Paul Babeu, Pinal County Sheriff, Lambasted by Newly-Retired PCSO Captain Jeffrey Karns
Pinal County Sheriff's Office Captain Jeffrey Karns, who retired today, lambasted Sheriff Paul Babeu in an e-mail he sent not only to Babeu, but to all PCSO staff.
Karns' scathing message -- addressed to 661 employees -- appears to be sparked by Babeu's request before the Board of Supervisors to reclassify command staff from "covered" employees to "at-will" workers.
If approved, the change effectively would strip those affected PCSO employees, primarily PCSO lieutenants, of their ability to appeal to a review board any decision Babeu made to discipline or terminate them.
The board is meeting Wednesday, and Babeu's request is on the agenda.
The proposed change also would mean more money for most lieutenants, with a total of $32,281.60 in annual pay increases. Karns, however, would have faced a nearly $15,000 pay cut.
Karns, promoted to captain in 2002, writes that Babeu's move is about gaining for himself "total and complete control and support, operationally and politically."
Typically, county employees have the right to appeal any discipline they receive to the Pinal County Merit System Commission, a five-member board that can uphold, modify, or overturn county officials' decisions. Those who are classified as "at-will" employees do not.
Karns tells Babeu that his proposal ensures that if command staff doesn't "bow and accede" to his "every wish and desire, they face termination." It will also create "a 'forever' atmosphere of constant nagging-fear, constant tension, and constant stress, worrying if today is the day Paul terminates me," he writes.
PCSO mouthpiece Tim Gaffney, in a statement posted online by the Arizona Daily Star, dismissed Karns e-mail by citing that no decision yet has been made by the Board of Supervisors, that this was merely an "organizational change to improve operations."
Gaffney points to Karns' past support of Babeu, including a letter he wrote recommending Babeu for the National Sheriff of the Year Award, and an e-mail commending Babeu for his leadership and stance on arming school administrators in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
"It is truly puzzling why Captain Karns overreacted to an organizational change that has yet to take place, and I can only surmise that some other issue is in play that made him lash out," Gaffney says in his statement.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office website, which still lists Karns as leader of the Sheriff's Office Patrol Division, says of the captain:
The experience and professionalism Captain Karns possesses, as well as his knowledge of and involvement in the Pinal County Community, has provided the Sheriff's Office with a valuable resource.
Although the board hasn't considered the matter, Karns' e-mail states that a member of Babeu's "executive staff relayed the message" to him that once he became an at-will employee, he would face termination.
He sarcastically thanks Babeu for "notifying me that you were involuntarily forcing an 'at-will' position on me...punitively reducing my pay by approximately $15,000 [and] handing me as good a 'Constructive Termination' cause of action as I have ever seen."
While it is unclear what transpired between Karns and Babeu or other high-level PCSO staff, Karns -- who says he was planning to retire in April -- hints at lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office.
"I will likely get the compensation back that your actions are costing my family, unfortunately not from you personally, but from the poor taxpayers of Pinal County who will likely continue to suffer such actions due to what you continue to do," Karns writes to Babeu. "Albeit it is important to note that I will not seek one dime more than what I lost, since that is the only fair thing to do."
A notice of claim -- a precursor to a lawsuit -- usually is filled with enough details to establish the basis for a lawsuit, and probably would reveal details about this fresh rift between Karns and Babeu, seemingly one-time allies.
In Babeu's memo to supervisors requesting their approval to reclassify lieutenants, captains, and other key staff to at-will employees, he says he will get the money to cover the increased salaries from the Jail Enhancement Funds, so there won't be any general-fund expenses.
Babeu also notes that a majority of attorneys in the Pinal County Attorney's Office are classified as at-will employees, a change that was approved by supervisors in 1975.
"I'm not requesting this same exemption for PCSO, yet Pinal County HR policy allows me to classify up to 10 percent, or 65 staff...at will positions," he writes. "Your approval will bring the total [at-will] positions to 37."
Babeu needs approval from the Supervisors because he's trying to re-classify positions that already are filled. He could make the changes without approval if the positions were vacant or if the individual affected by the reclassification signed a document agreeing to the change.
Karns, who notes he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, knocks Babeu's lack of experience. Karns says he has commanded men and bureaus "for longer than you have been a cop."
Babeu was a patrol officer in the Chandler Police Department for about five years but was only on the street for about 3 1/2 years because of leaves of absence, including for various assignments when he was still a member of the Army National Guard.
Karns says Babeu's attempt to force lieutenants and other employees to serve "at-will" is "dishonorable, unethical, and nakedly (no pun intended) selfish."
The pun, intended or not, refers to the naked and half-naked photos Babeu took of himself and sent to a man he'd never met. The sheriff also posted photos of himself, along with his sexual preferences and penis size, on a website where gay men can arrange sexual liaisons.
Below is the e-mail, omitting (for space considerations) the 661 e-mail addresses:
From: "Jeffrey Karns"
To: "Paul Babeu" Cc: [659 PCSO employees, two gmail accounts] Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 10:06:09 AM Subject: Retirement: I want To Thank You
I want to write this email to you, just to thank you. I want to thank you for a number of reasons.
First, I want to thank you for notifying me that you were involuntarily forcing an 'at-will- position on me. I want to thank you for punitively reducing my pay by approximately $15,000. I want to thank you for ensuring that your executive staff relayed the message to me that once 'at-will', I would face termination.
I want to thank you rejecting the open and clear knowledge and the one-on-one reminder from your executive staff that I was planning on retiring in April of this year and to allow me that honor. I want to thank you for rejecting that information out-of-hand and for bulling ahead with punitive measures designed either to force my retirement or to put me in a terminable position. I want to thank you for the loss of critically needed pay-out monies I would have received in April and critically needed months of salary that I and my family are now going to have to re-plan for not receiving.
I want to thank you for seemingly attempting to negatively impact the reputation, career and earned retirement of a dedicated career-long 'Merit-Employee', one who has had a stellar career, free from controversy, free from scandal and one who has competitively tested, competed and 'promoted' (not appointed, Paul) through every classified-rank that the PCSO has; one who has commanded men and bureaus for longer than you have been a 'cop', and one who is an FBI National Academy Graduate.
I want to also thank you for the, what I view as, 'reprehensible' forced 'at-will' status change on the Lieutenants. I want to thank you for what is obviously nothing but a career-ending forced reclassification for some of them. Because, you see, Paul, if you were to have a heart-attack, get in a plane crash, gadfly off to some other political office that you deem of greater advantage 'to you', then any new Sheriff will, just as you did, Paul, terminate 'at-will' employees and replace them with loyal-minions.
Of course, you already know that, so, I want to thank you for that, also.
Why do I want to thank you, Paul, for taking all this (what to me is) dishonorable, unethical and nakedly (no pun intended) selfish action?
Well, I will tell you Paul, I want to thank you for handing me as good a 'Constructive Termination' cause of action as I have ever seen. So worry not, Paul, I will likely get the compensation back that your actions are costing my family, unfortunately not from you personally, but from the poor taxpayers of Pinal County who will likely continue to suffer such actions due to what you continue to do. Albeit it is important to note that I will not seek one dime more than what I lost, since that is the only fair thing to do.
I want to thank you for the punitive pay cut for me, my forced 'at-will' reclassification and my forced retirement, along with the forced 'at-will' reclassification of all the loyal dedicated career-Lieutenants who you have just placed in a position of total and complete control and support, operationally and politically, of YOU.
For, Paul, if they do not bow and accede to you every wish and desire, they face termination, regardless of whether that is your intention, or not. I want to thank you for openly doing this to these men and women who's dedication and loyalty to the County and to the PCSO, is now repaid with a 'forever' atmosphere of constant nagging-fear, constant tension and constant stress, worrying if today is the day Paul terminates me.
Yes, Paul, the bottom-line reason I want to thank you, is that by these actions, you have just done something that has, so far, been illusive to most employees of the PCSO and citizenry at large.
You, Paul have unmasked yourself. You have revealed the 'inner-Paul', revealed what appears to be your real character and your true motivations, motives and plans. It is being viewed with disgust by some and I am sure, in some cases, with fear, surprise, disappointment and even horror. You see, Paul, nobody will believe you do not intend to continue this 'at-will' action right down the ranks, regardless of what you 'say'. You have shown what it is that 'you do' and that has always been of far more value than what a man 'says'.
Things inside will never be the same for you now, Paul and the already existing terrible morale, well, it just got worse, much worse.
Congratulations. You, Paul, have engineered an agency-wide epiphany for the employees, and, I believe, it will spread amongst other agencies and certain citizens when the real story makes its rounds. Oh yes, Paul, the facts will make their rounds.
The primary reason I am writing this thank you, is that it affords me the opportunity to put the facts out there, just in case you, or one of your cadre of loyal-minions were to attempt to paint it in some more, dare I say, 'Paul friendly' light...
So, Paul, thank you for all that you have done. I would like to say that I wish you the best and wish you good luck in your endeavors, but, well, I am not a liar, so I won't do so.
All my best, Jeff
Captain Jeffrey Karns Commander, Patrol Bureau Pinal County Sheriff's Office 520-866-5125
"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission." - Ayn Rand
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