Others feel wrath of police unions

Oct. 28, 2012

By Steven Greenhut

FULLERTON — Many people were outraged this summer after a private investigator, with ties to a law firm that represents 120 police unions in California, made an apparently false police report that a Costa Mesa councilman stumbled out of a bar, appearing drunk, and was weaving all over the road as he drove home.

When police showed up at his door, Councilman Jim Righeimer was found stone cold sober. The clear goal of the phony call was to embarrass a lawmaker who had been leading the charge in his city for public employee pension reform, outsourcing services and other cost-saving measures.

Subsequently, officials in other cities revealed similarly disturbing tactics from their police unions.

And, despite the revelations, police unions continue to behave as before, trying to intimidate council members who refuse to go along with their demands for ever-higher pay and benefits, and protections for their members from oversight and accountability.

Two councilmen in Fullerton, Bruce Whitaker and Travis Kiger, are experiencing treatment similar to the Righeimer episode in Costa Mesa. The Fullerton police union is angry at the role those men played in demanding reform in the wake of the death of Kelly Thomas (pictured above), a schizophrenic homeless man fatally beaten by Fullerton officers in July 2011.

Pension reform

The unions also dislike Whitaker and Kiger’s call for pension reform, their consideration of a plan – common in Orange County and elsewhere — to shift police services from the city’s Police Department to the more cost-efficient Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

The private eye mentioned above had ties to the Upland law firm Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. The Register had reported on the negotiating “playbook” the lawyers had published on their website until the bad publicity resulting from the Righeimer episode. The playbook detailed how police unions should bully elected officials into submitting to their demands.

Although the Fullerton police union employs a different law firm for contract talks, it is following a similar blueprint.

As the Lackie firm website explained, a union “should be like a quiet giant in the position of, ‘do as I ask, and don’t piss me off.'” It detailed the “various tools available to an association to put political pressure on the decision makers.” The firm advises police to “storm city council” and have union members and supporters chastise targeted council members “for their lack of concern for public safety,” even though negotiations are over pay rather than safety.

The playbook even calls for the police to engage in dubious behavior — calling in sick (blue flu) even when not sick, and using the color of authority to scare residents (i.e., calling for unnecessary backup units) into thinking there is a crime problem in their neighborhood. The frightened residents will then, presumably, support giving the police more money.

Scary unions

In Fullerton, union members have repeatedly stormed City Council meetings.

The union has handed out free T-shirts and free hamburgers to residents who voice support for the union in council chambers.

Supporters have yelled at council members and leveled unsubstantiated charges designed to scare Fullerton residents into electing pro-union candidates.

They have sent out one campaign hit mailer after another. For instance, the union claims that the council’s failed vote to seek a bid from the Sheriff’s Department to take over policing the city amounted to “putting our families at risk,” a statement that would come as news to the sheriff and her deputies.

Reminiscent of those “Reefer Madness” efforts from the 1930s, the union has transformed the council members’ irrelevant support for a statewide marijuana initiative into something ominously portrayed in mailers that proclaim, “Our neighborhoods could be full of marijuana dispensaries.” Even if the initiative passes statewide, Fullerton ordinances ban medical marijuana dispensaries. And there is no evidence dispensaries “jeopardize our families’ safety,” although I understand that police agencies in general are addicted to the federal cash that helps fund the drug war.

Checkpoints

Kiger and Whitaker are freedom-oriented conservatives who oppose on constitutional grounds Fullerton’s DUI checkpoints, which has led the union to claim yet another assault of Fullerton’s tranquility.

I’ve driven through Fullerton during those infuriating checkpoints, forced to wait in lines on public streets as cops randomly poke around in everyone’s cars, so I am glad some council members question this intrusion.

These are typical campaign tactics, perhaps, but Kiger also talks about a police officer who makes a “repeated false assertion to the public that I smoke marijuana.” He also says an officer followed him in a patrol car around town in what the councilman considered a clear act of intimidation.

The officers claim the Fullerton City Council race is all about “public safety,” but the police union is backing a liberal candidate with no obvious commitment to actual safety issues, but who seems willing to support the pay and pension packages the union demands, and who was mostly silent during the Thomas incident.

“If I wasn’t able to contribute money, these councilmen wouldn’t be able to defend themselves against these union attacks,” said Tony Bushala, a local businessman and blogger who was the main supporter for a recall election in June against three union-allied council members. “The unions put out a hit mailer every day, which explains the importance of Proposition 32.” That is the statewide paycheck-protection initiative that would stop unions from using automatic payroll deductions to fund political campaigns.

Last week, I wrote about a new study revealing that, from 2005-10, pension costs to the state government have soared by 94 percent for “public safety” officials. People often ask me why the state is in such a fiscal mess, why city councils don’t implement reasonable reforms and why so many localities are considering bankruptcy.

One answer can be found in Costa Mesa, Fullerton and elsewhere. Most council members don’t have the courage or resources to stand up to their employee unions. Until the public clearly rejects such campaigns, neither public services nor public finances will improve.

Steven Greenhut is vice president of journalism for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Write to him at: [email protected]

51 comments

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  1. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 October, 2012, 00:12

    That pic of Kelly Thomas is so disturbing on so many different levels. That level of carnage and violence inflicted on a skinny mentally ill homeless man shows a clear sign of sociopathic behavior.

    I think once the jury sees it Porky and Cyclops are history.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 28 October, 2012, 08:24

    Another poodle prediction? fyi– John Barnett has NEVER lost a police case…….no one has heard the other side of the story— stand by……lol

    trolls discuss now–

    0 for 13 ™ !

    Reply this comment
  3. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 October, 2012, 08:35

    LOL…NEVER LOST A CASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love Teddy and his comments, they are so funny!

    Teddy, after I win Prop 30 I will make you another bet; that Porky and Cyclops get convicted of FELONY offenses. Deal?????????

    I KNOW you LOVE Porky and Cyclops b/c they are your basic idiot cops who have the brain power of a rock and would be at Walmart if they didn’t have their gov workfare, but to here you defend them here after seeing the pic in the article is really revolting. Just saying, ya know….

    BTW Barnett’s win in that Haidl rape case was awesome!!!! …..

    Oh…Oppsss..wait, he LOST………Teddy, why do you lie so much????? Why do you try to get over with easily refuted facts????

    Reply this comment
  4. Steven Greenhut
    Steven Greenhut 28 October, 2012, 11:53

    It is true, as Ted stated, that police usually win their cases, even when they do the most awful things, because a) the law is tilted far in their direction (POBOR, etc.); b) other officers have “blue amnesia” on the witness stand and the police bureaucracy typically uses its resources to defend them (the “code of silence,” the “thin blue line”; c) and juries typically believe the cops. But that doesn’t mean it’s right.

    Reply this comment
  5. Donkey
    Donkey 28 October, 2012, 12:55

    Nowhere in the Founding documents of our nation does it call for para-military organization that goes around shooting, beating,smothering, and torturing citizens in the name of justice, peace, or law and order. However we do have this exact scenario taking place in our local state, county, city and federal police agencies. Long before KIelly Thomas, we had Ron Settles, and lately we had Ashley MacDonald in HB gunned down in the middle of a park.

    In 1997 the Clinton administration was seeking to gather information on all the police killing taking place across the nation. What happened was the local and state police departments either refused and made no accountings or made claims of lost or damaged files. It fools no one an organization that has files on every citizen it preys upon has no ability to keep track of the murders that they commit.

    Police organization have become corrupted by their unaccountable secret nature. They must be torn down and put under the control of local civilan review boards stocked with random local citizens that will review and decide if the police are serving the public or only their cabal. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 28 October, 2012, 14:07

    I sonder what Rizzo and his police chief think?

    Reply this comment
  7. Hondo
    Hondo 28 October, 2012, 14:07

    The Guardian Angels were formed when the subway police (transit security) in New York went on strike and left the people to the thugs, robber’s and rapists unless they got more money. If that isn’t a criminal act, I don’t know what is.
    Curtis Sliwa was managing a Mcdonalds that just happened to be at the top of the stairs leading out of the subways. His store became a bloody triage center for the people escaping the carnage of the subways. He got some people together and started patrolling the subways to confront the thugs.
    People may think of the Angels as a vigilante group but they were formed when the police took the side of the criminal, became criminals, by extorting money by threat of violence.
    The possibility that whole states, not just New York city, may experience what happened in the subways, is becoming a reality. California and Illinois are completely broke and getting broker by the day. These police unions are acting just like the transit workers in New York. Gimme more money or we let these gang members rob and rape your daughters.
    California, and the police unions, have disarmed the people. All the laws favor the criminals now.
    You don’t have to join the Guardian Angels, but you’re gonna have to form something. You can’t do it alone. The Rambo stuff only works in the movies.
    Hondo……

    Reply this comment
  8. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 28 October, 2012, 17:02

    Poor sleepy troll Poodle—- Haidl wasn’t a cop— he was a civilian son of a cop— Greny knows— Barnett has NEVER lost a cop defendant case– sorry.

    My dear Greeny—- the law isn’t tilted for the cops at all. But the laws of use of force are tilted towards the objective because they use the average reas man/officer standard which allows a subjective sort of view into what the cops knew before and during the contact. This of course will open up all prior police contacts with the alleged victim in the case……trust me—— the area is verdant for an experienced defense hand.

    Hmmmmm

    John Barnett is defending. He seems kind of good.

    Reply this comment
  9. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 October, 2012, 17:35

    Barnett has NEVER lost a cop defendant case– sorry.
    ==
    LOL…NOW it is he has never lost a “cop case”……Teddy, this is why we love you.

    How many cops cases has he had besides Porky Pig? ONE, that’s it.

    Porky will either plead to felony charges or be convicted of them.

    I have $1K backing that up fool 😉

    Just like Prop 30, I am always correct!

    Reply this comment
  10. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 October, 2012, 17:44

    John Barnett is defending. He seems kind of good.
    ==
    He is excellent, but he is fighting an uphill battle with Porky Pig, and face it, that lard butt is not goin gto come across to a REASONAB:E PERSON/JUROR with this specific statement;

    “See these fists….they are getting ready to F**K you up….”

    The problem with Troll Teddy is he ALWAYS tries to back up the gov employee withour regard to the specific facts or circumstances.

    Hey Teddy, once the jury sees the above pi, and hears Porky’s F**k you up comment it is OVER, done, put a fork in Porky and serve him up, b/c he is going to the Joint for a long, long time.

    Reply this comment
  11. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 October, 2012, 17:48

    This of course will open up all prior police contacts with the alleged victim in the case……trust me——
    ==
    And yo think that is going to HELP Porky???? Youre nuts teddy. once the jury sees Kelly Thomas had over 100 police contacts and not a SINGLE INCIDENT resulted in a violent attack by Kelly Thomas the case is over.

    Good thing John Barnett has the case and not you, being a good lawyer means not only knowing the RIGHT road to go down/questions to ask- but also knowing what questions NOT to ask.

    Reply this comment
  12. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 28 October, 2012, 19:56

    Poodle— I am not defending anyone—- not at all. I am just giving truth here. I don’t have a horse in the race little buddy. I couldn’t care less who wins. Verdict = justice is my view.

    What you don’t know would fill volumes.

    0 for 13 ™ !

    Reply this comment
  13. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 28 October, 2012, 21:51

    Correct….one dumb poodle!

    Reply this comment
  14. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 October, 2012, 22:19

    Teddy……….. I feel so sorry for you, your Prop 30 is DONE baby, it is over. And I will be 201-0 !!!!

    🙂

    But Clown and the dems will try again in 2 more years, just like they did here with Prop 30 after Prop 1a-1g failed in 2009…….I have a feeling all these tax scams will be going down for the next decade or so….

    Reply this comment
  15. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 00:05

    8 days teddy and you are going to be hating life 🙂

    Reply this comment
  16. Donkey
    Donkey 29 October, 2012, 07:35

    It seems that Calpers has their panties in a wad over the fact that both Compton and San Bernardino have refused to pay into the PONZI fund. Looks as if the begining of the end of the RAGWUS thieves game of stealing from the taxpayers is in full motion now!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  17. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 29 October, 2012, 07:40

    Why will I be hating life?

    My kids are grown— no school issues here little buddy! I agree with the Gov. If people want smaller education and gov. they get it!

    And…

    I will enjoy…
    every
    day……

    congratulating you, well, like this:

    Poodle— 1 for 14 ™ !

    and still no comment on his massive fails on the cops pension rollback cases!

    It’s just that easy ™ !

    Reply this comment
  18. doug
    doug 29 October, 2012, 09:46

    the calif. corrections union is a quiet giant right behind the teachers union that we hear about everyday.
    i admire the police, but we simply cant afford to pay more for their retirement.

    plain and simple.

    i have a feeling prop. 32 will not pass. keeping the unions strong.

    Reply this comment
  19. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 10:21

    Leave it to Rex to move the topic from the article to Prop. 30. At Governor Brown’s first post-election news conference in 2010, he stated that he would give the CA citizens the type of the government for which they were willing to pay.

    Reply this comment
  20. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 29 October, 2012, 10:58

    I agree Seesaw— I support Brown 100%– People get to decide how much gov they want!

    Reply this comment
  21. BobA
    BobA 29 October, 2012, 11:34

    Ted:

    Yes, I support Brown too. Let’s tax the lower & middle classes and businesses out of existence or out of the state. Then the politicians, their government unions and the wealthy ruling class elites can have California all to themselves.

    Never again will they have to be bothered with the peons and peasants who foul our air and pollute our cities with their mere presence, who protest tax increases and can’t afford the high cost of living in California.

    Reply this comment
  22. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 11:46

    If you can’t pay an extra quarter for a hundred-dollar pair of shoes, Bob, you are indeed in a bad way. I can see why you would be against Prop.30.

    Reply this comment
  23. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 12:32

    Silly, silly, Doug. The retirement costs will be paid for the police, in correlation to whatever base-salary amounts the officials in charge approve for them. Those costs have no connection with the passing, or not, of Prop. 30.

    Reply this comment
  24. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 13:54

    Silly, silly, Doug. The retirement costs will be paid for the police, in correlation to whatever base-salary amounts the officials in charge approve for them. Those costs have no connection with the passing, or not, of Prop. 30
    ==
    Thats what they said in Central Falls RI too seesaw….BTW how did that work out for the cops and FFs there????????????

    Reply this comment
  25. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 13:54

    Prop 30- DOA.

    🙂

    You heard here first, from Rex TWD, at least 3 months ago 😉

    Reply this comment
  26. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 29 October, 2012, 14:25

    zzzzzzzzzz poor poodle that’s all he has—- or are you predicting that the day after 30 passes the pensions stop?

    hmmmm a new prediction?

    0 for 13 ™ !

    Reply this comment
  27. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 15:13

    RI and CA are two different states Rex. What happened in RI, will never happen in CA. And, don’t refer back to Federal Bankruptcy law again. Chapter 9 is not like the other Chapters. In CA, the local entity in the process of Chapter 9, has all the control as to the standing order it will give its creditors. In RI, the State Treasurer called the shots–cannot be done in CA.

    Reply this comment
  28. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 15:17

    Further Rex, I am neither a PO or a FF. I have no stake in what happened in RI–only concerned about what happens to public sector cohorts in CA.

    Reply this comment
  29. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 15:35

    RI and CA are two different states Rex.
    ==
    Thank you Captain Obvious 🙂
    /
    What happened in RI, will never happen in CA.
    ==
    BK courts are federal courts, what happens in RI will happen here too, under federal law.

    /
    /
    And, don’t refer back to Federal Bankruptcy law again. Chapter 9 is not like the other Chapters. In CA, the local entity in the process of Chapter 9, has all the control as to the standing order it will give its creditors. In RI, the State Treasurer called the shots–cannot be done in CA.
    ==
    The local muni can ONLY conjure up a plan, nothing more, and the BK court can accept or reject the plan. Right now San Bernardino AND Compton have simply stopped paying CalTURDS, there is no money, what is CalTURDS going to do-sue them??? They are judgment proof, they can’t pay even if CalTURDS won a lawsuit. But they are in BK, all SB and Compton have to do is say we are adjusting CalTURDS payments with everyone else’s payments, Viola, everyone takes a pension cut.

    That was too easy seesaw! Please, at least challenge me woman! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  30. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 15:37

    Further Rex, I am neither a PO or a FF. I have no stake in what happened in RI–only concerned about what happens to public sector cohorts in CA.
    ==
    The only person you are concerned about seesaw is yourself, period.

    Reply this comment
  31. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 15:42

    – or are you predicting that the day after 30 passes the pensions stop?

    passses!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahahahaha…..funny guy.

    Teddy, you progressive surrender monkey, the pensions have ALREADY STOPPED in San Bernardino and Compton, and probably Stockton too. The SKY FELL on them little chimp, the sky crushed them with pension debt.

    So the pensions have already stopped, the question is going to be for how many ??? Even I, with my awesome intellectual powers and ability to accurately predict the future based on today’s actions, cannot see that outcome 😉

    Reply this comment
  32. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 15:45

    I am currently secure, Rex. My only purpose participating in this fight is to continuing to make sure my public sector cohorts and myself remain secure. It doesn’t look like you have a very wide circle when it comes to people you should care about Rex–you can’t find your way through all those little green creatures that keep flitting around you.

    Reply this comment
  33. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 15:50

    The hearings for San Bernardino have just begun and Compton has not filed for bankruptcy. It is still being considered whether or not SB is eligibel for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Nothing has ALREADY STOPPED, for the retirees in those cities! You might be able to say something definitive five years into the future. In the meantime you better see a Vet!

    Reply this comment
  34. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 16:20

    My only purpose participating in this fight is to continuing to make sure my public sector cohorts and myself remain secure.

    no seesaw, your only purpose is to keep seesaw in the scam/fraud. All about seesaw.

    Reply this comment
  35. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 16:21

    Nothing has ALREADY STOPPED, for the retirees in those cities!

    Wrong again seesaw, as usual.

    Compton AND SB have both STOPPED paying their CalTURDS payments. Let me repeat, they STOPPED making the pension payments.

    Reply this comment
  36. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 29 October, 2012, 16:48

    It is from phophecy: “When the destitute masses have their entitlements eliminated/reduced to pay the pensions/health care of the retired public servants, they will be famished. Those so called public servants like See Saw and their families(their flabby flesh well marbled from hefty meals funded by public accounts) will be consumed with great relish, perhaps with some of that fine condiment.” Chomp, Chomp.—— The new American version of Thanksgiving, certainly a relief to PETA, not so good for SEIU.

    Reply this comment
  37. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 18:01

    Rex, stopping pension payments does not stop the pensions! It will be a couple years down the road before you see what is going to happen with the pensions of the retirees and current employees in those, respective, cities.

    Reply this comment
  38. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 18:06

    You do not know me Sean M. and you do not know anything about the work I did as a public servant. This is a secular society–we do not need your prophecy quotes on a forum about politics–save them for Church! In the end, you will be the one who is consummed–by all those little green things swirling around your head.

    Reply this comment
  39. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 19:57

    LOL>..now seesaw has little green things going around everyones head she disagrees with 🙂

    seesaw, if the munis stop the pension payments to calturds then the pensions will stop or be cut. basic math.

    Reply this comment
  40. Donkey
    Donkey 29 October, 2012, 21:35

    The RAGWUS is starting to crumble, their greed is their death. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  41. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 October, 2012, 21:41

    Donkey long time no talkie!!!!! Go get OCO to come back here!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  42. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 23:18

    I suppose I should have said, “Little green monsters”, and you would have know what I was getting at. It has nothing to do with people with whom I disagree. It is just your sad condition.

    Reply this comment
  43. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 October, 2012, 23:22

    There will have to be a lengthy, legal process, Rex. CalPERS is not going to stop the pensions of San Bernardino retirees, at this instant, because San Bernardino has not made its payments.

    Reply this comment
  44. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 30 October, 2012, 03:28

    CalPers=242.7 billion and over 8% for 30 years—- aint going anywhere baby!

    0 for 13 ™

    Reply this comment
  45. Donkey
    Donkey 30 October, 2012, 06:26

    Ted, you are going to be shocked at how fast that $243 billion evaporates once the ball starts rolling over you RAGWUS thieves. I figure about eight years max!!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  46. Donkey
    Donkey 30 October, 2012, 06:34

    Greed really does make the human condition blind.

    The RAGWUS feeders have had every chance to fix the pension debacle, but have ingnored all reason and logic, to continue on their greed induced path. I is going to get a lot worse for the feeders, we in the know have tried to warn you. Now cities are refusing to pay into calpers, and this will soon become an epidemic, Greece, here we come! 🙁

    Reply this comment
  47. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 October, 2012, 08:13

    Seesaw, the only condition anyone here has is YOU and it is called ME’itis! 😉

    Reply this comment
  48. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 October, 2012, 08:15

    Ted, you are going to be shocked at how fast that $243 billion evaporates once the ball starts rolling over you RAGWUS thieves. I
    ==
    Donk, Teddy Steals head was crushed when the sky fell on him when San Bernardino stopped their caktyurd pension payments- when prop 30 falls on ted’s head his remaining two brain cells will be destroyed 😉

    Reply this comment
  49. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 30 October, 2012, 08:55

    Rex is expert at lobbing personal insults at those who are far more experienced than he is, regarding work in the public sector. He is so mired down in his own self-pity, because he couldn’t get a PS job, that he can’t bear to see a little sunshine on the horizon, for the state of CA.

    Reply this comment
  50. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 30 October, 2012, 10:01

    And so it ends for those identifed as playground toys…”Your destiny is as dinner and leftovers.” Something to think about as you sit to gorge during the coming Holiday Season.

    Reply this comment

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