Saturday, December 16, 2006

Reason Prevails .... For A Minute

In October the city council of the San Diego County community of Escondido voted to deputize landlords as immigration agents. To some observers the council action seemed to be more a pre-election ploy by some council members to curry favor with the North County various klan chapters, including the Minutemen.

...the election of Waldron and Daniels can be seen as a mandate for the misguided – and decidedly not-conservative – policy of drafting city government into the national struggle over illegal immigration. Waldron was behind Escondido's 3-2 council decision to penalize property owners who rent to illegal immigrants. And Daniels generally supports the policy.

The Escondido city action was scheduled to go into effect in November, but a court order prevented that as the ACLU and several other organizations went to court to stop the city from implementation. The Escondido council was warned that its action was unconstitutional and that it could not survive a court challenge, but in the pre-election days the council ignored those warnings.

Now that the election is over and immigrants are needed in Escondido to do the city's dirty jobs the council has decided that it might not be a good idea to continue to fight in court. In a closed session on Wednesday, the Escondido city council decided not fight to maintain its new ordinance and abandon any legal efforts to fight to implement the law it so proudly voted to enact in October.

Council members defended themselves against any public backlash by avoiding a vote on their decision.
The council's action Wednesday was taken in closed session without a formal vote, council members and City Attorney Jeffrey Epp said.

"They don't usually use formal parliamentary procedure," Epp said. "It's more a discussion aimed at achieving some kind of consensus. Sometimes a council member makes it clear that he or she doesn't agree, but says 'I won't stand in your way.' "

Discussions with council members make it evident that if a formal vote had been taken Wednesday, the tally would have been 4-1, with Waldron voting against.

The council's apparent practice of taking action in closed session without a formal vote may technically violate the Brown Act, the state law governing public meetings, experts on the law said.
Such courage.

The next day some of those same council members who technically didn't vote to end the court fight came out swinging. Courageous councilman Ed Gallo, speaking on right wingnut Rick Robert's local wacko talk radio show, blamed the whole thing on a stinking liberal judge.

Among the callers that Roberts heard from Thursday were two of the three council members who voted in favor of the ordinance ---- Ed Gallo and Marie Waldron. Both called the regular talk line and were not invited guests, he said.

During that discussion, Gallo said U.S. District Court Judge John Houston, who issued a temporary restraining order against the ordinance after a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU and others, had an "empathetic attitude towards minorities."

Prodded by Roberts, Gallo quickly downplayed race.

"The whole thing hinged on one person making the decision, Rick," Gallo said during the call. "We ended up with a liberal judge. It was the luck of the draw, if you will. His decision said, 'You guys are out.'

Liberal judge. That's it. Not that it was a stupid law, enacted in the face of a promised legal challenge. A legal challenge that any judge would have to support. The Escondido council's action was a political ploy not an effort to make the community a better place. Still, it takes a big man to blame a "liberal judge," doesn't it Ed?