Mayor Insulting A Man’s Professional Experience Is Uncalled For

Last night, at a Sunnyside City Council workshop, Mayor Restucci rudely belittled the work experience of a Council Member.  It happened during a discussion about recommendations from the Public Safety Committee to the City Council.  Pablo Garcia questioned the proposal to hire additional police officers.  Don Vlieger chimed in, and mentioned that he had seven years of experience in law enforcement working specifically with gang suppression.  Mr. Vlieger said that we need to strengthen the suppression side of enforcement at this time.

In this exchange, Mr. Vlieger argues for making suppression a bigger part of enforcement in Sunnyside, followed by the Mayor belittling his experience.

Mayor Restucci interjected and said “and when was that, about twenty years ago?”  Mr. Vlieger replied in the affirmative, and then Mr. Restucci sneered: “Well, I want to hear from our police chief.”

Listen to this clip which runs just under two minutes:

Mr. Vlieger was the subject of a Los Angeles Times newspaper story on May 11, 1989, entititled: ‘Deputy Don’ is the first to be assigned to full-time anti-gang counseling and policing duties on campuses of the ABC Unified School District.  A link to this article is at the bottom of this post.

I bring this up to point out that even though it might have been a few years ago, Mr. Vlieger was a pioneer in using both prevention and suppression in fighting gangs.  Mr. Restucci’s claim to fame is that he has voted to cut police officers, and prevention, while spending $500,000 of  money, not in the budget, for city attorneys in a single year.  His misguided attempt to belittle Mr. Vlieger is out of line for what the City Council calls a “workshop” that is meant to facilitate discussion of issues.

While Mr. Restucci may feel that the Sunnyside Police Department does not need more officers, he should not be denigrating the relevant work experience of one of his colleagues.  That was out of line, and I told the Mayor the same following the meeting.  He replied saying, “I am the Mayor, I chair the meetings, and I didn’t think we needed to hear any more from him.”

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How Yakima County Deputies Can Give Sunnyside Police A Powerup

In the wake of a large number of Lower Valley shootings, I offered some suggestions to a city official on actions that could be taken to crack down on the gangs suspected of being responsible.  After each suggestion, I received the response: “We don’t have the manpower for that.”  I then offered a suggestion to solve the manpower issue that was so politically unpalatable that I did not get a response to that one.  It does not change my views on the actions I think the city should be taking, but I have some more ideas that are less drastic in nature to propose.

Sunnyside Police already have authority from City Council to hire and fill additional police officer positions, but have not filled all the vacant positions.  Meanwhile, Yakima County has severe budget problems that are prompting them to layoff deputies.  We are desperately short on law enforcement (in relation to our problem), and can not afford to lose deputies at this time.  After having coffee last week with some concerned citizens, an idea came to mind that I will share here:

This Yakima County Sheriff car was spotted in Sunnyside this past weekend.

The City of Sunnyside should buy a deputy.  Well, to put it in better terms, the city should enter into immediate negotiations with Yakima County to hire a deputy (or two) on a contract basis.  The precedents for this have already been set in a number of jurisdictions, where county deputies work under contract to do municipal police work.  Another example of contract law enforcement is how our own police department receives revenue from the Sunnyside School District for its School Resource Officers.

My proposal is to hire the county deputies, under contract, to work for the City of Sunnyside.  They will be based in Sunnyside, and answer to our Police Chief as an intermediate supervisor during the contract period.  Yakima County can provide the patrol car (which they have already purchased).  This will make it a financially attractive deal for the city as well.  The deputies will have job security, and can continue to accrue seniority and benefits under the County’s personnel system.

Another reason to do this is that new recruits take months to train, even after the significant time they spend in the Academy.  The deputies are already trained, have equipment they can bring to do the job, and can be put to immediate use in helping us fight crime in the Lower Valley.  As it stands now, there are typically only two deputies stationed east of Union Gap.  With this proposal, we can get two deputies just for our city!  The assistance to our local police (already using mandatory overtime at an alarming rate) would be invaluable.

The situation is spinning out of control, and a change in our municipal mindset is necessary.  The gangs are emboldened by the fact that they can run up and down valley roads committing drive-by shootings without being stopped.  We need to change tactics big time.  Just getting more manpower on station can at least offer some flexibility in our police patrols that is sorely lacking.  Let’s make it happen.

Let’s fill our vacant police positions NOW!

Let's get more cars out of the parking lot, and out on the roads.

 

Dumb Crook News: Man Tries To Steal Police Car In Richland, WA

RICHLAND — A Kennewick man was quickly surrounded when he was caught trying to steal a Richland police car from inside their secured parking lot.

Jeshua D. Dusek, 19, later told officers his theft attempt was to “bolster his reputation amongst gang members in Pasco,” said Richland police Sgt. Darryl Judge.

Read more from: tricityherald.com

Graffiti Greets New Business In Sunnyside

At the start of this year, a business with locations in eight states opened up a brand new building in Sunnyside.  We are fortunate to have people come here to increase business commerce and jobs in our area.  Our city government also benefits from an expanded tax base.

However, there are some in this town that don’t seem to appreciate nice things.  The new building is a significant investment into our town, but has already been tagged with graffiti.

A brand new wall with a fresh coat of paint was too much to resist for some area thugs.

The actions of the people doing this give Sunnyside a bad name.  If we truly want to “rebrand” our town, as the new City Manager has suggested, we need to police our own actions.  This means that parents and children should not tolerate any friends or neighbors that commit acts of vandalism like this.

It is time to take our town back.  We can start by alerting the local police to incidents, so that law enforcement can take action.  This is especially important when acts of violence of being committed.  A number of murders are not being prosecuted because witnesses are not cooperating with police.

The cycle of violence and property damage will not stop until we stand up as a community against the ones that are doing this.  This is a battle we can win, and when we do, the climate will be more inviting for businesses and individuals to invest and build here.

I-Watch Offers $1,000 Reward

1981-85 Chevrolet Impala sedan photographed in...

Image via Wikipedia

The I-Watch group met Monday night for an emergency meeting following a death threat being received by a local resident, and shared other stories from around the community.  The resident who was threatened stated she was in the Bi-Mart parking lot in Sunnyside, and was clipped by another car while backing out of a parking space.  She told the group of about 25 people that attended the meeting that when she approached the other driver to exchange information, he took off driving around the parking lot instead.

She believes the car in question to be a blue 1980 Chevrolet Impala.  After looping around the parking lot, the other driver came back to where she was standing, pointed his hand to his head, and then at her, and said “You’re Dead!”.  Later Sunday afternoon, she said another car with two men wearing blue hats turned sideways stopped in front of her house for no apparent reason, and just stared at her home.

Jim Stevens, the head of the I-Watch, announced that the group is offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the other driver.  Doug Garrison, a local attorney, said that if the other driver can be identified, then legal action can be taken for a hit and run incident, as well as witness intimidation.  In addition, if he is part of gang, other statutes can be brought to bear as well.

Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder said that the police are investigating the incident, and have taken measures he did not disclose to protect the woman who was threatened.  Also attending from the City were City Manager Mark Gervasi, Deputy Mayor Nick Paulakis, and Council Member Mike Farmer.  Former Council Members Chad Werkhoven and Roy Anciso attended as well.  (It should also be noted that Jim Stevens, head of the I-Watch, is a former Council Member.)

Arizona Tea Is From New York

To: All Moron Activists Calling For Arizona Boycotts,

Arizona brand tea is from New York, not Arizona.  Just thought you’d like to know.

Arizona Tea Is From New York

Area Businesses Should Be Outraged By Downtown Graffiti

Area business owners and operators should be outraged by graffiti in the city's central business district. This photo was taken at Sunnyside's Central Park.

Local business owners should not be tolerant of vandalism in their midsts.   Criminals have been allowed to vandalize our town, unchecked, for far too long.  This is a problem that is not localized to just one neighborhood, but is affecting all of us in the City of Sunnyside.

The photos in this post were taken just yesterday at Central Park, in the heart of our downtown area.  The park is surrounded by businesses and a local church.

Our local business owners need to step up to the plate and let our elected City Council members know that this is something that can hurt our local economy.  The Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Sunnyside will not be as competitive in drawing new businesses (and the jobs that come with them), to our town, if we do not act when vandals strike.

Gang crime is of utmost concern.  Just in the past week, it was reported in the Daily Sun News, that we had three separate shooting incidents in our city.

Despite a high fence around Sunnyside's pool, it was tagged with graffiti.

It is time to draw a line, and not let gangsters, criminals, and other thugs cross it without consequences.  Our honor is at stake here.

There is a saying that there is no honor among thieves.  That is probably true about the vandals that are tagging our town with graffiti.  However, I believe that local residents and business owners still have a sense of honor.

Will we put our collective tails between our legs, and run from such a blatant challenge to law and order in our town?  Or will we stand as one, and fight for our rights, and our liberty?

Lest we think the graffiti vandals were under pressure to be in a hurry, they tagged both sides of the city pool.

It is time to choose sides.  It should be an easy decision.  Honorable people will stand for law and order.  If our City Council steps up to the plate, and initiates new measures to halt the lawlessness that now pervades our city, I would even consider nominating one or more of them for “public servant of the year”.

Yakima County Sheriff, Prosecutor, Talk Sales Tax With Republicans

Last night, Thursday, Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin, joined with Yakima County Prosecutor Jim Hagarty, in giving a joint presentation to the Yakima County Republican Central Committee.  The subject of their presentation was the 3/10 of a penny sales tax for law and justice which will be on the November ballot.

This is the same tax that citizens in Yakima County have previously approved, and are already paying.  Under the provisions of the tax, it has a sunset clause which means that voters must approve it every six years.

Sheriff Ken Irwin stated that this means if the people do not feel like they are getting their money’s worth, they do not need to keep paying the tax.  In this way, they are accountable to the voters for how the money is used.

Irwin said that countywide the tax pays for 35 commissioned law enforcement officers, and an additional 58 support staff.  Without the tax revenue from this special sales tax, he said there is no question that layoffs in his department would occur.

Jim Hagarty expressed the same sentiment, saying that all of the assistant prosecutor positions in his office may be cut if the tax is eliminated.  That would leave him and Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ken Ramm to do all of the prosecutions at the County level.

Noting that both the Sheriff and the Prosecutor are Republicans, County Prosecutor Jim Hagarty said that this is not a partisan issue.  He said it is more of a community issue.  Hagarty mentioned that he had reached out to the Yakima County Democrats to ask for their support on this issue as well.

The Yakima County Republicans have previously decided to support this measure on the ballot.

Sheriff Irwin also mentioned that even if approved, the voters will have a chance to vote on it again in another six years.  In the meantime, he encouraged anyone with questions to visit the Sheriff’s website, or the County Prosecutor’s website to see detailed information about how the money is being spent.

Irwin said that cities receiving funds from this tax will need to do more reporting in the future on how it is being spent on the local level.

Irwin said that about 80% of Yakima County’s budget is devoted to law and justice functions, including the cost of jails, and the courts.  Despite this, in the slow economy, it is a struggle to keep everyone on the payroll.  He said this tax is important in maintaining 24 hour availability of Sheriff’s deputies in Yakima County.

The City of Sunnyside is currently receiving about $280,000 annually from this law and justice tax.  Also, the Lower Valley District Court in Grandview is funded by this tax.

Sunnyside would lose an additional three officers if this tax is eliminated.  The current Sunnyside City Council has not endorsed this sales tax for law and justice.

I am supporting the sales tax for law and justice, and if elected, will also work to restore every police officer position that the Sunnyside City Council has cut.

Additional Information:

Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney

Yakima County Sheriff’s Office

Sunnyside Police Department Sales Tax Annual Report

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