Correction below: Alleged murderer Espinoza was released from jail by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, not the LAPD.
Update: The LA City Council has approved the giant electronic billboard on the 10 Freeway by a vote of 13-1 with only Jack Weiss opposing. It will go before the council again next week for a final vote.
Woo-whee, the testimony was riveting this morning before the Los Angeles City Council when a group of black residents pleaded with the 15 elected council members to rescind Special Order 40, the longtime local rule protecting illegal immigrants from arrest by the LAPD.
The black residents are seeking a decision by the council to enact the so-called Jamiel's Law, named after Jamiel Shaw, a promising and law-abiding 17-year-old high school student allegedly shot by an illegal immigrant, 18th Street Gang member Pedro Espinoza. The noxious Espinoza, who has a massively long rap sheet, was arrested by cops in Culver City, and then released by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department jailers, shortly before he allegedly murdered Jamiel.
Jamiel's family members cried openly in the ornate Council Chambers, asking the council to allow cops to check on the illegal status of people like Espinoza so they can be deported rather than released.
Council President Eric Garcetti couldn't change the subject fast enough — to a plan to force even more obnoxious billboards on Angelenos.
It was amazing to watch Garcetti drop the Special Order 40 topic like a hot rock to move onto something much closer to the council's heart: a plan to hand another big reward to Clear Channel, which has for years defied the City Council in refusing to remove its hundreds — and possibly thousands — of illegal billboards now blighting Los Angeles streets.
In yet another reward for Clear Channel's lawlessness, this time it's a plan by Councilwoman Jan Perry to give the media conglomerate a seven-story-tall, ultra-bright, super-mega-billboard on the 10 Freeway some say will be so obnoxiously bright that residents living up to 25 blocks away will be able to see it — through drawn window shades.
Speaking against the plan today was Council Member Jack Weiss, one of the very few elected leaders who seems not to fear the litigious Clear Channel. By contrast, Perry was quickly joined by Councilman Tom La Bonge in singing the praises of the Gigantonormous Billboard. Not only will millions of commuters and other motorists be forced to look at it for miles along the 10 Freeway, but it will probably be one of those overpowering light sources you can see from airplanes and satellites.
In return for letting Clear Channel pull in a tidy fortune from a precedent-setting massive freeway billboard, an area in South L.A. will get a park. Critics at the council meeting this morning couldn't help but note that this “deal” had the feel of a Clear Channel shakedown: dangle a local park for poor people in front of Perry, La Bonge and the others, and then harass millions of people with a billboard that fits Vegas, but is all wrong for L.A.
Check out what Clear Channel is really up to here. They and their pricey lawyers have yet to provide a real list of their existing illegal and legal billboards to the Department of Building and Safety, or to City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, or to anyone else.