Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera County District Attorney David Linn discusses ballot propositions while Madera Chief of Police Steve Frazier listens Tuesday at a town hall style meeting hosted by the Madera Police Department.
Several issues on the upcoming November ballot were the topic of discussion during a town hall-style meeting Tuesday, conducted by officials of Madera and Madera County.
The meeting, at Madera High School, was addressed by Madera Police Chief Steve Frazier, Madera County District Attorney David A. Linn, former Madera County Sheriff John Anderson, and several members of Madera’s City Council.
The main topic was Proposition 57, an early-release initiative for prisoners in California.
“This is phase 3 of releasing non-violent felons,” said Frazier. “The reality is, AB-109 allowed their release, Prop 47 further allowed their release, so who’s left? If they’re not out now, under those two provisions, there’s something wrong with them, right?”
Frazier further explained the results of Proposition 47, which, according to him, had detrimental effects on the ability of police to combat crime in Madera.
“To give you an idea on the effects of what Prop 47 did to us, in 2014 we were working really hard to partner up with you, and 2014 saw a 25 percent reduction across the board in crime. Everything. Violent crime, property crime — everything went down,” Frazier said. “So again, at the end of 2014, Prop 47 comes in, and we look at a whole year, it was instantaneous. When the voters approved it, it went into effect. We saw violent crime go up 47 percent, and we saw property crimes go up 14 percent.”
One of the effects pointed out by Frazier was that Proposition 47 made drug charges misdemeanors, meaning that arrestees no longer had incentive to seek rehabilitation, which would wipe out their felony charges.
Frazier also listed the offenses committed that would be deemed eligible for release under Proposition 57, which include rape of an unconscious person, rape by intoxication, and human trafficking.
Linn, another outspoken opponent of Proposition 57, also spoke against the initiative.
“This is a bad law,” Linn said. “And in my profession, we have a saying: ‘Bad laws put innocent people in jail, and let guilty people out of jail.’”
According to Linn, the law would cause further problems with his office as well.
“It hasn’t even passed yet, and it’s causing me and my prosecutors problems and issues because we don’t know what to expect. We believe that someone is going to jail, and we’re arguing for it, for them to go to jail as a life without the possibility of parole, but really, there ain’t no such thing anymore. Not when the governor keeps changing the rules, and changing the milepost.”
The local Measure K, an initiative that would implement a half-cent sales tax for first responders, was also discussed at length. Frazier, though unable to promote the measure personally, stated that Measure K would, if successful, create $3.5 million annually in stable funding, and would allow for the hiring of more personnel in the police department, as well as providing funding for a fire station and a new ladder truck for the fire department. Crime prevention services for Madera youths also would be funded by the measure.
Madera City Councilman and Mayor Elect Andy Medellin, another supporter of Measure K, also promoted the initiative.
“AB-109 and Prop 47 have put such a strain on our police, that has brought us where we are today. So nobody likes raised taxes, but I think everybody in here will agree when I say our tax base will go from 8 percent to 8.5 percent, what am I getting for my buck? What am I getting when I go to Walmart, and spend an extra 50 cents on a $100 purchase?” Medellin said. “Annually, over $3 million to the City of Madera, to pay for those officers the chief talked about, to build that fire station, and that is to supply the service that the City of Madera’s residents, you folks, deserve.”
One resident, however, Khalid Chaudhry, voiced his concerns in regards to the measure, questioning the increase in crime.
“Did the mayor resign? Did anybody get fired for these numbers? These numbers are pretty fishy,” Chaudhry said. “So either it’s incompetence, or exaggeration to extort more money out of us.”
In response, Linn addressed his concerns.
“You guys have a really good thing going here. You have a great police department, a good fire department, and if you pass Measure K, you’re going to have the best police department in the State of California, and that’s the goal,” Linn said. “You want to win, you don’t want to lose, and you don’t want to get killed. And that’s what you’re looking at, sir — money is one thing, life is a whole other thing.”
The Measure was further defended by another Madera resident who came to the meeting.
“(They need to be) appreciated for what they do, what they’re doing for us, because it’s priceless. It’s their life that they’re putting on hand, every day to protect us,” she said. “And I feel that. I feel safe in this community, and at one point, I didn’t really like living here, and I wanted to move away, but today, I feel like this is my home.”
Other ballot initiatives discussed included Proposition 63, which would implement background checks for ammunition, and ban high-capacity capacity magazines; Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana in California; and Propositions 62 and 66, which would end or reform the death penalty respectively.
The Propositions, along with Measure K, will be up for a vote on Election Day, Nov. 7.