A. Secret Merit
On the morning of the Board
meeting, Terree Bowers confirmed that City Attorney Rockard Delgadillo
awarded promotions and merit step advancements to many Neighborhood
Prosecutors, some of whom were hired as recently as March of 2002.
These promotions and merit step advancements were awarded outside
of a merit and promotion process comparing and considering all
eligible attorneys in the office. In response to a face-to-face
demand by Board Secretary Judith Reel, Bowers agreed to identify
the persons awarded advancement, the degree of advancement, and
the hire date of the advanced attorneys. The information was still
not provided by the time of the Board meeting.
The reaction at the Board
meeting to the secret merit and promotion process was fervent
and all Board members reported that substantial resentment and
anger had been expressed by numerous members contacting the Board
about the out-of-process advancements.
It was the consensus of
those members and Board officers present that the secret advancements
manifested an inherent sense of unfairness and disregard for the
abilities and efforts of the attorney workforce as a whole and,
further, implied an unwholesome and chilling willingness to politicize
the legal work of the Office. It was noted that the secret promotions
and merit advancements were consistent with the message of disrespect
communicated to the workforce when the new administration first
assumed office and immediately identified the repeal of attorney
tenure as a priority.
The first statements by
management in defense of the secret salary adjustments were discussed
and reviewed after the Board meeting, but were dismissed as unpersuasive.
The stated rationale -- neighborhood prosecutors were hired in
a rush with a resulting pay inequity, and that management must
rectify instances of attorneys paid differently for similar work
-- did not withstand scrutiny by members. It is the norm -- not
the exception -- that attorneys salaries reflect a variety
of factors other than and in addition to work assignment: prior
experience, seniority, City financial realities, etc. The question
was raised as to whether managements stated rationale would
accordingly necessarily result in the promotion of all
neighborhood prosecutors to top levels to prevent any "disparities."
It was also discussed that
the day before knowledge of the secret merit and promotion awards
leaked to the general attorney workforce, the Municipal Counsel
Branch Chief, presumably speaking on behalf of the City Attorney
and with managements approval and knowledge, addressed an
alleged lack of funds for merit and promotion, and instructed
her subordinate supervisors to improve morale among staff attorneys
by being "cheerleaders" for the City Attorney notwithstanding
the City Attorneys inability to effect promotions and merit
The Board voted to tender
a Public Relations Act demand on the City Attorney to compel him
to be forthcoming about the secret salary adjustments. In addition,
the Board voted to tender such a demand quarterly, since there
is not present assurance that management will be open or forthcoming
about personnel actions. Once it receives the public information
to which it is legally entitled, the Board will consider further
B. Retroactive Checks
Attorneys present expressed
anger over the failure of the City to timely issue retroactive
checks. There was discussion regarding (1) the filing of a Writ
of Mandate to compel the City to issue the checks; (2)an Unfair
Employee Relations Practice directed, inter alia, against the
Controller; and (3) individual claims for damages filed with the
City Clerk pursuant to the Government Code by each attorney owed
back pay. The Board voted unanimously to consult with its attorney,
and to either file a writ of mandate, or an UERP Complaint, depending
on advice of counsel.
C. Board Elections
The Board Secretary reported
that Liz Greenwood filed a nominating petition to serve as Vice
President, Jule Bishop filed a petition to serve as Treasurer,
and Marcia Berkowitz filed a petition to serve as Civil Director.
No one filed a petition to serve as Criminal Director.
Given that the positions
for which petitions were submitted are uncontested, the Board
considered whether to seat the unopposed candidates for the open
seats, and to solicit criminal deputies to serve as Criminal Directors.
The Board voted to consider the matter at its next meeting, and
Judith Reel said she would ask the Associations counsel
for a written opinion as to the necessity of holding an election
where all the seats are uncontested. In the meantime, persons
interested in serving as Criminal Director should contact a Board
member; ideally, the Board would like a representative from downtown,
as well as the branches.
D. Office Space
Many months ago the Board
tried to have input about window office space in City Hall East;
we argued to the Municipal Facilities Committee that the library
should be moved to interior space, so that all attorneys could
have window offices. Christine McCall made a presentation to the
Committee, and argued not only that persons work and feel better
in natural light, and that books do not, but also that it undercut
the Citys bargaining position to have its attorneys meeting
with clients and opposing counsel in small, windowless offices
that communicated that the attorney was an unimportant representative
of the Citys interests. The Committee was encouraging and
supportive of Ms. McCalls arguments, but decided that the
arguments were made too late in the planning process to warrant
the expense of moving the library to interior space.
Subsequent to the presentation
to the Municipal Facilities Committee, the Board, represented
by Shelley Smith, Judith Reel, and Christine McCall, met with
Terree Bowers and asked that the City Attorney commit that in
any future reconfiguration of City Attorney Office space, the
Association be included from the beginning in the decision-making
process so that decisions would not be made without consideration
of attorneys needs. Bowers agreed.
E. Employee Discipline
Christine McCall reported
that there are currently five active cases in which the Office
is pursuing disciplinary action against employees, a number that
is unprecedented in the past thirty years of five other City Attorneys.
There was discussion about the fact that management appears not
to have knowledge of fundamental well-settled California labor
law; that management repeatedly violates the Skelly rights of
City Attorney employees, which has constituted basic labor law
concerning due process for public employees in California. There
was considerable discussion about the unprecedented circumstance
of a public law office, responsible for requiring other City departments
to follow the law in their personnel actions, acting in disregard
of settled labor law, thus requiring the Association and affected
employees to contests actions unnecessarily.
Board members also discussed
the Offices recent mandatory training in the area of sexual
harassment, and also touched in the written materials on issues
of accommodation under the American with Disabilities Act. Ms.
McCall and others present with extensive work experience in employment
discrimination and sexual harassment law noted that substantial
misinformation, including designating non-actionable behavior
as "sexual harassment," was presented to City Attorney
employees (of all work classifications) at the recent mandatory
training. It is expected that the Association will grapple with
issues concerning both claimants and persons accused of improper
conduct as a consequence of the wholesale misinformation communicated
in the training sessions.
F. Status of Retirement
Due to the illness of Shelley
Smith, discussions regarding retirement formula negotiations were
postponed until the next Board meeting. There was a discussion,
however, about whether and how criminal deputies could seek to
obtain a 3 percent formula similar to recent legislation permitting
criminal prosecutors covered under CALPERS to negotiate for such
benefits. It was tentatively agreed that interested criminal deputies
should form a committee to investigate the matter, and report
back to the Board with their findings. Deputies interested in
serving on such a committee should contact Jule Bishop.