The arrogance of (Democrat) power
Carole Migden is one of the most powerful people in California, and she knows it. The lesbian activist (author of the state’s original domestic partners act, “married” in a faux ceremony conducted by SF mayor Gavin Newsom) is chair of the majority Democrat caucus in the State Senate, and has held a series of extremely powerful posts in a state government that spends $100 billion a year with little press scrutiny.
Last Friday, while driving her state-leased (members of the legislature get ample allowances for the vehicle of their choice on the state’s dime) Toyota Highlander hybrid SUV, she was involved in an astonishing series of accidents caused by her reckless driving, and behaved very, very badly. KCRA News in Sacramento reports:
State Sen. Carole Migden bounced her state-issued SUV off the concrete median on Interstate 80 and nearly ran other motorists off the freeway before slamming into the back of another vehicle last week, the California Highway Patrol and witnesses said Tuesday.
More than half a dozen motorists made emergency calls about Migden’s erratic driving before the Friday accident, the CHP said. The rear-end collision in Fairfield, midway between San Francisco and Sacramento [about 25 miles from her first accident careening off the median barrier – ed.], injured a woman and her 3-year-old daughter, who were sent to the emergency room.
In a statement released by her office last week, the San Francisco Democrat said the accident happened after she took her eyes off the road while reaching for a ringing cell phone.
Migden is very lucky that a law she voted for requiring cell phone users to use a headset or hands free system for making cell phone calls while driving doesn’t take effect until July.
Her driving was so egregious that two motorists followed her off the freeway following the collision to berate her (not aware, apparently, that they were addressing a Very Powerful Official).
…two drivers who followed Migden off the interstate began berating her immediately after the accident.
“One of them said she’d run him off the road. They were pretty upset that she’d been driving so badly,” Jordan said.
“She kept saying, ‘You can’t talk to me like that, I’m a state senator,”‘ he said. “She was kind of wobbly. She didn’t seem alert. She was not acting normally.”
Still, the California Highway Patrol insists that she passed a breathalyzer test and alcohol influence is not suspected. Knowing, as I do, that the CHP budget is at the mercy of the state senate, I wonder exactly when the test was administered, since the effects of alcohol diminish over time. And I also wonder whether other drugs were tested for with a blood test. I would wager a nice dinner that no blood was drawn despite the ample grounds for suspicion, given the number of telephone calls indicating reckless driving over an extended period of time on one of the busiest freeways in America and her behavior following the accident.
Incidentally, Migden claims that she was on state business, going to Marin County, and “missed her exit.” However, Fairfield, where she injured the driver and young child, is many miles from the I-80 exit for Marin County. She apparently did not notice that she went across the half-mile long Carquinez Bridge (dual spans approximately 2500 feet long) instead of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (a single span with two decks, 5.5 miles long). Incidentally, tolls are paid before crossing both bridges in the direction she was driving.
Her district includes San Francisco and Marin County areas, and she must be closely familiar with both bridges, since the Carquinez Bridge is on the route from San Francisco to Sacramento. I find it utterly implausible that she could “miss an exit” and drive about 20 miles across a very different bridge than her intended route without notice and be without mental impairment.
Ellen Butawan, driver of the car rear-ended by Migden, certainly has a good case for a lawsuit against Migden:
“I did not see it coming. I heard no screeching brakes,” the Honda’s driver, Ellen Butawan of Vallejo, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
She said the impact smashed in the Honda’s trunk about 3 feet.
“The tow-truck guy told me that I was lucky no one was seriously injured,” said Butawan, 31. “I went to the ER with a head injury, and the left side of my face is black and blue.”
Her daughter, Leila, was in a child seat and suffered chest abrasions from the restraining harness, Butawan said. Both will see doctors for follow-up visits this week.
The impact pushed Butawan’s car into the vehicle stopped in front of her, a heating and air-conditioning van driven by Turlock resident Bob Jordan. Jordan, 57, was uninjured and his company vehicle received only minor damage, the CHP said.
But Migden’s office is claiming that since she was on state business while driving, so the state of California will cover all costs associated with the accident.
Does arrogance get much worse than this?