Who wouldn’t want to protect their kids to the utmost when it comes to shielding them from sexual predators? Well, don’t count on the plethora of predator-in-the-park/library/school ordinances that ultra-conservatives in Orange County hastily pasted together to prevent pedophiles and others from coming near your kids. Like a row of dominoes, they are falling by the wayside as the courts find them unconstitutional or unenforceable.
The latest to hit the skids is the Irvine law, known as the Irvine Child Safety Ordinance. Only one person, Jean Pierre Nguyen, has been arrested under the “perv-in-the-park” ordinance and that case was subsequently dismissed by the Superior Court in Santa Ana. Both the Liberal OC and the OC Weekly have written multiple articles on the problem with the Irvine and Orange County ordinances and an email from the County Public Defenders Office to the Weekly detailed the issue saying they filed a demurrer to the complaint against their client charging the ordinance was preempted by state law and that it was unconstitutionally vague and overreaching.
From the Weekly email:
In sum, on November 27, 2012, the Superior Court of Orange County ruled that Irvine’s Child Safety Zone ordinance is void and unenforceable because it is unconstitutional and the subject area (sex offenders) is preempted by State Law. Judge Dickey agreed with all of the legal arguments raised by Mr. Nguyen.
The ruling in the Irvine case comes on the heels of a case heard by the State Appellate Court in Santa Ana on November 15th, in which the Orange County sexual predator ordinance was found to violate the California Constitution’s preemption clause. California law prevents some, but not all, registered sex offenders from entering public parks. The ruling by a three member panel of the court will be sent to the full Appeals Court where it may be reviewed or allowed to stand as-is. In the appellate case, by the way, the defendant, Hugo Godinez, was required to register as a sex offender for a sexual battery offense. He was attending a company “mandatory” Cinco de Mayo party in Mile Square Park and was wearing a GPS tracker at the time.
Even Tustin’s own park-perv law was struck down in September this year. That case involved Randolph Spencer Carr, a registered sex offender from Santa Ana who had a prior rape conviction. Not much is known about the case or the dismissal as the city fathers did not seem to feel there was any danger in their ordinance being dumped. The ordinance, signed by then mayor Jerry Amante was just over a year old when it failed the smell test.
Dan Chmielewski of the OC Lib points out the real problem, with these local ordinances. Stating that Councilman Jeff Lalloway was “disturbed” that an “activist” court should allow cities to govern their own parks, “especially when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable in our society”, he pointed out that Lalloway and OCDA Tony Rackauckus are both lawyers that should have done more homework to make sure their respective ordinances were ironclad. He goes on to point out that, even had the ordinance stood, it would only cover a small number of child sexual predators who actually prey on new victims. In fact, he says, your kids are more at risk being molested by a family member than a stranger in the park.
Even more so, the so-called “child safety zones” are unenforceable. Most are reactive, meaning they don’t prevent anything. Cops can only respond after a child has been molested or, at least, an attempt made. In Nguyen’s case, he went to the Irvine Park to play tennis. The cops were tipped by his probation officer and were waiting for him. His original offense that merited registration was from 1996, although he was convicted earlier in the year of indecent exposure. But, officers receiving a tip (and, why didn’t the probation department move to stop Nguyen to begin with?) is exceptional. How often would that happen? And, even without the ordinance, Nguyen could have been arrested for violating his probation.
Why all the local ordinances in the first place? How about the kudos politicians receive from each other and an unsuspecting public that mistakenly believe these laws will actually protect their kids. It
doesn’t look good for the county sheriff or the district attorney to appear weak on sex offenders. They have little concern that offenders all get lumped into one category. And, while the Public Defenders Office has issued a statement that the appellate case invalidates these ordinances, Rackauckus’ view is that the decision, indeed, only applies to the Godinez case:
I believe that protecting children from sex offenders is one of the highest priorities in law enforcement. We will continue to review cases involving sex offenders in parks as they are presented on a case-by-case basis. We also hope to present our position concerning preemption to the Court of Appeal and receive its decision on this important issue.
Yet, an ordinance that prevents a sex offender from living within 200 feet of a school or that prevents them from entering city parks may look great on paper but it really only drives them out of the immediate area (or underground) and then only if they have a fear of getting caught. The Megan’s Law website is a great tool for both law enforcement and the public but, as a parent, when was the last time you checked it? And, considering the number of exemptions allowed for inclusion in the database, how accurate is it? Carr was listed on the database with a disclaimer that he may have relocated. There is a photo of unknown date but no probation or parole information on him either.
On expertlaw.com, an informational article on Megan’s Law agrees that sex offenders may go underground:
Another concern relates to the fact that Megan’s Laws seem to discourage sex offenders from complying with registration laws. While it is typically a felony offense for a sex offender to fail to register his residence as required by law, at least twenty percent of convicted sex offenders do not comply with the registration requirement.
It also agrees with Chmielewski’s assertion that children are at greater risk of being molested by a family member or friend, not from strangers.
So, where does this leave parents who are desperate to protect their children? While the courts and the politicians try to work through this remember that, even with bulletproof laws, the police have no responsibility to protect the individual, not even your child. You do, however. Ultimately, the responsibility for your child’s safety is supervision by you or someone you trust. In the case of nannies and babysitters, they should be properly vetted. When going to the park or other public venues, nothing replaces direct supervision and a watchful eye. Put away the phone and other distractions while your child plays and be aware of people who don’t seem to belong in the area or who seem to be taking an extraordinary interest in children. Don’t let your fear keep you from calling the police if you have suspicions. In the end, the best protection your children can have is you.
We all have seen the stereotypical cop, eating a fresh donut from DK’s Donuts (hey, they are the best) and washing it down with a cup of hot coffee. The latest version to be put forth is the Values.com “Pass it On” commercial, where the sterotypical punk kid with the nose ring, sneer and skateboard at the bus stop picks up a left-behind purse of some stereotypical poor African American woman, chases down the bus and returns the purse to said grateful woman (sans reward), all under the watchful eye of two cops who just happened to have a box full of donuts in their squad car and offer up one of the delicacies as a replacement reward. Wow. Makes me feel good just watching it.
Of course, if they wanted to be politically correct, they would have replaced the coffee and donut with a latte and chocolate croissant from Starbucks. I rarely see cops hitting the donut shop these days but I often run into the city’s finest at the Starbucks in Larwin square. I’m sure the proximity to the station is a factor. And, before you say anything, yes, I am a law enforcement officer (I even used to be a cop) and I rarely eat donuts…unless they are just staring me in the face.
But law enforcement has seemingly changed their style and not even Starbucks is good enough for some. In a series of stories, the OC Weekly reported on the protests in Anaheim on July 29th and other days. In fact, most of their reporting force was out on the mean streets looking for a story. And, they found much to report on. R. Scott Moxely, Brandon Ferguson and even Chief Editor, Gustavo Arellano came out to sniff out the news.
Much was said regarding the presence of the police. Initially showing up at the original protest in riot gear, we learned that officers came from as far away as Los Angeles County and that, even though Anaheim has a police helicopter program, other choppers were called in from Orange County and Los Angeles Sheriffs Departments. The Weekly also got a hold of the “Anaheim Incident Action Plan”, a 43 page super-secret document which outlines a massive multi-agency response by the police as Ferguson put it, “…as if the city’s finest were anticipating the assassination of Mickey Mouse himself”. From the Weekly:
In case you were wondering, cops don’t voluntarily share these sort of things with the media–in fact, recipients of the document were expressly warned not to share it with anyone outside of a “need-to-know” basis. After use, it was to be destroyed in accordance with “Department of Homeland Security policy.”
Wow. That sounds ominous. Well, through many layers, links and promises to a couple of low-level bureaucrasts in shadow governments, we came up with our very own copy of the Plan. It is thorough and comprehensive, to say the least. As Ferguson of the Weekly said, there is too much to go over in one post. And, as we are primarily Our Town Tustin with just a little Orange County at-large thrown in, this will probably be our only post on it.
Although the Weekly attributed Incident Command to failed sheriff’s candidate and Deputy Chief, Craig Hunter, the Plan actually lists several in-charge people tasked with the overall mandate to allow protesters their First Amendment Rights while maintaining law and order. It puts all officers on high alert and called out ten neighborhoods named after major streets as hot zones that called for, you guessed it, “Hot Zone Protocol” to be used in those areas. The areas, of course, are primarily where working class Mexican Americans live. Others sometimes have referred to it as the “Flatlands”. I’m sure there are more derogatory terms, but I digress.
You see, it was the meals I was interested in (riots are a dime a dozen. I’ve been through two of them). The saying goes, an army travels on its stomach. So, does better food make better riot police? The Incident Plan included a section on “Rest and Rehabilitation” of the troops. It said, “Meals will be provided to all personnel assigned to the incident and may be obtained at the La Palma Park Staging Area”. Personnel were also encouraged to bring their own water and snacks (I don’t make this stuff up. I have proof). So, what did they get for lunch?
According to Gustavo Arellano and the folks at the OC Weekly, they ate quite well. In a report by Moxely, Arellano -who had recorded several arrests in his posts- saw riot police stuffing their face at a gourmet food truck called BACONMania. Also hosting the event participants was the Rolling Sushi Van. Both of these trucks have been at multiple food events in and around Orange County and I have even had the pleasure of sampling BACONMania. The cops had a real treat here, complete with such appetizing delicacies as ChiChee Fries, Chili con Bacon and the ever popular Chili Mac, among other foodstuff, I’m sure. And, who picked up the tab? Most likely, the city did. The real question is, at what cost? In this case, the city probably got a deal. The trucks are a convenient way of feeding the troops who, by the looks of things, numbered in the hundreds. Everything is self-contained so, if things went sideways and the protestors overran the command post, they could just pick up and move to the new command post location without running over too many citizens.
So, my question to Chief Scott Jordan is, if we ever had a riot here in Tustin, what food trucks would you choose? Would you allow input from your troops,…uh I mean, officers? Maybe it is not too soon to start planning. I could offer some suggestions for the Tustin Police Incident Plan. I am completely qualified having eaten both donuts and croissants. I do food trucks on a regular basis, as well.
You know, it is bad enough to see a crackpot racist like Villa Park Councilmember, Deborah Pauly, actually have the nerve to run for the Third District seat. She had little enough chance of winning the spot (or even a credible number of votes) as it is. Her dismal fundraising efforts so far are equaled only by her slim list of endorsements. We can only figure that endorsing Pauly on his way out of the state was Chuck Devore’s final flip of the middle finger to Todd.
A tip of the hat to the OC Weekly for showing us that, just when you don’t think you can fall any farther into the den of iniquity, well….. you can. It seems that a year ago, February 5th, Deborah and her hubby, James, were having a night out at a local restaurant where they must have inadvertently toasted Todd Spitzer. As they left the parking lot, they ran smack into a DUI checkpoint run by the Orange Police Department. According to the OCW story, James attempted to avoid the checkpoint by swerving into a driveway and crashed his Porsche on to the curb, getting stuck in the process. After he unstuck his car, he was stopped by an Orange Police Officer who asked why he collided with the curb. Pauly replied that he did not [hit the curb]. As an old DUI cop myself, I wish I was a bird on the wire listening to this conversation as the officer blithely pointed out the damage and oil leaking from the car.
From the OC Weekly:
“I smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from James’ person,” Plascencia wrote. “I saw James’ eyes were bloodshot, water, and they had a glossy appearance…I heard James slur his words heavily as he spoke.”
While Plascencia tried to administer a DUI test, another officer twice told Deborah to stay in the Porsche. James was so drunk that Plascencia repeatedly had to stop simple tests “for his safety” because James was swaying so much and nearly falling on his face. When Plascencia asked James which DUI test he’d prefer, he replied “Neither,” then yelled to Deborah–who was trying to walk to her husband despite having been told to stay near the bashed-up Porsche a third time–“he needed to submit to a blood or breath test.”
That could have been it. Deborah could have, and probably should have, shut her mouth and grabbed her phone to call a taxi. Instead, she asked if she could be allowed to drive her husband’s car home. Officer Armando Plascencia, who made the arrest, would not allow her because he also recognized the signs of inebriation in Deborah Pauly. And, in case you are wondering, OC Weekly bills this cop as the “Wilt Chamberlain of DUI arrests.” So, I think he would know an intoxicated person when he sees one.
The article goes on to say that James Pauly tried to slip off his handcuffs and he had to be further restrained by buckling him into the unit with his seatbelt (but, you would have done that for his safety anyway, right Armando?). He did finally take the blood test and was shown to have a BAC of .17. Now, remember, the legal limit is .08.
Deborah Pauly wears her conservative Christianity like the scent of Chanel No. 5. On her Twitter feed, which she recently blocked me from following, she has such interesting tidbits as,
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln
“You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.” – Abraham Lincoln, great conservative president
“Muslim Terrorists Are Pure, Unadulterated Evil.”
Oh my goodness! Look at all of @toddspitzeroc’s churlishly furious tweeting while I was busy @ my Wednesday morning Bible study.
Well, there was nothing in there about drinking and driving. And, strictly speaking, she did have a designated driver. But, someone should have told her Abe Lincoln was a teetotaler.
To be fair, the article never says what Deborah Pauly ultimately did. And, contrary to what some may think, she did not seem to use her powerful position as a councilmember of a neighboring city….uh, town…. to try to wrangle her and her husband out of the mess they found themselves in. And, she did not decide to run for the Third District until way after this incident. And, it could have been a whole lot worse had she been the one behind the wheel. That’s a whole lot of ands.
Oh yeah, Tweeting? She has three times as many followers as Todd. Of course, she probably blocked him, too.
For Todd Spitzer’s part, he has not said a word about this incident, most likely because he knows it would serve no further purpose. Gale Bates, in a recent letter to the OCR editor said, ” The most egregious argument Todd Spitzer used was sexist when he said Deborah “Pauly is unsuited for office because of her temperament.” Of course, Todd could have said many things about Pauly to demonstrate her unsuitability for any office, let alone the Third District Supervisor. But, he didn’t have to. Pauly said, and did, it all.