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Official: Bonner to make bid for fifth sheriff term

Looking Behind The Scenes
By: Jim Ruffalo
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Visiting the notebook while cursing the Democrats for dropping the condom funding request from the stimulus bill. A thousand jokes gone just like that ...
But life goes on, especially at the Placer County Sheriff’s Office where the Good Sheriff, Ed Bonner, is making it official that he will run for a fifth term.
“I love the job and honestly, I’m not sure what I would do if I didn’t do this,” he said as a reason for jumping once more into the breach.
Bonner was first elected in June of 1994, and on the 11th of this month will celebrate 35 years with the department.
The Del Oro High grad — and there are a lot of those with the department — hearkened back to his prep track and field days for the correct comparison, insisting that being the sheriff is a very similar to running a relay.
“Successful relay teams have seamless hand-offs, and while we have excellent people ready to run that next leg, I’m not ready to pass the baton just yet,” he said.
“Fun” is not a word he wants to use to describe the job, not when just about each day has at least one report of human tragedy. But just visit his office for a while and it’s plain to see that he enjoys his work.
Of course, that could change a bit in light of the red ink flowing uphill from Sacramento.
Bonner hasn’t been forced to lay off any deputies or staff, yet, but there are a growing number of unfilled vacancies in his department.
That is somewhat inexplicable, and not only just for Placer County, seeing as how the very first duty of any elected official is public safety. Not that you’d realize that from what passes for county, state and federal budgets these days.
“There’s no denying that we’re in the midst of the worst fiscal crises I’ve seen first-hand,” he says, failing to assess proper blame for the reasons. Instead. he then ticks off a couple of ideas to alleviate the problems caused by dwindling funding.
“We’re looking into utilizing more volunteer efforts, and there are also ways to maximize resources by working closer with police partners,” he said.
On the other hand, as fast as he’ll come up with ways to save money, the bigger governments are working just as hard to cost him more. Case in point is the prison system.
Sooner or later, the state and feds are going to start releasing prisoners way before the cons’ terms have expired. Either those releasees will commit more crimes once they hit the bricks, or else counties will be forced to house more of them in local jails.
To make that insanity worse, we now hear that state prisoners will be required to have mandated workout gyms, quiet room for meditation (whatever happened to solitary confinement?) and at least three new prison hospitals for their well-being.
“It’s going to be a real problem, and will be very soon,” Bonner lamented in what can only be described as an understatement.
So, considering that Bonner could retire with relative ease, and that the current fiscal follies will do absolutely nothing to make his job any easier, why is he going for a fifth term?
“It’ll be a challenge, and I like challenges,” he said.
He had better! ...
Up in smoke: Local police aren’t the only ones getting the stinky end of the stick when it comes to funding these days. Consider the various departments which make up Placer County’s Bravest.
Yvonne Lewis, a board member with the Newcastle Fire Protection District, told me the other day that more than a few local firefighters still haven’t been paid for their out-of-district work on last summer’s firestorms.
“There are locals from those strike teams who got the usual 45-day delay, but that’s passed and still no pay for them,” she said, adding that there are now whispers of having the firefighters receive IOUs in lieu of greenbacks.
And Newcastle is not alone. Sources from two other local districts expressed similar woes but declined to go on the record. Reportedly, firefighters from the various Placer County agencies are still owed at least $200,000 in back wages.
Also, the City of Auburn is still due close to $40,000 from the state for prevention work completed in the canyon.
Don’t know about you, but I’m willing to bet real money that not a single state legislator has yet to be paid with an IOU. Even the per diem comes in cash.
Let’s be completely clear with this. If a taxpayer’s choice comes down to who should be paid on time first, firefighters or legislators, it won’t be too difficult to predict which choice will be made. 
Jim Ruffalo’s column runs Sundays in the Journal. He can be reached at jimruffalo@yahoo.com.