I was stuck at O’Hare yesterday, fortunately at the gate and not in the airplane, which had an air conditioning malfunction. Unfortunately, the waiting area TV was locked onto CNN, meaning I was part of a captive audience watching Lou Dobbs. Jim Tedisco was on again, and Dobbs called our governor “an idiot” (for which he later apologized, but in the context of asking what took Rep. Pete Stark so long to do the same.)
I came across this email from Governor Spitzer this morning. Finally, a straighforward explanation, sans counterattacks on his attackers. This should have been the message from the start. Then, agree or disagree, the conversation could have proceeded as if among grownups. Here’s the letter:
IMPROVING THE DMV DATABASE
Keeping New York Safe
Every day New York’s DMV database gets more than 100,000 inquiries from the New York State Police Information Network alone. Because we do not include illegal immigrants in that database, thousands of no-matches are returned to inquiring law enforcement each day.
Today, if an AMBER Alert goes out because a child has been abducted and the police have a suspect, our law enforcement officials are left to search a database that has no information on 1 million people who we know are here.
Today 1 million residents of this state are simply invisible to state and local law enforcement.
That’s why the State of New York will begin to require all drivers in New York – regardless of their immigration status – to register for a license provided they can pass new anti-fraud security measures that will prove a person is who they say they are.
As a result of our stringent new security measures, New York will be more able to make sure each individual has only one license. Our new policy will help law enforcement keep our roads safe, solve crime, and prevent terrorism.
That’s why on Friday our plan was endorsed by Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism czar. He said, “From a law enforcement and security perspective, it is far preferable for the state to know who is living in it and driving on its roads, and to have their photograph and their address on file, than to have large numbers of people living in our cities whose identity is totally unknown to the government.”
On Sunday, The New York Times agreed, calling our plan “a practical step to make the state and the streets safer.”
And today, The New York Times called the plan a “good, practical idea, designed to replace anonymous drivers with registered competent ones.”
At the end of the day, there is very little any governor can do about how someone got into their state. To keep people safe, my job is to deal with the reality that they are here.
Bringing 1 million people out of the shadows and into the system will increase our chances of catching terrorists and criminals, and will make New York a safer place to live.
As always, I welcome your feedback at email@example.com.
Together we can make our streets and our communities safer for all New Yorkers.