Orange County continues to be the epicenter for laws that both violate the civil rights of registered citizens as well as decrease public safety. The latest attempt comes in the form of a bill introduced in Sacramento by Assemblyman William Brough of Dana Point (AB 201). If it becomes law, the bill would allow cities and counties to pass any law they wished to restrict where a registered citizen could visit. That could return us all to the former Land of Oz where a registered citizen could legally walk on a pier/go to the beach/visit the dog park in one city, but could not walk on a pier/go to the beach/visit the dog park in another city without the threat of going to jail up to one year or be fined up to $1,000.
As we all know, the cumulative effect of those laws was that many registered citizens were afraid to travel, a right protected by the state and federal constitutions. Even if you could start in your home town where there was no such ordinance and end up in your parent’s home town where there was no such ordinance, you had a real fear of driving through a fast food restaurant at a location in between because that city might have a playground and therefore be “off limits” even though no signs were posted to warn you.
Perhaps In order to prevent being upstaged by Assemblyman Brough on this issue, the chief of staff to the Orange County District Attorney (DA), Susan Kang Schroeder, recently stated in an article on the front page of the Orange County Register (Feb. 17) that “her office would again move to restrict sex offenders in county parks and encourage cities to re-enact the abandoned ordinances.” If true, that statement is outrageous!. Why? The California Court of Appeals ruled more than a year ago that such ordinances violate the state constitution and are preempted by state law, a decision which the California Supreme Court refused to review. As attorneys and officers of the courts, Schroeder and her boss, the DA, are required to comply with court decisions even if they do not agree with them.
We will watch with great interest any attempts made by the Orange County DA and/or his staff to once again lobby cities in Orange County to pass such ordinances. Their past attempts resulted in the passage of illegal ordinances in 14 cities within Orange County, actions taken only after the DA promised the cities that such ordinances were constitutional. Yet when the ordinances were challenged in court, the DA’s promises proved to be a mirage and many of the cities were sued. The cost of those lawsuits, of course, was borne by the cities, not the DA. Once bitten, twice shy? It’s time to wake up, cities in Orange County. It’s time to stop relying upon the DA’s misrepresentations and platitudes. It’s time to start thinking for yourselves.
By Janice Bellucci
Related: Janice’s Journal