No announcement yet.

Lawmakers question CHP leadership, urge commander to resign


300x250 Mobile

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Lawmakers question CHP leadership, urge commander to resign

    Lawmakers question CHP leadership, urge commander to resign

    SACRAMENTO (Map, News) - Two legislators said Thursday that the California Highway Patrol commissioner should resign because of a series of problems the lawmakers said illustrated a lack of leadership.

    The legislators, a Republican and a Democrat, said the problems plaguing the CHP under Commissioner Mike Brown included a spike in suicides among officers, faulty state contracts and questionable use of state-owned equipment.

    "Clearly, the problem is leadership at the top," said Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles.

    During a news conference, Romero and Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, said they wanted Brown to resign. If he doesn't, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should fire him, they added.

    Schwarzenegger appointed Brown, a 30-year CHP employee, in September 2004. Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor has asked Brown to work with legislators to correct problems within the highway patrol.

    "The governor fully supports Commissioner Brown and is confident that he is working to keep California safe," McLear said.

    Several law enforcement organizations and some other lawmakers also defended Brown, praising him for what they see as a quick response to fix problems in the agency. They said problems are inevitable in an agency with 11,000 employees and a $1.8 billion annual budget.
    Romero and Garcia also sent a request for an audit of the CHP to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which will consider it next month.

    "We need to point to one facet of this commissioner, and I would say that would be gross inefficiency as the manager of an organization," Garcia said.

    Among problems cited by the two lawmakers:

    - A suicide rate among officers that is 7.5 times higher than the national average for the general population.

    - A no-bid contract for nearly 10,000 new handguns that have not performed as promised. Most recently, a key part failed during training, forcing more than 3,000 guns to be repaired.

    - Alleged misconduct by command officers, including one assistant chief suspected of driving drunk, others accused of sexual harassment and
    Brown's personal use of a state-owned aircraft.

    Brown has no intention of resigning and welcomes a state audit, CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader said.

    "Each of those allegations, as it has arisen, has been addressed," she said.

    Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, whose Assembly Transportation Committee oversees the CHP, said calls for Brown's resignation were premature.

    "I found him to be responsive whenever issues surfaced," Nava said.

    Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, called Brown "a loyal and trusted public employee," though he said he is withholding judgment because he sits on the audit committee.

    Representatives of the state's sheriffs and police chiefs' associations also supported Brown.

    "His challenge is to address these issues head-on, and that's what he's doing," said John Lovell, a lobbyist for the chiefs' association.

    Jon Hamm, chief executive of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, accused Romero and Garcia of "political grandstanding" instead of waiting for the results of the audit they requested.

    "Shouldn't they find out what the facts are first?" asked Hamm.
    He said CHP officers are "demoralized" because of recurring media accounts of problems in the agency.

    Romero said news media investigations have found faulty and wasteful no-bid contracts that approach "scandalous levels" for guns, helicopters, motorcycles and other equipment and services.

    The two lawmakers also said there were also potential conflicts of interest by CHP officers.

    And Romero said whistle blowers at the CHP have faced retaliation that fosters a "culture of silence within the agency."

    Some of those employees have drawn attention to a practice known as "chief's disease," in which senior CHP officials allegedly filed disability claims to boost their pensions upon retirement.

    The legislators' letter to the audit committee asks for a probe of "abuses and waste of taxpayer dollars" in 16 specific areas.

    Among them is Brown's use of a CHP helicopter to fly with his wife to a fundraiser for a department-affiliated foundation in May 2006. The department said Brown was acting in his official capacity and reimbursed the state for his wife's flight.

    The letter also asks for a probe of the CHP's barring of voter registration and signature gathering for ballot initiatives outside Department of Motor Vehicle offices while opponents were seeking to recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.

    The CHP then reversed policy in 2005 when Schwarzenegger was trying to gather signatures for several of his ballot initiatives.

    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

    [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

MR300x250 Tablet


What's Going On


There are currently 3644 users online. 253 members and 3391 guests.

Most users ever online was 158,966 at 05:57 AM on 01-16-2021.

Welcome Ad