Thursday, September 23, 2004

KABC TV news reported this afternoon that LA's Il Duce of anti-terror, John Miller, was stopped at LAX security for trying to carry a loaded gun onto a plane. The gun was in his carry-on luggage and apparently he just forgot it was there. Dumb!

From what we know, Miller has one of those nearly impossible to get LAPD permits to carry a concealed weapon. Miller, like William Bratton, is not a sworn peace officer. They're both civilian employees of the LAPD. Therefore the only way they can legally carry a gun is to obtain a civilian carry permit, something denied to the average law abiding Angeleno. The funny thing is, as chief of police Bratton had to apply to himself to get a permit. Naturally, he gave himself one. And Miller has one as well. They're pals and go back a long way and hey, what are friends for if you can't get a carry permit out of it?

Bratton comes from the New York City old boy network of permit patronage. In New York City, you're not even allowed to own a handgun in your house, let alone carry one, without a permit from the NYPD. Traditionally, any well-heeled and connected New Yorker has always had an easy time getting a permit to carry. New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, a big time anti-gunner, has one. So does Howard Stern, comedian Pat Cooper and dozens of business people and celebrities. In our own fair state of California, the same rules apply. Notorious anti-gun advocate Dianne Feinstein for years had a permit to carry, but said she gave it up. So does/did James Caan (he might have had his revoked, we hear). And of course, Robert (I forgot my gun in Vitello's) Blake. It might surprise a lot of Angelenos how many anti-gun Hollywood celebrities have permits to carry while they contribute to anti-gun groups like Sarah Brady's HCI. Sarah herself got into hot water when she bought a gun under her name and gave it to her son as a birthday present. Under one of the many laws she favors, this was an illegal transfer and she should have gone to jail.

LA celebrities don't get their permits from the LAPD. Like Blake who established a paper residence in Culver City while living in the Valley (LAPD jurisdiction), a lot of the elites establish residence in permit-friendly jurisdictions. Ted Cooke, the retired chief of Culver PD was very liberal in doling out permits and looking the other way on the issue of residence. That's where Caan got his. Edward James Olmos got his from the LASD. Permits are issued locally but are good all over the state. So if you have a second or third or fourth home somewhere in a rural permit friendly county, or Culver City, you're good to carry in Bel Air or Malibu.

But getting back to the John Miller incident. Miller's permit is only good in California. California carry permits are not recognized by any other state because California does not recognize any other state's carry permits. This means that when Miller landed in New York, merely being in possession of a gun without a local permit to carry or own would have put him in flagrant violation of New York City weapons laws. After all, he's no longer a New York resident and that disqualifies him from owning or carrying a gun or even being in possession of a handgun in New York City. What the hell was Miller going to do with his piece when he got there? It is illegal to bring a handgun into New York City. Motorists from other states have been arrested in the Big Apple and their guns confiscated merely for carrying unloaded guns in the trunks of their cars while passing through town. Same with Chuck Schumer's New Jersey.

The truth is, the New York cops would probably give Miller a pass and let him carry. After all, there are two sets of laws in the U.S. when it comes to personal defense. One that applies to the rich and mighty. And one that applies to the rest of us whose hides aren't worth as much. The right of self defense is one reserved for the elite and not us mere proles.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

One of my out of town readers just sent me an item from the Brownsville, Texas paper, The Herald. On September 3, Emma Perez-Trevino wrote about contacts between AL-QAIDA and the MARA SALVATRUCHA, a street gang with sets in Los Angeles, Texas, the US-MEXICO border and as far away as Virginia, New York and Boston. Just so you know, MS has a lot of sets, some of whom operate under the Sureno flag. Others don't. Look for the MS13 placa to determine if they're Sureno. Non-affiliates drop the 13.

The information on this possible alliance came from the U.S. House Select Committee on Homeland Security. According to a member of that committee, Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, a Democrat from Texas, "We have been in contact wtih El Salvadoran officials and they have verified that Al-Qaida has been active in these gangs."

Ortiz, along with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Rep. Jim Turner, both Texas Democrats, have asked for more cooperation between the Border Patrol, the FBI and the CIA. All three pols called the OTM policy (Other Than Mexican), "nothing more than a conduit for terrorists." Apparently, 80% to 90% of the 25,000 OTMs arrested on the U.S. side of the border are released on their own recognizance with nothing more than a promise to appear for a hearing. Guess how many actually show up.

For the complete story, a Google search for the Brownsville Herald will take you to the site. I don't do links.

The concept of streets gangs making alliances with foreign powers is not new. In 1987, four members of Chicago's El Rukn gang were convicted of accepting $2.5 million from Lybia to plan and execute terrorist attacks in the U.S. That same year, Jeff Fort, founder of the Blackstone Rangers traveled to Lybia where Muammar Qaddafi presented him with a rocket launcher. The FBI intercepted the weapon and arrested Fort. Louis Farrakhan made the introductions and accompanied Fort to Lybia. More recently, Jose Padilla, a Chicago street gangster was arrested for trying to organize a dirty bomb attack in the U.S.

On the other side of the coin, Italian mobster Lucky Luciano made a deal with the Government during the war. In exchange for his help in gathering intelligence and putting friends on the ground prior to the invasion of Sicily, Luciano was allowed to leave prison and deported at the end of the war. Even without the aid of the internet and satellite phones, Luciano had no trouble calling the shots to his New York crime family from his villa in Palermo.

We'll see what develops with the MS.

It's been fairly well established by now that Bernard Parks, the former LAPD police chief, is attempting to gain some political capital by focusing on the current homicide spike. He posed for the media with the families of homicide victims and blamed the spike on the LAPD's 3/12 shift schedule. His claim is that the new schedule puts fewer cops on the street and that contributes to the rise in killings. Never mind that some of the victims were killed under the old schedule.

Parks wants to be mayor. And he wants to heap some blame on his successor, William Bratton. For you non-Los Angeles residents who may not be up on LA politics, James Hahn, the current mayor is the man who made the decision to get rid of Parks and replace him with Bratton.

During the ramp up to Bratton's appointment, Parks' strongest political ally was former council member Nate Holden. Holden term-limited out and was succeeded in his council seat by Parks. Holden was nothing if not an old-school strong arm meister. In his lobbying for Parks, Holden pointed fingers of blame for Parks' failure as a chief in every direction.

Despite the fact that rank and file cops gave Parks failing grades as a chief, Holden maintained that Parks was an effective leader. Parks was being sabotaged by a mostly white command structure, Holden said. When the city council pointed to the awful academy recruitment record under Parks, Holden blamed a thriving a economy for siphoning away qualified candidates into the private sector. And when the council and others pointed to the rising crime rate under Parks, Holden used the peculiar logic of a lousy job market as a reason for the rising crime rate. So in Holden's view, the economy was simultaneously good and bad. Mr. Greenspan should look into this.

When it became clear that Bratton was going to be annointed chief, Holden encouraged Parks to sue the city for not renewing his contract. Parks was smart enough to pass on this suggestion. And when Bratton was confirmed as Hahn's choice, Holden promised that Hahn would "pay" for his "betrayal."

In Holden's view, the people Hahn betrayed was the black community. It was obvious at the time that Holden believed skin color was more important than effective leadership. Parks is a good guy in every sense of a word. But he's not what you'd call an inspiring leader. He was a micro-manager. A from-the-top down, command and control, rigidly structured operator who wouldn't let subordinates exercise any personal initiative. It was his way or the highway. Rank and file morale plainly sucked under Parks. At least two coppers put in their jackets that if they were killed in the line of duty, they didn't want Parks at their funeral. Nothing like that has happened under Bratton's watch.

While Bratton may not be as popular with the blue suits as one of their own might have been (Mark Kroeker comes to mind), he's gained big points for letting subordinates become pro-active and creative. The Valley's Motel Six squad recently reported on by Jason Kandel in the Daily News is just one example. It's yielding results and Bratton is blessing the operation for use in other divisions. That came from the bottom, not the top. Ideas like that come from the bottom because that's where the eyes and ears are. You don't see known felons walking in and out of motels on Sepulveda Boulevard sitting in Parker Center. Educated eyeballs like that can only come from street cops. And it takes a flexible command structure to see the value of a good idea and give it the proper resources, even if it's Not Invented Here.

As the mayor's race spools up, you have to wonder if Parks will continue to work the rising homicide rate as an issue. You also have to wonder how much advice he's getting from Holden. Is Holden sitting in his Marina condo nursing his "betrayal" and working to leverage a little payback on Hahn? Will Parks take Holden's advice? Will Holden ever get beyond the skin game? It should be an interesting race.