Letters for February 21, 2002
Not long ago I re-registered to vote as a Republican. I hoped there might be a choice in the Republican primaries for the state Assembly and Senate between the usual Northstate collection of far-right ideologues and more nuanced conservatives in the mold of Mary Anne Houx, Mary Andrews or John McCain.
Being from the Bay Area, where most of the real contests take place in the Democratic primary, I realize that here the opposite is true: Once the Republican primary is finished, it’s all over but the shouting.
With that in mind, I figured I might as well have a hand in picking a sensible Republican representative from our region, not someone whose political vocabulary was confined to Second Amendment rights, property rights and trash-the-environment rights.
Sorry to say, the good-government, good-business Republicans couldn’t seem to run one of their own this time. In the meantime I’m left with the dilemma: For whom do I vote for on March 5?
On the basis of one issue, I made up my mind to vote for Dan Ostrander for the Assembly and Dick Dickerson for the Senate. They realize (Dickerson by his actions last year, Ostrander by declaration) that to get the best deal for the North State they need to play ball with the Democrats. Politics is ultimately a bring-home-the-bacon game, especially at the state level. Until California recognizes the one almond-one vote principle, counties like Butte are not going to control the Legislature.
My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Perry Reniff and have been friends with him for some seven years. When we met in 1994 he was helping a group of us in Southside Oroville form a neighborhood watch group. While working toward our goals Perry came to virtually every meeting with our then-COPS officer. As assistant sheriff, he continually demonstrated in-depth knowledge about law enforcement and our neighborhood and its complex issues. It didn’t take long to realize we were working with one of Butte County’s finest.
Our neighborhood has changed a lot in the absence of the COPS officer and support we received from Perry Reniff. Without that support our group has simply disbanded. We can speak of the extreme focus Perry realistically directs to local areas and their real drug problems. If you need your support back and you want to make a change, vote Reniff for sheriff March 5.
It seems that the county’s old-boy network and career bureaucrats have rallied the forces of stagnation to attack the most successful attempts at reform that this county has seen in years. First, Helen Harberts, the county’s probation chief, who was named California’s top probation officer, was driven from office because the old-boy network didn’t like her “management style.” Despite bringing in new grants and getting a badly needed new facility built, she offended many charter members of the old-boy network by demanding her staff actually work and accomplish something.
Now Sheriff Scott Mackenzie is under attack by the protégés and lap dogs of the former sheriff. Perhaps you remember the former sheriff’s mishandling of the department, his refusal to address jail, morale and modernization problems, his indifference to the public, and his embarrassing personal problems. Perhaps you remember Perry Reniff’s defense of the former sheriff. Scott Mackenzie was elected to make changes, and despite an organized backstabbing effort, Mackenzie has brought positive change to the department. Scott was recognized for his leadership by being named the National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Scott Mackenzie deserves to be reelected sheriff of Butte County.
Curt and his cohorts
After seeing Butte County Supervisor Curt Josiassen’s bumbling performance at the League of Women Voters forum in Chico, I would like to nominate him for the George Orwell “Double Speak” award.
In the context of his seemingly boundless hypocrisy, Curt had the temerity to whine about “personal attacks” when the crux of the Measure B controversy revolves around a vindictive effort to remove Jane Dolan from the Board of Supervisors and little else.
Notable among Curt’s blatherings was a threat to send Butte County down a similar redistricting path in the aftermath of a Measure B defeat. Since Curt and his cohorts on the board majority apparently don’t learn from the mistakes they make that the taxpayers pay for, perhaps they’ll finally get it when the money starts coming out of their own pockets.
Board majority Josiassen, Bob Beeler and Kim Yamaguchi were elected to lead Butte County, a task at which they are failing abysmally. I urge Paradise voters to support the Yamaguchi recall, and I urge everyone to remember the other two stooges when they’re up for reelection. Please vote No on Measure B and send a strong message to David Reade’ s minions wherever they may slither.
Former sheriff speaks
Why has not one local law enforcement leader endorsed Sheriff Scott MacKenzie? Let one explain why.
MacKenzie is an inexperienced and incompetent manager. He was looking the other way when his hand-picked middle managers overspent the department budget by a whopping $2 million in just his first two years. No sheriff in the last several decades has ever overspent a budget. I understand more red ink is on the way, and there is nothing to show for it.
He takes credit for what he has not done and blames others for his mistakes. He has publicly bragged he wrote grants and secured funding for more than $4 million. This is a deliberate lie! He said he wrote the school resource grant and put deputies in the schools, when in fact it was Perry Reniff who wrote the grant. He credits himself for funding the 911 communications center. Another fabrication. I secured those funds prior to MacKenzie’s taking office. He gives himself credit for getting state funding for deputies and equipment. Another falsehood! The state provided law enforcement funding to all counties.
He destroyed the careers of many fine officers who refused to politically support him. Promotions are no longer given on merit but the good-'ol-boy doctrine of political favoritism. He has supported foolish programs like patrolling Lake Oroville when the state already provides that service. He took resident deputies and made them boat patrolmen while their patrol cars sat empty and no one patrolled the rural areas.
These are the reasons not one local law enforcement leader has endorsed MacKenzie, while all those who could have chosen to endorse Perry Reniff. Count them! Ten for Reniff—zero for MacKenzie.
It’s time to put honesty, integrity and common sense back into your sheriff’s office. Vote for Perry Reniff.
Butte County Sheriff/Coroner, Ret.
The bill currently before Congress to reform campaign financing defines criticism of incumbent candidates during the 90 days prior to the election as a criminal act with penalties of imprisonment. This bill is a gross violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. …” Passage of this bill, under the cloak of fighting terrorism and defending democracy, would be a serious restriction of our civil rights and a long step toward fascism.
A better reform of campaign financing would be to limit campaign contributions to individuals registered to vote and residing in the candidate’s district. Ban contributions by corporations, political-action committees or unions. Then our representatives would truly represent their constituents, not Enron or some other impersonal entity.
William C. McCord