Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why Lee Baca wants Terri McDonald to replace him

Some organizations work out detailed transition plans. Others don't.

I was listening to the Lee Baca retirement speech online, and noted that he was going to recommend that Terri McDonald replace him on an interim basis. Since I wasn't familiar with McDonald, I looked her up. It turns out that she's been with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department less than a year, but that she's held a politically important position. McDonald, who transferred from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is currently Assistant Sheriff for Custody. Considering that custody issues may have precipitated Baca's retirement before the end of his term, it's obviously a highly visible position.

However, I don't think that Baca recommended McDonald as his replacement because of this.

I think that Baca recommended McDonald because there is no way that she could be elected. After all, McDonald herself said:

“Corrections law enforcement and street law enforcement are really two different branches of the business."

We all know that there's an election coming up. Even if she suddenly decided to mount an election campaign for sheriff, the chances of someone without "street law enforcement" experience actually winning an election are negligible.

Could the sheriff have worked out a more robust transition plan? Since the office is an elected office, probably not. Eisenhower would probably have preferred to transfer his job to Nixon rather than Kennedy, but that didn't happen. Clinton (Mister) would probably have preferred to tranfer his job to Gore (Mister) rather than Bush (43), but that didn't happen.

I'm sure that organizational specialists will be watching the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department over the next several months.
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