Saturday, March 3, 2018
Coalinga CA incorporated civil commitment center, lost a tax bill because the patients can vote, now wants a bill to exclude them from voting
“[I]f the constitutional conception of 'equal protection of the laws' means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest.” Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528, 534 (1973), cited in Romer v Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996)
It is obvious this bill is retaliation for the voting preferences of those at the indefinite detention center at Coalinga.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
AB 2839, as introduced, Arambula. Voter qualifications: domicile: sexually violent predators.
Existing law requires the Legislature to define residence and provide for registration and free elections for the purposes of voting in the state. Existing law defines a “residence” for voting purposes to mean a person’s domicile, and provides that the domicile of a person is that place in which his or her habitation is fixed, wherein the person has the intention of remaining, and to which, whenever he or she is absent, the person has the intention of returning. Existing law provides that at a given time, a person may have only one domicile. Existing law provides that a person does not gain or lose a domicile solely by reason of his or her presence or absence from a place while kept in an asylum or prison.
Existing law defines sexually violent predator, for the purposes of, among other things, classifying persons for commitment to the custody of the State Department of State Hospitals for mental health treatment, as a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense against one or more victims and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior.
This bill would provide that the domicile of a person who has been adjudicated a sexually violent predator and who is committed for an indeterminate term to the custody of the department shall be the last known address of the person before his or her commitment.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Section 2036 is added to the Elections Code, to read:
2036. The domicile of a person who has been adjudicated a sexually violent predator, as defined in Section 6600 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and who is committed for an indeterminate term to the custody of the State Department of State Hospitals, shall be the last known address of the person before his or her commitment.
After sexual predators swung an election, new law would change California voting rules
BY RORY APPLETON
March 01, 2018 11:04 AM
Updated March 01, 2018 01:11 PM
Four months after the patients of Coalinga State Hospital doomed a 1-cent sales tax needed to maintain police and fire staffing in the city, the state Assembly is weighing a change to state voting law that would limit sexually violent predators’ voting rights.
Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula – the Fresno Democrat whose district encompasses much of Fresno County, including Coalinga – proposed the change on Feb. 16. In an interview this week, Arambula said he became aware of the issue after The Bee’s initial reporting on the failed ballot measure in November.
“I was shocked to find out that sexually violent predators were able to affect an outcome on something as important as public safety,” Arambula said. “This impacted the jobs of 23 police officers and firefighters who are desperately needed in Coalinga.”
Arambula’s one-page bill would set the residence status of any sexually violent predator committed to an indeterminate term in a California state hospital to his or her last known address.
Current law allows some patients at Coalinga State Hospital to vote in Coalinga, as the city annexed the hospital years ago to increase its population – a common tactic for small cities hoping to appear larger to attract potential businesses. A larger population count by the U.S. census also can bring more federal and tax revenues to a city for law enforcement, housing, transportation and other needs.
The proposed change must pass the Assembly and Senate before the governor can decide whether to sign it into law.
In November, a group of patients and former patients – organized as a group called Detainee-Americans for Civic Equality (DACE) – opted to oppose Coalinga’s Measure C, which would have raised the sales tax to pay for existing public services. Voting records show most of the hospital’s 304 registered voters voted against the tax, which failed by just 37 votes.
Robert Ferguson, a former patient and registered sex offender living in Fresno, is the community liaison for DACE. On Tuesday, he sent out a letter to activists and the news media blasting Arambula’s proposed legislation and threatening to do everything he can to keep the assemblyman from winning re-election this year.
In his letter, Ferguson said that patients at Coalinga are civil detainees, not prisoners. Many have been in custody for decades and will likely spend the rest of their lives in the hospital, he added.
Patients have no ties to their former addresses, Ferguson said, whereas measures in Coalinga do have a limited impact on them . The proposed sales tax hike would have increased prices at the hospital’s cafeteria, for example.
Arambula said he did not speak to any patients about voting in last November’s election this specific issue prior to proposing the law.
“The sexually violent predators don’t even use” community services in Coalinga, he said. “It’s much more appropriate for them to vote in the communities they will be returned to.”
The fallout from the defeated tax measure continues to reverberate through both Coalinga and the state hospital system.
In January, the hospital was locked down after patients began acting out due to a ban on certain personal electronic devices. The patients contend the hospital crackdown was in retaliation for the election, while the Department of State Hospitals says it was due to the spread of child pornography using the now-outlawed devices.
The patients have filed a lawsuit against the state.
The city of Coalinga has also filed an unrelated lawsuit against Fresno County, claiming the patients should never have been allowed to vote and demanding the election results be voided.
Coalinga proposed the sales tax after tough economic times led to a $557,000 deficit in its annual budget. The city’s Kmart, a major income producer, closed down, and income from its embrace of cannabis cultivation has been slow to materialize.