Commentary: Bounce the Barrier

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 24, 2005

California's Capitol is already one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the state. No matter. It is set to get yet another expensive layer of protection. Work begins next month on a set of concrete posts and metal cables that will ring the eight square blocks in which the state house sits. I think it's dumb.

Yes, I know. A suicidal trucker slammed into the Capitol four years ago. Duly noted, but let's be realistic. The list of potential targets for deranged suicidal car bombers is endless   the downtown mall, the welfare office, the court house, public schools   it goes on and on. But the people who work in those other buildings can't tap the public purse for added protection that is, in my view, dubious at best. Think about it.

The barrier being built will actually slow response time for the kinds of emergencies most likely to take place inside the Capitol. Fire fighters responding to a fire or medical emergency will have to stop, exit their trucks, and lower the metal posts, before driving on to reach the heart attack victim or fight the fire. Precious seconds wasted.

Ask California's 35 million residents how they would spend $6.8 million dollars to enhance public safety. I'll bet not one would say "barricade the state Capitol."


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.