Madera County Sheriff John Anderson was featured speaker before a capacity crowd March 2, at the monthly meeting of the Democratic Club of Oakhurst.
The gathering at Sweetwater Steak House greeted the Sheriff's discussion of "Law Enforcement Challenges in Eastern Madera County," followed by an extended question and answer session.
Substantial time was devoted to discussion of gun safety. Anderson quickly pointed out that all of the primary components of firearms control being discussed on a national basis have already been the law here in California for at least two decades.
Charles Richie of North Fork observed, "I was surprised to learn from Sheriff Anderson's remarks that many of the elements included in President Obama's proposals are already required in California, such as criminal background checks, the ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to a specific number of rounds. I continue to believe that President Obama's proposal should be implemented nationwide, but I'll be taking a much closer look at the California Penal Code so that I have a better understanding of the law here at home."
"It was interesting to hear Sheriff Anderson say that assault rifles have been outlawed in California since the 1990s," said club member Ellie Schermerhorn. "Somehow, we've managed to survive in this state without them, and this tells me that the president's proposals to reduce gun violence are on a firm footing."
Anderson was asked about the recent tensions at the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians and he said he spent most of the day before (March 1) in Sacramento with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and attorneys for the parties involved in the recent takeover of a tribal office at the Rancheria by a faction of the tribe claiming to be the rightful leaders of the tribe.
Anderson said nothing of any consequence was resolved and it would be difficult forecasting where the tribal situation will go from here.
Those in attendance were pleased to learn that despite significant challenges brought about by economically necessitated budgetary restraints over the last five years, including the loss of 17 deputy sheriff positions, crimes in some categories decreased in Madera County during 2012.
While drugs remain a major problem in the county, Anderson reported that methamphetamine continues to be a priority target, although actual manufacturing in county "meth labs" has been all but eliminated in recent years. Usage, however, is a different matter.
Briefly outlining the enormous frustrations often encountered when dealing on a daily basis with the challenges of constraining and often confusing bureaucratic regulation, Anderson candidly observed that, although not in agreement with him at every turn, "Jerry Brown is a welcome change."
Anderson also discussed the new Madera County Emergency Warning System and promotion of the Sheriff's Office's "Elder Orphans" program - a free service calling plan for those who live alone.
Summarizing his perspective on Anderson's presentation, Richie said "It was quite valuable having the Sheriff attend our club meeting. I think we've gotten to know him better as a person, in addition to learning more about his department and its related issues affecting the county."
The next breakfast meeting of the Democratic Club of Oakhurst is scheduled for 8:45 a.m., Saturday, April 6, at Sweetwater Steak House. The public is invited to attend regardless of party affiliation.
Local coordinator Ellie Garabedian will discuss The California Disclose Act that has been reintroduced and is beginning in the Senate as SB 52, "The California Clean Money Campaign" authored by Senators Mark Leno and Jerry Hill.