By Dan Smith and Jon Ortiz
Published: Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 4A

The union that represents 30,000 correctional officers in California has ended its consulting contract with Don Novey, the one-time president of the organization credited with building its political muscle.

In an e-mail obtained by The Bee, Novey lashed out at Mike Jimenez, current president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, for terminating his three-year deal. Jimenez was Novey’s second-in-command until taking the reins in 2002.

“Jimenez, it’s fine to go after me, but your Stalin like attacks on the membership and inability to focus on the concerns of the troops disappoints me,” Novey wrote. “Jimenez, you unfortunately will have to deal with me in the future and my respect for the line troops will continue.”

Novey, 62, retired from the CCPOA presidency in 2002 after more than 20 years in command. During that time, union membership exploded as California built dozens of new prisons. Novey, a former amateur boxer and U.S. Army intelligence officer, ratcheted up the group’s political presence by using the millions its members provided to sponsor tough-on-crime ballot measures, elect legislators and back union-friendly gubernatorial candidates.

Novey’s termination could signal more unrest in the union rank and file, which has been working without a contract since 2006 and has been subjected to furloughs along with most of the state work force.

“The guy’s under a lot of pressure,” Novey said in an interview Friday. “When you strike out at someone like me, maybe you’re trying to divert attention to other things.”

In the e-mail to Jimenez, Novey says Jimenez’s labor contract negotiating tactics were considered “a joke” by Schwarzenegger administration officials, and notes that former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown “was so embarrassed by your poor judgment and lack of professionalism.”

CCPOA officials declined to respond, saying the issue was a personnel matter.

Novey said he received a termination letter Thursday. The $150,000-a-year deal he inked in 2007 for political consulting was set to expire in July 2010, he said.

Novey declined to provide the termination letter but said he was let go for not delivering the political consulting tasks called for in the contract, a charge he dismissed as ridiculous.

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