On a tip, I dropped by the Santa Ana Police Officer’s Association headquarters last week and picked up a free copy of their publication, “Reliable Source.” The January/February issue features a column by Leonard Correa, the publication’s editor, who in criticizing the coverage of former Santa Ana beat writer Andrew Galvin, really targets Galvin’s unnamed sources for coverage critical of SAPD. Correa waxes nostalgic about an uncle who worked for the Santa Ana Register who never ran with a story until he had ”all the facts” goes after Galvin’s coverage by casting doubt on the reporter’s sources.
From the column:
“Today, it seems that all these reporters need is a tidbit of misinformation to run with a story. They throw what little they have against the wall to see what sticks and so far it hasn’t been much.
It appears that the information Andrew Galvin’s “concerned employee” source has been whispering in his ear is about as accurate as the accounting at City Hall. After all, those of you out there who use confidential informants know that they are not known for their high moral values and should never be fully relied upon. From Joe Perez’s annuity to the use of POA comp time, Andrew has come up short on the facts so often that maybe he should reevaluate his relationship with his source.
I would venture to guess that this source was among us at the general membership meeting when these issues were openly discussed and when everyone in attendance, including the source, had an opportunity to ask further questions. Instead, this source chose to ignore the facts and continue this crusade to divide our association. These inaccurate leaks only served to distract our President at a time when his attention needs to be focused on bigger issues.”
Despite claims of transparency, getting information from various departments in the City of Santa Ana isn’t easy. Now while Correa’s comments are directed clearing at Galvin’s source, and he claims the reporting is inaccurate, there is not a single word in his column that addresses any of the facts reported Galvin. You can read some of Galin’s coverage of these issues referenced by Correa here.
From Galvin’s story:
As you may recall, we reported that city staff don’t know whether the eight hours per year sacrificed by each member of the POA are enough to pay the cost of the former president’s annuity — plus the new president’s salary and benefits.
The POA president is a city employee, but the position is supposed to cost taxpayers nothing. The union’s 523 members give up a holiday each year to reimburse the city. And yet, we revealed, the city hasn’t been keeping track of those hours, so it doesn’t know whether — when the hours are converted to their theoretical cash value — they fully cover the cost of the POA president’s compensation.
Ed Raya, the city’s personnel director, told us that staffers are now working to figure out how much is owed, and that the city expects to be reimbursed for all expenditures related to the position.
While city staffers pound their adding machines, a concerned employee helpfully sketched out what the math might look like. We verified these numbers and crunched them ourselves: Assuming the average hourly wage of a POA member is $46/hour(about what a “top step” police officer makes and probably a generous estimate, considering many POA members are non-sworn and earn less): The value of each holiday donated by one member would be$46 multiplied by 8 hours = $368. The total value of holidays donated by POA members would be $368 multiplied by 523 = $192,464 per year.
City records show that Sgt. Joseph Perez, who retired in August after serving as POA president for four years, had total compensation (including salary and all benefits) of $207,369.47 in fiscal 2010-2011. It would appear, then, that POA members’ holiday donations did not cover the full cost of the POA president’s position in the past fiscal year.
If Galvin’s source was so wrong and so inaccurate, where’s the response from the POA about inaccuracies? While seemingly attacking Galvin’s accuracy, Correa offers no proof that the reporter got the story wrong. And Galvin’s reporting forced the city into making sure its internal accounting was up to date and accurate. Which is exactly what good journalism does. The person with the most to worry about is Galvin’s POA source; it could be someone in the department or someone close to the department. It really doesn’t matter. When a reporter seeks a story and the folks at the other end of the phone won’t cooperate, that reporter will talk to anyone and everyone else.