No one can say City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo isn’t a good sport. He accepted an invitation last week to celebrate the decision by his 400-strong lawyer-employees to join City Hall’s biggest and strongest union, Service Employees International Local 347.
Delgadillo sought to put the best face on the decision to affiliate with SEIU, traditionally the union of city blue-collar workers but now also the representative of the city’s professional managers. And of Delgadillo’s lawyers. As a handful of business-suited attorneys rubbed shoulders with city tree-trimmers and mechanics on the roof of 347’s offices just west of downtown, Delgadillo told them he was looking forward to working with them as a team.
He may well be. But back in City Hall East, where career city lawyers remember candidate Delgadillo casting aspersions on their work ethic, there’s been talk for years now of a need to bolster bargaining clout. The lawyers also know that term limits will mean higher turnover at the top — meaning more instability for the rank and file.
The council office swap, which put new mother Wendy Greuel in City Hall’s largest quarters, resulted in other moves around the Fourth Floor as well. It was just a few months back that Bernard Parks criticized Dennis Zine for racking up city expenses by moving into the executive washroom-equipped office vacated by Mark Ridley-Thomas. But Parks now has decided to upgrade as well, and moved into the departed Hal Bernson’s old office. That means Greig Smith, elected to succeed Bernson after serving as his chief of staff for 23 years, had to move out. He took Parks’ office. Nate Holden’s old office goes to Tony Cardenas, and Nick Pacheco’s goes to Antonio Villaraigosa.
Greuel gave up the puniest office, which now goes to Martin Ludlow. The multimillion dollar rehab and retrofit of City Hall was supposed to leave all offices equal, to avoid the silliness and expense of the periodic office grab. But no two offices are exactly alike. Some have better views, some have better paneling, and some have better plumbing — meaning the lucky staffers in the best suites don’t have to go down the hall to use the bathroom.
Budget difficulties continue to strain relations between the Los Angeles Superior Court and other players in the criminal-justice system. Sheriff Lee Baca began releasing inmates earlier this year because he lacked the money to keep them locked up. Now the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that Presiding Judge Robert Dukes complained in a letter to Baca that his judges have been given too little information about the release policy and consequently cannot tailor appropriate alternative sentences like community service.
This account follows news that some judges have been releasing potentially dangerous criminal defendants rather than keeping their courtrooms open after hours. The judges accuse prosecutors of dragging their feet in filing charges and bringing in defendants for arraignment. District Attorney Steve Cooley has criticized the judges, and the prosecutors’ union voted to seek disciplinary charges against the judges involved.
Officers Too Frisky
Chalk up a win for a confessed cocaine offender — and for the embattled Fourth Amendment. An appeals court said two LAPD officers went too far when they frisked Ramon Medina for weapons, based solely on the fact that they found him with a broken taillight, at night, in a dicey area. Last week’s ruling from California’s Second District Court of Appeal upheld an individual’s right to be free of law-enforcement searches and seizures without good cause.
“Stop and frisk” actions are permitted to protect officers from having guns pulled on them while questioning a suspect — but only if there’s legitimate reason for the questioning in the first place, and only if there’s a real concern about weapons. In this incident, the officers pulled Medina over near Olympic Boulevard and Alvarado Street for driving with a broken taillight, which they had a right to do. But then they decided to search him, and while one of the officers held Medina’s hands behind his head, Medina blurted out that he had rock cocaine in his pocket.
A lower court judged the officers on solid ground, given that it was night in an area known for gang crime. But Court of Appeal Justice Stephen Perren wrote that a person cited for a broken taillight should not have to undergo a search.
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