Budget Busting Lemmings

Spending money where they don’t need to and cutting funds for needed services.

Lemming Airways

When will these so called conservatives get it through their thick heads that they are supposed to govern from the position of fiscal responsibility? Last I checked, that was the myth these people keep telling us the Republicans stand for.

So why is it that, in a stunning reversal of Republican ‘logic,’ the board unanimously endorsed Supervisor Moorlach’s proposal to establish a “feel good” Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) that is not needed, powerless to do anything meaningful regarding the conduct of law enforcement officers, and will add at least $1/2 million in costs to a county budget that is already under funded?

This morning we have the LATimes reporting county budget woes (O.C. supervisors face tough budget choices) and then these morons decide its a good idea to create a new and unneeded level of bureaucracy to handle civilian oversight of our law enforcement officers in the Sheriff and Probation departments.

Civilian oversight functions are costly and vary depending on the breadth of activities and number of personnel assigned:

  • San Diego CLERB 2006: $523,047
  • San Diego CLERB 2007 (projected): $558,963
  • LA Police Commission:  Estimated at $2 million plusÂÂ

Given that Orange County is about the same size as San Diego, I would guess the budget will be about the same.

I have mentioned in previous posts that the proposal to have the individual board members appoint one member each and the CEO to appoint two, for terms of three years politicizes the review board.  Let me give you an example to compare it to. The following is the description of the San Diego Board that is supposedly being modeled.

The Citizens’ Review Board on Police Practices is comprised of twenty-three (23) members who represent a diverse cross section of San Diego’s citizens. Board members were appointed by the City Manager to serve terms of one year. The City Manager also appointed a high ranking civilian employee as Executive Director to the Board.

Up to twenty-three (23) members are appointed each year as prospective members. These prospective members attend Board meetings and receive training but cannot vote on cases. They may be appointed to the voting Board as vacancies occur.

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight.  Moorlach took the example of a 23 member diverse board, appointed by the equivalent of our CEO, serving one year terms, and boiled it down to 7 members, 5 politically appointed, serving for three year terms at the pleasure of the Board. If you thought he was using San Diego as a model, THINK AGAIN.ÂÂ

The internal affairs division of the OC Sheriff’s department investigated 103 cases of misconduct in 2006. Of those, 6 resulted in termination recommendations. 1 was terminated, 2 received lengthy suspensions, and 3 resigned in lieu of termination.

The 2005 annual report from the San Diego Review Board indicates that of 104 allegations of improper force, arrest, or discrimination, not one sustained finding was reached.

When the San Diego CLERB was created by voters in 1990, the intent was to have complainants be privy to our entire deliberative process and give those accused of misconduct an opportunity to defend themselves in public. When it comes to transparency the 2006 CLERB report from San Diego indicates that “various legal actions… Have forced us behind closed doors.” The reality is that the civilian review process modeled after San Diego’s being proposed will be just as closed off from public view and scrutiny as the current review process. The only thing that will change will be the additional cooks in the kitchen.

Chicken Little MoorlachSo it seems that the Sups are boarding Lemming Airways for a short filght to ‘Feel Good Island.’  The flight will cost Orange County taxpayers a fortune and nothing will change regarding the accountability of law enforcement to the public other than politicizing the process. In this case we will simply have to accept that we will not be getting what we pay for.


Just another case of Moorlach telling us that the sky is falling, when it isn’t.