From the President

May 23, 2013

Let me start by welcoming our newest member to SCOPO for 2013, welcome aboard Sierra County Probation! As we continue to grow, it’s important for all of us to realize that we’re all facing similar challenges during these trying times, and that as a community of likeminded organizations we can and will prevail. As the only statewide organization in California that solely represents probation services and institution line staff, we must continue to focus our energies towards: educating local and state legislators about the role of probation, securing continued funding for the work we do, and advocating for legislation that has an impact on our officers and the community we serve to protect. I know that others from around the nation view our website from time to time, and I would encourage those brothers and sisters to do the same in their respective states. You are your own best advocate.

On the legislative front, our three bills - SB 199, AB 992 and AB 1040, remain in their houses of origin – more info on our bills can be found here: http://www.scopo.org/sponsored-bills.html. We continue to educate the state legislature about the importance of these three bills, and we will continue our work on getting these bills out of that body and onto the governor’s desk, like the two that made it there last year. Along with the work of our allies, we succeeded in getting the governor to see the importance of continuing SB 678 (2009) funding, at least for another year. Instead of seeing a cut of nearly three-quarters to SB 678 funding, the governor saw fit to restore a significant portion of the funding in his recent May Budget Revise; albeit with some changes to the funding formula. His new proposal now only cuts about a quarter of the monies that are currently being sent to probation departments. The proposal now includes an additional $72 million (for a total of $107 million) in SB 678 funding for county probation departments because of additional responsibilities incurred due to helping the state in reducing its prison populations. The Budget will now be reviewed by the state legislature and must be passed by June 15th.

I know many are skeptical of politics. I don’t find fault with those that do, but the reality of the world we live in is that if we don’t participate in the political process on our own behalf who will? Will it be those wanting to overturn our gains over the years, or the same entities trying to turn us into scapegoats for the worst economy in decades? Surely not! That is why we must do our part to educate legislators and the public, and take the initiative to speak out on our issues. It’s not only important for us to do our jobs well on a day-to-day basis, it is critical for us to take the lead in creating our own blueprint for success. Become part of the solution. Become informed about issues that are important to your members and our profession, then meet and educate your local and state legislators about the job you do and why it is important to adequately fund the work of probation.
We need to be at the forefront of the battle to preserve and expand funding to probation, and be an active participant when probation and related labor issues are being discussed. 

If we aren’t, then we’ll surely be on the outside looking in.

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President