Does Sheriff Alex Villanueva have your support?

While some employees and public cheer his flip to conservative ideals, there is little to suggest Alex Villanueva has changed or that he can keep the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department from collapsing in a second term. In the end, his employees and the public lose big.

Nobody can deny that Sheriff Alex Villanueva is a prominent figure on L.A.’s vast political landscape. On paper as a lifelong democrat, he seems like a good fit for a blue county in this country’s bluest of states. One would think that a newcomer to the political club of L.A. County politicians would at least have a honeymoon period, but his inexperience made Villanueva different. To his credit in the weeks to follow, Villanueva attempted to reassure his doubters that he was committed to reform, transparency and maintained his progressive direction of the department. But instead of nurturing his appeal and behaving with some degree of humility, Villanueva’s obstinance reared its familiar head. He was immediately offended by any reasonable doubt that he possessed the experience to run a mega organization and proved to have the negotiating skills of a river rock.

Villanueva thumbed his nose to the Board of Supervisors and declared himself untouchable to the point the Board considered ways to remove Villanueva. Hostilities escalated to name calling and eventually, Villanueva eroded away all his political lifelines up to and including the Democratic Party of Los Angeles who demanded his resignation. He is truly a unicorn, alone in his field; a liberal democrat without a liberal ally. If Villanueva can boast a single success, it is his ability to completely flip his political support base in under three years. In the end, the broad democratic support he enjoyed has evaporated.

CHANNELING DONALD TRUMP

So now what? Villanueva seems to have gone wild with a sudden infection of “conservative” ideals. He has rabidly defied external oversight and resist’s any sincere effort at transparency. He says state and county law that requires him to produce the records of problem employees is illegitimate, he refuses to testify under oath on matters of police misconduct and he says he is exempt from obeying subpoenas to appear in front of the Civilian Oversight Commission. And most recent, he defied an order that requires all county employees to be vaccinated against COVID 19. What do all these things have in common? It’s all music to the ears of his deputies unions and to the ears of disaffected Republican voters. Good luck winning reelection without broad democratic support in a county that voted by 70 percent to keep Gavin Newsome in office.

THE DANGER OF COLLAPSE

But in the long run, Sheriff Villanueva’s defiance will lead to a collapse of his department. He may be worthy of appealing to conservative deputy unions and may in fact get another million-dollar endorsement, but if the union membership doesn’t wake up, they might all be worse off very soon. A Villanueva win will set into motion a chain reaction of events that will ultimately endanger the public and destroy the department’s ability to operate. This WILL happen to some degree if Villanueva wins. The only question that remains is how bloody it will get. Right now, the sheriff’s many enemies are quiet, likely hoping he simply loses to a better candidate. But payback is on the horizon if he wins.

THE CHAIN REACTION: HERE IS WHAT TO EXPECT

EMPLOYEES: Losing first are the thousands of deputies and professional department employees. Since the sheriff has all but destroyed his relationship with the Board of Supervisors, it is predictable that the Board will starve the sheriff’s department budget. Yes, they could defund him in the new popular sense but that would enhance the sheriff’s “victim” status. More than likely, they will divert funds from the sheriff’s department to more “popular” projects across the county. Bottom line is, there will be NO overtime budget to fill behind vacations which means employees won’t be getting the time off they need and deserve. As a result, sick call ins will cause shifts to run short for lack of overtime. There will be NO money to replace high mileage vehicles and NO purchase of new equipment or adding infrastructure. Units will be forced to ration station supplies and the department will eliminate “take home” vehicles to save money on maintenance and fuel costs. Travel and training budgets will not exist. In order to fill vacancies, detectives will be working uniformed patrol instead of working their cases and instead of writing arrest reports after shift on overtime, deputies will be writing reports at the start of their next shift while simultaneously getting new reports during their current tour. Department projects that rely on discretionary funds will be cancelled or never started. Recruitment will be impossible, layoff’s very possible, and Villanueva’s department will be cut to the skeleton. The county CAO will freeze promotions and underqualified personnel will be forced to work out of class to supervise their own peers.

Anyone who has lived or worked in the county for some time has seen all of this occur during a budget crunch. The Board of Supervisors have a lot of practice and should not be underestimated!

COST OF LIVING

Next to fall will be any chance for a raise. If the employee unions support Villanueva for a second term, the Board of Supervisors will retaliate when the time comes to renegotiate their salary and benefits contract. Even worse, the county may attempt to take away existing benefits. Of course this will never be characterized as retaliation by the county but it WILL happen for other stated reasons if Villanueva is endorsed. Don’t fall for the eventual saber rattling by union directors who will have no leverage to negotiate a raise. They won’t win this time as both the public and the Board of Supervisors will grant them little sympathy. The law prohibits a strike by safety employees and “the blue flu” will only make the Board dig in and burden deputies who will be drafted to cover a shift. Remember, the Board’s motive will be to destroy Villanueva and the end will justify the means. Face it, they know how the public views police as largely over compensated. This is why there was pension reform in 2013 and why the Board is currently trying to take control of the County retirement system.

Contrary to what the sheriff thinks, there is no way to hurt the Board of Supervisors more than they can hurt the department. It will be all out war against Villanueva with little concern for his personnel or their families. Remember all those bridges Villanueva burned to the defiant cheers of department employees and conservative donors? They won’t be cheering anymore.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND CONFIDENCE IN DEPUTIES:

The next to suffer will be the public. With a department in ruins, how on earth will they recruit new employees? Several hundred deputies normally retire each year and even during good times, that’s a hard pace to keep up with. With promotions frozen due to a lack of non supervisory personnel available to keep up with attrition, there will be fewer and fewer available supervisors. As seen in the past, mistakes will be made by acting supervisors or from a lack of supervision and mistakes put the public safety in jeopardy. Contract cities will struggle to maintain minimum staffing and patrols in unincorporated jurisdictions will be slashed. As crime rises and response times increase, the public will become disenfranchised with Villanueva and will take their frustration out on the deputies. Crime will rise, cases will remain unsolved and the quality of life will drastically fall for every citizen in a sheriff’s patrol area.

Alex Villanueva Express

But you ask, if the sheriff wins reelection wouldn’t this all backfire on the Board? Good question but the answer is a firm NO. This public at large is too nearsighted to know when they are being neglected by their elected officials. The members of the board aren’t stupid and they won’t craft this to look like retaliation. Their army of surrogates who have an extreme dislike for Villanueva will spin it. The Board has the LA Times in their pocket and the LA Times supports the removal of Villanueva. The Times and other media will not spin in favor of Villanueva and the department because it’s not popular to support police these days Not a chance. The public will instead believe the narrative they are told to believe. How do you think Prop 47 was passed? How was George Gascon elected? Why did California vote to increase the gasoline tax? See where this is going?

So while the Villanueva train is at 90 on the straights, all looks good to those who support his conservative bluster. But tomorrow there will be a sharp curve in the tracks and when the train derails, those who survive will be irate their engineer should have seen it coming but instead was last heard screaming, “More speed! More speed!” Remember. Nothing is ever Villanueva’s fault.

One thought on “Does Sheriff Alex Villanueva have your support?

  1. Pingback: Let the defunding begin… We told you so. | Sheriff Alex Villanueva should not be reelected

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