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For the first time in years, California police misconduct records are accessible by the public. There's a huge asterisk on that sentence because, so far, law enforcement agencies have been unwilling to hand them over.One police department decided to purge all of its old records before the law went into effect, mooting the question with a questionable memory-holing. Other agencies have told requesters the law isn't retroactive, pretending the law says something it doesn't. A sheriff's union tried to force the question by petitioning the state's supreme court, but the court declined the opportunity to clarify the law's ability to open up records of past misconduct.At this point it's clear PDs aren't interested in complying with the new law. They'll sit on records until they're forced out of their hands by lawsuits. This isn't how transparency is supposed to work. The law wasn't a History Eraser button for old files and it certainly isn't there to assist PDs in withholding documents they're definitely obligated to turn over to the public.Most law enforcement agencies appear to believe the law hit the reset on misconduct records, ordering them only to release records created past the point the law went into effect (January 1st, 2019). Again, the law says nothing about it only affecting records going forward, but since it doesn't say anything specifically about past misconduct records, law enforcement agencies will continue to pretend it doesn't affect those until courts tell them otherwise.Whenever the courts take up the question, they'll have to examine the bill-making process and the law itself to determine its legislative intent. The law doesn't have to specifically order the release of pre-2019 documents if it's clear legislators intended the law to be retroactive. Fortunately for those suing PDs over withheld documents, the legislation's author has decided to clear the air on the law police departments are conveniently and deliberately misunderstanding.
In a one-page letter to the state Senate Rules Committee, Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), sought to clarify the intent of the law, which opens up records of shootings by officers, severe uses of force and confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying by officers.In the letter obtained by The Times, Skinner said any relevant discipline records kept by a government agency should be disclosed under the new law, which was approved last year.“Therefore, it is my understanding in enacting SB 1421 that the change in the law applies to all disclosable records whether or not they existed prior to the date the statute went into effect,” Skinner wrote. “This is the standard practice for public records legislation in California.”
We'll see how quickly this letter results in the lifting of the temporary restraining order secured by Contra Costa law enforcement agencies, which are being sued by California newspapers for refusing to turn over historical misconduct files. There doesn't seem to be any room for misunderstanding in Skinner's letter. But if anyone's incapable of understanding crystal clear laws, it's law enforcement agencies.
While trolling online is something we generally have to suffer through rather than enjoy, I, for one, am absolutely here for the brand on brand trolling that occasionally sparks so much fun. Especially when done cleverly, this business on business violence is absolutely delicious. I was therefore very much delighted to learn that the initial fallout after McDonald's losing its trademark rights to the "Big Mac" in the EU is that some European branches of Burger King are delighting in rubbing McDonald's nose in it.
Burger King's Swedish operation recently revamped menus to poke fun at McDonald’s loss. Under the header Not Big Mac’s (sic), the sign listed meal options like “Burger Big Mac Wished It Was”, “Like a Big Mac, But Actually Big” and “Big Mac-ish But Flame-Grilled of Course”.The chain released a video showing customers tentatively ordering from among the unusual choices, while a staff member appears unfazed as he calls out for Anything But a Big Mac.
And here is the video.All fun aside, there are a couple of things to notice in all of this. First, it's likely that everything Burger King did with this campaign ought to be considered Fair Use even if McDonald's had never lost its trademark. After all, the entire point in calling out the "Big Mac" name in all of this is squarely to differentiate it from Burger King products. And, of course, there's roughly zero chance of anyone in the public being confused in any way here.Separately, this again calls to mind our mantra that content is advertising and advertising is content. The reason this campaign is a success goes beyond watching one giant fast food company mock another. Instead, this works because Burger King is clearly having so much fun with it. And it's having that fun in a way that's approachable, snarky, and quite funny. That's all advertising gold, in that it both grabs attention and generates positive reactions with the public, all while messaging a positive difference between Burger King and McDonald's.So, if the primary fallout from a giant company losing its trademark is this kind of fun, I'm very much here for it.