Editors Discuss Megan’s Law And County Elections
Friday, March 5, 2010
GLORIA PENNER (Host): With me now to give their perspective on laws meant to protect our youth from sexual predators are Kent Davy, editor of the North County Times, and David Rolland, editor of San Diego CityBeat. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. Kent, what's the good of laws like Jessica’s Law, which prohibits offenders from living near schools or parks, if those offenders can actually walk from their legally located homes to a park, or a jogging track, or a trail?
KENT DAVY (Editor, North County Times): Well I think that’ll be one of the questions as this wave of emotion because of this case continues to build and to sweep. Those will be the sorts of things that will come up, as legislatures jumping on the anti-crime bandwagon will say here, we’ve got to do something. And that’s one idea I think will come up. It’s also important to remember with Jessica’s Law that it’s not applied retroactively. It’s only those people who have been convicted since it went to effect in… I think you said earlier.
DAVID ROLLAND (Editor, San Diego CityBeat): 2006.
PENNER: Mm hmm. Kent mentioned, you know, a fact of legislatures jumping on the bandwagon. Is that what you think is going to happen? That state laws are going to be changed because of what happened here?
ROLLAND: It always happens. We had a rash of tough on crime measures throughout the 80’s and 90’s. And we are… the state of California in particular is feeling the effects of those in terms of it’s ongoing state budget crisis. It costs a lot of money to be that tough on crime. And I thing we ought to – whenever something like this happens people get very emotional, and I think there ought to be a time-out where we don’t respond to these things legislatively until everybody sort of calms down and we can take a look at whatever. You know, if there are holes in the system you take a rational approach to filling those holes rather than responding right away when we’re super emotional about it.
PENNER: Well the whole idea of changing laws. Will changing laws really change the potential that people are going to get attacked by people who are sex offenders?
DAVY: Well there's always… We live in a dangerous world. It’s finite, there is evil out there, and bad things do happen. You're never going to be able to make it a completely safe world. But you can certainly look at various systems and go oh, are they set up right? Do they make sense? Deficiencies in Megan’s Law for instance. Megan’s Law has got 63,000 offenders registered in California, but many of those people are not people who are likely to ever be recidivists. They are not high risk to anybody. It includes people all the way from the 18-year-old kid who managed to be intimate with a 15-year-old girl to people who are very violent.
PENNER: We only have a few seconds, but there is one school of thought that once you're a sex offender you're always going to be a sex offender and that you should be put away forever.
ROLLAND: Well that’s the type of generalization and overreaction that I'm talking about. You know, sex offenders are a lot of different people who commit very different types of crime. So you cannot paint them all with one brush.
PENNER: Ok. Well, this week also brought some attention-getting political news. San Diego City Council member Donna Frye will not run for Supervisor and will not challenge Supervisor Ron Roberts. David, CityBeat encouraged Donna Frye to run for Supervisor. You broke the story that she won’t run. What's the real reason that she won’t oppose Ron Roberts? I mean, you’ve got to have the inside track on this.
ROLLAND: Well, I can only tell you what she told me. And she held her cards close to the vest here. She said basically she really just wants to focus on finishing her term as a member of the San Diego City Council. You know, I suspect there’s a lot more involved. I know that her mother who is getting on in years lives with her. I think there may be family concerns. I also know that being on the City Council has taken a toll on Donna Frye, and she is not the kind of person that takes that job lightly. She puts a lot of work into it, and she for years was beaten down as kind of the person who always said no to everything and was always on the wrong end of a 7-1 vote. And, you know, she’s been bogged down by pension issues and that’s not her passion. She did tell be before she made her decision that she was afraid that she was going to get bogged down in pension issues at the county as well.
PENNER: Ok. Well now, Kent, all the county supervisors are white and Republican. And her decision not to run could cement in a conservative board for the indefinite future. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? What?
DAVY: Well I don't know god thing or bad thing. It certainly does cement in a Republican board. I think it’s important to remember most people simply don’t care much about the Board of Supervisors. The county in fiscal terms is run fairly well. And the people where the rough spots with county government are, say, in the provision of food stamps. Those go to people who don’t tend to vote and don’t tend to participate. Or they spend a lot of time dealing with backcountry issues. Bill, Supervisor of parts of the backcountry, has a big political base underneath him and a more conservative elect.
PENNER: Just getting back to the race for Supervisor – a big Democratic registration in that district. Labor hasn’t had a voice on the County Board of Supervisors for years. Do you expect labor is going to mount a candidate in the week that’s left until the filing deadline?
ROLLAND: No I don’t. They're no going to. They're focused on passing a term limits ballot measure in hopes of shaking up the board that way. The power of incumbency at the County Board of Supervisors is very powerful.