors
For many years, PPOA has advocated against the five-year mandatory custody assignment as part of the dual-track program. In fact, PPOA advocated against the dual-track program altogether, as we foresaw the very problems we are seeing today. Last year, we were successful in getting then-Sheriff McDonnell to agree to change the five-year commitment to a three-year commitment. The new three-year commitment began with custody sergeants and was to be applied to custody lieutenants early in 2019.
But with the election of Sheriff Villanueva and his distaste for “anything McDonnell,” the three year commitment has been returned to a five-year commitment for lieutenants. We are deeply disappointed in Sheriff Villanueva for making this unilateral change without any discussion with PPOA or the impacted employees. There is much speculation about why the Sheriff ’s Department made this decision. Some say it is because Sheriff Villanueva favors patrol and doesn’t respect custody, and thus wants to promote more people on the patrol track rather than letting custody lieutenants go to patrol assignments. Some say he doesn’t want the problem that was seen with the custody sergeants, where there was a mass exodus when the five-year commitment was changed to three years. Some say his “inner circle” cronies just wanted to promote their buddies who were on the patrol track. We don’t know the real reason for this change, nor do we know whether Sheriff Villanueva even knows about it. What I do know through conversations with Villanueva is that he was inclined to reduce the five-year commitment, possibly even to a two-year commitment. So why the change?
I think Sheriff Villanueva owes his employees an explanation. If he is truly trying to fix wrongs of the past, this is not the path to do it. If he believes McDonnell did not pay attention to the impact his decisions had on morale, he need only turn to this decision to keep the five-year commitment. This will have a significant impact on morale. It is disrespectful to not only custody lieutenants, but all those assigned to custody. The message is that custody is a second-class assignment and unworthy of recognition. Sheriff Villanueva emphasized this position when he made the statement that in order to promote, you had to have 10 years in patrol, pushing a radio car. He has backed off that position and he should back off this position as well. It is the right thing to do. This Department is multifaceted and includes more than just patrol. If he doesn’t come to that realization, he may find the Board of Supervisors looking to create a County Department of Corrections and place it under the command of someone who cares about custody and custody employees. I hope Sheriff Villanueva will re-examine this position about the five-year rule. I know in his heart he knows this is wrong.