Wednesday, Augu. 14, 20001
Council Committee Fails to Support Saucedo for Police Commission
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The City Council Public Safety Committee yesterday failed to recommend Mayor James Hahn’s youngest Police Commission appointee, splitting the vote 1-1 with the committee chair voting against the recommendation of the Latina lawyer.
In explaining her vote not to recommend Silvia Saucedo to the full City Council, Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski said the 27-year-old lacks the sense of background and experience to be able to deal with the pressures of “the incredibly strong forces of the chief of police, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, and the Inspector General.”
The official head of the Los Angeles Police Department, the commission is responsible for making department policy and overseeing the police chief. The panel must deal with a department struggling with low officer morale, the fallout from the Rampart corruption scandal and the oversight of federal authorities under a reform consent decree.
“Particularly at a time when we have the Department of Justice literally breathing down our backs, we need those five commissioners to be very strong and very, very focused on the issues,” Miscikowski said. “They have to show resilience.”
Saucedo appeared to falter in front of the committee when she asserted that, as a police commissioner, in addition to remaining independent of the police chief, she would also remain independent of the inspector general. Saucedo said the information presented by the office is “biased.”
The Office of the Inspector General, the investigatory arm of the Police Commission, has oversight of the department’s internal disciplinary process. The inspector general reports directly to the commission and not to the police chief.
Councilman Jack Weiss, who is not a member of the committee, pressed Saucedo on the issue, saying the inspector general serves at the pleasure of the police commission and asked Saucedo if she knew of a time when the inspector general presented biased information to the panel it serves.
Saucedo said she personally was not aware of that happening, but said “when people present information, there is always a bias.”
While she said she is willing to cooperate with the Police Department and the inspector general, Saucedo said she will look at all information presented to her as biased information.
Miscikowski said she was sure Saucedo would eventually gain the experience and background needed to serve on the commission, but she was not ready to support the recommendation at this time.
Saucedo, an associate with the law firm of Nossaman, Guthner, Knox & Elliot, is a resident of Los Feliz.
She told committee members that her connection to different sectors of Los Angeles, growing up in a poor neighborhood, the daughter of immigrant parents, coupled with her career as an attorney, would put her in a position to analyze police issues from a variety of perspectives.
Saucedo also cited her experience as a Sunday School teacher and a youth leader in high school as qualifications for being on the panel.
Councilman Nick Pacheco, who voted for Saucedo, disagreed with Miscikowski’s refusal to support Saucedo’s recommendation, saying Saucedo is up to the challenge of tackling the department’s most difficult issues and has the credentials to back it up.
“If there is anything I can infer from her resume and her success, it is that she is tenacious,” Pacheco said. “A background similar to mine speaks volumes.”
Pacheco predicted Saucedo will be approved by the full City Council despite Miscikowski’s vote, saying the young attorney would help connect the community to the commission.
“I see there is a large disconnect between the community and the other commissioners,” Pacheco said. “The rest of the commissioners could benefit from her relationship with the Latino community.”
The panel voted unanimously yesterday to recommend David Cunningham III, a land use and redevelopment lawyer, who is a registered lobbyist with the city.
The son of former councilman David Cunningham, the younger Cunningham is currently of counsel to Jackson and Associates.
Hahn expressed confidence that all five of his Police Commission appointees, including Saucedo, would be approved by the full City Council despite yesterday’s committee vote, a Hahn spokeswoman said.
“He respectfully disagrees with Councilwoman Miscikowski’s assessment of Miss Saucedo’s qualifications,” Hahn spokeswoman Julie Wong said.
“He has spoken extensively with Saucedo not only about her experiences as an attorney, but as someone who grew up in the Pico Union district,” Wong said. “She brings a strong community perspective of how police can work effectively in neighborhoods.”
The full City Council is scheduled to take up the committee’s 1-1 vote on Saucedo and its approval of Hahn’s four other commission appointees tomorrow.
Hahn appointees Rick Caruso, Rose Ochi, and longtime commissioner Bert Boeckmann were recommended for approval by the committee last week.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company