Phoenix Law Enforcement Association

PLEA Chairman Responds to FOP

The following article was written by PLEA Chairman of the Board Dave Dager in response to recent misinformation being circulated by the FOP in the various media.

As a union board member you have to have very thick skin.  You get called names and told that you don’t care about the new guy or the old guy or the guy in the middle.  You get told that you’re out of touch and you don’t represent the majority of the membership.  You’re told that you are only doing it for yourself and you obviously have a personal agenda.  Well, for the most part, board members understand that these officers are frustrated with the politics of the police department and are venting on you and it’s not personal.  I get that and I accept that those things are a part of serving the members. However, when you have members of a frat house that prefer to constantly attack rather than to step up and serve and seem comfortable misrepresenting information to police officers, I can only keep quiet for so long.  At some point I have to answer their lack of experience and perspective and direct the members back to reality.  Unfortunately, by responding to these lies some might think that I’m somehow giving credibility to this police fraternity.   That is not my intent.  My intent is to present facts and let the membership decide whether Lou Manganiello’s FOP is being truthful or not.

In an AzCentral article dated 2-11-2010 entitled, “Firefighters, police unions OK cut in pay of 3.2%,” Officer Lou Manganiello, President of the Phoenix Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, was quoted giving several statements that I believe are a misrepresentation of information.  Allow me to point a few of these issues out and you decide.

“He (Manganiello) and other unions like the Phoenix Sergeants and Lieutenants Association believe it reflects younger officers’ frustration with union politics…..” Younger officers frustrations – really.  PLEA is working with the community to change the jail process (young officer issue) not Lou or the FOP or PPSLA.  PLEA is fighting for more rifles, facilitated a $100,000 David Spade donation (through a PLEA Fox National News interview), and is still seeking a private purchase rifle policy for patrol (young officer issue).   Where’s Lou, the FOP, or PPSLA on this problem?  PLEA, with the 50,000 plus members of Citizens for Phoenix coalition, is offering solutions and fighting to save 286 jobs (young officer issue) that the City wants to cut.  Haven’t heard Lou, the FOP, or PPSLA on this one.  PLEA continues to work to represent all of its members equally and does what it believes is fair for all members.  PLEA’s 35 years track record proves that – does Lou’s or the FOP’s?  You decide, misrepresentation or no idea what’s going on?

The article continued: “’In the past couple of years, we’ve gone away from this being the bingo hall,’ said Manganiello, who became a Phoenix police officer 13 years ago.”  Why were you a bingo hall in the first place?  Lou’s fraternity’s web site shows that they still hold Bingo every Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m.  The next problem I have with Lou’s quote is that Lou graduated from the police academy on September 9, 1994.  I’m not the greatest at math but that adds up to almost 16 years on the police department not 13 years.   I should know.  Lou was in my academy class.  It appears that Lou bought his prior service with the city and military because he’s in DROP.  The only way to be in DROP is to have 20 years of service invested in the pension system.  How does the retired President of the FOP Lodge 2 have the best interest of young officers in mind and the current PLEA board doesn’t?  Also, what I find very ironic is Lou attacks PLEA, communicating that PLEA isn’t representing officers and that the PLEA board is only carrying out personal agendas.   But yet Lou has no problem reaping the benefits that PLEA negotiated over the decades for Phoenix Police Officers.  You decide, misrepresentation or no idea what’s going on?

The article continues by stating, “PLEA members generally pay about $65 a month for legal services. The FOP offers a similar job-insurance service at $35 a month.”  First, PLEA monthly dues go towards a lot more than just legal fees.  Second, PLEA members pay $21 a month for legal services; FOP members pay $25.  Third, PLEA’s legal representation is far superior to the FOP.  PLEA covers off duty conduct which may lead to discipline. Go to www.azplea.com to view the legal representation comparison as compared to the FOP website.

Lou’s police fraternity put out information that PLEA is going to increase dues.  Ladies and gentleman, THIS IS NOT TRUE.  PLEA has no intention of increasing your dues and this has not even been discussed at any board meeting. The reason I know this is because I have actually been at every board meeting.  In fact, if the members ratify concessions, dues will come down.  It bothers me, as it should you, that Lou’s police fraternity can just say whatever it wants and there is no accountability.  You decide, misrepresentation or no idea what’s going on?

In a letter authored by Police frat President Lou, he states; “More than 130 Phoenix Officers left PLEA, representing a number larger than half of those that voted to retain the PLEA president in his last uncontested election. Why?”   Yes, Lou, but that number of votes cast for Spencer is 268 times larger than the number of Phoenix Officers you’ve served in the grievance process.  It’s fun to whack people with meaningless comparisons, isn’t it Lou?  Nonetheless, just like with PLEA memberships, there are also reasons, good or bad, why police officers don’t maintain their life insurance policies too.  Some officers stop paying their premium or have no life insurance coverage at all.  Perhaps they can’t afford it; perhaps they don’t think they’re going to die; perhaps they don’t think their life has value; perhaps it’s not a priority; etc.  There are also reasons why members leave PLEA:  financial issues, promotions, retirements, or not seeing the wisdom in protecting a valuable career, to name a few.

Lou believes the reason is, “…because the current PLEA leadership has systematically alienated both management and fellow police officers.”  Really, that’s an outlandish opinion and nothing more.  Lou made an alarming comment: “Humorously, the current PLEA president is sometimes called, ‘Deputy Spencer.’”  Well, Lou certainly knows about “systematically alienating fellow police officers.”  As if being called a “Deputy” is a put down.  I for one would be proud to be called a “Deputy” and would stand shoulder to shoulder with any one of our brothers in brown at the Sheriff’s office or any other agency across this great country.  Yes, PLEA has successfully worked with numerous sheriff offices throughout the state.  PLEA has also been successful working with management, both Police and City, to obtain member wage increases, rights to help with PSB investigations, and citizen complaints and various other issues.  The same ones you enjoy, Lou.

Here’s an interesting question.  Lou, why didn’t you run for the President’s position against Mark?  I’ll tell you why.  Because it’s easier for you to point fingers and tell everybody how bad a job PLEA is doing and that you can do it better, but yet you’ve never done it.  Perhaps it’s because you don’t have the testicular fortitude to step up and get involved and affect change.  I haven’t seen you at a negotiation table working for members.  I haven’t seen you at an IRP helping a member.  I haven’t seen you at a DRB defending members.  I haven’t seen you at a Use of Force Board serving members.  I haven’t seen you speak at the City Council on behalf of the members.  I haven’t seen you speak at the State Legislature to protect members.  I haven’t seen you pour hours into a member’s misconduct investigation.  I haven’t seen you at membership meetings presenting your arguments for change.  I haven’t seen you at board meetings presenting your position on issues.  Lou, why do you consider your efforts at spaghetti dinners so noble, but declare the benefits, rights, and wages achieved by PLEA for all Phoenix Police Officers as worthless?

Lou writes: “Mindless political agendas and immigration lawsuits….” and “PLEA’s only method of communicating member concerns to the Phoenix Police Department is to attack it using the media.”  Really, fighting for more rifles in patrol, fighting to change an immigration policy that was killing and injuring officers, fighting for DROP to stay in place for all officers (something Lou enjoys now), fighting to protect our pension from management abuse, fighting for unity for all front line officers in the State and nationally; these issues are mindless political agendas?  I thought protecting members was one of the important services a union provides.   As far as how we communicate with the Police Department, how would you know?  You’re not involved.  You’re not here to watch as we send our concerns to the Department via e-mails, letters, phone calls, certified mail, and face to face.  You’re not there when we resolve countless issues on behalf of the members.  You’re not here when the Department tells us, “File a grievance.”  You’re not here when the news media calls for information.  The media is independent and PLEA doesn’t control what they do and do not report.  Lou, you’re aware of the First Amendment, freedom of the press, right?  It’s been in place longer than your 13 years, I mean 16 years, I mean 22 years as a police officer.  I know, I know it’s actually 16 not including your buying time to get you to DROP.   Yes, it can be a real problem for police management when they’re held accountable to the public – just like police officers are.  You decide, misrepresentation or no idea what’s going on?

When it comes to bar complaints against labor attorneys, the Arizona Police Association, and PLEA attorney Mike Napier, one wonders if Lou has even read the PPSLA bar complaint he so quickly defends.  17 other statewide police labor associations in the APA saw the serious problem that Lou is missing.  There’s no question that Lou fails to understand that this PPSLA bar complaint puts even the FOP’s and PPSLA’s own legal plans at risk.  One wonders why Lou and his fraternity land so quickly and so easily on the side of police managers.  Folks, this is what FOP members deal with when supervisors have a say in the frat house.  It appears that managers are already pulling Lou’s strings and giving bad information.  Fellow APA members are not mindless cronies just following PLEA’s lead.  That innuendo by Lou is actually a slap in the face to those other union leaders.  Though Lou tells you he can work with the City and the Department, he’s clearly demonstrating that he’ll call them names and “systematically alienate” them as well.  You decide, misrepresentation or no idea what’s going on?

If members have a concern they should come to the PLEA office and talk to a board member or call a representative to let their concern be known.  Officers should never blindly follow a carnival side show which is trying to sell you snake oil masked as an elixir to solve all your problems.  That’s exactly what Lou’s rant is, a smoke screen to the promised land with no ability to deliver – and Lou’s unproven product cost less than PLEA!  Gee, a cheap trip to nowhere.  Lou’s fraternity has tried in the past and has been unsuccessful.  I for one would not want someone who has never negotiated a contract for anyone, much less a union, negotiate for me.  I would prefer the 35 years of past, proven experience that PLEA has provided to Phoenix Police Officer’s for representation service.  You decide, misrepresentation or no idea what’s going on?

Lou, I expected a lot more out of you than this.  Being academy classmates, I thought for sure you would show me at least the respect of giving me a call and let me try to work on your issues.  You claim in your article that you’re all about presenting facts.  You fell short of your goal.  Your rants and rhetoric won’t save jobs, acquire benefits, or develop partnerships on behalf of Phoenix Police Officers.  Nor do they make up for your complete lack of labor experience.  They might damage some careers in the end seeing that a few officers have been scared into joining a fish frying bingo hall.  Just for the record, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you like.  However, that’s not who I want to negotiate or represent me.   Let me encourage PLEA members to bring forward your concerns and get involved.  Do your own research and decide for yourself.

You decide, misrepresentation or no idea what’s going on?