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Rights, Privileges and Stupidity

PERSPECTIVE - Leon Trotsky was on the money about one thing: he stated we have the right to be stupid, but some people abuse the privilege. [link]

Those are words that can apply to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Villaraigosa. Their support for ignoring state law concerning the consequences [link] of driving without a license is probably not just a violation of their oaths of office; it has also constructed another barricade on the road to resolving the illegal immigration crisis in our nation.

Put aside any opinion you might have on the practical merits or drawbacks to Beck’s or Villaraigosa’s arguments.

The debate over “comprehensive immigration reform” has been divisive enough without throwing more fuel on the fire. Adding this latest flub on top of the existing economic and social consequences of illegal immigration will make reform impossible for many more years to come. It will draw attention to the larger issue – granting licenses to the undocumented living in this country.

Drivers licenses will not make illegal immigrants any better or worse behind the wheel ( although I am sure some of them are already safer drivers than their legal counterparts).

This is all about pandering for votes.
The President selected the mayor to chair the party’s convention in Charlotte, NC  [link] to secure Hispanic support. Those votes are needed given the failure of the administration to push for immigration reform, even when the Democrats had the majority in both houses.

The party’s strategy is understandable, but it has an Achilles Heel: the license controversy will follow Villariagosa all the way to Charlotte.  While it will probably not be discussed in public on the floor of the convention, the media will use the event to connect the Democrats to it, through Villaraigosa, in what could be a damaging blow to President Obama’s campaign, especially if unemployment and underemployment remain high.

As the top legal official in the city, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s support of the mayor’s and Beck’s position is even more confounding.  Mayor Villaraigosa failed the Bar three times, but Trutanich passed and is licensed to practice law (maybe our City Attorney is taking the meaning of practice too literally).

He is already at odds with DA Steve Cooley [link], who is concerned about the city’s exposure to civil lawsuits resulting from accidents caused by ignoring the state’s 30-day impound requirement.

Driving is not a constitutional right; it is a privilege.  The consequences of driving without a license are clearly established and should remain so unless the citizens of the state empower their legislators to change the law.

Beck, Villaraigosa and Trutanich would prefer to make their own modifications on the fly or, should I say, from behind the wheel while in the fast lane.

(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as Treasurer for the Neighborhood Council Valley Village.  He blogs at Village to Village, contributes to CityWatch and can be reached at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )
–cw

CityWatch

Vol 10 Issue 18

Pub. Mar. 3, 2012

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