64th Annual PORAC Conference of Members
November 17-20, 2016
The Conference of Members was hosted by Region II and co-chaired by Executive Directors Randy Beintema and Jacky Parks. 605 delegates representing 137 associations attended to elect a vice president; vote on bylaws; receive organizational, trust and benefit updates; and network on the important issues facing law enforcement professionals today. Nearly all the presentations touched on the unprovoked violence against police officers in 2016, as well as the importance of changing public opinion through stories about the many efforts of cops helping their communities. Accountability to stakeholders — whether at the local association or highest government level — was also a common theme.
Friday, November 18, General Session
In his welcoming address, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer expressed his dismay at the lack of support for the policing profession: “Never have I seen the pendulum swing so hard, so fast, and stay so long against law enforcement.” He explained how being vilified in the media but not backed up by his department or chief when he was a young cop underpins his staunch defense of his officers today. Dyer expressed concern about the weakening of sentencing laws and the fallout of newly passed Prop 57. On the positive side, he pointed to recent polls showing a 12% increase in respect for police over the year before and reminded those present that policing is the most honorable professional today. “If you want a good career, good hours and a good job, be a firefighter,” Dyer said he tells potential recruits, in conclusion. “If you want to make a difference in your communities, be a police officer.”
President’s Report: President Mike Durant underscored Chief Dyer’s remarks, reminding members, “All of us are under attack. Ultimately, we need to watch out for one another.”
Durant updated delegates on AB 953, the Racial Identity and Profiling Act, which created a 16-member board of directors that reports to the state attorney general. Durant and the board’s other three law enforcement reps are fighting hard to make sure that officers’ rights are protected under the new law.
Durant told attendees that the voluntary dues increase established two years prior has sunsetted. All funds are sequestered and ready for the next pension fight.
Durant commended Steptoe & Johnson for increasing PORAC’s footprint in Washington, D.C., and Aaron Read and Associates for steadfastly protecting PORAC’s interests in Sacramento. He also thanked the phenomenal PORAC staff for their hard work, both year-round and in putting together the Conference.
Vice President’s Report: Vice President Meyer praised Chief Dyer’s spot-on comments, and commended association leaders for stepping up for their members. In the current war on cops, he said, “We are the front line.” He reminded members that they are a vital part of PORAC’s outreach to lawmakers, declaring, “Stick with us and continue to help us out with stories and info, and we will turn the tide.”
Membership is at an all-time high of 69,657 members within 921 associations, including the San Diego DSA, which Meyer welcomed back to PORAC and the Conference. He encouraged members to continue their referrals, saying that of 26 formal inquires last year, 20 new applications were received.
Meyer reported that the Recruitment and Retention Committee’s presentations now include all three trusts, and PORAC is trying to engage younger officers, including creating video shorts that explain what the organization is and why its work is important. Finally, he urged attendees to engage with leadership at Conference and hold them accountable.
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Report: President and CEO Craig Floyd reported that line-of-duty deaths were up 16% from 2015, with a 66% rise in officers shot and killed. He said NLEOMF strives daily to show the media the true picture of policing: In 62 million contacts with the public, force is threatened or used less than 2% of the time, and more than 99% of officers do not have complaints of misconduct. Floyd gave an update on the progress of the National Law Enforcement Museum, which started construction in April and will be open in two years. He thanked PORAC for being an early, substantial financial supporter. Police Unity Tour Executive Director Harry Phillips urged listeners to become lifetime members of the museum, detailing the benefits and describing the planned exhibits.
National Lobbyist Report: Steptoe & Johnson representatives Darryl Nirenberg and Eva Rigamonti gave their report. Nirenberg said that relationship-building with lawmakers is helping PORAC affect policy. PORAC’s positions are based on whether a policy will make law enforcement’s job safer or easier, and/or result in more resources.
Rigamonti reported that during the 2016 fly-ins, PORAC met with 50 members of Congress, as well as relevant committees and federal agencies, providing important testimony and influencing final legislation in the areas of criminal justice reform, the opioid epidemic, electronic communications warrants and bulletproof vest funding.
Nirenberg expressed hope that President-Elect Trump’s focus on law and order and criminal justice reform in the campaign would bode well for law enforcement, although Trump’s approach to labor organizations and collective bargaining is unclear. Rigamonti addressed changes in the next Congress based on election results, which should benefit public safety, with Republicans taking the reins in both houses.
CalPERS Report: Elected CalPERS Trustee Priya Mathur updated attendees on the status of the fund, and announced that new CEO Marcie Frost started in October. Mathur addressed factors that could affect the discount rate (currently 7.5%), to be discussed at the board’s December meeting, and encouraged member involvement. Due to disappointing market returns and fewer members paying in (1.3 active members for every retiree), the fund is only 68% funded, and continued low market returns are expected for the next 10 years.
Municipal defaults have forced cuts to pension benefits, so Mathur reminded members to be conscious of their employers’ fiscal status. On the upside, public attention has increased agencies’ awareness about being current on payments and obligations, and CalPERS has seen a reduction in delinquencies.
The plan’s health premium increases were lower than the national average, Mathur reported, and due to low member satisfaction, CalPERS has changed the pharmacy benefit manager from CVS Caremark to OptumRx, effective January 2017.
Under the new Republican president and Congress, Mathur said the board expects increased market volatility but likely an alteration or repeal of the Affordable Care Act excise tax, and the risk of additional pension reform bills.
Bylaws: Secretary Jim Ryan reviewed the five proposed bylaw amendments provided in the Conference book, and an additional amendment was proposed from the floor regarding a residency requirement for the president and vice president. Corporate Counsel clarified that to be voted on, the amendment first had to meet the standard of exigent circumstances. After caucusing, a roll call vote of regions was taken. The amendment failed to meet the exigency standard, so it did not move forward.
Nominations for Vice President: A motion was made by Tim Davis to nominate Brent Meyer, seconded by Jacky Parks. With no other nominations, Meyer won by acclamation. In his acceptance speech, he expressed his honor in serving the membership for another two years.
Commission on POST Report: Newly appointed Director Manny Alvarez reported on POST’s activities and changes underway to improve reimbursements, instructor training and certification processes. POST has tried out new testing methods that decrease the overall number of tests in the academy from 29 to three, while including extra use-of-force testing. So far, results are good, with some issues being worked through. Alvarez reminded members that many of the positions on the POST Commission come from labor — Pete Kurylowicz, Laren Leichliter, Batine Ramirez and Lai Lai Bui — plus Marcelo Blanco chairs the advisory committee. Members may let any of them know how POST could better serve their needs.
Saturday, November 19, General Session
Bylaws: Jim Ryan presented the amendments for vote.
Marcelo Blanco motioned, and Dennis Hashin seconded, to vote on the amendment to Article VI, Section 4, limiting the agency duties of PORAC officers on full-time release and providing them a stipend. In a roll call vote of chapters, the amendment failed to pass.
In a motion by Scott Peterson, seconded by Barry Donelan, the amendment to Article IX, Section 5, to appoint a historian passed unanimously.
In a motion by Jacky Parks, seconded by Laren Leichliter, the amendment to Article XI, Section 19, clarifying scholarship eligibility language passed unanimously.
In a motion by Jacky Parks, seconded by Cesar Bejarano, the amendment to Article XI, Section 20, to add a historical committee passed unanimously.
Legislative Report: Randy Perry and Terry McHale presented a joint legislative and communications report, reflecting the new approach that their firms are taking to ensure that advocacy and messaging go hand in hand.
Perry said that PORAC’s game in 2016 was defense against bad bills like the AB 66 body-camera bill and AB 1286, Senator Mark Leno’s last-minute “sneak attack” that would have allowed public access to investigative and personnel files of police officers involved in a use of force. PORAC used its relationships with lawmakers to kill the bill before it went to the floor. PORAC-supported body-camera bills did not go forward this year, and Perry opined that policies may be better negotiated at the local agency level.
Bills that passed with PORAC’s input were AB 1927 (Lackey), allowing officers to utilize electronic readers for traffic citations; AB 2165 (Bonta), exempting law enforcement officers from certain handgun purchase restrictions; and AB 2164 (O’Donnell), ensuring that stepchildren of fallen officers are included in state university fee waiver benefits.
McHale described how Marketplace Communications provided immediate messaging for PORAC leadership when law-enforcement-related incidents hit the news in 2016, and reviewed the proposition campaigns for the November ballot and the results. He invited members to call for help with their press releases.
From the floor, a member from Stockton POA expressed his disappointment with PORAC’s late stand on Prop 57, saying he felt the organization had failed its members on this issue. President Durant countered that PORAC did take a strong stand and conducted a targeted mail campaign against the proposition.
Budget and Treasurer’s Report: Marcelo Blanco reported that the recent audit went well, and although two accountants for PORAC are still recommended, there are sufficient checks and balances to prevent malfeasance. Chapter fund reporting has been improved with new procedures. Blanco reminded association leaders that they are fiscally responsible to their members and need to be vigilant about how funds are spent. Regarding PIC/PAC funds, Blanco said that along with UBS, they are figuring out how to safeguard the money that is above FDIC coverage.
Blanco said that the Fiscal Committee had reviewed and found no issues with vouchers. He reported on PORAC Headquarters security and access upgrades as well as house foundation repairs.
Blanco reviewed the proposed budget, recommending a stipend for the president and vice president, and addressed questions about budget line items, including presidential travel expenses, cuts to the RAM budget and chapter reimbursements.
Financial Advisor Report: Mark Sikorski of UBS reported that PORAC’s account of over $5 million is extremely well diversified among 28 outside equity managers in 11 different exchange traded funds, with 28% in fixed income and bonds, and the remaining funds in equities. He doesn’t think changes need to be made to the investments at this time. The experts at UBS believe Donald Trump will enact pro-business policies and reduce regulation and tax burdens, which will be good for the market.
Legal Defense Fund Report: Chairman Fred Rowbotham reported on the board’s focus on improvement and a more businesslike model. With a $23 million annual budget, the fund continues to grow, with over 116,000 members in 1,226 associations in 41 states and two territories. Net assets were $19,809,426 at the end of October.
Rowbotham said trends in officer criminal prosecution continue to evolve, with juries now starting to come back with guilty verdicts, a break from the past. In LDF’s 71 active prosecutions, 10 officers were found guilty of manslaughter or murder, and one was found guilty on all charges. LDF also had a recent case go to the Supreme Court, and it is exercising audit provisions to ensure that panel firms are in compliance with their contracts under the new engagement terms.
Rowbotham reminded members that they are welcome at LDF trustee meetings and highlighted close relationships with the Board and lobbyists, resulting in white papers and best practices available to associations on topics such as officers’ rights under POBR and body-worn camera policies.
Insurance and Benefits Trust Report: Chairman Damon Kurtz reported on IBT’s 2016 highlights. The trust offered a new short-term disability plan, fully paid for by PORAC for the first year. It rolls into the long-term plan if the disability becomes permanent. Three new associations were brought into the IBT this year. Total payouts over the life of the trust are $26 million in life insurance, $6.2 million in accidental death and dismemberment, and over $77 million in disability. The PORAC health plan covers more than 28,000 members with a $175 million budget and about $48 million in reserves, Kurtz reported, adding that new rates were provided in the Conference book.
Retiree Medical Trust Report: Chairman Terry Moore reported that since the inception of the RMT in 2008, it has grown every year. It currently has 28 associations, just added two new ones and others are in discussions to join. Moore explained that adding the RMT benefit does take some time to negotiate with employers and implement, up to a couple of years, but that $100 per month for each member provides a lifetime benefit. It also carries over to a surviving spouse. There is currently $28 million in the trust, and returns outperformed CalPERS’ this year.
Labor and Training Report: Claude Alber reported that the Symposium will be held at the Bahia Resort in San Diego in 2017 and Palm Springs DoubleTree Hotel in 2018. Registration details and the agenda will be available around the beginning of the year. The PORAC Board will be teaching future PAC classes, and Alber asked members to let PORAC know if they cannot attend a training class to allow others to participate and prevent no-shows for waitlisted classes.
Sunday, November 22, General Session
Memorial Foundation Report: Mike Durant advised delegates that PORAC made a contribution to the Washington, D.C., office of Concerns of Police Survivors to help expand their building. A room will be named after PORAC in honor of that donation, and will be available to PORAC as a meeting space.
Durant noted how closely the death of Deputy Dennis Wallace hit home; Juan Alaniz from Stanislaus DSA had been scheduled to meet with Wallace two days after his tragic death.
The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony will take place in early May 2017, in conjunction with the PORAC Board of Directors meeting. Details will be posted on the PORAC website as they are finalized. Durant urged all associations to make a contribution to the Foundation, even if just $100.
RAM Report: Giving the report in place of Chairman Bob Valladon, RAM Co-Chair Mike Cavallero said that RAM’s numbers continue to grow, with 7,577 members and 3,384 members under LDF Plan V, making RAM the largest single entity of individuals in PORAC. RAM is working on improving its communications by setting up a closed-registry Facebook page and expanding email contacts. RAM would also like more visibility on the PORAC website, including a tab across the top bar of the homepage.
SPAC Report: Chairman William Cho reported that SPAC makes up 14% of PORAC’s membership, with 152 associations. SPAC took part in PORAC’s activities at the State Capitol and in Washington, D.C., in 2016, offering input on issues and meeting with the U.S. Department of Education’s Director of Safe Schools. SPAC has been appointed to State Superintendent Torlakson’s Safe Communities and Schools Committee. SPAC also has two legislative proposals in the works to require mandatory expulsion of students who assault a school employee and to establish a central database for workers’ compensation incidents and cases.
Scholarship Committee Report: Chairman Randy Beintema informed attendees that the committee is an independent 501(c)(3) governed by its own bylaws. He clarified application requirements, deadlines and judging criteria. This year 225 applications were received and 20% were declined, most for not having an attached photo, parent signature or handwritten essay. RAM members’ children may now also apply, as long as the RAM member meets the six-month membership requirement.
President Durant adjourned the session, bringing another successful Conference of Members to a close.