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No Politics on County Time

March 03, 1985

Sheriff John F. Duffy no doubt thinks he got the last laugh, and perhaps he did. With the news media fanning the controversy, Duffy's deputies were able to give out 18,000 post cards urging California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird to resign.

Then, faced with a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Common Cause that alleged improper political use of county employees, Duffy called a halt to the distribution, saying the cards were nearly gone anyway.

Before the post card distribution was stopped and the ACLU suit dropped, deputies, at Duffy's direction, were handing out the cards to the public when asked, and were distributing them at sheriff's substations.

The message here is that the Board of Supervisors needs to take a firmer stance in seeing that county employees are not used to do their bosses' political bidding on county time. Either the county's existing ordinance prohibiting on-duty political activity is too weak and should be revised, or the supervisors should commit themselves to seeing that what's already on the books is enforced.

No county department head, not even one elected independently as is the sheriff, should be allowed to flaunt the law and use the taxpayers' time and money to grind his own political ax.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 10, 1985 San Diego County Edition Metro Part 2 Page 2 Column 1 Editorial Writers Desk 2 inches; 68 words Type of Material: Correction
An editorial on the San Diego County Opinion Page March 3 incorrectly stated that the American Civil Liberties Union had dropped its lawsuit against Sheriff John F. Duffy after Duffy agreed to stop distributing post cards urging the resignation of California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird.
Actually, the ACLU intends to pursue the suit. After Duffy agreed to stop having his deputies pass out the cards, the ACLU dropped only its effort to gain an injunction halting the distribution.

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