Friday, 14 June 2024

Calkins: District attorney’s race – a tough choice?

It is time to fill out our ballots and mail them in or go vote. There are obvious choices and a few guesses with little or no research. But the District Attorney race is different.

From following the local county news for many years, it is obvious that the DA position is very powerful, with significant consequences for all of us county residents. Most of the “justice” we see happen in our county is determined by the DA’s office. These cases are usually resolved via plea bargaining without the participation of a judge or a jury. I believe that many of these plea bargain compromises we witness benefit the accused without sufficient regard for the victims of the crimes or for the safety of the rest of us in the county. Regardless of the results, the DA is clearly in a position of power, probably the most powerful position in our entire justice system.

I knew of Steve Brown, met him once, and was familiar with his family’s longtime ties to our community. I did not know Susan Krones, however her experience as a deputy DA and her time served as a captain in the Army (I am a veteran) gave her a slight edge in my initial assessment. My next step was to do some research and determine who was endorsing these two candidates, and who was funding them.

Both candidates have a significant number of endorsements from residents and businesses as one would expect. I was most interested in law enforcement and justice system endorsements.

Krones was endorsed by the Lake County Correctional Officers Association. When trying to understand their criteria, I was surprised to find that they did not interview Steve Brown. Their endorsement was based on knowing Krones in her role as deputy DA. I believe they had little or no knowledge of Brown.

Krones also is endorsed by the Lake County Deputy District Attorney’s Association, not surprising as she is and has been a deputy DA and is a member of the association. But also, somewhat surprising to me, the Deputy DA Association chose not to even interview Brown to understand his views and plans.

These two endorsements indicate to me that Susan Krones was respected by these organizations based on their past experiences with her, but they indicate little about who would provide a better service to the county as DA being they chose not to understand Brown’s goals and objectives for the office.

The Lakeport Police Officers Association endorsed Brown, they also worked for many years with Krones and took the important step of learning how Brown would approach the important DA’s Office. Based on this endorsement’s consideration of both candidates’ intentions and objectives, I find this endorsement for Brown to be very significant.

My research on who funded (donated money to) the candidates was most telling to me. Brown’s funding came primarily from residents and businesses within Lake County, no surprises. Krones’ funding included some out-of-county sources.

In fact, her single largest donation came from Smart Justice California with a primary office in San Francisco. This group is affiliated with and follows the guidance of the American Civil Liberties Union.

This was a red flag to me. The ACLU’s Smart Justice is a nationwide effort and very active in California. Their goals are many and seem to be more for the benefit of convicted felons rather than victims and the safety of law-abiding citizens.

Their goals include:

– Reducing the number of the incarcerated (budget motivation);
– Bail reform, including moving to no jail time prior to conviction (supposedly to protect the rights of the poor that cannot produce bail, but a serious impact to public safety);
– Earlier and more lenient parole (again budget vs public safety);
– Reduce the consequences of being a convicted felon;
– Tie hands of prosecutors to control sentencing, limit jail time.

While these goals carefully implemented make sense in special situations (such as trying to keep young first offenders out of prison and into rehabilitation), recent experience has shown that there are many unintended consequences and public safety is frequently at risk when we become too lenient with repeat and violent offenders. So far “Smart Justice” according to my research has created more problems than it resolved.

Why does this contribution raise a red flag to me? When your largest contributor is a very aggressive ACLU-based movement, I believe you have a debt to pay. I think the operation of our county DA’s Office could be influenced in the direction of Smart Justice without proper consideration of our safety. I do not know that to be the case, but why take the risk?

The conclusion of this research is quite simple, and favorable for Steve Brown. The considerable experience Susan Krones has is of little value if one questions the way the DA office has been run in recent years. In my opinion far too many dangerous criminals have received very limited sentences due to plea bargaining and questionable DA office objectives. We do not need a DA that has been trained in this approach.

And as stated Krones being indebted to the powerful ACLU Smart Justice movement is problematic. While some of this movement’s guidance is proper, our DA should not be influenced by anything other than our safety.

And, the two endorsements previously discussed for Krones are suspect since Brown was not also interviewed and his plans were not considered.

In summary, I believe Steve Brown, an experienced successful local attorney with strong Lake County roots, is best prepared to focus on prosecuting our defendants in a manner that ensures the safety of our community.

No outside influence. No favors owed. He gets my vote.

Ed Calkins lives in Kelseyville, Calif.

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14Jun
06.14.2024
Flag Day
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