Cops Say Choates Threatened Payback
Seaside councilman says accusations are political.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Two Seaside police officers say City Councilman Darryl Choates threatened their future pay and benefits because they did not endorse his reelection bid.
Neither of the two officers would speak on the record for fear of reprisals. But Seaside police detective Judy Stradan, president of the city’s Police Officers Association (POA), says the two officers told her similar stories about run-ins with Choates.
In the race for Seaside City Council, the POA endorsed newcomer Dennis Alexander, who is a teacher and a reserve police officer. The POA did not endorse Choates.
Choates denied making the threats, but confirmed his belief that police officers should “stay out of politics,” in part because the City Council “approve[s] their checks.”
Stradan says she was approached by two different members of the POA independently, who both gave her “the same type of information.” She says both instances happened in late August.
“One was in Mr. Choates’ market,” Stradan says, “when Mr. Choates approached him and made the type of statement that the Police Officers Association shouldn’t endorse anyone because when it comes to contract negotiation time, if someone you didn’t endorse ends up on the City Council, then you might have a hard time during negotiations.”
The second incident happened at the annual festival at St. Francis Xavier Church, according to Marie DeFranco Guth, whose husband is a long-time Seaside police officer.
DeFranco Guth says Choates approached her, her mother and her husband at the festival. “Choates tells me and my husband that the Police Officers Association should not endorse anyone, because the candidates that aren’t endorsed—meaning himself—tend to retaliate when it comes time to negotiate for pay and benefits.
“We took that as a threat.”
DeFranco Guth says her husband can’t talk to the press without authorization from the police department. She says he’s been with the department for several years, he likes his job and he wants to retire in good standing.
“Being a cop, he can’t be involved in things like this,” DeFranco Guth says. “But I can talk. I feel that Choates was threatening the pay raise. I don’t work. My husband does. We have three kids. This is our livelihood.”
Stradan confirmed DeFranco Guth’s story and says she considers Choates’ words to both cops “very unprofessional statements.”
“They both said they felt threatened,” she says.
Choates says DeFranco Guth “is lying.” He did not return calls seeking comment on the second accusation.
“[DeFranco Guth] lied about some things,” Choates says. “I was only talking to her husband, and my position is that I don’t think the police department should be in politics. The police department needs to stay out of politics. Don’t we approve their checks?”
By law, police cannot endorse any candidate or measure while on duty, or in uniform. However, POAs operate independently from the police departments, and regularly make endorsement in political races, as do firefighters associations and unions, which also represent city employees.
“In our private lives, we are afforded the same rights to endorse a candidate as everybody else,” Stradan says.
Choates says DeFranco Guth is simply playing politics.
“It shows by the candidates in her front yard,” he says. A campaign sign for Alexander, along with one for incumbent Tom Mancini, are posted in DeFranco Guth’s yard.
“I have a right to do that, and to vote for whom I want,” DeFranco Guth says. “It’s time for Choates to go. We need new blood on the council.”
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The amount for which RWE AG agreed to sell its Thames Water unit, Cal Am’s parent company, to a group led by Macquarie Bank Ltd. RWE bought the utility, Britain’s largest, for about $12.5 billion in 2000. Source: Bloomberg.com