Liddick: Enforce the law, protect our citizens
Just when I concluded that the proponents of Referendum O are right that the Colorado initiative and referendum process allows too much tinkering with the constitution, statewide and local laws, something came along that reminded me of why we have them.
Sometimes, citizens are so much smarter than the people who purport to represent them that a way must be preserved to break through the hedges of doubt, fear, favor-trading, inertia and political correctness that protect the pleasant world of power and favor. As is the case with Denver’s citizen initiative I-100, designed to force the Denver police department to impound any car whose driver is found to be without a license or proper insurance.
The initiative proposed a fine and a hefty fee for the release of any vehicle so impounded. If the driver was caught again without license or insurance, the car would be taken away for keeps. And yes, the initiative contained the radioactive phrase “illegal alien.”
Perhaps this was the reason the initiative was denounced by Denver’s political class, from the mayor on down. The city council, with one exception, also expressed revulsion for the measure, which more than one saw as being pointed at Those Who Must Not Be Offended.
The initiative passed by a wide margin in primary voting, but the city attorney announced that, essentially, it would be ignored. After a convoluted feat of verbal legerdemain over the meaning of “may” and “shall,” he let it be known that, despite the obvious intent of the citizens of Denver, the police would have the final decision about whose car got impounded. Given that the police department had already announced that impoundment would be both too expensive and too complicated, this was a decision to nullify the will of the people.
Too expensive? Too complicated? Too insensitive? Excuse me, but when was it decided, and by whom, that expense or the icky problem of offending someone’s sensibilities were excuses for not upholding the law? Driving without a license or insurance is contrary to Colorado statute and as far as I know, there has been no special dispensation for the tender souls of the City of Denver.
And if enforcement of existing law is not enough of an argument in favor of I-100, here are three more: Patricia Guntharp, Debra Serecku, and 3-year-old Marten Kudlis, killed while eating ice cream.
We all know this sickening story: Frances Hernandez, an illegal immigrant who had never been licensed to drive but apparently never lacked for a car, had a long arrest record, many of which involved moving violations. Denver cited him on May 24 and 31, and arrested him on July 18 of this year for driving without a license and resisting arrest, but did not report him to Federal authorities. Instead, they engaged in their usual catch-and-release.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff says his staff notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they arrested Hernandez in April, but now, no one seems to be able to find the e-mails. Consequently, the parties involved are bickering and finger-pointing. Several other jurisdictions arrested Hernandez as well, with similar results. That is to say, none.
I strongly suspect that if, on each occasion, Mr. Hernandez’ vehicle had been seized and held, his sources would have rapidly dried up. Perhaps he would have been forced to take the bus, and perhaps his victims would be alive today. If the objection to enforcement of the law is expense, we ought to ask the victims’ families what that “perhaps” is worth.
Political leaders should understand that fixing a problem is more important than fixing the blame. But to date, there hasn’t been much of this from the Big Wazoos in the Statehouse, the Governor’s Mansion, the Denver City Council or mayor’s office. Instead of ducking for cover, whining about a lack of resources or squealing that the whole mess is really someone else’s problem, these putative leaders ought to grow a spine and decide to enforce the law, protecting the citizens of this state. Is this not one of the most important functions of government, at whatever level? If so, abrogating this responsibility because someone else, somewhere else is not doing their bit is the ultimate betrayal of the citizens’ trust.
So, enough of the fecklessness of the political class. I-100 ought to be enforced as intended in Denver, and our solons should pass a law extending immediate impoundment penalties throughout Colorado. Put a stop to the truckling. Put an end to political correctness in the application of the law, and to the vote-buying implicit in granting special considerations, or lax treatment. Enforce the law in our state, without fear or favor. Protect our citizens.
Lest another 3-year-old child be killed, while eating ice cream.
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