If The Times’ letter writers were solely responsible for picking the L.A. County sheriff, Lee Baca would probably be out of a job.
The four-term sheriff — whose department was thoroughly frisked Monday by the feds with the arrest of 18 current and former deputies following an investigation into inmate beatings and other forms of mistreatment in L.A. County jails — is getting most of the blame from readers. Some of the letters accuse Baca of being disingenuous in his expression of sadness at the arrests, while others say it’s about time the law came down on deputies accused of beating jail inmates.
Baca and his department have their defenders among Times letter writers (including the sheriff himself), but most recently, readers by and large haven’t been kind. Last week, two of the three letters published in response to Times articles on the hiring of deputies with questionable backgrounds were critical of the department; one noted how Baca (and his spokesman) seem to be constantly on the defense. Most notably, L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina took to The Times’ letters page on Aug. 10 to call for a strong challenger to Baca in 2014, noting that only voters — and not supervisors — can fire the sheriff. Her point has been echoed by other letter writers who say the voters deserve much of the blame.
Here is some of the reaction so far.
Glendale resident Homer Alba says Baca’s fate is up to voters:
“I moved to the Los Angeles area many years ago, and besides the beautiful weather, the only constant is news of Baca’s repeated dereliction of duty to county residents.
“Am I to believe that the L.A. County electorate is so desperately attached to this man that it is willing to accept his failings without a hint of outrage? If we reelect this man as our sheriff, then we deserve more of the same news for another long period of time.
“As for Baca, if he had any sense of decency, he would tender his resignation immediately.”
James D. Ulrich of Signal Hill says one quality elected official out of three isn’t bad:
“Besides the five emperors on the Board of Supervisors, we have three elected officials in county government:
“Assessor John Noguez was arrested on corruption charges last year and awaits trial.
“Sheriff Lee Baca is hanging on by his fingernails.
“Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey? So far, so good.
“Congratulations, L.A. County voters: One out of three ain’t bad!”
Anaheim Hills resident Ted Stulz questions the sheriff’s sincerity:
“Baca said he was saddened by the findings of the federal investigation. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was saddened because they were discovered or because they were publicly revealed. Or is it because of both?”
Alan Sworski of Thousand Oaks places Baca among less-than-honorable company:
“It looks as if Baca is the new Cardinal Roger M. Mahony.”
Agoura Hills resident Marcy Bregman says the department had this coming:
“Surprise? After all the years of countless complaints against the jails staff and the Sheriff's Department, the headlines should have read, ‘It’s about time.’ ”