This was submitted to the North County Times Community Forum
Encinitas Council Candidate's Claim Questioned.
Knowing little about Kristin Gaspar before attending the first candidates forum a few weeks ago, I checked out her web site. When I met her there I pointed out that the most important section, "positions on issues" was empty. Rather than correct what she said was an oversight, she removed the entire section. Now, with no explicit policy positions or legislative record, we are left with the headline on her signs seen next to allied candidate Dan Dalager, "Law enforcement's Choice." It turns out this claim is based on the endorsement of one group, DSASD, "Deputy Sheriffs' Association of San Diego County." whose web site describes ttself as "the professional labor organization" of the county's Sheriff's deputies.
Any public official who has too cozy a relationship with their government employee's union has an inherent conflict of interest, since it is his or her responsibility to represent the taxpayers in negotiating salaries and benefits. While this conflict is so clear that candidate Teresa Barth previously refused this unions invitation to be considered for its endorsement, in the case of a union representing those with it is even more problematic
The pressure on elected officials who negotiate with law enforcement groups is rarely articulated. Few want to be the enemy of any organized well funded labor group, much less when its members carry badges and guns. There is a wide degree of discretion allowed in enforcing California's law. Almost everyone rolls through four way stop signs, so it is the deputy's decision who will get the expensive traffic ticket. A recent example of a more serious abuse of discretion was enforcement of a noise complaint at a political fundraiser in Cardiff last year. This possible infraction escalated to deployment of a helicopter and eight patrol cars, followed by the forceful arrest of three attendees.
Law enforcement groups circled the wagons defending the deputy's actions, including an unprecedented letter by the DA blaming the homeowners. Now, in response to a lawsuit by those arrested, the truth has come out in a training manual released by Sheriff Gore in anticipation of conceding the validity of the suit against the department. This manual shows that every action taken by the arresting deputy was contrary to city, state and constitutional law. From his entering the premises without permission to demanding information from the homeowner, who properly refused to answer, there was a clear abrogation of law including the fourth and fifth amendments. This directly relates to the responsibilities of the Encinitas City council, which refused to revisit the noise ordinance, described by experts as unconstitutionally vague.
The group, DSASD, that endorsed Kristin Gaspar is primarily a labor organization promoting the interests of its members who happen to engage in "Law Enforcement" Ms Gaspar, by her actions, has shown a lack of understanding of the complex challenges, conflicts, and obligations to taxpayers of an elected public official in this difficult area.
Those interested in this issue may want to read this essay. It is on the larger problem of Enciitas government, and my argument for a new charter.
Note: Readers please leave comment so I can have some feedback.