Sonoma County immigration advocates and Sheriff Steve Freitas have worked cooperatively in the past but now are clashing over legislation before Gov. Jerry Brown.
If signed into law, the measure would prohibit local police agencies from detaining suspected illegal immigrants on federal immigration holds, except in cases where suspects have been charged with a serious or violent felony or convicted of one in the past.
Freitas opposes the measure, saying it would force him to either defy the new state law or ignore federal regulations.
Randall Walker, a 21-year veteran of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, has been appointed assistant sheriff in charge of the county jail system and related programs. In naming him to the post, Sheriff Steve Freitas commended Walker’s work in the detention division, where he has served as a captain since 2007. Freitas praised in particular Walker’s work with community groups dealing with civil rights, diversity and mental illness.
An initiative to abolish the death penalty qualified Monday for the November ballot, once again thrusting Californians into the debate over capital punishment. If the measure passes, men convicted of some of Sonoma County’s most heinous crimes would have their sentences converted from death to life without the possibility of parole. Among them are seven men convicted of killing their own children and wives, of raping girls, of stabbing an elderly woman and of shooting a deputy.
By most accounts from the legal community, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch has done well in her first 12 months as the county’s top law enforcement officer, and is a marked improvement over her predecessor, Stephan Passalacqua, whom she defeated in a bruising 2010 election campaign.
For some, the decision by local law enforcement officials to accept Mexican consular IDs represents a violation of the rule of law and an official acceptance of the growing presence of illegal immigrants. But police say it is the most sensible way to play the hand dealt to them by ineffective federal lawmakers who have failed to address issues surrounding illegal immigration. What is your take?
State parks officials faced withering criticism Tuesday at a hearing over how they selected 70 parks for closure next year to save money. One North Coast lawmaker saying the process was so flawed the plans should be abandoned. “We need the administration to step away from this,” said Assemblyman Jared Huffman.
Sonoma County is set to spend nearly $3.4 million this budget year and add more than 21 probation, jail, health and counseling positions to deal with the new shift of some criminals and state parolees to county supervision. The plan, which was approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, calls for 19 new jobs in the probation department and the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed on the need to revise the county’s 2006 medical marijuana ordinance, but they differed sharply over the details of a proposed cap on the number of medical pot dispensaries operating outside city limits. The board ultimately endorsed a tentative cap of nine shops, two more than proposed.
Sonoma County supervisors are set to consider a sweeping overhaul of rules governing medical marijuana. They say the changes are needed to halt the spread of legal pot retailers and illegal pot gardens across the region and halt a wave of violent crime they claim is linked to the drug. Among the proposals: a limit on the number of dispensaries and new fees to cover the cost of patrolling and overseeing medical marijuana operations.
In 2002, at the urging of labor and with the endorsement of management, the county Board of Supervisors approved a more generous set of pension benefits for all current workers. The change, fueled by salary increases and combined with other workforce trends, is now seen as driving the upward spiral in pension costs.