Yorba Linda Police and Politics: A commentary
Posted by Brenda McCune on July 22, 2012
Disclaimer, I was a candidate for Yorba Linda City Council in 2010. I ran against John Anderson, Tom Lindsey and Jan Horton. I was endorsed by Councilman Jim Winder. I have many personal friends who are employed by the Brea Police Department, by virtue of my residency in Yorba Linda for more than 36 years. I have many professional relationships with employees of the Orange County Sheriff Department by virtue of my job as an attorney who spends a great deal of time in Orange County Superior Court. I supported Sheriff Sandra Hutchens in her bid for reelection. I am a recently elected member of the OC Republican Central Committee, representing the 55th district. I am not a candidate for any public office at this time. I feel compelled to make this exhaustive disclosure because of the ubiquitous misinformation and spin that has characterized the recent police contract controversy.
My recent blog post on OCPolitical, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, July 18, 2012, was following the vote of the Majority 3 of the Yorba Linda City Council to award the contract to the OSCD for the next five years, to begin in May 2013. I have written about a dozen blogs on this subject, posted here on OC Political. I attended five candidate forums during the 2010 election in which this subject was discussed. I have reviewed the recent Ralph Anderson Reports, the “matrix”that compared the bids, the bids themselves and watched or attended the meetings in November, April and July in which the police contract issue was “on the agenda”. This is in quotes because the issue of actual notice of the ramifications of the discussion in November remains an open issue.
If you came to this blog to find ratification of your position, whatever that is, you look in vain. I have said before I am an equal opportunity offender. I am appalled by the behavior of almost everyone who has been outspoken on this issue. The advocates on every side have been disrespectful to each other, to the agencies, to the process of government and to the agencies involved and the men and women in uniform who serve us. Shame on all of us for allowing decorum and civility in our town to suffer this final and undignified death in our midst.
Sheriff Hutchens and The OCSD
There has been propaganda and commentary insinuating unethical behavior on the part of the Sheriff and/or the Sheriffs union. I have no empirical information to substantiate any of the allegations and have seen none provided by the opponents of the contract with the Sheriff. The scare tactics are prolific and these boogy-man type allegations and sound bytes presume the ignorance of our citizenry. There is no reason to resort to fabrication and embellishment, and this seems to be standard procedure in this fight. There is no evidence to support the allegations of any wrong doing on the part of the Sheriff. I am in possession of no information, nor have I met any actual witnesses to the alleged canvassing and campaigning allegedly done by the Sheriff and their union.
There was, at the meeting on Tuesday, an Officer Dominguez, who apparently is a representative of the Sheriff Union. He spoke and gave John Anderson the “thumbs up” and said that anyone who “puts bad guys behind bars is all aces in my book”, presumably referring to Mr. Anderson’s job as a Deputy Prosecutor. If Officer Dominguez was there to address any issues of the alleged conflict of interest, he accomplished nothing except to shoot himself in the proverbial foot. His adoration for Mr. Anderson being right out front, his lack of residency in Yorba Linda also fairly apparent in that he did not state his name and length of residency as speakers traditionally do. Whether or not there has been active canvassing and campaigning, my question is what is his “dog in this fight”. If the process is to be fair and objective, there should be no outside participation. All of this is also very curious in the face of John Anderson’s MEASURE Y, the ethics ordinance that was passed in 2010. The guts of that measure, as promoted by John Anderson were to stop special, and outside interests, or an AGENCY THAT HAD A CONTRACT with the city, from financially supporting a candidate. Well maybe not direct cash contributions from the union itself, but the presence of its members, leaders, and any number of personal and $99 checks to Mr. Anderson’s campaign or those of his two flunkies, would be appropriate under the provisions of Measure Y.
So, maybe being an effective lawyer and prosecutor is not only about putting bad guys behind bars, but crafting laws that appear to accomplish transparency and due process, while preserving access to your friends. If so, Mr. Anderson certainly is “all aces”.
I am in possession of no evidence that there is a personal relationship or professional advantage existing between the Majority 3 and Sheriff Hutchens. The rhetoric hurled at her seems to be just that. My knowledge of her is this. She was comfortably retired from a long term career in law enforcement in Los Angeles County. Her husband was also retired from law enforcement, they resided in LA County. After the melt down and criminal investigation that tarnished the OCSD, Sandra Hutchens, through a long and arduous process, was granted the job. Why she chose to take on this mammoth undertaking, and interrupt an otherwise peaceful and earned retirement, does not make much sense to ordinary people. Leaders who have the call of leadership, Public servants who have the call to public service, answer it. Perhaps there is no other explanation. She has undertaken a job that not many people would have wanted. My impression is that she has cleaned house, implemented new programs and procedures to make sure that the utmost in ethics and accountability occur in her department, and restored public faith in an agency that had lost it.
I get that people in Yorba Linda do not like outsiders. It is interesting that this is the platform and ideal that got the Majority 3 elected, but to disparage the personal and public reputation of the Sheriff agency or it’s leader without substantiation is uncalled for. The union is a different story, but still without substantiation, smoke and not fire, the rhetoric and scare tactics ought to be toned down significantly.
Brea Police and Actual Notice
Tom Lindsey articulately, and with pained honesty, set forth his concerns on Tuesday night about the manner in which this has proceeded. There has been very little due process in the process. I do know that the city staff has been tormented with this struggle and the veritable race to complete these reports, in the face of enormous emotion from the electeds and the citizens.
There was no actual notice to Brea PD or the citizens of Yorba Linda that there would be a vote in November 2011 to terminate the policing contract. There was no actual notice to the bidding agencies or to the citizens that there would be a vote to accept the Sheriff’s bid at the April 2012 meeting. That is the vote that was taken close to 3 am. “Actual” notice, as opposed to the proverbial writing on the wall. Feel free to peruse my previous blogs on this issue prior to the April vote, to some of us, it was NO surprise.
John Anderson was elected in 2006, six years ago. Since that time, he has consistently maintained that he was in favor of replacing Brea PD with OCSD. This was no hidden agenda, it has always appeared to me, to be a primary and fundamental goal of his candidacy. He has never at anytime that I have observed him in public, hidden his disdain for Brea PD and their contract with the city of Yorba Linda. Many residents and officers of Brea PD expressed to me during the 2010 campaign, their awareness of this.
My question then is, what have the city managers, electeds, and higher ups in the Police Department in Brea done to prepare for this? I was disappointed to say the least to see the presentation at the April meeting. It was lack luster in the kindest analysis. The proposed contract price was millions more than the others. There was an eleventh hour attempt to decrease the price, that was disregarded by the Majority 3 as too little too late. There was a flyer distributed in the city of Brea to residents when the offer to further reduce the price was sent, to express displeasure that Brea should subsidize Yorba Linda law enforcement. That was precisely the argument for replacing Brea PD in Yorba Linda that we were subsidizing them. It’s like fighting over space in the life boats while leaving the Titanic. Everybody can row together or we can all sink. The lack of coordination, the lack of cohesiveness, the lack of team effort, after a 42 year contract is astonishing. Everyone should have seen this coming like a train, and EARLY efforts to strengthen the relationship and spirit of working together should have been undertaken. The impression that came from Brea’s presentation in April was that they had already lost.
There is no way to quantify institutional knowledge. Starting over with new staff is a concept that is repeatedly and utterly lost on this Majority 3 council. They have consistently replaced each and every city official and contracted provider that they desired to do away with, and have replaced them with individuals or entities that appear to be beholden to them or at least Mr. Anderson, from lower level officials to the stated hit list positions from Anderson’s campaigns, included but not limited to the City Manager, (replaced 3 times during his tenure), the City Attorney and firm, and now the policing agency.
This probably won’t be the end of the world as the Brea PD supporters make it out to be. It will most certainly not be the extensive cost savings that the Majority 3 and the Sheriff advocates make it out to be. It was not in anyway properly noticed. It was not communicated to the citizens in a manner calculated to provide notice of the issue and right to participate, but it was, to those who know or should have known what’s going on at City Hall……100% predictable.
Recall of John Anderson
Really?!? Really. Of all the dumb things that the hyper-energetic politicos in Yorba Linda have come up with, this is the dumbest.
John Anderson, the “all aces” prosecutor who spends all day putting bad guys behind bars, then takes off his cape and trapses over to City Council Chambers to make the “hard call” on things like immigration and fiscal responsibility. To the uninformed voter, he’s the guy they pick off the list to vote for first. No one is against prosecuting bad guys and putting them behind bars. Even when the uninformed voter looks a little farther, they find he’s married for 30-something years to the same lovely wife, successful kids, church attender and Republican. Recall this guy? It will require a LOT of education on subtle issues that are not only hard to explain but hard to sell. He voted to reduce the city’s police contract expenditure by several million dollars. How do you sell “recall” on those factors. He was the top vote getter in 2010, this was his second term.
He is rude, condescending, manipulative and underhanded. There is no evidence he acted illegally, unethically, immorally in moving toward awarding the police contract to OCSD. A lot of people don’t like it, but a lot of people do. He disregarded appropriate public discourse and due process that should be part of an open and transparent government, but it does not appear he broke any rule or law or acted unethically. He was not nice, and probably over agressive in pursuing his agenda.
This is the type of rhetoric that backfires on his critics. They grab at thin allegations, and it works to discredit them and not him. For example, there have been allegation that he is biased against women. That may be true, but his personal behavior toward me has always been professional. We oppose each other and disagree on almost every issue facing the city, but he greets me with a hello and shakes my hand every time. My impression is that he may not like women being present in his forum, but if so that’s a personal feeling, not substantiated by his behavior. He directed biting comments my way during the candidate forum, as he did toward Jan Horton. Is that because we are women or because we were opposing candidates? We were the only ones directly opposing him and his positions. To extrapolate that into prejudice or bias against women is simply silly and insulting to the process of vetting viable candidates. It is not a supportable allegation and makes those propounding it lack credibility. Those who oppose Anderson repeatedly fall into this trap. They read into his behavior, he baits them, they fall for it, crying foul, and upon further examination, there are no facts only subtle inferences. They wind up looking like histrionic sore losers. These feelings and intuitions, the between the lines interpretations, lack real substance and do not a successful recall make.
There is a simple, cost effective way to eliminate the influential stranglehold that Anderson has over the council. STOP the re-election of his cohorts, Schwing and Rikel, and prevent any additional crony of his to obtain Jim Winders’(termed-out) seat. Without his yes-men of the Majority 3 behind him, he would be reduced to the one vote he is accorded as an elected councilmember, and would be forced to be persuasive and compromise like the rest of them.
The effort, resources and funds currently behind the recall, if redirected and put behind viable candidates, would accomplish the same goal of disarming him. The effect of the recall is to take resources, money and manpower away from creating an effective campaign against Rikel and Schwing. It again, appears to me, that the opposition has been “played” by Anderson. He’s got them angered and running in multiple directions, the recall against him is destined to fail, and without strong opposition, Rikel and Schwing sail quietly back into their seats. The classic bait and switch. Watch closely, Anderson and Schwing do it at EVERY meeting. Wake up, you’ve been played again.
I am an idealist. I think the process works, and good people do the right thing….once they find the courage and motivation to do it. In the current city council, all activities are driven by the Majority 3, and their opponents. In my opinion, even the opponents of the Majority 3 are firmly in their pocket as they are skillfully played and their misguided anger continues to get the best of them. This ridiculous status quo exists because we, the citizens allow it. The lack of citizen involvement because of the high conflict and animosity, is precisely the reason it rages on. If you are not willing to put a candidates sign in your yard, or write a check or voice your thoughts, or attend a meeting or become informed and form an opinion, because you fear retribution of one side or the other, then you can point fingers at the small percentage of involved parties mentioned here, but the bottom line is, you are the problem. Citizens sit home quietly while these personal agendas are carried out. So long as that continues, so will the status quo. It is currently John Anderson’s city, we just live here.