by Mark Dempsey
The “Cruella DeVille” of Sacramento County Supervisors, Sue Frost, announced her retirement via email, saying she was “honored” by her constituents’ “trust and support.”
Yet, “trust and support” hardly describes my sentiments. She has been a self-serving representative of all that’s worst in American society on the Board of Supervisors, even refusing to wear a mask during the height of our COVID pandemic.
But let’s not allow her support for the “Typhoid Mary” theory of pandemics to stand in for what’s worse in her awful tenure.
Here are a few highlights of her supervisorial decisions:
- Forty tenants petitioned the Supervisors for a moratorium on evictions like the no-fault one they were facing a month or so before Thanksgiving, Sue said it “broke her heart” to turn them down, but she was the key vote in rejecting their request. Doesn’t one have to have a heart before it can be broken? In Sue’s world, property rights always trump human rights.
As a member of LAFCO, Sue voted to allow Elk Grove to expand by roughly 1,000 acres. Elk Grove already had that much vacant land available in infill, and edge city development lengthens commutes, exacerbating global warming, and lengthens infrastructure (roads, pipes, etc.) roughly doubling its maintenance costs.
Expansion into rural land does, however, enrich land speculators, Sue’s real constituents. In fact, the region has 20 years’ worth of undeveloped infill, but “edge city” development proposals continue to pass, demonstrating the hold land speculation has over the region’s local governments.
The late Supervisor Grantland Johnson said it was widely acknowledged throughout the state that the Sacramento region was the most in the hip pocket of developers…. Not a contest we would want to win.
- In one of her latest votes, Supervisor Frost opted to extend the deadline for the County to enact climate-related mitigation a decade-and-a-half later than originally proposed (2045, not 2030). According to her, the source of CO2 is “fires [that] are larger and more damaging; exacerbated by bad forest management.” Why, record heatwaves couldn’t be connected to human generated CO2! —it’s the forest fires caused by bad, tree-hugger-environmentalists and lack of water storage that need to be addressed, not local measures to mitigate the disaster barreling down the tracks toward what’s left of our civilization!
Incidentally, the fires in the Amazon and Africa are much bigger, and had little tree-hugger forest management…Meanwhile, there are reports that, thanks to global warming, the “Gulf Stream” current in the Atlantic that warms Western Europe is unstable, and there are massive forest fires in Canada.
- Sue voted for both an $89 million and a $450 million jail expansion and vowed to continue to fully fund police because police and jails are what keep our neighborhoods safe.
That last bullet needs a little context to disclose just how despicable it is. First, there has been an enormous expansion of police funding in recent years. The U.S. population grew by 42 percent between 1982 and 2017. Police spending grew by 187 percent. Yet, according to Sue, crime is on the rise (that’s not exactly true, either).
All the police procedurals and courtroom dramas on TV imply that police solve each and every crime, but that’s fiction. In California, police solve roughly 15 percent of “blue collar” crimes like burglary and less than half of the murders. The police are hardly perfect at earning their salaries.
For one nearby example, from 2010 to 2021, San Francisco’s police budget increased by 15 percent, yet total arrests declined by 41 percent, and although reported offenses were up (+28 percent) crimes cleared (-33 percent) and total arrests (-41 percent) both declined. Knowing this should make the public skeptical of the effectiveness of those massive investments in punishment and policing.
And the prison situation is similarly unbalanced. With five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25 percent of its prisoners—roughly five times the world’s average incarceration rate, and seven times more than Canada’s per-capita rate.
Canada’s crime differs insignificantly from U.S. crime despite the huge difference in the number of people in cages. Even putting addicts in cages doesn’t cure addiction as well as actual medical treatment (rehab), and it is seven times more expensive.
Meanwhile, poverty makes people desperate enough to be criminals. The Federal Reserve reports 40 percent of the population can’t handle a $400 emergency, 58 percent live check-to-check, and 65 percent of seniors have only Social Security to fund their retirement.
Providing a dignified, healthy life for poor people is unlikely to produce instant results, but how bad do things have to be before we do something different? The U.S. already has roughly 50,000 deaths a year from opioid overdoses—as many casualties as the Vietnam War—as evidence of the depression felt by the population about the current state of affairs.
But Sue’s agenda is to enrich the land speculators and prison contractors. The County already spends 70 percent of its budget on police, courts and jails, too.
It gets even better. Do you know that jail she wants to spend nearly a half billion dollars enlarging? It’s currently full! Yet 60 -80 percent of the inmates are convicted of nothing except being too poor to afford bail. In Sacramento County, it’s not “Innocent until proven guilty,” it’s “Guilty until proven wealthy.”
The state of Illinois just eliminated cash bail. Washington D.C. has not had cash bail for years now, and has successfully managed crime without it. Gee, I wonder what Sacramento could do?