Evidently content to ignore sound legal strategy by discussing its secret list program publicly, city council went ahead and discussed more details at last week's council session. There's still the threat of a class action lawsuit hanging over the head of the program, and the more council goes on record about it, the better for the lawyers challenging its constitutionality and seeking to raid the city's coffers for your tax dollars. With that in mind, here's a Youtube clip:
At this point I've given up trying to follow the council's differing motivations for reacting the way they do on this program, although I will note this: When questioned on a difficult political point, Commissioner Nick Fish tends to respond as a lawyer trying to win a legal motion in front of a judge, but he doesn't seem to understand the effect his demeanor might have on a jury of his peers. Observe, for example, the way he caresses Copwatch activist Dan Handelman in this clip, with, as it turns out, I think, inaccurate information. The secret list was never released to the public during the litigation earlier this year, or "published," as Fish claims. If it were, I'd have gotten my hands on a copy, but I never did. The cops have continued to argue that disclosing the list might embarrass the (mostly African American and poor) people on it.
Meanwhile Commissioner Randy Leonard says, on a tangent, that he opposes the sit/lie law on constitutional grounds—something he has explicitly denied having done, on the record, repeatedly. Up until now he has said he didn't want to support the law when there is nowhere for homeless people to go. He also says he thinks the police should disclose the secret list so that people can't have a "diversionary discussion" about the secret list, but can instead focus on the merits of the program.
All this is for the legal wonks among you, although I'll admit to finding it all fascinating from a political and human interest point of view. Nobody is arguing that giving drug addicts a way out of their addictions is right. It's secret government lists that are plain wrong—and attempting to justify them in any language, I think, or from any point of view, is to fail to learn a series of important lessons from our shared history. Down with the secret list.
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