In his first extensive comments since being forced out last month as a senior aide to Sheriff Lee Baca, undersheriff Paul Tanaka says that his boss was an unpredictable micromanager prone to fits of anger. Baca pushed for friends and relatives to be hired, and sought payback against the FBI for investigating his jails, Tanaka told Robert Faturechi of the LA Times. Tanaka, whose role in the sheriff's department was controversial for years, is apparently contemplating a challenge to Baca's reelection next year. From the LAT story:
Baca's spokesman declined to discuss Tanaka's allegations in detail but said "the sheriff finds it very sad that his former undersheriff has raised these false charges motivated apparently by his personal disappointment and ambition. None of these allegations were made while he served as undersheriff. He raises them only now as he contemplates a run for sheriff."
Tanaka said he did not do so because Baca specifically ordered him and others not to speak to The Times.
Tanaka said Baca frequently gave subordinates contradictory or foolish orders that they had to ignore because they violated department policy or common sense. A few months ago, for example, he said Baca was in a meeting with command staff, talking about the department's budget shortfall, when he asked a subordinate to study the cost savings that would come from eliminating the agency's community policing unit.
A week later, at another meeting, that captain began discussing his findings about cutting the unit, when Tanaka says Baca interrupted.
"He stops and he says 'What did you say? What are you talking about?...I would never do anything like that,' " Tanaka recounted Baca as saying.
Tanaka said he had to call the sheriff later and remind him that the captain was "following your orders and you... embarrassed him."
Tanaka said the sheriff was silent on the other end of the phone, before meekly saying "Oh."
And this could be crucial: Tanaka said that the sheriff himself ordered subordinates to prevent the FBI from contacting an inmate who Baca learned was a source for a federal investigation into the county jails. A grand jury is reportedly looking into how the county hid the inmate from the feds.