City Attorney thinks driving privileges should be revoked…for some chalk protestors

The national and international spotlight was shining strongly on San Diego all of last week and yesterday. Jeff Olson was being prosecuted by the City Attorney for writing Bank of America slogans in water soluble chalk that the bank’s representatives didn’t appreciate. The case has nothing to do with anything we do here, but I thought it was worth highlighting the two plea offers that Olson rejected in favor of a jury trial. The first plea offer (emphasis mine) was presented as follows:

On May 16, Hazard told Olson the City would drop the case if he agreed to serve 32-hours of community service, attend an 8-hour seminar by the “Corrective Behavior Institute,” pay Bank of America $6,299 in restitution for the clean-up, waive all Fourth Amendment rights guarding against search and seizures, and surrender his driver’s license for three year period.”

The second plea offer made days before the trial was scheduled to begin required Olson surrendering his driver’s license for two years:

Olson would plead guilty to one count of vandalism, agree to serve three-years probation, pay restitution –amount undetermined, spend 24-hours cleaning up graffiti, and surrender his driver’s license for 2-years.

The jury acquitted Olson of all thirteen counts.

I hope the City Attorney can move with equal tenacity against drivers who cause far more permanent damage on lives of our friends and neighbors who happen to ride a bicycle in a city notoriously unfriendly to those outside the automobile. Unlike chalk, a car-centric city like ours causes much more lasting harm on our well being and quality of life. Driving is a privilege and should be treated as such with penalties meted out in a way that matches the harm caused, unlike the chalk prosecution case that brought much unwanted attention to our city.