28 September 2011

Public-Employee unions and political endorsements: sometimes the most secret ballot is no ballot

In the latest chapter of the war of words over the Sheriff's Employees Association of Rensselaer County's intervention in this year's race for sheriff, SEARCO executive vice-president Kevin Rogers responds in today's Troy Record to the charge published last week from a politically-opposed correctional officer that the union's endorsement didn't represent the opinion of all union members. Readers will recall that SEARCO endorsed challenger Gary Gordon in the Conservative party primary, where many union members would vote. Gordon won the primary by a slim margin and now holds three lines, including those of the Democratic and Working Families parties, while incumbent Jack Mahar will make his stand on the Republican and Independence lines. Guerin charged that Rogers (who wasn't mentioned by name) and other SEARCO leaders made the endorsement and purchased an ad announcing it without consulting the rank and file. In his reply, Rogers affirms that the endorsement does represent "a clear majority" of the union while explaining why it wasn't prudent to put the endorsement to a vote. The reasoning is very old and familiar to historians of organized labor and historians of voting. It's the rationale behind the secret ballot we all use today: openly declaring our preferences could get us in trouble with powerful people.

After conducting an informal survey of SEARCO’s membership through many informal discussions between the union and its membership, it became very obvious to me that a clear majority of the SEARCO members fully endorse Gary Gordon as the next sheriff of Rensselaer County. The union opted to refrain from maintaining a “formal list” of SEARCO members who support Gary Gordon, and, necessarily, oppose the existing sheriff for fear of retribution with respect to those individuals who seek real change at the Rensselaer County Jail — change in the form of a new sheriff.

Everything had to be done informally in order to avoid "retribution" from Sheriff Mahar, though one presumes that an organized office should have safeguards against "retribution" built in if the union has any real power. But perhaps there are no safeguards, or else the "retribution" might not take actionable form. In the absence of statements from the rank and file, Rogers's defense must be taken on faith, depending on one's knowledge of office politics. Ideally, nothing to do with political endorsements by labor unions and other corporate entities should have to be taken on faith, and in this case a certain burden of proof rests inescapably on Rogers's shoulders unless his co-workers step up to back him up. Until then, his closing boast that he'll "refrain from ... personal attacks which only serve to create a more hostile environment at a work location that is already stressful enough" looks just a little insincere, since he's just implicitly accused Sheriff Mahar of readiness to exact retribution for political opinions. If that's not a personal attack, what is? It may be true, though that's for Rogers to prove, but it's still an attack. The ultimate proof may come if Mahar wins, but that'll be up to more people than union members to decide. A union faction may tip the balance in a party primary, but civilians will judge between Mahar and Gordon on more than the incumbent's treatment of his employees. Kevin Rogers may be entitled to speak for his co-workers, and make endorsements in their name, but on Election Day voters will speak for themselves.


Searco Member said...

Dear Samuel Wilson of the Think3Institute Blog;
I appreciate your blog entry on the Sheriffs office – here is a point of view: and an open letter to Gary Gordon… also some insight on the past 8 years under Sheriff Jack Mahar.
The fact is there has never been retribution on behalf of the Sheriff; but the union punks are so gang oriented, and institutionalized, we as a union can not speak our opinion without being threatened, harassed or annoyed. We have never had a vote, we have never elected a president in 8 years, we have never had a union meeting outside of when Mark Piche (president) bought everyone dinner at the redfront (owner) to sign the last contract. We have never seen the books, the records, and we DON’T have a contract. When anyone asks whats up they are shunned, and blacklisted by the union punks… so… new hires come in… they see how it is… they want to be liked… they want to feel like they are safe and protected… so they fall in line… We are up against it down there with some real scum of the earth union. The kind of people that deal with drug dealers. The kind of people that will give a crack head $30 worth of crack to go slash your tires… to throw rocks through your windows… to have your power disconnected… when you are king of scum $30 worth of crack cocaine can buy you a lot of things… this is the face of our union down there)

Searco Member said...

On behalf of the majority of the union SEARCO - Sheriff's Employees Association of Rensselaer County - this is a plea for your help in re-electing Sheriff Jack Mahar.
I am sure that it is hard for you to understand the intricacies of the Sheriff's Office; esp. the corrections bureau, but I can assure you that things have gotten better in the past eight years under Sheriff Mahar.
The place has gone through some real changes, and Sheriff Mahar has gone up against it to remove corruption. Real corruption that has been a liability to the tax-payers of Rensselaer County.
Attached is a three part letter describing the past eight years under Sheriff Jack Mahar. If you find the information worthy of further review, please pass it on to your friends, families and constituents. I believe it is in the best interest of all people in Rensselaer County.
Thank you for your time!
Yours truly,
Signed: the Independent (Majority) Member's of SEARCO - Sheriff's Employees Association of Rensselaer County.

Searco Member said...

Open Letter to Gary Gordon -
Committee to Elect Gary Gordon Sheriff
2 Cherry Lane
Troy, New York 12180

September 30, 2011

Dear Gary Gordon:

The union officials of SEARCO - Sheriff's Employees Association of Rensselaer County decided to back you for Sheriff without having a vote or even a discussion of all union members. In fact 95% of all members found out about the endorsement when they read it in the newspaper the day it was published. This turned many members away from you.
Multiple campaign contributions to your campaign including paid advertisements were all made using the SEARCO member's money on behalf of all SEARCO members (nearly 200) people without their consent or vote. This gave the erroneous impression that all union members or at least the majority support you, Gary Gordon.
This is not true.
An Independent poll (actual numbers) of official members of SEARCO shows that more than half of the employees of the union in fact support Sheriff Jack Mahar for re-election. And the same people (majority) now wish to withdraw legally from the union and are now searching for legal recourse.
The SEARCO union president has not been back to work (out sick) since the day before the endorsement ads ran in the local papers and he refuses to answer questions from union members. To add to the impropriety, Mr. Gordon, we know that you have had multiple fundraisers at the same union presidents restaurant.
Mr. Gordon, you were misled by our union officials as to the validity of the endorsements and we were let down by our union, and there is nothing that is ever going to change these facts. Even if they were to have an actual official vote now, the damage is done, and the ball is in your court.
Mr. Gordon, as a former union member of the Troy Police Department, you should see the impropriety and the conflict in interest, and return the moneys to the SEARCO union members. And you should publicly renounce the endorsements as fraudulent and unauthorized. Do you have the integrity to admit that the endorsements were wrong and renounce the endorsement Mr. Gordon?
An informal poll of local police departments and police officers shows a complete and utter disgust with this kind of "unofficial" union endorsement, and you should too.
Sorry Mr. Gordon. You did not receive the SEARCO members endorsement. Just the endorsement of a few people who wish to usher you quietly into office so that they can personally benefit from their special treatment and loyalty.
Thank you for your time in reading this information. I hope that it has been helpful in you making your decision.
Independent Majority Member's of SEARCO
Sheriff's Employees Association of Rensselaer County

Searco Member said...

The Past Eight Years - Change Takes Time
Part 1 of 3

Eight years ago, Jack Mahar was elected to the position of Rensselaer County Sheriff. The leaders of Rensselaer County were looking for someone to clean up the Sheriff's Department; esp. corruption within the corrections bureau. Due to a state mandated expansion of the correctional facility, the jail was soon to nearly double in size in both inmate and staff populations. It was going to take the right person to get the job done right with little or no interruption in service to the existing facility.
Upon raising his right hand and swearing his oath to uphold the laws and the constitution of the United States, New York State and Rensselaer County, Jack Mahar has taken his job seriously.
Arriving at his new job Sheriff Jack Mahar was welcomed into his new position, and he let everyone know that he was serious about ridding corruption within his ranks. Sheriff Mahar advised everyone who worked at the Sheriff's Office that as sworn staff members, they would be held to a higher standard as members of law enforcement.
Given a clean slate, every person at the new Sheriff's office had the opportunity to start fresh. Most chose to stay on or get on the straight and narrow. Others did not.
Very soon Sheriff Jack Mahar went to work changing the way things were done within his departments. Along the way, a few people were asked to leave. Some chose to leave voluntarily or face internal or external charges, and others chose to leave in handcuffs. In all, nearly a dozen people were replaced for crimes ranging anywhere from major/minor drug offenses; bringing contraband into the jail to inmates, having inappropriate or sexual relations/sex with inmates while they were incarcerated, assault on inmates, beating handcuffed inmates, sexually harassing staff, theft of time, etc.
Most of these facts may come as a surprise to you, because Sheriff Mahar was unwilling to air the departments dirty laundry in public. Because public trust is a major concern for any law enforcement agency, Sheriff Jack Mahar handled most of these issues internally, without involving media etc. Doing so would only bring shame and distrust to the face of his department. Sheriff Mahar knew that he had to make the appropriate choices to protect those under his employ, those incarcerated and especially the taxpayers in Rensselaer County.
Sheriff Mahar was brought in to do a job, and he has since worked to re-build the departments credibility. Each of these instances were opportunities to do right, and he stands by each of his decisions.
The fact that he was willing to stand up when others did not have the courage to do so has brought Sheriff Mahar unwarranted criticism, mostly from the current corrections union. These are the people who hide behind their badges, and their union to do everything in their power to discredit the achievements of Sheriff Jack Mahar. It seems that some of these people would prefer corruption over honesty and chaos over order. These are the people peddling for change. Some of these people are the Gary Gordon supporters. Some of these people have always been a major internal problem within the Sheriff's department and remain so today. These are the type of people who had a problem with Sheriff Jack Mahar ridding crime from within the department, and they would support anybody in order to get Sheriff Mahar out of office. (to be continued…)

Searco Member said...

Part 2 of 3 Continued from Part 1 - The Past Eight Years - Change Takes Time
It is impossible for most people to believe that these types of people exist within a law enforcement organization, but they do. These are liars, manipulators and frauds that have tried to convince people that Sheriff Mahar is anything but fair. These people have not been honest with themselves and they have not been honest with Gary Gordon.
If you were to understand these people, and what it is that motivates them on a daily basis, you would never ever vote for one of them. These are the kind of people that are unwilling and unable to see anything positive that Sheriff Mahar has done since his arrival in 2004. These people, for whatever reason refuse to give credit where credit is due, and instead choose to focus on completely innocuous or imagined wrongs. These are the people that prefer wrong over right. These are the kinds of people that you wouldn’t want at your dinner table.
These are the kind of people that believe that their jobs and positions should just be handed to them and not earned. These are the kinds of people that take more than they give. These are takers, not givers and they remain a liability. These are the kind of people that are unwilling to work hard, and be proud of their accomplishments. These are the people that are not willing to take responsibility for their actions and pull their own weight. These are the kinds of people that are ruining America.
No matter how bad they try to make Sheriff Mahar look, a well informed, educated person can see all of the good and the accomplishments that have been made over the past eight years. And Sheriff Mahar has remained focused on running his department to the best of his ability education and experience, and remains the most qualified person for the job and he continues to act in the best interests of the taxpayers.
(to be continued)...
Read Part 3 - Change is Good

Searco Member said...

Continued From Part 2 - Corruption From Within - Part 2 of 3
Working with his administration Sheriff Mahar has implemented new policy and procedures within his departments to help build the quality and standards to an all time high. Using strict hiring guidelines Sheriff Mahar has worked to bring the most qualified personnel to his departments.
Leaving the troubled past behind, Sheriff Mahar has worked to build professionalism within his ranks and has worked to turn around his once troubled department.
Overseeing the state mandated jail expansion which was slated to cost nearly $50 million dollars, Sheriff Mahar and his staff were able to finish the project on time and to a savings of nearly $15 million dollars to taxpayers. To finish any public project "on-time" and "under-budget" is an incredible feat by itself. This is unheard of today, especially in a time of gross mismanagement of tax-payers money. These are real numbers, and real savings, and Sheriff Jack Mahar is proud to have overseen such an operation.
Adding to the savings, the expansion of the correctional facility has turned into a serious means of income for the past year to the county. Housing in federal inmates as well as inmates from other counties has resulted in a positive cash flow. Using the extra space that was mandated by the state has brought in well over a $500,000.00 dollars a month or roughly $15,000.00 a day in revenue to Rensselaer County taxpayers. To say that the jail expansion has been a success is an understatement. This project has been a model for success from its inception that other counties and the rest of the state should learn from, and the management style of Sheriff Jack Mahar and his able bodied administration and staff should be credited.
Along the way Sheriff Mahar has cleared many hurdles, and has been the face of positive change in Rensselaer County. He had the courage and strength to stand up to the oppressors and the less than ethical from within his departments. It has not been an easy road, and people of lesser character would have certainly given up by now. Sheriff Jack Mahar has been a role-model to the citizens of Rensselaer County, and remains a stoic leader. He expects a lot from his staff, and demands accountability.
To reverse all of the good that has been accomplished in the last eight years under Sheriff Jack Mahar would be a gross misfortune to the taxpayers and land owners of Rensselaer County. Please take this into consideration when deciding this November 8th 2011. Please re-elect the man who has cleaned up the past and is moving Rensselaer County into the future.
Please re-elect Sheriff Jack Mahar November 8th 2011. Thank You!

Searco Member said...

You can find more information on our website the "The Truth About Gary Gordon" website http://garygordonforsheriff.com/ this will expose some details that every educated voter should be aware of.
This website will be updated four time a week, it is partial information regarding facts that should be exposed about the dishonesty behind the Gary Gordon campaign and his connection with the current corrections union SEARCO.