Thu. Feb 9th, 2023
black smoke coming from fire

When the Santa Ana City Council decided to impose a new contract on the Santa Ana Police Officers Association (SAPOA) a few weeks ago it seemed like a win but as you might imagine the SAPOA President, Gerry Serrano, is now seething and the repercussions could have a major impact on our city.



Our sources report that Serrano is now threatening to launch recalls against two of the City Council Members who voted for the new police contract. The main issue is that the City went after Serrano directly by forcing him to do police work again and taking away SAPOA’s management of their benefits.

The two Council Members that Serrano appears to be targeting are Jessie Lopez, in Ward 3, and Thai Viet Phan in Ward 1. It won’t look good in the media that our police union is targeting two women of color!

Serrano recently notified us that the California Public Employees Relations Board has filed a complaint against the City of Santa Ana for Unfair Practices. The Complaint blasts the City for bad faith negotiations, denial of use of release time for employee communication, discrimination, interference with employee rights and interference with union administration.

It is likely that Serrano will continue to pursue any litigation avenue he can against the City of Santa Ana. His main beef is that the income he has made during the many years he spent as a paid union boss in our city is not counting fully towards his pension. That is really a Calpers issue but Serrano believes the City could have done more to resolve this. Ultimately the California Legislature might be Serrano’s only hope to backfill his pension. We are certain that if he can ever resolve this he will likely retire sooner rather than later.

In the meantime the ongoing war between Serrano, his union, the City and the SAPD is bearing bitter fruit within our police department. Allegedly the police officers who side with our Police Chief, David Valentin, don’t get along with Serrano and his union bosses. In a city like Santa Ana, that is constantly beset by crime, we simply cannot afford for our police department to be at war with itself!

If Serrano does go after Lopez and Phan it will be primarily so he can replace them with Council Members who will vote with him and SAPOA. My sources tell me that Serrano wants to have enough votes on the City Council to fire Valentin and our City Manager, Kristine Ridge. Valentine is replaceable but Ridge has done a great job for our city. Firing her would send a message to other public administrators in California that our city is dysfunctional and it would be very hard to hire a decent new City Manager to replace her.

The bad news is that both Lopez and Phan are extremely vulnerable. Lopez’ Ward is in North Santa Ana. The only reason she won was that two white males from Floral Park ran against her and split the vote. If that vote was not split she would have lost.

Phan promised during her campaign not to vote for rent control. But she flip flopped and did vote for rent control. The bad news for Phan is her own Vietnamese American community is very involved in real estate with many landlords in that community. They want her head now! And Phan has consistently sided with our anti law enforcement Council Members. However most Vietnamese Americans support law enforcement.

Our City Council and our Police Department are hopelessly at odds and the losers are the residents of our City.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

2 thoughts on “How can the SAPD stop criminals when the department is warring with itself?”
  1. This was a great article by the editor of NEW SANTA ANA. I want to add a few extra tidbits because I stand with the City of Santa Ana and the Police Department. In my opinion, our SAPOA has stepped over its boundaries. Here is an excerpt from the end of the letter from our city manager. “One glaringly missing bit of information in these communications is the term of the imposed offer expires at the end of the month. The City’s labor negotiation team stands ready to engage in good-faith negotiations with your duly elected representatives at any time. To date, no request for a meet and confer has been received, only threats of further frivolous litigation: a potential recall campaign; and an unsuccessful effort to obtain a temporary restraining order that would prevent the processing of the wage increase. The only request recently received is for an agreement to give more leave hours to the union president at the association’s expense.”
    The City of Santa Ana is not in the business of opening itself to liability. There is proof that prior lawsuits against the City and Police Department have been frivolous and dismissed. Consequently, our SAPOA will be on the hook for fees. So I believe the City of Santa Ana. I do not see any concern in the above paragraph from our SAPOA President about our medical plan or the retiree’s medical plan, which is very important in this day and age. And the City still gave us a 3% raise after all the insults and lawsuits from our SAPOA.
    Here is my reasoning. Our SAPOA failed to file and fact-finding by the deadline and canceled negotiations one day before a meeting. One, the earlier lawsuits failed. Two, SAPOA thought the votes were in the bag. One never risks SAPOA Members’ benefits on a failed strategy for one member to stay at the helm for a higher pension and more leave hours. The SAPOA Membership medical should be at the top[ of the list.
    Our SAPOA President is under the impression that his political connections are due to him when in fact, all politicians gravitate towards the associations with a healthly PAC Fund not because our president has a pleasant personality. I could be the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and all the politicians would have dinner with me knowing I had PAC money for re-elections.
    Sergeants retire at 120,000 to 140,000 but wants his want pension to reflect 240,000. The perks as the SAPOA President are during the tenure as president, not for life. The City said no! CAL PERS said no! I believe his strategy is for the city to make a mistake to further litigation. But I see the SAPOA Members starting to wake up, so most likely, he will be out soon. The PERB complaints filed recently are just buying time and take months to settle. The city has an answer for all of those complaints filed. SAPOA failed in negotiations. It’s evident in the City Staff Report dated December 20, 2022. Recalling Jessie Lopez and Thai Viet Pham will be a waste of SAPOA Members money because SAPOA is not looking very good in the eyes of the Santa Ana Community.
    Next time a SAPOA Member looks at the SAPOA Accounting, start with the credit card expenditures, the amount of money paid to attorneys, the PAC money, and loans to members (From which Fund).
    In closing, a storm is brewing at SAPOA, and it’s far from over. Power corrupts, and sipping from the well of entitlement and feeling more is owed to you just because of your position is poison and a fall from grace is imminent.

  2. Why is our SAPOA so desperately trying to keep our health plan? Past research and some current research state that the city plans may be better or is another type of benefit attached to them. We will soon see a new list of donations from 460 forms in Dossier #5.

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