In his column, “Turning a blind eye on cop behavior” (Local, Sept. 11), Marcos Breton appears to be trying to provoke a reaction from his audience without digging deeper to find the facts.
As a member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, I cannot discuss facts of litigation. However, I can answer absurd accusations leveled against the board.
Referencing Board Chair Roberta MacGlashan’s comment regarding the board’s fiduciary duty to protect county taxpayers, Breton claims “the county cares only about liability.”
As an attorney, I am sickened by the many frivolous lawsuits filed every day against government agencies. It is often in the agency’s best interest to settle rather than fight, regardless of who is right or wrong. Deciding how to proceed in litigation is difficult, and rarely black and white.
But the board’s duty to mitigate the impact of a lawsuit and protect the public is real. Every dollar spent on a judgment against the county is one that can be spent on vital social and municipal services. Is the rationale around the county’s legal strategy only about dollars and cents, as Breton claims? Of course not. But to ignore the financial consequences of any lawsuit would be irresponsible.
I understand Breton’s failure to comprehend the nuances of handling litigation as an elected official. He is neither an attorney nor an elected official privy to the conversations that take place in closed session, where litigation is discussed and is, by law, confidential.
However, Breton went too far when he labeled my colleague Supervisor Phil Serna and me “AWOL” for failing to address concerns raised about the Sheriff’s Department.
In his July 20 column, Breton noted my intention to introduce a proposal creating a citizen oversight committee to provide independent community involvement when looking into activities of the department. He got that right. I am, with support and input from Serna, doing just that.
Developing a policy of such importance cannot happen in a vacuum. It requires community input and working with a wide array of county staff. To be effective it requires thoughtful and deliberate vetting. That has been taking place, and we will soon have a proposal before the board.
Had Breton called prior to writing his column, he would have found my colleagues and I are in fact very engaged. No inquiry was made; no facts were checked. His journalistic skills appear to be AWOL on this one.
Patrick Kennedy is a member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, representing District 2, and a licensed attorney. Contact him at SupervisorKennedy@saccounty.net.