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Two officers file claim against Newport

They say Klein's rise to chief and allowing retired officers to come back hurt their careers.

September 24, 2010|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

Two retired Newport Beach police officers have filed a claim alleging they were retaliated against, passed over for promotions and ridiculed by department leaders in the last several years.

Retired Lts. Steve Shulman and Craig Frizzell are seeking an undetermined amount of money from the city, claiming rampant cronyism on the police force created a hostile work place where questioning leaders led to reassignments and broken laws by city officials to let friends rise to the top.

The claim lays out much of what the Police Management Assn., which represents officers ranked sergeant and above, argued to the city in 2008 and 2009. The group claimed former Chief John Klein was pre-ordained to be chief and former Chief Bob McDonell used department resources for his own pet project, the Integrated Law & Justice Agency, among other claims.

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City Att. David Hunt said the case has no merit because the officers didn't go through every possible remedy with the city before filing the claim, it is behind the statute of limitation and has no legal basis.

The claim offers evidence bolstering many of their claims, such as Klein's illegal promotion to chief because of an improper recruitment. At the helm for two years, Klein retired following a no-confidence vote from the association and pressure for him to reapply for the position.

Shulman filed a claim against the city last year seeking no less than $100,000 with similar points. The city rejected the claim in January. An outside investigator looking into department promotions last year concluded that while there was no misconduct by city and department heads, there was plenty to fuel that perception.

Frizzell argues that had then-City Manager Homer Bludau, McDonell and Capt. John Desmond not signed an illegal agreement permitting officers to come back after retirement he would have been promoted. Records show that officers brought back under the agreement did occupy positions that could have been filled by full-time officers in line for promotions.

The claim also puts focus on recently retired-Capt. Jim Kaminsky, who some officers say privately exploited his power for personal gain and retaliating against other officers. Kaminsky was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine last week by the Fair Political Practices Commission for not reporting gifts and gratuities he received from the Island Hotel.

City officials have not officially responded to the claim. The men are seeking punitive damages and $25,000 for each violation of their rights as police officers. A claim against the city is the first step toward a lawsuit.

Another police officer successfully sued the Police Department for not promoting him to lieutenant because of false rumors he was gay.

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