Feuding with the Sheriff

From Total Buzz yesterday:

Sheriff’s layoffs ignite feud

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens

Union officials were told today that Sheriff Sandra Hutchens plans to lay off 30 non-sworn employees within the department and demote 10 more, igniting allegations of misspending and terse emails between the sheriff and a union leader over whether the Hutchens should have personally delivered the bad news.

The layoffs are part of Hutchens’ plan to shave $28 million from this year’s budget, which has been battered by declining tax revenue. She already has announced layoffs of executive staff members, including two longtime assistant sheriffs and five captains.

This time, Hutchens targeted much lower-ranking employees — 29 non-sworn workers, such as jail commissary storekeepers, cooks and vocational instructors who prepare inmates to be released, along with one manager. Another 10 non-sworn employees will be demoted or receive pay cuts ranging from 5 to almost 30 percent. Read the rest of this at Total Buzz.

Why is it that the lowest ranking take the hits this way? If  I understand this correctly, there are more than 70 retired “double-dipping” deputies on the payroll still. It is one thing for every area to share the pain in budget cuts. It’s something else completely to set the entire burden on the backs of non-sworn personnel.

  5 comments for “Feuding with the Sheriff

  1. Ltpar
    September 4, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Chris, one question. If you were Sheriff and were cutting 70 part time sworn positions, what would you do with the workload those people are carrying? That is the equivalent of around 35 full time Deputies. Since the work has to be done by someone, using part time people the department is saving both overtime at time and a half and/or the roll up costs of 35-40% of a full time employee.

  2. September 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    First, I am not suggesting cutting the 70 part time positions. However, I find it a bit odd that with the facility and other service reductions throughout the department that the only non management positions cut or reduced are non-sworn.

    We are able to save all of the jobs of the sworn personnel, but not the non-sworn?

    I can understand having to cut across the board, but that is not happening here. Chop at the Top was a good start, but failing to cut fairly across the board is a wrong turn. The complete plan is Chop at the Top first and share the remaining pain throughout the agency. It is unreasonable to exempt sworn personnel from the cuts.

    The part-time positions are simply an example of who could be cut with the least amount of pain to the non-retired personnel.

  3. RHackett
    September 4, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I’m not defending the sheriff. It could be she is chopping services not critical to the function of her organization. The things like the jail and patrolling the streets.

    It’s times like this where every group looks inside to determine what is truly necessary to run the organization and what isn’t.

  4. Ltpar
    September 5, 2009 at 3:50 am

    Chris, my union background side agrees with you on spreading the pain. At the same time, my Police organizational development side comes down in support of “critical services” over “nice to have services.”

    As yourself this question; if you were depending on the Sheriff’s Department for service, would you want sworn Deputies positions cut, increasing emergency response times to your house by five minutes? By doing this however, we were able to keep the civilian jail commissary and prisoner adult education positions. Frankly, I don’t see many citizens opting for increased response times.

    Now before you say it, I agree there are likely sworn Deputies working in jobs where civilian staff could replace them at less cost. Some progress has been made, but I believe more could be done. I would not be surprised to see the Sheriff continuing to move in that direction, in the future.

    It is also likely that Jail Operation costs could be streamlined, without releasing prisoners early. One only needs to look one state east, to Maricopa County, Arizona to see how efficient jail practices, although controversial, have been implemented.

    The bottom line on budget reductions comes down to the Sheriff determining organizational priorities and making cuts accordingly. The buck stops with her, and from what I have seen, she has done a good job.

  5. Rocket
    September 7, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    As long as we are talking about “double dippers”, Sheriff Hutchens and two of her Commnand staff are all retired and receiving income from the Los Angeles public safety agencies probably upwards to 80% of their final gross salary. I heard that one of them is a “triple dipper”. I know Hutchens took a 5% pay cut as did all managers in the county. However the 5% cut she took was from her 200K plus income from Orange County only. I think her and her retired managers should likewise take at least a 30% cut in pay as are the unsworn who are struggling to put food on the table. It’s not like they hadn’t planned on getting by on their origional retirement income. Then as Chris says reductions accross the board or unfortunately face layoffs. I also don’t know why Hutchens refuses a forensic accountant as suggested by OCEA. It not like she or any of her managers have that type of expertise. And if cuts come before the analysis is complete, that’s unfortunate. But right now Hutchens is wasting time. Just my 02.

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