Ending police abuse of the traveling public in Chattanooga and beyond is an exciting prospect that will increase freedom and liberty in the area, draw more people to live and prosper here, and become an example nationwide for local action to solve state and national problems.
But institutional and cartel interests promise to forbid reform of law enforcement abuse under the transportation statutes that sweep minorities, the poor and immigrants into the police-industrial complex.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
Reform will be painful for the attorney class, judges, bar associations and others who rely on their living in a system that will refuse to change for fear of reform being an admission of prior wrongdoing.
Admission of guilt?
If Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke does the right thing and declares Chattanooga an open city for travel, he will order his police department to enforce Tenn. Code Ann. title 55 in its properly narrow form. But that order will be effectively an admission that up ’til that moment, he has been ordering chief David Roddy to enforce the law incorrectly and overbroadly.
His cautious legal background as an attorney will give him to realize that if he does the right thing today he will be admitting he and his government were wrong yesterday. He will be admitting that City of Chattanooga, a municipal corporation, with a limited grant of authority from the General Assembly, has maliciously and wrongfully prosecuted people for decades.
Though city council and city government could perhaps say they didn’t know, not having received administrative notice of the law until this year.
A turn to the true and right and a return to constitutional obedience is a remedy for the black race, for the poor and the immigrants and the ignorant — that being most people who have no idea that legally travel by car and transportation by motor vehicle are distinct, one being free, the other not.
An executive order of the kind Mr. Berke used to create a homeless task force would be, on the matter of Title 55, an admission of guilt, a concession that until now his police department, his city court, and courts in jurisdictions beyond (the Hamilton County session court, county criminal) have been prosecuting people illegally, hounding private users of the road as if they were involved in transportation, the for-profit use of the people’s asset for private gain.
A reform equals an admission.
Doing right today is a repentance of having done wrong yesterday.
But there is a way of seeing this hazard of legal admission as less a threat. Namely: That action to prosecute people for “failure to exhibit” or “no driver license” or “revoked driver license” and the like was done with the defense attorney guild in Hamilton County having failed to raise the issue of free travel, and thus having admitted that the accused was indeed a driver or an operator, not a mere private person in travel. Blame the bar for being asleep at the wheel — for decades.
Reform = risky territory
Still, a change of policy opens the door for plaintiff’s attorneys such as Gary Massey to look backwards and say, “Hey, you wrongly prosecuted this good, innocent person, and you have got to make it right – expunge the record, pay a settlement!” State law as cited in transportation administrative notice becomes now an open door to new litigation and petitions by attorneys to undo prior convictions and guilty pleas.
If Mayor Andy Berke decides to order a reform, he will become a national political figure favored by the left and the right. But he will also be understood in lawyers’ favorite watering holes and justice building aisleways as throwing scores of fellow bar members and colleagues under the bus. For the sake of doing right, Mayor Berke will be laying aside old alliances and partnerships, former ways of doing things profitable to his guild that have not received serious challenge since he began his career.
How left would blast Berke
People will hate Andy Berke for having done the right thing. They will call him an idealist and a purist. The people on the left whose livings are diminished by his breathing the air of liberty will call him a phony racial reconciler.
They will say that he is only pretending to care about the black, the poor, the immigrant, the widow, the orphan, the helpless and the ignorant.
They will accuse him of being not in the real world. They will say that he is only pretending to care about the ideals of Martin Luther King for freedom and an ending of holdovers from slave days. They will say that he is not a real progressive because he wouldn’t do such damage to those donors to the Democratic party and make a show of being progressive and liberal.
And the right
Not only would Mr. Berke’s corrective action win people on the left. He’d win oodles of Republican, conservative, Christian and libertarian voters to his side for his future in politics.
But the conservative profiteers from the judicial-industrial complex would ridicule his freedom-oriented and constitution-respecting credentials.
They would accuse him of being a phony constitutionalist who only pretends to favor statute obedient to law. They’d say he is a self-righteous man cares about the marketplace, a pretender for one who espouses limits of government. They will not believe him to be a genuine conservative and a genuine lover of liberty.
They would say that he’s not a real libertarian because if he were, he would fight within the system rather than going around it, bypassing Nashville and Washington altogether. They’d say he’d need to be organic, not surgical.
When Msyor Berke would say that he is simply forcing the state government to obey U.S. code title 49, the federal transportation code and the liberty for travel implied there, they would accuse him of kowtowing to Washington.
They would say that Andy Berke, who is bypassing a wicked and corrupt system, is not doing that at all. They would say that if you really believe in the constitution you would make this go through the courts.
Of course, such a suggestion it would be ridiculous because the courts have allowed this to happen in the first place. The general assembly has allowed this to happen in the first place. And Govs. Sundquist, Bredesen, Haslam and their predecessors have all allowed this to happen in the first place.
Impugning his motives
And both sides, as Mr. Berke’s star rises to a national scale as an exemplar of the new localism described by Bruce Katz in his book of that name, would sneer at him for having done it solely for political gain and stardom.
They’d impugn his motives, scoff at his rhetoric and doubt his authentic care for the people of his city, now free from the trammeling of copdom — that being his very own department as mayor, chief executive, served by cops, executive branch agency.
These abuses have happened on the watch of all these people and Mayor Andy Berke thinks he is going to defy them? Mayor Berke thinks that he, a mayor of a little city in Southeast Tennessee, is going to defy the whole political establishment of the state of Tennessee and even the political establishment in Washington?
The system wants things as they are.
The thousands of individual people and corporations that run in the system now want it to remain unchanged. They don’t want law enforcement cut 50 percent or 90 percent, and the slowdown of bookings over transportation virtually eliminated. They don’t want any change because any change is an admission of sin, and admission of guilt. They will not have it. They will put their foot down and make sure that it doesn’t happen.
It will cost them too much money.