Patterico's Pontifications


California Democrat: Forcing Stores to Hire More Check-Out Clerks Will Deter Theft Rings

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:14 pm

[guest post by JVW]

It just gets sillier and sillier in the mind of progressive Democrats here in the Golden State. CalMatters has a recent piece which acknowledges that legislative Democrats are becoming increasingly skittish on their party’s lurch towards soft-on-criminal policies over the past decade and wondering if it’s perhaps time for a return to harsher penalties for repeat offenders. So naturally, the hard left of the caucus is taking a far different tack:

“Some lawmakers have responded (to retail theft) by pushing policies that solely focus on punitive measures that deepen our crisis of mass incarceration at a time when California has pledged to walk away from it and dismantle it,” said state Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, a Los Angeles Democrat.

Smallwood-Cuevas is sponsoring two bills that would require counties to set up diversion programs for theft-related offenses and increase staffing at grocery store checkout counters.

The community newspaper in Sen. Smallwood-Cuevas’s district, Westside Voice LA, describes the bills as follows (as usual, bolded emphasis added by me):

SB 1282 would amend penal codes 1001.81 and 1001.95 and would authorize a city or county prosecuting attorney or county probation department to create a diversion or deferred entry of judgment program for persons who commit a theft offense or repeat theft offenses.

The bill would require each county to, on or before January 1, 2026, create that diversion or deferred entry of the judgment program. By increasing duties on local entities, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Existing law authorizes a judge in the superior court in which a misdemeanor is being prosecuted to offer diversion to a defendant for a period not to exceed 24 months. The amendment would expand that authorization to include any cases being prosecuted, as specified.

[. . .]

SB 1446 would create regulations on self-checkout stations in large grocery and drug retail stores.

The bill would prohibit a grocery establishment or a retail drug establishment from providing a self-service checkout option for customers unless specified conditions are satisfied, including having no more than two self-service checkout stations monitored by any one employee and requiring the employee to be relieved of all other duties.

The bill would require a grocery establishment or retail drug establishment that develops or implements technology that significantly affects the essential job functions or eliminates jobs or essential job functions of its employees, or that enables self-service, to complete a specified assessment before implementing the technology.

Additionally, it would require the study to include, among other things, the salaries, benefits, jobs, and work hours that would be eliminated by workplace technology. The establishments would have to provide the study to employees at least 60 days before implementation, and to post a copy of the study in a location accessible to its employees and customers before, and for at least 90 days following implementation of the workplace technology.

So there you have it. Once again we have clueless Democrats who have zero understanding of how free markets work. Would it surprise anyone to learn that Lola Smallwood-Cuevas spent her pre-legislative career as a union organizer and “civil rights activist”? The bill attacking self-checkout stations has nothing to do with discouraging theft: it’s hard to imagine shoplifters, especially those who operate in organized rings, worrying too much about being accosted or detained by check-out clerks. No, this bill is all about creating more union jobs in California stores, which will clearly have the effect of driving up costs to the consumer. At my local grocery store we have six self-checkout stations for customers, and there is one store employee who stands by to help with any issues that arise. Under this bill there would now have to be three paid employees manning those stations. What utter waste.

Sen. Smallwood-Cuevas has filed an additional bill which appears to be modeled upon a proposed local San Francisco ordinance which tries to bully grocery stores into remaining in unprofitable or even money-losing locations. The bill before the California legislature requires that a grocery store give 90 days notice before closing, or presumably be subject to class-action lawsuits from local residents. The San Francisco bill is worse, requiring a full 180 days notice and also insisting that the owners of the store have to work to find a new grocery tenant for the location or else help local residents set up a food co-op. But the cumulative effect of all of these measures is that the state will drive up the cost of operating a grocery store, then make it very difficult for that store to close before accumulating months of significant losses.

Even if California decides to wreck the grocery industry in the name of social justice, fortunately it would seem that in this election year the tide is turning against the soft on crime approach to organized theft rings. Despite Sen. Smallwood-Cuevas’s laughable “provide job skills to miscreants” ideology, her fellow Democrats are going in the opposite direction. The new President Pro Tem of the California Senate has helped shepherd two bills through the Public Safety Committee, one of which stiffens penalties on smash-and-grab rings and the other which provides for harsher penalties when arson is used during shoplifting, usually to distract store employees while the perpetrator engages in theft. Even the notoriously left-wing San Francisco Senator Scott Wiener has introduced a bill to make it easier to prosecute those who break into cars or homes to steal items (a crime rampant in San Francisco) by no longer requiring prosecutors to prove that the car or home was properly locked. This suggests that even an outright leftist lunatic like Scott Wiener can be swayed when his constituents finally holler “Enough!”

The people of Los Angeles’s Westside choose to elect rabid ideologues like Lola Smallwood-Cuevas. That is, unfortunately enough, their prerogative. If the damage that she and her ilk wreak were limited to her district then I would say that her constituents deserve the fruits of their voting habits. However, people like the good senator implement policy which affects the entire state. Perhaps this being an election year, most Sacramento Democrats will for once tune out the nonsense that is churned out by Marxist college professors who have nothing to offer the world but their awful ideas. But next year will be a new story and don’t act surprised if these bad ideas re-emerge once the smoke of November clears. I don’t look forward to it.


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