L.A. Assemblyman Mike Gatto is hooking his teeth into the hottest news item of the day (full disclosure: so did we), with proposed legislation "to deter assaults and fighting at sporting events."
In case you hadn't heard, three San Francisco 49ers fans got beat up/shot down at their own Candlestick Park last weekend -- somewhat of a flashback to the coma-inducing beatdown of Giants fan Bryan Stow a few months before, at our own Dodger Stadium.
So how will one feel-good Democrat solve the most unsolvable problem since Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers?
According to today's press release, Gatto wants to create "sentencing enhancements for fighting at sporting events," along with "a fund, paid into by California's major sports franchises, that would pay for rewards in certain instances."
He hasn't quite figured out how to get around the fact that the 2011 deadline for introducing bills has already passed, but he tells the Weekly he's going to do his darndest.
He says that "because this is such a piece of legislation that requires a lot of somewhat technical legal parts, we've asked Legislative Counsel to start drafting language." From there, he'll either try to gut/amend an existing bill to include his new proposal, or introduce it at a special session later this year.
But either way: "I am very confident that this issue will be taken up within the next five months."
Judging by the unified, heartfelt outreach following the Stow assault, Gatto has nothing to worry about.
And, as with any bill that decries something as dreadful as child porn or sex offenders, a cause this noble is a shoo-in; any state official who tries to fight it will be committing political suicide.
"This is about values," says Gatto. "We need to reclaim our national pastimes."
However, unlike any bill decrying child porn or sex offenders -- such as the notorious national piece that would simultaneously infringe on everyone else's Internet privacy rights -- this one probably won't make too big a difference for anyone besides violent fans and moguls from the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.
California's major sports franchises are already more than willing to help hunt the thugs that detract from their events' appeal: The MLB-owned Giants and Dodgers teams both pitched tens of thousands to help find Stow's assailants. But under Gatto's legislation, he says each franchise will be required to pay $50,000 per year.
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Likewise, publicly decried Dodgers beating suspects Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood are already facing eight to nine years for their crimes. But under Gatto's legislation, he says assaults that occur at sports events will include an additional penalty. (Sort of like how assaults against members of a minority group are considered "hate crimes," or how armed robberies are more amply punished than unarmed ones.)
"Penalties for simple assault or battery tend to be a slap on the wrist," he says. "There should be an intense penalty for fighting over something as silly as what jersey someone's wearing."
Feels pretty good so far. But might we suggest adding a stadium-security minimum to the bill? Cough cough, McCourt.