Happy new year to each and every one of you! I sincerely hope that you were surrounded by family, friends and good cheer during the holiday season. This year is certainly shaping up to be an exciting and fruitful one for the members of the LVPPA. Let’s first examine what we accomplished in 2015 that set us on the course we are on today.
The year began with a tall order regarding the objectives we needed to achieve during the 2015 Nevada legislative session. Police, pensions and collective bargaining were all on the chopping block, and we knew we were in the fight of our lives. Our LVPPA lobbyist joined forces with similar groups that are also in jeopardy, to wage battle against what can be described as guerilla-warfare legislation attempts to destroy our profession and livelihood. Considering the circumstances and the overwhelming odds against us, we finished the session with only SB 241 and SB 168 to deal with. Unfortunately, some have chosen to attempt to pervert the language in those new legislative provisions, and we are dealing with that through judicial review and administrative remedy. I’ll address that later in this article.
The LVPPA was built and operates by a governing document called bylaws. In simple language, the bylaws are a document that provides direction for the Board of Directors, members and employees of the Association. Unfortunately, on rare occasions, an individual who may not have the best interests of the Association and the members we represent in their mind or in their actions must be dealt with accordingly. As we are all aware, this occurred in the spring of 2015, and although it was a difficult and dark day for the LVPPA, we rose to the occasion and utilized the bylaws given to us by the membership to take appropriate action, close ranks and continue serving our members without skipping a beat. This was not an easy endeavor, but all members of the Board of Directors were engaged, informed and willing to call a spade a spade. I’m proud of each and every one of them for the integrity they displayed.
Once I was elected as the new executive director, the new strategy of the LVPPA became immediately apparent as we ordered an audit to be completed on every financial aspect of our Association. At the same time, we assembled a bylaw review committee as well as an expense policy committee. Transparency (yes, I used that word!) is so very important to me regarding the Association’s financial picture. After several weeks, our audit was complete and we received an excellent report regarding our accounting practices and financial standing. Soon afterward, we presented the Board of Directors with an expense policy that governs all expenditures of the LVPPA and requires strict accountability. The Board of Directors promptly approved the audit findings and the expense policy. The bylaw review committee is currently hard at work and following the process prescribed regarding changes and updates. The intent of the committee is to look for vulnerabilities and obsolete language in an attempt to keep our bylaws fresh, relevant and beneficial to the smooth operation of the Association. Lastly, we are working with Peavine Capital to build an official investment policy to govern the Association’s assets. Our current portfolio is solid, strong and earning money, but building an investment policy will ensure a prudent strategy regarding long-term LVPPA goals and financial stability for many years to come. We anticipate both the bylaw committee review and investment policy to be complete and presented to the Board of Directors for approval in the near future.
We were very happy to pay off the Association building mortgage last August. You, the members, are the proud owners of our building. We had been accelerating payments since we purchased the building in 2008, with the goal of having it as an additional asset for the membership to enjoy for many years to come.
The Association teamed up with LVMPD to successfully lobby the Clark County Commission to pass the “More Cops” tax initiative. This issue has been a long and exhausting battle that the last Metro and LVPPA leaders failed to make happen. I’m proud to say we got this done within 90 days of starting my new position, and we are promised that it will deliver more than 132 additional police officers to Metro alone by the end of 2016.
Mike Ramirez and I have been busy building a Nevada State Lobbying Coalition of police officers. For the first time in Nevada history, it looks as if we will have one voice for cops. Mike and I were able to bring the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers (NAPSO), Peace Officers Research of Nevada (PORAN) and Southern Nevada Conference of Police and Sheriffs (SNCOPS) together to discuss, lobby and interview potential endorsees. This is big, historic and very powerful. Our goal is to ensure that politicians who claim to have “police endorsements” when they run for office actually have all of the police endorsements in Nevada or none at all. This will make our endorsements more valuable, more powerful and more meaningful to the ones who’ve earned it.
Let’s revisit SB 241, the new law that says that associations must pay or give concessions for the hours used by association representatives to help members. Our sister association, PPACE, was sucker-punched by Metro last summer and instructed to come back to work or pay more than $40K a month to the Department for the employees who are assigned there. The LVPPA and LVPMSA were told we were next as soon as our contract expires in July 2016, so we took proactive steps to stop the madness. We filed amicus briefs with the Employee Management Relations Board (EMRB) to support the ongoing SEIU v. Clark County issue similar in nature to ours. The EMRB’s recent decision slam-dunked any employer attempting to pervert the law, and clearly defined that SB 241 is a subject of mandatory bargaining (what we told them it was all along) and that the “evergreen” clause is valid in contracts (meaning they can’t order assigned association members back to work) until we’ve concluded a new contract. Furthermore, LVPPA and LVPMSA have challenged the entire SB 241 law in federal court as unconstitutional, as it applies to our specific groups of people and is not equally applied to nontraditional police work conducted by officers all around LVMPD. We are confident that we are making headway and find it disturbing that it appears some are choosing to attempt to manipulate the law instead of applying it as it clearly is defined. Lastly, we can celebrate once again, as the PMSA has won a major victory in the Nevada Supreme Court regarding disciplinary transfers cloaked as administrative transfers. For years we’ve had Association members transferred from a choice assignment, usually with ADP, for no reason given except that they “are not effective in their assignment.” No documentation, no justification, nothing. The court found for the member, and Metro was ordered to reinstate him to where he was and pay him for all the ADP he missed due to the inappropriate transfer. This case sets a new precedent.
This last fall, we recruited and hired Kelly Sweeney, who was the former LVMPD director of labor relations. Kelly is now the LVPPA’s director of employee relations, and is vigorously assisting us in defending our members with her vast knowledge and experience, having worked for the employer side for 30 years prior. Kelly has brought a new level of professionalism and understanding to our team, and she has already proven to be a valuable asset available to each member of our Association.
Mike Sullivan joined the LVPPA as our political consultant and has years of experience in Nevada regarding the political and legislative process. He will continue to provide the guidance and strategy in the political arena for the LVPPA. Mike’s job is to open doors and open minds of those who may have influence, so that the LVPPA’s position may at least get some consideration and attention.
The Association has successfully negotiated a contract for the Las Vegas City Marshals, and its final approval was completed by the City Council in November. The COLA and deferred compensation employer matching funds alone are worthy of note. We broke new ground on this contract, and our goal is to take some of these concepts and ideas to the new LVMPD/LVPPA contract, which we will begin negotiating in 2016. You can find the new Marshals contract on our website.
The improvements and new ideas keep coming, and we just keep getting better and better at serving you, the members. 2015 was a challenging year, but also the most productive year I can remember. We continue to boast high membership percentages, and that tells me and the rest of my peers that we are doing many things right. We will never stop looking for ways to improve and make our Association better. We are poised for an excellent year, and our recent history will prove that our hard work was not in vain. We are more than prepared to blaze the trail in 2016, and I encourage all of you to become more involved. Consider attending our general membership meetings, volunteer for committees, come and enjoy the holiday shindigs (Trunk or Treat and Santa Day), apply for a sports/scholarship donation, or just drop in and say hello. I encourage each of you to send me feedback, comments and suggestions. We work for you, and your satisfaction is our goal!
As always, be safe.
Police Officer Mark Chaparian