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.