At first glance the appointment of William C. Violante as one of Richard Riordan's five deputy mayors would appear to be odd. Then again, maybe it's just politics.
The position for which the president of the Police Protective League has been tapped is described as involving liaison with the Police, Fire and Parks departments. Remember that the union strongly backed Riordan's candidacy, even after revelations that one of his old drinking arrests involved interfering with an officer. Under Violante's leadership, the union initially opposed the crucial police reform ballot measure overwhelmingly approved by voters last year and campaigned this year against the special police tax to hire 1,000 more officers, which only narrowly failed to get the required two-thirds vote. Worse yet, Violante has seemingly gone out of his way to knock Chief Willie L. Williams, accusing him in an open letter of only talking "a good game with the public."
Those were unfortunate positions and unfortunate language. Los Angeles' sweeping police reforms--engineered by now-Secretary of State Warren Christopher--were a striking civic accomplishment. They constituted a highly intelligent effort to modernize and open up an increasingly insulated and worrisomely alienated Police Department. And while people of goodwill can differ over any proposed tax, the idea of a police union so actively campaigning against a measure that would raise more money for the LAPD to hire more officers struck many people as unseemly, at best.