ConcordGate: POA steps in it

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Welcome to ConcordGate. Community outrage has erupted because of a hatchet job mailer the Concord Police Officer Association (POA) sent out to voters to defame Edi Birsan, a candidate for Concord City Council. This expensive, four-color brochure has been labeled, among epithets, as “racist,” ” inflammatory,” “disturbing,” “disappointing.” Unfortunately, the POA mailer goes  a long way to exposing the usual suspects and power brokers who run the election process in Concord to be the despicable political animals they are.

Going after Edi for not mentioning his middle name or where the corporate office of EDI is located is ridiculous.  One would ask why an organization like the Concord Police Officers Association (POA) would put its name behind a piece of trash like this.  Why would they along with Concord Disposal and a select number of special interests groups resort to character assassination to destroy the candidacy of an individual who they don’t own?

The answer to this puzzle occurred 40 years ago with a similar act of paranoia when President Nixon’s “Plumbers” burglarized the Democratic Party offices at the Watergate Office Complex in Washington D.C.  Much like the POA, this act of vandalism wasn’t necessary.  Nixon was a cinch to win a second term.  A similar situation has existed in Concord where the POA and its allies have controlled the City Council for years.

Is an independent thinker like Edi Birsan such a threat to the so called Get Along Gang that keeps Concord under its thumb?  Of course not, but that is not the point.  These power mongers are so over the edge that they cannot tolerate even a small amount of non-conformity in their political model of how the city “where” families come first “should be run.

To understand current events we should take a look at the three mailers the POA”s 145 or so members sent to voters this election.  Their first pamphlet showed support for Dan Helix and Tim McGallian from law enforcement and firemen. Even though a few people such as me objected to such scare tactics. If this was the end of it, then no big deal. But this wasn’t the case. The POA then sent another four-color mailer that had virtually every member of City Council and local government for the last decade chiming in their endorsement of the POA’s guys.

These endorsements by everyone from Susan Bonilla to Mark Peterson and Laura Hoffmiester just show the stranglehold that the  money from the Cops/Garaventa Enterprises/Seeno crowd have over the politics and governing of the city of Concord. But then again these “Everyone Loves Raymond”, “all my friends,” type of support for in-crowd candidates is nothing new and falls into the category of acceptable political practices during local political campaigns.

But apparently this wasn’t enough to elect the POA slate. Internal polls showed that community activist Edi Birsan actually had the nerve and popularity to challenge Helix and McGallian for one of the open seats November 6th.  The result of this unusual situation was the universally condemned hit piece which has awakened the decency of the body politic of Concord.

No one including the POA wants to take responsibility for the mailer that depicts Birsan for being a virtual member of the Taliban and being an outsider who wants to inject his unworthy self in local affairs where carpetbaggers are tossed out of town. As might be expected several POA supporters such as George Miller and Susan Bonilla have distanced themselves from the racist allegations and hatred spread by the POA.

Ironically, the recent attempt to defame Edi Birsan actually will help him capture one the two Council seats. Damage control will no doubt occur this week, but it is probably too late to quiet an outraged grass roots of Concord that will demand justice. It is also being asked if the POA’s horrendous mistake will affect their current grip on the City Council. Will the probable election of Birsan result in Police Officers having to take similar pay cuts and pension reductions as other city employees had to endure?  The answer is “probably not” as the POA and Garaventa and their allies have endorsed and monetarily supported every sitting member of the City Council.

Oh yes, I forgot to ask… is the concern the POA have for who wins the City Council  race entirely philanthropic or somehow related to the pay packages that law enforcement receives?  Should voters follow the wishes of their police officers because of their moral authority?  Ask Joe Higby as he routinely attends City Council and other subcommittees to guarantee that the troops stay in line.

If this thinking seems to be over the edge perhaps we should take a more trusting approach. Recently, when I mentioned my concerns about the influence of the POA to Concord Mayor Ron Leon, he shrugged the notion off by claiming “all campaign donors can do is receive an audience with Council members. After that good public policy determines how we vote.”

But this isn’t the point of “Concord Gate.” Just like the Watergate scandal in the 1970’s, it’s not the act itself which determines the outcome.  What really matters now is how the POA and their allies act to rectify their errors in blantant and knowing Edi Birsan in a brazen effort to thwart his effort to be elected to the Concord City Council.

As a starter, POA President Joe Higby should step down from his post effective immediately.  Mary Jo Rossi or whoever was responsible for producing the hateful racist pamphlet smearing Birsan should be expelled from the campaign and be appropriately denounced.  And one last suggestion for the POA; Tell the voters you are sorry.

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11 thoughts on “ConcordGate: POA steps in it”

  1. There was a time when honor and honesty in Police and other emergency services were more important than pay and greed. Granted it does take money to live, it does not need greed to live comfortably. Most police and public personnel are genuine and honorable. It is now those honest and humble to eradicate the ones that hurt everyone and the respected reputation of emergency personnel. It may take an exodus of honorable Police Officers to end membership in such a political organization to restore the public’s faith.

  2. The POA has long had a stranglehold on Concord politics, ALL these guys care about is raises and their big fat pensions. Most don’t live in Concord, and they could care less about the politics of the city. For many years they have had this sickening revolting “alliance” with the local garbage company. I blame a lot of the Concord City Council candidates in the past who continue to believe you can’t get elected without brown-nosing the POA. In this most recent election voters ignored the POA and voted for Birsan, which was great to see. Fact is these massive pensions being paid to police officers to end or the city will soon have to go the way of Vallejo which has seen the number of police officers go from 150 to 90, the reduction in force happened to meet big fat pension debt loads.

    1. Birsan is one of four. Change requires one to count to three. It will take successive elections, perhaps a generation, to break the predominance of the POA and Garaventa Enterprises in Concord politics.

  3. Police apologize??? I expect to see four legged pigs flying first. This is the best publicity Edi Birsan could hope for. I wish I could vote for him. All I get to vote for in the Lafayette City Council, so called “Race”, are appointed crony vs. appointed crony, vs. incumbent. All of them are pro tax. I wrote in 3 names of anti tax people.

  4. Even the Contra Costa Times could not ignore the “Concordgate” scandal with the POA smearing Edi Bersan in racist manor which casts doubt upon the department’s integrity in dealing with people of all races. Columnist Tom Barnidge explained the origins of Mr. Birsan’s unusal middle name and why this should not be an issue in the election. While all of this is transpiring there is no word from the POA who are apparently hiding behind their riot batons.

  5. This is just another sad time for the members of the public who these people are supposedly working for. The public employee unions are selfish and corrupt. When they use the members union dues to spread their will upon public leaders you get this result. What Steve says is correct. The politicians and leaders of this state are afraid of the unions. Con Fire controls the board of supervisors as the POA runs the City of Concord. The first step in stopping special interest influence on our leaders is to stop the over indulgence of the public employee unions. Voting YES on 32 will be a productive move forward for the taxpayers.

  6. Steven Greenhut: Others feel wrath of police unions

    “And, despite the revelations, police unions continue to behave as before, trying to intimidate council members who refuse to go along with their demands for ever-higher pay and benefits, and protections for their members from oversight and accountability.

    …The unions put out a hit mailer every day, which explains the importance of Proposition 32.” That is the statewide paycheck-protection initiative that would stop unions from using automatic payroll deductions to fund political campaigns.

    Last week, I wrote about a new study revealing that, from 2005-10, pension costs to the state government have soared by 94 percent for “public safety” officials. People often ask me why the state is in such a fiscal mess, why city councils don’t implement reasonable reforms and why so many localities are considering bankruptcy.

    One answer can be found in Costa Mesa, Fullerton and elsewhere. Most council members don’t have the courage or resources to stand up to their employee unions. Until the public clearly rejects such campaigns, neither public services nor public finances will improve.”

    Great article detailing the lengths POA’s and their members will go to in order to control their own self financial/political enviorment. There seem to be very few boundaries and it’s disgusting.

    Vote Yes on Prop. 32

  7. Helen – trust me Laura is in their pocket too…………….In order for the POA to “apologize” the would have to admit they did something wrong………..that will never happen. Personally either the State or Feds need to investigate the POA as I bet you they find a link between them and the Seeno mob and Garaventa mob……all 3 are as corrupt as the day is long………………..

  8. Excellent article, Richard. This POA board are the same people who went behind the back of its members to get former Captain Downing ousted. They have Grayson, Helix and Leone in their pockets.

    1. You are exactly right Helen. Concord politics is being controled by the POA and their allies. Case and point was the mailer sent out by the POA that recommended electing Dan Helix and Tim McGallian. Everyone from Susan Bonilla to Mark Peterson and Helen Allan were on this list.
      This just shows how “The Industrial Military Complex” in Concord works.

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