Rival Los Angeles Unions Swap Allegations of Wrongdoing

The union representing most sheriff’s deputies sued an upstart rival today, claiming “false and defamatory accusations” were made to boost the younger union’s membership numbers.  The Ass’n for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) accused the L.A. Sheriffs Prof’l Ass’n (LASPA) of spreading rumors that the ALADS has been investigated by the FBI.  ALADS’s suit in L.A. Superior Ct. states that no such investigation has taken place.

ALADS, which has been in existence for 30 years, is the official salary negotiator for the department’s non-supervisory sworn officers. Since its incorporation in June 1999, LASPA has been attempting to oust ALADS. LASPA began as an ALADS dissent group. “This (drive) began after we were kicked out of ALADS,” said LASPA President Alex Villanueza. “We had a profound disagreement. They don’t  believe in the democratic process or being held accountable for how they spend the money, and we obviously disagree.”

The crux of the suit revolves around a e-mail allegedly sent by LASPA Vice President Scott McKenzie to nearly all 6,000 ALADS members.  In it, ALADS official say McKenzie — writing under the assumed name “John Doesky” — claimed federal investigators were looking into charges of  “racketeering, tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions, bribery of public officials” and other crimes. All this was done, the suit states, to embarrass ALADS, thereby increasing the rival union’s membership.

Villanueza declined to comment on the specific allegations in the suit, saying he would prefer to have the organization’s attorney, Dennis Moss, look at them first. [City News Serv. 3/27/00]

SEIU Local Breaks New York Lobbying Record
In Dec. 1999,  N.Y. Gov. George Pataki (R) and Dennis Rivera, head of an “immensely” powerful Service Employees Int’l Union Local 1199, hammered out the details of a multibillion-dollar plan to drastically change health care in N.Y. Rivera had spent millions of dollars on advertisements -more than any other lobbying force in state history -to generate public support for his issue and to ensure that he would have a prominent place at the table, though the Legislature would have to agree to any deal.

On Mar. 30, the price tag for lobbying effort by the Healthcare Education Project, of which Local 1199 was the largest member, was revealed: almost $15 million, enough to make Local 1199 and its allies the state’s biggest lobbying spenders ever-by 10-fold. All told, lobbyists on both sides of the health care debate spent $17.8 million, almost a quarter of the $ 71.9 million spent by all state advocates last year, according to figures released by the state’s Temporary Commission on Lobbying. Only a year before, New York Life Ins. Co. became the first lobbyist to break the $1 million barrier.

“We make no apologies; we’re proud we spent the money for all we achieved, ” said Ken Sunshine, Rivera’s spokesman. “We would have spent more.” [Newsday, N.Y. Post 3/31/00]