Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 3:49 pm | Fair 76º


Dale Francisco: Police Union Claims Don’t Add Up

Santa Barbara councilman refutes allegations that police force reductions were the result of indifferent councils

Election season is often filled with statements based on fantasy, not facts. This Santa Barbara City Council election is no different. The union representing nonmanagement police officers is claiming that the city is less safe today, that the number of officers on the street has been reduced, and that therefore the citizens of Santa Barbara should vote for the union’s chosen slate of candidates.

Police union print ads supporting their slate of candidates claim: “In the last 10 years, public safety in Santa Barbara has steadily declined. During the same span, the number of police officers and firefighters has decreased substantially.”

And police union television ads claim in an ominous voice: “While Santa Barbara crime has gone up, public safety has dropped. In that time the amount of firefighter and police has been drastically reduced. It’s time we had city council members who really want to keep our city safe ...”

If the police union claims its slate of candidates will fix a problem with public safety, it’s worth asking who is responsible for the problem in the first place.

From 2001 to 2009 there were a total of six city elections resulting in 18 candidates either being elected or re-elected to the city council and mayor’s position.

Of those 18 successful candidates, 13 (or 72 percent) were supported by the police union (for details, scroll down for a chronology).

The police union claims that over the last decade public safety has suffered as a result of the number of budgeted officers being reduced, yet that reduction occurred over the period of time when 72 percent of the members of the city council were supported by the police union.

There must be something the police union leadership liked about the council members it supported — perhaps the council members’ stance on wages and benefits?

During the 2007 contract negotiations that resulted in a budget-busting 25 percent pay raise for members of the police union it was reported by Nick Welsh of the Santa Barbara Independent that police union leaders would have been happy to reduce the number of budgeted officers in exchange for an increase in pay and benefits.

According to Welsh, there had been “a deal hammered out between (police union president Mike) McGrew and (then-)Council member Brian Barnwell to give individual officers bigger pay raises by reducing the total number of budgeted officers on the force from 140 to 137.”

Sadly, maintaining adequate numbers of police officers on Santa Barbara streets has never been the first priority for the police union leadership.

“We have a lot of great men and women in the Police Department doing their best every day to protect the people of this city,” said Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco.

“Unfortunately, our officers are not always well represented by the police union leadership. In this election it’s clear that the safety the leadership is most concerned with is the safety of wages and benefits.

“If police union leaders have a problem with the policies of the last decade maybe they should take a closer look at who they support at election time,” said Francisco.

Francisco has never had the support of the police union leadership. Yet on June 2, 2011, he initiated a budget resolution supported by fellow Council members Randy Rowse and Michael Self, who are also up for re-election, as well as by Councilman Frank Hotchkiss, that resulted in increasing the number of budgeted officers to 141 from 138. Those positions are now filled.

“The current incumbent council members were successful in increasing the number of budgeted police officers,” said Francisco. “We were very clear that, unlike previous councils, we would never consider sacrificing the number of officers on Santa Barbara streets to union leaders’ demands for higher wages and benefits.”

10 Years of Police Union Support for Candidates in City Council Elections

2001 — The police union helped elect all three city council members (Iya Falcone, Roger Horton and Dan Secord) as well as Mayor Marty Blum.

2003 — Brian Barnwell and Helene Schneider were elected to the City Council with the support of the police unionn (only Das Williams was elected without police union support).

2005 — Iya Falcone and Roger Horton were re-elected with the support of the police union (only Grant House was elected without police union support).

2007 — Das Williams and Helene Schneider were re-elected with the support of the police union (only Dale Francisco was elected without police union support).

2009 — Michael Self and Frank Hotchkiss were elected to the City Council and Helene Schneider was elected mayor with police union support (Grant House and Bendy White were elected to the City Council without police union support).

Click here for more information on City Councilman Dale Francisco’s re-election campaign.


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