Viewpoints

Driverless cars, a death on Del Paso, and an old execution

Good morning. On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Today, we dwell on driverless cars, Barack Obama’s farewell speech to the United Nations, the shooting of Joseph Mann, a reason why Hillary Clinton is focusing on disabled Americans, and, finally, Joe Rodota’s retelling of the execution 56 years ago of Caryl Chessman.

Taking heat

The political war rages over whether police departments should have to release video of shootings to the public, but the Sacramento Police Department has lost a battle.

On Tuesday, The Bee’s Anita Chabria got hold of surveillance video showing officers chasing and fatally shooting Joseph Mann, a mentally ill black man who reportedly was threatening people with a knife on Del Paso Boulevard in July. On Tuesday night, the City Council planned to review even more footage.

The footage, which shows zero attempts by officers at de-escalation, raises questions about Sacramento police procedure. The city isn’t alone.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission decided LAPD officers violated deadly force rules by shooting a knife-wielding mentally ill woman in 2015. LAPD refuses to release footage from the officers’ body cameras. – Erika D. Smith, @Erika_D_Smith

Take a number: 56.7 million

Hillary Clinton will call for a more inclusive economy for disabled people in a speech Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. Donald Trump’s voters seek to excuse or ignore Trump’s disparaging remarks about John McCain, Muslims, Mexican-Americans and women he deems not to be “10s.” But mocking disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski is another question. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 56.7 million Americans have some disability. We all know someone who has a disability. Imagine justifying voting for Trump to a disabled family member or friend.

Our take

Editorial: Barack Obama gave a pessimistic view of the world – in stark contrast to his soaring, ambitious vision when he first took office.

Editorial: Barack Obama’s administration’s new driverless automobile rules aren’t just about cars; they’re about the future, which, for the first time in a while, seems to be like an open road.

Timothy P. White: California State University system will double its four-year graduation rates and make further improvements in rates for six years or less and for students transferring from community colleges.

Brooke Ryan’s Soapbox: Imagine not getting a raise for 25 years. California’s court reporters can tell you all about it.

Timothy DavisAnother View: No matter how well-trained and professional our officers are, they are not doctors and do not have the skills or the resources to solve mental health difficulties.

Their take

Mercury News: Re-elect Jim Beall to California Senate, over Assemblywoman Nora Campos.

L.A. Times: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Proposition 63 takes California farther down the path of meaningful, reasonable gun control.

San Diego Union-Tribune: Whatever you think of his politics, President George H.W. Bush has put an emphasis on grace and civility. Everything about blustering, transgressive, rude Donald Trump is an affront to his sensibilities.

Eric Frazier, Charlotte Observer: Donald Trump and Louis Farrakhan, a match made in racial nationalist heaven.

Las Vegas Sun: The few sad little remaining shreds of Rep. Joe Heck’s worthiness as a candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada shriveled away, as he blindly went all-in with a joker of a presidential candidate.

Peter Beinart, The Atlantic: The New York Times responded to Donald Trump’s “birther” news conference by running a “news analysis.” It read like an opinion column, and called the birther lie particularly “insidious” because it “sought to undo the embrace of an African American president by the 69 million voters who elected him.”

Syndicates take

Ruben Navarrette: Clinton, Trump share contempt for voters.

Kathleen Parker: The Trump letters.

Dana Milbank: How Trump winks at political violence.

David Brooks: Dignity and sadness in the working class.

And finally

In the annals of the death penalty, no California execution was more controversial than the one of Caryl Chessman, who was convicted in 1948 of the “Red Light Bandit” robberies and kidnapping but not murder. He was put to death at San Quentin in 1960.

Sacramento political consultant Joe Rodota, who advised Gov. Pete Wilson and President Ronald Reagan, has written a play, “Chessman,” which will premiere at the B Street Theatre from Oct. 13 to 22. Its run will coincide with the campaign to abolish capital punishment, Proposition 62, or speed it up, Proposition 66. Get tickets here.

Rodota tells the story through the eyes of Gov. Pat Brown, Jerry Brown, who as seminarian urged his father to stop the execution, and Kathleen Brown, the Democrats’ 1994 gubernatorial nominee who fended off charges from Wilson about her opposition to capital punishment.

A character not in Rodota’s play is the deputy attorney general who handled the Chessman case on appeal, Arlo Smith. Smith, a spry 88, is the former San Francisco district attorney who lost his run for attorney general in 1990 to Dan Lungren by a mere 22,906 votes. His son, Ace Smith, is the San Francisco political consultant who represents the current Gov. Brown, and is involved in various races this year, though not the death penalty measures.

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