Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,

Does the Capitol really need all this new security? Multiple metal
detectors, barriers in Capitol Park, beefed-up security forces, cops
everywhere? Just because one guy drove a big-rig into the Capitol in a
suicide attack doesn't mean that the Capitol needs to be surrounded by cops.

What do you think?

–Bemused

Dear Bemused –

One of my favorite running pals back in the day was a great guy named Bobby
Crown from Alameda County. He was smart, principled, articulate and worked a
lot harder than I ever did. He had a kid who worked for him late in his
career and eventually replaced him in the Assembly, then went on to achieve
a few other things. Perhaps you've heard of this character: Bill Lockyer is
his name.

At any rate, about a dozen years ago, the kid uttered one of the shortest
truths I've ever heard: "The plural of anecdote is not evidence." What he
meant was that you can't write laws covering everything.

There's an epidemic of folks in the Legislature these days who fail to heed
that wisdom, which explains why there are so many fantastic, well-crafted,
well-thought out pieces of legislation out there. The MO of these folks far
too often has been, "Read a headline, write a bill." Read about a whale
choking on a cigarette butt? Write a bill to ban smoking on the beach. Your
uncle can't figure out how to file a tax return? Write a bill to create a
new tax-return form for him. Don't like paying $1 to use someone else's ATM?

Introduce a bill to ban the fee. I'm a life-long and an after-life-long
Democrat, but I never thought we'd need to have a Legislature of nannies.
Millions of problems take common sense and phone calls to solve; you can't
legislate everything out of existence.

You face the same issue on the security front. I remember back in 1967 when
Bobby Seale and an army of Black Panthers showed up on the Assembly floor,
decked out in full combat gear and carrying the biggest damn guns I ever
saw. That shook everybody up, but we didn't respond by shutting down the
building and frisking everyone within an inch of their life just because
they wanted to come in to visit a legislator, drop off a letter or deliver
some flowers to a pretty lady.

Whatever dangers we seek to save ourselves from by building the wall around
the Capitol, there are fewer things more dangerous than a newly minted
legislator with a fancy new title, a per diem, a stop watch and a short
fuse. And last I checked, they were still planning on letting those folks in
the building, security barrier or not.

The Capitol is the people's building and they have a right to both get into
it and also enjoy the beauty of it. Should it be secure? Absolutely, but at
what cost? As you try to enter the hallowed halls of this gorgeous building
that's chock full of character and rich in history, it shouldn't make you
feel as if you're walking through the luggage check at Hartsfield-Jackson,
BWI or any of those other antiseptic-looking airports. You're going into the
Capitol of the great state of California, not to a convention of drywallers
in Cleveland.

The only real security is social security, and even that probably won't
last. I say there are a lot of more important issues facing the people's
house.


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