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Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on May 15th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 10 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 10

It's about time!

The announcement was cryptic, in a sort-of boring sort of way. It arrived by e-mail: “Please find attached a press release concerning Assembly Bill 65. AB 65 was approved today by the Senate Public Safety Committee with a unanimous vote.”

But for those in the know, this little bit of legal-process jargon meant it was time for a celebration—or at least a preliminary one.

My regular readers will know that I have a few go-to issues. I get excited about elections. I don’t like Thanksgiving. Or windmills. Or cockfighting (I’m still having nightmares, by the way, after reading the Sun’s recent cover story on people who strap deadly blades onto roosters and toss them into an enclosed area to kick and cut away until one emerges victorious—yuck). And I think rapists shouldn’t get away with rape because of technicalities.

Call me crazy, huh?

If you’ll recall, some months back, I wrote this:

“Now, lest you think I’m a one-note canary, singing sadly about something of which I’ve already sung at length, I have two things to tell you.

“First (and this admittedly doesn’t really help my argument): I want to keep this topic in your face. I want it to be in everyone’s faces. I want to make you so sick of hearing me harp about it that you do something about it. That somebody somehow convinces the Senate Public Safety Committee—which stymied [Assemblyman Katcho] Achadjian’s first attempts at closing this [loophole] because of its arms-folded, nuh-uh-not-gonna-do-it stance of stalling any measure that could put more inmates in California’s prison system—to change its mind.”

I was writing about Assembly Bill 65, which would let prosecutors throw felony charges at people who have sex with somebody via deception. As in some guy uses dark or drink or both or whatever to pretend to be some woman’s boyfriend, and then sleeps with her. That’s rape, but not one California’s legal system took all too seriously in the past. Historically, there were big potential penalties involved for men who impersonated someone else’s husband to get sex, but that was where the felony line was drawn. Everybody else was in a different category.

On May 14, however, the state Senate’s Public Safety Committee finally took a firm step in the right direction and unanimously approved the bill.

     Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley, who worked with Achadjian on the bill, sent out a press release the same day.

     I don’t usually quote people in my column—because I like the look of my own words just fine, thank you very much—but this victory is too good to keep to myself.

     Achadjian said in the release: “For over two years District Attorney Joyce Dudley and I have been fighting to close this loophole. While our original efforts were stalled in the State Senate two years ago, I am grateful to the Senate Public Safety Committee for changing course and unanimously supporting our efforts this time around. Today’s action marks a significant milestone in our efforts and brings us one step closer to ensuring justice for all victims of rape, regardless of their relationship status.”

I couldn’t say it any better than that.

Dudley herself testified before the committee: “Too much time has already gone by. I am hopeful that today is finally the day when a significant step forward will be made towards righting this wrong.  We in government must work together quickly before another rape victim is denied justice.”

You heard her, everybody else! Too much time has indeed gone by, so let’s keep this thing rolling forward. It’s been a while since I last watched Schoolhouse Rock, but I know that a Senate committee isn’t the last step on the road to a bill becoming law.

Here’s to hoping that there’s no more stalling, that bipartisanship doesn’t backfire, that there are no more stumbling blocks in AB 65’s way. m

 

The Canary likes writing about progress, even if doing so isn’t as fun as complaining. Send comments to canary@santamariasun.com.