The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday Briefs

Vacaville Councilmember Steve Hardy Named To "ABC" Board

For those who missed the news, Steve Hardy, a councilmember from Vacaville who finished third in 2002 in the 8th Assembly Democratic Primary was recently appointed to head California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). The ABC is responsible for licensing and regulating 75,000 businesses statewide that sell, manufacture or distribute alcoholic beverages.

This move does two things. It ends his tenure as City Councilmember in Vacaville and it ends speculation that he would enter the 8th Assembly District Race. The council in Vacaville will decide in the next 30 days whether to hold a special election or to appoint a replacement.

Currently that race remains a two person field--with West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada. The other three potential candidates have officially now bowed out with Supervisor Mike McGowan and Davis City Councilmember Don Saylor both having endorsed Cabaldon.

To this point Mayor Cabaldon appears to have vastly outworked Supervisor Yamada, this work showing up largely in the lopsided endorsement totals. This would appear to give Cabaldon an edge.

Cabaldon at this point would be the prohibitive favorite, however, the race would change drastically should a strong contender emerge from Solano County where two-thirds of the vote reside.

Valley Oak Charter School Issue Tonight

There will be a meeting to explore the idea of creating a charter for Valley Oak Elementary School. All members of the community and school staff are invited to attend.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007,

Valley Oak Multi-purpose Room

7:30-9:30 p.m.

More on the Gang Injunction Decision

For some reason unbeknownst to me I have read a few of the comments in the Sacramento Bee under the gang injunction articles.

This is kind of a typical comment:
"Liberal thinking has once again given the upper hand to criminals. Wouldn't want to offend any gang-bangers, would we?"
In some ways the thinking is so simplistic that it is hardly worth a response, but in other ways it is emblematic of a mindset that fails to really scrutinize government actions.

The issue basically came down to the fact that for whatever reason, District Attorney Jeff Reisig decided to serve a notice to exactly one individual and once he did, a number of other individuals were placed under the injunction.

According to the logic above, the Bill of Rights is obviously a product of that liberal thinking--and in fact it is liberal thinking--the kind of 18th century liberalism that our nation's principles were built upon. Perhaps that individual did not take a civics course and read the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution ratified in the 18th Century:
nor shall any person... be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law
This is as clear a violation of that principle as I have seen in some time.

Why are protecting the rights of the accused and ensuring due process of the law so vital? Because without those processes the law is bound to make mistakes. Mistakes mean innocent people get punished for crimes or actions that they have not committed.

Moreover, our system presumes innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. While this is not directly in the constitution, it is derived from the right against self-incrimination in the fifth amendment and the right to a jury trial of one's peers in the sixth amendment. The due process of law is what determines that an individual is guilty, not presumptions based elsewhere.

These are the bedrocks of our society and the safeguards that we have against an arbitrary and oppressive government.

Rather than worrying about offending criminals, our chief concern is with respect to due process of law and fear of punishing innocent people.

If these safeguards make it more difficult to prosecute criminal activity, that is regretful, but ultimately I believe that security and liberty do not need to be zero-sum games. They do not need to be mutually exclusive. What they do require is commitment to both--the ability to create policies and programs that can prevent crime while protecting everyone's rights. That should be the exact goal that we strive for in a free and open democratic society.

We all fear the lawlessness of criminal activity, however, I also fear the danger that failure to safeguard our liberties under the constitution may engender us. I know to call the police when the bad guys come for me, it is a little harder to know what to do when it is the law that is improperly prosecuting you and violating the law itself.

In any case, I am a proud supporter of the ACLU and I refuse to run from my beliefs in the due process of the law.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting