On Aug. 28, 2018 Gov. Brown signed SB 10 into California law. This bill is formally titled: Pretrial release or detention pretrial services. What does this mean? For years, many states across the nation decided it was time to end the cash bail system. Cash bail mean many people sat in jail because they could not afford to post bail. They lost jobs, families were disrupted, and it was not fair: poor people were automatically disadvantaged. For those that can pay, they are often strapped with debt for years to come.
When this edition of the Star News hits the stands on Friday, Sept.14, 2018, signature gatherers will be appearing in front of neighborhood grocery stores all over California, and of course here in San Diego County. They will be asking registered voters to sign a referendum to put SB10 up for public vote. This referendum is sponsored by the California bail industry, who, as you can well imagine, are not happy with SB10, as it will shut down a billion dollar statewide industry. Even Dog the Bounty Hunter has made a video complaining about it.
But this letter is not about what position to take on this issue. It is to encourage voters to appreciate our democratic process. Too many folks don’t know what a referendum really is! A referendum doesn’t change or eliminate a law or rule. If a governor, mayor or city council makes a new rule and many people don’t like it…a referendum is a built in way to take the new rule, put it on “freeze hold” so to speak, and give voters a chance to vote. It is a built in safeguard to protect us against unjust or unacceptable laws.
Please be aware that all issues, referendums, recalls and petitions have opposition. Sometimes these opposing forces will do whatever it takes to prevent voters from signing a recall. To this end, they will attempt to discredit the signature gatherer. Many times their comments have made it into the news. Fear tactics include calling signature gatherers “out of town operatives” “mercenaries” or “liars”.
Here in San Diego County, most of the signature gatherers you see are local. They turn their petitionions in to three main San Diego offices which have been serving San Diego for over 30 years. Many, such as myself, are seniors, and most of us are proud to be giving our neighbors an opportunity to have their voice heard in our local and state government.
Please do not let opposition fear mongers scare you away from exercising this very important First Amendment Right: The right to petition the government for grievances.
Vivian Marlene Dunbar resides in San Ysidro.