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Government Pepper-Spray Payout Spices Up Waste

Friday October 25th, 2013   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:31am PDT   •  

pepper-spray_200In recent years the vaunted University of California has been bulking up its vast bureaucracy and imposing steep tuition and fee hikes on students. As we noted last year, when students responded with peaceful protests, campus cops pepper-sprayed them in the face at point blank range. Lt. John Pike, who deployed the spray, claimed that the ensuing outcry damaged his “psyche,” applied for workers compensation, and got it. His settlement of $38,055 adds to a mountain of waste from the pepper-spray incident.

A federal lawsuit resulted in a $1 million settlement but $445,879, nearly half, went to the New York-based Kroll “consulting” firm for “an independent probe” that reported its findings to a panel headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso. The ACLU and other attorneys who filed the federal lawsuit got $250,000 in legal fees. The Munger, Tolles & Olson law firm in San Francisco got $320,000 for “work on a systemwide review of how UC campuses should respond to demonstrations.” Actually UC bosses should have known all along. Some UC Berkeley officials worked on that review and will get $88,686 “paid in salaries and other fees.”

The Marsh Risk and Insurance Services of San Francisco got $119,714 for providing “real time crisis management support for UC Davis.” Campus bosses were apparently not up to the task. The internal affairs investigation of Lt. Pike cost $230,256 and now Lt. Pike, whose salary was $110,000, will bag $38,055 from worker’s compensation for all that terrible damage to his psyche. That award is more than $8,000 beyond what the pepper-sprayed students received in the federal lawsuit. It’s all part of the waste and abuse inherent in the system. The waste expands and compounds, and as many players as possible must get a piece of the action.

As for responsibility, UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi kept her job, despite calls for her dismissal. The report by Cruz Reynoso said the command and leadership structure of the UC Davis police department was “very dysfunctional.” But UC Davis police chief Annette Spicuzza was not fired. She conveniently retired with her lavish pension, and the mayor of Pacific, in Washington State, recently sought her services as Public Safety Director. In the government ruling class, dysfunctionality, waste, and abuse are no barrier to advancement.

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October 2013