A few weeks ago, I wrote here on PJ Media of a proposal to change the way Los Angeles Police Department officers deal with unlicensed drivers and the cars they are found to be driving. As things now stand, when an LAPD officer stops a driver for a traffic violation and finds him to be unlicensed, the officer issues a citation (or in some circumstances makes an arrest) and, under the authority of the California Vehicle Code, impounds the car for 30 days. This, say advocates for illegal immigrants, imposes an unfair burden on those whose immigration status precludes them from obtaining a driver’s license in the first place.
Among those advocates for illegal immigrants are the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, and the man he appointed as police chief, Charlie Beck. Although one may infer that it is the mayor who instigated the proposed change to this policy, it is Chief Beck who has publicly advocated that unlicensed drivers be granted the opportunity to avoid having their cars impounded by turning them over to a licensed driver they might be able to summon to the scene.
Fine. The debate over how hospitable to illegal aliens Los Angeles will be is a long-running one, but in this latest attempt to advance their cause the illegal alien lobby, with the willing participation of Chief Beck, is using subterfuge in an attempt to avoid engaging in that very debate. Under the Los Angeles city charter, it is the civilian police commission that sets policy for the police department, subject to review by the city council. By calling his proposed change a modification of “procedure” rather than of “policy,” Beck is claiming the authority to impose it on his own, without the endorsement of his titular superiors. This is a naked attempt on the chief’s part to provide political cover to the commission, the city council, and the mayor.
The irony is that only one person on the police commission, all of whose members were appointed by the mayor, has expressed any reservations about the proposed change, and that the change would likely find little opposition in the famously left-leaning city council. Why not call this proposal what it transparently is, i.e., a change in policy, and let the mayor, his political appointees, and the city council go on the record as to where they stand?
Because neither the mayor, nor his political appointees, nor the members of the city council like to hear their phones ring with calls from angry constituents, that’s why. Los Angeles may have long ago been lost to the forces of liberalism and political correctness, but there are still remnants of resistance that can be mobilized when such foolishness as this tickles the public’s antennae. Clearly it was the hope of all involved that the change would shimmer into permanence while escaping public scrutiny and the hue and cry that might result had they been more forthright with their intentions.
Sadly for them, hue and cry is exactly what they got. The issue became fodder for local talk-radio hosts, including L.A.’s high priests of the radio rabble-rousers, KFI’s John and Ken, the mere mention of whose names sends a chill up the spine of most Southern California politicians. Listeners were encouraged to attend a subsequent meeting of the police commission, this one held on Jan. 17 at a church in the San Fernando Valley, a more conservative area of Los Angeles if indeed any can be described as such. Hundreds did so, prompting Beck and the commission to take the legally suspect action of limiting access to the meeting room.