Among those who addressed the commission during the public-comment portion of the meeting was Don Rosenberg, whose 25-year-old son Drew was killed in a 2010 traffic collision involving an unlicensed driver. The proposed change, he said, would invite more tragedies such as his family has endured. The man who killed Drew, he said, had been arrested for driving without a license some months before and had his car impounded, but he was able to retrieve it a day later. Incredibly, Rosenberg was silenced by commission president Richard Drooyan after his remarks exceeded the mere two minutes allotted to him. Speaker after speaker then stood to express support for Rosenberg and opposition to Beck’s proposal, providing a bit of theater for which the chief was unprepared.
Or was he? Beck told those in attendance that he was unable to address the specifics of the issue because it was not on the commission’s agenda for the evening. Given that this has been the dominant question facing the commission for the last month, one must wonder why it was not on the agenda if not to avoid airing a proposal so many Angelenos find preposterous.
The chicanery doesn’t end there. Writing to the Los Angeles city council on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild and the Southern California Immigration Coalition, attorney Colleen Flynn called for the recusal of Councilman Mitch Englander from any council action relating to Beck’s proposal, citing what she claims is a conflict of interest. (Englander has thus far been the only member of the council to speak out against Beck’s proposal.) “Councilman Englander’s uncle, Michael Englander,” Flynn wrote, “and his public relations firm – Englander, Knabe & Allen – represent the [Los Angeles Police Protective League], which has lobbied City Councilmembers to block Chief Beck’s procedural change.”
There are some problems with Flynn’s claim, chief among which is the fact that Michael Englander has been dead for 18 years. Harvey Englander, Mitch’s other uncle, is a partner in the public relations firm to which she alluded, though Mitch has never had any financial interest in the company. But why let such niggling details stand in the way of advancing the interests of illegal aliens?
Perhaps most disturbing in all of this is witnessing the further transformation of the role of police chief from one of law enforcement to one of political partisanship. Witness Chief Beck’s recent acquiescence in allowing the Occupy L.A. rabble to linger on the City Hall lawn for two months while the mayor and the city council dithered on what to do about them. On the issue of impounding cars driven by unlicensed drivers, Beck gave the game away during an unguarded, open microphone conversation he had during a break in the Dec. 13 police commission meeting. Expressing his dismay at the resistance to his proposed change, he asked the person seated next to him on the dais, “Why is it so hard to do the right thing?” In other words, this debate is not one with reasonable arguments on both sides, but rather one in which he is trying to do the “right thing” while those who oppose the change, including the great majority of his own police officers, are of course wrong if not utterly evil.
One might argue that the right thing for the chief of police to do is to follow the law. Why is that so hard?