Sunday, August 23, 2009

23 Minutes of Debate, a NY Times Article, and Personal Anecdotes...

...are all it takes for the deplorably-statist Wilmington, Delaware City Council nannies to add a new primary motor vehicle offense (i.e. one for which you can be stopped) to the books. In this case, the offense is using a hand-held mobile telephone.

The sponsor of this new added enforcement responsibility for our city police, in the midst of out-of-control violent crime, is the Baker Democrat (as in Mayor Jim Baker) in phony Republican garb : At-Large Wilmington City Councilman Michael A. Brown.

You might remember Brown from his laughable proposal to ban saggy pants in the City or his even more ridiculous proposal for a program to offer firearms turn-in for coupons to places like Home Depot. Brown also bloviated when voting for eminent domain for private developer benefit that God told him to vote for it.

[Prayer break : God, please tell this man to stop masquerading as a Republican.]

Of course this same Council, whose eminent domain bullying and excesses led to new state law protections against such abuses, chose to ignore one of the more reasonable and informed voices on Council, former Wilmington police officer Stephen Martelli.

Martelli, like Councilman Ignudo, warned of "over-legislation" and stated that eating food while driving causes somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of inattentive driving accidents.

Martelli called the legislation "window-dressing" and said that if they are going to proscribe mobile phone use in cars they should just ban it completely, hands-free or otherwise. He noted that we already have an inattentive driving offense in Title 21.

Martelli stated that distracted driving, if any, involving use of a mobile phone comes not from holding the phone but from irresponsibly engaging in a conversation at the expense of paying attention to driving, something this new law does not address.

[Martelli is consistently convincing me that he is mayoral material and a Democrat worth elevating to greater responsibilities in Wilmington government. From much I have already seen, he has a very common sense approach to lawmaking and government power....from a citizen's perspective rather than from high up on-high, down in the French Street government cocoon.]

Given the extent of vehicle cell phone use, even just visibly, on the roads it is actually quite a testament to the widespread and prevailing nature of responsible use that there are so few accidents, at least if we are to buy the nanny teeth-gnashing that this danger demands a new arrestable offense.

Of course, not one proponent of this ordinance cited a single Delaware or Wilmington statistic concerning this supposed problem, or anything really but a NY Times article, to back their claims of an imperative to legislate and fine the citizenry yet more and more and more and more...

Councilwoman Loretta Walsh's comments were particularly deplorable and disturbing from a civil liberties perspective, as well as from a meddling paternalism (or should I say, maternalism) standpoint.

You can hear Walsh's remarks below, but suffice to say they are completely out-of-touch with the modern realities of how people can responsibly operate motor vehicles and still use electronic devices (like their radio or climate control systems - not exactly new devices in cars).

Walsh's hyperbolic nanny ethos are remarkable. In the News-Journal she calls motor vehicles "deadly weapons". In the Council debate she calls text messaging a "fatal" aspect of today's youth culture.

[Sheesh, Loretta, have a Coke and a smile for a minute. Life isn't all worrying about death.]

But of course, Walsh's mindset is clearly one of legislating and burdening the responsible mass of drivers (and pull in some revenues, while they're at it) around the rare instances of irresponsible idiocy.

And Bud Freel.....well.....Bud Freel....need I say more? (Bud chimed in with the typical "save the children", or rather "save MY children" tripe.)

Other voices of reason joining Martelli on the losing side of the 8-4 vote were my own councilman Sammy Prado (cheers, Sammy!), as well as Paul Ignudo, and Hanifa Shabazz. Kudos to them for not being self-righteous hypocrites chasing fad legislation to burden citizens with yet more intrusive poppcockery like this.

Joining the sponsor, Baker-Democrat-Crowding-Out-Any-Real Republican-From-Council Mike Brown, on the busybody do-somethingitis side of the equation were :

Wannabe Mayor Norm Griffiths
Loretta "it gives police another tool to stop 'suspicious' vehicles" Walsh
Bud "Save MY Children" Freel
Kevin "Let's Bust Some Heads" Kelley
Ernest "Trippi" Congo
Justen Wright - (big disappointment from these two new Councilmen)
Charles (even bigger disappointment on this issue) Potter

[Technical Note : the Blogger upload process appears to have caused the video to gradually go out of sync with audio as the clips progress. Sorry for that, but the audio is nonetheless clear.]

Stephen Martelli's Remarks And the Vote


downwithabsolutes said...

Thank you for chronicling this, Tyler. I elicited some controversial feedback regarding this on a Facebook status I posted. I'm so sick of this bullshit Big Brother nanny-statism.

downwithabsolutes said...

Did Mike Brown say "This isn't about BANDing cell phones?" And is that dude a councilman or a friggin' preacher? What an embarrassment.

Tyler Nixon said...

There are lot of things Mike Brown says that are non-sequiturs or just plain don't make sense. Personally, I long ago lost track.

Good to see you coming by, Mike!

Anonymous said...

Wilmington should make shooting people to death a crime. That would improve the quality of life. Of course they might have to change the city motto away from "A place to be some body."

But seriously folks. Good laws can be proposed by dumb people. It is crazy out there. In fact, I'm texting this from my blackberry while driving down Delaware Ave and th...