I couldn't help thinking last night that the only way to get the folks at City Hall off their duffs and doing something is to get a hundred or so people downtown and in their faces. It happened with the building moratorium, and now it has happened with AWest the child molester. Apparently if people hadn't gotten up in arms and shown up en masse, this city would be well into a suicidal building spree in the middle of the worst drought in 1,000 years, and an individual who was convicted of sexual battery on a 6 year old girl could still be living a peaceful and private existence about 500 feet from a few elementary schools.
But before I get on with the rest of today's reflections about the town we love, I thought I'd post some pictures from last night. It was a colorful evening, and the TV news people were out as only they can be. So much work to produce so little value.
|The Eyewitless News fleet docks at City Hall|
|Chief Giannone is interviewed by thin women in tight dresses|
|The Chief says some things he wasn't saying last week|
|The TV newsies await their chance to get it wrong|
A couple of things of interest that came out of this experience. According to Chief Giannone the reason why AWest gets to live as close as he does to St. Rita's, The Gooden School, Turtle Park and Bethany Christian School, is because Jessica's Law does not apply to him. You see, Jessica's Law is a state law, and AWest was kind of convicted in a Federal Court. Or maybe sort of.
How did that happen you ask? Apparently this was arranged by his clever lawyer. Even though AWest's sexual assault on a 6 year old child was tried by the State of California, that conviction was bundled in with his sentence for the possession of child pornography, which was a Federal affair. Somehow that spirited the state out of the mix, and made AWest a Federal convict instead.
The reason his lawyer did this was to spare his client the indignity (and danger) of serving out his sentence in an overcrowded and violent state pen. Given the nature of his crime, it likely would have been a bad experience for him. Cons hate pederasts, just like everyone else. Only harder.
Instead AWest spent eight years in a Club Fed prison. A less unpleasant, and far safer, experience. His lawyer probably saved his life.
According to the Chief, an unintended consequence of this successful legal maneuver from the distant past is AWest now gets to live in the middle of the most child rich environment in Sierra Madre. That being the elementary school corridor of North Baldwin Avenue. And instead of having to remain 2,000 feet away from any schools and parks in his neighborhood, he gets to be as close as 100 feet. Camera distance, you could say.
But Chief Giannone also said that he is (all of a sudden like) appealing this unfortunate outcome to some District Attorney or other. Or maybe it was the Attorney General? Or both? I forget. And, or at least according to the story we're being told, there is a chance that AWest could somehow end up being reclassified as a state convict after all, and therefore subject to, you got it, Jessica's Law.
Do you know what? I am not sure I believe very much of this. I think we heard something quite similar when people were up in arms about Bob Matheson a couple of years ago. And, as it turned out with The Dirty Kilt, we'll most likely end up never hearing another word about it.
So then, here is a different take. What if Jessica's Law should have been applied here all along, but until now the City did absolutely nothing to bring it about? Didn't bother to lift a finger. Suddenly finding themselves under intense public scrutiny, shouldn't they want to claim that the fault lies elsewhere? And that they have been fighting all along, and against great odds, to undo this injustice? I'll bet you would, too.
Something else. As one commenter noted for us yesterday: "Government does not work very well, but people are used to that. Then something comes along that is actually serious, and the end result is the same. Failure. Then it is shocking."
And that is true. The vast law enforcement bureaucracy failed to do what they needed to do in this case, and now we have to live with the consequences. And no matter how hard this gets spun, the end result is the worst sexual predator this town has seen in years is today living right in the middle of kid central. You should not forget that.
Speaking of government failure, this one is particularly rich. As one resident noted, it took months longer than it should have for AWest to show up in the Megan's Law registry. How did that happen?
According to Chief Giannone it wasn't the fault of AWest. He filled out his papers in time, and handed them in properly. It turns out the fingerprints that were sent to the Department of Justice as well were somehow botched, resulting in AWest's Megan's Law filing being lost in the bureaucratic miasma somewhere. Only after months had passed was the problem discovered and the error rectified. And how did that happen? AWest had been spotted violating water restrictions by washing his car.
So anyway, that is pretty much how all of this was explained away last evening. You have to at least give them creativity points.
Council Chambers was pretty filled, as you know. And by the end of the meeting most of those present were quite satisfied with what they had heard from our law enforcement and political leadership. Nothing whatsoever had actually changed, of course. Nor will it. AWest will still be where he was last week.
But look, if you can blame it all on tricky lawyers, dumb District Attorneys and mysterious lost fingerprints, how could you ever lose?
Most people do not really want to know. They just want you to give them something easy to believe in. And last night many got what they came for.
Bonus Coverage from the LA Register's America Hernandez
"Return of child molester bothers Sierra Madre residents" (link)