The California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the state's politically powerful prison guards' union, has yet to announce which candidate for governor it will endorse. Nonetheless, union paid ads slamming the governor are already airing, a reminder that the union has millions to spend for whichever candidate it backs - and, against whichever one it doesn't.
There's more to the timing of these ads than the election. CCPOA is in the midst of contract talks. The guards' last contract was a disaster for the state. It gave too much money and too many management prerogatives to the union. Former Governor George Deukmejian, one of the state's toughest law and order chief executives ever, concluded that contract "resulted in an unfair...unworkable tilt towards the union.” Federal investigators have also said that the union's power interferes with the state's ability to run its prisons safely.
In coming weeks, the state will see a lot of scary ads sponsored by the guards' union. The real goal of these ads is to persuade the governor and legislators to approve another giveaway contract that will cost the state a bundle while doing nothing to enhance public safety or solve real prison problems.
Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.