The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 27, 2011
Blog Back: Journalism or just jumping on a good man?

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Last week's news that former CCPOA President Don Novey has filed for bankruptcy protection stirred plenty of comment about the man, his legacy, his split from the union he led for 20 years and the motivation behind The State Worker's coverage.

June 22 Former CCPOA president Don Novey files bankruptcy

June 23 Don Novey grilled by union attorney at bankruptcy hearing

The gig was great while it lasted. Party over.

Novey represented the CCPOA at a time of expansion and played the political game artfully. The current "management" of CCPOA represents everything that the California electorate despises about public employee unions - the greed, the "our way or the highway" approach to labor negotiations and of course the thug mentality. He did a good job for the rank and file CCPOA members and the current honchos there would be wise to realize that he's not dead yet and could easily come back to bite them.

Despite the backlash from the goons at CCPOA main office Don Novey is the president responsible for turning CCPOA into a powerful membership based machine. His vision took men and woman with crap wages and gave them a safer place to work along with a wage that is competitive with every other law enforcement agency in Ca. His tough on crime legislation helped clean-up California's streets and gave victims of crime a voice.

You may say and think what you will about Don Novey but I can tell you one thing with certainty: Don isn't the kind of person who kicks a man when he's down -- That places him head and shoulders above most of those posting comments here.

We've only spoken to Don Novey once. During the hour-long phone conversation we found him forthright and self-effacing. He understood that the power, influence and income he enjoyed came with a price: lost anonymity. He also understood that criticism and scrutiny are the price of leadership and prominence.

Although Novey knew that the piece we were writing wouldn't flatter him, he gave a lengthy interview, answered all our questions and never once hinted that he wanted soft treatment.

How much did Jon Ortiz get paid by Mike Jimenez at CCPOA, to "out" Novey? This is the second article in two days. This isn't 'news' for publication to the public, merely an attempt to discredit Novey. Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder can see right through this Fiasco...!

Personal gain didn't drive the coverage. Here's what did:

Novey is an extremely visible public figure. Novey has continued to influence events even after stepping down from CCPOA's top post nearly 10 years ago. He arguably is the most influential figure in California public worker politics since the state allowed its employees to unionize three decades ago.

His bankruptcy filing and trustee hearing were public. It's rare that you can get an intimate view into the money that fuels a political player and the lifestyle it affords. Novey's consulting work shaped public policy and, you could argue, affected the course of California's political history.

There is intense interest among state workers and CCPOA members in particular about his falling out with the union. The arbitrated settlement he reached with CCPOA over a breach of contract allegation, however, included a mutual agreement that the two sides wouldn't talk about the matter. The court filing, CCPOA's decision to send a lawyer to this week's creditors' hearing and the tenor of the questions and answers during that hearing all speak to the continuing acrimony between the union and its former chief.

Ignoring the story would have been a sin of omission. Then the criticism would have been that we were protecting Novey. This wasn't a huge story -- and The Bee didn't play it prominently in its print edition -- but it was news and needed to be covered.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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