BART police legislation stuck in committee

Pub date April 14, 2009
WriterTim Redmond
SectionPolitics Blog

By Tim Redmond

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s bill that would force the BART police to create a civilian-oversight agency came before the Public Safety Committee for a hearing today, and the BART Board — the clueless, inexcusable BART Board — tried to derail it.

The BART directors sent a letter to the committee saying, in effect, Trust Us: We’re working away, with our closed-door committee, to draft our own oversight policy, and we’ll come up with something. Maybe by the end of the year.

Ammiano probably had the votes to pass the measure out, but the committee chair, Jose Solorio, declined to call for a vote, leaving AB 312 in limbo. Solorio said he wanted to wait to see what BART came up with, and then compare the BART proposal with Ammiano’s.

The problem is that BART isn’t going to come up with anything. This crew has had 17 years to come up with a civilian oversight program. At least three people have been improperly killed by the BART police. We should be done trusting BART — and an Orange County Democrat shouldn’t be telling the Bay Area delegation, most of whom support the bill, how to regulate BART.

So now Ammiano has to figure out how to get Solorio to call the measure up for a vote. “I’ll get it out of the Assembly,” Ammiano told me. But he’s going to need some help.

We haven’t heard much from Sandre Swanson on this. The recent killing of Oscar Grant happened in Swanson’s district; he ought to be a cosponsor of Ammiano’s bill, and he should have been there at the hearing today, and he ought to be helping Ammiano lobby Speaker Karen Bass to make sure this bill gets to the floor.

And Fiona Ma, who’s on the Public Safety Committee, didn’t say a word in support of the bill. That’s bogus, big time.