OC sheriff informal debate in Mission Viejo part 2

This is part two of the forum discussion between OC sheriff candidates Bill Hunt, Anaheim Assistant Police Chief Craig Hunter and OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens that was held on Saturday, March 27th in Mission Viejo. The event, held inside the gated community of Casta Del Sol, was co-hosted by the Casta Del Sol Republican club and the Leadership Alliance.

As part of the June 8th Primary Election, Orange County voters will select the next elected sheriff-coroner whose duties and responsibilities include providing protection for the 12 contract cities served by this agency.
One of the issues we seek in our next sheriff is executive leadership experience.

After drawing numbers, Anaheim’s Craig Hunter was selected to speak first. In his opening statement Craig stated: “for the past 20 years I have been involved in supervision and management, one level or another, which has exposed me to the things that I think are important. For an executive in law enforcement, which is forming policy and procedures, developing budgets______ appropriately, making cuts in a way that doesn’t effect my services. Hiring, firing, holding people accountable. All the things that really only happen at the highest level of the profession, and, at the same time, moving the profession forward.———–I support your Constitutional rights, all of them, starting with the Second Amendment. The right to self defense, which is not happening in Orange County at this time. That I support your First Amendment rights so that when someone does take your CCW away, you can freely go the Board of Supervisors and complain without being confronted with a SWAT team, as we saw in O.C. And you can know that I’m going to support your rights of “due process.” The Fifth and Sixth Amendments, which means that if I’m going to terminate an employee, I’m going to give them every right that they are due. And I’m going to avoid lawsuits like we have seen out this week in the newspaper. With people being fired without due process. It is incumbent upon the sheriff to believe in, and support, the Constitution of the United States. That is something that is not happening. Something you can depend on me.”

Note. Before wrapping up, taking a poke at Bill Hunt, Mr. Hunter stated: “There’s a long way from lieutenant to sheriff. Just like there’s a long way from deputy to captain which is the same jump.—There’s no substitute for experience.”

Sheriff Hutchens was next to speak.

“I would agree with Craig that you do need someone who has law enforcement experience, particularly at the upper levels of the organization.”

In covering her background in the LA County Sheriff’s Department Sandra stated” “I served as Commander than Division Chief where I was in charge of Homeland Security for the last four years of my career there.”

She than addresses the budget challenge, which neither of her challengers delved into, as she addressed the responsibility of staff cuts. She points out that she inherited a $52 million dollar shortfall.

“I will come in on budget. I am also looking at another cut next year of $65 million dollars. Another shortfall for next 1011, so what I am doing about that I’ve been working with immigration customs enforcement to get a contract to house their detainees in our empty jail beds that we have right now. We have about 2,000. County jail population is down right now. So we have the room and I will generate revenue for the county so that we will have to make fewer and fewer public safety cuts.  I have had to lay off employees. I’ve never thought that I would have to do that in law enforcement but I had to do that and I’ve made the hard decisions. It’s not easy but you have got to have someone in there who will make the hard decisions for you, prioritize what is important, and I work for you. Providing for your safety”

The last to speak in this opening round was Bill Hunt who stated: “When I ran for sheriff in 2006, didn’t I warn you then that we had a train wreck coming? Right! Isn’t that really what leadership is all about folks? Isn’t that fundamentally why government is failing us at every level today? We have a failure in leadership. This beds for beds program she is talking about. This is a county made scandal the way our debt is being managed. We have 2,000 empty beds in our field. Do you know why? Because every misdemeanor arrest is cited and released in the field. Given a ticket a promise to appear they’re not booked in our jail despite the fact that we have 2,000 beds empty in our jail. What do we do? We give them a ticket and off they go. And do you know what happens? They don’t show up and, we have 142,000 plus warrants in our system right now that nobody is actively looking for them. 32,000 felonies, 111,000 plus misdemeanors in your back yard. Think about it.  Do we want to rent our $100 billion jail facilities, that we paid our hard earned tax dollars for, to put federal immigration detainees in it? Are you kidding me?

“My policy.”  “Pay your bail or stay in jail.”

“In 2008, the last year we had full data for, 90% of criminal defenders, right here in Orange County, received the services of a Public Defender. Are you kidding me? The Public Defenders office folks, was designed for the indigent. In our Constitution, the rule book right, it provides for our defense if we’re charged with a crime. But we shouldn’t just be arbitrary, be giving free criminal defense services to our crooks. We need to screen them. We don’t need to send them right over. Our public defenders office has increased from $30 million to $64 million dollars in the past 10 years.

We’re subsidizing their criminal defense.”

Bill than praises Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio applauding his “innovation” and pointing out that Joe “looks at things differently.”

Panelist Lyn Schott’s question for sheriff Hutchens.

Musick Jail expansion. Sheriff Hutchens said that in addition to the county jail population being down “we have no money for any expansion right now.” She pointed out that Musick “houses low level offenders there.” Sandra adds that “we do have approval to build up to 7,000 beds but we don’t have a need for that.”

Her next statement is that Musick is “one of the facilities that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement people like because it’s a softer looking facility and these are detainees. We currently have about 1,200 of these detainees in my custody today. They’re people who have been criminal aliens who have committed a crime, they’re serving their sentence. when their service is over, they have an immigration hold. Currently what’s happening is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement picks them up, on the whole, they are flying them out of states in New Mexico and Texas at taxpayers expense. About 30,000 detainees across the nation. And with the Safe Communities Act, Immigration and Customs Enforcement projects there will be 50,000. So it’s going to continue to increase. If we have bed space for them, it allows them to keep more of these people in custody until they are deported, and it saves the taxpayer dollars for not having to ship them out of state.”

CCW –Panelist Ed Sachs Question for Craig Hunter

“A little over 18 months ago that you went before the OC Board of Supervisors and said you were, quote, “Comfortable” unquote, with the current system of allowing the sheriff to arbitrarily restrict permits. Can you tell us where you stand at this point and have you changed your mind at all?”

“Sure, first of all you misquoted me. And I think for the public to know, you know when you got some Hunt supporters on the panel, you know the questions are going to be tough. But, that isn’t what I said Mr. Sachs. What I said was, that and anyone can go and look at the You Tube that was put up there, that at the time there were 37 states in the U.S. that could challenge you. CA is a “may” issue state, and that knowing what my feelings are about the ability for people to come to me as the sheriff, and receive a CCW permit, I am totally comfortable with that because I know that I’m not going to be as restrictive as the previous sheriff or the current sheriff. And if the restrictions that I believe in, on the second amendment, are the ones that are the same as every other state that “shall” issue. No criminal background, that you go through the training, that you’re not crazy, and you know you want to go through the training and get the weapon.

So that’s where I stand. And I just say up front Mr. Sachs that I don’t appreciate your mischaracterization of what I said. You should have to introduce yourself as a Hunt supporter if your going to be on the panel.

The next panelist, David Smithey, asked. “To what will you be accountable?”

“So I have in front of me the Constitution of the United states. ” He proceeded to read it than asked: “As the sheriff of Orange County does every citizen have the right to keep and bear arms?”

Mr. Hunter responded “that’s a great question. First of all I don’t think it’s the federal government whose been infringing on the second amendment rights in CA. In the state of CA it’s some of the sheriffs, a minority of the sheriffs in the state of CA who are infringing on the second amendment rights by interpreting the law too strictly.

In CA the law is poorly written.

As I have mentioned before I am on the record as supportive of CA being a “shall” issue state, which I believe will happen. Through the United States Supreme Court MacDonald Vs Chicago it will never happen with CA legislature I am sorry to say. But that takes the discretion away from the sheriff and that’s the way it should be because we are all on a level playing field. We will be the same as the majority of the states in the country. Why shouldn’t it be the same for us as it is for millions of other people across the United States.”

Bill Hunt followed saying: “Our elected officials are elected to do one thing; primarily their duty. But every elected official raise(s) their hands to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. And folks, that document is the bedrock of our country.
CA is backwards and bankrupt on the issue of the second Amendment. Our Bill of Rights does not come with a multiple choice. If our elected officials are allowed to backslide on one of our rights, believe you me, and we’re seeing it in our country today, they’re going to backslide on you on the rest.

I have been on record since 2005 with some very strong positions. Positions, that until recently, I was being ridiculed for and I will tell you what I’m going to do when I’m sheriff. I’m going to issue a CCW to any law abiding citizen who is not prevented by law from possessing a weapon.”

Note: I would be remise not to point out that those remarks drew the largest applause from the audience.

Sheriff Hutchens. “Well, when I go to the academy graduations, and I swear in the new recruits, they take an oath of office and I read that to them and they repeat it back. And they swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States and support than the constitution of the state of California, and that’s where we have a different opinion.

I do support the Second Amendment. I support that fact that you can have many guns at homes and places of business. There is one thing called state law that we are bound up by, whether we agree with it or not, that talks about how a sheriff issues a concealed weapon permit and it must be for good cause; and that’s where we probably have a different opinion.

But this has been really exaggerated on how I have been applying the law.

When I came in I looked at the concealed weapons permits because there were questions swirling around about whom got them and why. When I did look at them I found people that didn’t even live in the county, who came here, because it was easier to get it. Some had convictions, so we cleaned that up. Now. Under Brad Gates he had probably about 300. Brad Gates was the sheriff of this county for 25 years. He didn’t give out a lot of concealed weapons permits. Under Carona he had 1100. I currently have about 840. The number fluctuates and my two opponents will hold me to it so I am real careful to check it every day to make sure I have it right. So it’s about 840.

I have actually issued 90% of the new and renewal requests for concealed weapons permits. So I would hardly call that restricted. As the sheriff though, its not about my personal opinion about the law. I think you have a sheriff that’s going to follow the law.
My deputies look to see if I’m following the law because I ask them to do it every day when they go out there. There’s been a lot of discussion about protecting people’s Constitutional rights.”

“If the concealed weapons issue is your number one priority than elect one of my opponents.”

Folks. I am going to stop transcribing here.  My suggestion is to find out where they plan to appear for future events so that you can see and hear directly from the three candidates.

Closing observations and comments. While the majority of the 120-130 in attendance live in this senior gated community, Bill Hunt, who lives in the neighboring city of Laguna Hills, had the most supporters in the room, several of which were not local residents.

Where were the reporters of the OC Register?  MIA.  Their failure to appear was a key factor in my decision to transcribe rather than paraphrase the candidates remarks.

During his presentation Mr. Hunt mentions “the men and women who service your city, who provide deputy sheriff services for the County, have endorsed me by an overwhelming majority.”

Isn’t that the same AOCDS union whose president Wayne Quint wasted over $100,000 of deputy sheriff funds supporting our ousted mayor MacLean with his record of violent behavior?

A special thank you to Linda Barnes, President of the Casta Del Sol Republican Club who made thisfree admission  event possible.

While its difficult to make predictions about upcoming elections, based on this event, I would opine that being an incumbent has lost some of its luster. The natives are angry.

About Larry Gilbert