I do not doubt Sheriff Chad Bianco’s valor and devotion to protect the citizens of Riverside County. That said, Bianco’s approaches to challenges our county and country has faced have been very disappointing.
We need leaders who promote common sense thinking and solutions, not falling for the right vs. left politicization of every discussion. In the March 12 article, “Sheriff Chad Bianco critiques push to change Calif. Constitution to end forced work for inmates,” Bianco is quoted as saying: “There is absolutely nothing that the Legislature will ever pass that is going to benefit public safety, really even benefit the public. Everything is to benefit the inmate.”
Rather than using inmates as cheap labor, I would much rather see them incentivized to never land back in jail or prison again. There must be a better way to ensure that inmates have productive things to do while incarcerated (thereby enhancing safety for correctional officers) that don’t involve meager wages at jobs that probably won’t result in skills that will enhance a parolee’s return to society (thereby endangering the public’s safety).
But how will we arrive at such solutions if we have a sheriff who won’t respect the legislative process, which involves reasoned discussion and collegial relations?
Another example of poor leadership was Bianco’s refusal to help implement public health directives during the pandemic. By failing to support public health measures, Bianco demonstrated poor judgement at a time local hospitals were severely stressed and on the verge of being unusable by the general public (for emergencies or badly needed elective surgeries) during several surges of infection over a multi-year period.
How can we trust an elected official who can’t (or won’t) protect the public in the event of an attack? And a pandemic is just as much an attack on public safety and national security as a foreign invasion.
Perhaps the most disappointing of all was Bianco’s year-long membership in the Oath Keepers group in 2014.
By 2014, there was sufficient evidence that the group, launched in 2009, was intent on enforcing its interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, rather than those of U.S. lawmakers and judges.
The “constitutional sheriffs” movement, to which Bianco subscribes, is an example of such thinking — a recipe for anarchy and chaos, not a democratic republic.
Such thinking is as dangerous to a democratic republic as a president who thinks the vice president can overturn the results of an election. As imperfect as having three branches of government can seem, at times, to an exasperated public, at least no one person gets to determine what is constitutional and what is not.
One-person rule is a defining characteristic of dictatorships, autocracies, and monarchies — not democratic republics.
Riverside County needs a sheriff who respects our democratic republic, the laws passed by legislatures (which are elected by citizens) and our judicial system.
Debra Vogler of Palm Desert is a journalist, editor and writer who covers the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Email her at [email protected]