First things first, United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Sen. Mark Begich came to Girdwood on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Secretary LaHood was here to discuss how to make the Seward Highway a safer road to travel on. It would have been nice if the local media got a heads up from Begich’s office instead of letting us know two hours after the meeting concluded. After all, how often does a cabinet member come to Alaska? Press releases were sent out the previous week about this and other meetings, but a phone call and request to be added to the guest list would have been appreciated by the local newspaper.
How weird has the Anchorage Assembly gotten lately? Paul Honeman, and Dick Traini proposed and got a law passed that, if you’re charged with sexual assault, but not yet convicted, you can lose your chauffeur’s license. After some debate they narrowed the language of the law by saying the license is revoked only if you use your vehicle or uniform in the act. What? Can they make this law any more confusing? The law passed by a 10-1 margin with Patrick Flynn being the only person to vote for the non-extremists. Hats off to him.
So wearing a T-shirt and jeans is a uniform? If you drive a limo and wear a black and white suit, that’s considered a uniform? For some reason the Anchorage Assembly just can’t stop making bad laws. It’s as if they’re addicted to trying to win some fruitless battle against an invisible enemy. If a cabbie sexually assaults a woman and he gets accused, and the police investigate, he may then be charged. If charged he goes to court, the case is presented, a judge or jury make a decision, then he gets sentenced or set free. That’s the judicial process. Now, we’re trying to decide to pull someone’s license if they have a uniform on and get charged? A friend of mine, who is a lawyer, said, “You could get a ham sandwich charged with a crime in this state. It doesn’t take too much.”
Let’s make the law apply to everyone and not just cab drivers. If you are charged, but yet not convicted of sexual assault while wearing your McDonald’s uniform, you can’t serve fries. Any doctor who is charged while wearing scrubs or a white lab coat, we’re pulling your license to practice. What kind of uniforms do teachers wear? If it’s a clip on tie or comfortable pants, we’re pulling your certification. A construction worker wearing Carharts should have his or her license revoked if they’re charged, but haven’t had their day in court. It’s like a construction tuxedo, after all.
Wow. I mean these people just can’t take a breath. They can’t admit how absolutely absurd they have become. The Anchorage Assembly is going to tell you what your constitutional rights are? Apparently, Paul Honeman and Dick Traini know more than Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
What I would say is, “We will address each case on an individual basis and on its own merits. You can’t take a broad brush and blindly paint legislation on a situation just because it upsets you. We have a legal system and process in place that has worked for centuries, and we will continue to enforce it and follow it as we always have.”
That’s the type of talking that will get you elected as mayor, Mr. Honeman. Taking away someone’s livelihood because they are charged with sexual assault, while wearing a uniform, is over the top. It opens up the door to taking anyone’s job from them before they ever have their day in court. If I accuse you of a crime, there’s a good chance you’re going to get charged and the police will then let the District Attorney decide what to do. That could take months, which equates to lost income. Remember, in many of these situations, we’re not just talking about one person. There are families involved that depend on that money to live.
I went to college with a guy who was accused of raping a girl in his dorm. The university investigated for a month and found out that she lied. But it didn’t matter. By then his name was mud and he left to go to another college. A teacher back east was accused by a 15-year-old girl of sexual assault. The police arrested him based on her testimony. After his name was dragged through the newspapers for two months, she finally recanted her story. She had a crush on him and when he didn’t reciprocate the girl accused him of fondling her after school. She lied but his career was already over. His name was on page one for two months and when the girl admitted her lie, it was buried on page B-6, right by the coupons.
We live in a sensationalistic society. We’re a reality TV, IPhone, need it now, generation. We react with hardly ever thinking. When we see something that seems awful we simply assume that it is. When we hear about someone doing something wrong, we assume they’re guilty until they can prove their innocence.
The Anchorage Assembly needs to stop reacting so quickly to things that need to be looked at in more detail. As a society, we need to slow down and let the process that has worked for so long, continue.
Paul Honeman and Dick Traini don’t need to put speed bumps down every five feet of the constitutional highway. They don’t need to over-legislate just because they may have their eyes on a higher position within the Municipality. If we’re going to take away someone’s chauffeur license and means of income because they were charged, but not yet convicted, then shouldn’t we at least be able to take away a CEO’s rights after they got a bailout which included executive bonuses of over $18 billion, all compliments of Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer? One company bought a $50 million dollar jet with taxpayer money. Isn’t that a crime? By the way, they wear $5,000 dollar Armani uniforms and drive Mercedes S series cars. Keep an eye out for them. They’re dangerous too.