Editor’s note: The results of a $2 million CHP investigation into sex tape allegations should be public, the Sacramento Bee’s executive editor writes. I couldn’t agree more. The cronyism in in public safety can be stifling.
“Not since the 2007 sex scandal involving the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District have tales about the behavior of public employees been quite this unseemly,” the Bee’s Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar writes this morning.
“Drinking on the job. Using a state cellphone to obtain information about a sex club. Sexual harassment. Lying. Using a state cellphone to store hundreds of sexually explicit photographs.
“This time it’s a different firefighting agency, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known by the shorthand Cal Fire.
“We might never have known about any of this behavior if not for the investigation into the slaying of 26-year-old Sarah Douglas. Yes, this story about a clearly troubled agency culture starts with murder.
“(The Bee) filed a Public Records Act request for the investigative and disciplinary documents. Cal Fire denied the request and said it could keep the documents secret because, among other arguments: ‘the public interest in not disclosing materials that have only recently been provided to those individuals whose careers have been affected clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosing the documents.’
“We disagree. We’ve followed up our efforts to obtain the documents with Sacramento First Amendment attorney Steve Burns. As Burns pointed out to Cal Fire, The Bee won its lawsuit involving a similar situation: Sacramento City firefighters infamously attended a Porn Star Costume Ball in the summer of 2004 and were disciplined amid public uproar.
“A subsequent investigation found routine cruising of bars, drinking and picking up women while on duty. The Bee requested the disciplinary documents, and though the city was prepared to release them, the firefighters union filed a court motion to stop the release. We sued, and won. We reported the details of firefighter behavior.
“Organizational culture doesn’t change easily or without attention. The documents released in the Cal Fire cases being appealed reveal a culture rampant with disturbing behavior.”
The rest of the article is here.