L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has a big job to do.
He's the top political dog in a city with the least affordable housing in the nation, the worst roads in America and a massive divide between rich and poor. Garcetti has said he's bringing City Hall "back to basics" so that it will serve the everyday needs of Angelenos.
So, of course, he's attacking the small stuff head-on by ... ensuring that people don't get hassled by sheriff's deputies for charging their cellphones at Metro rail stations. Actually, he's right on this one.
Sheriff's personnel are way too few and far between on Metro's buses and trains. How many stabbings have their been in recent years? We lost count. Fare jumping is a sport in Los Angeles, too.
And yet, sworn law enforcement officers have found the time to give people plugging their cellphones in at Metro station outlets a difficult time?
In fact such confrontations have resulted in three arrests, says Metro spokesman Marc Littman, because cops checking out the alleged chargers discovered they had warrants.
"No one was arrested for stealing electricity," he emphasized.
After KPCC (89.3 FM) first reported that riders charging their phones using Metro outlets were being confronted by cops at train stops, Mayor Garcetti sprung into action in his role as Metro's chair.
His office says he "contacted Metro staff to end this practice. Moving forward, Metro customers will be permitted to charge their phones unless it causes interference with Metro operations."
The mayor himself declared:
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SHOW ME HOW
This is simply common sense. I want our law enforcement resources directed toward serious crime, not cell phone charging.
Metro spokesman Littman explained that CEO Art Leahy took the mayor's advice and informed deputies that it was okay for riders to grab a little Metro juice in between rides.
"So long as you don't interfere with maintenance workers" who need to plug in too now and again, he said, "you're welcome to charge."