Rumor has it that the Claremont Institute (CI), an organization some describe as a conservative think tank and others as an institution of far right ideology, located in Upland, CA, will present Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco with its 2023 Sheriff’s Award.
Depending on one’s point of view this can be perceived as either a high honor or a dubious distinction. I suppose were I a right wing extremist I would celebrate Bianco for this accomplishment. Afterall, as everyone enjoys recognition, especially someone who perceives they’ve done a good job and earned the honor.
I acknowledge Bianco has tons of supporters who probably perceive this recognition as well deserved. Others, however, are concerned—not so much about the ceremonial recognition–but more importantly about the message it conveys.
To present such an award to the Riverside County Sheriff while he remains in the throes of a Civil Rights patterns and practices investigation by the CA Attorney General (AG) Rob Bonta, and on the heels of CA Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley) calling on the AG to expand the investigation to include allegations of sex trafficking and drug trafficking by correctional deputies within the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, appears highly political and contrived.
And these are only the most recent concerns circling Bianco as he prepares to accept the Claremont Institute’s honor. By now the community if very familiar with his history, including being hauled into court during the peak of COVID 19 for failing to implement protocols in county jails warranted to protect the lives of the people entrusted to his care in county jails as well as his own employees who labor within those facilities.
There is also the times he seems to forget that he is elected to serve all the people not just those who agree with his politics.
The way Bianco flaunts his political ideology makes it clear the idea of county sheriffs being non-partisan has gone the way of so many other things is this hyper-partisan political environment.
Regardless, we much acknowledge that Bianco is entitled to his point of view just as we are entitled to ours. Among one of the many ways he often goes astray is when he allows his political point of view to influence the administration of his duties as a non-partisan elected official.
The Claremont Institute honor will be bestowed on Bianco during the launch of the organization’s annual Sheriff’s Fellowship program. As reported recently by the Guardian, the fellowship centers on a far right ideology rooted in the belief local sheriffs should embrace the philosophy of so-called “constitutional sheriffs” that assert their authority overrides that of the government.
Regarding one’s point of view, CI describes Bianco as follows: “Sheriff Bianco believes in service above self, and hopes that his priorities of God, family, and service will provide meaningful guidance and direction as the Sheriff’s Office engages in an unprecedented change of culture to positively influence and engage the Riverside community.” That is certainly their point of view. Meanwhile, many in the Riverside County community see him and his leadership quite differently.
CI partly defends its choice by noting Bianco was reelected with 60% of the vote. But, how much is one entitled to brag about such a victory when less than 19% of registered voters turned out to cast their ballots?
According to the CI program announcement, former U.S. Attorney General and “throw-back” to the Confederacy, Jeff Sessions, will present Bianco with the organization’s honor.
The event is scheduled for Thursday, November 9. If you hurry, there may still be some of the event’s $450 per person tickets available.