Sunday, April 02, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a former San Diego police officer was rightfully terminated from his job for producing pornographic videos and selling them on eBay. Fortunately for the man, he currently has a job -- with the Transportation Security Administration.

According to a January, 2004, a U.S. appeals court ruled that Luis Acevedo was wrongly fired from his job with the San Diego Police Department in 2001 for selling home made pornagraphic videos and selling them on eBay under the eBay username "Code3Stud."

In the videos, which were posted in auctions in the site's Mature Audiences section, Acevedo is featured in a fake police uniform performing sexual acts including masturbation.

Acevedo was fired after his "hobby" was discovered by Sergeant Robert Dare (SDPD), who originally came across another of Acevedo's auctions for police department paraphernalia, and recognized Acevedo in a picture from the video. Acevedo was charged with violating department policies on unbecoming conduct.

The department ordered him to stop selling the tapes, which Acevedo did, but he was fired on June 29, 2001, for disobeying orders after police officials found that his eBay seller profile still included references to the videos.

A Gay & Lesbian Times article mentions that he was terminated "even though he received a satisfactory performance evaluation for that time period as well as a letter of commendation."

Acevedo sued, using an alias "John Roe," claiming his activity was a "public concern" because the sex videos were made while he was off-duty and away from the workplace. Acevedo’s attorney, Michael Baranic, of Gattey Baranic LLP, argued the Flanagan “protected expression” test as a basis for the appeal.

In the lawsuit, Acevedo claimed investigators contacted Acevedo via e-mail to request a custom video, instructing him to act out a scene with another man, asking for Acevedo to be “pretending that you (Acevedo) are giving him a ticket” and then to “strip down while writing the ticket and make him a deal to take it back, which would end up with you cumming all over him.”

The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Acevedo, in January decision, that his "actions outside of the workplace were protected by the First Amendment right to free speech," according to a news report.

But the the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the case and ruled Monday (December 6, 2004) that officials of the San Diego Police Department were correct to fire an officer who sold pornographic video tapes of himself in uniform.

According to a recent news report, "the unsigned, unanimous opinion reverses a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of the officer, who sued under the alias John Roe [aka Luis Acevedo] and claimed his free speech rights were violated. "

Fortunately for Acevedo, he still has a good paying job with the Transportation Security Administration.

"This fine example of law enforcement, Luis Acevedo, is a TSA regulatory inspector at [the San Diego airport]," said an unidentified source. "How this gentleman got hired [by TSA] after being fired from the SDPD is beyond me."

According to the TSA web site, the position of Assistant Federal Security Director for Regulatory Inspection "serves as the principal advisor to the Federal Security Director on all matters concerning enforcement and compliance with security directives pertaining to airport and aviation security," and "manages an inspection program for compliance by airlines, vendors, and other airport tenants."

More importantly, however, the AFSD of Regulatory Inspection "advises/informs [the] FSD on unusual or complex managerial or personnel disciplinary issues," "directs the work of supervisors, program managers and other subordinate employees" and "exercises discretion and sound judgment in dealing with sensitive human resources matters or issues."

I find it not a little ironic that a person who was terminated from civil service employment as a city police officer for making pornographic videos of himself in a police uniform (albeit not the uniform of his employing agency) is now responsible for exercising "discretion and sound judgment in dealing with sensitive human resources matters or issues" for the TSA.

To be frank, TSA screeners have enough problems right now and they need every ounce of professionalism, sound judgment and discretion that management can muster to avoid getting the proverbial shaft.

Is this man the best that the TSA can offer screeners at San Diego's airport? I doubt it. If he is, then that itself is a very sad testament to the TSA's ability to value it's "most valuable resource" -- its employees.

But Acevedo may have some 'splaining to do to the TSA, if it's on the ball. According to TSA Human Resource Management Letter 735-1, "Interim Policy on Employee Responsibilities and Conduct," while off-duty, "employees are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not adversely reflect on the TSA or negatively impact its ability to discharge its mission, cause embarrassment to the agency, or cause the public and/or supervisors to question the employee's reliability, judgment, or trustworthiness."

Call me a right wing radical or ultra-conservative nut job if you must, but I can't shake this feeling in the pit of my gut that videotaping oneself jerking off in a police uniform and selling those videos is, well... not indicative of "good judgment" by a federal employee and it does, indeed, adversely reflect on the TSA and "cause embarrassment" to the agency. But what do I know?

This is what I know. Screeners can be fired for any reason (or no reason at all), thanks to the wording of the Aviation Transportation Security Act of 2001 and the decisions of several courts (as well as the MSPB). But in case the TSA needed a little justification, however slight, TSA Management Directive 1100.75-3, "Addressing Performance And Conduct Problems," an employee may be "suspended, removed or reduced in pay band or rate of pay for such cause as will promote the efficiency of the service."

To those TSA officials who are reading this column (and I know there are at least a few), I would suggest you consider removing this person as a manager who "exercises discretion and sound judgment in dealing with sensitive human resources matters or issues," as it would most certainly promote the efficiency of the service. It might even bump up employee morale a tad, if that's still possible.

I don't expect that the TSA will follow my advice. It hasn't yet, at least not in those areas that would have a positive impact on its work force.

I would hate to think that my wife, who is a TSA screener, would have to rely on someone who masturbates on camera for cash to deal with her sensitive human resources matters or issues.

The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General just lost his job, purportedly for pissing off the administration from his "overly critical" investigative reports, and yet the TSA has managers like this guy handling screeners' "sensitive human resources issues."

No wonder Tom Ridge resigned. The TSA is an embarrassment of monumental proportions. To claim that it is building a "model workplace" is more than a pathetic joke, It's a blatanat lie and an insult to all hard-working screeners, especially those that have suffered at the hands of corrupt, abusive or just plain stupid managers.

The TSA rather reminds me of that old Star Trek episode, "And the Children Shall Lead," with the angel entity Gorgan and those little kids. Remember the end of the episode when Kirk was urging the kids to see the angel for what he "really" was?


I call 'em the way I see 'em, folks.

Thanks, TSA, for all but solidifying my opinion that the TSA should be disbanded and all airport security returned to private companies. At least those companies can be held to certain standards and federal laws.

This fits with TSA's pattern to "protect" the incompetent and morally degraded because they "know" someone, and fire those with integrity and charactor to "do the right thing" by disclosing blatent violations of Law, Security Policy and CFR. I see this every day at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF).

Look at all the former federal employees at TSA. Many from the FAA and FBI who are recieving 2 federal paychecks, yet have no management or security training or skill. It is a known fact that just because someone has a law enforcement background, doesn't mean they know how to manage security operations at an airport.

In BUF's case, we have 2 ex-Navy/Coast Guard dunderheads with no security training or background and can only manage people by threats and lies. But they are well acquainted with HQ buddies from the Naval Acadamy who put them here.

Also, I believe it is Fraud and Abuse of public funds to give waivers to ex-FAA and ex-FBI agents so they can collect 2 federal paychecks. They quit (or retired) from their former jobs knowing that they can "rake it in" with TSA until they get caught.


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