Nanny State

Membership Has Its Privileges


Chicago may revise its strictest-in-the-country ban on using cell phones while driving—but only because one of the city's aldermen got caught breaking the law.

Chicago motorists who get caught talking on cell phones while driving without a hands-free device would no longer lose their driver's licenses, under a mayoral plan that would have spared a North Side alderman political embarrassment.

Last year, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) got pulled over and ticketed for yakking on his cell phone while driving. He was forced to hand over his license like thousands of other motorists.

Tunney then called Town Hall District Cmdr. Gary Yamashiroya and demanded to know why officers in an "understaffed police district" with serious unsolved crimes were "assigned to pull people over solely for cell phone violations."

In response, Yamashiroya ordered a police officer -- not the one who wrote the $50 ticket -- to hand-deliver Tunney's driver's license to the alderman's ward office.

Motorists generally get licenses back only after they go to court or pay their fines.

Earlier this year, Chicago Alderman Dick Mell introduced a bill granting a grace period for Chicagoans who may have forgotten to register their guns (this would apply only to the handful of privileged Chicagoans permitted to own a gun).  The reason for Mell's bill?  He himself had forgotten to register his guns before the deadline.

Now you see how Chicago's aldermen could make the city one of the most paternalistic in the country.  They either don't have to abide by the laws they pass, or they can simply pass a new law exonerating themselves should they get caught.