Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is nothing like the disgraced bailiff Carona

(Photo courtesy of the O.C. Register).

There are a lot of differences between new O.C. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and former Sheriff Mike Carona.  For one thing, as the L.A. Times points out in a new article today, Hutchens actually has a lot of street experience.  She WAS a top cop for years, while Carona was a bailiff.  He became Sheriff without benefit of having walked even one beat.

The point is illustrated by this excerpt from the L.A. Times article:

“I think it’s important to have come up through the ranks and to have done all those jobs. I know when someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes about how they do their jobs,” Hutchens said. “You can’t take the experience away. You don’t forget where you came from.”

The O.C Register also published an interview with Hutchens this weekend.  One of the questions raised by the Register reporter was about Carona’s secret video taping operation in his office.  Her response was illuminating:

“It’s eerie,” she said, then corrects herself. “I don’t know if eerie is the right word. It’s strange. Sometimes it’s a strange feeling to sit in this office and think about what occurred in that administration.”

The Register article covered many of the same points brought up in the Times article.  But one fact was very interesting.  She did not finish her bachelor’s degree until 1996.  I also know firsthand how much work it is to finish college as an adult.  This says a lot about her character.  She is willing to do what it takes to improve her lot and to do a better job. 

A lot has been made about the fact that Hutchens comes into the Sheriff’s department without a plan of action.  She wants to study the issues first.  I don’t have a problem with that.  She has the experience to get it right.  Supervisor Chris Norby thinks SAPD Chief Paul Walters would have been a better choice because he had a plan ready to go.  But charging into Carona’s mess with a pre-mixed plan sounds idiotic.  It took years for Carona to destroy his department.  I think we can give Hutchens a few months to figure out the extent of the mess before she writes her own action plan. 

In fact in the world of project management, which I know something about having worked as a project manager in multi million dollar construction projects and having earned a graduate certificate in the subject, you need to know the full scope of a project before you can put together a project calendar and before you can start to plan the project.  Hutchens is doing exactly what professionals tell us you should do in her situation. 

Besides, Norby has no room to argue.  He endorsed Carona in his last race for reelection even though he knew better.  As such he owns a piece of the Carona disaster.  Now he needs to shut up and let Hutchens do her job.  My advice to Norby – stop taking calls from Mike Schroeder and John Lewis.  They created the Carona disaster.  Now they need to get a busy signal when they call the Supervisors.

As for Hutchens, we now know more about her but the proof will be in the pudding – let’s give her some time to do her job.  If she fails at least we won’t be stuck with her for long.  She never could have been elected to Sheriff.  If she does a good job at least she will have a shot to get reeleccted.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.