Under pressure to forgo a round of pay raises in June, the Police Protective League -- long one of the most powerful forces in city politics -- has decided to take a hard-line stance and hired the man behind building state prison guards into one of the most powerful forces in Sacramento.
Don Novey earned a reputation as one of the most ruthless and feared players in state politics, spending union money freely to put allies into public office or drive them out for trying to contain the soaring costs of the prison system or daring to try to prosecute guards for abuses.
Always seen with a fedora atop his head, Novey won guards lucrative contracts with provisions that have given them virtually control of the prisons. He allied the union with law-and-order groups to get the three strikes and other laws passed that required building more prisons and hiring more guards.
By the time he retired from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association in 2002, the union boasted it was "the Oakland Raiders of law enforcement" and that guards "walked the toughest beat in California."
Now consulting with the PPL which represents rank-and-file LAPD officers, Novey told Rick Orlov in the Daily News that he advised the union to pump money into state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas' county supervisor race against former Police Chief Bernard Parks.
He also is working with it on strategy for the March 3 city elections which will have a lot to with how contract negotiations go in the face of City Hall's worsening budget situation, which is already $110 million in the red and expected to be more than $400 million next year.
The word leaking out of City Hall is that restraint out of the police union is critical to selling the public on what are expected to be major cuts in city services in coming months.
Novey put a bland face on his role, saying, "Basically, they've asked me to help redesign and develop a smarter political action program for the future. I'm going to help them with some of the essentials of politics that are necessary for them to be above reproach....It's a fun project to see them grow in the political arena and help them use their money more wisely."