Sheriff, There’s a Sheriff In My Soup. Oh, Wait, It’s Just A Bug.
When I first posted a note on the Tribune story on Sheriff Pat Hedges & The Illegally Taping Lawsuit, I noted that any allegation or lawsuit involving the words . . . grievance . . . involuntary transfer . . . narcotics division . . . secret taping . . . would involve another word: Wrinkles.
And so it has proven to be the case. On Sept 28, the Tribune continued the story with the wonderful headline, “Sheriff Defends Office Bugging,” and notes that Hedges says the county doesn’t have the authority to even investigate the case and even if they do, they don’t have the authority to do much of anything about it since he’s elected to office and it’ll be up to the voters to vote him out if they think he’s broken the law, which he might have done, but didn’t intend to . . . break the law, that is.
And then the next day, in a follow up to the follow up, another story wherein Sheriff Hedges declares that he’s not putting himself on administrative leave while this whole thing is being investigated. Which puts Hedges squarely athwart county administrator, Dave Edge and county policy that places parties on paid administrative leave, “While you investigate it, you need to get the alleged perpetrator out of the office so he’s not continuing to exert pressure on the person. . . you take these people out of the office immediately.”
Except for the Sheriff, apparently. Said Hedges, in the Sept 29 Tribune follow up: “Hedges said placing people on leave is rare in his department partly because there are other options, such as reassigning employees or changing their shifts or work locations. . . . ‘We very seldom put people on administrative leave just because there’s an allegation or investigation,’ Hedges said. ‘That’s just not what I do.”
Except in this case because, according to the story, the “victim,” Chief Deputy Gary Hoving, the bugee who’s filed a $1.25 million lawsuit against the alleged bugers, “went on paid administrative leave August 29 after deciding he could not work comfortably in the department. He said he believed there were no other options.”
Since Sheriff Hedges is Deputy Hoving’s boss, and the Sheriff Department policy rarely ever places people on leave, and since Hedges hasn’t put himself on leave, why did he give leave to Hoving to go on leave? As the Tribune’s Sept 29 story noted, in a quote from “Craig Smith, a former prosecutor who teaches t Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, noted that it would be unusual for a purported victim to be placed on paid administrative leave while those accused of wrongdoing were still on duty.”
And then today, Sunday the 30th, the Trib’s editorial chimed in with another “wrinkle.” “Sheriff should take a leave of absence. Pat Hedges should stay out until the state ends its investigation into his eavesdropping.”
Eavesdropping? Now there’s an interesting word. Originally it meant someone (literally) hiding under the eaves of a house to listen at window and door to private conversation. The word has also carried the connotation of someone not necessarily intentionally trying to sneak around to hear something he’s clearly not a party to, but to include someone who happens to overhear something and who doesn’t immediately move away, but instead hangs around to listen in. Eavesdropping. It’s a term that can also imply something impolite, certainly, as well as something with often malign intention. But when did deliberately setting up a video recording device to record someone who “had a reasonable expectation of privacy” now become simply a case of rude “eavesdropping?” A case of, Why shame on me, My Bad?
On the other hand, as legal cases involving employees who get fired for office email chat or visiting porn sites while at work make clear, maybe no employee anywhere has or should expect any privacy anywhere at work, including company bathrooms, and no expectation of privacy even off the premises while they’re on duty. And since peace officers are sorta never really off duty . . . .
Which means, Wrinkles. More wrinkles. Well, stay tuned. We surely have an interesting saga bumbling along here. I can only hope it doesn’t end up costing the tax payers a bundle.
Speaking of Wrinkles
Ah, very mysterioso. Has the Bay News disappeared . . . again? Calhoun’s Can(n)ons has run in The Bay News since about 1992, or thereabouts, so I’ve watched the little paper die and be reborn a few times over the years, prompting me to suggest that perhaps we should rename it, The Resurrection News, The Little Community Paper That Refuses To Die. Well, Dead Again? Morphed? Moved? Merged? Bought out? Gone to France? If it’s happened/happening again, it will be sad but more than understandable—Newspapers all over the country appear to be a dying art form and trying to run a small community paper is a labor of love that can best be described as Absolutely Tough-to-Impossible. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that The Little Paper That Refuses To Die will somehow survive whatever it’s morphing/morphed into, if anything.
More Wrinkles. Stay tuned.
Hooray For Los Osos
Saturday’s County Workshop, Information Fest for the proposed County Wastewater Project at Sunnyside School was very well attended, with people coming and going all afternoon while visiting the various outlying rooms for informative talks from TAC members and other presenters. Of special note is the TAC hand-out, which will also be passed out at Monday’s Los Osos Farmer’s Market. The TAC did a great job on the hand-out by putting various component combo options, complete with pro-con analysis, diagrams/descriptions and low-high price guestimates together– one per page – so that residents get a quick, easy to digest overview and comparison.
Next up, the October 4th CSD meeting which will discuss and vote on how the CSD will vote their properties’ assessment ballot. As I noted in a previous blog entry, that vote will be sort of like the puffs of smoke that appear at the Vatican to announce whether a new Pope has been selected – a signal to the community of where the CSD stands on the vote.
Wrinkles, wrinkles, wrinkles.