Election Union Wars

Eric David Halub, write-in candidate for Simi Valley Mayor, has said on a number of occasions that he believes Steve Sojka is influenced by unions. But it isn’t Sojka who is benefiting from the tens of thousands of dollars spent in campaign advertising by the Simi Valley Police Officers Association. Bob Huber and Keith Mashburn are.

This morning, a full page ad in the Simi Valley Acorn paid for by the Simi Valley Police Officers Association calls out to readers with the following headline:

Ask Any Cop – We Are Sounding the Siren on the Truth About Your Safety & the Rise in Crime in Simi Valley.

These guys mean business. They’ve collected thousands in dollars in union dues with the intent of making their message loud and clear: they want the old guys out and they want THEIR candidates in.

How serious are they? The ad mentions a figure of $391,714.04 as the city manager’s 2009 compensation. Months ago, the anonymous poster calling himself “Sedell Soldier” dropped off a copy of that same compensation breakdown at my home with the same total figure. Since then, I have received copies of that document dropped in my mailbox TWICE while I’ve been at work. The intent, I’m sure, is to get me to publish the detailed figures. The problem is the source is always anonymous (or off the record in the case of “Sedell Soldier”) and the document is printed on plain paper with no identifying City mark, making it relatively useless. Today’s Acorn ad reveals the source is from a 10/2009 public information request by the POA, but it also reveals to me the anonymous source of this frequent gift in my mailbox!

Days ago in the Ventura County Star, an editorial was published regarding Police Unions flexing their muscles to influence elections. I grabbed the following snippet that relates to the Simi Valley election:

The same sort of power play by public safety unions has been seen in Ventura County in recent months. There was an independent expenditure campaign mounted by the Ventura Police Officers Association against Councilman Neal Andrews last fall, and this year the launch of a political action committee by the Simi Valley Police Officers Association. That group is backing outside challengers against incumbent members of the City Council in the wake of tough contract negotiations that included pension issues.

One reason public safety unions are so politically powerful is because they can cloak their support for a given candidate under the banner of concern for public safety.

In a message on its website — posted beneath a form to order lawn signs backing Bob Huber for mayor against incumbent Councilman Steve Sojka and Keith Mashburn for council against incumbents Glen Becerra and Michelle Foster — Simi Association President William Daniels writes: “When we hear demands for cuts that threaten public safety, we have a professional and moral obligation to sound the alarm.”

Click here for the full article…

Currently, the City of Simi Valley benefits from a balanced budget. Part of getting their meant a number of sacrifices, among them were pay cuts for city employees as well as pay cuts for police officers. It’s a very unpleasant fact, and one that makes me grateful not to have to make those decisions. I certainly don’t want our elected officials making promises that put them in a position to rob Peter to pay Paul once they get elected.

SIMI PD FACTS: All Police Officers represented by the union make more than $110,000 in pay and benefits annually. A third of Simi PD officers make more than $175,000 in pay and benefits, making our department the highest compensated officers in the County. Read the facts for yourself.

8 thoughts on “Election Union Wars

  1. The Timm Herdt column this week was excellent; even better was the one by the Star’s top editor at the very start of this year:

    http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jan/16/an-ugly-stain-on-public-employee-unions/

    Those two local journalists have followed elections in Ventura County for 20-plus years. They predicted that the Simi Valley police officers union would try to purchase this election (and City Council), and they were correct.

    Great work by the Star. Shameful work by the POA.

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  2. I have lived here for over 40 years and was shocked by the tactics of the police union when they protested in front of Becerra’s home. The way they are spending their PAC funds on any candidate who isn’t one of the incumbents is more of the same. I support the police whole heartedly, but that union is bad news.

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  3. You make it seem like voters don’t see it but we do. Simi police have a vendetta and are out to buy this election. Its in our face!!

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  4. The police union is no different than any other union. They are only doing what they are paid to do. Any fool who listens to them is just another fool. If the union wants to elect Mashburn, then I’ll vote for someone else if I think the police are trying to get more than what they deserve just like I will for any other union or special interest trying to sway our opinions with misinformation and fear tactics. In the case of the police union after what they did to Councilmember Becerra and his family over the last few months, I’m voting for anyone other than Mashburn.

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  5. The Simi Valley POA should use the end of The Doors song “The End” in its ads:

    “We want the world, and we want it ……….. NOW!!”

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  6. I applaud Mike Chandler on providing an Internet outlet for political expression beyond the limited availability of main stream media. However, this generally unregulated forum has befallen the fate of ill-informed partisan speech and a fair share of rants that are best described as malicious.

    There is nothing wrong with partisanship, I am partisan, as well. The difference between my partisan speech, as opposed to many others, is that I only speak on topics of which I have personal knowledge. That’s why I did not weigh-in on topics like the landfill.

    Mike Chandler has shown that he is partisan, as well. But as blog host, I’d hoped that he would be more objective. For instance in this string, he states that the SVPOA spent tens of thousands on advertising. Really? No they did not. And, so what at any amount that they spent? Is there anything that is inherently dishonest about contributing to the political candidate of choice?

    Just why is it that the SVPOA is endorsing Mashburn and Huber instead of the incumbents? If you think that it is all over salary, you are naïve at best. If you want to know the truth, as opposed to preconceived notions, read what I’ve written in numerous postings and articles. You can bet that Mike Chandler has read my stuff. He’s learned enough so that he won’t provide a forum specifically on public safety. Chandler knows that I can kick the stuffing out of the incumbents with facts. And, he won’t do that because he is an incumbent man.

    When Keith Mashburn was interviewed by the SVPOA during the endorsement selection process, two things happened. First, Mashburn told the SVPOA that it made no difference whether or not the SVPOA endorsed Mashburn as Mashburn would give them the same results when he is on the Council whether or not they endorsed him. Second, the SVPOA told Mashburn that they wanted nothing from him as a council member other than to listen to them. Mashburn replied that he would weigh all factors, including the voice of the SVPOA, and then he would make a decision in the best interest of the Simi citizens. Mashburn got the SVPOA endorsement nod.

    Why do you suppose those things happened? Mashburn demonstrated integrity and the SVPOA said volumes about the current city council.

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  7. Nonsense Paul. The POA is similar to every other union; they are out to enhance the salary and benefits of their members. We shouldn’t expect any less.

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  8. Signs, mailers and newspaper ads are all forms of advertising. A single mailer to every voting household in Simi Valley costs a good $10K, when you tally up print and postage costs. Full-age Acorn ad? Probably around $900. All those Mashburn signs with the badge on it? At least several hundred dollars, if not into the thousands. All ads up.

    POA had around $33,000 to start. You have to figure they’ll spend it all. Tens of thousands. What else would a PAC use it for afterward? Christmas party?

    The Acorn did a profile on every candidate this election. It is one short. The POA needs to be considered as a separate candidate, because it is spending like one. The newspapers need to do a separate profile on the POA.

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