Senator needs to go on the record with legislation
By Jeff Ward For The Courier-News June 3, 2012 5:58PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 10:47AM
He’s at it again. But we knew it was only a matter of time. The best thing you can say about Mike Noland of Elgin serving as your state senator is it’s never dull.
There was his infamous JFK speech plagiarizing episode, the citation for driving without insurance, the police being called on him at a Carpentersville polling place, the removal of primary opponent Tim Elenz’s yard signs.
In a move that should surprise no one, this time he’s holding his own bill hostage. Frankly, I’m beginning to believe the senator’s ongoing bizarre behavior can only be explained by an evil twin.
It all started when Noland sent a bill to the House dealing with the falsification of court records. That bill was picked up by Northbrook Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who amended it to also decriminalize the audio recording of police officers in public.
If you’ve been keeping up with current events, you know that Illinois has one of the toughest eavesdropping statutes in the country, where recording a law enforcement officer can get you 15 years in the slammer.
As you might imagine, the intersection of this ordinance with the proliferation of smart phones has resulted in some rather interesting courtroom confrontations. But each time the gavel banged, the courts sided with the citizen claiming the Illinois law is unconstitutional.
Thus, rather than continue to watch the police arrest citizens for exercising their First Amendment right, Nekritz bowed to the inevitable by attempting put an end to this legal paradox.
So this had to be a win-win situation right? You could record the police, but doctoring the recording would be a big no-no.
But Sen. Noland has never bowed to anything, much less logic. Sensing an opportunity to be the center of attention and to pretend to wield the power and influence he’ll never have, not only did he refuse to bring the amended bill up for a vote, but he wouldn’t relinquish sponsorship of it either.
And that folks, effectively killed it.
But get this. Noland isn’t arguing that the eavesdropping statute should stand. He’s saying his bill doesn’t go far enough in providing police the unfettered right to record citizens.
“If you’re approaching someone on the street with a video camera, there’s notice that the whole world is watching,” Noland said, “When the whole world is watching, people tend to behave better.”
I suppose he’s referring to how well it’s worked with the Syrian regime and reality TV shows. If cameras really did make people behave better, my first suggestion would be to point one directly at the senator.
Noland added that broader surveillance powers would keep both officers and the public safer and save money by reducing criminal litigation cases. Call me crazy, but if an officer pointed a camera at me for no reason, that might actually make me want to file a lawsuit.
I can see it now. A posse of Elgin police officers roaming the riverfront, camcorders firmly in hand, while the real criminals wreak havoc upon the rest of the city. Just to be on the safe side, perhaps we should start practicing our best Bob Fosse moves now to keep ’em from getting bored.
I smell another reality show.
Noland insisted he wasn’t hijacking his own bill; he was only trying to make it better. He said he wants to “reconcile” it with current court decisions because “audiovisual evidence is compelling” and that law enforcement groups were behind him.
C’mon, any time you threaten to expand police surveillance powers, that’s bound to make ’em downright giddy.
As far as any “reconciliation,” Josh Sharp, the government relations director for the Illinois Press Association, put that bizarre theory to bed. “There’s no reconciliation needed,” Sharp said. “The courts have said you cannot criminalize activity protected by the First Amendment.”
So the senator’s idea of fighting one unconstitutional law is to just go ahead and create another unconstitutional law. Doesn’t he know that only works with forest fires?
And ain’t it funny how, after he referred to Nekritz’s bill as “superfluous” and “bad law,” he incorporated her ideas into his latest revision.
My new favorite Mike Noland quote has to be this one; “I’m for everybody videotaping as long as it’s not an invasion of privacy.” That’s a lot like saying you’re all for Peeping Toms as long as they keep their eyes closed.
Finally, the senator concluded our conversation with “just like reporters and columnists” he was “only trying to get at the truth.”
That’s funny. I don’t think he wants to hear the truth about what I’m been thinking about him.
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