City Attorney Candidate Survey: Jack Weiss

4_20_09_weiss.jpgJack Weiss speaks to supporters on election night.

Late last night, 5th District City Councilman and candidate for City Attorney Jack Weiss responded to our candidate survey.  While Streetsblog has been critical of some of Weiss’ transportation priorities as Councilman, there’s a lot to like in Weiss’s responses to our questions.  Some highlights:

"No level of pedestrian fatalities
is acceptable for any city. Aggressively prosecuting negligent
motorists who kill or cause bodily harm to a pedestrian is critical to
send a message that the City will not tolerate aggressive and negligent
behavior, but by then a life has been lost and the damage has been done."

"All too often there is an information gap that needs to be closed
between the directives of the Mayor and City Council and what is
enforced day to day on the street. We witnessed this problem most
recently when LAPD officers detained numerous cyclists based on a
bicycle licensing program that had been terminated by the City Council
weeks earlier. This has to stop.
"

For a full copy of Weiss’ responses, read on after the jump.

Do
you consider pedestrian fatalities a normal state of affairs in Los
Angeles? What will you do to ensure more drivers face serious legal
consequences for killing another person with their automobile?

RESPONSE:
No level of pedestrian fatalities is acceptable for any city.
Aggressively prosecuting negligent motorists who kill or cause bodily
harm to a pedestrian is critical to send a message that the City will
not tolerate aggressive and negligent behavior, but by then a life has
been lost and the damage has been done. Working with LAPD to ensure
that traffic laws are being enforced is an important element but It
doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Motorist/pedestrian conflicts
often reveal deeper issues with the way our city is designed and
operates. In order to be proactive, we not only need to incorporate
pedestrian friendly urban design elements into our communities but we
need to reexamine many state laws. Incorporating provisions that place
greater weight on pedestrian and cyclist safety in determining speed
limits on local streets is an ideal place to start.

What
prevents our law enforcement officers from arresting drivers that have
killed a pedestrian or cyclist? What would you do to see that police
take a more active role in helping prosecute negligent drivers?

RESPONSE:
All too often there is an information gap that needs to be closed
between the directives of the Mayor and City Council and what is
enforced day to day on the street. We witnessed this problem most
recently when LAPD officers detained numerous cyclists based on a
bicycle licensing program that had been terminated by the City Council
weeks earlier. This has to stop. I’ve built strong relationships with
the LAPD as a Councilmember and as Chair of the Public Safety
Committee, and I will utilize those relationships to ensure that LAPD
is kept apprised of changes in laws and enforces the law to ensure
public safety. At the end of the day, LAPD can only enforce the laws on
the books. We need to reassess the penalties that negligent motorists
face and bring those in line with a city that places real value on the
safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

It
takes something extraordinary for a motorist to be charged with a crime
when they hit, maim or kill a cyclist. What will you do to make our
streets safer for cyclists?

RESPONSE:
Making streets safer for cyclists begins with recognizing a cyclist’s
right to equal access to our public streets. As a cyclist, I have
firsthand experience and understanding of this issue, and as a
policymaker I take it seriously. Educating both the driving and cycling
public is essential.  Government and advocacy groups have
to build relationships to bring about long term changes in public
attitudes towards cyclists on our roadways. It is tragic that it takes
a horrific event such as the incident on Mandeville Canyon last summer
to result in an arrest. Allegedly there were prior complaints from
other cyclists that this driver had engaged in the same aggressive
manner on a prior occasion. We must heed the warning signs and be
proactive in pursuing aggressive drivers, investigate complaints of
aggressive behavior, or pursue mediation.  With earlier
intervention, perhaps the horrific injuries that Christian Stoehr and
Ron Peterson ultimately suffered could have been prevented.

There’s
been a lot of discussion of cyclists as a key part of reforming
transportation. Conversely, I hear from drivers all of the time that
cyclists don’t follow traffic laws and are generally a nuisance. What,
if anything, do you hear about cyclists and how would that affect the
way you perceive traffic justice?

RESPONSE:
Cyclists have the right to equal access to the road, period. As a
cyclist I’ve had the opportunity to see both sides of the issue. I’ve
been buzzed by aggressive motorists and I’ve witnessed cyclists running
afoul of traffic laws. But the sins of the few do not negate the rights
of cyclists to equal access and equal protection under the law.

As
a transportation reform movement, it’s exciting to see that cycling is
gaining ground as a viable transportation alternative as people from
all walks of life recognize that cycling furthers the goals of reducing
congestion, traffic calming, improving air quality and reducing
resource consumption. We are at a critical moment where we have the
opportunity to build upon a potential shift in public attitudes to
build a true cycling friendly city. A community that values cycling
will value and respect cyclists.

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