As unbelievable as it may seem, 2018 is almost in the rear-view mirror. The road ahead for 2019 will have many new, old and unpredictable twists and turns that your dedicated PPOA Board of Directors is prepared to engage in, as they remain committed to continuing a “Tradition of Success.” Here are just a few issues that we will face in 2019:
Yes, this issue was absolutely in last year’s “Looking Ahead to 2018” article in Star & Shield. As you may recall, at the end of 2017, the Sheriff agreed to create a Recruitment and Retention Task Force. Although PPOA was grateful for the Sheriff agreeing to one of PPOA’s recommendations on how to improve morale for both sworn and non-sworn personnel, the Sheriff did not follow our recommendation to allow employee organizations to lead the Task Force. Instead, the Sheriff chose to put personnel in charge and allow employee organizations to participate as members of the Task Force. Throughout 2018, the Task Force, as well as its three subcommittees, held meetings, and without exception, the PPOA members who participated were frustrated and convinced more than ever that the Task Force was on the wrong track in its attempts to fix the chronic recruitment issue facing the Department. So, due to the failure of the Department’s Task Force (in 2017 and 2018 the Department continued to lose more deputies than it hired), PPOA decided to form its own recruitment task force, and it will be producing a report that will be shared with the Sheriff and other County of Los Angeles stakeholders. PPOA has already had one meeting to lay out a timeline for completing and presenting a comprehensive recruitment report by early 2019.
With America experiencing the second-longest economic recovery in modern history, no ballot initiatives to “reform” public pensions were qualified for the 2018 primary or general elections. But make no mistake, public pension reform is far from being off the radar in 2019, regardless of the absence of a statewide election. The California Supreme Court will soon hear four days of oral arguments in Cal Fire Local 2881 v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System, a case that will decide if the “California Rule” regarding pensions will remain intact. This is consistent with Governor Brown’s request to have this case heard before he leaves office in January 2019. The idea behind the California Rule is simple: Workers enter a contract with their employer on the day they begin work, and the pension benefits they are offered as part of that contract cannot be diminished, unless replaced with similar benefits. To cut or reduce pension benefits without an equivalent benefit to offset the cut would be a violation of the employment contract. California courts have continued to uphold the precedent of the California Rule in multiple cases over the past six decades.
There has been no final decision made, and this case and four other pension cases are currently in front of the California Supreme Court pending review. Besides the court cases, in 2019, look for the usual pension reformists to calculate a statewide pension reform initiative for the 2020 elections.
SHERIFF CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT COMMISSION ORDINANCE
In August 2018, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk confirmed that there were enough valid signatures (from a total number of 247,315 unverified signatures) to place a measure that would give the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, which is presently an advisory body, subpoena power to compel the release of documents and testimony from witnesses connected to oversight of the LASD. This measure, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission Ordinance, will be voted on by registered voters in Los Angeles County during the March 2020 presidential primary. In addition to subpoena power, this qualified initiative calls for allowing the Commission to use its own staff for investigations and the addition of a Comprehensive Public Safety Reinvestment Plan to reduce jail population and provide alternatives to incarceration. PPOA has already begun evaluating this disastrous ordinance and will be spending all of 2019 making sure this anti-public safety measure and its true intentions are clearly communicated to Los Angeles County residents.
THE 2018 GENERAL ELECTION
PPOA will work tirelessly with the elected Los Angeles County sheriff to ensure that public safety, which has been placed on the political backburner, takes its rightful policy priority in the County. In less than a decade, Los Angeles will be on the world’s stage as the host of the 2028 Summer Olympics. The public safety and security issues that Los Angeles, as well as California, will face are dramatically different from the 1984 games, and it’s safe to say that there probably won’t be a single member who worked those games left on the Sheriff’s Department. The time to fully panic about the Department’s inability to handle the staffing crisis is soon going to be a reality; this issue needs to be solved immediately. In this era of public safety “accountability,” how is it acceptable for our Department and, most importantly, the public to have more than 250 sergeant vacancies?
The State of California will have elected a new governor for the first time in eight years. There are no guarantees in politics, but just about every political pundit is predicting that eight-year California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will be elected the 40th governor of California. Again, PPOA will continue to use its political influence and our Sacramento lobbyists to reach out to the new governor and advocate for the passage of state laws that put the public’s safety first. As we all know, this goal has become much more difficult, as some of our elected officials in Sacramento continue to push their “progressive” agendas on criminal justice reform. This has made passing legislation that truly benefits and protects law-abiding citizens an afterthought.
In 2019, PPOA will continue with its goal to get its entire membership to download the PPOA mobile app, which we proudly rolled out in March 2018. This powerful communication tool allows you to stay informed and connected on all things PPOA; it features a “Get Help Now” button that connects you to a PPOA representative 24/7 when you’re involved in emergent situations (shootings, use-of-force incidents, employee interrogations, etc.) Please download the PPOA app from your app store now. Also, the PPOA Board will be working in conjunction with our delegates to personally improve communication with and outreach to our members in the workplace.
We must all collectively commit to our union and never forget that a strong and unified PPOA can overcome any challenge that comes its way. Your involvement will allow us to proactively engage in opportunities that will better our membership. Thank you for your support this past year and your continued commitment to ensuring that the PPOA membership prospers in 2019.