SLO County DA’s Office lacks civility

May 5, 2014

unnamed-2OPINION By LESLIE SANDS

In 2006, I worked at the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

I found the environment lacking civility, appropriate supervision and common decency. A departmental supervisor relentlessly hounded me with her unbridled and caustic intimidation. This behavior permeated the office. It astounded me.

A deputy district attorney within the office even encouraged me to take legal action against the supervisor. At least five other office workers prepared a joint complaint concerning the supervisor but withdrew filing out of fear of retaliation. Another employee required prescription medications to cope with the antagonistic situation (she too has since left the office). All this took place under the current leadership.

Ultimately, I resigned to escape that repressive environment.

I feel tremendous empathy for those left behind and support the courageous step they have taken by their endorsement of Dan Dow for district attorney. These hardworking men and women in the DA’s office deserve better leadership. I believe Dan Dow, who acknowledges the in-house morale issues, will transform the office into an atmosphere where new hires are encouraged and seasoned employees feel safe and appreciated.

Leslie Sands is a former employee of the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office. She is also a Bloodhound volunteer who formerly worked with the San Luis Obispo Police Department and currently volunteers with Woods Humane Society. 


27 Comments

  1. LindaLD says:

    I have known Leslie Sands for over 30 years. She told me of this experience back when it happened. How sad that Shea let this type of hostile work environment continue. He did nothing about it when Leslie was granted a meeting with him so she could tell him what was going on and why she was leaving the county. He just stood up and shook her hand and said “well, I’m sure we will be seeing you around.” Really? How many others told him of the moral problem in the DA’s office that he did nothing about? To know that Covello is his hand picked replacement along with the big moral problem permeating that office is enough for me to say ENOUGH! Voting for a fresh change of management is a vote for Dan Dow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  2. Perspicacious says:

    By the way, anybody notice that one of Covello’s biggest donor’s is the IBEW? He also
    has a big 4×8 sign in front of their building on 227, illegally installed in the Cal Trans right-of-way. He sure made a big stink about Dan’s association endorsements, implying Dan
    was some sort of union hack. What a joke and a hypocrite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  3. Jorge Estrada says:

    For starters, I have an issue with the DA being an elected post. Consider the chummy relationships that staff would naturally develop, then the lucky one that preciptates up to the DA post, thence as in many cases becoming one of our Superior Court Judges, this clearly can put our local scale of justice into a club status.

    On the otherhand if a Federal Commission comprized of 7 were to appiont all DA’s, in my opinion, there would be a better accountability to insure that the law of the land would not be compromised. A SLO flavor of law has been allowed in the past and for this reason I would have to support the one that best supports the United States of America.

    My thoughts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

    • Kevin Rice says:

      D.A.’s fall under the state, so it wouldn’t be a federal commission. Maybe a state commission, but who would appoint those seven? No, I like elections.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Perspicacious says:

    In today’s Tribulation, Covello “apologizes” for his campaign committing felonies by
    opening mailboxes and stuffing them with campaign literature.

    Many points need to be made:

    1: Covello “apologizes” for his campaign putting fliers in mailboxes?!
    Does he accept an “apology” every time a felon “apologizes” in his court?

    2: He was very vague about his workers being reminded NOT to.
    Was this AFTER he told them they could?

    3: Either Covello is lying about his workers committing felonies or his supporters are the
    biggest idiots in the history of mankind.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 30 Thumb down 8

  5. Gordo says:

    Dan Dow might be a nice gyy but he is not qualified to administer the district attorney’s office due to his lack of trial experience and management experience.
    They say the high up the ladder you go the greater the view you have of things around you and that is a good analogy. Another would be we don’t let captains command divisions; generals, who have done all the jobs in between their rank and the rank of captain and thus have a better view of the big picture get the top jobs.
    Electing Dow would be like electing a deputy sheriff to the office of sheriff. Both would be ill equipped to perform the job due to their lack of exposure to all the jobs between their position and the top job.
    Another reason to give pause to voting for Dow is this recent scandal involving campaign donations from attorney Jim Murphy while he was engaged in court cases with Dow. While the attorney general did not find clear evidence of bribery, the Bar Association has opened its own investigation for ethics violations. The Bar Association could take action against Dow, such as suspending his license, that would make him ineligible to hold office if hr were elected.
    Past behavior indicates future behavior and if Dow is elected I predict he will be the D.A.’s Office version of Sheriff Pat Hedges.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 34

    • Perspicacious says:

      Are you really that dense? “Past behavior”? If “past behavior” indicates future behavior
      then Dow will be the MOST ethical and honest DA we’ve ever had. There is NO scandal. Quit spewing Covello talking points.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 31 Thumb down 7

      • Gordo says:

        Well Covello’s past behavior was to prosecute complicated felony cases and Dow’s has been to accept donations from Jim Murphy while prosecuting Murphy’s client and ultimately resolving the cade with a plea bargain..
        The mans financial backing has come primarily from defense attorneys and labor unions, which is hilarious because he spews tea party rhetoric to those of us in North County!
        The guy is a snake oil salesman and if elected he will make Pat Hedges look good!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 20

        • Perspicacious says:

          A little panicky, are you? You don’t even have what happened remotely correct. Last I checked, there are a boatload of prosecutors backing him. Thanks for the chuckle, I’ll sleep better tonight.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

          • Gordo says:

            No panic here. Whoever wins the race it won’t effect me. I just don’t like the idea of a palace coup occurring in the D.A’s Office. When everybody who your peer today supports your election how do you suppose they will react when you are now their boss and you have to start holding them accountable? What will they do? Perhaps try to pull off another coup?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  6. OnTheOtherHand says:

    While this would be ONE reason for supporting Mr. Dow if it is “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” However, it is not enough reason by itself for me to do so.

    This is one race where I am truly undecided. My biggest concern with the DA’s office is to see an end to the dual standard for justice that too often occurs in many places in this country including our county.

    My perception at this point is that Mr. Covello might continue it for the “good ol’ boys” with connections. My perception about Mr. Dow is that he might continue it with the law enforcement community. Neither is acceptable to me. (If someone can convince me that either perception is wrong, I am willing to consider voting for that candidate.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

    • Perspicacious says:

      Give me an example of what you mean by Dow “continuing it with law enforcement”? Isn’t that kind of what a DA is, top Law Enforcement officer? Not sure what you think the DA is supposed to be…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 4

    • Kevin Rice says:

      I can handle this:

      Do you know what Gerry Shea even looks like? Do you know what former Sheriff Pat Hedges looks like? Think about why you don’t.

      Those guys did the minimum and collected a check. They have never been advocates for the public or for change.

      Do you want Shea’s hand-picked insider, Covello, or do you want Dan Dow who is endorsed across the board, not just by law enforcement, but unanimously by the local bar association and by elected officials of all stripes?

      http://dandow.com/endorsements/

      Do you want entrenched, or do you want change?

      Vote for Dan Dow. If you’re still unsure, make a point of meeting him. You’ll be convinced.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 40 Thumb down 7

      • r0y says:

        Careful with that whole “change” – everyone, and I mean EVERYONE I speak with (all sides of the political spectrum) know that “we” were burned by just voting for “change.”

        It really matters what the “change” is, vagaries will no longer cut it for many folks. However, I do understand that for many people, as is typical in politics, it has boiled down to “the lesser of two evils” – Gore v. Bush all over again / a lose-lose ticket. I do not know either candidate, but I do know some of Covello / Shea’s past… so that’s working against him (or working in Dow’s favor).

        Still, my rule of thumbs for elections: 1) No lawyers, 2) No “Educators” and 3) No Heirs – still holds true. Unfortunately, for this position, we cannot avoid rule #1.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

      • Kevin 99 says:

        Well, not exactly. Dow has garnered the support of various law enforcement unions and employee associations, but Covello has gotten the endorsement of virtually every Police Chief.

        You can decide how you want to interpret those endorsements, but you can’t simply lie about it, Kevin, by saying that Dow is endorsed by law enforcement “across the board.” As I have done in the past, I still encourage you to take a little bath in truth from time to time–cleanses the soul.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

        • Perspicacious says:

          I will take rank and file endorsements any day over a few chiefs. Chiefs are
          generally on the wrong side of every issue anyway. They really should stay
          away from “causes” and stick to the things they know well, like schmoozing
          with other chiefs over an adult beverage.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  7. calvertworthington says:

    It is unfortunate that the process of selecting the next County District Attorney is left to the mostly uninformed voters. Further, that the extent of candidate information is seemingly limited to innuendo and hearsay.

    Over the past two weeks I’ve sought out the opinions of those I know who are working in the local legal system, regarding D/A candidate recommendations.

    In general, Mr. Covello is highly respected and has a proven track record of performance.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 37

    • Perspicacious says:

      “candidate information is seemingly limited to innuendo and hearsay”

      Based on that criteria, it should remove Covello from consideration of your vote.

      “In general, Mr. Covello is highly respected and has a proven track record of performance”
      In the courtroom, maybe. As a leader, not so much.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 32 Thumb down 6

    • Kevin Rice says:

      “highly respected” doesn’t at all comport with the fact that the local bar unanimously endorsed Dow, and that the entire D.A.’s office endorses Dow.

      While Covello is a competent litigator (and so is Dow), the D.A. rarely goes to court. The D.A. requires a leader that motivates and is respected. The employees do not respect Covello, shown by the fact they all endorse Dow.

      So, there you have dozens of opinions. And here’s more:

      http://dandow.com/endorsements/

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 5

    • bobfromsanluis says:

      “It is unfortunate that the process of selecting the next County District Attorney is left to the mostly uniformed voters.”

      You would rather this be an appointed position? Who would get to make that appointment? The Board of Supervisors? The State Supreme Court? The Governor?

      While I will agree that a large percentage of voters are “mostly uninformed”, that is the price we pay to have a democratic republic style of government; a direct democracy could possibly be worse if our voters did not educate themselves any more than they are already, but removing another government position of leadership out of the hands of voters would seem to head us down a path of severe cronyism, possible nepotism and definite favoritism.

      Sure, there are voters who don’t have a clue as to whom they are voting on, but I for one would much rather have it this way than to have such positions as appointment filled by who knows who.

      As to Mr. Covello being highly respected and a proven track record of performance; yes, he is highly respected, with the possible exception of those he is in direct supervision of, apparently if you read the names and positions of the deputy District Attorneys supporting Dan Dow to become the next D.A., and his proven track record of performance does not seem to have a lot of depth with regard to being a leader. His track record as a prosecutor is without question very highly regarded, and that is an agreeable fact; but there doesn’t seem to be much agreement on his record of achievement as a leader in the department.

      I will be voting for Dan Dow, and I encourage everyone else to as well.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  8. scoopone says:

    I hope Leslie sends her letter to the Tribune and NewTimes….this has to be seen by
    many more folks. Whether it will be published remains to be seen!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 7

Leave a Comment