Do you long for the days when sports headlines were focused on world records and world championship feats? More recently, news about Lance Armstrong’s doping drama, Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, a suit against the NFL by former NFL player Junior Seau’s family and the Australian swim team’s prescription drug abuse problems have competed for sports journalists’ attention with second tier sports bad news. Typical bad sportsmanship examples include a DUI arrest of the San Francisco 49er’s Al Netter and the million dollars made by Los Angeles Coliseum employees by keeping their ownership of overpriced vendors secret.
Jim Righeimer is not an athlete, but his own drama last year helps explain this downward trajectory. Righeimer is a councilman and Mayor Pro Tem in Costa Mesa, California, and a well known taxpayer advocate. Last summer, he was framed for a DUI by Lackie, Dammeier & McGill operatives paid by police unions. In fact, Righeimer had been drinking Coca-Cola. Following Righeimer’s personal experience, the “Daily Pilot” reported that “council members from around Orange County say Lackie, Dammeier & McGill and its clients have harassed city officials leading up to elections and contract negotiations.” This focus on getting higher compensation has diverted important resources that have become an open invitation to the types of woes that dominate current sports headlines.
The Lackie, Dammeier web site actually publishes a written confession of using tricks. The text for the firm's 2013 training seminar (a great value at only $225) states “You will learn from Mr. Dammeier the tricks and tools he has used over the years to obtain record breaking contracts for his clients.” A Lackie, Dammeier testimonials page is equally revealing. It publishes the private cell phone number of Torrance Police Officer’s Association President Thomas Winchester -- (310) 405-3095. Is it any wonder that a few more slips led to the Torrance Police shooting of over hundred bullets at three innocent bystanders?
The devil is in the details. One example from this bag of tricks helps explain how professionals have been so strongly diverted from their work that coaches barely have time to do their day jobs. If some perfectionist auditor finds out about a scheme like the million dollars made by Los Angeles Coliseum employees by keeping their ownership of overpriced vendors secret, it makes the police financial crimes unit that missed the scam look bad. The bag of tricks can spin this around by having police visit the auditor’s optometrist and ask if she has ever seen the auditor’s eyes dilated. Optometrists routinely dilate patient’s eyes in comprehensive sight exams, so that the have to say they have seen dilated eyes under oath. That’s all it takes for the tricksters to get drug warrants and badger everyone the auditor has come in contact with about possible involvement in drug sales. Comedian Kathy Griffin calls this “the D List” but it’s not really funny. And the distortion of a routine eye exam gets the cops a document they can use to detain the auditor -- or a city council representative like Righeimer -- for fourteen days without a hearing.
On February 26 and 27, the California Police Chiefs Association will meet at the Palm Springs Convention Center. In addition to learning about the latest high-tech weapons and surveillance cameras, they will network and share their expertise. That’s how the bag of tricks that Lackie, Dammeier & McGill has instructed in its workshops spread to other law enforcement organizations -- and how the Dodgers Stadium parking lot has been transformed from a family fun destination to one of the places a baseball fan is most likely to get beat up.
What is next? Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has said he wants to leave the ghosts of the LAPD’s past behind. Let’s see if he can lead the other Chiefs into following his example in Palm Springs.