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LB Police Officers Ass'n President James Responds Re His Investment With Then-Councilman Baker & Media Coverage Surrounding It
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(February 17, 2006, updated text) -- In a letter to members of the LB Police Officers Association (POA), the union's president, Lt. Steve James, provides information related to his investment with then-Councilman Dan Baker and comments on media coverage surrounding it.
"As a result of all the coverage and the recent actions of one director [who asked James to resign], I now feel compelled to respond and provide you the members with some information that you have not read in the paper," POA President James writes.
We post salient portions of James' one and a half page letter below:
...First of all, I have done nothing more than invest in a piece of real estate with a group of people. My position as president was not a factor in this investment. I did not, nor have I ever used the position of president to better myself personally. There has been absolutely nothing illegal, unethical, or inappropriate about what I have done. I am well aware of the perceptions out there, but perceptions that are based on misinformation or lack of information are not reality.
...Ten of the investors are current Long Beach Police officers, 4 are retired Long Beach police officers, and the rest are family or very close friends of the officers who are involved in the deal. This investment was never a secret and it was never hidden from anyone. I chose Dan Baker as a partner because he already had real estate holdings in the area. It was a business decision, not a political decision, and his membership in this group did not have any affect on our contract or any other issue.
POA President James commented on media coverage of the story, which broke in the Thursday Feb. 2 Press-Telegram with a front page story that focused mainly on the Baker-James investment.
"Our association has gained an incredible amount of influence over the past few years within the City of Long Beach. Our political endorsement is absolutely the most sought out in the city. The Press Telegram does not like the fact that we have this level of influence and they will do whatever they can to try and diminish what we have worked so hard to create," president James writes.
Comparing the situation to coverage of officer involved shootings, uses of force "and anything else they [PT] can sensationalize," James writes, "When they do this to one of our own officers, we all get upset and rally around the involved officer. This situation is no different...I would hope that while reading about this issue that you give me the same benefit of the doubt that you would if this were a police related issue."
[updated text] Responding to LBReport.com's invitation to comment, Press-Telegram Executive Editor Rich Archbold said, "Everything the Press-Telegram has printed about the real estate partnership between Dan Baker and Steve James has been accurate. We have been very careful to be fair to everyone concerned. If Mr. James has any information to the contrary, we would be glad to hear from him directly." [end update]
Most of the remainder of Lt. James' letter relates to POA board discussion of the investment after it became known and a POA director's request that James resign as POA president. In the course of that text, president James indicates that he didn't have any business dealings with then-Councilman Baker in 2004 and the investment involving him wasn't entered into until mid 2005.
"For the last 5 years, I have dedicated my life and professional career to improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions for Long Beach Police Officers, and I intend to continue to do so despite the current event," POA president James writes in conclusion.
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