Video Update – Don Rosenberg Testifies at Hearing on Bill AB60

Report from Don Rosenberg:

After the Republican filibuster of the gun background check bill President Obama called the Republicans shameless for refusing to even debate the bill.  Well, the Republicans are not alone in what was not only shameless behavior but also disgraceful behavior on the part of California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal at a Transportation Committee hearing on AB 60, a driver’s license bill for people who have entered the country illegally and are therefore forbidden by law to apply for a driver’s license.

On Monday April 22, 2013 I went to Sacramento to testify in opposition to AB 60. The bill introduced by Assemblyman Luis Alejo would allow illegal immigrants who cannot get a social security number to use other forms of “approved” identification. My opposition was not due to the fact that these people were here illegally but because extensive research that I had done proved conclusively that many in this group who are illegally driving are reckless and irresponsible and that passing the licensing process would not make them safer drivers. There were also some serious structural issues in the bill that I had issues with assuming that the bill would pass. (My testimony at the hearing, and my report)

I urge you to watch the testimony and come to your own conclusion instead of reading the rest of my report. It is available at:

http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=1164

The testimony starts at the 21:12 mark

21:12  Bill author Assemblyman Luis Alejo

25:05  Dave Pulia Testimony  Western Growers

25:57  Michael Gunning Testimony  Personal Insurance Federation

26:33 John Lovell Testimony  California Police Chiefs Association

27:03  Louie Brown Testimony  California Citrus Mutual

27:15  Guadalupe Sandaval Testimony  California Farm Labor Contractor Association

27:50  Supporters of AB 60  (Watch the first 4-5 and you’ll get the idea)

41:00 Don Rosenberg Testimony  Unlicensed To Kill

56:00 Testimony from Assemblyman Luis Alejo; questions from the committee and the vote.

Each committee has a group of consultants whose job is to produce a report for the committee members. The report consists of a summary of the bill, existing law, fiscal impact, an analysis and people or groups who are supporting or opposing the (Copy of the Committee’s Analysis). Weeks before the hearing date I called the consultants to find the deadline for submitting my opposition paper to make sure it would be included in the analysis and then distributed with the report to the committee members. The report isn’t distributed until late in the day before the hearing. In this case that was around 3:00 on Friday April 19 for a hearing that will be on Monday. Of course if there is a mistake there is no opportunity for it to be corrected. In this case the mistake was although all of my evidence was sourced there was not one mention of anything I stated in the analysis. On Monday morning I met with the transportation aide of one of the committee members to discuss the bill. She told me that my opposition report wasn’t in the binder distributed the prior Friday. I’m not sure if that is true or not but to date I have not been able to get a conformation that my report was included.

The hearing began around 2:00. There are many other items on the agenda but my guess is that 75% of the 300 or so people in attendance were there for AB 60. The author of the bill along with his supporters gets to testify first. Assemblyman Alejo explained to the committee the purpose of the bill.  He cited the 2012 DMV report that unlicensed drivers are 3 times more likely to cause a fatality than licensed drivers. Other than that he made no claims that licensing these drivers would make them safer drivers. He cited no reports, no studies, no actual statistics.

The 3 other people in support of the bill were two representatives of produce growers and one representative from an insurance trade association. The produce growers testified how hard these people worked and how important they were to their businesses and the insurance industry representative just said he supported the bill. Again, no mention of how licensing would make these people safer drivers. A fourth person was the head of the California Police Chiefs Association. He said they were not ready to support the bill but were working with the Assemblyman on amendments.

When they concluded approximately 40 people were lined up at a microphone to speak. The first speaker said how she had been stopped for driving without a license, had her car impounded and that she and her daughter were handcuffed. Of course I have no idea if that is true but I do know that just for driving without a license the police do not handcuff anyone. I know the police aren’t perfect but when I hear these stories and can check them out they are always significantly different than what was told. Yes they had their car impounded (they were driving without a license) and yes they were arrested but there is usually a reason like the person was a fugitive. I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case but every time I’m at a hearing there is always at least one true but not complete story.

After a few people made a statement committee chair Lowenthal asked these people to just give their name and statement of support unless they had something new to add. Then one after another each speaker came to the microphone and said their name followed by, “I support AB 60”. Many could only say it in Spanish so then an interpreter repeated the comment in English. When the line was shorter the next row from the audience would get up in unison and proceed to the microphone. I didn’t count the people but my guess is there were about 100 or so I didn’t note how long this took but it went on for quite some time with each person saying the same thing. They gave their name and then, “I support AB 60”. Sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish followed by an English translation. To the best of my memory, at no time did Chairwoman Lowenthal ever ask them to speed it up. Although I defend their right to speak not one speaker added anything that supported why licensing would make these people safer drivers.

When they finally finished she asked if there was anyone in opposition. I was the only person in opposition. I was also in the last row so when I got up everyone turned around to look at me. Everyone was polite but I can only imagine what they were thinking as I struggled to get out of the row and then made the long walk to the testimony table. I had my prepared text but after thanking the chair and committee I said, “There were a lot of people speaking in support of AB 60 but there was not one shred of evidence presented that showed that licensing these people would make them better drivers.” I then began my testimony.

My testimony was 6 pages long which would have taken about 12 minutes to present. I mentioned what had happened to my son briefly and how that had gotten me into researching this issue. I mentioned how I was originally in favor of allowing illegal immigrants to get licenses but after researching the issue I changed my position because the evidence showed it would make the roads less safe. I was not through the first page when the chair told me to get to the point. I will be getting an audio (hopefully a video) of the hearing because you don’t always remember exactly what is said even if it is something I said but I told her I was getting to the research.

I started discussing the results of what has happened in New Mexico since they allowed licensing for all quoting New Mexico DMV statistics. I stated how I had contacted the author (actually his boss) of the DMV report that Alejo had referenced and asked him point blank if the study in any way said that licensing these drivers would make them safer. His answer was absolutely not.

At some point all of a sudden there was a word or two said in unison from a large group of people. I couldn’t make out what they said but I can assure you they were not cheering me on. I don’t believe that Lowenthal said a word to the crowd.

Lowenthal then began to harass me that they had a big agenda and I had to finish up. We had a heated exchange, I said a few more things maybe getting through page two and that was it. I was done.

So while the 100 or so people kept repeating, “I support AB 60” in English and Spanish and then translated again to English, time was not an issue. But as soon as I started to present documented, sourced, specific information as to why issuing licenses to drivers who had proven their recklessness over a period starting in 1987 to the present, no more time.

The final phase of the hearing is the committee asking Alejo questions. No one was concerned that after issuing licenses to illegal immigrants in New Mexico fatalities and collisions exploded. No one was interested in the DMV report that specifically stated that when everyone could get a driver’s license these drivers were as bad as unlicensed drivers. Their main concern was would this bill conflict with the Federal Real ID law. Alejo assured the committee that he was working with the feds to make sure it would be okay.

Alejo then made a statement that not only were cars being impounded but people were being prosecuted with misdemeanor charges and then being deported for driving without a license. Despite the fact that all of that is untrue I don’t get to say a word. I don’t believe that Alejo was lying. What I have learned is that at least as it pertains to unlicensed driving these people and their supposed “transportation experts” don’t have a clue as to what is really going on.

They decide what they want to do based on getting votes and then they don’t want to know the facts. They want the ability to claim plausible deniability when the facts and what will be in this case the bodies start to get in the way. After an hour or so of nothing substantive being said and most of those testifying because they had a financial interest I started to testify and she could tell that I actually researched the issue. Despite my abbreviated testimony it was clear that I had the evidence that not only was this a bad idea but it would jeopardize the lives of law abiding people. No way did she want that information to be part of the public record.

The bill passed 12-1 although now on the legislative web site it says it passed 11-4.  Update on 5/30: It has passed the appropriations committee.  On May 29 it passed the assembly. It now goes to the Senate.

The more I think about this experience the angrier I get. I am a citizen of the state of California. I am a taxpayer (highest bracket always). I was polite and patient while most of the people who repeated, “I support AB 60” are probably in this country illegally and this is the way I am treated. This is the way this committee deals with an issue that has life and death consequences.

Not that they will probably care but we need to flood the legislature with letters not only in opposition to this bill but in opposition to the way they conduct the people’s business.

 

 

 

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10 Responses

  1. RAY says:

    THANK YOU,DON FOR FIGHTING FOR US CAL CITIZENS.I TOO KNOW OF YOUNGSTERS KILLED BY ILLEGAL ALIENS WHO SHOULDN’T EVEN BE IN OUR COUNTRY,MUCH LESS DRIVING….YOUNG MR.LUNDIN, BARELY 20, WAS HIT IN THE DRIVER SIDE OF HIS TRUCK AND DIED,WHILE THE THE DRUNK ILLEGAL TRIED TO RUN..WAS CAUGHT BY LOCAL WITNESSES.OUR LOCAL PAPER BARELY COVERED THE STORY VERY LITTLE FOLLOWUP; THE MAN WENT TO JAIL BUT I DOUBT IF HE WAS DEPORTED. TODD’S MOTHER EVERY YEAR,HOLDS A HUGE BLOOD DRIVE IN HER SON’S NAME. KEEP FIGHTING,DON. I’LL PASS ON THIS WEBSITE TO HIS MOTHER.

  2. Kirk says:

    The Democrats say we have to pay attention to the science and pass laws to reduce global warming. But on this topic they want to ignore the science and just grovel for votes.

  3. mark e says:

    dear Don: I appreciate your efforts but your tragic experience could have been caused by anyone. I believe an all inclusive approach is more appropriate at this time. We have to determine just how many undocumented people are driving and whether they are more likely to have accidents.The age of the driver has a lot to do with their skill and responsibility. We must determine how large a percentage of licensed drivers are causing accidents. When the term illegal alien is used it devolves to Latinos. We have a huge number of ethnics without papers; Armenians, Russians, Chinese, Irish, Filipinos. All these people drink and drive. In Glendale I’d wager that the majority of traffic accidents are caused by Armenians. In the San Gabriel Valley the majority of accidents can be attributed to the Chinese.

    Sincerely yours, Mark

  4. Editor says:

    Hi Mark. Thanks for your comment. While my tragic experience could have been caused by anyone, it wasn’t. There is a 5 times greater chance that an unlicensed driver will cause a fatality than a licensed driver. You ask some good questions but they’ve mostly been answered. In California there are approximately 1.5 million unlicensed (never been licensed) drivers. There are an additional 500,000 – 750,000 people with suspended or revoked licenses that are still driving. As I already mentioned they are 5 times more likely to cause fatalities, 5 times more likely to drive drunk and they hit and run over 35% of the time compared to 3.7% for licensed drivers. These numbers all come from the AAA Foundation for traffic Safety. They got them from the F.A.R.S database which is the federal governments collection of all traffic data from each state. As I’ve learned from filing numerous FOI Act requests these numbers are understated because of bad to non-existent data collection by many jurisdictions. As many jurisdictions do not collect data on the drivers license status (hard to believe but true) the numbers can only be worse. Furthermore, none of these collisions are accidents. No one accidently gets into a car and drives. By law you are negligent as soon as the vehicle moves.

    In California over 80% of the illegal aliens are Latino. I have never found any statistics on fatalities by nationality for unlicensed drivers. What I can tell you anecdotally is that less than 5% of the fatality reports I read and I have read over 2,000 in the past two years are non-Latino. Not scientific but on my site you can read the testimony I provided to the California Assembly in opposition to AB 60 a drivers license regardless of immigration status. The testimony is all factual and sourced. The numbers are not good. Not in the report is information I just received last week from Utah. They allow driver privilege cards which have to be renewed annually. I haven’t had a chance to go through all of the data but I can tell you the results may not be as bad as what happened in New Mexico but they certainly aren’t good.

    Don

  5. Editor says:

    The Dems are as much in denial about illegal immigration as the Repubs are in global climate change. The public will lose on both counts.

  6. lynn says:

    Don, we need to get AB60 overturned, obtain thousands of signatures and placed on special election ballot! Then and only then, the People will get the final say!

    This is an outrage and ought to fire up every red-blooded American. Illegal aliens are giving this state a bad name—politicians are rewarding lawlessness. It can only mean more deterioration and disintegration of rule of law.

    sad.

  7. Editor says:

    Lynn, Thanks for writing.

    I have already begun looking at how to invalidate this bill. The first thing is seeing what happens with immigration deform (ID) (no misspelling). If it passes anywhere close to the Senate bill this bill practically becomes moot. I say moot because all of those given amnesty (and it is amnesty) would be eligible for licenses anyway. I say practically because the bill doesn’t have a sunset clause which means that any new illegal alien not covered by ID would be eligible to get a license.

    I don’t favor the initiative process because it’s really expensive (this fight would be 10′s of millions) you need hundreds of thousands of signatures and you might lose. I also don’t like this process for this issue because there are many bigots and they would come out in force and the news media would focus on them. Expecting people to obey the law is hardly bigoted. Additionally, a state with so many financial problems and constantly at the top of the unemployment lists does not need and cannot support millions of people who have no legal right to be here. I believe in charity, I believe in helping those in need. I just believe that I should get to pick where my money goes and I would have no problem with aid to the countries where most of these people come from in exchange for taking back those who came illegally and putting in place ways to secure their borders.

    So what I’m looking at is the legal process. When and if I can go forward I will be asking for donations but not just in California but all states who issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens. It will still be expensive but no where near as an initiative and there are 10 states where people have a direct interest but I am sure people from many other states will want to donate.

    Because of ID I don’t expect to announce anything for months but keep checking in. I will also send out an email to everyone who has written in.

    Don

  8. Edgar says:

    Hi Don,

    I’m sorry for your loss. I also admire that you have the will and fortitude to take action on what you believe.

    There are two things you may want to consider.

    First is the correlation between your data.

    Consider that just because someone doesn’t have a license and is more likely to cause an accident, doesn’t necessarily mean that the reason why they caused more accidents is because they aren’t licensed. If they where, which now thanks to the new law, many will be, how do you expect your numbers to look?

    Otherwise you’re just assuming that illegal immigrant latinos are bad drivers and therefore shouldn’t get a license in the first place. There is of course, something notoriously wrong with that statement. It’s like saying that Asians are bad drivers.

    If you are really trying to make the roads safer, you may want to reconsider your approach. Otherwise you are going on a (I hate to say it) racist rant.

    For example we can all take a more comprehensive driving test. We can find a way to have elderly be both independent and safe by not driving after a specific age, or when their motors skills aren’t up to par. We could also push for a cultural change against drunk driving in general (which I prefer).

    My second point is more personal. Before I was able to get legal status in this state ( I was brought here illegally by my mother when I was young) I had my car taken away three times because I didn’t have a driver’s license. On all three occasions I wasn’t pulled over for any significant reason (i touched the while line twice, car made too much noise, checkpoint). I had to pay well over $1000 each time and eventually I had to get another car. At the time I was working at fast food joints (cliche right?) so it took me a while for me to get back on my feet.

    I couldn’t get any decent insurance because I didn’t have a license and the only option at the time are those really shady insurance places that cater to latinos. I couldn’t get a decent car because I can’t get good financing on one. (My first car was at 25% APR !!!). On top of that I couldn’t get any decently paying job because of my status.

    The correct terminology is ‘blaming the victim’. It’s like saying that poor people are poor because they want to be. There are things that have to be in place in order for the general population to improve (for more on this, I recommend reading Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers).

    By the way, did I mention that I could have gone to a good university after high school but couldn’t because of my status?

    There are those of us, just like yourself, that dedicate themselves to improving the well-being of everyone. It’s not about us, it’s whats right for society as whole in the long term.

    Prior to WWII and the rise of Nazis, there was a lot of hate in Europe against Jews. People were struggling and they noticed how many Jews ran banks, had businesses, etc. Their hate eventually led to Hitler’s rise and to concentration camps. I am not saying that this is the same, but I am saying that this is how things like that get started.

    By the way… there are several mentions on how people are breaking the law and that shouldn’t be supported. Consider that just because it’s law doesn’t mean it’s right and vise-versa. Think Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. What is the fifth stage?

    Laws are always changing and evolving. So should people’s views.

  9. I hardly comment, however i did a few searching and wound up here Video Update – Don Rosenberg Testifies at Hearing on Bill AB60 – Unlicensed to Kill.
    And I do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Is it only me or does it give the impression like some of these comments appear as if they are written by brain dead individuals?
    :-P And, if you are posting on additional online social sites, I would like
    to keep up with anything new you have to post. Would you list of all of your communal sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  10. Editor says:

    Thanks for writing.

    Not sure I would call them brain dead. I think people on both side of this issue are very angry and confused. Like so many issues today the media takes a position (journalistic bankruptcy) and acts more like a PR agency. So everyone discusses the issue like it’s a soundbite.

    Most of what you here from both sides is at best misinformation but mostly a lie.

    When people allow their emotions to get in their way of thinking this is what you get. I think many comments from the left are just as ludicrous but said a little better.

    As you can see from my website it hasn’t been updated in a long time. I’m pretty much a one man show and the website just never gets any priority.

    I have someone who has volunteered to build a new one but I haven’t even had the time to tell him what I want.

    I sometimes respond to comments attached to other stories but don’t communicate in any other uniform way. I usually just send letters to media personalities and politicians. There is an organization that wants to start posting my letters and I’ll be talking to them soon. If I make a deal I’ll post that on the website.

    Thanks again for writing.

    Don

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