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Career derailed amid allegations of racism

By Katy Murphy
Thursday, August 18th, 2011 at 1:04 pm in investigations.

I returned to civilization last night from a five-day, blissfully unplugged vacation to hear what you may well know by now: Pete Sarna, the chief of the Oakland school district’s police force, has retired at 41 following accusations that he made shocking racist statements to an African-American sergeant in his force while under the influence of alcohol.

The two police officers were riding home — with a designated driver and another sergeant, who filed the complaint — after drinking at a charity golf event.

Sarna’s attorney said her client had an alcohol problem. It’s not the first time it’s blown up publicly, damaging his career. In 2007, he stepped down from his post with the Department of Justice after a car crash and DUI citation in Walnut Creek.

Less than two weeks before the incident, I met with Sarna to go over some statistics he had gathered about homicides in Oakland. He gave me a tour of the school district’s police headquarters at the old Cole Middle School, with its new fitness room and command center, complete with a wall of flat screen monitors, showing security camera shots from around the city.

He pointed proudly to photos of his children — two sets of twins — framed on his desk. His wife is African-American, and his children are biracial.

Sarna wanted me to do a story about what he had done for the police force, which was once housed in an old portable, and what the force had done for the community — especially in the African-American neighborhood where the police HQ moved last year. Right outside the headquarters is a shiny new baseball diamond, basketball hoops, play structure and vacant portable-turned-library. Last year, I wrote about the free summer camp he and his officers started for kids with nothing to do.

“We’re like a modern police department now,” he said.

Eleven days later, according to the attorney for the officer who filed the complaint, Sarna called an African-American sergeant a racial slur “several times, told him that he had no right to live in (the area) because he’s African-American, although he didn’t use that word, told him he should be hung in the town square because he’s African-American … told him that he would be the last African-American he’d ever hire.”

Sarna apologized for his words in a letter to the Oakland school board.

 ”My words hurt not only those who heard them but also the entire community I have tried to serve as police chief of the Oakland Unified School District,” Sarna said. “I make no excuses for my behavior and no explanations. There simply is no excuse for the hurtful words I used and no explanation for behavior so at odds with whom I believe myself to be.”

But regardless of what prompted the tirade — or how he really feels about a group of people whom his officers are responsible for protecting — he can’t take it back.

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  • Nextset

    So… How drunk was he?

    I don’t know this man but as a lawyer, boy do I know the syndrome. There’s a lot of alcoholism in the profession. Some of the best lawyers were drunks, the trick was to get them properly medicated in their best light. Then get rid of them when their usefullness is at an end.

    Alcohol is a huge factor in certain occupations, and certain ethnics.

    In the early stages of alcoholism these candidates seem to have an advantage over non-drinking candidates. I’ve see many instances where candidates with well known or even notorious drinking habits are championed by hiring authorities over other candidates.

    There are likely good reasons for this – remember, you hire to get a job done not because you are trying to hire clones of yourself or people you admire for religious reasons.

    Maybe you’d need to be a drinker to be police chief of Oakland or it’s school district. And then there’s the military…

    Either way, Alcoholism is a progressive disease and it doesn’t end pretty. Seen that often now – too bad, so sad.

    It doesn’t matter what we want and it doesn’t matter what we like. People do what they damn well please until the end.

    There’s no margin in running around trying to fix or save everybody. Use them till they are not working out, then fire them. If drinkers are lucky, they retire quietly and happily before they disgrace themselves.

    I believe in blunt talk and I believe in blunt talk about things people don’t like to hear but need to. The article doesn’t clearly say what he said in context about exactly who.

    But a police chief really has to watch himself – as does a judge and even a bank manager. Part of their employment is their sobering presence if you will. When they no longer have the confidence of their appointing authority (or in the case of a judge, the State Judicial Commission) they have to go.

    Wish this man well in retirement. Or maybe we’ll hear from him again later.

    Note: People don’t like armed drunks or drunk surgeons.

  • Ann Ferrari

    Do most school districts have their OWN police department? It seems that the city should be taking care of the police needs, while the district should be focused on educating the students, not having to cover the costs of a police force??? What’s going on with this world we live in now???

  • Katy Murphy

    Few do. In fact, OUSD tried to disband its police force years ago, but the officers sued, and the judge agreed that the district fired the officers illegally. OUSD re-established its force about four or five years ago, under a court order. The district used to pay OPD to patrol its middle and high schools. Now, most of the security is handled in-house.

    OUSD PD has grown to 16 sworn officers (not including Sarna). The district’s 79 school security officers also report to the chief of police, which wasn’t always the case.

  • Ann Ferrari

    Wow. Another question. Why would the district have to pay OPD to patrol the schools? Shouldn’t it be OPD’s job to make sure the schools are safe, as the police for the city, the city in which the schools are located? This just seems so ludicrious to me- every year there is talk of laying off teachers, but there are now 16 officers, and I’m sure it’s fairly safe to say they are making a lot more money than a classroom teacher. What would it take for the district to disband the force legally? Is the district stuck forever in having a police force? Will wonders never cease…

  • Oakie

    Yet another union which does not have the students as first priority. What a waste of money.

    One more brick in the wall.

  • Turanga_teach

    And the fun continues (?) when one realizes that he’s, er, currently being replaced by the guy who killed a black man outside a school dance in January.

    I don’t care how justified that shooting may or may not have been: this is a truly mind-bogglingly stupid HR move.

  • Makeitgoaway

    Why hasn’t any school board member raised the important issue of why he is able to spout racial slurs toward employees and then retire with full benefits courtesy of the taxpayers? Is there no disciplinary issue? he is clearly a racist jerk, with a record of alcoholism, but what about the elected officials, and his boss, the school superintendent? So now it’s OK to not only kill a handcuffed Black man in Oakland, and call other officers N#%^ers too? or does he get a free pass because he is married to a Black woman from the African- American community? Are we really in the 21st Century?

    Katy, how much money will the public have to pay this idiot at retirement?

  • ILoveTeachers

    OUSD’s police officers are School Police Officer IIs. The salary range is 44-51K per year.

    http://publicportal.ousd.k12.ca.us/199410811175930900/lib/199410811175930900/Job_Classifications_and_Salaries_103009website.pdf

  • Nextset

    Ann Ferrari:

    You statements are extremely odd. Maybe you don’t read much. I don’t know. So here’s how it is.

    CA is collapsing. It appears to be a one way thing now, but it’s been coming on strong for a generation.

    On the way to collapse, CA is defunding criminal justice. You probably don’t notice it because the “defunding” also involves inflation which most people not exposed to college level economics and econ history ignore. Suffice to say that the cities are steadily withdrawing police from the ghetto (for example shutting down narcotics units and gang suppression forces) and shutting down certain aspects of criminal justice. One of the ways the state defunds criminal justice is to sieze various revenue streams that used to go to the cities and counties (such as traffic fines and various taxes). Public Safety is a huge portion of the local budgets, when the state captures local budget income the cuts have to come from public safety especially if the democratic controlled city councils persist in protecting the libraries and social services. The rise of female city legislators is part of that, women are less into fighting safety issues and more into the nurturing, social-work programs.

    There is no obligation to answer 911 calls or to provide police patrols. These services are optional and reflect the relative wealth of the area. Compare Piedmont Police to Oakland Police, and Concord Police Dept, for example. Concord (at least used to) requires a 4 year degree to apply (which keeps black applicants down!) and pays their officers one of the higher salary scales. Concord is a wealthier city who prefers to have things a certain way (By the way, I support their 4 year degree requirement or at least their absolute right to have it – state investigators have always had that requirement but it’s very unusual for patrol departments). Emeryville is rather wealthy also and their PD is well funded and staffed.

    The cities certainly do not feel required to provide police services to the school districts – secondary or college. Now they will still respond to 911 calls – and those are being triaged (a lot). They will not patrol or provide in house officers. Maybe in the fat years, not now in the lean (and getting leaner) years.

    So the school districts, not wanting their properties to be burned down or to become lounging areas for criminals and crazies – maintain their own police departments to protect their properties and their staff and students. This also allows them to cover up things they want to keep hushed. This is especially useful in the colleges. Also in CA the Railroads have their own police departments for the same reasons. And they need them. Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley also have their own police Departments as does BART. You have many many police agencies from the Post Offices’ armed Inspectors to DMV’s pistol packing Investigators. Then there’s the Medical Board, Dental Board, ABC and a lot of others, all armed and boy do they need it (because they are dealing with a bunch of dope addicts and parolees, their women and associates).

    Oakland is a collapsing city full of ghetto dwellers living in their sector of the town who are and will always be very high crime. If the Oakland ghetto was spun off ala East Palo Alto, their stats would be truly shocking and the good parts of Oakland would have more normal crime stats and better schools & property values.

    So back to your point. The schools would be far less livable and workable without their own PD. Your nice white teachers would probably leave sooner than they do now. Police “Departments” in California are all around you. They keep anarchy away from specific areas of CA life – so the whole place doesn’t go down at once.

    But the whole place is going down. Steadily. Thanks to liberal welfare and social programs that breed criminals with geometric progression.

    You will not always be able to count on getting a 911 response. You might want to make some preparation.

    Brave New World!

  • Chris

    Retired at 41? Does that mean we cover the costs for the rest of his life?

    How can I retire at such a young age after messing up royally, and then get suckers to foot the bill? And we wonder if entitlements are part of the problem?

    Nextset is right in that this state, and nation is collapsing. What has become of this nation and state?!!!

    Get ready for the ride down!! FYI….look at Markets collapse and Obama on vacation……

  • Nextset

    Civil Service retirements are earned/vested as the employee works. Safety Officers get an accelerated retirement. It is what it is. He takes whatever he has earned to that point. Good for him. He did earn it. Again I know nothing about this man, but I have seen such a situation often.

    Makeitgoaway has a childish perspective. Not that that’s such a bad thing, but as adults you are expected to know reality. The fact that someone becomes an dysfunctional alcoholic over time in a stressful occupation – a common thing in certain occupations – and screws up on or off duty – has nothing to do with taking the retirement they earned to date. Get over it.

    Remember, It’s not unusual for people to deliberately hire alcoholics into stressful positions. That’s normal and happens all the time. It’s done because the hiring authority is getting what they want otherwise.

    And another thing, I’ve seen people hired precisely because they will be easy to get rid of. The fun part is when the candidate is foolish and can’t see it coming. This is especially useful when you have your real candidate waiting in the wings to clean up the mess the first employee is expected to make or leave. And when your first choice couldn’t be placed because you’re not desperate enough yet or you don’t have the votes.

    It happens, kind of like Clinton to Bush to Obama to Palin or something like that, but on a smaller scale.

    You can’t scream “how did this happen” when it happens on big and small scale right out in the open.

    Wish the man well. And understand that these civil service agency jobs are going to get increasingly unstable as CA declines into Katrina conditions.

    As far as his racial mutterings, I have interracial marriages all over the family tree since Loving v Kansas – and the trend picked up notably after the Great Society got going in the mid 60′s. Check out the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”. All kinds of things happen in these situations – especially when people have been drinking. In the end if they didn’t love each other they’d utilize divorce on demand (another bad idea from the 1960s) and leave. You should hear what the Ethiopians think of the American Negroes… but they’re family now and we have to think of the kids… And the Vietnamese family, and the Norwegians.. and whatever else comes through he door next.

    From time to time things may be said. Better to stay sober. Even then it gets interesting. Especially with the distant relatives on both sides. Interracial family can be very entertaining. Food’s good also.

    And I don’t cut and run (anymore) because a friend or family says something on their mind without thinking of what I’d like to hear. Employees either. Children either. Doesn’t mean I won’t answer the comment though. I’ve learned the hard way that unpleasant talk can be true and much needed warning. It’s easier to say nothing and let the other person find out the hard way. But the closer you are sometimes the more you do risk displeasure and say something that needs to be said.

    Which is why person to person I’d not say some of the things I have posted on a blog about policy. Here it’s not personal, it’s a policy debate. Face to face I’d not even waste my breath. Unless you were paying me for my advice. Then I’d tell you what you need to hear no matter how painful it is to hear it.

    And that isn’t fun at all for me. Just got off the phone with someone who was very distraught and should be watched or sedated. They don’t like the reality we are dealing with. Too bad, they associated with the other person. Now they’re having their throat cut by their former friend that they should have known better to associate with. But they wanted to “help”. I hear that a lot. Way too much. Well, it’s a living. I was sufficiently alarmed to text the next of kin that they need to go sit with the caller right now.

    All this pain, because people don’t “discriminate”.

    Brave New World.

  • Steven Weinberg

    The print edition of the Trib on Thursday says “The retirement means Sarna can never work for Oakland police, Oakland schools police or any branch of Oakland city government, [OUSD Spokesman Troy] Flint said. When he turns 50, Sarna will earn a pension on the 18 years he worked in Oakland law enforcement. ‘Now that he’s retired, he’s capped his pension. That has a finality to it. A regignation has different implications (than retirement),” Flint said.

  • Nextset

    At his age it’s more likely he will turn up somewhere else, another agency perhaps. A retiree can still return to the old agency or it’s sister agencies as a retired annuitant for a limited number of hours per year.

    At 41 he’s not done yet. It’s not even clear that he can start drawing monthly checks until he reaches a higher age. But he can’t get unemployment if he resigned – so he has to do something. Of course, some people in his situation file for service related disability which is the gold standard of retirement. Income Tax Free income.. I understand that’s a constant tactic among administration of CHP and the Prisons. You’ve heard of the line that you were “driven to drink”? It’s a disability now. The job drove you to drink.

    Especially public safety administrators.

    Hopefully he has a good lawyer to guide him through the claims process. They usually make you fight for disability retirement but everyone I know who did it eventually won and got the tax free money.

    Is this a great country or what?

    Before the readers go off on this – remember, if the employer hires a known drinker and puts them in a high stress job and the drinking becomes worse – or the hair pulling or anything else – the employer takes the disability claim and pays it. No sympathy there. This is the price for selecting such people, working them in your fun house, then discarding them when the disorder has gotten out of hand.

    Worker’s of the world unite!

    And file your disability claims.

  • Makeitgoaway

    nextset- do you mean he earned it in the same way the City Manager in Bell, California and the city councilmen earned their exorbitant salaries for which they are now in jail? officers discharged for cause cannot collect retirement- his lawyer is simply pulling a fast one on the incompetent district.

  • Nextset

    In Ca retirement is not forfeited for misconduct. You keep what you accrued with exception being relatively recent legislation involving electeds. I believe New York is different. Perhaps other states.

    Your complaints of exorbant pay in this case is undeveloped. Where is the exorbitant here?

    And where is the misconduct? Getting drunk off duty is not misconduct. It’s legal. Saying any racist thing anybody wants isn’t illegal either. This isn’t Canada or the UK. Get your story straight. No misconduct.

    I suspect the man is gone because he serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority and it was made clear their pleasure was that his appointment would end. That’s life in the big city. You’d better not cause your appointing authority to lose faith in you or you are out

    And that’s not misconduct either.

    They will have another man in place before the ink is dry on the resignation.

  • Nextset

    I reread the story and I’d forgot that the person he spoke to was his subordinate rather than an unrelated black officer at a conference. His words to his own subordinate does create an actionable event for which his agency is liable. Thus misconduct for that. That would be important to defeat an employment contract and terminate the chief or cause.

    Although here it was not stated above he was under an employment contract. I’d assumed a serve at the pleasure status.

    In either event it appears he crossed the last limit with his board and the chief did the decent thing and tendered his resignation. I would still advise him to have counsel experienced in disability retirement litigation take over the situation and analysis for a claim if it is deemed warranted.

    When people in these positions flameout like this there is often a valid disability claim in it somewhere. That’s the lesson of generations of history especially in sush jobs for such agencies. Good luck to all..

    And I have to repeat. I see alcoholics hired and promoted in these jobs because they are desired as the winning candidates in spite of their health issues. I don’t always agree with such rationales but it is a very old story. You don’t hire the prince of peace for these jobs. And if you hire somebody with a pre-existing condition that is exacerbated because of the job get ready to pay disability for what you did in creating that situation. It is a cost of the job the additional harm your worker takes in your service. If you don’t like it, stop hiring, promoting and retaining drinkers. And address drinking, stress and declining health in your workforce.

    I’ve seen such workers used up and discarded when the drinking reached end stage after years of faithful service in extreme working conditions. I have no pity for such employers.

  • Gordon Danning

    Makeitgoaway:

    Your comparison to the situation in Bell is silly, at best. And I’m sure that Mr. Sarna’s pension is paid and determined not by the District, but by the California Public Employees Retirement System, so IF his lawyer is “pulling a fast one” on anyone, it is them, not the District.

    And, it appears that Mr. Sarna is NOT pulling a fast one, because, in California, “[t]he law [on forfeiture of pensions] applies only to elected officials who have been elected or re-elected since Jan. 1, 2006. The official forfeits all rights and benefits, effective on date of final conviction for felonies involving bribes, extortion, theft, perjury or conspiracy. If felonies are committed in the course of official duties, the law provides for the return of employee contributions without interest. Forfeiture can be overruled with consent of the governing body of the public official’s employer.”

    http://articles.philly.com/2011-07-25/news/29812859_1_public-pension-state-retirement-administrators-pension-fund

  • Makeitgoaway

    so Gordon, if a teacher called a student a n$&#%r would you feel the same way?

    The fact is that Sarna could be fired for cause, and this would at least require him to have a hearing on his retirement with OUSD. the rest of is protected. that is why his attorney is pulling a fast one.

  • Nextset

    And why to you think being fired for cause has any affect on the retirement?

  • Nextset

    Do you think…. iPad’s not best for blog entries.

  • Mark T

    LA Unified has 600 armed officers working for it, if they didn’t there probably wouldn’t be anything left after about a week.
    Brace yourselves, liberals, for decades of bitter pills. Globalization, the real state religion, means that we’re all in the 3rd world now. The wealthy enclaves have got to be flaming insane if they think they can stay insulated, but I guess it’s working for them so far (take a trip up to Kensington, I didn’t even see any tagging the last time I rode my bike up there). So we’re left with what teensy bit of domestic discretion we still have to play with, and this is all used up by the false premises the leftist elites have foisted upon us: “diversity is our greatest strength”, etc. I just plowed through a mountain of posts over at TruthDigg, everyone raving about “critical thinking”; I think this means the Bill Ayers model of indoctrication consisting mostly of prompting the young to throw fits all the time. This might work for Marxist elitist trash, but if you want somebody to fix your AC or your plumbing, it might be better to force them to confront actual logic. Quick now, anybody learn what “necessary and sufficient conditions” are in their public school education?

  • J.R.

    Mark,
    Truth is, we are being taken for a ride by all the the elites(labels are just illusory for the most part there to fool everyone else into thinking there is a choice when there isn’t any). They all love money,power and status, and enough is never enough for them. There are not enough people in this country who think critically and clearly enough to use the democratic vote to fix things(to a certain extent even politics is rigged,the insiders with money backing are the only candidates, so any real choice is in fact severely limited). A pyramidal Ponzi scheme from the get-go including the central banking system.

  • Gordon Danning

    Makeitgoaway:

    “if a teacher called a student a n$&#%r” would I feel the same way???? I don’t understand the question; I didn’t say how I “felt” about anything; I just quoted the law, which as you see is limited to elective officials who are CONVICTED of very specific CRIMES.

    Thus, whether Mr. Sarna could be fired for cause is irrelevant; he is not an elected official, and nothing he did constitutes a crime. Therefore, he gets to keep his retirement pay. It really, really, isn’t rocket science.

  • Black citizen

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of Oakland cops who feel the smae way but unless someone speaks up as in this case they will just be left to make decisions based on their racists views and everyone will just turn their heads.

  • Nextset

    Black citizen: You’re just going to have to get used to the concept that people are free to react to their own experiences and think what they want. They also get to say what they want largely – including that they don’t like you and don’t like your kids(if that’s the case). That’s life. Maybe they have good reasons, maybe they don’t. That’s another debate.

    People who we hire to handle feral and destructive people are going to have reactions to those people. It doesn’t matter what race or sex your employees are. If you operate a war zone you don’t get to be surprised when your warriors start having problems being as nice as you (who are not in the trenches) would like them to be. They might even drink.

    Right or wrong has nothing to do with it. It’s a fact of life.

    We do use force to restrict on the job mutterings of politically incorrect words – as shown by this thread. That is all you can expect.

    If we wanted to keep an Ozzie and Harriet world we would not have legislated divorce on demand and cradle to grave welfare. We did so. Now we have fatherless boys of all ages tearing up the town – and guess what, you’re no longer going to see the whole town turning up at sports events anymore. They are now too dangerous to attend and only the lower class are going to be going to the “games”.

    As far as the “Oakland Cops”, you’re not going to have a lot of that to worry about either because California is de-policing the urban areas at a rapid rate. Soon Police services will be unavailable except for shots fired situations. Oh, there will be private (or “special”) police available to the wealthy or powerful in one form or another. But you will wait a very long time to have police respond to your calls.

    Those with assets, capital and education are relocating away from the “urban” areas. Retirees are leaving if they have a good income stream. Find old newsreels of Oakland from the ’50s and see what you no longer have, regardless of race.

    Complaining about “racist views” is childish. Wake up and smell the coffee. It’s a survival thing now. We use experiences and information to survive. I saw the news this morning with film of Mexicans fighting in the stands and parking lots from the latest local Ball Game. With the publicity this year about savagery at the stadiums do you think decent people will take their kids to these games again? Is that racism? Does it matter if it is?

    Brave New World.

    For the uninitiated, that’s a reference to the new society we’ve made for ourselves where people stay in their birth society, living with, shopping with, mating with, taking school with and working with only their kind with no social (or occupational) mobility. Distinct language/diction helps keep everybody in their place as well as lots of tribal dress. This is what we have done since the “Great Society” programs of the mid-’60s.

    The Pete Serna issue that started this thread consists of his detractors (I suppose) bemoaning his bad attitude. My issue with all this is – of course. Anyone responsible for public safety at OUSD is going to get issues in a hurry – and if you do drink more than you should, no telling what brain farts will pop out. Is our problem people like Serna (who I rather suspect would have done anything to please his employers) or is it really these urban warfare conditions that get teachers mugged at gunpoint across the street from school by youngbloods with no fear of the consequences?

    I remember being yelled at by poor whites as I walked home from school in the 4th grade – up the hill to the more expensive neighborhoods with views of the bay that the poor whites couldn’t afford. Let me tell you, white liberals have done far more damage than poor white “racists” ever could have – I’ve seen it. The “racists” were never out match – we had guns and we had education, nerve and smarts. The white liberals take far more trouble to defeat. White liberals want control and domination (like Pelosi & Co’s domination of SF politics).

    You’ll probably want to respond with KKK stories so I’ll preempt the point. Other ethnics & groups were hated and feared more than blacks were – for example Jews, Catholics, Chinese, Mormons etc. “Racism” cannot stop the rise of any group. It’s only an excuse for someone’s own failure. And the people that bleat about “racism” are covering for their own or somebody’s failure. Much of my family and friends and classmates of all races & religions beat detractors at their own games. And we had fun rubbing some noses into it. Not everybody and not at equal speeds, and not at every subject at the same time. But enough to make life enjoyable. Even now people who don’t know me occasionally use that phrase “you can’t….”.

    But it’s clear that children and adults acting like children who hide their own failure behind complaints of being victims of “racism” are just losers and dullards. We should be teaching that to the black chillun’ in public schools. The other ethnics seem to already understand.

  • livegreen

    Further to what Gordon said, if Mr. Sarna’s retirement pay were taken away there would be a lawsuit, a lawsuit that OUSD would probably lose, and that would only cost OUSD more money.

    The way it is he loses his job (as he should) and everybody moves on.

    The irony of course is that Mr. Sarna’s wife is African American and his kids biracial. Why he made such stupid comments that apply to his own family only he knows. But I can guarantee that he will be paying for this for some time to come, and in a much more intimate and prolonged setting than here.

  • Nextset

    I have African-born relatives – and co-workers. They make no bones about despising American Ghetto Negroes. They (African born) also communicate these experiences and convictions firmly to the kids – as in you’d better not do or say or wear anything to identify with the black ghetto dwellers or you’ll have terminal problems at home.

    I find that kind of charming.

    They’ve come to the same conclusion in half a generation as generations of my black ancestors about taking up with low-lifes. We got the same lectures about “us” and “them” by age 5. There was reinforcement over the years. Violence broke out about hairstyles in the ’60s. The older generation didn’t appreciate freak flags.

    We figured out the bad hair thing and the other beefs the old folks had were really proxies for something else. In law we have the concept of moral turpitude – a “willingness to do evil”. And a willingness to justify it. At least that’s what our elders thought they were protecting us from (of course we know now they were and they did).

    Back to the thread. Livegreen mentions that Serna will catch it from the family.. And implies that his family will take this situation exactly as we non-family will. Don’t be so sure. Yes it’s upsetting to get yourself fired and to have your breadwinner get himself fired. But don’t assume that his family will react the way you do to it’s older members saying something (not recorded so we don’t know what was said) intemperate. We all have family that say things the way they see it or think it. We may know things about what they’ve been through that are not general knowledge. You don’t throw out family easily – and you accept people as they are, for reasons that make sense to you.

    So yes I’ve heard family (& friends) of different ethnics express disgust with typical behavior of various subgroups. They have good reasons for their opinions and a right to express them. Do I sometimes have either a more temperate opinion or want to point out things – yes. I’m more on the ground than certain other ethnic relatives/friends and can (in my experienced opinion) better discern between shades of people and personalities then they can. Or I may be better able to explain and understand the (logical) reasons for a behavior.

    The point is I can let them rant and poke a hole in their logic and experiences sometimes. But I understand that people are entitled to feel the way their experiences dictate. And I have no right to complain. People are the sum of their experiences.

    So if a relative goes off on people I let them do it. Been happening since I was 4. Not all my friends’ families liked me when I was in (public) school with them – at least at first. That’s their problem and you give them their space and their home, and stop wanting everybody to love you – it’s not realistic.

    I wish Serna well. He won’t be the last to lose it working in OUSD. He and his family get their privacy now. But he is out, and now let’s move on to the next lucky candidate for police chief. (Didn’t the chief before Serna leave under exciting circumstances also?)

  • Lisa Capuano

    The fact that he was ever hired to BEGIN with is a shame. Good bye.
    Nextset…print your real name ..or shut up. No one wants to hear your carefully crafted racism either.

  • Nextset

    Lisa: You presume that I’d even acknowledge you in a conversation socially. We’d have been introduced then. This isn’t a cocktail party, it’s public discourse on public policy.

    Since we are engaging – are you a student? Are you even college educated? What major? If I’m to take your point seriously I need to have some reference of where your experience and training comes from.

    So far your postings seem childlike, emotional, needy. The fact that you use what purports to be your real name to attack Mr. Serna gives you not one whit of credibility. Who are you to mock the retiring chief of police? (That’s rhetorical – you certainly can mock anybody you please, but why should we be impressed?) What is in your name anyway?

    Public discourse is for grown ups, not children.

  • Nextset

    And as you should be reminded, whining “racism” in public discourse is a sign of a child, or someone acting like a child – a lower class child at that.

    Better get it straight that you don’t own the minds or the affections of other people. They really don’t have to invite you to their birthday party.

  • Nextset

    Oh, and while you are being unhappy about Mr. Serna you might think of the Emergency Room Staff, Ambulance drivers and paramedics, Homicide investigators and prosecutors, Firemen and all the other civil service workers such as Serna who spend a lifetime dealing with the dregs of society so you don’t have to. It’s just not unusual for some of them to develop all kinds of stress related behaviors. Some drink, some swear, some develop attitude issues as a hardened shell to try to distance themselves from the emotional fallout of serving the public in safety related positions.

    You don’t just throw these people out with the trash after decades of service and dismiss them as being horrible people. You do. Decent people don’t.

    They honestly think there’s no connection to the medical issues and their working conditions. Fortunately we have legal counsel and consulting medical professionals to explain it to them.

    That’s why we have service related disability. I hope Serna seriously considers filing for it.

  • Katy Murphy

    May I ask you all, dear blog readers, to stick to the issues on hand, to be civil and not inflammatory, and to resist the urge to categorize other bloggers and/or engage in personal back-and-forth arguments?

    The discussions are so much more interesting and valuable that way.

  • Lisa Capuano

    Drinking excessively, driving while intoxicated, and spewing racist remarks certainly should not qualify anyone for disability. Serna should not have held the position he had, ESPECIALLY given it is a SCHOOL police department.

  • Nextset

    Lisa: That’s the real issue here. Somebody decided OUSD was so desperate they needed to hire someone of his age with his issues to deal with it. You can bet they had their reasons which seemed compelling at the time.

    As far as you opinions of who should and should not get disability retirement – good luck with that. I understand there are still patients who want to diagnose and treat their own cancers. Disability claim law is sufficiently established and non-intuitive that they have specialists in the field. You can’t just come in and say who you think should get something and be correct. That’s why we have lawyers.

    And remember, Law is just a history degree. The practitioners in a legal field are the ones familiar with the history, the trends and the current rules on a particular legal subject. I’m not a specialist there but I’ve seen and heard enough to believe there may well be an issue that bears a referral to an expert. And I wouldn’t be surprised or upset should a disability claim be established. This is just what those cases present like.

    So it just doesn’t matter what you want and what you think. Life doesn’t work that way.

    If an employer engages an employee who suffers damage due to the employment – even involving a pre-existing condition – there is an issue of service related disability. It is an expense of your business that you excessively wear and damage your workers. I don’t know if he has a case or not but I’m telling you you need look no further than CHP management and CDCR to see routine grants of service related stress disability awards. Too Bad, So Sad.

    I rather think you’re too emotionally wrapped up in the “racist” red flag. Thus my curiosity of your occupation and training.

    You might turn more curiosity of what was it that made this candidate more appealing than whoever else wanted that job when he applied.

    I know many employers who want to hire alcoholic alpha males for certain types of jobs. I’m not saying anything about Mr. Serna, but do you really think hard drinking, hard living men are not sought after for certain occupations? And exactly what do you know about police work??

    Mind you, I’m not completely disagreeing with you either. I am trying to remind you that he would have been vetted by people you probably approve of and was found to be peachy keen for the job at one time. I’m afraid you think all these issues and problems are easy and black and white. I think you believe this man is just evil and must have been hired and retained by maniacal Superintendents and Board Members. Well not likely. Have you ever hired and fired adults? Even as part of a committee? For executive positions? I have. Have you seen people lose their minds on the job and have to resign or get fired from six figure positions? I have for decades. Does that mean their hiring was always a mistake? No, not always. People fail for lots of reasons, when they no longer serve their purpose you get rid of them. You try not to run an employment situation that burns people. At least I think as a matter of morality you do. A whole lot of people disagree with me on that last part. Some people believe workers are to be consumed on the job and discarded. I don’t want people to be harmed by their service to me or may organization. And that means sometime you dismiss them while finding them another job before they really get hurt.

    Anyway, Serna sounds like a nice guy from the introduction by Katy.