Last Saturday afternoon (June 4) I'm standing on the west side of Main Street directly across from the Hunt Avenue intersection chatting with friends. Of course, traffic was heavy in both directions.
A large perfectly polished and gleaming black SUV is attempting a left turn from Hunt onto southbound Main (not easy). Suddenly blue/red lights are flashing from the windshield area of the SUV (like you would see in an official fire/police vehicle). I said to my friends, I've never seen that before on a “regular” vehicle and I'd think that's illegal and dangerous. They agreed.
The big black SUV then darts out across both lanes of traffic with lights flashing in both front and rear windows. It goes directly into the red zone/fire hydrant area in front of Padis and Footcandy.
A St. Helena police car happens to be going northbound and pulls into the center lane and the officer starts shaking his arm and hollering at the driver of the SUV. While this goes on a man exits the SUV assisting a woman from the vehicle. She dashes off to Footcandy while he waits by the SUV in the red zone.
The SHPD car leaves and proceeds northbound.
My friends and I are puzzled, say goodbye and I walk south on Main. As I approach Footcandy, Nancy Pelosi comes out with her shopping bags and the man assists her into the awaiting SUV. The SUV, with lights flashing, bursts back into southbound traffic.
Privilege? Power? Arrogance? Whose SUV, taxpayers?
Say it ain't so, Nancy.
Editor's note: The Star asked St. Helena Police Chief Bill Imboden to respond, and here's what he wrote:
"The St. Helena Police Department has received similar complaints in the past, and on occasion we come across a scenario like what is mentioned in the complaint. Unfortunately local law enforcement has no authority to prevent this type of activity. The U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Secret Service provide dignitary protection for certain high-ranking members of the Federal Government, and this protection comes with the discretion to violate some state and local laws (illegal U-turns, parking in a red zone) under the guise of providing the best possible protection to the dignitary. In the case of Congresswoman Pelosi, she receives her protection detail from the Capitol Police. As the Chief of Police in St. Helena I can assure you we don't like or condone their behavior, but I can tell you from personal experience that while they sympathize with the position they put us in, they will not alter their tactics to appease us.
"Anyone who wishes to lodge a complaint about Congresswoman Pelosi can email her at the following website: pelosi.house.gov.
"You can also lodge a complaint with the protection agency at: U.S. Capitol Police Office of Professional Responsibility -- OPR@uscp.gov."