Montgomery Pols Face Off with FOP Over Police Union's Power

Accusations abound as elected officials and the county police union gear up their campaigns to win the Nov. 6 referendum on curtailing FOP Lodge 35's authority on "effects bargaining."

The heated debate between Montgomery County officials and the county’s police union—which has already cast aspersions in all directions—is primed to get even hotter ahead of the Election Day referendum on reigning in the union’s negotiating rights.

Question B on the Nov. 6 ballot will decide whether to preserve “effects bargaining,” which gives FOP Lodge 35 domain over a broad range of department policies. According to the 1982 effects bargaining law, the FOP can negotiate any action by the police chief that has an “effect on employees.” That has been applied to include, for example, officer reassignments, disability guidelines, distributing equipment and how to implement a computerized system for writing reports.

It does not affect negotiations over wages and benefits.

The County Council moved unanimously to strike down effects bargaining this summer after contentious deliberations. County Executive Isiah Leggett, Police Chief J. Thomas Manger and the Council say that the drawn-out negotiations cripple the police department’s ability to reform.

FOP led the petition that put Question B on the Nov. 6 ballot, where it will be among the most significant lineup of ballot questions in memory: Same-sex marriage, Congressional redistricting, in-state tuition for undocumented students and an expansion of the state’s casino industry.

In an echo of the bruising debate over the ambulance fee of 2010, police union leaders have lambasted Manger and Leggett, while FOP has drawn fire for taking advantage of its power.

The ballot battle saw its first salvos last week.

On Sept. 17, Montgomery County government’s website began painting “effects bargaining” in no uncertain terms. With 15 policy changes pending FOP approval—in some cases years after negotiations began—the website says it “makes no sense” to give police union leaders such sweeping authority.

That night, FOP hired high-profile attorney Lanny Davis—a former special counsel to Bill Clinton—to devise its campaign. His first shot across the county’s bow: Question B supporters are waging “a deliberate misinformation campaign” to gloss over the nuances of effects bargaining.

Davis points to a Washington Post editorial as a prime example. The July op-ed derides “years of preposterous union challenges to no-brainer management directives,” and cites as an example the emergency relocation of police manpower to Silver Spring last year after an uptick in crime.

The county website also lists “the redeployment of officers to crime hot spots” as the type of management decision stymied by effects bargaining.

But under effects bargaining, Davis says, the police chief can implement any policy he wants as long as he cites a threat to public safety. In the meantime, FOP and MCPD management would go to arbitration for up to 50 days.

“We’re being told black is white and white is black,” Davis said.

The Question B campaign found its first battleground last Wednesday as the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee settled on the platform it will send out to every registered Democrat ahead of the election.

Leggett and all nine members of the County Council brought their political weight to bear at the Wednesday meeting.

“The leadership of FOP, repeatedly, made statements about the police chief … that were without merit and that were unnecessarily inflammatory, and I would say even libelous,” said Councilman George Leventhal. “… It’s unfortunate that so much dirty laundry was aired in the course of this debate. But the mere fact that this became such an exercise and a public dispute, indicates—with regret I say this—that the FOP has used the leverage available to it under effects bargaining in a manner that is not in the interest of public safety and not in the interest of the department.”

A special MCDCC advisory committee had recommended in a 7-6 vote that the party side with FOP. But the precinct representatives voted to oppose effects bargaining, 109-14.

“The fact that the Democratic Party … gave almost 90 percent of their votes, I think it’s a strong win,” said Leggett spokesman Patrick Lacefield. “I would imagine that other such signs will follow.”

Though that first battle went to the county’s favor, FOP is resolute in its efforts. Davis called Council President Roger Berliner to a debate, an offer Berliner refused yesterday, according to The Washington Post. Davis wants to take the campaign to the airwaves, and has called into question the county’s use of taxpayer money to win the Question B vote.

“People on the county payroll are advocating against the police. That, to me, is improper, and it may be illegal,” he said. “We’re going to challenge that. And we’re going on TV if we have to. So this is a campaign; tonight is the opening act.”

County officials steadfastly dismiss the notion of wrongdoing.

“Just like county lawyers go to court, the county has a right to defend county law and county policy,” Lacefield said. “We intend to actively campaign against this because we know special interests are going to spend a lot of money.”

Bill Hussein O'Stalin September 27, 2012 at 01:36 PM
The county voters are smart enough to turn the FOP away. The police department is an emergency organization and needs to be managed that way. If you want to work in an open union environment where the union can dictate or have input into each action then form your own company.
Joe Thomas September 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
The police department has operated just fine for the last thirty years with effects bargaining. 99% of the public has no idea what it means nor do they care. They do want the police at their door when they call 911.
jnrentz1 September 27, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Maybe the Police need to be reined in. And maybe the Montgomery County Council should have term limits.
Thomas Paine September 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Montgomery County police definitely need to be reined in. They are arrogant and apparently don't have enough to do. A few months ago, one of them stopped me late at night on a major highway for turning my high beams OFF. During the course of the few minute stop, 2 or 3 0ther patrol cars came upon the scene, stopped to see if the officer needed assistance. He waived each of them off saying "It's ok, he just had his high beams on". He finally sent me on my way advising "Keep your high beams off when they are not necessary". Really?
Joe Galvagna September 27, 2012 at 11:41 PM
I feel the Montgomery police department is the worst police department in the country. Too much hiring by racial lines and not talent. Have you seen some of the black officers on the force? The union had its place one time but it has out lived its usefulness. Their response is terrible only exceeded by their lack of respectful attitude.
Joe Galvagna September 27, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Yea right that is why Tom was stopped, not because of an disrespect for residence in general. Pure harassement
Joe Galvagna September 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Thank you Bill unions were good in their day but they have outlived their usefulness in todays life.
Joe Galvagna September 27, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Oh great somebody associated with Clinton is being used by the police department. That should be enough to judge them corrupt. Think what Clinton did while president. Also think about what Hillary in doing now while serving in the socialist administration we have now. Talk about your pair of despicable/dishonest people. I say we disband the whole force and start anew.
Joe Galvagna September 28, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Frank I will give you a real live case of an experience I had with a Montgomery Co Officer. We both were in a gas station getting gas and there was a car at a light on fire and the officer was doing nothing. I asked him why dont you do something, he told me I am not a fireman and went on about his way in the other direction. That is disrespect or lack of professionalism.
Joe Thomas September 28, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Sounds like good police work to me. Using high beams is a sign of a drunk driver especially late at night. Backup officers driving by is the sign of a department whose officers care enough to check on their own.
Joe Thomas September 28, 2012 at 02:14 AM
The worst in the country? Obviously you have never lived anywhere else. Montgomery County is known for its professionalism and its high quality officers despite your apparent dislike of black police officers.
Thomas Paine September 28, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Frank and Joe, I'd like to see some objective evidence for your claims regarding DUI & high beams. And what is "inappropriate" use of high beams? A little subjective isn't it? I use my high beams when I feel I need them. But regardless, he stopped me after I had turned them OFF! So I was stopped for APPROPRIATE use of high beams. Turning off high beams shouldn't be cause to stop a driver who is otherwise driving appropriately. And Joe, great that they look out for each other. But if there's that many patrolling that same short stretch of road within a few minutes of each other, it indicates to me they are over-staffed. Especially when they have nothing more important to do than stop a driver for turning off high beams.
Thomas Paine September 28, 2012 at 03:58 AM
The police engaged in despicable behavior, bordering on threatening violence earlier this year when this issue was a hot topic with the Council and the County Executive. This was a clear demonstration of their arrogance and contempt for the citizens of Montgomery County, and the civilian authority under whom they serve. Clearly they need to be reined in. Vote in favor of removing effects bargaining.
Gburgatheist September 28, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Repubs...so against unions...unless it affects their football. Ugh.
Joe Galvagna September 28, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Frank there sure when you are the president of the united states and then you lie about it, and you did it in the Oval office. Wake up and smell the roses Frank. Remember 9/11? That is why we went into Iraq.
Joe Galvagna September 28, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Gburgatheist Not so scumbag that includes Football refs. Dump all of them for all I care. Oh and you maybe if you had something you believed in you would know what you are talking about.
Joe Galvagna September 28, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Mr Thomas After 32 years in the United States Marine Corps i have lived all over the US and world for that matter. I do know what I am talking about you do not. I am sure you have never been out of MD.
Joe Galvagna September 28, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Thank you Mr Paine Very well put, you know what you are talking about. The Dems just like to tell lies and hope it sticks.
Joe Galvagna September 28, 2012 at 07:38 PM
jnrentz1 I agree completely good comment
Joe Galvagna September 28, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Gentlemen Good Indicator yes if there was other signs besides high beams. How about the idiots that keep their high beams on when approaching on coming tragic. How about the back up showing up so fast? Too many in one area must be a great donuts shop near by.
Joe Galvagna September 28, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Joe Thomas also commented on Montgomery Pols Face Off with FOP Over Police Union's Power. "The worst in the country? Obviously you have never lived anywhere else. Montgomery County is known for its professionalism and its high quality officers despite your apparent dislike of black police officers." Mr Thomas it is not my dislike for black police officers is my dislike for fat, unprofessional police officers but added to this is the idea the black officers are owed the position on the force. White men and women have little or no chance on getting on the force unless the black quota is filled. Talk about your reverse discrimination. And I do know what I am talking about I have a family member on the force now after many many tries but told you are the wrong color. He graduated top of his class by the way. Its the entitlement people that are dragging this country down the tube that includes the illegals if your parents were illegal their children are illegal. Why does Montgomery Co cater to illegals and all other minorities and I do know what I am talking about when I had my business I was fighting for work and funding and the County was giving minorities a free ride.
Gburgatheist September 28, 2012 at 09:52 PM
@Joe, that was harsh. Atheists believe in plenty of things, love of our family and the other citizens of earth, the beauty found in nature, the endless questions in our universe and our ability to explore them. We have no problem saying "I don't know", if there is a question we encounter. Atheism, the definition, is simply, the non-belief in god/gods. Hey, I'm a lot like you, I just believe in one few god than you.
Thomas Paine September 29, 2012 at 04:32 AM
I don't subscribe to most of what Joe Galvagna says. But he has a good point about fat, out-of-shape, unprofessional cops. These are first responders who are supposed to be protecting us and catchibg bad guys. We pay them well, give them a generous early pension, and let them go out on disability for the slightest injuries (some of which are caused or aggravated by being out-of-shape. We have a right to expect they stay in shape. There should be physical standards they are required to meet to keep their jobs. Amd they should stop whining "effects bargaining, effects bargaining" when their bosses tell them what to do.
Justa Thought October 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I humbly suggest you read the following before coming to any decisions. http://www.foplodge35.com/NewSite/Images/Archives/QuesBResponsetoWashingtonPostEditorial%20QandA9.18.12.pdf
Bill Hussein O'Stalin October 11, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Public service workers workers should not be allowed to unionize. Look at how much this little mess is costing taxpayers.


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