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.


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

  1. It’s probably true that Sen. Smallwood-Cuevas never made the claim that hiring more check-out workers would deter shoplifting. But the CalMatters piece seemed to me to conflate them, so I thought I would carry over that idea to this post. In any case, the idea of going even more soft on shoplifters while at the same time bashing their victims is just truly the kind of batshit crazy ideology that modern California Democrats tend to espouse. Absolutely unreal.

    JVW (3be2a0)

  2. And in any case she and her staff should have known that introducing both bills this year would certainly give the appearance that they are related. But I’m sure they feel that they don’t have to care.

    JVW (4ec92a)

  3. California is like the hot girl who places so many demands on you that you often wonder if she’s worth it.

    norcal (daa9da)

  4. One of the things all these union-supporting do-gooders neglect is that stores have not cut staff by eliminating checkout clerk positions. Most stores have added net employees through delivery services, whether at your home or pickup at the store. Those groceries did not pick out themselves.

    Tell customers that they will have to curtail delivery and pickup services in order that the Luddites can avoid scanning their own damn groceries and you’ll see a real revolt.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  5. Three Walmarts here in ABQ have gone back to checkers, mostly due to rampant theft helped by an utter refusal of the DA to prosecute “minor property crimes.” These stores are all in less affluent areas, one of which I have actually seen someone smash out with a shopping cart full of electronic goods.

    (He broke the automatic door doing it because it didn’t open fast enough for him. Store personnel did nothing — what’s the point? Even if the cops were to arrest him, the DA won’t prosecute.)

    All the small items are locked up even in other stores. Want some nail polish? You need to call the clerk with the key, although he may be over in the toy department.

    They also closed a Walmart in the dodgiest area, creating one of those food deserts you hear about so often. All right thinking people blamed corporate monsters.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  6. This is how you get more Trump.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  7. I know that jails are full. I favor the stocks, or maybe caning.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  8. All those tough-on-crime bills will fail when the DA won’t file charges.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  9. Three Walmarts here in ABQ have gone back to checkers, mostly due to rampant theft helped by an utter refusal of the DA to prosecute “minor property crimes.”

    I guess it’s worth contemplating that this is part of the plan by progressive DAs. Refuse to prosecute shoplifters until stores stop automating work and start hiring more unionized workers. Then of course we will hear it’s “corporate greed” when Safeway raises prices 10% and closes underperforming stores in low-income neighborhoods.

    JVW (007fbf)

  10. It is wrong to say that Smallwood is a West LA rep. Her district is almost entirely in the mid-city area. Wikipedia says:

    The district contains Downtown Los Angeles and most of South Los Angeles, including Park La Brea, Pico-Union, Mid City, West Adams, Baldwin Hills, Hyde Park, Nevin, Leimert Park, Jefferson Park, Crenshaw, Vermont Square, Adams-Normandie, Florence, Exposition Park, and University Park.

    It also includes suburbs of Culver City, Ladera Heights, and a small part of the Westside Los Angeles neighborhoods, including Palms, Mar Vista, and Playa Vista.

    Having lived in Palms, Mar Vista and Culver City, they are Westside but very middle class and very diverse (in the true sense). Only Playa Vista and parts of Mar Vista could be called upper-middle class. Most of the rest is African-American or Hispanic and some only aspire to middle-class.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  11. But then who would you call the Westside Los Angeles Senator? Not the Senator(s) who cover(s) Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, or West Hollywood, which are of course their own separately incorporated cities. It seems like she is the best person to be referred to as the California Senator for the Los Angeles Westside, even if her district encompasses more than that.

    JVW (c6a724)

  12. Here’s the map of her district. I think its safe to say it’s the Westside, at least as I have come to know the Westside. It’s also true that it contains neighborhoods outside of the Westside too.

    JVW (2b3300)

  13. The Demographics and voter registration on that Wikipedia page are nonsense. The district moved from the Inland Empire in 2022, and those numbers would make more sense there. In 2022, Democrats got over 3/4ths of the district vote in the primary.

    Better map here:

    Look at that map, the demographics and registration would handily favor Smallwood. They’re likely from the old district which was in the Inland Empire.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  14. The Demographics and voter registration on that Wikipedia page are nonsense.

    That’s Wikipedia for you.

    JVW (4ec92a)

  15. I think its safe to say it’s the Westside, at least as I have come to know the Westside.

    If you draw a line from Ladera Heights (Upper middle-class black) to Pico-Robertson (mixed middle-class ethnic-immigrant), everything to the east is non-white and includes much of South-Central. I think Watts is included in that, over to the east.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  16. Every day my side gets stronger thanks to demographics. I don’t live in california ;but it is moving here changing az from red to blue. Just today az house voted to repeal 1864 abortion ban. We vote in Nov. to repeal 15 week ban.

    asset (b99db0)

  17. Here’s more of what asset and his ‘demographics’ support, right here:

    qdpsteve again (711764)

  18. We vote in Nov. to repeal 15 week ban.

    AZ will vote for Trump.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  19. Asset wants a destructive, low-trust society based on fear and crime

    I’m shocked he’s so honest about it.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  20. > Most stores have added net employees through delivery services,

    Instacart and other such services employ shoppers who collect groceries for delivery. At least where I live, this isn’t usually a service provided by the store itself.

    The stores *do* provide curbside pickup which requires similar work, but delivery is almost always a third party operation.

    aphrael (1797ab)

  21. The stores *do* provide curbside pickup which requires similar work, but delivery is almost always a third party operation.

    All shopping activity is conducted by the stores where I am. At WalMart they wear Walmart livery. Not sure about Kroger except that there is only one sort of fulfillment shopper. Delivery may be contracted though (probably is for all kinds of reasons).

    Kevin M (a9545f)

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