Government code, politics and uniforms

monosheriffCalifornia Government Code states that the Legislature finds that “political activities of public employees are of significant statewide concern.” To that end, the Legislature enacted a number of rules that govern election activities and strive to keep the influence of political office at a minimum in elections. One of the codes, which bans politicking in uniform, recently came to the surface in Mono County.

Mono Sheriff Ralph Obenberger had posted two photos of himself in uniform on his campaign website. When Sierra Wave Media contacted him about a potential violation of Government Code 3206, Obenberger said he took the photos off the website while he checked on it. He said he initially spoke to District Attorney Tim Kendall, the State Sheriff’s Association and the County Counsel. Government Code 3206 says, “No officer or employee of a local agency shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform.”

Sheriff Obenberger chose what he called the conservative approach among many interpretations of the code. He said, “I have discussed Government Code 3206 with a number of people, including attorneys, as well as, past and current sheriffs from throughout the State of California. From those conversations it appears that Government Code 3206 can be interpreted in various ways.”

Sheriff Obenberger said that to avoid any misunderstanding regarding the interpretation of the Code, “I have decided to act on the most conservative side of the topic, and remove all photos of myself in uniform from my campaign materials and websites.”

Sheriff candidate, Ingrid Braun, had posted a photo on her election website in an LAPD uniform from her past employment. She said since she is no longer in Los Angeles employ, Code 3206 does not apply. Braun is currently a Reserve Officer for Mammoth Lakes Police. The Mammoth Police Chief had earlier confirmed she is not campaigning in that uniform.


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25 Responses to Government code, politics and uniforms

  1. Seriously? February 21, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    It is absolutely ridiculous the attack on the press here. Yes, there can and will always be some bias in media or ANY other job or career field; however, Bennett reviewed a code, asked a legitimate question to those possibly violating it and then REPORTED that news. How is this a shock? A public official is open to scrutiny, especially when he or she is possibly (with likely intent) is violating the law.

  2. Yawn!! February 21, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    Wow! Ya no agenda here right Bennett! Just reporting concerns expressed by members of the public aka Braun and Fesko. Another example of how this site has become the National Enquierer of the eastern sierras.

    • Benett Kessler February 21, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      To you and others who have dreamed up your scenario of my life, this is about news and Government Code (i.e., the laws we live by) and nothing else. As I told Sheriff Obenberger, there is a firm wall between the ad department and the news department in this company. I suggest you try to experience a detached mental view of officials’ behavior. It’s not personal and it’s not run by anyone but me and the staff. It’s what the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate are all about. We are not cheerleaders for the other branches of government. Benett Kessler

      • Mongo The Idiot' February 21, 2014 at 11:22 am #

        If I publish the Scenario of your life that I dreamed up here, would you do the same for me?

        • Benett Kessler February 21, 2014 at 11:27 am #

          LOL. BK

          • Mongo The Idiot' February 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

            Here goes;
            Bennett always knew what she wanted to do, from the age of 11 or 12 she was attracted to writing, news, and media. The LP waitress job was just a situation of convenience that propelled her into her true vocation. With her career starting in the 60’s and 70’s, there was much political awareness and a stint toward reform. Bennett took interest in civil, human rights, and water issues. The years have taught many lessons and tempered Bennett the reporter, experience being the supreme teacher. This reporter sees Bennett as a generous person, someone who cares and doesn’t like to see people hurt. These have been interesting times all over the world. Thank goodness there was someone in the OV to broadcast it. Regardless of our own opinions I have understood that this forum is a place where it can be discussed.
            That is community.
            Standing up for beliefs and justice, that is Bennett Kessler.

          • Benett Kessler February 21, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

            I am really touched by your vision of my life. I only hope I might live up to it.

          • Benett Kessler February 22, 2014 at 8:49 am #

            Mongo, I don’t know enough about you to concoct your life scenario. Your comments do reveal that you have a keen sense of the beautiful, are searching for the true, and likely want to understand the good. Although, you fully get it that we all have the bad in us too. You are sensitive to the brotherhood of man and to individual failings and hatreds. The Owens Valley gives your soul something that other places don’t.

          • Mongo The Idiot' February 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

            Try This BK…

            Stanford Philosophy site where you may read interesting discussions about “good and evil” as well as The Meaning of Life.”
            Great stuff.

          • Benett Kessler February 22, 2014 at 1:53 pm #


        • Mongo The Idiot' February 22, 2014 at 10:50 am #


      • Ken Warner February 21, 2014 at 11:30 am #

        No joy is it? Being targeted by people (or things) just looking for their next opportunity to be snide.

        Yet you keep publishing the vile and venomous invective for the worst reasons.

        • Benett Kessler February 21, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

          You would be surprised how much invective goes in the computer trash.

          • Ken Warner February 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

            GOOD! Keep up the good work!

      • flaws in the system February 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

        Sometimes there comes along a person who since childhood or shortly thereafter, seriously considers dedicating their life to a career in public service. They pursue a degree in Public Administration, often while holding down a job and starting at the bottom of the heap, work long and hard hours, day after day, week after week, in total pursuit of serving.

        This person is a far cry from some elected official who finds themselves on a power-trip, or worse than that, in it for capital gain, something to do to pass the time in their retirement years, and the most precarious fact of all, whose only qualifications are that they received the most votes.

    • Desert Tortoise February 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      It is the press job to inform the public when elected officials do not follow the laws. That is why our Constitution guarantees a free press and free speech. If your political patrons are breaking laws don’t blame the press, blame those who are breaking the laws. It is not Ms. Kesslers job to make your boys look good. Maybe you should exercise better judgement with who you chose to support.

      • Corruption in government February 21, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

        Until it is absolutely illegal for an elected official to receive one thin dime, favors, etc. directly, or indirectly for themselves, their business associates, former, future or otherwise …
        the system you have in place will always be a corrupt one.

  3. Mammothite February 20, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    It looks like several Ralphbots have the day off today to give so many thumbs down to Benett this early on. Thankful of the founders for freedom of the press!

  4. Reality Check February 20, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    The only agenda that Scott Turner has is to prevent the light of day from shining upon the truth. This is how despots act.

  5. Bravo February 20, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    I would like to say thank you Benett for keeping up on the concerns of the public in this matter and bringing to light the fifty shades of gray that the current appointed (not elected) sheriff operates under.

    His interpretation of government code is selective and laughable. Glad someone is taking notice. It is humorous he goes to Tim Kendall for advice when he himself is breaking government code. Typical Mono County antics!

    • Benett Kessler February 20, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

      Actually, in Mr. Kendall’s case, he was not violating code regarding the petitions. Mono County currently does not require elected officials to follow the same rules as other employees in regard to politicking on the job. The State leaves it up to local jurisdictions to adopt rules re: political activity during work hours on the job. The uniform issue is, however, part of California Government Code. BK

      • abob the nabob February 20, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

        I think what Bravo meant was that, since Kendall can’t figure out that it is improper, if not unethical, to campaign on county time to county employees, he is not a very good source for advice on these types of issues.

        That is, one wouldn’t ask Bill Clinton about the propriety of having affairs with young interns, or Al Capone about reporting income to the IRS.


  6. Scott turner February 20, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Benett, the only thing crystal clear is your personal agenda!

    • Benett Kessler February 20, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      My agenda is to respond to concerns expressed to me by members of the public and to investigate laws that govern our behavior as citizens.
      Benett Kessler

      • Mono Citizen February 27, 2014 at 11:17 am #

        That’s just one agenda you may have. You clearly have others. But that’s what pundits are for.


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