Gary Jeandron launches Assembly campaign

Palm Springs Unified school board member Gary Jeandron today officially kicked off his bid for the 42nd Assembly seat.

“I have dedicated my life to the safety and education of our residents,” the Republican said in a news release today.

“In the Assembly, I will continue to work toward improving the business climate in California while ensuring the safety and education of our residents.”

Jeandron, who is Palm Springs’ former police chief, has been laying the groundwork for a campaign for some time.

He already started to create campaign website and had filed initial paperwork with the California Secretary of State.

The 42nd Assembly District — one of two that cover the Coachella Valley — favors Republicans in terms of voter registration.

Two other candidates are also vying for the post: Chris Mann, a Banning Republican who operates a public relations and communications firm, and Chad Mayes, a Yucca Valley Republican who works for San Bernardino County government.

Both of them have previously been elected to municipal government posts.

This will be Jeandron’s third run at a higher office.

In 2008, after Republicans ensured he would have no primary election challengers, Jeandron lost the 80th Assembly race to Democrat V. Manuel Perez. And in 2010, Jeandron unsuccessfully tried to unseat Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit, a fellow Republican.

Should Riverside County be divided into two?

The decades-old debate of dividing up Riverside County has been rekindled, but at least one county official doubts the conversation will get very far.

The idea is simple in theory: Divide up Riverside County – now home to more than 2 million people – into at least two geographic segments whose communities have the most in common.

The concept has been discussed by Coachella Valley officials in the past. But recently, it’s been tossed about by a handful of leaders in the southwest part of Riverside County.

According to a report in the Press Enterprise, outgoing Murrieta Mayor Doug McAllister even brought it up during his closing address.

“I’m still looking for the first person to tell me it’s a bad idea,” McAllister told the paper.

“Now we’re at the mercy of supervisors, that I like personally but have no accountability to me as a citizen, making decisions about the place I live in.”

But as Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit and others have pointed out today, creating a new California county isn’t as easy as it seems.

First, supporters would have to gather signatures from 25 percent of the voters in the proposed county and send them to the governor’s office. The governor would then create a commission that would look at all the nitty-gritty details.

After that, it goes back to voters. State law says the idea must be endorsed by voters in the to-be-created county – and by the voters in the county that’s getting divided.

Consider the second vote the equivalent of an “alright, we’ll let you try this on your own” farewell.

“It’s a legitimate question and a worthy debate,” Benoit told us today. “Frankly whenever they begin to look at the practical realities … they might look at it and say it’s a mountain too tall to climb.”

California is home to 58 counties. The last one to be created was Imperial County in 1907.

Still, Riverside County leaders on the other side of the mountain seem intent on going it alone.

Just last year, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone suggested Riverside and 12 other counties split from the rest of California and create the new State of South California.

Except for attracting lots of headlines – including coverage when Stone suggested they name the state after the late President Ronald Reagan – the concept hasn’t gone very far.

Benoit recalls local leaders were discussing the idea of dividing up Riverside County back in the 1970s, but he can’t recall it resurfacing for at least the last decade.

Benoit noted that his office probably wouldn’t get involved in any discussions about dividing up Riverside County until there’s a greater groundswell of support for the idea.

“At some point, if it became a serious discussion, we’d have to get involved,” Benoit said today. “We’re a long ways away from that.”

John Benoit: ‘Not a good night’ for conservatives

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit has been busy tracking state and national results on his smart phone.

“This is not a good night for conservative values,” he said as he followed the tallies.

“I’m obviously disappointed at the national level. We need to take a good hard look at the way we’re going into debt.”

Benoit, a Bermuda Dunes Republican, was reserving judgement on the race for the 36th Congressional race, where his longtime friend Rep. Mary Bono Mack had a slim lead over Democrat Raul Ruiz in early returns.

“It’s certainly too close to call,” said Benoit, adding he was “concerned about that race.”

“I would hate to see us give up the seniority we have in the House.”

County takes another look at campaign funding disclosure

Riverside County supervisors on Tuesday will take another look at the electronic disclosure requirements they imposed on campaigns last year.

The rules were introduced by Supervisor John Benoit, who wanted to ensure that any county candidate who raises more than $5,000 files their fundraising report in an electronic format.

Supporters said the idea would saved time for county employees, who no longer had to process actual paper. And it would make it easier for the general public to track who is giving money to different candidates and campaigns.

Benoit is now asking his colleagues to review some “technical amendments,” saying in a staff report that “campaign treasurers alerted us to the fact that language in the ordinance exceeded state electronic reporting requirements.”

You can read Benoit’s report here.

If county supervisors give the green light Tuesday — and there’s no reason to think anyone would object to cleaning up the books — the Registrar of Voters and county counsel will formally draft the amendments and bring them back to supervisors for another vote.

Going off script

As you’ve probably read, Rep. Mary Bono Mack spent this week in the desert, where she held an invitation-only forum on prescription drug abuse and headlined a Coachella Valley Mexican American Chamber of Commerce breakfast event.

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit introduced his fellow Republican at Wednesday chamber event.

In his brief remarks, Benoit described the local congressional delegation as an “important asset to our region” especially when it came to securing funding transportation improvements and other projects.

“Many of these were in a program or a process called earmarks, which it’s almost got a very bad taste — pornographic almost,” Benoit remarked, prompting an awkward giggle among the 50-person crowd.

“I don’t know. It’s just amazing how that process is.”

Desert Hot Springs gets new supervisor

Residents in Desert Hot Springs, north Palm Springs and a sliver of Cathedral City got a new county supervisor today.

Rather than wait for the upcoming elections, Riverside County supervisors agreed to start following the new boundaries that come with redistricting.

The idea was proposed by Supervisor John Benoit, who thought that immediately abiding by the new map would alleviate any confusion about who represents whom over the next few years.

The representation agreement doesn’t apply to legal matters such as recalls or special elections.

Today’s 4-0 vote means Benoit is the point person for all Coachella Valley cities.

Under the old map, the northwestern edge of the desert was represented by Supervisor Marion Ashley.

Video game ban had local support

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled the state legislation banning minors from buying or renting violent video games is unconstitutional.

The idea – formalized in Assembly Bill 1179 – was passed in 2005 but never took effect.

However, it did have support from the local Republicans who were serving in the Assembly that year.

Both John Benoit, now a Riverside County supervisor, and Bonnie Garcia, voted for AB 1179.

Then-Sen. Jim Battin, also a Republican, voted against it and then-Sen. Denise Ducheny, a Democrat, didn’t cast a vote.